Thie`^n in mediaeval Viet-Nam, III

pp. 228-229 Ke’^ Dang Lu>o.>c Lu.c by Phu’c Die`^n




In a "grass hermitage on Mount Quy`nh Vi ... dwelt a monk from India named Pha.^t Quang (*Buddhaprabha). When Do`^ng Tu>` passed the age of forty, Pha.^t Quang transmitted the Dharma to him, giving him a hat and a staff saying that they contained all his miraculous power. Do`^ng Tu>` transmitted the Dharma to Ti^en Dung (his wife) and together they cultivated the Dharma. On their way home, they had to stay overnight ... taking shelter under the hat supported by the staff. At the third watch, there appeared citadels, palaces, boy and girl servants, armies, and a whole court. ...


One night, strong wind arose scattering the sand and shaking the trees. Ti^en Dung, Do`^ng Tu>`, their subject[s], citadels, and palaces all rose into the air. {a typically Taoist episode} The empty lot was transformed into a swamp. ... The swamp was subsequently named Ta., the province Tu.> Nhie^n, and the town Ha` Ma.^u."

pp. 233-235 Da.i Nam Thie`^n Uye>^n Truye`^n Dan Ta.^p Lu.c 20a-22a






"Zen Master Kho^ng Lo.^, whose personal name was Chi’ Thanh, was a native of la.i Tri`, Cha^n Di.nh Prefecture, Nam Di.nh Province. ...



At first he ... asked for a six-foot square of land to build a temple. ... That night Kho^ng Lo.^ spread his monks robe, and it covered ten miles of land. ...



Kho^ng Lo.^ took all the copper in the Song store, yet his bag was till not full. ... He used his bamboo hat to cross the rivers on his way back, and reached the shore of the Yellow River in the twinkling of an eye. ... After finishing his task, he wrote a eulogy :

Crossing the great ocean on my straw hat,

A thousand-mile journey in one breath.

Filling my bag with all Song’s copper,

My arms can heft ten tons."



"Suddenly two lizards appeared on the beams and raised a great cry : the sound was as a giant thunderstorm. ... Kho^ng Lo.^ said : "I often ride with the moon and clouds. Sometimes I inadvertently enter the emperor’s palace. I already know everything." {cf. the spying, invisibly, during their transvections (astral projections), within the royal palace, by European witches} ... The emperor had a big nail driven into one of the pillars in the palace and said : "Only the one who can pull this out is the Dharma King." ...



When he came to the royal palace, Kho^ng Lo.^ ... said : "... bring a caldron of oil immediately. Place one hundred needles in it, and boil it over a great fire ... ." He then picked up he one hundred needles with his bare hands and stuck them into Ly’ Tha`n To^ng’s body, saying the spell, "It’s a precious thing to be a Son of Heaven."" {acupunture}

pp. 236-238 Li~nh Nam C^i’c^ Qua’i Lie.^t Truye.^n




"Zen Master Kho^ng Lo.^ of Nghie^m Quang Temple, Ha>i Thanh Village, ... could fly in the air, walk on water, tame tigers, and subdue dragons."


"Zen Master Gia’c Ha>i was also a native of Ha>i Thanh Village. ...


One day the emperor asked Gia’c Ha>i : "May I be instructed on the mind’s concentration in accordance with reality?’ Gia’c Ha>i ... rose into the air some yards above the ground for a while and then descended. The emperor and his officials applauded in admiration. ... That night a meteor fell into the southeast corner of the Tha’i Kho^ng lodge. At dawn, Gia’c Ha>i at in an upright position and passed away."

pp. 238-241 Li~nh Nam C^i’c^ Qua’i Noa.i Truye.^n




"Zen Master Kho^ng of Nghie^m Temple, Ha>i Thanh Village, ...


could fly in the air, float on earth, tame tigers, and subdue dragons. ... Eventually, he attained the [samadhi] of the True Seal of Great Mirror. ... Legend has it that beyond the ocean at Hoa`nh Giang there is a mountain wall that has the shape of a pillar; they are all old traces of the Zen Master."


"Zen Master Gia’c Ha>i hailed from Ha>i Thanh Village. ... One day the emperor asked Gia’c Ha>i : "May I be instructed on the mind’s concentration in accordance with reality?’ Gia’c Ha>i ... rose into the air some five yards above the ground for a while and then descended. The emperor and his officials applauded in admiration. ...


