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Content created: 2010-11-24
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On a hill called Golden Mountain outside the city of Zhènjiāng 镇江, in Jiāngsū 江苏 province, upstream from Shànghǎi 上海 and downstream from Nánjīng 南京, there is a monastery called the Monastery of Golden Mountain (Jīnshānsì 金山寺). In this monastery in the last days of the Qīng 清 dynasty and the early years of the Republic of China, there dwelt a monk with the religious name of Miàoshàn (妙善 "Wondrous Virtue"). Because he had not been ordained there, but was only visiting, people knew little about him.
People didn't like Miàoshàn because he was undisciplined and unpredictable, but especially because of his habit of chanting "Who chants 'I take my refuge in the Amitabha Buddha'?" (shéi niàn námó Ēmítuófó 谁念南无阿弥陀佛) in the middle of the night.
"Arrrgh! Who is chanting and disturbing everyone's sleep in the middle of the night?!" they would ask. 'That's unconscionable!"
"It's that crazy monk," would be the answer.
They were also disgusted by his way of spitting into the rice and by his squatting like a woman when he urinated. And so Miàoshàn was referred to by the phrase "crazy monk" (diān héshàng 颠和尚), which became his nickname.
He didn't usually say much, though. He preferred simply to meditate.
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