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THE GREAT EVENTS OF ONE HUNDRED YEARS ARE HAZY AS IF A DREAM
Venerable Master Hua Lectures on Great Master Bu Xu's "Prophetic Poem of the Great Events of One Hundred Years in China"
In many large-scale Dharma assemblies, general interviews, and meetings, the Venerable Master has analyzed in great detail the "Prophetic Poem of the Great Events of One Hundred Years in China" by the Great Master Bu Xu. What is the reason for this? History is like a bright mirror. The ancients, hoping that their descendants would learn from history in order to avoid making the same mistakes, wanted them to use the mirror of history as a guide to correct the errors of the past and to modify their behavior in the future.
All Good Knowing Ones:
Most of us are Chinese, and so we should know the great events that have occurred and the influential figures who have lived during the last hundred years in China. In my opinion, although we are Buddhist, we cannot ignore national affairs. Nor can we ignore individual family affairs, nor our own physical health. That's why, in Los Angeles and other places, I have already discussed what I will tell you today. Now that I have come back to Taiwan I also want to give a simple description and explanation of the events that have happened during the past hundred years in China.
We who study Buddhism cannot be without a country, without a family, nor without our own physical body. Our physical bodies are the capital we invest in our study of Buddhism. The family is the source of our life. Our country is important, because whether we are left-home or laypeople, we are all under the protection of our country and government. Therefore we should be loyal to our country and filial to our families, and toward all other people we should maintain good faith. "Faith is the source of the Way and the mother of merit and virtue. It nurtures all good roots." It is said, "A man will not be able to establish himself without faith." Therefore, we must have faith. If at home we are not filial to our family members, then we turn our back on our moral obligations. Therefore we must fulfill our filial duty. It's said, "A man and a woman living together is the most basic of human relationships. The way of the superior person begins with a man and his wife."
It's also said, "The superior person applies effort at the foundation. After the foundation is established, the Way will come forth. Filial piety and fraternal respect must be the foundation!" In order for the country and the government to protect us, there must be a certain number of people to provide national defense. In establishing our identity, in dealing with the world, and in interactions with people we must be trusthworthy. In our relationships with everyone we must be trustworthy. We cannot be without trustworthiness! Confucius said, "If a person is not trustworthy, one knows not what he is good for." If a person does not value trustworthiness and righteousness, then it's not known of what good he can be. Therefore, trustworthiness is very important to us. Toward the country we must be loyal, toward the family we must be filial, toward ourselves we must pay attention to our health. In that way we will not become a burden to the country.
I have already spoken a few times on the topic of the great events that have occurred and the influential figures who have lived during the last hundred years in China. There have been many influential figures during the past hundred years in China. Now we are selecting just a few for discussion.
Who spoke this prophetic poem? It was spoken in the thirtieth year of the Guangxu reign of the Qing dynasty. The elder Upasaka Gao Jinghan, the keeper of the Qingxu Tower in Bi Yun Monastery on West Mountain outside of Beijing, was concerned about the affairs of the country, and so he called upon the spirit of the Great Master Bu Xu of the Sui dynasty to speak through a medium. During the Sui dynasty, at the time of Great Master Bu Xu, turmoil prevailed as bands of robbers roamed about and people sought a harbor of refuge from the oppressive government. Great Master Bu Xu had originally been a great general. He had killed many men, but later he felt that this was wrong. He then went into hiding and fled to Tiantai Mountain to cultivate. He composed a poem, which begins as follows:
In the past because of upheavals in the Sui dynasty,
I went to seek Bodhi
And unintentionally came to the western side of Tiantai's Stone Drum.
In the morning I drank the mists to quench my thirst;
For the evening meal, jade dew stove off my hunger.
Facing the wall for nine years, I approached the great Way.
In a finger snap ten dynasties have passed,
changing the courtly rituals each time.
You ask me to open up the road, but the road misleads me.
It is difficult to divulge the secrets of heaven,
so I'll reveal the secrets from my Chan.
In the past because of upheavals in the Sui dynasty, I went to seek Bodhi. Great Master Bu Xu was a general who lived in the Sui dynasty, but because he felt there was no hope of restoring order to the country, he resolved to cultivate. Since he didn't have any specific goal in mind, he wandered about seeking the great Way of Bodhi, that is, searching for a place to cultivate. And during his search, he unintentionally came to the western side of Tiantai's Stone Drum. Without realizing it, he walked to the western side of a place called "Stone Drum" on Tiantai Mountain. Discovering a cave, he stayed there to cultivate.
In the morning I drank the mists to quench my thirst. Cultivating in the mountains, he lived an ascetic lifestyle. In the morning when he rose, he would drink a little bit of the mist in the air, the rosy mist in the sky when the sun is about to come out at dawn. This refers to the glorious sight of a myriad rosy rays of light in the sky, of auspicious energy filling the air. It could also be called the essence of the sun and moon. As he cultivated in that place, he didn't mind being a little hungry at times. He only drank a little, just enough to quench his thirst. For the evening meal, jade dew stove off my hunger. In the evening he would imbibe dew drops to stave off his hunger. It wasn't very filling, but it was enough to sustain his life. That's what he said.
Facing the wall for nine years, I approached the great Way. He said he sat in the mountains facing the stone wall for nine years, nurturing the "spiritual embryo" and cultivating until he understood his true mind and saw his own nature. "I approached the great Way" means he was on the verge of attaining the great Way. In a finger snap ten dynasties have passed, changing the courtly rituals each time. These lines are all matched. The previous line said, "Facing the wall for nine years, I approached the great Way." In Chinese, the word "finger" in this line is matched with "face" in the previous line. In a finger snap, that brief an interval, or so it seemed, ten dynasties have come and gone. The country's government has changed hands ten times. The ten dynasties are probably referring to the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties, which make five dynasties. If we add the Five Dynasties that come right after the Tang dynasty, that makes ten dynasties altogether. "Changing the courtly rituals each time." Each dynasty had its unique courtly deportment. Each time a new dynasty began, a new set of ceremonial rites and rules would be used.
