The Pilgrimage

I am a monk from the Changbai (Eternally White) Mountains, a Chan cultivator from the Black Waters. I brought forth a resolve for the Way in my youth. Hearing of the filial piety of Filial Son Wang (Great Master Changren) of Shuangcheng (Twin Cities) County, I vowed to emulate him. Every morning and evening, after bowing to the Buddhas, I bowed three times to my father and mother. At first, they thought it strange, but after a while they became used to it. Later on, I took refuge with the Triple Jewel and had deep faith in Buddhism. I went to study under Great Master Chang Ren (Filial Son Wang of Shuangcheng County). The Great Master's instructions to me were always right on the mark. After my mother died, I built a simple hut by her grave and had my head shaved, leaving the home-life.

Hearing that the Elder Venerable Hsu Noble Yun, a great wise advisor of the Chan school, was teaching in Nanhua Monastery at Caoxi, I wished to go there. However, that would have involved a difficult trek through mountainous terrain. After the Japanese surrendered in 1945, transportation became more convenient. In the fall of 1946, in the middle of the eighth lunar month, I packed my bags and set out with two disciples, Guo Neng and Guo Shun. (I have no news of Guo Neng. Guo Shun cremated himself as an offering to the Buddhas.) We headed for Caoxi, wishing to draw near the Venerable Master Yun. The journey was very arduous. We walked during the day and rested at night, sometimes travelling even at night, until we reached Prajna Monastery in Changchun (which was called Xinjing, "New Capital," during the Manchu Empire regime). My two disciples remained at that monastery, waiting to receive full ordination the following year. Without carrying any extra clothes or luggage (the clothes I wore didn't exceed five pounds), I travelled alone towards the interior.

When I reached Tianjin, I stayed at Great Compassion Temple and heard Elder Dharma Master Tanxu lecture on the Shurangama Sutra. I met Dharma Master Tijing and rode in the same boat with him to Proper Enlightenment Monastery in Hubei. Also travelling with us were Dharma Masters Shengzhao, Shengmiao, Zhaoding, Yuanxiang, Renhui, Benzhi, Jiaozhi, Yongling, Lingguan, Jingjie, and others. I composed a verse which goes,

Fourteen monks rode in the same boat.
Honored and noble were they; only I was poor.
Donned in ragged robes, I ate one meal and had no extra possessions.
People could scold and slander me as they pleased.

At that monastery, I performed austerities and chores such as cleaning, boiling water, tending the garden, watching the door, taking care of the Buddhahall, and serving as verger. My skill in Chan samadhi increased greatly. In 1947, after going to Mount Potola to receive full ordination, I went to study the doctrines at the Buddhist Academy at Lingyanshan Monastery in Suzhou. In the fall, I went to Kongqing Mountain to take part in a Chan session and pass the winter. I paid respects to Venerable Mingguan and Venerable Liaocheng. In the first month of 1948, I left for Shanghai and then took a boat to Baotong (Precious Penetration) Monastery in Hubei. When I boarded the boat, I was penniless. On the boat I met a cripple who couldn't walk. When I recited the Great Compassion Mantra to aid him, he was immediately healed and could walk again. This evoked respect and faith from the rest of the boat's passengers. Before parting, they donated over 700,000 fa bi (monetary units). Thus I was able to buy a train ticket to go to Qujiang. At the train station I met Great Master Jouyi, a native of Hubei. When I asked him, he told me he was also going to Nanhua Monastery in Guangdong to draw near the Venerable Master Yun. I asked him, "Have you got money to buy a train ticket?" He said, "No." I bought him a ticket, and the two of us took the train to Maba. When we got off the train, Master Jouyi said, "I'm hungry." After paying for the train fare, I still had over 100,000 fa bi, which I gave to him to buy breakfast. Again, I was left penniless.