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VOWS (EXCERPT)
by Xu Dishan (1894 - 1941)
English translation: Hsin-Yu Huang

After the rain, I noticed that the rocks in South Putuo Temple were somewhat cleaner, but had slightly more moss on them. It seemed as if the red clouds in the faraway sky had sent us a letter of sunniness. The air in the forest had been divided into a rainbow of seven colors by the sun. My wife, who was sitting upon one of the rocks, asked upon seeing me, “Where did you go? I have been waiting for you for so long.”

“How comfortable it is, sitting in the shade of this tree! It would be nice if we could come here every day!”

“Why couldn’t we?”

“You should be the shade, instead of enjoying the shade.”

“Do you wish that I be this kind of shade?”

“This kind of shade is nothing! I wish that you be a boundless canopy of treasured flowers that covers all sentient beings in the world. I wish that you be a pure, bright, well-wishing pearl that shines upon all sentient beings in the world. I wish that you be the vajra that defeats and tames the demons, as well as destroys all the hindrances in the world. I wish that you be an Ullambana bowl of multiple treasures, one that is filled with all kinds of food to nourish all the hungry and thirsty beings in the world. I wish that you have six, twelve, hundreds, or tens of millions, or even innumerable and countless well-wishing hands that help accomplish all the beautiful and virtuous things in the world.”

“Wonderful! Marvelous!” I said. “But I vow to be the fine salt seasoning that simmers into all kinds of food; I wish to have my body and bones dissolved and scattered, taking the form I had when I was still in the sea, thus enabling all sentient beings to taste saltiness without seeing the salt.”

My wife asked, “Is seasoning alone enough to make all sentient beings content?”

I replied, “If the function of salt is nothing but seasoning, then it is not eligible to be called ‘salt’.”

── from Xu Dishan Sanwen (Collection of Prose by Xu Dishan)