Changqing Monk: Life and Spiritual Journey

Explore the fascinating story of the Changqing Monk's spiritual journey, rebirth, and unwavering commitment to his monastic life amidst worldly temptations.

In Changqing, there was an old monk, whose spiritual practice was pure. He was in his eighties but still had a robust body. One day, he suddenly fell down and couldn’t get up. By the time the monks from the temple rushed to his aid, he had already passed away. The old monk was unaware of his own death; his spirit floated away from his body and ended up in the territory of Henan. In Henan, there was a young nobleman from an old aristocratic family, leading more than ten men on horseback for falconry and hunting wild rabbits. Suddenly, the horse got startled and went berserk, causing the young nobleman to fall from his horse and die. The spirit of the old monk happened to wander to this place and merged abruptly with the lifeless body. Gradually, he regained consciousness. Servants rushed forward to inquire, and when he opened his eyes, he exclaimed, “How did I get here?” Everyone helped him back to his home. As he entered, many extravagantly dressed women came to inquire and greet him. He was greatly surprised and said, “I am a monk, how did I end up here?” His family thought he was talking nonsense and earnestly tried to console and awaken him. He no longer explained himself and simply remained silent with closed eyes. When they brought him food, he only ate plain rice, refusing both alcohol and meat. At night, he slept alone and did not allow his wives and concubines to attend to him.

A few days later, he suddenly wanted to go out for a walk, and everyone was delighted. After leaving the house, as soon as it became a bit quiet, many stewards and servants came up to him, seeking his approval for matters related to money, accounts, and finances. He used the excuse of being sick and tired for a long time to avoid taking responsibility. He only asked, “Do you know about Changqing County in Shandong?” Everyone replied in unison, “Yes.” He said, “I feel bored and restless and want to go there for a visit. Quickly prepare my belongings.” People advised him that he had just recovered from his illness and should not embark on a long journey, but he did not listen. The next day, they set off. When they arrived in Changqing County, he saw that the scenery there was just as it had been in the past. Without asking for directions, he went straight to the temple there. Several of his former disciples in the temple saw the distinguished guest and came forward to greet him with great respect. He asked, “Where is the old monk?” The monks replied, “Our master passed away some time ago.” He then inquired about the location of the old monk’s grave. The monks led him there, and he saw a lonely three-foot-high grave with wild grass not yet fully grown on it. The monks did not understand what he meant. After inspecting the grave, he prepared his horse to return home. Before leaving, he instructed, “Our master was a monk who strictly adhered to the Buddhist precepts. You should carefully preserve his handwritten manuscripts and belongings and not damage them.” The monks nodded in agreement. So, he left. When he returned home, he remained like a lifeless piece of wood, sitting still all day and paying no attention to household matters.

After residing there for a few more months, he secretly slipped out and went directly to his former temple. He said to his disciples, “I am your master.” Everyone doubted that he was talking nonsense and exchanged glances, smiling at each other. So, he recounted the reason for his soul’s return and talked about the actions of the old monk during his lifetime, all of which matched the facts. Only then did everyone believe him and invited him to stay in his original bedroom, serving him as before. Later, the young nobleman’s family sent carriages and horses multiple times, pleading for his return, but he paid no attention. After more than a year, the nobleman’s wife sent competent servants to bring many gifts. He refused to accept gold, silver, and silk, only accepting a simple robe. The nobleman’s friends sometimes visited his village and respectfully came to see him. They found him silent, plain-spoken, sincere, and at the age of only thirty, he often spoke about his life of over eighty years.

The chronicler of strange tales said: When a person dies, their soul should disperse, but this monk’s soul drifted a thousand miles without dispersing, all due to his ability to maintain his nature. I am not astonished by this monk’s death and rebirth, but rather amazed that he came to a place of wealth and splendor and still managed to reject others and evade the worldly temptations. To be able to obtain various luxuries of life in the blink of an eye is undoubtedly a desirable thing for ordinary people, let alone for an ascetic monk who lives a life of austerity!

《长清僧》

长清僧某,道行高洁。年八十馀犹健。一日,颠仆不起,寺僧奔救,已圆寂矣。僧不自知死,魂飘去,至河南界。河南有故绅子,率十馀骑,按鹰猎兔。马逸,堕毙。魂适相值,翕然而合,遂渐苏。厮仆还问之。张目曰:“胡至此!”众扶归。入门,则粉白黛绿者,纷集顾问。大骇曰:“我僧也,胡至此!”家人以为妄,共提耳悟之。僧亦不自申解,但闭目不复有言。饷以脱粟则食,酒肉则拒。夜独宿,不受妻妾奉。

数日后,忽思少步。众皆喜。既出,少定,即有诸仆纷来,钱簿谷籍,杂请会计。公子托以病倦,悉卸绝之,惟问:“山东长清县,知之否?”共答:“知之。”曰:“我郁无聊赖,欲往游瞩,宜即治任。”众谓新瘳未应远涉,不听。翼日遂发。抵长清,视风物如昨。无烦问途,竟至兰若。弟子数人见贵客至,伏谒甚恭。乃问:“老僧焉往?”答云:“吾师曩已物化。”问墓所,群导以往,则三尺孤坟,荒草犹未合也。众僧不知何意。既而戒马欲归,嘱曰:“汝师戒行之僧,所遗手泽,宜恪守,勿俾损坏。”众唯唯。乃行。既归,灰心木坐,了不勾当家务。

居数月,出门自遁,直抵旧寺。谓弟子:“我即汝师。”众疑其谬,相视而笑。乃述返魂之由,又言生平所为,悉符。众乃信,居以故榻,事之如平日。后公子家屡以舆马来,哀请之,略不顾瞻。又年馀,夫人遣纪纲至,多所馈遗。金帛皆却之,惟受布袍一袭而已。友人或至其乡,敬造之。见其人默然诚笃,年仅而立,而辄道其八十馀年事。

异史氏曰:人死则魂散,其千里而不散者,性定故耳。予于僧,不异之乎其再生,而异之乎其入纷华靡丽之乡,而能绝人以逃世也。若眼睛一闪,而兰麝薰心,有求死不得者矣,况僧乎哉!

Leave a Comment