On April 7, 1982, Writer Bo Yang was invited by the Malaysian Chinese Association to give a speech in Kuala Lumpur. After that, Mr. Zhou Baoyuan and Mr. Wu Zhongda, the president and editor-in-chief of the local newspaper “New Life Daily” told him this true story and the misfortune suffered by the story’s main character Ms. Zhang Simei. After returning to Taiwan, Mr. Bo Yang wrote a featured report entitled “ The Pangolin Person,” which was published in two parts on the July 12 and 13 editions of “China Times” of the same year.
The original article is rather long. The following is a shortened version based on the key descriptions.
An Inconceivable True Example of Causality
The Pangolin Person
One day in 1948, at Tampin Village in Negeri Sembilan State of Malaysia, a peasant in poverty, Mr. Zhang Qiutan was farming his small orchard. He spotted a pangolin. The pangolin ran into a small cave when he was trying to catch it. His three boys also came. They shouted and yelled, but had no way to get it out. Then, his wife Peng Xian who was 39 years old and was 4 months pregnant at that time also joined the hunting. They burned firewood at the entrance of the cave, hoping the smoke would drive it out. However, after being busy for a long time, they never saw the pangolin again. The whole family returned home very much disappointed.
Five months later, Ms. Peng Xian gave birth to a frightening baby girl looking like a pangolin, who is the main character I am going to describe. The mother was awakened by the terrifying yelling of the midwife. She immediately fainted on her bed upon her first look at the baby. After waking up, she held the baby while her rain-like tears were washing over the baby’s scales covering the whole body. She realized that she had not given birth to a baby girl, but rather a monster.
The monster’s arrival greatly disturbed the people living in the mountain area. The ugly pangolin-like appearance caught the attention of the whole village. All immediately fell into the siege of fear. They thought that she would bring disaster to the entire village. They acted insanely and asked the Zhang’s family to hand over the monster. Mr. Zhang Qiutan and his wife, of course, knew the consequence of giving the baby to them. Thus, they falsely claimed to people that the baby had died and hid her in a very small room at home. (She was given the name of Zhang Simei by her parents.) The baby lived a life of being confined in a dark corner without daylight since her birth. Her parents were always in tears but were unable to do anything. They had no way or money to treat the strange illness she had.
When Ms. Zhang Simei was ten years old, her father left the world. According to his wife, he died in great suffering. Looking at his daughter who was crouching before the bed like a rolled-up pangolin and with dense sputum filling up his throat, he yelled, “Child, will you die with me together? I cannot die without concerns by leaving you behind in the world.”
Although the secure hiding kept the villagers from inquiring further, people still had suspicions.
During this period, there was a circus performing group coming over to offer a very high price of more than 150 ounces of gold to buy the child. The mother resolutely declined, telling them that the monster had really died.
That was how Ms. Zhang Simei led such a secluded life for more than 30 years. Eventually, she was accidentally discovered by people in March 1982. What happened more than 30 years ago came back to the world like a nightmare. Fortunately, due to the improved mental intelligence and the elevation of people’s knowledge and education, she was permitted to live in an environment filled with sympathy. That was exactly the reason why Mr. Zhou Baoyuan, the president of “New Life Daily,” insisted on having me to stay one more day to have a look at this pitiful dragon lady who shares a common lineage with us.
I am unable to describe Ms. Zhang Simei’s appearance. If I have to, I will agree to the appellation used by the residents of Tampin Village in Negeri Sembilan State, the “Pangolin Person.” Her head is completely bald without any hair. Her eyes face upward by an angle of 50 degrees. Her nose caves down and her lips were protruding. Her teeth are in disarray like tablets standing in a graveyard and her front tooth looks like an elephant tusk, penetrating through her protruding lip. Her entire body was covered by scales, rendering a shivering feeling to people. It was even more horrible to see that her eyes had no eye lids and were like that of a fish. The two eye balls appeared staring, surrounded by two rims that were like red-hot iron.
The “New Life Daily” newspaper once invited an expert of dermatology to provide a diagnosis on her. The conclusion was no medicine could cure her.
This occurrence gives people a shocking awakening. The retribution of crucifying and harming living beings is very horrible. I advise everyone to take this understanding as a precept, protect and love living beings, and actively do good deeds to accumulate merit. Only then can one have good health, happiness, joy, and auspiciousness!
The above content is only the understanding and views of the writer as a result of learning Buddhism. We should, however, rely on the Dharma expounded by the Buddha as the standard.
May all living beings in the world believe in Causality.
