Category Archives: 佛教公案

Buddhist Koan- Elder Monk Xu Yun Tamed General Genyuan Li Who Wanted to Demolish Temple and Destroy Buddhism

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Buddhist Koan- Elder Monk Xu Yun Tamed General Genyuan Li Who Wanted to Demolish Temple and Destroy Buddhism

By Zhengjian Li

 

General Li Genyuan was the commander of the Yunnan New Army at that time. He had studied overseas in Germany before returning to China and was a young and energetic general. He regarded himself a strong believer of science and perceived Buddhism as superstition. He wanted very much to have Buddhism removed. Because of that, he came up with the excuse that there were tens of thousands of monks in Mount Jizhu and they might organize armed resistance. Therefore, he personally led his troops to Mount Jizhu. On their way, the several thousands of officers and soldiers were demolishing temples and arresting monks.

When Elder Monk Xu Yun, abbot of Zhu Sheng Temple in Mount Jizhu, heard about this, he decided to come down from the mountain in person to persuade Li Genyuan to stop. When Li Genyuan saw this thin yet spirited elder monk who had his long beard hanging down, noticing Xu Yun’s uncommon grace and peaceful and calm manner, he was spontaneously startled, “Oh! This is Xu Yun. He does have a little uncommon demeanor!”

Li Genyuan harshly shouted, “I want to catch you. Now you even dare send yourself to me! Maybe you label yourself as not fearing death. Let me ask you, how many lives do you have?”

Xu Yun kept his head up and replied calmly, “Great Commander, I, Xu Yun, have only one life. Also, I am not any hero or brave man who does not fear death. I am just a monastic person. Today, I do not shy away from your killing weapons and risk my death to meet you, Great Commander. My purpose is to beseech an order from you, Great Commander, to save Buddhism. I ask you, Great Commander, to immediately stop demolishing temples and destroying Buddhism.”

“Are you really not afraid of death?” Li Genyuan had a cold smile.

Xu Yun did not have the slightest fear on his face and smiled gently and calmly, “I, Xu Yun, have made up my determination to die for Buddhism long ago. If, before my death, you, Great Commander, can give me an opportunity to state my cause clearly and stop doing damages to Buddhism in the future, I am willing to die.”

Li Genyuan spoke coldly, “You answer me first. You kept saying wanting to die for Buddhism and tell me not to destroy Buddhism. Let me ask you. What benefit does Buddhism have?”

Xu Yun replied with a smile, “The Buddha established Buddhism to advocate great love and great compassion, serve the world and benefit the population, and broadly save living beings from suffering and hardship. Buddhism persuade and transform people in the world to do goodness and remove evil, cultivate conduct and virtue, and save oneself as well as others. Buddhism first teaches people to cure their minds. The mind is the source and origin of all afflictions. Once the origin is correct, all things can be in serenity and peace will be everywhere. The world will be calm and peaceful.”

Li Genyuan’s face turned a little milder, “I admit that you have good eloquence of debate. However, what is the use of these statues sculpted with mud and carved from wood? These statues lead people into superstition for nothing!”

Xu Yun stated calmly, solemnly, and respectfully, “The Buddha spoke about the appearance of Buddha-dharma. The appearance is to express the dharma. Not expressing with appearance, the dharma cannot be publicized. The Buddha statues made of sculptures are to symbolize the Buddha’s solemn elegance and loving compassion, to let people generate homage, confidence, and respectful fear from viewing. Without respectful fear in mind, people will do all kinds of malicious acts, thereby creating calamities and upheavals. Even if we just talk about customs in the world, examples are Confucius’ statue in his temple at Mount Ni, an ancient person named Ding Lan carved wood statues of his parents to repent for not being filial enough earlier, worshipping ancestors in ancestral temples by all clans in China, and bronze statues seen in all Western countries. All are for the purpose of letting people view and generate respect and faith. Buddha statues are sculpted with mud and carved from wood. However, what we respect and pay homage to are not the materials of earth and wood. Rather, we respect and pay homage to the symbolized Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with great love and great compassion. As a result, thoughts of all kinds can develop in the mind to induce us to save ourselves and save others. The enthusiasm of respect and faith arises from seeing Buddha statues. The merit and effect are inconceivable!”

Li Genyuan nodded, “It does sound reasonable, hearing what you said. However, my mind does not submit to that. You monks talk about cause and effect and talk about samsara (transmigration). These superstitious views and concepts are elusive without bases in science. I studied science and military in the West. I despise these old superstitions the most. That is why I am determined to uproot them. I would like to hear how you can skillfully argue about that.”

