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2.12 (Tsai no.25) Kuang-ching

The nun Kuang-ching (Shining Peace) (d. 442) of Central Convent of Kuang-ling

Kuang-ching's secular surname was Hu, and her given name was Tao-pei. She was from Tung-ch'ien in the Wu-hsing Commandery [to the south of Lake T'ai, southeast of the capital].

When Kuang-ching was yet a child, she left the household life and went with her instructor to live in Central Convent of Kuang-ling [on the north bank of the Yangtze River, northeast of the capital of the Sung dynasty].

Kuang-ching cultivated a diligent zeal in her religious practices while still a young girl, and, when she grew up, she undertook in particular the practice of meditation. She ate neither sweet nor fat foods, and, when she was ready to accept the full obligation of the monastic life, she gave up even cereals, eating instead only pine resin, a diet she continued for fifteen years after becoming a full-fledged nun. But, even though her mental faculties were as clear and fresh as ever, her body had no strength left. She prayed ardently, but she was in a constant state of exhaustion from her efforts. The Buddhist monk Shih Fa-ch'eng admonished her, "Eating is not the most important matter in Buddhism." When Kuang-ching heard these words, she gave up her diet of pine resin and went back to eating ordinary rice. Nevertheless, she doubled her heroic efforts, studying single-mindedly without growing weary. Those who practiced contemplation under her tutelage always numbered over one hundred.

In the fifth month of the eighteenth year of the yüan-chia reign period (441), Kuang-ching got sick. She said, "I have been wearied and afflicted with this body for a long time." Thereupon, because of her illness, confession of her transgressions was never absent from her thoughts or speech. In mind and expression she was happy and tranquil.

On New Year's Day of the nineteenth year (442), she suddenly gave up all food and drink. Concentrating her thought on the Tushita Heaven of Maitreya [the next Buddha], she kept it constantly in mind, and thus she continued until the night of the fourth month and eighth day [the Buddha's birthday], when, in the presence of unusual fragrance and good omens appearing in the sky, she died.

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