I chanced upon the following story of a recent Buddhist master and here is his story.
Monk Mingjing ( 明净 ) – Buddhist name translates into Clear Purity.
Before becoming a monk, his common name is Xu Fangzhu. He was born in Shuangqiao Village, Dongxia Township, Langxi County, Anhui Province in March 1928.
His family was Buddhist and he upheld a vegetarian diet since young. His mother passed away when he was just three. When he was young, he worked as a cowherd and did various odd job to supplement his poor family.
Since young, Mingjing displayed a kind and compassionate personality. Once, his hometown had drought and crops in the field were withered. He secretly let the water from his family field into the fields of others.
Before he became a monk, he practiced meditation at home, often entering deep state of meditation absorption that would last for days. His family members and fellow villages did not understand meditation and mistaken that Mingjing was possessed by demons. Consequently, they would tie him up to prevent him from meditation.
Although he encountered much objections to practicing Dharma, he persisted with vegetarianism, meditation and the study of Buddhism.
In 1984, Mingjing went to the Jiulan Temple in Jiuhua Mountain to become a monk. However, the abbot refused to accept him into the temple. At that time, Ming Jing was already 56 years old. It was understandable that people may be skeptical about his objective. They might have mistakenly thought that Mingjing was just another lazy bum trying to get free food and lodging in the temple.
Following that he met a travelling monk at another temple, the Tiantai Temple in Jiuhuashan. He was admitted into monkhood by this travelling monk and given the Dharma name Mingjing ( 明净 ). The travelling monk left the temple soon after and Mingjing did not get to know his preceptor well. He did not even know the name of his mysterious preceptor!
Now that he had become a monk, Mingjing went back to the first temple and requested to stay in the temple. The abbott admitted him into the temple reluctantly. However, the abbott remained skeptical and informed Mingjing that no more rooms were available. He pointed towards the ceremonious drum and told Mingjing that he could stand there if he wished to stay.
Note: In the Buddhist rule, if a monk wishes to stay in a fully occupied temple, he may stay at the temple’s threshold for the night. The ceremonious drum is usually placed near the threshold. This rule is meant to help traveling monk find temporary shelter for the night.
I guess the abbott was trying to discourage Mingjing from staying in his temple but did not expect Mingjing to accept this offer seriously.
Consequently, Mingjing stood beside the ceremonial drum and practiced meditation in a standing posture!
When the monks in the temple realised his persistency and that he could not be easily driven away. They relocate him to the prayer hall dedicated to Weituo Bodhisattva.
Mingjing continued his standing meditation in the hall and would often enter meditation absorption and skip his meals (up to ten days at times) He wore little and rarely spoke. Standing beside the statue of Weituo Bodhisattva, he would meditate with hands in the mudra of Amitabha samandhi. (See the Buddha statue in Kamakura, Japan) Besides going to toilet and having meals, Mingjing adopted the standing posture. Without sitting or lying down!
Visitors often mistaken him to be mentally ill because of this weird behaviour and his shabby looks. Some devotees even offered money into his hands.
Note: In China, it is common to see devotees putting money on a statue as offerings.
Mingjing did not accept any money and would transfer them to the donation box in the temple at the end of the day.
After three years of standing meditation, he spent another three years in sitting posture. Meditating as usual. This is followed by lying down and meditating in the lion posture (see image of sleeping Buddha statue).
He passed away on the 10th August 1992 (lunar calendar) Before passing away, he instructed his disciples not to cremate his body because he had attained the vajra body.
They buried his body for 6 years and retrieved it after that. Miraculously, did not decay as stated by Mingjing. The face was intact as if he was still alive,there was no sign of decomposition and the skin still feels like those of the living.
This sacred body is now enshrined in Mt Jiu Hua.
Mt Jiu Hua is a pilgrimage spot dedicated to Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva (known as Jizo in Japan).
Mt Jiu Hua has many Vajra body in various temple. Remember to include a visit in your itinerary if you travel there.
May all be well and happy.