You ask me to open up the road, but the road misleads me. All of you want me to show you a path. You want me to speak about the events of the future and say what the world situation will be like. It's because I myself didn't understand that I went to cultivate. "But the road misleads me." It's not for certain that I know.
It is difficult to divulge the secrets of heaven, so I'll reveal the secrets from my Chan. You ask about the secrets of heaven, but it will not be permissible to divulge them. It's an offense to reveal the secret workings of the universe. Since the secrets of heaven can't be divulged, I'll reveal the secrets of Chan instead. I'll speak a prophecy. By the secrets of my Chan, I mean a prophecy. I'll give you a hint about what is to come. This prophecy discusses the influential figures in China, and much of it has already come true, but when he spoke it no one knew whom he was speaking of, because he veiled his language and used riddles. You yourself have to guess.
To whom is the first verse referring? Xuan Tong, the last emperor of the late Qing dynasty. How does his story go?
Clouds heavy and dark,
Vapors dense and gloomy.
The dragon has gone back to the earth,
and mud is modeled into a monkey.
A three-year-old child enjoys only three years of blessings.
Under the moon there is no ruler, and the waters dry up.
In a single day, the vast expanse of mists and ripples is taken over.
Clouds heavy and dark, / Vapors dense and gloomy. The clouds were extremely dark, and there was a fog that made everything look somber. The dark clouds and dismal fog represent the lack of truth and reason. A yin person was in control of the government. The yin person, which is represented by the darkness, refers to the Empress Dowager Cixi. When the Empress Dowager was administering the state affairs from behind a hanging curtain, the sun and moon were both dimmed. It was as if there were no sunshine. The clouds were dark, the atmosphere gloomy. Why? Because the dragon has gone back to the earth, and mud is modeled into a monkey. With the death of Emperor Guang Xu, the dragon burrowed into the earth. Since the dragon returned to the earth, it turned into mud. A live dragon turned into mud, and there was no longer any dragon. There was no Emperor, no Son of Heaven, for the dragon had become mud. The mud was used to fashion a toy monkey. They were playing with the monkey. Who was the monkey? It was the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, Xuan Tong. A three-year-old child enjoys only three years of blessings. They made him the emperor, but he was just like a puppet. The child ascended the throne and became the emperor when he was only three years old. To think that a three-year-old child could be emperor--wouldn't you say they were putting on a play? Isn't it a joke? The day that Xuan Tong assumed the throne, he sat on the lap of the Prince-Regent. But the child didn't understand anything and just sat on the throne crying. At the age of three, he probably didn't think being the emperor was all that interesting. He didn't have any toys to play with. There weren't any toy guns that he could go "bang, bang, bang" with. That's why he cried. The Prince-Regent said, "Don't cry. It will all be over in a little while." You could say that these were prophetic words. Think about it. "It will all be over in a little while" meant it would be finished in a brief time. This indicated that Xuan Tong would not be emperor for long. You could also say that it was a presage indicating the Qing dynasty would soon be over. These were unlucky words. If you say something unlucky to Cantonese people, they'll recite, "Knight of Great Fortune, Knight of Great Fortune." That's how superstitious they are. In this case, they would also have called upon the Knight of Great Fortune. "A three-year-old child enjoys only three years of blessings." He had three years of blessings. He only managed to be emperor for three years. It was all over in a little while.
What happened after it was over? The next line tells us very clearly: Under the moon there is no ruler, and the waters dry up. Beneath the character "moon" (月) there isn't the character for "ruler" (主). There isn't such character, with a "ruler" under the "moon." But above the moon there is a ruler. The character for "moon" with the character for "ruler" above it and the three dots of the water radical beside it form the character "Qing" (清) of the Qing dynasty. When he said "under the moon there is no ruler," it was to lead you to think that above the moon there is no ruler. He couldn't come right out and say, "Above the moon there is no ruler," because then it would be too obvious that it was referring to the character "Qing." "The waters dry up" means there's no more water. The water has flowed away and dried up. The drying up of the water refers to the end of the Qing dynasty. The three dots of the water radical are dried up (清), and there's no ruler under the moon, because the ruler has gone above the moon. This refers to the character "Qing" (清) of the Qing dynasty.
Although it was in the thirtieth year of the Guang Xu reign period [at the end of the Qing dynasty], no one understood this reference. Even to this day, perhaps there is still no one who understands. So, with the line, "Under the moon there is no ruler and the waters dry up," there was no ruler under the moon, no ruler above the moon, and no water, either. Where did the Qing dynasty go? You can study the meaning of this word. This is referring to the demise of the Qing dynasty. The Qing dynasty died a natural death and was gone.
The Qing dynasty went to its death, and the next line is an allusion to the person from whose hands the dynasty was lost. In a single day, the vast expanse of mists and ripples is taken over. "The vast expanse of mists and ripples" refers to the tens of thousands of miles of mountains and rivers. They would all be lost. All the beautiful mountains and rivers in China, would one day be lost--the dynasty would change. Everything would be finished in a single day. The Chinese characters for "a single day" (一旦) combine to make the character Xuan (宣) minus the top element (宀). If you take the top element (宀) off the character Xuan (宣), what remains (亘) can be divided to make the two characters for "a single day" (一旦). He couldn't come right out and say, "Xuan was finished." Instead he said it was over in a single day. He wanted you to figure out that the meaning of "Xuan Tong" was hidden in these words. "A single day" implies that it would all be over in one day. This is what happened to Emperor Xuan Tong. Later Japan used him as a puppet emperor to rule the Manchu empire, and his reign was called Kang De. The Manchu empire was different from both the Qing dynasty and the Republic of China. This is the general story of the Emperor Xuan Tong.
