From Yangzhou's Damien Temple to Nara's Tangchouti Temple, from the mountains and rivers to the same sky 196

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"No one would have thought that an epidemic would bring fire to a thousand-year-old verse and spark a heated debate.
On the top of the epidemic prevention materials that the HSK office of the Japanese Chinese Language Proficiency Test supported to the university in Hubei, there is a phrase written on them: "The mountains and rivers are different, the wind and the moon are the same", which literally means that although we are not in the same place and do not share the same mountains and rivers when we look up, we see the same round of bright moon. We do not see each other, but our hearts are connected, and many people feel that the Chinese language is so beautiful.
The story of these eight characters begins more than a thousand years ago when the Tang Dynasty was in its prime and all nations came to Japan. At that time, there was a Japanese king named Nagaya who was a great student of poetry and Buddhism and had a longing for the Tang Dynasty. So he had a thousand robes made, each one embroidered with sixteen characters around the edge: "The mountains and rivers is foreign, the wind and the moon are the same as the sky. Send them to the sons of the Buddha for a common bond. He sent them to the monks of the Tang dynasty to invite them to come to Japan to teach the Dharma.
The protagonist of the story is called Jianzhen, commonly known by the surname Chunyu. He was born in the fourth year of the Tang Dynasty (688 AD) and was originally from Guangling Jiangyang (modern Yangzhou).
In addition to Buddhist scriptures, he was also an accomplished scholar in architecture, painting and, above all, medicine. In the first year of the Tang Dynasty (713 AD), at the age of 26, Jianzhen was already well versed in the teachings of Buddhist Ritsu and returned to Yangzhou to become the head of the Daming Temple.
With the Da Ming Temple as his centre, Jianzhen began his extensive religious and social activities in the Jianghuai region over the next three decades.
In the 21st year of the Tang dynasty (733), Japanese monks Ei Hiei and Puzhao came to China to study with the Tang envoys, so take note of these two names, for the story of Kanzen's journey to the east, is inseparable from the beginning.
In the first year of Tianbao (742 AD), when Jianzhen was giving a lecture to the monks at the Daming Temple in Yangzhou, the Japanese monks Ei Hiei and Puzhao also came and said, "Although the Buddha's teachings have flowed eastwards to the country of Japan, there are no transmitters of the teachings. In the past, a prince of holy virtue in this country said, 'Two hundred years from now, the holy religion will flourish in Japan. Now that this is the case, I would like to invite His Holiness to visit Japan." This was the first official invitation to Master Kanzen to travel east to Japan to teach the Dharma.
But 1,000 years ago, unlike now, it was not just a plane ride away, but also a sea crossing, which was a matter of nine lives, and the possibility of no return was quite high.
At this time, Jianzhen said, "I heard that after the monk Nangyue Huisi had moved on, he was reborn as the son of the King of Japan and that he was promoting Buddhism and helping the living. I have also heard that the King of Nagoya in Japan, who respected the Buddha's teachings, made a thousand robes and gave them to the great virtuous monks of this country; on the edge of the robes were embroidered four lines: "The mountains and rivers are different, the wind and the moon are the same as the sky, send all the sons of the Buddha, and make a common bond. The robe was embroidered with these four lines: "The mountains and rivers are foreign, the wind and the moon are the same as the sky, send all the sons of the Buddha together. Who among my fellow Dharma-bearers has responded to this distant invitation to spread the Dharma to Japan?"
The fact that this king lived a little earlier than Jianzhen, and that Jianzhen mentioned this story at the time, suggests that King Nagaya's thousand-necked robe had already been given up to the monks of the Tang dynasty, and the fact that Jianzhen quoted this story to express his willingness to travel to Japan echoes the wish of King Nagaya.
But his disciples did not dare to make a stand at that time, and only his eldest disciple, Xiang Yan, said, "The country is too far away, and it is difficult to survive, and the sea is so vast that there is no one to go." To go to Japan, you had to cross the sea, and even if 100 people went, not even one of them would make it. But at this point, Kanzen showed his determination by saying, "This is a Dharma service, why should I spare my life? If you do not go, I will go." If you don't go, I will go myself.
At this time, Jianzhen was already 55 years old, which must have been above the average age at the time, but the stubborn old monk said he would do it, and in the winter of that year (742 AD), he took 20 of his disciples, together with four Japanese monks, to build a boat at Euiji Temple on the East River near Yangzhou, in preparation for the crossing. But a traitor among the disciples, perhaps because he did not want to go, falsely accused Jianzhen and his party of building the ships in collusion with pirates and preparing to attack Yangzhou. When the pirates became rampant, the government was alarmed by the news and sent all the monks into custody, but they were soon released and the Japanese monks were ordered to return home immediately.
A few months later, in January 744, Kanzen and 17 other monks (including Rong Hiei and Puzhao, who had gone into hiding), together with 85 other monks hired to work on the monuments, set off again with a total of more than 100 people. As a result, the ship sank in the wind and waves at Wolgoupu, at the mouth of the Yangtze River, before it even left the sea. As soon as the boat was repaired, it was caught in another gale and drifted to a small island in the Zhoushan Islands, where they were rescued five days later and transferred to the Ashoka Temple in Mingzhou (now Ningbo, Zhejiang) for settlement. After the start of spring, monasteries in Yuezhou (now Shaoxing, Zhejiang), Hangzhou, Huzhou and Xuanzhou all invited Jianzhen to give teachings, and the second crossing failed again.