That night a meteor fell into the southeast corner of the Tha’i Tha’^t lodge. At dawn, Gia’c Ha>i at in an upright position and passed away."

pp. 241-243 Thie^n Nam Va^n Lu.c




"there was a monk whose family name was Du>o>ng, sobriquet Kho>^ng Lo.^, who was a native of Thanh Ha>i. ... Sometimes he was an immortal, other times he was a fairy."


"Tho^ng Huye`^n and Gia’c Ha>i, once went to Mount Lie^n Co’^t, ... when suddenly there were two lizards calling to each other with horrific cries. ...


That night a meteor fell into the east corner of the Da.i Ba>o lodge. At dawn, Gia’c Ha>i sat in an upright position and passed away."

pp. 243-249 Vie.^t Die.^n U Linh Ta.^p Lu.c Toa`n Bie^n




"Vinh ... used to travel to An La~ng Village, so he married Loan, a daughter of the Tang family, and made his home there at Lang Nam Hamlet ... . ... Da.o Ha.nh was born there ... . ... Da.o Ha.nh ... befriended a Confucian scholar named Phi’ Sinh, a Daoist Master named Le^ Toa`n Nghi~a and an actor named Phan A’^t [p. 449, n. 11 : "Vi A’^t"]. ...


Da.o Ha.nh’s mother was buried at Ba Lang Temple,Th>o>ng Village, now Hoa Lang Temple, where both his parents were worshipped as Holy Father and Holy Mother. ... So he set out together with his two friends Minh Kho^ng and Gia’c Ha>i. When they came to the country of the Gold Teeth Barbarians, they ... saw an old man rowing a little boat ... in the river. ... The old man said : "... Here is my little boat. It can help you cross over. Here is my little stick. It will guide you straight to India. ..." ... they looked up and found themselves at the Indian shore ... . Da.o Ha.nh remained behind to watch the boat. Gia’c Ha>i and Minh Kho^ng went ashore, learned magic arts and returned home instantly. Da.o Ha.nh ... chanced to see an old woman by the river. ... The old woman said : "They have already received the magic arts I taught them and have gone back home. ... Carry these two buckets of water to my home. I will teach you magic arts and also impart to you the power of shortening distances ... ." Da.o Ha.nh ... recited the mantra. Minh Kho^ng and Gia’c Ha>i who were on their way home were caught spellbound ... .Using his power


of reducing distances, Da.o Ha.nh came back home before them. He changed himself into a tiger, hid himself in a ticket at Nga>i Ca`^u Village, Tu`> Lie^m District, and roared ... . Minh Kho^ng and Gia’c Ha>i ... knew for sure that it was Tu`> Da.o Ha.nh in disguise. ... Da.o Ha.nh said : "... I still have to be reborn in this world as King ... . ..." ... The three of them taught each other their magic powers. Among them were walking on water, flying in the air, summoning dragons, subduing tigers, soaring up, and reducing distances. ... The site was called Ba’o Kie`^u. ... Da.o Ha.nh went on practicing at the Thie^n Phu’c Temple on Mount Tha’^t. In front of the temple, there were two old ... dragon trees. ... One day an immortal came toward him with his feet not touching the ground. ... The immortal said : "I am the Celestial King who is Guardian of the Four Directions. ... I come and place myself at your disposal." Da.o Ha.nh ... then returned to his old village of An La~ng, went to the An Quye’^t Bridge over the To^ River and threw his stick into the stream. The stick instantly stood up straight perpendicular to the water, flew swiftly upstream and did not stop until it reached the Ta^y Du>o>ng Bridge. ...


He then returned to Thie^n Phu’c Temple on Mount Tha’^t and went on practicing as ... hosts of wild birds and beasts gathered peacefully around the temple. ... Da.o Ha.nh took a vow to reincarnate [in the royal family] ... . The marchioness who was at that moment taking a bath in the inner building suddenly saw Da.o Ha.nh’s image appear in the water bucket. ... The lady had the sensation of pregnancy. ... Tu`> Da.o Ha.nh told his disciples :