Xu Yun smiled, “First, I need to explain what superstition is. The so-called superstition refers to blindly following and obeying without clearly understanding the truth and knowing the ultimate reason and, moreover, without distinguishing good or bad and upright from evil. Examples are, killing people to sacrifice for evil deities, slaughtering cattle, sheep, chicken, duck, or other lives to worship ghosts and gods, presenting gold and silver to bribe and beg ghosts and gods for blessing wealth, engaging in sexual misconduct to please demonic ghosts and demonic deities, using ghosts and deities as excuses to raise money with selfish purposes, mocking ghosts and deities to carry out despicably intolerable malicious conduct or direct people to do things violating loyalty, trust, and benevolence, teaching people to steal, rape, and kill, teaching people to commit fraud and extortion, and encouraging cruelty and disorder. All acts of these types belong to superstition! If a faith teaches people with loyalty, filial act, benevolence, and love, advocates faith, trust, and peace, praise and spread etiquette, firmly cultivate humility, promote great love and great compassion of Buddhism, broadly save living beings to leave suffering and hardship to arrive at bliss and peace, teach people in the world to help and support each other with loving compassion, use loving compassion, benevolence, and virtue to teach and transform the world, pursue goodness and break away from malicious deeds, and take refuge in correct teaching and abandon evil dogmas, how can superstition come from such correct faith and correct wisdom?”

Li Genyuan quietly listened and the cruel and offending expression on his face gradually disappeared. He said, “Elder Monk, these statements are truly reasonable! However, you did not explain cause and effect and samsara clearly. These do not agree with science!”

Xu Yun said, “The so-called science is the accumulation and investigation of the wisdom and knowledge of humanity. The approach is inheriting from the past and developing the future, knowing the past to probe the future, and using what is known to investigate and validate the unknown. The learning from such investigation and validation never stops or stays at the same place. People must quest and probe incessantly. Only that is the true spirit of science! The scientific knowledge at the current time is of course greatly advanced from that of the ancient and middle ages. However, does that mean there is nothing unknown already? Does that mean we have completely understood all subtleties and secrets of the universe?”

Li Genyuan said, “Of course we have not been able to do that yet.”

Xu Yun smiled, “Sutras of Buddhism already studied the genuine knowledge exhaustively several thousand years ago. It has been known that the universe never ends through all lifetimes. Matters in existence will annihilate and will be reborn after annihilation, in different shape and state. It is just a process of transforming between different form bodies. On the other hand, only in the current era, Western scientists stated the law of matter’s conservation. Buddhist sutras stated the world’s continuity and living beings’ continuity long ago. These agree completely with the law of physics of the universe. Why do you say the concept of samsara is not scientific?”

Li Genyuan asked, “What do these have to do with samsara and cause and effect?”

Xu Yun said, “The law of cause and effect is the law and principle governing the cycle of the universe! All things must first have the causes of birth and annihilation and then have the consequences. This is the cycle from the law of cause and effect! All sentient beings have wisdom and power of consciousness. After the death of the physical body, the power of consciousness still exists, which is the soul that worldly people talk about. A person who cultivates, practices, and carries out good conduct has a concentrated mind and calmed spirit and knows to go toward goodness and avoid calamity by instinct. Focusing the mind to chant Amitabha Buddha’s name will let one to know about going to the World of Ultimate Bliss. If this person practices good conduct, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will naturally come to receive him. Conversely, if a person has done a lot of malicious acts and evil deeds and has a surly, hostile, and unkind mind nature, then his conscience is closed and his wisdom is also all lost. That means his power of consciousness and soul also got lost. Moreover, because he does not know chanting the Buddha’s name, he will naturally devolve. With a muddled head and not knowing the direction, he can only follow his karmas to transmigrate and cannot get out. Consequently, he has to suffer life after life and also has to pay back for his earlier malicious acts. This is the law and principle of the universe. Things all have coming and going and undergo the never-ending cycle. What is unscientific in the law of cause and effect and samsara?”

Hearing this, Li Genyuan was horrified. He was sweating all over but felt chilling to the bone. He was extremely moved and said sincerely, “Elder Master Xu, hearing this speech from you is more beneficial than studying in school for ten years to me, your disciple! I, your disciple, studied overseas in the West and only learned some skin-deep and hair-thin science. I really do not know the profound principles of the universe and even absurdly wanted to destroy Buddhism! From listening to your teaching and discourse, I am now completely clear. I ask you, Elder Master Xu, to allow me to take refuge before you to become a Buddhist disciple!”

Xu Yun smiled, “Great Commander, please get up. Since you, Great Commander, have become clear and have the determination to believe in Buddhism, this shows you, Great Commander, still has a very deep root of goodness and can realize the truth quickly. However, please first develop more opportunities to get close to Buddha-dharma and let real faith develop in your mind and become firm and unmovable, the matter of taking refuge can be talked about after that.”