Practice compassion and commit to no killing
May they experience health, peace, and happiness!
Today, I kneeled down to my mother after I was back home. I have many words that I am not able to speak out.
Since I began to learn Buddha-dharma, I have been thinking about kneeling down to my mother to express my gratitude to her for giving birth to and raising me. I also want to repent to her what I did wrong during these years. But I did not have the courage to do so. Actually, the real reason was that I did not truly recognize my mistakes.
To tell the truth, I had a lot of dissatisfaction toward my mother.
Since I got married, my mother pushed my younger brother to me as my responsibility. The brother was not admitted by a university after graduating from high school. He was sent to me and I had to make arrangement for him to study in a hospital. It was good that the brother lived up to our expectation and passed the examination for adult-education to be admitted to the medical school of Suzhou University. He attended the school full-time for five years. I paid for all his living expenses during this period. After graduation, he did not look for a job and chose to take the examination for graduate study instead. During the first year, he was not admitted due to his English score. Mother began to complain that I did not help my brother to find a job. Although I did not say much verbally, I felt mistreated.
Next year, my brother passed the examination to be admitted to the graduate school of Xuzhou Medical University and then spent three years in the graduate study. That basically costed everything our family had. Mother was always complaining that the brother spent a lot of money and thought about that he should get married at his age. She was always hoping him to get married and have a child. I was rather angry at the time and had a verbal argument with my mother. I could not understand why my mother was so selfish and only saw the near-term benefits. She did not see the value of the opportunity of learning that we obtained after a lot of hard work and effect. I felt mistreated.
Being urged by my mother all the time, my brother got married during the third year of his graduate study before graduation. He did not have a job and I had to pay for his expenses. My mother was again complaining about our family’s financial situation. After graduation, my brother was working at the tumor department of No. 3 Hospital of Xuzhou City. Since he could not afford to rent, he lived at my home. I felt that I had given so much without getting any kind words from my mother. I felt mistreated.
Later, within the first six months after my brother started working, he suffered a sudden brain hemorrhage while on the job. He was hospitalized for 35 days. I had to run between home and the hospital every day. My mother could not provide any help and was only sad. I had to console my mother after returning from the hospital every day. Actually, my heart was tormented every day. For anything that I did not do to her full satisfaction, my mother would give rise to anxiety. I felt mistreated.
Last year, my father got ill and was diagnosed to have a terminal-stage stomach cancer. When I saw my weak father on the sick bed, I regretted that I did not go to my parents’ home often enough to see them and give them enough care. I was also a little bitter to my mother for not taking good care of my father. After leaving the hospital, I took my father to my home to care for him. My mother was still complaining all day long, saying that my father did not listen to her and worked all the time. My father kept silent and did not say anything. Seeing the situation, I felt bad.
My father was a very kind person. He was not good at talking and received a lot of sufferings and mistreatment in his life. He supported me and my brother while we attended colleges. After my father left, I regretted very much that I did not fulfill my filial duty well. I always thought that my parents would have a long time to live and I could do that when I have time and my situation improves. Only after I began to learn the true dharma of the Tathagata and listen to the recorded dharma discourses expounded by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, did I know that impermanence is with us all the time and there is no time for me to wait.
At the moment of kneeling down before my mother, I realized that my parents’ kindness of giving birth to me and raising me is as great as the sky. Had not my parents bring me to this world, how could I have the opportunity to learn Buddha-dharma and cultivate myself earnestly? I now understand that everything is due to causality. I have no reason to feel being mistreated. While my parents are still in the world, I should introduce and guide them to learn Buddha-dharma and understand the truth of karmic retribution, so that they can accumulate good karma and stay far away from malicious karma.
My mother is currently not in good health. She still has dissatisfaction toward me every day. She says that the food I cook is not very tasteful, I restrict her, I want her to take nutritional supplements every day, and I remind her every day to chant the Buddha’s name. Had this occurred in the past, I would certainly feel being mistreated. However, now I feel this is a way of my mother communicating with me. I do not feel mistreatment and have no bitterness in mind.
I am grateful that my mother gave me an opportunity to fulfill my filial duty and repent myself. I tell myself, “Let go of all feeling of mistreatment and dissatisfaction. Do not be attached to some small matters. Do not let the mind turn after external states. Cultivate earnestly.”
August 6, 2018
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I was a factory worker in the past. In 1993, a co-worker had to go home to help plant his family’s wheat crop. His leave request was not approved by the shift leader. So, I went to cover him.