The second verse describes the founder of the Republic. How does it go?
You, sir, are the grandfather,
Whose inner qualities are balanced.
A ten-thousand mile rainbow breaks the waves in its quest.
Within Yellow Crane Tower, a jade flute is blown.
And throughout the land they sing the song of victory together.
A new flag of five colors is unfurled.
You, sir, are the grandfather. You are the grandfather. Since there's a grandfather, naturally there is a grandchild. The character sun (®]) ["grandchild" = the founding father's surname] is hidden in this line. Whose inner qualities are balanced is not a complete idea. It's half of an idiom that comes from the Analects. The full line reads, "His external accomplishments (文) and inner qualities (質) are balanced, and so he is considered a superior man." Isn't it obvious that the character which means "external accomplishments" (文) is hidden in this line? Those who understand will immediately guess that this is a reference to Sun (®]) Wen (文) [Dr. Sun Yatsen, founder of the Republic of China].
A ten-thousand mile rainbow breaks the waves in its quest. This refers to how Founding Father Sun travelled back and forth between Honolulu, Hawaii, and China for the sake of the revolution. Riding in a ship that continually braved the wind and broke the waves as he orchestrated the revolution, he was like a rainbow spanning the ocean. So the verse says, "A ten-thousand mile rainbow breaks the waves in its quest." The ten-thousand-mile rainbow is supposed to be in the sky, but because the verse says "breaks the waves in its quest," we know Dr. Sun was travelling by ship over the sea, braving the wind and waves.
Within Yellow Crane Tower, a jade flute is blown. The Yellow Crane Tower is in the city of Wuchang, Hubei Province. From the top of the Yellow Crane Tower, the horn of revolution was blown, summoning Li Yuanhong to join the revolution and help Dr. Sun in his wave-breaking quest of overthrowing the Qing dynasty and establishing the Republic. Thus, "Within Yellow Crane Tower, a jade flute is blown." The clarion call to the Revolution was made from Yellow Crane Tower.
Throughout the land they sing the song of victory together. When the Wuchang Uprising occurred [October 10, 1911], those in all directions responded to the call of revolution, like clouds being blown together by the wind. They all sang songs of triumph. A new flag of five colors is unfurled. When the Republic was first established, a five-colored flag was adopted as the national flag. It was later that they changed to the flag showing a blue sky with a white sun. This is the second verse, which is about the Wuchang Uprising instigated by Dr. Sun, the founder of the Republic. It is said, "One who possesses virtue is truly rich. One who lacks virtue is a pauper." Therefore, moral virtue is not just the talk of pedantic scholars. Rather, the scope of moral virtue includes wise sayings and true principles. When we look at the successive reigns and political regimes of China that have come and gone, we can understand this principle: "Those possessing virtue will keep hold of the reins of government. Those lacking virtue will lose hold of them." We have been discussing the important figures in the recent hundred years of Chinese history. Some of those people were like a night-blooming cereus, making only a brief appearance. Why? Because they didn't have any virtue. A person who lacks virtue may gain control of the country, but he won't be able to keep it. On the other hand, a virtuous person may not become the ruler of a country, but he will win the hearts of the people. Thus, virtue is very important. The ancients also said, "Virtue is the root. Wealth is the branch tips. If people cast out the roots and pursue the branch tips, what they obtain will be seized from them." You may forget the roots and frantically try to amass money, but because you lack virtue, the wealth you obtain will be stolen and confiscated in the end. If you possess virtue, you will win the willing cooperation and admiration of the people. That's something you can enjoy forever.
For example, when the virtue of Xuan Tong of the Qing dynasty was exhausted, his reign came an end, and the Qing dynasty also ended. Dr. Sun, who initiated the revolution in China, had wisdom but no blessings. His virtue was insufficient, and so after the revolution succeeded, his power was seized by Yuan Shikai. Now we come to the third verse, and we'll talk about Great President Yuan--Emperor Yuan. This is what the verse says:
Gentlemen use the pacifying policy.
Change thirty years a bit.
How could he be a common person?
The night-blooming cereus briefly appears.
In the east, west, north, and south,
Dragons quarrel and tigers battle.
At seven and eight the fate is fixed.
And throughout the land, things are roughly stabilized.
Gentlemen use the pacifying policy. "Pacifying" has the meaning of gentle and soft. According to the literal meaning of the words, this must be talking about an honest official who pacifies those who are ready to revolt, right? No! When the character ji (吉) in the compound for "gentlemen" and the bottom half of huai (懷) in "pacifying policy" (which resembles the character yi (衣) without the dot and horizontal stroke on top) are put together, they form the character "Yuan" (袁). Therefore, let me explain clearly: This line, "Gentlemen use the pacifying policy," is alluding to the character "Yuan."
Change thirty years a bit. Most people interpreted this literally as a prediction that there would be a change after thirty years. Actually, that's not what's meant. What does it mean? It means under the writing of "thirty" (卅) some strokes are added to make the character "Shi" (世). The next line says: How could he be a common person? Taken literally, this line would seem to imply that this individual is no ordinary person. However, this is not what's meant. When the character for "how" (豈) and the character for "common" (凡) are put together, they form the character "Kai" (凱). Taken together, the three lines, "Gentlemen use the pacifying policy. / Change thirty years a bit. / How could he be a common person?" are a reference to the three characters "Yuan Shikai" (袁世凱) [The first president of the Republic of China who proclaimed himself emperor]. Before the time came, no one knew of the existence of Yuan Shikai. When the time came, people still didn't know these lines referred to him. That's why this is called a prophecy. When one carefully reflects upon the words of the prophecy, one will figure out that these lines refer to the name Yuan Shikai.
