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Maintaining Pure Thoughts When Reciting Buddhist Scriptures

General Qi Jiguang of the Ming Dynasty was well-known for his military leadership, his love for the people, and for being a devout Buddhist. Reciting Buddhist scriptures was a daily requirement he made for himself, and he did so even when he was on a military expedition.

One night, Qi Jiguang had a dream of a dead soldier who used to be his bodyguard. The soldier begged the general to recite the Buddhist scriptures one time for him so that he could have more blessings in the underworld. Qi woke up in the morning and did as he was asked.

Later that night, Qi dreamed of the dead soldier again. The soldier said: “Thank you, General, for your kindness in reciting the Buddhist scriptures on my behalf. However, only half of the blessings came to me because the words ‘no need’ were added in the recited Buddhist scriptures.”

(Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)
General Qi recited from the Buddhist scriptures for his former bodyguard. (Image: wikimedia / CC0 1.0)

Qi woke up and thought over what the dead soldier had said to him. He suddenly came to understand how “no need” had gotten added. While he was reciting for the soldier, his maid disturbed him when she asked if he wanted some tea. Although he waved her away saying nothing, inside his heart, he murmured “no need.”  The next morning, Qi woke up, closed the door, and recited the blessings one more time for the dead soldier.

Later, Qi dreamed of the soldier again. The soldier came to say thank you. “Dear General, I come to report that due to your kindness, I am able to be released and go on with my next journey. Thank you so much.”

This illustrates the need to maintain a pure heart when engaging in spiritual practice, such as reciting scriptures, so that the true purpose can be properly served.

Translated by Cecilia and edited by Helen

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