Ancient Cultivation Stories: The Cultivator Huiyuan

Shi Huiyuan was from Yanmen in Loufan of ancient China. He loved to read from the time he was little. When he was thirteen he went with his uncle to study at Xuchang and Luoyang. He was knowledgeable about the Six Books of Chinese Classics and was particularly good in the Taoist school of philosophy. People all greatly admired his academic achievements. When he was twenty-one, he wanted to go to the Eastern Regions to live in seclusion with Fan Xuanzi, who was once a high official during the Eastern Jin dynasty. Unfortunately, just then General Shi Hu was killed and the Central Plains were in political upheaval. Roads leading to the southern regions of the country were so impassable that he could only wait patiently. Later, when he found out that Shi Daoan, an eminent monk, was spreading Buddhist dharma in the Taixing Mountains, he went there to listen to the dharma, where he reached enlightenment. Together with his younger brother, Huichi, they became monks.

Huiyuan cultivated diligently after he became a monk. Daoan once praised him: "We'll need to rely on Hyiyuan to advance the Great Way in the lands in the East."

Because of chaos of war, Huiyuan continuously moved around with his master Daoan. Later, when they arrived at Xiangyang, they stayed there for fifteen years to spread the dharma. Soon after, Huiyuan and several dozens of disciples went to Jingzhou to live in the Shangming Temple. Later, they decided to go to the Luofu Mountain. But when they passed by Lu Mountain, Huiyuan was drawn by the tranquillity of the area and decided to stay. In the beginning, they stayed at the Longquan Monastery, which was a little far from any water source. Huiyuan used his monk's cane to knock on the ground and said: "If this place will allow us to stay, let the soil be oozing with water." Hardly had his voice faded away when water gushed out of the ground and formed a streamlet. The monastery was thus known as Dragon Spring Temple. Later, when a drought took place in the Xunyang area, Huiyuan went to a pond and chanted the Scripture of the Dragon King of the Sea. Moment later, a gigantic dragon leaped into the sky and it started to rain.

During the time general Tao Kan was guarding Guangzhou. Some fishermen saw a god's light at sea. It became an image of King Ayu. Tao Kan had the image sent to Hanxi Temple at Wuchang. Seng Zhen, who was in charge of the Hanxi Temple, went to Quxiakou and dreamed about the temple's catching on fire and a dragon god encircling the house that kept the image of King Ayu. When Seng Zhen awakened, he hurried back to the temple and found that it was destroyed by fire. Only the house that held the image of King Ayu remained intact. When Tao Kan was transferred to another post later, he sent for the image. As soon the image was loaded on a ship, it sank. After Huiyuan built Donglin Temple, he prayed devoutly. King Ayu gracefully appeared.

Huiyuan cultivated for more than thirty years at Lu Mountain to spread Buddhist Dharma and had never left the mountain. He is regarded as the founder of Pure Land sect.

In August, Yixi 18, of the Eastern Jin dynasty, Huiyaun passed away at the age of 83.

(From the Legends of Holy Monks, vol. 2)

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