Events in the Life of the Venerable Master Hua


Han Gangji saw that she was such a fierce demon and said, "Master, we can't handle this one."
"Then what will become of the sick girl?" I asked.
"She will certainly die; there's no way to help her," he said.
"I can't allow her to die. If she weren't my disciple I'd pay no attention, but she took refuge with me on the twenty-fifth of last month.. If she hadn't taken refuge with me, I wouldn't care whether the demon took her life or not. But she took refuge with me, so I can't allow the demon to take her life. I've got to do something."
"You take care of it, then," said Han Gangji, "but I'm not going."

"What?" I said, "When you took refuge, you promised me that you would jump into boiling water or walk on fire if I asked you to. Now it's not even boiling water or fire; why have you decided to back out? If you're afraid to go, then you don't have to be my disciple anymore."
Han Gangji had nothing to say. He thought it over. "If you appoint some Dharma-protecting gods to take care of me..."
"Don't shilly-shally!" I said. "If you're going to go, go. But don't vacillate!"
He said no more and followed me. When we arrived, the girl was lying on the bed with her head on the pillow and her bottom sticking up in the air; it was an embarrassing sight. Her eyes were as wide as those of a cow, and she glared with rage at me.

I asked the girl's family, "What is the cause of the illness?"
They told me that seven or eight days earlier, an old woman, about three feet tall and in her fifties, had been sitting beside an isolated grave outside the village. She was wearing a dark blue gown and had braided her hair backwards in two plaits that went up her head in back and hung down across her temples. She was wearing yellow trousers and shoes and holding a black hat, looking quite strange, and she was crying mournfully beside the grave.

Hearing her cries from the road, the elderly Mrs. Xia (who was also my disciple) went to comfort her, saying, "Why are you so sad? Please don't cry." What was she crying about? Mrs. Xia heard her crying in a barely audible voice, "Oh my person, oh my person..." She kept looking for her "person." Mrs. Xia asked her, "Where are you from?"
She said, "Don't talk to me, I'm a ghost!" Mrs. Xia was so frightened that she left. But the old woman walked behind Mrs. Xia and followed her all the way to the village gate. There must have been a spirit guarding the gate, because the old woman wouldn't go in. The village was surrounded by a wall and had a gate on each of the four sides. Mrs. Xia went in, but the old woman stayed outside the gate, crying. I think the spirit guarding the gate must have kept her from going in.

At that moment Xia Zunxiang's horse cart returned to the village. When it reached the gate the horse saw the woman and shied in fright, for horses can recognize things that people cannot see. As the horse cart went careening through the gate, the old woman followed it in. Probably the spirit who guarded the gate had his back turned, and in the confusion, she went sneaking through.

The old woman ran to the house of Mr. Yu Zhongbao and continued to look for her "person." She looked at Mr. Yu and then ran out of the house onto the street, where she was surrounded by thirty or forty curious onlookers who asked her, "What's your last name?"
"I don't have a last name."
"What's your first name?" She didn't have a first name, either. "Where are you from? What are you doing here?" they asked.

"I'm a corpse--a ghost. I'm looking for my 'person.'" she said. Because there was such a crowd, they were not afraid when they heard her say she was a ghost. They called her "stupid old woman" because of her crazy talk. They looked at her as if she were a freak. She continued to walk as if in a stupor until she reached the back wall of Xia Wenshan's estate. She then threw her black hat over the eight-foot dirt wall, and in one jump, leapt right over after it. No one else could have jumped over the wall, but she made it.
"The stupid old woman knows kung fu!" the crowd screeched, and they ran around and went in through the front gate to watch her.

Xia Wenshan's son Xia Zunquan, who had also taken refuge on the twenty-fourth, ran in the door. "Mama! Mama! The stupid old woman is in our house, but don't be afraid."
His mother looked out the window, but saw nothing strange. When she turned around, there was the old woman crawling up on the brick bed. She was halfway on the bed and halfway on the floor, looking for her "person."
"Whom are you looking for? What do you want?" shouted the mother, but the old woman made no reply.
Seeing the old woman's strange behavior, the mother said to her daughter, "This woman is really weird. We'd better recite the Great Compassion Mantra."

When those people had taken refuge, I had taught them to recite the Great Compassion Mantra. I had said to them, "Each of you should learn to recite the Great Compassion Mantra. It will be of great help to you. If you are in danger and distress and you recite it, Guanyin Bodhisattva will protect you." Since then, many of them had been reciting the Great Compassion Mantra. The mother and her daughter began immediately to recite the mantra.

Just as they recited the first line of the mantra, Na mo he la da nuo duo la ye ye, the old woman slipped to the ground and lay inert, exactly like a corpse. Seeing that, the family was greatly upset. If somebody were to die in their home, it would not be good. They went for the sheriff. When the sheriff saw the old woman lying on the floor as if she were dying, he picked her up with one hand and set her outside. Then he took her to the village courthouse for questioning. "Where are you from?" he asked, "and why have you come here?"
"Don't ask me," she said. "I'm a corpse. I have no name and no home. I just live wherever I am."

Frightened by her strange talk and behavior, the sheriff escorted her at pistol point some fifty paces outside the village. But when he returned to the village gate, she was right behind him. The second time he took her seventy paces from the village, but on the way back he discovered that she was following him again. Finally, he and three or four other deputies took her 150 paces outside the village and said, "Get out or get shot!" and they fired two shots in the air.

The old woman fell to the ground in terror, thinking the shots were thunder, which had destroyed her before. This time she didn't follow them back to the village.

Although the old woman was gone, Xia Wenshan's daughter, who was seventeen or eighteen at the time, fell sick. After the old woman left their house, the daughter lay on the bed with her head buried in the pillow and and her bottom sticking up in the air. She glared in rage and didn't speak, nor did she sleep at night. She looked as if she were making bows on the bed. She didn't eat for seven or eight days. She had been possessed by a demon.

Before we went to Xia Wenshan's home, I said to Han Gangji, "You said that if we tried to handle the matter we would die. Well, I would rather die than not save one of my disciples. First of all, this sick girl has taken refuge with me. She has been possessed by a demon, and I have to help her out of this trouble. I can't just stand by and let her die.

Secondly, I must save the demon. You say no one can control her, but she has committed so many offenses and harmed so many people that there's bound to be someone who can subdue her. She's bound to be punished. If she were to be destroyed, it would be a great pity, for she has cultivated diligently for many years. Even if she has enough power to kill me, I'll still save her and teach her to be good. Finally, I must save all living beings in the world, and if I don't subdue her now, in the future many people will be harmed by her. For these three reasons, then, I'm going to work."

Just then the sheriff happened by and overheard us saying that the old woman was a demon. "No wonder!" he exclaimed. "That's why I was able to pick her up with one hand, just as if there were nothing there at all. It didn't occur to me at the time, but now I realize she's a demon. She was as light as a sheet of paper."

< PREVIOUS           NEXT >

Pages:  1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10    11    12    13    14

return to top