Jin Shicheng, known as 'Becoming Buddha in this life,' exhibited eccentric behavior and became the subject of strange tales. His actions and the ingenious handling of County Magistrate Nangong are discussed.
Jin Shicheng was a native of Changshan County, known for his wild and unrestrained behavior. However, he suddenly decided to become a wandering monk and began to behave eccentrically, even considering filthy things as delicious food. When dogs or sheep defecated in front of him, he would kneel down and eat it. He claimed to be a Buddha, and many ignorant men and women, seeing his unconventional actions, became his disciples and served him in this strange manner, numbering in the thousands.
Jin Shicheng would scold his disciples for not eating feces, and no one dared to defy him. He built temples and pavilions, spending countless amounts of money, and yet people willingly donated. County magistrate Nangong despised Jin Shicheng’s bizarre behavior and had him arrested, using bamboo boards to beat him and forcing him to repair the temple of Confucius.
When Jin Shicheng’s disciples heard of this, they rushed to raise funds for his rescue, saying, “The Buddha is in trouble!” They competed to gather donations. The palace was renovated in just one month, and the amount of money collected surpassed the harsh demands of the corrupt officials.
The chronicler of strange tales said: “I heard that Mr. Jin, people, punning on his name, call him ‘Jin Shicheng,’ which sounds like ‘Becoming Buddha in this life.’ His character had sunk to the lowest point, indulging in the filthiest eating and drinking habits, reaching an extreme. Mere physical punishment was insufficient to disgrace him, and his punishment coincidentally served to accomplish a great task. The method employed by County Magistrate Nangong was truly ingenious! However, it is indeed a shame for scholars that they had to resort to supernatural methods to repair the Confucius Temple’s collapse.”