Li Genyuan immediately said, “Elder Master Xu, please do not call me, your disciple, great commander anymore. Even though you, Elder Master Xu, do not want to accept me as your disciple today, I, your disciple, have already submitted to you in my mind. Please call me by name directly.”

In that evening, Li Genyuan gave the order to light up candles to talk with Xu Yun at night about the principles of Buddhism. From the clear manifestation of the law of cause and effect to the inter-webbed net of karmas, consequences of karmas and karmic conditions, the continuity of the world, the continuity of living beings, and other fundamental principles of Buddhism, and to the profound axioms in Buddhist sutras, Xu Yun introduced the profundity of the universe. Li Genyuan was completely convinced and had full admiration. They spoke until after midnight and were very high-spirited.

Li Genyuan sighed, “Without hearing Elder Master Xu’s earnest teaching and explanation today, I really do not know the fact that the principles of Buddhism and Buddha-dharma are so broad, great, and profound. I now have the complete faith and submission! I am determined to take refuge in Buddha-dharma.”

The next morning, Li Genyuan personally guarded Xu Yun to return to the temple. Wearing his military uniform indicating a general’s rank, Li Genyuan led the horse in person. Xu Yun, who was 72 years old, was sitting on the horse. They slowly walked to the temple’s gate. Behind them were several dozens of horse-riding guarding officers. With the shining Sun, golden light appeared from the mountain. Starting from the mountain top and coming downward, trees and grasses were covered with golden color. The scene of the entire mountain shining golden light was extremely splendid and solemn.

 

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佛教公案- 虛雲老和尚調伏毀寺損佛的李根源將軍

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虛雲老和尚調伏毀寺損佛的李根源將軍

       當年任雲南新軍統領的李根源,是曾在德國陸軍留學返國的少壯派將領,他自認篤信科學,視佛教為迷信,極欲除之,因此借口雞足山僧人數萬之眾,有武裝抗拒之嫌,於是親自率兵開往雞足山,數千兵將,一路拆炸佛寺,逮捕和尚。

 

雞足山祝聖寺主持虛雲老和尚聞之,決定親自下山,勸阻李根源。李根源一見到這位白鬚長垂的清瘦老和尚時,見其氣宇不凡,態度安詳鎮定,不由不心中吃驚:“哦!原來這就是虛雲!果然有一點不凡風度!”

 

李根源厲聲喝道:“我正要抓你!你竟敢自己送上門來了!你大概以不怕死自命吧?我問你,你有幾條命?”。

 

虛雲昂首泰然地說:“大帥!虛雲只有一條命,也不是不怕死的英雄好漢,只是個出家人。今日不避斧钺,冒死來見大帥,實是為了保存佛教前來向大帥請命。請大帥立刻停止拆寺毀佛!”

 

“你真不怕死?”李根源冷笑。

 

虛雲面無懼色,溫和泰然地微笑:“虛雲早已心存殉佛。若是死前得蒙大帥聽我講明白,又得蒙大帥從今不再毀佛,虛雲甘心一死!”

 

李根源冷冷地說:“你先答我話,你口口聲聲要殉佛,又叫我勿毀佛教。我問你,佛教有何益處?”

 

虛雲微笑答道:“佛陀設立佛教,立下大慈大悲,濟世利民,普度眾生,脫苦度厄,勸化世人為善去惡,修行修德,自度度人。佛教首先教人治心,心乃一切煩惱之源本,本得其正,萬物以寧,天下太平,世界安寧。”

 

李根源顏色稍緩和:“算你能言善辯!但是,要這些泥塑木雕的偶像有何用處呢?這些偶像徒然導民入於迷信!”

 

虛雲從容莊敬地說:“佛言法相!相以表法,不以相表,於法不張。雕塑佛像,乃是借此象徵佛之莊嚴慈悲,令人見而生敬仰信心又生敬畏。人心若無敬畏,則無惡不作,禍亂以成。即以世俗而言,尼山塑聖,丁蘭刻木,中國各宗族祠堂,以及西洋各國銅像,亦不過是令人見而生敬信而已。佛像雖是泥塑木雕,吾人所敬拜者,並非泥土與木頭物質本身,而是敬拜其所象徵的大慈大悲之佛菩薩,從而心生百善之念,自度度人,見佛像而起敬信之忱,功效不可思議!語其極則,若見諸相非相,即見如來!”

