Bandits

After the transmission of the precepts, the Venerable Master Yun returned quietly and alone to Yunmen, where he was supervising the construction of buildings. That summer, I went to the district of Nancheng in Jiangxi to lecture on the Amitabha Sutra at the invitation of Elder Layman Huang Juzai. I returned to Nanhua Monastery in the middle of the eighth month. In the middle of the ninth month, a group of bandits who were intent on ransacking the monastery broke down the door and entered the Nanhua Vinaya Academy. When I went out to meet them, they pointed their guns at my chest and said, "We're going to shoot you." I said, "Why do you want to shoot me?" The bandits said, "Because you didn't open the door." I said, "I didn't open the door because you have come to rob me, not to give me gifts. If you had been in my place, you wouldn't have dared to open the door either." The bandits said, "Hand over your money!" I pointed at my ragged robe and said, "Look! Would someone wearing such tattered clothes have money?" The bandits asked, "Well, who does?" I said, "I'm the Dharma Master here, and all the rest are student monks. If I am penniless, surely they will be poorer yet. This room is where I live. You are welcome to look around and take whatever you like." Hearing me conversing with the bandits as if nothing were going on, Dharma Master Huaiyi came out from the inner rooms to join the conversation. The bandits promptly let go of me and seized him, giving him the same treatment they had given me. Master Huai burst into tears and hung his head, afraid to look up. The thieves then said, "Give us your money!" Master Huai said, "Go to my room and get it." They entered his room and took everything in it, leaving it empty.

The following day at class, Master Huai announced to the students, "Of the hundred or more monks at Nanhua Monastery, only one man showed no sign of fear--Dharma Master To Lun." When it came time for me to teach, I said, "Master Huai said I was the only one in this monastery who was not afraid. He was wrong. As far as I know, there were four people: First of all, the Sixth Patriarch, Great Master Huineng, sat unmoving in bright samadhi, without worrying or paying any attention, as if nothing were going on. Second, Patriarch Hanshan sat erect, nourishing his spirit with eyes closed, in a state of internal and external emptiness in which concepts of self and others were both gone. Third, Patriarch Dantian stuck out his head to take a look around and see what was going on, yet did not say a single word. The fourth one was me, the mountain monk To Lun, who not only looked but also spoke. I conversed with the thieves and got all excited, but I was not afraid either." After I said this, the class broke into laughter.

The news soon reached the Venerable Master Yun, who hurried back from Yunmen and called a general meeting. Present at the meeting were Dharma Masters Huaiyi and To Lun, and the Venerable Master Yun himself chaired the meeting. There were over thirty students, including Zuyin, Yunmiao, Wuyun, Xuanyang, Hengding, Tihui, Tiguang, Faliang, Hailong, Fahui, Wanxin, Zhikong, Faming, and Fakai. After the incident of the bandits, everyone in the monastery was unsettled and wished to leave. The Venerable Master Yun urged Master Huai to stay on, but he refused. He tried to detain the students, but they wouldn't listen. Under these circumstances, he broke down and wept bitterly. He said, "To the end of time, I will never again run a Buddhist Academy." Then he got up and returned to the Abbot's quarters. I was deeply moved and vowed to assume the duties of managing and continuing to run the Buddhist Academy. Later Master Huai went to Guangxi, and I became solely responsible for all the classes at the Nanhua Vinaya Academy.