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Old Master Xu Yun Still Sits at the Long Hua Temple (Guangxi)
According to the blogosphere in China, stories have started to emerge of an interesting development involving Master Xu Yun (1840-1959). Articles reveal how a very detailed ‘wax work’ model of an elderly Xu Yun has been created, dressed and placed on display at the ancient ‘Lustrous Dragon Temple’ (龙华寺 – Long Hua Si), situated in Guiping city, Guangxi province, Mainland China. Photographs reveal an extraordinary life-like model of Xu Yun sat in Ch’an meditation and using a mala (i.e. Buddha-beads) for meditative purposes. His hair and beard are long, and he wears the ‘black’ robe associated with the Cao Dong lineage of Ch’an Buddhism. His over-all demeanour looks very similar to a photograph taken of him in 1952-1953 – with his disciple – Ch’an Master Fo Yuan stood next to him at the Three Buddhas Temple in Wuchang, Hubei province. In this picture, Master Xu Yun is in his 113th year of life:
One discrepancy appears to be that in the above photograph, Master Xu Yun is already missing the ring-finger from his left-hand. In his 58th year of life (1897/98), Master Xu Yun travelled to the Ashoka Monastery situated in Zhejiang province, with the intention of burning-off his left ring-finger out of respect for his mother who died giving birth to him. Xu Yun never knew his mother, but had only seen a photograph of her. At the Ashoka Monastery he performed three thousand prostrations per day toward the shrine containing the Buddha’s relics. One night, whilst sat in Ch’an meditation, Xu Yun saw a dazzling bright-green dragon that took him (on its back) high into the sky, and into a land of paradise. There, he witnessed his mother sat in the room of a palace – he called to her to get on the dragon’s back and fly to the Pure Land! When the dragon brought him back, he decided the time had come to burn-off his finger and dedicate the merit of this sacrifice to his mother.
Master Xu Yun is depicted in this model as sat cross-legged on a bench with his back to the wall in a dimly lit and tranquil part of the temple. His eyes are closed as he quietly moves the mala-beads through his fingers. For Master Xu Yun – the chanting of the Pure Land mantra [Amituofo] – is no different to applying the hua tou ‘Who is hearing?’ As part of the Vinaya Discipline, the body is arranged respectfully, and the mind remains calm and all-embracing – continuously emitting loving kindness, compassion, and wisdom.
As part of the display is a presentation of Master Xu Yun’s biography, stating that he lived into his 120th year, and that during this time he studied and practised in at least 15 different temples, whilst dedicating a large part of his existence to repairing at least 6 great ancestral Ch’an temples. All who see this model are astonished at its life-like quality, and its presence has inspired many visitors to read about Xu Yun’s life, and/or to re-double their efforts in their Ch’an training.
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2017.
Chinese Language Article Reference: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_5b1dda450102wvpy.html