Original Chinese Language Article By: Yang Guang Tu (杨广图)
Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD
Mount Ji Zu is located near Dali City in China’s Yunnan province. Mount Ji Zu is one of the most sacred mountains associated with Buddhism within Southeast Asia. This area is referred to as the ‘First Gate into China’, as one of Shakyamuni Buddha’s great ten disciples entered China through this area. This is why this area also carries the descriptive titles of ‘First Prominent Buddhist Monk’, and ‘First in Excellent Morality’, as this is believed to be where the Venerable Monk Mahakasyapa Thera (the First Indian Ch’an Patriarch) is said to have guarded (the transmitted) robe, and entered deep and profound meditation. This is why the area is respected as the ‘First Gate into China’. More recently, this place has caused internet users in China to claim that on the cliff wall a likeness of the face of the Old Venerable Monk Xu Yun (1840-1959) can be seen as if engraved in the stone.
This reporter was informed about this phenomenon by friends, and decided to travel to the area to see for himself. Upon arrival at Mount Ji Zu, I did indeed discover a likeness of Xu Yun within the stone of the cliff opposite and to the right of the ‘First Gate into China’ that matched the pictures seen on the internet. The image of what looks like a head has very prominent eyes, nose, and mouth. However, the eyes appear to be closed, and the facial expression seems very similar to that of a monk engaged in deep meditation. When ordinary people see this image, many think it is some kind of miracle or magical manifestation.
The Venerable Old Master Xu Yun existed in the time of modern Buddhism and was an outstanding teacher. He was a Buddhist monk who strictly adhered to the Vinaya Discipline for over a hundred years, and cultivated the Dao in at least fifteen different temples, which included the temple of the Sixth Patriarch (Hui Neng). When the time was right, he inherited the lineages of all Five Ch’an Schools. He was a very highly respected Ch’an monk, and had tens of thousands of disciples (both ordained and lay), to whom he transmitted the genuine Ch’an Dharma. He was recognised as an eminent Ch’an monk during the reign of the Guang Xu Emperor (1875-1908) of the Qing Dynasty. It was on Mount Ji Zu that Xu Yun presided over Bo Yu Temple. Much later, after he had left Mount Ji Zu, Xu Yun heard that it had fallen into disrepair and vowed to renovate it. He did this by collecting donations from the coastal areas of southern China, Southeast Asia, and other places. In the first year of the reign of the Xuan Tong Emperor (1909), Xu Yun was presented with a ‘Dragon Tripitaka’ (or a complete set of ‘Imperial Buddhist Sutras’), as a gift from the Beijing palace to the Bo Yu Temple. The temple’s name was also changed by imperial decree at this auspicious time from ‘Bo Yu’ (i.e. ‘Alms Bowl’) Temple to that of ‘Hu Guo Zhu Sheng’, (or ‘Protect Country Respect Sage’) Temple.
Today, the temple on Mount Ji Zu is venerated as a very sacred Buddhist area because of its association with Mahakasyapa and Xu Yun, and attracts thousands of devout Buddhist pilgrims and interested tourists from around the world (but particularly from Southeast Asia) every year.
©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2015.
Original Chinese Language Source text: