Stories from Buddhism: Tan You

Mu Mu

PureInsight | July 1, 2007

[] Zhu Tan You,
also named Yun Fa You, was born in Dunhuang. He became a monk when he
was a child and studied Zen Buddhism hard. Later on, he wandered to the
Mount Stone City, which was east of the river, and begged food while
cultivating Buddhism. Tan You once begged some food from a household
that raised poisonous pests. While he was eating the food, a centipede
suddenly jumped out from his food, but he showed no surprise and
continued eating.

Later, Tan You came to a stone room for cultivation in the Mount Red
City in Shi Feng. More than ten tigers were sitting in front of him
while he was reading the Buddhism Scriptures as usual. One of the
tigers could not keep on staring and started to have a nap. Tan You
patted the head of the tiger with his Ruyi and asked him why he did not
listen to the Scriptures. Eventually the tigers left, one by one.
However, a huge python soon showed up and swung around Tan You. After
half a day, the python left.

On the second day, a spirit came and spoke to Tan You: "Since the
Master came to stay in the mountain, I shall vacate my space."

Tan You answered: "I came to this mountain and only occupy a small place. Why don't you stay with me?"

The spirit said: "I don't really care, however my subordinates haven't
learned Buddhism so they will probably be hard to discipline and might
give you much trouble. Besides, spirits are a different kind from human
beings, I will have to leave."  Tan You asked what kind of spirit
he was, he said that he was the son of the Emperor Xia and had lived
there for more than two thousand years. He was going to move to the
Mount Cold Stone to stay with his uncle. When the mountain spirit left,
he gave Tan You three bundles of incense and struck his sword case, and
then he and his subordinates disappeared in the sky.

Mount Red City was connected with Mount Sky Stage and Mount Four
Wisdoms. The Mount Sky Stage has very stiff cliffs. It was said that
there was a splendid building in the mountain and only someone who had
achieved highly in Buddhism could get in. The building was on the other
side, which required crossing a bridge. There was a blocking stone and
the moss was very slippery, so no one had ever crossed the bridge. One
day, Tan You decided to give it a try. When he had just arrived at the
stone bridge, he heard a voice from the sky: "Though you believe in
Buddhism, you can not be admitted now. You can come back ten years
later." Tan You retreated with disappointment. On the way back, when he
rested in a stone room. The sky became cloudy and there was noise
around the room, but Tan You did not feel afraid. On the second
morning, a spirit in plain clothes with a head-cloth came in and said:
"This is my humble residence. I was not at home last night. I am sorry
that you were disturbed." He invited Tan You to stay a few more days
and Tan You did so.

Since he did not cross the stone bridge, Tan You felt disappointed. One
day, he went to the stone bridge again after a fast. The blocking stone
was open this time and Tan You crossed the bridge and saw the beautiful
building and spirits. Tan You stayed there and worshiped and had meals
with them. After dinner, the spirits told Tan You: "After ten years you
will come here naturally, but you cannot live here now." Then Tan You
went back and the blocking stone went back to normal.

In the period of Tai Yuan in the Jin Dynasty, there an evil star
showinppearedg. The emperor ordered all monks to be diligent in their
Buddhist practices, hoping for the disappearance of the disaster. Tan
You sincerely prayed. On the sixth morning, a young man in black
clothes came to say: "Sorry to trouble the master." From that night the
evil star did not show up anymore.

In the last year of Tai He, Tan You died in his room in the mountain.
His whole body was green. Later some people went to climb the mountain
and found that body of Tan You had not decayed.

(From the Legends of Holy Monks, Volume 2)

Translated from:

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