Ancient Cultivation Stories: The Buddhist Cultivator Seng Jia

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The Buddhist master Seng Jia originally came from the Great Region and his local family name was He. He came to Mainland China during the early period of the Tang Dynasty and began cultivating at the Long Xing Temple in Chu Zhou City. Subsequently, he demonstrated magic powers to awaken those whose hearts were lost in the maze.

First of all, he led his disciple, Hui Yan, to Lin Huai County in Si Zhou City. He was offered land to build a temple. Miraculously, a lintel with the epigraph "Gu Xiang Ji Temple" and a golden statue were dug out of the ground. The golden statue had the characters for "Buddha Pu Zhao" on it. When people heard about it, they sighed for the miracle and vied to be the first to donate to the temple.

Once upon a time, Seng Jia spent a night at the local Huo family's home. Whilst he was sleeping, his body, together with his bed, suddenly extended 3 inches longer. People were astonished at such an occurrence. Later, eleven plates of Mother Buddha (Bodhisattva Guan Yin) were found at the Huo's house. The whole family joyfully celebrated the discovery and became stronger believers in Buddhism. They donated a plot of their land to build a temple.

One day, Seng Jia journeyed to the Long Guang Temple in Jia He village, a seaside village. Most of the villagers were dependant on fishing to bring in the food and income. Seng Jia tried very hard to persuade them to give up fishing and make their living another way. He told them that killing would lead to degeneration. Many villagers took his advice and gave up fishing by breaking up their fishing tackle and nets.

Afterwards, Seng Jia wandered to Jin Ling. When he got there he found that the Guo Xiang Temple was worn and had been deserted. He put his clothes on the roof beam of the temple and left. Soon, people were attracted by a curious fragrance that spread out from the temple.

When Seng Jia resided in Chang An City, a royal son-in-law, Wu You Ji, was sick and visited him. Seng Jia gave the water in which he had bathed to Wu You Ji to drink, which in turn cured his illness. Since then, Seng Jia became well known for his curious medical treatment. When patients came to see him, he stroked the patients with a willow branch, or ordered them to wash a stone lion, throw a bottle or take the blame on themselves for their wrongdoings. The patients were cured by the marvellous treatments. Even the water that he had used to wash his feet could cure the most stubborn of illnesses.

Seng Jia was able to predict blizzards and could relieve droughts by bringing rainfall. He had great magic power and extraordinary force.

It was the second year of the Jing Long period of the Tang Dynasty. Emperor Zhong Zong invited Seng Jia to join the Imperial Daoist rites and appointed him as the Imperial Master. During this time Seng Jia lived at the Juan Fu Temple. There was a small hole on the roof of his room, which he filled with a cotton ball. At night, he took out the cotton ball and a queer fragrance would fly from the hole and spread all over the room. In the morning, the fragrance returned to the roof and Seng Jia filled the hole with a cotton ball again.

One day at the Imperial Court, Emperor Zhong Zong said to Seng Jia, "The capital city has had no rain at all for several months. I am very worried about it and expect your mercy to resolve the problem." Seng Jia held a bottle of water and sprayed it towards the four corners. Soon afterwards, black clouds gathered overhead and a heavy rain covered the land. Zhong Zong was so happy that he ordered that the name of the temple where Seng Jia resided be changed to Lin Huai Temple. However, Seng Jia requested that the name be changed to Buddha Pu Zhao. The Emperor considered that "Zhao" was also in the name of the Heavenly Queen's Temple and it was inappropriate to give the same name for Seng Jia's temple. With this understanding Emperor Zhong Zong decided to name the temple Pu Guang Temple and wrote the inscription in his own writings.

On March 2nd of the fourth year of the Zhong Zong period, Seng Jia passed away at the Juan Fu Temple. Zhong Zong ordered a pagoda to be set up to enshrine and worship him. Soon after the order, a strong wind blew widely with a bad smell. The Emperor asked his imperial subjects about the reason. One of them said, "Master Seng Jia initially begged for alms in Lin Huai County. I'm afraid he may be requesting to return to the place. That may be the reason for the bad smell." As soon as the Emperor gave tacit permission for the request, the bad smell disappeared and was replaced with a sweet smell. In May of that year, Seng Jia's body was sent to Lin Huai County and a pagoda was set up to enshrine and worship him.

Later, Emperor Zhong Zong asked Master Wan Hui, "Who reincarnated into Master Seng Jia?" Master Wan Hui answered, "Seng Jia was the embodiment of Bodhisattva Guan Yin."

From Legends of Holy Monks, vol. 7

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