The Daoist Seal - Chapter 2
Dipankara, Buddha of the Past
The acceleration of the fall chilled his body and froze his heart solid. He was only an ordinary human. Other than death, he couldn’t think of a different ending from falling at such a height.
The wind rattled his ears. He didn’t know how much time had passed until a loud *plonk* was heard, followed by a large splash. In that instant, Jiang Xiaofan became ecstatic. He was grateful that he knew how to dive, having learned it long ago for the sake of peeping on girls playing in the water. Otherwise, he would’ve been in hell right now, having a chess match with Satan.
“Son of a bitch! That damned sissy boy, how dare he burn our bridge?! After I get out of here, I’ll get a big black dog to sic him!” Jiang Xiaofan loudly cussed as he swam towards the shore.
“You who have come from afar, you are finally here. I have long waited for you.”
After he had climbed onto dry land, a voice echoed. In front of him from a short distance was an eroded stone platform with a monk sitting in lotus position on top. Xiaofan didn’t know how many years had passed him by. The old monk’s flesh and blood looked withered like rotten wood.
“Who.... Who are you?”
Startled, he unconsciously took a step back. He didn’t think that there’d be a monk here. Accurately speaking, he was more like a dried up corpse.
“I am Dipankara....”
“Fuck, then I’m Gautama!”
He had reflexively said this out of fear but then immediately thought that his speech was too vulgar. Instead, the old monk simply nodded his head.
“You.... believe me?”
“Of course, why shouldn’t I? Buddha once said that Heaven and Earth are one. This universe has no form. All beings are buddhas.”
He was taken aback. There was something vastly different about this old monk, especially when compared to those monastery monks back on Planet Earth. Even though he was so emaciated, he emanated an aura of spiritual transcendence.
Not easily daunted, Jiang Xiaofan recomposed himself. He asked the monk why he had chosen to stay here, but the monk’s response elicited another cuss from him, nearly puking a mouthful of blood.
“I have been meditating here for eighteen thousand years, waiting for the fated person. I wish to pass on this sutra....”
The monk’s eyes were etched with emotion, causing Jiang Xiaofan to momentarily hesitate. However, he soon firmly shook his head. Who was he kidding? He was still an innocent virgin and wasn’t ready to give up his mortal desires just yet.
Caught slightly off guard, the old monk thought again and faintly smiled. With both hands in Anjali Mudra position, he explained, “I merely want to pass it down. Whatever happens in the future is up to you as the judge....”
Jiang Xiaofan inspected the old monk carefully. This felt too surreal. Somehow, he had encountered the legendary Dipankara, Buddha of the Past, and furthermore, this monk wanted him to have his sutra. It was like a dream.
He was partially skeptical. He had no interest in Buddhism, but he could sense this monk’s sincere conviction. The monk most likely wasn’t lying. Moreover, Jiang Xiaofan had nothing on him that was worth being lied to.
He raised his head and rubbed his chin. This was a legendary figure after all. Although this incident seemed a bit ridiculous, why should he care so much? He had nothing to lose. At the worst, he could pretend that this was all part of an elaborate storytelling.
Seeing him nod in agreement, the old monk smiled again and then raised a shriveled finger at him. A ray of golden light shot into the area between his brows and was absorbed. In his sea of mind, millions of gold-colored talismans appeared before finally agglomerating into a large “fo” which was then dispersed into golden rays and assimilated by the meridians throughout his body.
He widened his eyes and stared at him with his mouth agape. He had never imagined that his so-called passing down would be something like this. He was a true immortal!
“This sutra has been handed down to me from Buddha. Take good care of it. Do not reveal it in front of anyone.”
After giving it to him, the old monk grew noticeably weaker. Wearing a solemn expression on his face, he took out a seemingly insignificant, silver-colored brass piece that was approximately the size of his palm. It shook slightly, disappeared before Jiang Xiaofan’s eyes, and then appeared inside his body.
The moment the brass piece entered his body, it felt ablaze, releasing radiant, colorful rays of light which illuminated the entire cave.
At this moment, he could somehow see through his body. In his abdomen was a small, almost illusory, multi-colored lake. In the center of the lake was the brass piece.
It serenely floated on top, emitting a faint, mystical glow as if it was the source of saintliness, supporting all that of Heaven and Earth.
The mysterious lake glowed more brightly. The colorful rays were translucent, like a naturally formed rainbow. Occasionally, he could hear a unique sound resonating from that silver-colored brass piece.
“The Heavenly Way, harm will befall you if not repaired....”
The sound was loud and sonorous, travelling to his heart like a flowing stream and reverberating like a large, ancient bell which cut through space and time to shake his spirit.
The monk had revealed an expression of shock for the first time but then swiftly calmed down as if there was nothing left in this world that could concern him.
“What was that?! What just happened?!”
Once everything had normalized, Jiang Xiaofan looked with disbelief at his hands. Then, he scanned his body from top to bottom, afraid that he might be missing an arm or a leg.
“The prelude of a flourishing era is about to begin. The Heavenly Way will be restored....”
After everything had been completed, the monk gazed fixedly at Jiang Xiaofan, his eyes etched deeper with emotion. He remained quiet and held his hands in Anjali Mujra position as if he had made his merit. Suddenly, golden flames of fire ignited and his body started to burn. Alarmed, Xiang Jiaofan took a big leap backward.
“Hey Dashi, are you alright?”
The color drained from Jiang Xiaofan’s face. He retreated back to the shoreline, reached out his hands, and began to throw water at the monk. To his dismay, the water evaporated in midair before it could even reach him.