"... I have to be born in this world as an emperor. When that life span is over, I shall preside over the Trayatrims`a Heaven. ..." Having finished speaking, ... he cast off his body and passed away. ... Emerging again from nirvana into the world, Da.o Ha.nh was born as son of the Marquis ... . He grew up without needing to be cared for and grew intelligent without needing education. ... . Emperor ... by edict ... made him a crown prince. ... he ascended the throne as Emperor ... . ... at the age of twenty-one, he one day found ... his nails becoming claws. {cf. Nbu^-kadne>, "his nails like birds’ claws." (Dani^ye>l 4:30)} He changed into a tiger. ... Minh Kho^ng and Gia’c Ha>i cooked rice in a little pot and told the envoy and his men, "... Please serve yourselves." They all ate their fill, yet the pot was not emptied. Then the two masters and the envoy embarked ... . ... While they were sleeping soundly in the


boat, the two masters by sheer magic had it fly like an arrow without being rowed ... . ... The two masters reached in their pockets, drew out a nail about five inches long, pointed it at a column and ... made it penetrate all the way into it. ... Minh Kho^ng had a big caldron brought in, together with twelve buckets of oil, one hundred iron nails, and a senna twig. ... He let Gia’c Ha>i ignite the fire and boil the oil. When ... the oil was boiling hard, Gia’c Ha>i put his hand into the caldron and fished out the one hundred nails. ... Minh Kho^ng soaked the senna twig in the oil and sprinkled it all over the emperor’s body {chrism}, while reciting a spell ... . ... . ... an envoy from China ... saw a man in his dream who told him,


"... Supernatural powers are ... to be granted, use wood from the trees around my grave ... .""

pp. 249-250 Li~nh Nam C^i’c^ Qua’i




"Minh Kho^ng was a native of Da.i Hoa`ng Village, Tru>o`>ng An. .... his personal name was Chi’ Thanh. ... Da.o Ha.nh ... transmitted the mind-seal to him and gave him the sobriquet Zen Master Minh Kho^ng. ... as he was passing away, Da.o Ha.nh told Minh Ko^ng : "Formerly, our Lord Buddha on achieving perfect enlightenment still thought of paying tribute to the golden lion. ...


I will be reborn again in this world as a king. In the future life I will become sick : it can’t be avoided, being predestined. ... you should save me."... . ... the emperor was about to build a palace. ... He was growling and moaning fiercely like a tiger. ... The court sent emissaries to look for Minh Kho^ng. When he saw the emissary coming, Minh Kho^ng took a little pot of rice to feed the entire crew. ... So the crew, hundreds of men in all, ate their fill, yet could not empty the pot. ... When Minh Kho^ng arrived [at court], ... he ... took a nail ... and planted it into a column of the royal chamber, shouting ... . ... When he entered the royal chamber to examine the emperor, Minh Kho^ng cried out in a stern voice : "Worthy man, you are exalted as the Son of Heaven and the richest man of the country ...?" ... Minh Kho^ng had a big cauldron brought in, filled with water and medicine, and boiled it again and again. Then he ... washed the emperor’s body with it."

p. 252 An Nam C^i’ Nuye^n

"saintly immortal"



An Ky` Sinh (An Qi S^en)

mt. Ye^n Tu> (An-zi)

"he ascended to Heaven fro there."

Tho^i Vi~ (Cui Wei)


"accidentally fell into an old well. he saw a big snake eating a stalagmite. ... Vi~ ... ate it too. Subsequently, he became an immortal."

Do>^n Phu.n (Don Fen) = Qua^n Di. (Jun-yi)

Giao C^a^u (Jiao-z^ou)

"Si~ Nhie’^p ... was dead for three days. put a medicine tablet in his mouth, and after a while Nhie’^p came to."

Ca^t Ho`^n (Ge Hon) = Tri~ Xuye^n (C^i-c^uan)

Ta’^n (Jin)

"wishing to make the elixir and attain the art of longevity ..., he really became an immortal."

Tra`^n Da.o Can (C^en Dao-gen)

Ta^n An (Xin-an)

"He would use paper to cover his face and submerge under water. He only emerged again when the incense burned out."

pp. 252-254 An Nam C^i’ Nuye^n


"Zen Master"




Tam Ma.c^

Tam Da’i prov.

"he attained enlightenment and was able to fly up into the air in broad daylight." {flying upward in broad daylight is a Taoist feat}


Da.o Ha.nh

Tha.c^ Tha’^t prae.

