The Story of Master Meng Shan
According to old traditions now lost in the night of the centuries, the Chinese Master Meng Shan knew the science of meditation before the age of twenty.
It is stated by the yellow-skinned mystics that from such an age until thirty-two, the cited Master was studying with the Eighteen Elders.
Certainly, it is interesting, pleasant, and worthwhile to know that this great illuminated one was studying with infinite humility at the feet of the venerable elder Wan Shan, who taught him how to intelligently utilize the powerful mantra Wu. This mantra is pronounced like a double U, and wisely imitates the howl or sound of a hurricane when blowing through the rifts of the mountains.
This brother always remembered the state of alert perception and alert novelty that is so indispensable and so urgent for the awakening of the consciousness.
The venerable elder Guru Wan Shan told him that during the twelve hours of the day, it is necessary to be alert like a cat that is lurking for a mouse, or like a hen that is brooding on her eggs. They do this without abandoning their duty, not even for a second.
Therefore, in these studies mere efforts are not worthy: only super‑efforts are. Since we are not illuminated, we must work without rest, like a mouse that is gnawing on a sarcophagus. If we practice in this manner, we will at last be liberated from the mind, and experience in a direct way that element which radically transforms, that element which is the truth.
One given day, after eighteen days and nights of profound interior meditation, Meng Shan sat to drink tea, and then... (oh marvel!) he comprehended the intimate sense of a certain gesture of the Buddha showing a flower, and the deep significance of Mahakasyapa with his unforgettable exotic smile.
He then questioned three or four elders about such a mystical experience, but they kept silent. Other elders told him to identify such a living esoteric experience with the Samadhi, the Seal of the Ocean. Naturally, this wise advise inspired complete confidence in himself.
Meng Shan was triumphantly advancing in his studies, nonetheless, in life not everything comes up roses, there are also thorns. So, in the month of July, during the fifth year of Chindin (1264), he unfortunately got dysentery in Chunking, a province of Szechuan.
With death on his lips, he decided to make his will and to dispose of his terrene goods. When this was done, he slowly rose to a sitting position, burned incense, and sat in an elevated place. There, in silence, he prayed to the three Blessed Ones and to the Holy Gods by repenting all the evil deeds he had committed in his life.
However, since he considered the end of his existence definite, he asked the ineffable ones to hear his last petition: “By means of the power of Prajna and a controlled mental state, I want to reincarnate myself in a favorable place, where I can become a monk (swami) at an early age. If perchance I recuperate myself from this illness, I will renounce the world, take the vows, and try to carry the light to other young Buddhists.”
After pronouncing these vows, he submerged himself into a profound meditation while mentally chanting the mantra Wu. The sickness was tormenting him, his intestines were frighteningly torturing him, but he resolved not to pay attention to them.
Meng Shan radically forgot his own body; his eyelids were firmly closed, and he remained as if dead.
Chinese traditions tell us that when Meng Shan entered into meditation, only the Word, that is to say, the mantra Wu (U.... U.....) resounded in his mind. Afterwards, he lost the notion of himself.
But, the sickness..? What became of it..? What happened..?
It is clear and lucid to comprehend that any affliction, illness, or pain has determined mental forms as a foundation. If we achieve the radical and absolute forgetfulness of any suffering, then the intellectual base is dissolved and the organic indisposition disappears as well.
When Meng Shan rose from his place at the beginning of the night, with infinite happiness he felt that he was already half cured. Then after, he sat anew, and continued, submerged in profound meditation, until midnight. Thus, his cure became complete.
Meng Shan went to Chiang Ning in the month of August, and filled with faith, he entered the priesthood. He remained one year in that monastery; afterwards, he initiated a voyage in which he cooked his own food and washed his own clothes, etc. He then comprehended that the duty of meditation must be tenacious, resistant, strong, firm, constant, without ever getting tired of it.
Later on, walking throughout those Chinese lands, he arrived at the Monastery of the Yellow Dragon. While there, he deeply comprehended the necessity of the awakening of the consciousness. Afterwards, he continued his voyage towards Che Chiang.
Immediately after his arrival, he tossed himself at the feet of the Master Ku Chan from Chin Tien and swore not to leave the monastery until reaching illumination.
The meditation time he lost during his voyage was recuperated after one month of intense meditation. But in the interval, his body became filled with horrible blisters. He intentionally ignored them and continued with his esoteric discipline.
One given day (it does not manner which), some people invited him to a delicious supper. While walking on the way there, he took his Hua Tou (the mantra) and worked with it. Thus, while submerged into profound meditation he passed by the door of his host without noticing it. So, he comprehended thereafter that he could keep ahead with his esoteric work while being in complete physical activity.
On the sixth of March, while Meng Shan was meditating with the help of the mantra Wu, a monk who was the principal of the monastery entered the Lumisial of meditation with the evident purpose of burning incense. However, it so happened that when this monk struck the box of the smoke‑offering a noise was produced, and Meng Shan came to recognize himself, and he could see and hear Chao Chou, a famous Chinese Master.
“Desperate, I arrived at the dead end of the path. Then I stroked the wave (but) this was nothing other than water. Oh, that notorious old man Chao Chou, whose face is so ugly.”
All the Chinese biographers agree when they affirm that in autumn, Meng Shan had an interview with Hsueh Yen in Lingan and with Tui Keng, Shis Keng, Hsu Chou, and other famous elders.
I understand that the Koan or enigmatic phrase which was decisive for Meng Shan was without any doubt the same one with which Wan Shan interrogated him.
“Is not that phrase, ‘The light shines serenely upon the sand of the brook,’ a prosaic observation from this foolish Chang?”
The meditation upon this phrase was enough for Meng Shan. When Wan Shan later interrogated him with the same phrase, that is to say, when he repeated to him the same question, the yellow-skinned mystic answered by throwing away the mattress of his bed, as if he was saying: I am already awake!