“When he first encounters old age, sickness and death, he realizes the impermanence of the world. He renounces his kingdom, wealth and throne, and goes into the mountains to practice the Way. After sending back the white horse that he has been riding, together with the jewelled crown and ornaments which he has been wearing, he takes off his magnificent clothes and puts on a Dharma robe. He cuts his hair and shaves his beard, sits upright under a tree, and strives at ascetic practices for six years in accord with the traditional way. Since he has appeared in the world of the five defilements, he behaves as the multitude. And as his body appears dirty, he takes a bath in the Golden River. As a god bends a branch down towards him, he is able to climb up the river bank. A divine bird follows him closely to the seat of Enlightenment. A deva takes the form of a youth and, perceiving a favorable sign, respectfully presents him with the auspicious grass. The Bodhisattva compassionately accepts it, spreads it under the Bodhi-tree and sits upon it with his legs crossed. He emits a great flood of light to inform Mara of this. Mara and his army come to attack and tempt him, but he brings them under control with the power of wisdom and makes them all surrender. Then he attains the supreme Dharma and realizes the highest, perfect Enlightenment.”
The monk was all skin and bones, but he remained tranquil as he recited his sutra. He was enveloped in the incandescent, sacred fire. His body had turned transparent, even the innards could be seen.
Everything felt peaceful. The stone platform was blanketed by a strong aura. Afterward, his bones cracked, flesh turned to light, and everything became ashes. There was nothing left. His name had been erased from this world.
Dazed, Jiang Xiaofan stood a few meters away before approaching him after considerable time had passed. He looked at the pile of ashes on top of the platform with his eyes bulged. The scene from before was playing out in his mind. The golden flames were so serene. He didn’t feel any calories of heat. In fact, he didn’t even know how it had kindled, but, for sure, it had reduced him to nothingness.
“Is this the so-called parinirvana?”
He was somewhat excited; however, no matter how he looked at it, this was clearly immolation.
“Since the saintly monk passed this sutra down to me, he’s considered, at the very least, my master. Please accept my bow!”
He replaced his crude, immature personality with a serious expression. With the stone platform as a grave, he pondered and carved large words on it: Resting Place of Dipankara, Buddha of the Past. Lastly, he kowtowed three times before it.
Was this fate? Jiang Xiaofan felt a bit touched. What a strange phenomenon. He had only just met him, yet the monk had passed down to him this Buddhist cultivation method and now here he was, erecting a gravestone for the old monk.
“Forget it. Let’s see if this sutra is as mystical as he claimed it to be.”
Receiving this cultivation method, to an earthling like Jiang Xiaofan, was undoubtedly the same as winning the lottery. How could he not be excited? He quickly sat down in a lotus position, closed his eyes, and concentrated all his attention on sensing it.
Dipanakara, the Buddha of the Past, was an important figure in Chinese Buddhism, despite being second to Gautama. Naturally, his passing down of the ancient sutra had to be one of Buddhism’s most prized scriptures, even one of the most spiritual ones.
Jiang Xiaofan closed his eyes and used his willpower to activate the sutra. Before his eyes was only darkness. There was no reaction of any sort from the sutra. It was the same as before. He could only sense that it was something special.
However, he didn't give up. Slowly, a small glow emerged from the darkness. Gold-colored texts steadily materialized. Like lighting up a sacred lamp, these gold-colored, ancient texts became golden rays which illuminated the void.
He rapidly focused his willpower and followed the golden rays which coursed through his entire body like running water. In the meantime, he saw the small, multicolored lake once again and the brass piece which floated in the center of it.
He attempted to approach it, but the small lake was far from his reach despite being it being so close. It seemed infinitely far away as if they were separated like Heaven and Earth.
While he focused his willpower on contemplating, the golden, mystical energy hadn’t stopped circulating. With perseverance, it channeled through his inners, passed through his eight extraordinary meridians, and diffused to everywhere.
Concurrently, what Jiang Xiaofan hadn’t noticed was that out of nowhere, a golden “fo” had appeared on top of where he was sitting. Below him were blossoming golden lotuses, and behind him surfaced a blurry shadow that mimicked his actions.
He didn’t know how much time had passed, but when he woke up, he looked at his hands and gently balled up his fists. He could feel that he was different than before. A powerful energy was surging within his body.
He picked up a rock from the ground, grasped it, and lightly applied force. Suddenly, a loud sound was heard. The egg-sized rock in his hand was crushed to dust.
“Oh my god! I hit the jackpot!”
He almost didn’t control himself and hollered while tightening his fist. With this cultivation method in his hands, he could already imagine his bright future in this world. He would own all the lands. His back palace would be filled with three thousand beauties. He would have underlings by the hundreds. Finally, he would become an immortal.
He meditated again, closed his eyes, and activated the sutra. The small, multicolored lake and the silver-colored brass piece came into view He focused all his willpower to trigger the mysterious brass piece.
This was the last thing that the saintly monk had given him. Judging by the monk’s solemnity, he knew that this was an invaluable piece of treasure, even more precious than the sutra.
- ^ one of the buddhas of the past who existed before Siddhartha Gautama; in Mahayana Buddhism, he is considered to be THE Buddha of the Past with Guatama being the Present and Maitreya being the Future
- ^ a hand gesture with palms placed together, usually near the heart
- ^ 佛, Chinese character for Buddhism
- ^ a beneficial and protective force which extends over a long period of time and is the effect of good deeds done through physical action, words, or thought
- ^ a respectful term for a Buddhist monk
- ^ Infinite Life Sutra, Chapter 2 http://www.buddhasutra.com/files/infinite_life_sutra.htm
- ^ nirvana-after-death, occurs upon the death of the body of someone who has attained nirvana during his or her lifetime