Shaolin Monastery

The Shaolin Monastery

In the City of Wei Yang, there was a sundry shop. The shop wasn’t big, but on this street there was only one sundry shop, which sold oil, salt, sauce, vinegar, joss sticks, candles to the people. Hence the business was prosperous.

But the owner soon died, and his wife, Madame Lau, though young at 30, had to manage the shop besides looking after her 2-year old daughter. All the neighbours were sympathetic to the mother and daughter, especially when Madame Lau was honest.

Soon six years passed. Madame Lau was full and warmth (meaning she had no worries about her livelihood) and had a small saving. But “every family had a sutra that was difficult to recite” (which meant that there was difficulty for everybody). What made Madame Lau worried was her daughter, Li Chooi Peng.

Li Chooi Peng was a young girl of eight, clever and bright. Her two big eyes were like sparkling water. Neighbours used to tease her saying that she would one day become the owner of a shop. Of course Madame Lau treated her daughter as “on top of the head, afraid it would be broken, in the mouth, afraid it would melt” (i.e. treasured her dearly).

This little girl, who was lovable by anyone who saw her, was often sick. Every year she would be sick a few times. Once she was sick, her whole body would be burning, and she would be fainting and semi-unconscious. Madame Lau had her seen countless doctors, but whatever medicine she took like water flowing over pebbles, without any use.

A year ago, Madame Lau had taken vegetarian food for three days, and requested spiritual help from temples for help and protection, even shortening her own life span to overcome the disaster of her child.

In front of Guan Yin Bodh Satt (i.e. the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion, the most popular deity of the Chinese), she knocked her head on the ground until her head bled. She sought the advice of Bodh Satt in the form of “chim” (which was holding a container of numerous sticks and shook until one stick fell off from which an explanation could be obtained).

The explanation contained the following words.

Madame Lau did not understand the explanation. So she asked someone from the temple to explain the divination, who told her that if she wanted her daughter to be healthy and happy, she must get a Buddhist monk or a Taoist priest as a god-father.

Madame Lau remember the advice, but for a year she could not find someone whom she could trust her daughter with.

On Cheng Meng day (“Cheng meng” means clear and bright, but it is a certain day of the year when the Chinese go to their parents’ tomb to pray) Madame Lau went with her daughter to pray at the tomb of her husband. On their return, Li Chooi Peng fell down.

Madame Lau sought the help of doctors, but every doctor shook his head and said that Li Chooi Peng would be crippled. Madame Lau was very sad.

One day there was a monk at her door. He face was glowing with white beard under his chin. He radiated kindness that people found welcoming.

Madame Lau was a pious person, so she took some money for the monk. The monk declined her money and said.

“Generous donor (which was a Chinese term usually used by monks and priests for the public), I can see some problem written between your eye-brows. If you don’t mind, can you tell me your problem?”

Madame Lau was surprised, but she told the monk about the problem of her daughter.

“May I see your ‘thousand gold’ (meaning your daughter)?”

Madame Lau then led the monk to an inner room where her daughter was.

The monk asked Madame Lau to warm some rice wine. He then poured some medicated powder to the warm wine. He applied the medicated wine to Li Chooi Peng’s injured leg, and circulated the leg. Then, in an instant, he pushed the girl’s foot into the socket of her bones. The girl gave a cry.

Madame Lau was worried. She beg the monk not to continue with his treatment.

The monk said, “Your thousand-gold is cured. There is no need for further treatment.”

He then asked Li Chooi Peng to stand up and slowly walked about. At first she hesitated, but the monk encouraged her. After she could walk freely, both the mother and the daughter cried. Li Chooi Peng was supposed to be a cripple, yet the monk cured her in just a few minutes.

The mother knelt down to thank the monk. She asked him what his name was.

“I am Chee Seen, and I come from the Shaolin Monastery.”

(“Chee Seen” is in Cantonese pronunciation. In Mandarin, it is pronounced as “Zhi Shan”. The written Chinese words are the same, and they mean “Extreme Kindness”)

Madame Lau was shocked. Right in front of her was the great Venerable Chee Seen from the well known Shaolin Monastery. She remember the divination from Guan Yin Bodh Satt, and begged the Venerable Chee Seen to accept Li Chooi Peng as his god-daughter.

Chee Seen said, “I have long dedicated myself to the Buddhist order. How can I become a god-father of your ‘thousand gold’. But I can accept her as a disciple, and we return to the Shaolin Monastery. What is the opinion of generous donor?”

Madame Lau was keen to have the Venerable Chee Seen accept Li Chooi Peng, so she only answered, “Very good, very good indeed.”

Chee Seen was silent for a while, then said, “Before accepting your ‘thousand gold’ as a disciple, I must tell generous donor this. As my disciple, I shall transmit to her what I have learned, but she must be at the monastery for a few years. When she is successful, she can then return home.”

Madame Lau asked her daughter to kneel before Chee Seen and knock her head on the ground to perform the ceremony of being a student. Then Chee Seen and Li Chooi Peng returned to the Shaolin Monastery.

Wong Kiew Kit,
11th January 2018, Sungai Petani



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