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2.20 (Tsai no.33) Hui-chün

The nun Hui-chün (Deep Wisdom) (392-464) of Bamboo Garden Convent

Hui-chün's secular surname was Ch'en. Her family was originally from Shan-yin [some distance southeast of the capital of Sung and very close to Kuei-chi].

When Hui-chün was still a child, she was quite intelligent, and her zeal in the practice of religion surpassed the multitude. In the morning she burned incense and engaged her mind in the act of worship, thus passing the time until noon when she ate her one meal of vegetables, eschewing the flesh of living creatures. Although she was living in her parents' house, she behaved as though she had already left the household life. Because her mother and father could not break her resolve, they permitted her to enter the religious life when she was eighteen years old.

She could recite from memory any classic text, whether Buddhist or non-Buddhist, after having read it once. There was no deep meditation or subtle contemplation she could not enter. Hui-chün was quiet and nonquarrelsome, agreeable, and modest; in her associations with friends and acquaintances she never engaged in banter or joking [behavior indeed forbidden by the monastic rules].

The chief minister of the Sung state, the Chiang-hsia prince, I-kung (413-465) [the fifth son of Emperor Wu], especially respected her and without fail supplied clothing and medicine for her throughout the year. Hui-chün did not keep these goods for herself but used them to build up the convent; the completion of Bamboo Garden was her achievement.

When she grew old, Hui-chün's joy in the flavor of meditation did not pall. In the eighth year of the ta-ming reign period (464) of the Sung dynasty she died at the age of seventy-three and was buried on Tutor Mountain.

In the same convent lived the nun Seng-hua, who was extremely intelligent and eminently accomplished, being able to chant many doctrinal scriptures and texts of monastic rules. Her renown for maintaining strict vegetarianism and ascetic practices was equal to Hui-chün's.

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