The Dragon Palace Legend

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

There is a colossal stone tablet of the dragon deva on the right side of Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple in Redmond, Washington. Its spiritual power and prestige are renowned and celebrated, and many disciples of True Buddha School are aware of this.
This massive Dragon Spirit Tablet was dug from the earth dur- ing the construction of Ling Shen Ching Tze. It has collected the converging spiritual energy of the earth and is an extremely rare and precious rock.
The original dragon on the huge rock was painted by dharma brother Wu.
In its early days, the Dragon Spirit Tablet had only a wooden plank above it, supported by four posts. It was a very simple and crude shelter that barely kept out rain and wind.
I had personally inscribed on the wooden plank the two words – “Dragon Spirit.”
This Dragon Spirit is alive.
Someone paying homage to the Dragon Spirit had seen a majestic dragon palace that looked like the capital of a great king. Under the eaves were several mounds, and the great king sat on his throne with more than ten officials flanking him to the left and right. It was a stately administrative hall of governing authorities. When this person blinked, to his surprise the scene vanished, leaving him quite bewildered.
I know the Dragon Spirit is alive, because when I approached the tablet to offer incense and pay homage, before even addressing his name, I saw a dragon carriage descending from the Empty Space, followed gradually by numerous attendants and maidservants. When the curtain of the carriage was drawn, the Dragon King was revealed sitting within.
I placed my palms together in greeting to the Dragon King. The Dragon King placed his palms together in greeting to me.
My words are spoken in truth. The dazzling mystery I describe is not something mundane beings will understand. The huge rock of the Dragon Spirit is indeed the location of the dragon palace, and the resident dwelling within is none other than the Dragon King himself. This is a most secret realm.
When I ask for help from the Dragon King, he responds to all requests.
The Dragon King is indeed real.
***
Later on, a benefactor named Lianhua Baoer decided that the res- idence of the Dragon King was too simple and crude. She observed that the plank was not wide enough and also sloped and decided to finance the building of the dragon pavilion.
This new building had many pillars and a balustrade, a tiled roof and red eaves. Everything about this dragon pavilion was quite ex- quisite and elegant.
The pavilion was also adorned with many hanging lights. At night, they shone resplendently with variegated coloration. It was very beautiful. With a moment’s shift in perception, one could envi- sion many palaces and pavilions rising from clouds of mist. Surely, this Dragon Spirit would be very pleased.
At Ling Shen Ching Tze, there was also a monk named Dengx- iao Shi who was a famous artist with considerable talent known for creating finely detailed and exquisite pictures. This monk painted vividly realistic murals including images of Buddhas, Bodhisat- tvas, and vajra dharma protectors. When he saw the painting of the dragon, he felt it was not lifelike and dynamic enough and had the urge to repaint it. He asked my permission, and I did not feel it was inappropriate.
The monk painted a “yellow dragon” that indeed appeared alive, powerful, and majestic. The painting was so vivid that one could almost hear the clattering of the dragon’s scales.
Its mouth looked as though it were moving.
The dragon’s claws appeared to be fluid and flowing.
With the “yellow dragon” painting and the new dragon pavilion complete, we arranged a new consecration ceremony to open the eyes of the dragon. This was an event certainly worth cheering and rejoicing over!
However, we encountered a problem.
When I offered incense and paid homage to the Dragon Spirit, even after a long while, there was no sight of the dragon carriage descending from the Empty Space. The Dragon King could not be found in his palace either. I waited for a long time and eventually gave up.
This happened once.
It happened twice.
And a third, fourth, fifth time…
At the end of my rope, I decided to use an invocation, however there was still no sign of the Dragon King. Instead, a spirit official on duty that day arrived in his place.
“Why is the Dragon King not here?” I inquired.
“He has gone to listen to a discourse on dharma.”
“Where?” I asked again.
“Not far from here.”
There was nothing I could do!
***
I pondered.
Most dragon devas have duties for which they are responsible. There are dragon devas of the sea, such as Dragon King of the Eastern Ocean, Ao Guang; Dragon King of the Southern Ocean, Ao Qin; Dragon King of the Northern Ocean, Ao Shun; and Dragon King of the Western Ocean, Ao Run. There are also dragons that dwell in lakes, rivers, streams, and even within wells.
