A Treasured Photograph From 66 Years Ago By Lin Bang Hong (林邦鸿)
This is an English translation of the original Chinese text entitled ‘66年前的珍贵照片’, or ‘A Treasured Photograph from 66 Years Ago’,written by Lin Bang Hong in 2012, which features his father and elder brother, standing with masters Xu Yun and Zhi Cheng. Also included is a picture of a Chinese newspaper featuring this photograph which dates back to 1946. Although it is not overtly stated that the author – Lin Bang Hong – is the son of Lin Song An, it is implied by the language used in the Chinese text. Lin Bang Xiong in the picture is referred to as a ‘brother’, etc. Although this picture was 66 years old in 2012, it would appear that Lin Bang Hong was a late born son to Lin Song An.
This photograph was taken during the 3rd lunar month (of 1946), and shows my 9th elder brother – Lin Bang Xiong (林邦雄), and our father – Lin Song An (林松庵), together with master Xu Yun (虚云法师) and master Zhi Cheng (智诚法师). The photograph was arranged to be taken by master Zhi Cheng who then made a copy and sent it to me. I was delighted when I received it.
Master Xu Yun is renowned as the leading authority of Ch’an Buddhism in contemporary China, and master Zhi Cheng, who is from the Chaoshan region, is also a very well known monk. He is famous for copying the‘Great Corrective Expansive Buddha Flower Ornament Sutra (大方广佛华严经 – Da Fang Guang Fo Hua Yan Jing) in his own blood. Master Zhi Cheng – and my father Lin Song An – were best friends. My father first met master Zhi Cheng around 7 years prior to this photograph being taken, when he was on business in the Chaozhou (潮州) area.
In 1946, master Xu Yun was in charge of managing the Nan Hua Temple (南华寺 – Nan Hua Si). As he was a respected sage, he was invited by the military government of the Chaoshan, to the Kai Yuan Temple (开元寺– Kai Yuan Si) situated in Chaozhou to hold a seven day ritual of land and water purification. During this ritual, (or ‘puja’ - 法会 – Fa Hui), master Xu Yun, master Zhi Cheng, and my father all posed together for this photograph to be taken.
'Licchavi Vimalakirti came to the foot of that tree and said to me, ’Reverend Sariputra, this is not the way to absorb yourself in contemplation. You should absorb yourself in contemplation so that neither body nor mind appear anywhere in the triple world. You should absorb yourself in contemplation in such a way that you can manifest all ordinary behavior without forsaking cessation. You should absorb yourself in contemplation in such a way that you can manifest the nature of an ordinary person without abandoning your cultivated spiritual nature.' Vimalakirti Nirdesa Sutra