 

李根源點頭道:“聽你講來,也不無道理。但是,我是不心服的。你們和尚講什麼因果,講什麼輪回,這些迷信觀念都是渺茫無科學根據的。我是西洋學科學與軍事的人,我最瞧不起這些古老迷信。所以我決心要鏟除它。我倒要聽聽你又怎樣狡辯?”

 

虛雲微笑道:“首先,我要說明什麼是迷信。所謂迷信,乃是指不明真理不知究竟,而且不辨善惡,不分正邪之盲目附從。例如,殺人以祭邪神,宰牛羊雞鴨生靈以拜鬼神,用金銀賂求鬼神佑得財富,行淫亂以媚妖鬼邪神,籍鬼神而斂財營私,假鬼神而行喪天害理之邪行,或者假鬼神而導人行不忠不義不仁之事,教人偷盜奸淫殺生,教人欺騙敲詐,鼓勵殘暴無道,凡此種種才是迷信!若夫教人以忠孝仁愛,倡導信義和平,崇揚禮儀,堅修廉恥,發揚大慈悲之佛心,普度眾生出於苦厄而極樂平安,教導世人以慈悲為懷互助相扶,以慈悲仁德教化世界,以六度萬行作為精進之本勤力修持,趨善卻惡,皈正棄邪,此種正信正智,又何迷信之有?”

 

李根源靜聽,臉上的暴戾神色漸漸消失了。他說:“老和尚,這些話講得有道理!但是,你仍未解明因果輪回,這些不合科學!”

 

虛雲說:“所謂科學,乃是人類智識的積聚與探討,繼往而開來,知往而究未來,從已知求證未知。此種求證之學問,永不停駐,務須不斷探討,方是真正之科學精神!在當前之階段的科學知識,固然已較以往中古時代大為進步,但是是否就已經是無所不知了呢?是否就是完全了解宇宙奧秘了呢?”

 

李根源說:“那當然還不能!”

 

虛雲微笑道:“佛經在幾千年前早已窮究真知,知道了宇宙是生生無窮的,物質生了會滅,滅了會再生,只是形態不同,色相轉化而已。而直到如今,西洋科學家才講:物質不滅定律!佛經早已講過世界相續與眾生相續,這都是完全符合宇宙物理法則的,為何你說輪回不科學?”

 

李根源說:“這與輪回因果有何關系呢?”

 

虛雲說:“因果律,就是宇宙循環的法則!凡事必先有生滅之因而形成後果,這就是因果律的循環!凡是生靈都有智慧識力,其色身物化之後,識力仍存,即是俗人所講靈魂。若修持行善,心定神安,自然知道趨吉避凶,一心持念彌陀就知道往生極樂世界。若人作善,必有佛菩薩來接引他。相反若人一生多作惡行邪,心性乖戾不良,良知已閉塞,智慧盡失,他的識力靈魂亦迷失,又不知持念佛號,他自然就會墮落,在迷惘昏朦之中,隨己業而轉,不得超脫,生生受苦,乃至其人生平的惡孽所為,也必得一一償還。這原是宇宙中的法則,凡事都有去必有來,往復不絕。因果輪回,有何不科學呢?”

 

李根源聽罷,毛骨悚然,全身冷汗,感動已極,誠懇地說:“虛老!弟子聽您老人家一席話,勝讀十年書!弟子只因留學西洋,只學了些皮毛科學,實未知宇宙深理,故此妄自毀佛!如今聽了教誨開示,弟子明白過來了,請虛老讓弟子皈依座前學佛吧!”

 

虛雲微笑道:“大帥請起!大帥既已都明白過來,發心信佛,足見大帥仍是善根深厚,覺悟得快。但是皈依之事,仍須請你多多先接近佛法,心生確信,堅固不移,然後再說吧!”

 

李根源忙說:“虛老,請勿再稱弟子為大帥。縱然虛老今日不肯收我為弟子,我也已經自己私淑大師了,今後但請直呼賤名吧!”

 

當晚李根源又下令掌燭,秉燭夜談,與虛雲討論佛理。從因果分明,說到業網交織,業果因緣,世界相續,眾生相續等等佛教基本真理,以及佛經中的深奧真理。虛雲越講越入深奧,李根源聽得佩服得五體投地,兩人談到午夜,越談越起勁。

 

李根源歎息道:“今日若不得虛老如此諄諄教誨,我實不知佛理佛法這樣廣大深奧!我如今完全信服了!我已一心要皈依佛法了。”

 

次晨,李根源即親自護送虛雲返寺。只見身穿將官戎裝的李根源,親自牽馬,馬背上坐著七十二歲的虛雲老和尚,緩緩走向山門,後面跟著數十騎護送。日照山中出現金光,從山頂而下,草木都給照耀得成為黃金顏色,全山金光,燦爛莊嚴極了!

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