There are Dragon Kings that reside in temples, such as the Dragon King’s Temple. The Dragon King residing at Ling Shen Ching Tze in Redmond is another such example.
Dragon devas are of the four categories of devas. These four categories are rain, thunder, cloud, and wind.
These verses refer to the devas of the four categories:
When the Dragon King reveals himself,
The Thunder General stretches his body,
The Cloud Youth appears,
And the Earl of Wind comes alive.
When the Dragon King reveals his form there is none other
In the world with his silver beard and dark green visage.
When the Thunder General stretches his body,
His mighty mouth and powerful countenance
Is truly beyond compare.
When the Cloud Youth appears,
Who can compare with his glowing face and golden crown;
The Earl of Wind comes alive,
Parched brows encircling his eyes.
Manifesting high above in the azure blue sky,
Each in turn reveals his sacred appearance.

I once exercised a rite to invoke devas from all four categories, and they all appeared.
Now I wondered, to where has the green dragon of Ling Shen Ching Tze gone? I thought about the green dragon that was replaced by the yellow dragon; the two dragons are not the same.
The green dragon must have been promoted. It was the yellow dragon’s turn to guard the temple.
However, after some thought, this also did not make sense. Perhaps the green dragon had left, but the yellow dragon had not ar- rived. What was going on?
The yellow dragon painted here was similar to that depicted on the thrones of ancient Chinese emperors. It was not only the regal dragon of imperial desks, but the majestic dragon of the emperor’s imperial robes. This yellow dragon was a royal dragon, and it was possible that being of a higher and nobler status, it would only come for matters of grave importance. Perhaps it was unconcerned with trifle matters.
Even so, with the yellow dragon’s frequent absence from the temple, I could not help but feel as though something was amiss. Finally, I asked Dengxiao Shi to repaint the mural one more time, and to change the emperor dragon (the yellow dragon) back to the green dragon.
This was the third transformation of the Dragon Spirit.
The green dragon became a yellow dragon.
The yellow dragon changed back into a green dragon.
However, this was no longer the original green dragon.
***
I gazed upon the pavilion–
Subtly green like the Palace of Transformation into Joy
I gazed upon the green dragon–
Luminous amidst the clouds, a picture of strength and power.
Thus, there was another consecration ceremony to open the eyes of the dragon again. It was a formal and decorous observance of mantra, holy water and official supplication, the lighting of incense and candles, a petition to the heavens above, complete with offerings of fresh flowers, fruits, dairy, and an abundant feast of vegetarian dishes on the offering table.
Favorable winds and timely rain,
May the Dragon King have infinite powers.
Rivers running clear and oceans at ease,
A prayer for long life with years to spare.
With the burning of incense and summoning of the Dragon King, this time, the Dragon King arrived. Indeed, it was not the original green dragon, but a new green dragon. This Dragon King wore a flat rectangular crown adorned with beads, an emerald green belt around his waist, and an ochre yellow robe.
He said to me, “Respectfully receiving the sacred edict, I had no choice but to come.”
I’m glad that you have come, I thought to myself.
I spoke to the Dragon King, “In a moment of impulse, we were reckless in rebuilding the dragon pavilion and repainting the image of the dragon. We may have caused offense, please excuse us.”
“It has nothing to do with you. You are Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu. At your invocation, devas of the four categories are to arrive immediately.”
Upon hearing the words of the green Dragon King, I knew there was implicit meaning in his speech, and asked, “In what matter did we offend?”
“I am not at liberty to say!”
“You need to let me understand.”
“You will know when the time comes.”
“Is this a riddle?”
“Yes, it is a riddle.” The Dragon King turned and vanished.
***
The disciples of Ling Shen Ching Tze in Redmond are all aware of these three transformations. The original Dragon Spirit had been easy to invoke, but with the repainting of the dragon and the re-building of the dragon pavilion, it seemed as though the Dragon Spirit had given up his position and decided not to come.
