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4.9 (Tsai no.60) Shih Ling-yü

The nun Shih Ling-yü (Esteemed Jade) (in the lineage of Shākyamuni) (434-509) of Southern Chin-ling Convent

Ling-yü's secular surname was Ts'ai, and she was from [the capital city of] Chien-k'ang. While still very young she left secular life and went to live in the meditation hall of Empress Ho Convent as a disciple of the nun Ching-yao, whose adherence to the monastic precepts was perfect and whose intellect was superior to others.

Ling-yü as a young girl served her instructor with great respect and diligence, and, when she first received the ten initial precepts of a novice, one could already behold her great dignity of behavior. After she received the obligation to keep all of the monastic precepts, her observation of the prohibitions was as pure as snow.

She widely perused the texts of the five sectarian divisions of Buddhist monastic rules, admirably delving into the deep teachings with an excellent capacity for transmitting them to others.

The prince of Shao-ling (?470-479) of the Sung dynasty [seventh son of Emperor Ming (439-465-472)], very much respected her and requested her to serve as abbess of Southern Chin-ling Convent, but she firmly declined to accept the position. Because the prince was unable to make her submit to his request, he reported it [to his elder brother who was the emperor] during the yüan-hui reign period (473477). [When the emperor] during the yüan-hui reign period issued an imperial decree repeating the request she was unable to avoid accepting the position that she then held for many years. During that time she maintained a dignified but not overbearing manner and was serious without being severe.

In the eighth year of the t'ien-chien reign period (509), Ling-yü died at the age of seventy-six.

In the same convent there were also the nuns Ling-hui, Chieh-jen, and Hui-li, all of whom had illustrious reputations. Ling-hui chanted the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law, the Vimalakīrti, the Shrīmālā, and other scriptures, kept a rigorous vegetarian diet, and was an eminent example for the Assembly of Nuns. Chieh-jen was very bright and excelled in studies; whatever she read she did not forget. Hui-li was spiritually accomplished and not given to contention.

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