The night-blooming cereus briefly appears. What does this mean? The brief appearance of the cereus blossom symbolizes a very short time. Because Yuan Shikai didn't have enough virtue, he was emperor for only eighty-three days. His eighty-three day reign was like a cereus flower, which only blooms for a short time at night.
In the east, west, north, and south, / Dragons quarrel and tigers battle. During the time of Yuan Shikai, the Hong Xian reign period, there was Feng Guozhang in Nanjing (the "southern capital"), Duan Qirei in Beijing (the "northern capital"), and others in Xijing (the "western capital") and Dongjing (the "eastern capital"). It was a time of the warlords vying over China, carving up chunks of the empire with each person staking his own claim. There they were in the north, south, east, and west, sparring like dragons and tigers. It was like the eight immortals crossing the ocean, each displaying his own spiritual powers. How long did this go on?
At seven and eight the fate is fixed. "Seven and eight" doesn't mean seven years or eight years. Nor does it mean seven times eight, which is fifty-six. It refers to seven years plus eight years, which is fifteen years. Therefore, this isn't talking about the seventh year or the eighth year of the Chinese Republic. It refers to the fifteenth year of the Republic (l926), the year that the North War Expedition [the attempt to unite the northern part of China] met with success. "At seven and eight the fate is fixed." It was all determined long before it happened. And throughout the land, things are roughly stabilized. At that time China began to have a little bit of peace and calm.
In the fourth verse, it's President Jiang's (Chiang Kaishek's) turn. What does the verse say?
Shields and spears are drawn
To busily catch the deer.
A hero in the bushes is about to descend the mountain.
Multitudes of valiant warriors, waiting and ever-ready,
Assemble at Jiangnan like clouds gathered by the wind.
At Jinling the sun and moon again send forth their light.
Shields and spears are drawn / To busily catch the deer. / A hero in the bushes is about to descend the mountain. "Shields and spears are drawn" refers to battle. People armed themselves with knives and guns. This phrase also describes the time when warlords were carving up the empire. "To busily catch the deer." They all wanted to catch the deer, that is, to rule China. They wanted to make themselves kings. They all wanted to have control over China's territory, either as President, or as Chairman, or as head of the Ruling Committee. They all had the ambition of "catching the deer" (ruling China). We should pay attention to the line, "A hero in the bushes is about to descend the mountain." It's an allusion to President Jiang (Chiang Kai-shek). The top part of the character that is President Jiang's (蔣) surname has a grass radical (艸) [and so the word "bushes"(草莽) is used in this line]. The bottom part of the character Jiang (蔣) is the character "about to" (將), which also appears in this line. This refers to President Jiang coming out to make his appearance. He was the hero in the bushes who was about to come out of the mountains and bring peace and order to the country. Thus, the next lines say, "Multitudes of valiant warriors, waiting and ever-ready, / Assemble at Jiangnan like clouds gathered by the wind. / At Jinling the sun and moon again send forth their light." This is referring to the success of President Jiang's North War Expedition. At that time in China there were warlords who had staked out their territories all over the land. President Jiang went out and quelled the warlords, so the previous line read, "A hero in the bushes is about to descend the mountain."
Multitudes of valiant warriors, waiting and ever-ready: Many heroes and warriors were competing for power and fighting for control of the country. Assemble at Jiangnan like clouds gathered by the wind. At that time, they all converged in Nanjing. All of China's great warriors and statesman of the time gathered in Jiangnan, that is, in Nanjing. At Jinling the sun and moon again send forth their light. Jinling is another name for Nanjing. The sun and moon seemed to shine again in Jinling, and it wasn't so dark anymore. The sun came out again, and so Nanjing saw the light once more. This means that as early as the thirtieth year of the Guang Xu reign period [when this prophecy was spoken], it was already determined that President Jiang would come forth to govern the country.
It's probably due to the extremely heavy karma of killing that the people of China did not have the blessings to enjoy a life characterized by peace, prosperity, and seasonal winds and rains. When the internal turmoil had just about subsided, foreigners came to invade China. Who were these foreign invaders? They were the Japanese.
For several thousands of years, the Japanese have wanted to devour China. Do you know what the Japanese called the medicines they sold? They had a kind of medicine called Light and Quick Pills (qing kuai wan). Wan means "pill," but it also sounds like the word for "over," as in, "It will all be over soon." When people got sick, they would buy these Light and Quick Pills and swallow them. But the name was a pun meaning that the Qing dynasty would soon be over. [In Chinese, "Light and Quick Pills" sounds like "Qing is almost over."] You see, the Japanese had cherished the hope of swallowing China for a long time. They ate Light and Quick Pills to cure their illnesses. But they were thinking, "If we can overthrow the Qing dynasty and take over China, we'll all be free of sickness. What sickness will we be free of? The sickness of hunger. Our hunger will be satisfied." That's the story of the qing kuai wan. What's more, when they made oil-cakes, steamed buns, dough twists, and other pastries, they didn't call them pastries. They referred to them as "China." They treated their pastries, steamed buns--anything edible, in fact--as China. They would consume China. They would pick up their food and eat it as if it were China. That's how they brainwashed people with the idea that they would devour China one day.
The prophecy continues to say:
A tiger from Japan,
A wolf once it crosses the sea.
The red sun that fills the skies becomes dim and obscure.
The vast spiritual land is maimed and devastated.
Everywhere the people are crying for their fathers and mothers.
With the rumble of spring thunder,
sunshine and clear skies are seen.
