相书-晃晃悠悠的传承 The Precarious Transmission
[Xiang’s Essay] - The Precarious Transmission
In the year of 526 A.D., a forty-year-old man (an old age in ancient times) came to Shaolin Temple by himself. Shaolin Temple, back in its times, was a kind of Buddhist Institute, where a thousand monks learned and studied about Buddhism, discussed and communicated with each other, and attended international Buddhist Conferences. But this man, without background, without connections, without even a formal position in the Temple, came to live here on simple food and dwelling. But why? Back in the spring of the same year, the old man met a saint during his meditation. The saint told him to get up and head south to pursue his metaphysical ideal. The old man believed he was awakened by a saint in this dreamlike encounter, and from then on named himself Shen Guang (saint’s enlightenment).
Shen Guang knew well about Confucianism and Taoism before becoming a monk in his thirtieth year. After a two-year study of Buddhism, he began to use Buddhist methodologies on his research of the world. Eight years of concentrated zen-meditation gave him a headache that nearly drove him mad. Shen Guang’s teacher, at the point of curing Shen Guang with Chinese medication, was stopped by some sort of mysterious power. After being told that this was a process of rebirth, Shen Guang’s headache was gone. Having died once, he decided to die a more valuable death. From the gossips (which was a traditional entertainment here) that spreaded around the Temple, Shen Guang learned that an Indian Brahmin had lived here since the middle of November, sat in a cave facing the wall all day, to avoid any talk or disturbance. Shen Guang took no notice at first. But as the gossips were still flying around in December, he became so curious that he finally met the Brahmin on his own on the night of December 9th.
Shen Guang studied from the Brahmin for six years. Then he came down from the mountain and toured around according to Bodhidharma’s order. At the age of seventy-two, he transmitted the order to a forty-year-old man who suffered from serious venereal disease. Afterwards, this man became a monk, too.
For thirty years Shen Guang fiddled around in the town and lingered in brothels or taverns, and was reviled by townsmen. At the age of a hundred and seven, he was committed to be evil and got beheaded.