The Begging Monk: A mysterious monk’s unconventional begging journey

Explore the enigmatic life of a nameless monk who begged in a unique way, defying conventional norms and leaving a baffling legacy.

In Jinan, there was a monk whose origin was unknown. He walked barefoot and wore tattered robes made of patchwork fabric. Every day, he would recite scriptures and beg for alms at places like Furong and Minghu halls. People offered him food, money, and grain, but he refused them all. When asked what he wanted, he remained silent. No one had ever seen him eat.

Some people advised him, saying, “Since you, Reverend, do not consume meat or drink, why do you come to these bustling places every day to beg? You should go to remote villages and alleys for alms.” The monk kept his eyes closed, with eyelashes over a finger’s length long, as if he hadn’t heard anything. After a while, someone repeated the advice to him. Suddenly, the monk opened his eyes and said sternly, “It must be this way for begging!” Then he continued to recite scriptures without interruption.

After a long while, the monk left on his own. Some people followed him, repeatedly asking why he begged in such a manner. However, the monk kept walking ahead, remaining silent. The followers continued to press him with their questions, but he sternly replied, “This is not something you should know! The old monk must beg in this way!”

Several days later, the monk suddenly left the southern city gate and lay stiffly by the roadside, motionless for three days and nights. Residents were afraid he would starve to death and gathered around, urging him to leave. They assured him that if he was willing to go, he would have food and money. The old monk still kept his eyes tightly closed, not moving an inch.

The crowd then shook his body and implored him. The monk became furious, pulled out a short knife from his robes, and cut open his own belly. He inserted his hand inside, arranging his intestines on the road, and eventually died. The people were greatly shocked and reported the incident to the authorities. The officials had him hastily buried.

A few days later, wild dogs dug a hole in the monk’s grave, revealing his mat. When people stepped on it, they found that the mat was empty. Upon further inspection, they realized that the shroud, which had wrapped the monk’s body, was neatly rolled up, and the body was gone, as if it had vanished like an empty silkworm cocoon.

《丐僧》

济南一僧,不知何许人,赤足衣百衲,日于芙蓉、明湖诸馆,诵经抄募。与以酒食、钱、粟,皆弗受,叩所需,又不答。终日未尝见其餐饭。或劝之曰:“师既不茹荤酒,当募山村僻巷中,何日日往来于羶闹之场?”僧合眸讽诵,睫毛长指许,若不闻。少选,又语之。僧遽张目厉声曰:“要如此化!”又诵不已。久之,自出而去。或从其后,固诘其必如此之故,走不应。叩之数四,又厉声曰:“非汝所知!老僧要如此化!”积数日,忽出南城,卧道侧,如僵,三日不动。居民恐其饿死,贻累近郭,因集劝他徙,欲饭饭之,欲钱钱之。僧瞑然不应。群摇而语之。僧怒,于衲中出短刀,自剖其腹,以手入内,理肠于道,而气随绝。众骇,告郡,藁葬之。异日为犬所穴,席见。踏之似空,发视之,席封如故,犹空茧然。

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