A tiger from Japan. This is saying that the Japanese over there in Japan was like a tiger. Although Japan is a small country, the League of Nations were in fear of it. For what reason? The Japanese are daring, brave, and fearless in the face of death. One time, before the Second World War, the League of Nations organized a military drill out at sea. At that time, it was still called the League of Nations, not the United Nations. Since I'm not an archaeologist or a historian, I don't know the exact date. However, that time the troops of all the various countries--England, France, Germany, the United States, and others--were going through the steps of the drill on their own cruisers. The drill sergeant called out, "Forward march!" and all the soldiers started marching forward. When the troops of the other countries reached the edge of their respective ships, they continued marching in place, lifting their feet up and bringing them down without moving forward. But what did the Japanese soldiers do when they reached the edge of their cruiser? They walked right into the ocean, with no fear of death whatsoever. After that incident, the allied troops of the League of Nations didn't dare to look down on the Japanese army. Everyone thought, "Wow! What a military spirit! They aren't afraid to die!" The allied troops of the League of Nations were just about scared out of their wits. That's why the Japanese are likened to a tiger. They are as fierce and brave as a tiger.
A wolf once it crosses the sea. They crossed over the sea from Japan and landed in China. In their own country, they were likened to a tiger. They were as feared as tigers. After they crossed the sea, they turned into a wolf. Wolves are even more vicious than tigers. They roam about at night, devouring young children and carrying off piglets, stealing what belongs to people to make a meal for themselves. The Japanese are likened to a wolf after they crossed the sea. When they came to invade China, they were even worse than a tiger. They turned into a wolf. There was no way in which they did not go to the extreme. One knows not how many Chinese were killed. Thus the red sun that fills the skies becomes dim and obscure. There was a sun, but the sun was obscured and everything was gloomy. Originally there had been a red sun in the sky, but at that time everything became dark and gloomy. Why? The sun and moon no longer shone. It was like twilight, for the sun and moon didn't give off any light. At this time they turned China into the vast spiritual land, maimed and devastated. One of the names of China is "spiritual land," because from of old many people in China cultivated the spiritual path and became immortals. It is called the "spiritual land," a place where spirits and immortals gathered. But now it was ripped to shreds, as the Japanese went through China burning, killing, plundering, raping, and doing all they could to maim and devastate the country.
Everywhere the people are crying for their fathers and mothers. There was a mass exodus--flocks of people trying to escape the calamities of war. Children everywhere were calling out for their fathers and mothers. They couldn't find their families. They were wandering without a home. This line refers to a situation in which everyone was fleeing from the war and living a vagabond life. The circumstances were so cruel and distressing that one could not bear to witness them. "Everywhere the people are crying for their fathers and mothers." With the rumble of spring thunder, sunshine and clear skies are seen. "Spring thunder" refers to the atomic bomb. The sound of the atomic bomb exploding was like the rumble of spring thunder. As soon as it exploded, the skies cleared up and the sun could be seen again.
The next verse is the sixth one, and it refers to the Xian Incident. The lines concerning the Xian Incident are as follows:
Within the army barracks,
All the heroes drink uproariously.
The moon is close to its mid-autumn phase.
Before they awaken from their drunken stupor,
Two lions fight for the ball;
One falls into a well.
A beautiful woman in red rouge:
A dimpled face like a cherry blossom.
The three who played the main roles in this crisis were President Jiang (Chiang Kai-shek), Zhang Xueliang, and Madame Jiang--Sung Meiling (the wife of Chiang Kai-shek). Within the army barracks refers to Xian, where the crisis took place. Within the army barracks, all the heroes drink uproariously. There were Zhang Xueliang, Chiang Kai-shek, Yang Hucheng, and many others. "All the heroes" means there were a great number. They all had the look of heroes, the heads and faces of heroes. Everyone was having a drink together. The heroes were all drinking wine there. Which day was this? It was very close to the Mid-Autumn Festival. That's why the next line says: The moon is close to its mid-autumn phase. Probably the moon was covered over by clouds.
Before they awaken from their drunken stupor. Everyone had gotten drunk and fallen asleep, but two lions fight for the ball. During the Xian Incident, there was a company commander named Sun Mingjiu or Sun Mingshi--I'm not sure--who arrested President Jiang. At that time, there were two lions fighting and struggling over a ball. What was the ball? It was the land of China. The two lions were struggling to get the ball. But one falls into a well. One of the lions was not cautious enough and so it fell into a well. It could be said that President Jiang was the lion that fell into the well. It could also be said the Marshall Zhang Xueliang was the one who fell into the well. In any case, President Jiang and Marshall Zhang both fell into the well at some point.
It could be said that the one who fell into the well this time was President Jiang. A beautiful woman in red rouge: / A dimpled face like a cherry blossom. The beautiful woman in red rouge was Madame Jiang, Song Meiling. Madame Jiang and Song Ziwen, along with other people, went to Xian to negotiate with Zhang Xueliang. Zhang Xueliang did not truly want to capture President Jiang. He was only using this method to sway President Jiang. And so when Madame Jiang went there to make the request, Zhang Xueliang, who was a person of integrity, said, "Fine, I will escort (the then) Chairman Jiang back." Then Zhang Xueliang personally escorted President Jiang back to Nanjing. After they returned to Nanjing, who would have expected that, once this lion climbed out of the well, the other lion fell into the well and was kept under house arrest for over fifty years. When the first lion fell into the well, the beautiful woman in red rouge went there and, using her smiles and tears, changed Chinese history. The events of the Xian Incident were predetermined as early as the thirtieth year of the Guang Xu reign (1904).
The next verse is talking about the surrender of the Japanese.
With the spring thunderclap,
A white flag is raised.
Thousands of myriads of living ghosts sob in anguish.
In Rock City a rapid command arrives.
The rites and rituals of the Han Palace are restored.
But in the mountains to the east, fire-light is flaring.
With the spring thunderclap / A white flag is raised: Right after the atomic bomb was dropped, Japan panicked and unconditionally surrendered--they raised the white flag. Thousands of myriads of living ghosts sob in anguish. At that time the Japanese were like living ghosts. The Japanese troops, who had been unafraid of death, now wept and wailed. Some committed suicide. Others didn't want to live anymore. So the verse says, "Thousands of myriads of living ghosts sob in anguish." Originally, the Japanese had been known for their military spirit, for being brave soldiers who showed off their strength and power everywhere. As an army, they had been as ferocious as tigers and wolves, inspiring awe wherever they went. But after their unconditional surrender, they all started crying. They were like living ghosts. Their dignity was all gone, and it's not known where their fierce military courage disappeared to. So thousands of myriads of living ghosts sob in anguish. Once they surrendered, the Chinese began to bully them, because when they invaded China they had killed countless Chinese. The Chinese wanted to take revenge.
