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及元嘉六年。有外國舶主難提。從師子國載比丘尼來。至宋都住景福寺。後少時問果曰。 此國先來已曾有外國尼未。答曰。未有。又問。先諸尼受戒那得二僧。答但從大僧受。得本事者乃是發起受戒。人心令生殷重是方便耳。

故如大愛道八敬得戒五百釋女以愛道為和上。此其高例。果雖答然心有疑。具諮三藏。 三藏同其解也。又諮曰。重受得不。答曰。戒定慧品從微至著。更受益佳。到十年舶主難提。 復將師子國鐵薩羅等十一尼。至先達諸尼已通宋語。請僧伽跋摩於南林寺壇界。次第重受三百餘人。十八年年三十四矣。時宴坐經日。維那故觸。謂言已死。驚告寺官寺官共視。見果身冷肉強。唯氣息微轉。始欲舁徙。便自開眼語笑尋常。於是愚者駭服。不知所終也

2.14 (Tsai no.27) Seng-kuo

The nun Seng-kuo (Fruit of the Sangha) (b. 408) of Kuang-ling

Seng-kuo's secular surname was Chao; her given name was Fa-yu. Her family was originally from Hsiu-wu in Chi Commandery [in north China].

Because she had established genuine faith during a former life, pure devotion was natural to her in her present life, and, even when she was an infant at breast, she did not transgress the monastic rule of not eating after mid-day. Her father and mother both marveled at this. When Seng-kuo grew up, although she was of one mind about what she wanted to do, the karmic obstructions were mixed and multiform. Therefore she was twenty-seven years old before she was able to leave the household life, at which time she became a disciple of the nun Hui-ts'ung of Kuang-ling [on the north bank of the Yangtze River northeast of the capital]. Seng-kuo cultivated an intelligent and solid observance of the monastic regulations, and her meditative practice was so free from distractions that each time she entered into concentration she continued thus from dusk to dawn. Stretching in spirit to the pure realm of the divine, her body stayed behind looking as lifeless as dry wood, but some of her disciples of shallow understanding were doubtful of her yogic ability.

In the sixth year of the yüan-chia reign period (429), a foreign boat captain named Nan-t'i brought some Buddhist nuns from Sri Lanka to the capital of the Sung dynasty. The Sri Lankan nuns stayed at Luminous Blessings Convent.

Not long after taking up residence there, they asked Seng-kuo, "Before we came to this country, had foreign nuns ever been here?"

She replied, "No, there have not been any."

They asked again, ["If that is the case] how did the Chinese women who became nuns receive the monastic obligations from both the Assembly of Monks and the Assembly of Nuns [as they are required to do according to the rules?]"

Seng-kuo replied, "They received the obligations only from the Assembly of Monks."

"Those women who went through the ritual of entering the monastic life began the reception of the monastic obligations. This reception was an expedient to cause people to have great respect for the monastic life. Our eminent model for this expedient is the Buddha's own stepmother, Mahāprajāpatī, who was deemed to have accepted the full monastic obligation by taking on herself, and therefore for all women for all time, the eight special prohibitions incumbent on women wanting to lead the monastic life. [These she accepted from the Buddha only.] The five hundred women of the Buddha's clan who also left the household life at the same time as Mahāprajāpatī considered her as their instructor."

Although Seng-kuo agreed, she herself had a few doubts [about the validity of the rituals that had been observed in China regarding women leaving the household life]. Therefore she asked the central Asian missionary monk Gunavarman [who was an expert on the subject]. He agreed with her understanding of the situation.

She further inquired of him, "Is it possible to go through the ritual [of accepting the full monastic obligation] a second time?"

Gunavarman replied, "[The Buddhist threefold action of] morality, meditation, and wisdom progresses from the slight to the obvious. Therefore, receiving the monastic obligations a second time is of greater benefit than receiving them only once."

[Four years later] in the tenth year (433), Nan-t'i, the ship captain, brought eleven more nuns from Sri Lanka, including one named Tessara. The first group of nuns, who by this time had become fluent in Chinese, requested the Indian missionary monk Sanghavarman to preside over the ritual for bestowing the monastic rules on women at the ceremonial platform in Southern Grove Monastery. That day more than three hundred women accepted once again the full monastic obligation [this time from both the Assembly of Monks and the Assembly of Nuns].

One time, in the eighteenth year (441), when she was thirty-four years old, Seng-kuo sat in meditation for a whole day. [Because she had sat so long and her body was still and lifeless like dry wood] the administrator of the meditation hall tried to rouse her but could not and therefore said that she had died. Alarmed, she summoned the other officers of the convent who, on examining Seng-kuo, perceived that her body was cold and stiff. Her breath was so slight as to be unnoticed, and they were on the point of carrying her away when she opened her eyes and talked and laughed like her usual self. Thereupon, those foolish ones [who had doubted her] were startled into accepting her achievements in meditation.

It is not known how or when 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