If the emperor dragon (the yellow dragon) did not show up, so be it!
However, even the third green dragon arrived reluctantly. Why?
I would know when the time was right.
I was indeed a little vexed. Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu is known as one with foresight and foreknowledge and one with insight into all matters great and small. Yet he was unable to under- stand the reasons regarding the Dragon Spirit’s non-arrival. Was this a joke? There was simply no dignity to this matter at all.
Troubled by this, I considered the burning of an official dispatch to solve the mystery once and for all.
One night, I dreamt of a Dragon Spirit’s arrival.
“The Fourth Dragon of Huang Zhou pays respect to Your Holiness Lian-sheng.”
“Who is the Fourth Dragon of Huang Zhou?”
“Huang Zhou, in Yi Ling [a county in Hubei Province], has a temple to the Dragon King. I am fourth in rank, and now it is my turn to serve at Ling Shen Ching Tze in Redmond.”
“If it is your turn to serve, why the frequent absence?” I asked.
“There is a reason.”
“And that is exactly what I am trying to find out.”
“Uhhhh…” The Dragon King hesitated.
“Why can’t you explain it?” I was increasingly exasperated.
“Because there is no evidence thus far, and no one will believe it even if it is revealed. There are workings of karma and synchronicity that only time can validate. When the time comes, everything will be naturally revealed. At that time, you will definitely empathize with and forgive the Dragon Spirit.”
“Why can’t I know first?
“Your Holiness, please forgive me!” The Dragon King retreated with a bow.
This dream of the Dragon King was a puzzle that continued to baffle me. It was an enigma I was unable to make sense of despite considerable thought. The original condition of the great rock and its surroundings could be described as bleak and desolate. Yet now that the dragon pavilion was rebuilt, adorned with lights and streamers, and the dragon’s image repainted, the Dragon King would not come. I was at a loss for answers. It was undeniably bizarre! Exceedingly peculiar!
***
It was not until a year later that the situation finally came to light.
The money that Lianhua Baoer had used to build the dragon pavilion was money she had swindled.
Dengxiao Shi, who had painted the yellow dragon and green dragon, left Ling Shen Ching Tze, Redmond to pursue worldly pleasures once more.
These were the reasons for the Dragon Kings’ displeasure.
The dragon pavilion was beautiful, but it had been built from money derived from fraudulent means, hence they had no wish to abide within.
The dragons had been painted with exquisite skill, but the painter’s heart had changed.
At that point, I suddenly understood.
A disciple asked me, “Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu is a person with discerning eyes. Why were you unable to see that the money used to build the dragon pavilion was swindled, and why were you unable to foresee the future of the painter?”
Inwardly, my heart was suffering as I replied:
“Within this world, a world of impermanence, change and transformation occur swiftly. Although aware of the habitual tendencies of both, I do not doubt the kind intentions of others. Furthermore, it is as the Dragon King had said. Had we known that this future would unfold, there would have been no proof or evidence at that time, and we could not have spoken without justification!”
So even if we had known earlier, would it have helped?
***
I made two decisions.
I invited the ordained monk Reverend Lianzeng who had a flair for drawing to repaint the dragon a fourth time. As for the dragon pavilion, Ling Shen Ching Tze in Redmond apportioned an amount of money, equal to the sum used for the building of the dragon pavilion, and donated it for philanthropic purposes. This indirectly symbolized purification of the money used to build the dragon pavilion.
I inscribed verses on the pillars of the dragon pavilion.
Over these matters, I sighed again and again. Spiritual nature is inherently contained within heaven and earth. The Dragon King’s divine

capabilities are derived from this nature. Why do humans act against their conscience? Even if one gets away with deceit tempo- rarily, one will not be able to continue deception forever! A fleeting moment of joy is often cause for lasting grief ! Awaken quickly! Awaken quickly!
After this matter was resolved, I received an invitation to attend a feast at the Crystal Palace.