In the past I had said to people, "Don't underestimate Japan. Don't look down on Japan. Twenty years from now Japan will be a superpower in the international community." Why did I say that? Although they had been defeated, the Japanese stick together and are nationalistic. They are always looking for a way to be strong again. Twenty years after their surrender, Japan overwhelmed the world with its economic strategy and became a superpower again.
In Rock City a rapid command arrives. "Rock City" refers to Nanjing, also known as Jinling. "A rapid command arrives." The command came from Nanjing. What was the command? It was to celebrate the victory after eight years of war. Everyone was ordered to celebrate the success of the victory. The rites and rituals of the Han Palace are restored. At that time, because everyone wanted to celebrate the victory, they donned their ceremonial robes. China had always been a country of ceremonies and rituals. Now the "three hundred rituals and three thousand deportments" were brought out again. But everyone should be aware: In the mountains to the east, fire-light is flaring. In the mountains to the east, there was another fire. What was this fire? The "mountains to the east" refers to Mao Zedong ["east" is dong], who was in Manchuria then, building up the Eighth Route army; and to Lin Biao, the wolf, leading a pack of wolves--like flares of fire. The fire-light refers to the red Communist Party. The fire-light of the eastern mountains arose once more.
The next verse refers to the emergence of the Chinese Communist Party.
The sun and moon are eclipsed;
The five stars are rare.
Two and seven join together, wearing colorful clothes.
The rustic people lift their feet and stamp on gold tigers.
Throughout the land are red flowers and pervasive hunger.
The noble and wealthy, the poor and lowly,
are without high or low.
Listen to that! Isn't that the Communist Party slogan? The sun and moon are eclipsed means that nighttime was drawing near. Although there was a sun, it was eclipsed. The moon was also eclipsed. Neither the sun nor the moon shone. The five stars are rare. There were very few stars. This line refers to the Communist Party's flag, which was called the five-star flag. The eclipse of the sun and moon represents the disappearance of the flag showing a white sun in a blue sky. However, the five stars were also rare. There weren't many five-star flags either. They were still working underground and had not become popular yet.
However, two and seven join together, wearing colorful clothes. Start with the character "two" (二) and add the character "seven" (七) and that forms the Mao (毛) of Mao Zedong's name. This is an obvious reference to Mao Zedong. The line "two and seven join together, wearing colorful clothes" has the two characters Mao and Ze hidden in it. The character Mao is wearing colorful clothes, which are gaily colored. The character Ze has the meaning of "glossy," which also has a slight connotation of "brilliance and gaiety." So that's what's meant by "wearing colorful clothes."
The rustic people lift their feet and stamp on gold tigers. What does "rustic people" refer to? It means those who were uneducated--the laborers, peasants, and soldiers--the Eight Route Army. "Stamp on gold tigers" means these people went about putting the landlords on trial. Thus the rustic people lifted up their feet and brought them down on the gold tigers--the landlords. The Communists called the landlords "gold tigers" because they were wealthy. They exploited the people, so they were called tigers, gold tigers. The rustic people lifted their feet and oppressed the gold tigers. Even though they were rustics, the gold tigers feared them because they didn't listen to reason.
Throughout the land are red flowers and pervasive hunger. At that time all of China turned red, red Communist. It was as if red flowers were blooming all over the land. "Pervasive hunger." The character for "hunger" isn't the character for "chicken." [The two characters are pronounced the same--ji.] If there were chickens and ducks pervading the land and we wouldn't have to raise them or feed them, then when the time came we could catch them, slaughter them, and eat their flesh. But that's not the case. The character ji here is the one that means hunger. There were red flowers throughout the land, but all across the land the people were starving.
The noble and wealthy, the poor and lowly, are without high or low. At that time the Communist slogan was "No wealthy and no poor. Everyone has food to eat and everyone has work to do." There was supposed to be no high or low. But as soon as they succeeded they began to pass out special privileges. Thus, the difference between the wealthy and the poor, the noble and the lowly, became even greater than before. These lines discuss Mao Zedong.
I recall that before I left Manchuria, there were already underground workers of the Communist Party in the area. I was a monk then; I had already left the home-life. One of them tried to convince me of the advantages of the Communist Party. He talked about how everyone would be equal and all the wealth and property would be distributed evenly. He talked about equality and collective property, and about how everyone would have food to eat, clothes to wear, and work to do. In any case, everyone would be the same. There would be no rich and no poor, but only total equality. Without even thinking, I voiced my objections. I said, "You talk about sharing property, but you can only share property that has shape and form. You can't share formless property. You have no way to make it public." What did he say? I said, "For example, houses, land, property--you can share these. You can distribute these. But you cannot distribute or share a person's inherent property. Why not? Take the eyes, for example. If you truly shared all things in common, you ought to give an eye to the blind man. Let me ask you people of the Communist Party, which one of you is willing to offer one of your eyes to the blind man?" He said nothing. I said, "There isn't anyone who dares to 'share' his eyes. Even if there were, only one or two people's eyes could be shared. There still wouldn't be complete sharing. And even if you offered your eye to the man, it's not for sure that he would be able to see after it was transplanted in his socket. So he still might not obtain the wealth of that property."
