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1.10 (Tsai no.10) Tao-jung

The nun Tao-jung (Look of the Way) of New Grove Convent

Tao-jung originally lived in Black River Convent of Li-yang [southwest of the capital, along the north bank of the Yangtze River], where her practice of the monastic rules was lofty and undefiled. She was good in the arts of divination and could predict fortune and misfortune. People in the surrounding area passed it about that she was a holy person.

The Emperor Ming (300-323-326) of Chin revered her and secretly spread flowers under her sitting mat to verify whether she was an ordinary worldling or really was holy—the flower did not wither ?>[thus her holiness was confirmed].

Many years after that, before the Emperor Chien-wen (320-371372) ascended the throne, he first honored as teacher the Taoist master of Pure Water. This Taoist master was known in the capital by the name of Wang P'u-yang. The future emperor built a Taoist worship hall in his own mansion, and, although Tao-jung frequently tried to guide him to the Way [of Buddhism], he did not listen to her. Later, however, each time the future emperor entered his Taoist worship hall, he would see spirits in the form of Buddhist monks filling the whole room. He suspected Tao-jung was responsible, but he could not prove it.

After Chien-wen's accession to the throne a flock of crows [an evil omen], nested in the emperor's own palace. He employed a fortune-teller named Ch'ü An-yüan to divine it, and the fortune-teller reported back to him saying, "Southwest of here lives a female master who can destroy this evil omen." Therefore the emperor sent an envoy to Black River Convent to welcome Tao-jung to his presence to consult about the matter.

Tao-jung said, "Your majesty need only hold a pure vegetarian fast for seven days and receive and keep the eight fundamental Buddhist precepts; then of itself the omen will disappear." The emperor, with proper demeanor and concentrated mind, carried out her orders, and, before the seven days were over, the crows all flocked together, moved their nests, and left. The emperor then deeply trusted and respected Tao-jung and built a convent for her, providing all the necessities. The convent was called New Grove [Convent] after the grove of trees in which it stood.

The emperor served Tao-jung with all the rites proper to serving a teacher, and, furthermore, he honored the True Law [of the Buddha]. That the people of the Chin dynasty in subsequent years respected the Way of the Buddha was because of Tao-jung's strong influence. By the time of Emperor Hsiao-wu (362-373-396) [who succeeded Chien-wen to the throne], Tao-jung was even more respected and honored.

In the t'ai-yüan reign period (376-396), she suddenly disappeared, and no one knew where she was. The emperor issued an order to bury the robe and begging bowl that she had left behind, and for this reason there is a grave mound next to the convent.

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IATHPublished by The Institute for Advanced Technology in the Humanities, © Copyright 2003 by Anne Kinney and the University of Virginia