Metamorphosis

 

(Book 129 Entering the Most Hidden Yin- Yang Realm《走入最隱秘的陰陽界》)
‧Written by Master Sheng-yen Lu

I have once pondered a question:
The butterfly is “transformed” from a caterpillar.
And a moth flies into the flame.
There is this brain-twister riddle: A caterpillar walked to the riverside; it wanted to cross over the river. In the end the caterpillar really crossed the river. Please answer, how did the caterpillar cross the river?
Surprisingly, the answer was: After the caterpillar underwent metamorphosis and turned into a butterfly, it was able to cross the river.
I thought about the term “metamorphosis.”
Once I was a very ordinary person, a very common and ordinary mortal; but through a period of transformation:
My mind and spirit had become enlightened, and I was liberated.
The energy channels of my physical being had become open and qi flowed smoothly.
My dharma nature had developed such that I am able to travel beyond my physical body and undergo myriad transmutations.
Amazingly, I had metamorphosed into a person who understands the truth of the universe. This kind of transformation is based on nat- ural capacities built from the foundation of past lives, and nurtured in this present life through consistent perseverance and diligent refine- ment. My skills and competence from cultivation were not obtained overnight, but through the perseverance of accumulative exertion of effort and tempering from trials and tribulations over many decades.
I sigh with regard to the delusions of people in the world,
With the sincerity of my heart and body from one single and constant purpose,
Cultivation is like drilling wood to obtain fire,
Only through cause and effect can there be attainment.
***
In the past, a general came to visit me. The general had many attendants, and everyone was curious about me, while the general’s ex- pression was unyielding.
I sat on a high chair.
When the general saw that there was only a common chair in front of me, he scolded the attendants. “Why does the diviner conducting the consultation sit on the high chair, and I sit on the low chair?” The general looked indignant. We were in an embarrassing situation.
Seeing that the situation was amiss, I said, “General, please sit on my chair, and I can sit below.”
The general appeared mollified, and he did not raise any objections. Once the general and I had exchanged seats, there was mutual concord and amity.
The general asked, “I heard that you are in the Combined Logistics Command, of what rank are you?”
I replied extremely politely and respectfully, “I’m a major in Survey Engineering.”
The general said, “You are just a mere major!”
“Yes,” I replied.
The general asked, “I heard that you announced that you can read people’s minds and their lives?”
“Yes, I can.”
“Let’s hear what you have to say.”
I quietly calmed my heart and spirit. It was like entering into a world of many layers to have a conversation with my heart. This was like:

Reciting hundreds and thousands of lines of bodhi [wisdom],
Casually reading sutra written on a few pieces of pattra-palm leaves;
It is already known that the palace has been sealed off by trees,
And the monarch has transformed into azaleas.