"You can hear with your ears, but someone else may be deaf. Would you give one of your ears to him so that he'd have the property of an ear too? Would you do that?" I continued, "A mute cannot speak. Would you give him half of your tongue? If you gave him half of your tongue, you wouldn't be able to speak either, so both of you would be mute. If you shared your eyes, both you and the other person would end up blind. If you shared your ears, both you and the receiver would end up deaf. The same holds true for the arms, legs, and the five sense organs of your body. Can you really share them?" He was left with nothing to say, and so he departed. He came back early the next morning and said, "The things you said yesterday have a lot of principle. However, there are very few people like you. You ought to come forth and do something for the country. You should join the revolution. Come with us and help establish the Communist Party." He wanted me to join the Communist Party. But I thought to myself, "I don't have any property to share, and I don't want to share others' property. What's more, I've never wanted anything in all my life. I don't want to share others' property, others don't want to share my property, and I don't have any wealth to share anyway." I said, "Let me think it over. Serving the country is a good cause. I will consider it." He departed, and the following day I also left. That's when I started walking, step by step, until I came to America. But it was by plane that I came from Hong Kong to America.
The next section discusses Taiwan. What does it say about Taiwan?
Two and seven are both vertical and horizontal.
The ox has two tails.
There were no longer human forms.
The sun moves in its constant track.
In the sea is a golden tortoise:
Formal attire and music.
Iron birds soar in the sky;
The southeast is totally destroyed.
Two and seven are both vertical and horizontal means that when Mao Zedong first became the sovereign of mainland China, he was extremely arrogant with his unprecedented power. At Tiananmen Square, he said, "The Chinese people must stand up!" He felt that there had never been anyone like him before, and there never would be again. He was that haughty, and so this line describes him: "Two and seven are both vertical and horizontal."
The ox has two tails. Have you ever seen an ox with two tails? Wouldn't it be strange? It would really be a monster! This isn't an ox with two tails. It is referring to the character for "ox" (牛) when it has two strokes under it. This makes the character Zhu (朱). "Two and seven" refers to Mao Zedong and "an ox with two tails" refers to Zhu De [his top military official]. So at that time the two were referred to as Zhu-Mao, Zhu-Mao. There were no longer human forms. They were no longer like human beings. The sun moves in its constant track. At that time, the sun and moon still rotated and revolved in their orbits as usual. For the people, the days also passed one by one without much change in the situation.
In the sea is a golden tortoise. This refers to Taiwan. The land of that island is like a huge golden tortoise. That's why Buddhism flourished there--it was just as if Guanyin Bodhisattva had placed her feet on that golden tortoise in the sea. So there were many left-home people who left mainland China and went to Taiwan. That's why it's described as "in the sea is a golden tortoise."
Formal attire and music. "Formal attire" refers to black ceremonial dress. "Music" means they played music and sang in eternal celebration of peace. They passed their days in peace and prosperity. But when the iron birds soar in the sky, / The southeast is totally destroyed. "Iron birds" refers to airplanes flying in the sky. I still remember in the l950's when China sent airplanes to try to find out the military situation. Taiwan had Rattlesnake Missiles which shot down the planes. After that, the Communists never dared to come back to raid. "The southeast is totally destroyed." This means that communications were cut between the Mainland and Taiwan. For several decades they have lived this way and Taiwan has enjoyed prosperity and peace.
The next verse says:
Rosy red clouds turn blue;
White clouds evaporate.
Falling petals and flowing water--
Both sides are devoid of feeling.
The water in the four seas all turns red,
And white bones pile up like hills, covering the mountains.
The jade rabbit will gradually rise in the east.
These few lines are probably referring to the present time. Rosy red clouds turn blue. Communists were originally represented by the color red, but now the color will probably change to blue, indicating that communism will change to capitalism. This is the current status. The door has been opened. Isn't China also considered a great economic power nowadays? It's become blue and isn't red anymore. Blue represents that people are eating, drinking, and enjoying themselves with a lot of money at their disposal. That's like mainland China today. In mainland China, people are eating and enjoying as if there is no tomorrow. Communism was originally red, but now it's become blue. It has to change before it can be reformed. White clouds evaporate. "White clouds" refers to the flag showing a blue sky with a white sun, the flag of the Nationalist Party. The Nationalist Party is like a white cloud that evaporates and is gone. It disappears in the air and turns into water vapor.
Thus the verse says: Falling petals and flowing water-- / Both sides are devoid of feeling. "Falling petals" refer to the Communist Party, and flowing water refers to the Nationalist Party. The two parties have no feelings for each other. Neither of them is sincere. They cheat each other. Both sides are devoid of feeling: They are not courteous to each other. Therefore, their influence has come almost to an end. Neither side is willing to yield to the other. Thus: The water in the four seas all turns red. The water of the four seas turns red as the blood flows in rivers. And white bones pile up like hills, covering the mountains. There are so many bones of the dead that they are heaped up like hills. The mountains and wilderness are filled with human bones. The jade rabbit will gradually rise in the east. When the chaos reaches an extreme, people will decide they want peace. And so, once again, things will slowly become better. The jade rabbit means the moon, which will rise slowly in the east and gradually start to shine again. Therefore, once again, people will see the real moonlight.
The next verse says:
The coffin is nailed shut,
And the merit and offenses can be distinguished.
Expansive seas and lands will again know peace and harmony.
The events in this hundred-year span are hazy--as if a dream.
Springtime peace and golden glitter prevail in the southern dynasty.
For tens of thousands of miles throughout the land,
everything is green.
At this time the sun will rise again in China. The country will be prosperous and the people will live in peace. The rains and winds will come in season. The coffin is nailed shut, and the merit and offenses can be distinguished. When they have all died and their coffins are nailed shut, their lives can be evaluated. At that time, it will be possible to determine who has merit and who has offenses. History will tell very clearly. Expansive seas and lands will again know peace and harmony. It will be time for peace. "When things reach their extreme, they turn around. When stagnation reaches an extreme, peace comes." When the chaos reaches an extreme, it will be time for peace and calm. When peace and calm reach an extreme point, it will become chaotic again. From ancient times to the present, the fortunes of China have alternated between prosperity and decline, between order and chaos. It is said, "It is a rule that a true imperial sovereign should arise in the course of five hundred years, and that during that time there should be men illustrious in their generation." The vast and of China, which seems to have no boundaries, will see a time of peace. The events in this hundred-year span are hazy--as if a dream. From the end of the Qing dynasty to the present, it's been almost a hundred years. All the great events during that time have happened as if in a dream.