After completing his teaching tour, Jianzhen returned to Ashoka Temple and prepared for another trip to the east. When this became known to the monks of Yuezhou, they accused the Japanese monks of hiding in China in order to 'lure' Jianzhen to Japan. So the government threw Rong Hiei into prison and sent him to Hangzhou. He was able to escape by feigning illness on the way. This was the end of the third trip to the east.
But Jianzhen was a stubborn old man. He didn't want me to go, so he bought a boat from Fuzhou. Just go to Wenzhou, it was stopped, the original Jianzhen stay in the Daming Temple disciple Ling You worried about the safety of the master, begging the Yangzhou government to stop, Huainan interviewer so sent people will Jianzhen and his party cut back to Yangzhou. The fourth trip to the east was never completed.
In 748, Rong Hiei and Puzhao came to Daming Temple again to plead with Jianzhen to cross the border. On 28 June, he set off from Chongfu Temple with a total of 35 monks and sailors. After leaving the Yangtze River, he stayed in the Zhoushan Islands for several months, and could not leave the sea until November.
This time, he did go to sea, but when he arrived at the East China Sea, he was hit by a strong north wind and drifted for 14 days before he saw land. 16 days later, he was able to go ashore and found that he had drifted to Zhenzhou (now Sanya, Hainan). The year-long stay of Jianzhen in Hainan brought with him a lot of Chinese cultures and medical knowledge, so to this day, there are still relics of Jianzhen in Sanya, such as the "Sinjin Slope" and "Da Xiaodongtian".
Afterwards, Jianzhen returned north and stayed in Shi'an County (now Guilin, Guangxi) for a year before being welcomed to Guangzhou to give teachings. On his way to Duanzhou (now Zhaoqing, Guangdong), the Japanese monk Ei Hiei fell ill and died at Longxing Temple on Dinghu Mountain. After the summer, Jianzhen continued his journey, and when he passed through Shaozhou, Puzhao resigned, vowing that "I will not go to Japan. I will not be able to fulfil my wish".
At this time, Jianzhen's eyes were blinded due to his lack of water and soil and the strain of his journey, as well as the mistakes made by quack doctors. After crossing the Dayu Mountains, Jianzhen's eldest disciple, Xiangyan, died in Jizhou (now Ji'an, Jiangxi) and Jianzhen was devastated. After much difficulty, Jianzhen returned to Yangzhou. The fifth trip to the east ended in failure.
It took six years for the fifth trip to the east, with the loss of his own eyesight, the death of his eldest disciple and the death of two Japanese monks, but Jianzhen had vowed: "not to go to Japan. My wish will not be fulfilled". In 753, the Japanese envoys came to Yangzhou, including Fujiwara Kiyokawa, Yoshibetsu Jinbei and Chao Heng, to ask Jianzhen again to join them on their journey to the east.
As time passed, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang, who was a great believer in Taoism at the time, wanted to send a Taoist priest to Japan, but Japan refused to allow Jianzhen to go to sea. He took a secret boat to Huangsipu, Suzhou (in Luyuan East Ferry Park, Tang Qiao Town, Zhangjiagang City), where he was transferred to the Tang mission ship. On November 16, the convoy set sail, at which time the previous one, Puzhao, also arrived from Yuyao. 21 November, the boat that Jianzhen was on was separated from the boat that Chao Heng was on, and on December 6, the remaining two boats and one boat hit the reef, and on December 20, they arrived in Satsuma, Japan. After all the hardships, Jianzhen's sixth journey to the east was finally successful.
On February 1, 754, the important minister Fujiwara Nakamaro personally greeted him at Kawachi Prefecture. On February 4, Jianzhen and his party arrived in Nara, and together with another native Huayan Buddhist monk, Shao-Shinto took charge of Japanese Buddhist affairs with the title "In 756, Kanzen was named "Daishoninto" and took charge of all monks and nuns in Japan, establishing a formal system of discipline in the country.
In 759, Kanzen presided over the construction of the Tang Shouti Temple, which is today a famous World Heritage Site in Nara, Japan. Emperor Junin decreed that Japanese monks must study at the temple before being ordained, and it became the highest school of learning for Japanese Buddhists at the time.
Before his death, his disciples made a lacquered statue of him, which has been passed down to this day.
When news of Jianzhen's death reached Yangzhou, the Yangzhou monks were so saddened that they all mourned for three days and held a large puja at Longxing Temple to pay tribute to him.
In April 1980, the dry lacquer statue of Jianzhen from Tangzouti Temple in Nara, Japan, also returned to Yangzhou, his hometown. The statue was placed in the Memorial Hall of Jianzhen at Damien Temple and every day people queued up from the front of Damien Temple to the foot of the hill.
If you have the chance to visit Daming Temple in Yangzhou, you can see a stone tablet with a couplet written by Zhao Puchu in front of the Memorial Hall of Jianzhen: "The mountains and rivers are foreign, the winds and the moon are the same as the sky"; on the west wall in front of the Da Xiong Bao Hall, there is also a stone tablet inscribed with the words "The mountains and rivers are foreign, the winds and the moon are the same as the sky".
It can be said that Jianzhen went through a lot of hardships and persevered in his determination to reach Japan six times in the past 12 years at the age of 66, precisely because he was inspired by the phrase "the mountains and rivers are different, the wind and the moon are the same as the sky". Despite the history of hatred and wars between these two peoples, it is undeniable that these are the two countries with the most similar cultures, so when the Japanese people wrote the phrase "mountains and rivers are different, wind and moon are the same" on the materials donated to Wuhan, we could immediately We immediately felt the cultural heritage that has been passed down through the millennia. We are grateful for the support from our neighbours and will return the favour in the future, as well as for the warm greetings from a thousand years ago

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