The great and trivial events of the world are like the flickering flames of a beacon fire, evolving from one scene to the next. Life is like dramatic theater, like opera; the curtain rises and falls. Watching it unfold, silent tears flow.
During my divination, the life of this general transformed from one thought to hundreds, revealing high moments, as well as times of stagnation and fall. Multiple pauses and multiple starts, before finally bringing the melody to an end.
I felt sad, and kept silent.
“Why do you keep silent?” the general asked impatiently.
“I dare not say,” I replied.
“Why do you not dare to say?”
“If I say it, you may not believe it.”
“Believe it or not is up to me, but you must tell me, otherwise, I have come for nothing.”
I looked at the general’s attendants, and signaled that they should excuse us for a moment.
However, the general said instead, “It is not necessary for them to leave us, I’m a just and honorable man.”
I described the life of the general in detail from the beginning towards the end. The general nodded repeatedly. Nearing the end I kept quiet again, wanting to speak but did not.
“Continue!” the general ordered.
I said, “Later in life your integrity will be compromised, and you will commit suicide.”
Upon hearing this, the general’s attendants were greatly shocked, and the general’s face turned pale, he was greatly alarmed. He stood up abruptly and laughingly said, “Such are the words of itinerant entertainers, charlatans and conjurers, they are not to be trusted.”
The general motioned to his attendants, “Let’s go!”
In an instant, everyone had left.
Later, I heard that the general had told his subordinates to be wary of Major Sheng-yen Lu, an unusual and rare individual whose motives were hard to fathom. To describe him as fishing for fame was not it, neither was describing him as being reserved and one who keeps his own counsel. But if one were to describe him as misleading and deceiving people with evil doctrines, there was indeed a little bit of that.
The general had lost face and he was angry, but he suppressed his anger within him, and felt that Sheng-yen Lu was extremely hateful and despicable.
The general said, “If Sheng-yen Lu makes a mistake, arrest him and punish him.”
***
In this life, I have carried out divination for people from the high-est echelons of society to those from the lower classes. Unless I keep silent, otherwise, all that I have said is truth.
This is because I am:
One who does not utter false speech.
One who does not lie.
One who speaks truth.
My words are like those of Shakyamuni Buddha. I am not one who is wildly arrogant and conceited, and my words are indeed true and genuine.
Therefore, when the time arrived, I left the military service immediately and traveled out of the country to roam about in a different land.
Come to speak of it, it was indeed uncanny; this general did rise to a position of nobility, but in the end, as I had foretold, he still surrendered to greed and accepted bribes, committing the crime of corruption in a Combined Logistics Command project.
The investigators arrived at his home and wanted to arrest him.
His face was ashen.
Unexpectedly, he held a pair of sharp scissors and told the investigators, “You don’t need to come, I will go by myself.”
A pair of sharp scissors, piercing straight into his abdomen, with blood and intestines spilling everywhere. It was so horrible that no one could bear to look at it.
When the investigators saw the ghastly sight of blood everywhere, their hair all stood on end; everyone felt sick and terrified, and retreated in haste. The general had no hope of surviving.

Bleak, wailing wind and desolate, weeping rain;
Wretched misery and sorrow.
Life is but a spring dream!

In a position of great nobility, the general who had reached the highest point suddenly plunged straight down and cut himself off from others by taking his own life. Is this not a metamorphosis?
***
Many people attended the funeral of the general. When the ceremony was just beginning, the general’s daughter arrived from the south. She walked in with a panicked expression and cried, “A strange thing has happened.”
Relatives asked, “What strange thing?”
Everybody listened attentively, and the ceremony was stopped temporarily. Everyone took note.
“I saw my father! He was outside the door of the funeral home, together with a monk in a red robe.”
Nobody was willing to believe it. All the relatives, subordinates, and friends went outside to look. Outside the door, there was nothing there. There was no general or monk who wore a red robe.
Everyone was talking in confusion.
Someone said, perhaps the general’s daughter was overly griefstricken, such that her eyes were blurry, and she was experiencing a moment of hallucination, this was also possible.
However, the general’s daughter was emphatically insistent; she had indeed seen her father and a monk. It was very clear; not only did she recognize her father straightaway, even for the monk who wore the red robe, his dressing and appearance had been very clear. The two of them had left hurriedly.
She described the monk. “His face is round, his figure is not very tall, and he wears a dragon vest on his upper body and a lama robe around his lower body. He is around forty-five years old…”
A subordinate said, “This would be Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu.”
Another subordinate said, “He was that major from the Surveying Engineering Unit.”
“His divination was really amazingly accurate.”
“Have you had dealings with him?” the general’s daughter asked.
“I’m a disciple who has taken refuge in him.” A subordinate took out a picture of Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu, and showed it to the general’s daughter.
The general’s daughter exclaimed, “It’s him, it’s him, the red-robed monk.”
Later, there were some people who said, after all, this general was originally the senior officer of Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu, therefore, Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu had come to guide and deliver him.
Is this so! Or is this not so!
Nobody knows!
***
Let me write two poems about metamorphosis:
(1)
A general of one generation chases the breaking waves of the sea, Thinking that high ranking positions of power are to be desired; Unaware that blessings and good fortune are created from previous lives,
He takes his own life in front of others though his hair has already turned white.
(2)
Abandoning both rubble and bright pearls,
When has wealth and rank followed one continuously until old age;
The fate of monarchs have been the same from past to present,
The companionship on the return trip relieves one of solitude and lonelines

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