"He was able to tame mountain birds and wild beast[s], making them gather around him peacefully."{cf. St. Francis of Assisi}


Vie^n C^ie’^u

Thanh Da`m dist.

"One night in a dream he saw the Bodhisattva Man~jus`ri cut open his stomach with a knife and wash out his brain." {brain-washing is a Taoist feat}


Tri’ Nha`n

An La~n prov.

"Once he saw a tiger chasing a deer. Tri’ Nha`n preached ... . The tiger hung his head and walked away."


Gio’>i C^a^u


"The Great King of Tra`^n put buckets in the yard and Gio’>i Cha^u would make them fill with rainwater without a drop falling outside."


Gio’>i Kho^n

Gia La^m dist.

"he could command ghosts and demons and tame wild beasts."


Nuye.^n Ho.c

Vu~ Ninh prov.

"Birds and wild beasts lingered around him and became tame like domestic animals."


Ba>o Ti’nh & Minh Ta^m

Do^n Na.n dist.

"they entered the samadhi of firelight together. Their remains were transformed into the seven kinds of jewels."


Kho^n Lo.^

Giao Thu>y prae.

"He could fly in the air and walk on water, tame tigers and subdue dragons."


Gia’c Ha>i

Giao Thu>y prae.

"When he was about to pass away, a meteor fell near the main hall."


Ma Ni

Le^ Bi`nh prae.

"He tamed tigers and subdued dragons, prayed for rain and made it stop."


Thua`^n Nha^’t

Nam Sa’c^ prov.

"was able to make the boulders soft."


Vo^ C^a^u

Phi Lo.^c prae.

"When he was born, an auspicious light filled the room and a purple mist rose in the air. ... He attained the cloud-flower samadhi. Whenever he explained the scriptures auspicious lights appeared repeatedly."

p. 254 Great Mistress "Tu`> Qua’n Hue.^ Tho^ng was a nun of Chi’ Linh Prefecture. When she was about to pass away at the age of eighty-four, the birds and beasts cried grievously, six kinds of music sounded all around, ... and uncanny fragrances filled the room."

p. 333, n. 10 Li~nh Nam C^i’c^ Qua’i Noa.i Truye.^n 162-3

In the "temple named Phu’c Nghie^m ... was an Indian monk whose name was Ca`-La-Xa`-Le^ ... . He had the power to stand on one leg ... . There was a girl named Man Nu>o>ng, a destitute orphan ... with a stammer ... . ... One night ... She ... lay down to wait against the kitchen doorstep and unknowingly dropped off to sleep. ... As Man Nu>o>ng lay at the doorstep, Xa`-Le^ stepped across her. She instinctively felt something moving inside her and became pregnant. ... When the time came, she gave birth to a girl. She went in search for the monk and turned the baby over to him. That night, the monk brought the baby girl to a ... hibiscus tree with a deep and clean hole in its trunk. He laid the baby into it ... . Then Xa`-Le^ ... gave her [Man Nu>o>n] a staff and said, ‘... Should drought occur ..., plant it in the ground, water will spout out -- ... and the people will be saved.’ ... The place where the baby had been hidden had turned into very hard rock. ... They then threw the rock into a river. A ray of light flashed up, and it was a long moment before it sank down. ... Fishermen were hired to fish the rock up. It was ... guilded {gilded} with gold."

p. 428, n. 533 Ba’o Cu.>c Truye.^n

dream by emperor Ly’ Tha’nh To^n :- "he suddenly glimpsed a girl about twenty ... wearing ... a white gown, green trousers and girdle, who glided towards him and said, ‘I am the spirit of the land of Nam and have been residing at Thu.y Va^n Village for a very long time ... .’

The emperor woke up ..., ... summoned his entourage and told them the dream. The General Superintendant of Monks La^m Hue.^ Sinh said, ‘The spirit said she was embodied in a tree at Thu.y Va^n Village. Now let’s search among the trees. ...’ The emperor ... had the beaches searched and a tree was indeed found ... as seen in his dream. The emperor named her Lady Ha.^u Tho>^ and had an altar set up right in the royal galley. ... the temple was erected in An La~ng Village and became famous for its oracle."

Cuong Tu Nguyen : Zen in Medieval Vietnam : a Study and Translation of the Thi`e^n Uye^>n Ta.^p Anh. U of HI Pr, Honolulu, 1997.