Palaces of the human world paled in comparison. The palace architecture was magnificent and sublime, consisting of lofty storied buildings and a spectacular display of splendor. The height of the palace reached to mountain peaks above the cloud canopies, rosy red mist wafted subtly from holy incense censers, and the exquisite coral trees in the water were resplendent in their myriad array of colors. This was the pure land of the dragon’s realm.
City of agate flowers,
Immortal cave of lapis lazuli,
The great divine palace of crystal and mica,
Where heaven and earth move,
With each shifting shadow in the ocean deep.
“Where heaven and earth move” was certainly an apt expression. It perfectly captured the glorious majesty of the Crystal Palace.
This was an exceptional feast, rare in the human world.
The visual splendor of dishes dazzled the eye, each dish a vivid array of colors.
Fragrant aromas permeated the air, a gathering of heady smells and novel scents, redolent of musk and orchids.
Celestial music added to the festive revelry, a sonorous symphony playing with resounding clarity.
Imperial concubines entertained with song and dance.
A charming myriad of delicate and exquisite movements,
Music and melodies entwined with talk and laughter;
Dancers abloom like beautiful flowers on silk brocade,
Nothing in the human world was comparable.
The one who had invited me for the feast was Mo Dan, the second crown prince of the Elder Dragon King of the Western Ocean. This second crown prince told me that he would soon take up office in Ling Shen Ching Tze, Redmond.
Doubtfully, I said, “This great divine crystal and mica palace temple of yours is of such resplendent magnificence. Why would you leave this to reside at the dragon rock pavilion in Ling Shen Ching Tze, Redmond?”
The second crown prince replied, “Your Holiness Lian-sheng, you may not know this, but the pure land actually resides in one’s heart. Its appearance can be big or small. The dragon rock at Ling Shen Ching Tze, Redmond, reaches up to the thirty-three heavens, and extends downwards to the eighteen levels of hell. This great divine crystal and mica palace of mine is but a mere grain of sand in com- parison.”
“Wow!” I was astonished.
I asked again, “The dragon rock is a boulder of the earth. How could it possibly contain the Crystal Palace?”
The second crown prince replied, “Your Holiness Lian-sheng, the other thing you may not know is that the five elements are inherently inter-related. Take a look and you will notice that metal is found in the earth, water exists within metal, wood grows from water, and fire springs forth from wood. Beneath the earth’s crust lies water, and beneath this water lies fire – do they not all arise from the same source?”
“You are going to move your Crystal Palace to the dragon rock?”
“That’s right.”
“Truly profound and mystical!”
“Only because human beings are unaware of this interrelationship!”
***
I often recite the Buddha’s epithet while circumambulating the dragon pavilion and dragon rock. During these times, my heart is es- pecially tranquil. The great dragon rock is surrounded by pavement, and the dragon pavilion is enclosed by carved columns and balus- trades. Beyond the pavilion amidst rocks and pebbles, tiny flowers flourish with names unknown. A brook gurgles in the distance, where a variety of rare grasses and curious pines grow. When I walk, my sleeves overflow with subtle fragrances and my clothes are tinged with a taste of dharma. This dragon rock is no longer a dragon rock, but the Crystal Palace, the lofty perch of the phoenix, the lake and lair of the dragon.

I wrote a poem:
Glorious crystal grow within the dragon rock,
Auspicious clouds traverse phoenix pavilions and dragon lofts;
Finely paved with exquisite flora throughout the seasons,
Divine light from the distant horizon illuminate this cassock.
I enjoy circumambulating the dragon rock while reciting Buddhas’ names, for concealed within is the dragon palace and pure land. With each round, I circle a divine palace of crystal and mica. How extraordinary! Truly phenomenal!
Golden light shining from this dragon rock,
It guards the hometown of True Buddhas,
The Dragon King moved his Crystal Palace,
Transforming it into a pure land,
For the benefit and delight of sentient beings.
Observing time and again the second crown prince,
Who develops kind affinities with sentient beings,
Giving away nectar and calling forth dharma rain,
Which never ceases entering the hearts of men.
The Dragon King’s support of Buddhadharma, as well as the sup- port and aid of the eight classes of devas, nagas, and the four cat- egories of devas all enable the True Buddha School to emanate great auspicious light.
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