When looking at his work in the past, I thought I should be able to do it. In reality, it was not that simple. I was not skillful in operating the machine. The machine pulled my right hand in. When I dragged the arm out, I had no flesh in my hand and arm, only a long, bare bone left.
The doctor at the hospital took a look and told me that I must have amputation. The upper arm bone was fractured; however, he could reconnect it back.
When I slowly woke up from the surgery, I saw that my entire right arm…, my right arm was like, so short , only 5, 6 cm long.
Actually, the doctor had told me very clearly before the surgery that the amputation would only be limited to my hand. This is just not fair at all. I was furious. How could he be a doctor? What medical ethics did he have?
I cried my heart out at that time. I got very upset. I did not even want to go out of my room. I got a room from the company. I didn’t go out at all and felt that it would be embarrassed to go out and see people. Why do I get such bad luck?
I was depressed all day long and also could not get along with my wife. I would smash bowls or chopsticks whenever things didn’t go my way. That happened a lot. When I popped open a bottle of white wine, I would have a big, long gulp. In one morning, I could almost finish a bottle with only a few drops left. I buried myself in the alcohol at home. Once I am drunk, I lose my temper. I almost had a mental breakdown and lost confidence in my life.
It started out from doing a favor, to help out my co-worker. How did it make me to become a handicapped person? How could such a thing happen to me? Even the hospital mistreated me in that way. The whole society did not treat me fairly. I also didn’t see justice from the Heavenly God…….
One day, my daughter told me: “Father, I will take you to a Buddhist center. Go learn Buddhism. Buddhism will be good for you, and for our family. Chant “Namo H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III!”
“What did you tell me to chant?”I said, “I have only heard about Amitabha Buddha. Why didn’t I know about H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III?”
Starting from that day,I would head to the Buddhist center and then listened to the Dharma discourses every day.I started to learn Buddhism at the Buddhist center. I listened to the discourse on the Law of Cause and Effect. I listened to many pre-recorded dharma discourses, such as The Dharma to Cut Off the Twenty Worldly Emotions, etc.
Eventually I understood that everything is a result of the Law of Cause and Effect.
I listened to The Dharma to Cut Off the Twenty Worldly Emotions a few more times. I also listened more times to the discourse on the Law of Cause and Effect.
I gradually realized that the loss of my right arm was not without a cause. Whether in my past lifetimes or in this lifetime, I have harmed so many living beings. This bit of suffering is what I deserve. When I took the lives of other living beings in the past, I caused them sufferings.
Through the learning, I slowly understood the truth about the Law of Cause and Effect. The hatred in my mind also gradually vanished.
Every day I did prostrations and listened to the dharma at the Buddhist center. I then made a resolve.
Since I have learned and understood the truth of the Law of Cause and Effect, I will now repent to all the living beings I have killed or harmed. I will repent to them. With the utmost respect, in front of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, I will repent with my most pious heart.
I will do 100,000 prostrations for repentance. In less than four months, I completed 100,000 prostrations. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III told us, only cultivation can transform the Law of Cause and Effect.
The retribution I am receiving right now is caused by what I have done in many lifetimes and eons ago. From now on, I will follow and learn from H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha IIIand cultivate myself.
As long as I plant good causes. I will definitely get good fruition in the future. I am determined to follow and learn from the Buddha and cultivate myself until I attain accomplishment.
Please see below the answer of whose work is the best among
Vincent van Gogh, Qi Baishi, and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
I have spent more than 60 years of my professional life in the field of painting. During the many decades of practice and experiences, I have come to know many famous painters. That is especially the case since I became the Head Consultant for authenticating paintings and calligraphy at the National Museum of China in Beijing. As an appraiser and authentication officer of paintings and calligraphy, the bulk of my work is to verify the authenticity of Eastern and Western paintings. I have reviewed tens of thousands of famous paintings, especially the rare and precious works of the maestro Vincent van Gogh of the Netherlands, and those of the champion of Eastern paintings, Qi Baishi of China.
Both Van Gogh and Qi Baishi were great world-renowned masters in art. One represented the apex of Western art and the other was a master of an extreme class in the field of Eastern paintings. Both artists had drawn from the essence of the classical traditions of their respective cultures. They created new styles of art and new ways of seeing the universe. They broke new grounds and became pioneers of new eras, each becoming a creative guru of his time, developing a distinct style of his own and leading new trends that inspired later generations. Their works reflect the different essences of the Eastern and Western traditions. To what extent can their works influence the artistic civilization of the world? What kind of artistry did they achieve that made them upright monuments in art history and admired by so many people?
