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The Living Buddha of Golden Mountain came into the human world in order to deliver obstinate people. He appeared crazy at times, but his intentions were sincere and pure, and his saliva and mucus were good medicines for curing illnesses. But his occasional inattention toward distinctions between men and women, good and bad, clean and dirty could bring problem. Here is one such story.
A certain head of the Department of Civil Affairs (mínzhèng kēzhǎng 民政科长) of a certain county government (xiànzhèngfǔ 县政府) had a wife who suffered a long illness and was in great pain.
"I feel really horrible," she said from her sick bed one day. "I have heard there is a living buddha at Golden Mountain who can heal illnesses. Why don't we invite him to come?"
"Where do you get such nonsense (guǐhuà 鬼话), Wife? I don't believe in buddhas living or otherwise, and I have only contempt for those monks. How can a person believe in living buddhas in an age of science?!"
Days passed, and each day his wife groaned in pain.
"Please," she cried. "I beg you to invite the Living Buddha of Golden Mountain. Please!"
"Oh, all right. I'll invite him since you feel so bad."
And so the official went and fetched Miàoshàn. As soon as Miàoshàn saw the sick women he exclaimed,
"Why, this is only a minor illness! Stand up. Now come over here. Hurry up. Now, bring your lips over here to mine."
"No!" she shouted. "Don't do that!"
"Damn!" muttered the official. "How can this crazy monk come in here and just kiss my wife at will?!"
"Now hurry and swallow the saliva from my mouth," Miàoshàn instructed.
"How could you be so rude?!" she said, pushing him away.
Her husband rushed to her rescue.
"You wild monk (yě héshàng 野和尚)! How could you do this?! Get out of here!" He punched Miàoshàn hard and pushed him out the door, slamming it after him.
"Pitiful. Really a shame," muttered Miàoshàn as he headed home.
"What a jerk!" muttered the official after he had calmed his wife down. "I'll see that he is punished for this behavior."
The next day the official went to his superior, the county governor (xiànzhǎng 县长) and insisted that the crazy monk be arrested and punished. The governor called two of his agents and ordered them:
"Hurry to the Monastery of the Golden Mountain and arrest the monk called the 'Living Buddha.'"
When they got to the monastery they asked for a monk named "Living Buddha," explaining that they had come to arrest him.
"Amitâbha! What crime did he commit?"
The monk signed. "Follow me," he said, and he took them to Miàoshàn's quarters.
"Miàoshàn! Miàoshàn!" There was no answer. "It seems he's not in."
"He's afraid to come out because he is guilty of a crime. We'll break down to door." And with a crash, that is what they did, and in they marched.
They found Miàoshàn sitting as though in meditation, but no breath came from his nostrils. He seemed, as far as they could tell, to have died.
"Perhaps he has committed suicide because he was afraid of the consequences of his crime."
"What shall we do?"
"It's okay," said the monk. "This is called 'entering a meditative state.' Let me call him." And with that he snapped his fingers at Miàoshàn's ear, and Miàoshàn immediately woke up.
"Miàoshàn, these two gentlemen have come especially to ask you to see the sick people at their homes," the monk told him.
"Oh? All right," said Miàoshàn affably, and suddenly jumped up and ran out the door. The policemen followed him.
"Stop! Don't run!" And they chased and chased him. Suddenly he stopped dead.
"You two are working very hard. Come, I have some silver for each of you." He held out his hands with two gleaming lumps of silver.
"Hand it over," they said suspiciously. But as Miàoshàn dropped the silver into their outstretched hands, each piece turned into a large rock.
"Damn! We've been cheated."
"I hate this." And they threw the rocks back at him.
He caught them in one hand.
"Hey, I gave you silver pieces and you didn't want them. Well, okay. I'll eat them." He popped the two rocks into his mouth. "Yum! They taste like kidney beans. Delicious."
The two policemen looked at each other. This case was clearly moving beyond ordinary police work. But before they could move, Miàoshàn continued:
"You two are asking me to go cure illness without riding in a carriage. I am not going."
When the policemen finally got him to the county office he was escorted before the county governor himself.
"So you are the wicked monk (yaōsēng 妖僧)."
"So you are the honorable county governor (xiànzhǎng dàrén 县长大人)."
"And what is your xìng (姓 surname)?"
"My xìn (信 belief) is Buddhism."
"I don't care whether you are a Buddhist or not. What is your name."
"I am called the Living Buddha."
"You wicked monk, calling yourself a living buddha. I see you pretend to be crazy in order to molest decent women and engage in obscene conduct. Do you understand your zuì (罪 crime)?"
"I have zuì (罪 sinned); so have you; and so have all people."
"That is nonsense. And let me ask you why people call you "Living Buddha."
"Not only am I a living buddha; everybody is a living buddha. We are all living buddhas."
"You foul monk. I don't understand what you are saying at all."
"That's a pity. I guess it's like 'playing music to an ox (duì niú tánqín 对牛弹琴),' as they say."
"You are outrageous, pretending to be crazy in front of me, the county governor! It is clear that you are an indecent monk. Whom do you usually sleep with?"
"I embrace buddhas every night."
"Don't be stupid. Speak up!"
"Okay, I sleep with your mother."
"What's the big deal? Your mother is also my mother."
"You are insane. Lock him up."
And so they dragged Miàoshàn off to a prison cell. But compared with a monk's cell, it wasn't bad, and he immediately began meditating. The next day he had made no noise, and he hadn't touched his meals either. In fact for several days he didn't move at all, not to eat or talk or excrete. The guards began to worry whether he might starve to death, so one of them went to report to the county governor.
Now as it happened, the county governor's wife was a disciple of the Living Buddha. But she knew nothing of her husband's encounter with him, and her husband knew nothing of her devotion to him. On this particular day she was not looking well.
"What is the matter, Wife?"
"I have been feeling anxious these few days. I don't know what is wrong."
"You must be ill."
"I have a feeling that something bad has happened."
"Well, don't worry too much about it; you'll make yourself sick."
"I think I need to get help from my teacher, the Living Buddha (fó 佛) of Golden Mountain."
"A living baboon ( fèi 狒)?! Oh, you mean Buddha. You mean you are also a follower of the Living Buddha!"
"Yes. What's the matter with that?"
Just at that moment a guard came from the prison to report.
"The Living Buddha has not eaten for several days."
"Is he starving?"
"You old tortoise!" screamed his wife. "What have you done to the Living Buddha of Golden Mountain?!"
"He molested women …"
"You should suffer the death of a thousand cuts, you rotten thing! The Living Buddha is my master. His saliva and mucus are good medicines. You have wronged a good person because you are 'too blind to see a mountain (yǒu yǎn bù shì Tàishān 有眼不识泰山.' You even talk about obscene conduct. What could he do that would be obscene?!"
"Yes, dear. Yes, dear. I'll go and release him."
And with that he instructed the prison guard to go and release the Living Buddha.
But when the guard unlocked the door and told him he could go, Miàoshàn refused, saying he was quite comfortable meditating in his cell. So this was dutifully reported back to the county governor, whose wife became even more agitated.
"Look at you, you who deserve the death of a thousand cuts. You should go in person to ask that he leave."
"Yes, dear. Yes. I'll do it."
When he got to the prison with his wife, the county governor knelt humbly and asked, "I beg you, Living Buddha. Please leave the prison. Um, please honor my humble residence for a few days instead."
Then his wife added, "Master, it all the fault of this booby (guǐdōngxī 鬼东西). Please forgive us." Then she turned to her cowering husband: "You'd better abide by Living Buddha or [I'll see to it that] you will not reap a good retribution."
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