Folk Legends: The Origin of "Buddha Glory"

Ru Zhi

PureInsight | August 19, 2007

[] Nowadays,
people are seeing "Buddha glory" in some well-known mountains, rivers,
and temples. People who believe in Buddhism think that it is a message
from heaven, but the skeptics consider it to be a natural phenomenon.
However, literally speaking, the name "Buddha glory" requires that it
must have something to do with Buddha.

According to the legend, there was an old man during the Eastern Han
Dynasty who lived in the Huayan Top of the Emei Mountain in Sichuan
Province. He harvested herbs for a living and everyone called him Pu
Gong. Pu Gong was very kind and loved to help people. As a result, he
did many good deeds.  He also was a good friend of a monk in the
Bao Zhang Temple of the Bao Zhang Peak. The two of them often discussed
the Buddha Fa.

One day, when Pu Gong was harvesting herbs, he heard the heavenly
music.  He followed the direction of the music and looked up. He
saw a group of people standing on top of a multicolored cloud and
floating towards the Golden Crown of the Emei Mountain. Pu Gong knew
that they were either deities or enlightened beings, so he picked up
his steps and followed the colorful cloud to the Golden Crown.

After arriving at the Golden Crown, he looked beyond the cliff and saw
an ocean of clouds radiating a million beautiful sparkles. Amidst the
lights, there was one especially eye catching deity. He had a purple
and gold crown, a yellow cassock, and was riding on an elephant with
six huge husks. Such a magnificent scene was beyond description.

Pu Gong could not recognize that deity and rushed back to his friend in
the Bao Zhang Temple. After hearing that, the monk said, "Oh, that is
Samantabadra! I want to ask him for guidance." Then he grabbed Pu's
hand and ran to the Golden Crown. When they arrived at the cliff, they
looked down at the millions of clouds, like the huge waves in the
ocean. The monk told Pu that the seven-colored cloud was called Buddha
glory and it was the manifestation of Samanabadra.  When Pu looked
at the cloud carefully, he saw a Buddha body. He pointed it out to the
monk, but unfortunately the monk could not see it. The monk sighed with
emotion and said, "You collected herbs every day to help people in
trouble. Your good deeds have touched the Buddha, so he revealed
himself to you. However, I have not done as well as you, so I cannot
see the Buddha and can only see the glory on top of his head. Since
then, people have called the glory manifested by the deities "Buddha
glory" or "Golden Crown glory" which has been considered as an
auspicious symbol.

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