Some art critics compared the works of Van Gogh and Qi Baishi to see which of them reached a higher level of accomplishment. They concluded that both have their own merit, both are undefeated champions in the art and both reached the pinnacle of artistry. Recently, some art critics also brought up the oil painting Sunflowers and the ink-wash painting Sunflowers, both created by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, and gave them rave reviews. They went on to compare the works by Vincent van Gogh and Qi Baishi with the works by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, trying to establish which of the three artists is the champion of the champions. The result of comparing the works by Van Gogh, Qi Baishi and H.H Dorje Chang Buddha III is tremendously inspiring.
Ever since the Renaissance, Western artists had placed emphases on rational analysis and the realist portrayal of forms. They used light, texture and details to present the realistic, three-dimensional perspective. A few centuries later, Van Gogh rejected the monotony of such use of light and shadow and the realistic portrayal of figures. He pioneered the movement of impressionism that suited him well by applying a mix of colorful, brilliant, splendid and vigorous brushstrokes. He became a great master of his time and his name was forever etched onto the monument of Western civilization and art.
Whenever people think of Van Gogh, they think of his unique character, the sparkles in his eyes that emit lightning, his vigor and his incessant pursuit of inspiration in art without any regard to external hardships. Van Gogh was an artist by birth. He was of exceptional confidence and was somewhat neurotic. Having such traits, he pursued the art that he loved without any reservation or hesitation. He loved his works and regarded everything else with disdain. He preferred to be a loner in the world and did not care to make acquaintance of other painters of his time. His works are full of luminous colors, the brushstrokes are like rising winds and racing clouds in the sky. In his art, he depicted pasture, figures, flowers and other subject matters with brisk colors. Every brushstroke was transformed from his inner emotions. Such emotions were fully and colorfully captured in his Self-Portrait as well as in the transcendental Sunflowers that he painted. These works contain an animated spirit that is deeply moving.
From Van Gogh’s artistic spirit and intent, we can detect that he was profoundly knowledgeable about Chinese ink-wash paintings. Precisely because of this, while depicting forms and applying colors, he employed the skills of using the center tip of the brush and parallel brushstrokes. His Still Life with Bible was created with parallel brushstrokes. In his Self-Portrait, he portrayed his face filled with lines and plaques that are extraordinary. It is not hard for us to discover that he drew inspirations from the substance and essence of Chinese painting in those brushstrokes. That is why Van Gogh is such a distinguished, unparalleled artist of his time and his works are superior to those by the other Western oil painters such as Cezanne, Gauguin or Picasso of the same era.
Van Gogh’s artistic style was closely linked not only to Chinese civilization in the East, but also to the classical Renaissance art, Pointillism, German Expressionism, and Impressionism in the West. Toward the end of his life, he came into oneness with the universe and immersed himself in a carefree state of mind to “follow wherever nature might lead.” As such, he was no longer aware of his own existence. In his mind, there was only the art and the universe. “Following where the nature may lead” is the essence of the ideology of the Chinese philosopher Laozi. Van Gogh cut off his ear with a knife. He lost himself completely in painting. That was his unspoken resentment and rejection of the unfair treatment imposed on him by the society.
Qi Baishi was profoundly knowledgeable about impressionist, fauvist, and realist paintings. By adopting the essence of Western painting and incorporating the traditional spirit of Eastern art, he developed his unique style and became the master of Chinese painting of the twentieth century. His brushstrokes were solid and poised, evincing a sense of power that went all the way through the paper. Using sheep-hair brushes, he elicited calligraphic skills to create his paintings. Qi Baishi’s lines are bold and robust, embodying a forceful spirit that can move mountains. At the same time, these lines are flexible, sturdy and round, with similar qualities to the lines of wire-drawing. His compositions emerged naturally from the spontaneous movement of the brushes. Such compositions are accompanied by vigorous calligraphy resembling the strength, power and fluidity of stone inscriptions.
The artistic concept of spontaneously “following where nature may lead” is precisely derived from Laozi’s philosophy and the artistic civilization of the Chinese ethnicity. Qi Baishi favored the use of white space in his paintings. The white space in black-and-white Chinese ink-wash paintings is considered a solid color. Ink can be differentiated in nine shades (or five shades according to ancient Chinese text.) That is to say, the white of the paper per se and the black of the ink are all considered as colors. There is a sense of meticulous precision in the artworks by Qi Baishi. He depicted insects such as grasshoppers, mantises and butterflies in meticulous and vividly colorful ways. In some of his artworks, the artist was able to express his ideas by putting down just a few brushstrokes without any conscious intent, while arriving at a state of oblivion of his own existence. Anything depicted by his brushes was vivid and vibrant, with the subject matter coming alive on the paper. There is an aura that moves our heart and soul. All in all, Qi Baishi’s paintings were executed with a confident brushwork that naturally achieved a kind of childlike charm.