Springtime peace and gold powder prevail in the southern dynasty. In the future the capital will be established in Nanjing. The southern dynasty refers to Nanjing ("southern capital"). The peaceful and prosperous era of music and dancing will return, and musical halls will abound. The atmosphere in Nanjing will be very joyful and merry again. Nanjing will celebrate in peace again. The people will enjoy tranquility and things will be plentiful. Everyone will have abundant clothing and food. Springtime peace means it will be a very good time. The "golden glitter" refers to the girls on the boats in Nanjing, who entertain clients by singing songs and drinking with them. The occasions for displays of luxury and splendor will return. That is for certain.
For tens of thousands of miles throughout the land, everything is green. Everywhere, green clothing will be emphasized. In the future the army that replaces the Communists will take green as its color. Green also means mourning. That is, this army will be expressing its condolence to the people while attacking the tyrant. They think the tyrant has been too cruel, and they want to seek justice for the people. "Everything is green": All the people's clothing and the uniforms of the army will be green. All the land for tens of thousands of miles will be occupied by soldiers, so the verse says that everything will green throughout the land. This army is referring to a new army that will arise in the future, not to the Communist or Nationalist Parties. But it will arise from these two. The country's fate is that it is sometimes at peace, sometimes in chaos, sometimes prosperous, and sometimes in decline.
Emperor Gao of Tang
Raised an army
To quell the disorder of the Sui dynasty
And established the country's foundation.
This was just like the beginning of the Republic of China, when Li Yuanhong started the revolution and people from all directions responded.
The world is divided into three parts;
A sage will appear.
Black will be his hat, and a dragon will adorn his robes.
The sun and moon will be bright once more,
And he will oversee the myriad affairs.
Within the four seas, odes and praises will be sung.
All will come under the protection of his blessings.
The world is divided into three parts. This is not referring only to China. Rather, it means the world will be jointly governed by three large nations. It is not certain which three nations these will be. They could be America, China, and Japan; or the Soviet Union, Japan, and China. In any case, China will be one of the three. Like a sacrificial vessel which has three legs, the world will be divided and governed by these three great countries.
A sage will appear. A sage will emerge in China. Black will be his hat, and a dragon will adorn his robes. He will wear a black hat, and the insignia of a dragon will be displayed very clearly and obviously on his shoulder badge. Most military officers have shoulder badges (epaulets) on their uniforms. The uniforms of five-star generals all have shoulder badges. In this case, his shoulder badge will bear the emblem of a dragon. The sun and moon will be bright once more. This means the heavens will return to normal, and the sun will come out again. Heaven and earth will again have light. And he will oversee the myriad affairs. At this time the sage will govern the world and attend to the myriad daily affairs. He will work to bring prosperity to the people of the world. Because he will care about the well-being of all people and work to give them blessings, within the four seas odes and praises will be sung. All the people sing and dance, dwelling in peace and content with their work. Everyone lives happily, without any worries or afflictions.
All will come under the protection of his blessings. The people of the world will all enjoy the protection of the sage's blessings, which will shelter them. As the saying goes, "When one person has virtue, all the multitudes can rely upon him." If that one person is intelligent, the light of his blessings will shine upon all the people of the world. And so in the twenty-first century China will lead the world. That is, if everyone works towards the good, then they will lead the world. But if they don't work toward the good, then China may not even be able to survive because foreign countries are lurking, ever watchful of China. As soon as she shows any signs of weakness, or scattering or splitting, it will be just like the snipe's beak locked in the shell of the clam--the only one who will benefit will be the fisherman. If they go toward the good, then the Chinese will lead the world in the future. If they don't go toward the good and don't walk upon a bright path, then they will be led by others.
The above is the poem that Great Master Bu Xu spoke. Following that, he spoke another four lines of verse. He said,
Vast and boundless is heaven's destiny,
and basically difficult to know.
Only on the part of living beings
can the cosmic fate be influenced.
This old monk does not dare
to indulge his tongue too much.
If I completely reveal heaven's workings,
I'm afraid I will be executed.
Vast and boundless is heaven's destiny, and basically difficult to know. This is talking about fate. The vast, boundless, infinite, and inexhaustible principles of fate are basically not easy to know.
Only on the part of living beings can the cosmic fate be influenced. Regardless of whether you know or not, and regardless of how immense the scope is, if all living beings can change their evil and become good, they will be able to influence heaven and earth to become peaceful and to have an air of auspicious harmony. This old monk does not dare to indulge his tongue too much. Great Master Bu Xu says, "I, this old monk, don't dare to say too much."
If I completely reveal heaven's workings, I'm afraid I will be executed. If I completely disclose the secrets of heaven, I may be struck by lightning as a reprimand from heaven. Heaven may punish me.
This has been a general discussion of the influential figures in China over the last hundred years. I hope that we will all not neglect our country; not neglect our family; and not neglect our own physical health. Not only should we care about our own health, we should care about our family and about our country. This is my hope for all good and wise advisors in Taiwan. Why have I told all of you about this? Because I want everyone to wake up and realize that everything involves fate--it is all determined. People are just like robots, under the control of heaven and earth. That's how they become upside-down, doing heartless things and fighting for power and benefit. In fact, it's all the same whether you fight or not. Everyone should learn from the Great Master Bu Xu: Forget about fighting for fame and benefit; hurry up and cultivate instead.