Recently, some people compared the works by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi with the works by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to see whose works are more superior and outstanding, or will have a broader and more far-reaching influence on later generations. I have viewed quite a lot of the artworks by Van Gogh, Qi Baishi and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. I started the study and appreciation of the paintings by Qi Baishi under the enlightening guidance of my teacher when I was 9, and when I was 14, I began to study and appreciate the works by Van Gogh. It has since been several decades!
At the same time, since I have admired the art of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III for a long time, to satisfy my desire and wishes I flew from New York to San Francisco to visit the International Art Museum of America, and to Los Angeles to visit the H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Cultural and Art Museum in order to see their collections. I was profoundly impressed by the architecture of both museums which is grand and dignified. Both museums have a collection of the authentic works by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. There are various artworks that are created with different kinds of material. Some are bold and forthright, some are charmingly meticulous and astounding. The oeuvre is not made up of just one single style.
Yet, the only artwork that was not available for viewing is the Sunflowers painted by H.H Dorje Chang Buddha III. When I hear that some art critics are comparing the works by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi with the works by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, I naturally feel, from my experience of having studied the works by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi for a number of decades, that although their artistry are similar in levels, it is possible to say who is the best if we are just to compare the sunflowers painted by the three artists, when we include in the compositions, colors, brushwork, lines, vitality, spirit and so on. With all these elements in consideration, it is possible to do the comparison and conclude who painted the best, or in other words, whose works can bring the most joy and delight to people, or whose art will be most influential to the philosophy, artistic concept and entire civilization of this world.
Therefore, without any ambiguity, we concluded. In terms of character and morality, Van Gogh would be the last of the three. In terms of level of skills, Qi Baishi would also be ahead of Van Gogh, who is, however, already the cream of the crop in western civilization. Being the Buddha living in the current century, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III saves living beings with great loving compassion. He is not embodied in an ordinary being. Needless to say, the level of cultivation of the Buddha is superior to that of Van Gogh and Qi Baishi. In terms of creativity and painting skills, how can any ordinary being even hold a candle to the Buddha? In this way, the comparison result is immediately determined.
When those art critics carried out the detailed research of the Sunflowers by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi as well as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, they copied the artworks by all three artists. After copying the works by Van Gogh and Qi Baishi, they felt deeply that through hands-on practice, they indeed gained more understanding of their works. It would not be easy but not so difficult either for one to really reach their artistic level. As for the Sunflowers by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, they found it rather difficult to copy. Even though they tried many times, they had a hard time just copying the form, let alone the spirit.
The Sunflowers by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III clearly show the artist’s solid foundation and prolific skills in the Eastern and Western painting traditions. They comprise the essences in both traditions and display a brushwork, sentiment and colors that are one of a kind. The color tones and brushstrokes are rich, dense, soothing and elegant. Lively brushwork paints an animated charm that is whole, evincing a miraculous and expansive spirit and aura as well as a strong vitality. As for the Sunflowers oil painting in which H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III depicted some flowers inside a vase, the artistry is extraordinary and full of variations; the composition is simple yet abstruse. The flowers are natural and gracious, such that they give an impression of unpredictability, reaching a state of oneness with the universe and emanating a sharp animated spirit.
The ink-wash painting Sunflowers by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has an uninhibited, natural, and spontaneous brushwork that is dense, bold, and robust, but also elegant and agile. It exhibits a charm that is like stone and bronze inscriptions. Overall, the whole painting manifests a harmonious and moving imagery, naturally emanating a lively vivaciousness and a carefree, spirited aura.
In comparing the works by Van Gogh of the Western civilization, Qi Baishi of the Eastern culture, and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, we can see the artists are distinguished in their unique own ways owing to their different cultures. However, only the artist who can continue to influence the world two to three hundred years from now will be the everlasting monument. There is a saying, “Talents emerge in every era and they all will each have 500 years of fame!” For people of the present day, the one whose work you like the best would be the one that is the most extraordinary!
Please see the contrast of six paintings below:
Sunflowers by Van Gogh (2)
Sunflowers by Qi Baishi (1)
Sunflowers by Qi Baishi (2)
Ink-wash Painting Sunflowers by
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
Oil Painting Sunflowers by
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
October 26, 2018
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