Those who Disrespect and Defame Righteous Beliefs Meet with Retribution

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There are numerous stories in history that serve to teach the lesson that those who disrespect righteous beliefs are met with retribution. A lay Buddhist named Zhou Siren (also known as Zhou Anshi) from the Qing Dynasty wrote a book titled Anshi’s Collection to elaborate on this principle. Below we share a few examples from this book that pertain to emperors and their courtiers from various dynasties in ancient China.

During the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 – 534 AD), Emperor Taiwu (408 – 452 AD) had great trust in one of his high-level officials named Cui Hao. Cui was an extremely knowledgeable man with unbelievable memory and exceptional wisdom. He, however, did not believe in Buddhism and urged the emperor to denounce Buddhism and eliminate the monks. Cui once went into a rage and burnt his wife’s Buddhist books when he caught her reciting scriptures. His two younger brothers, Cui Yi and Cui Mo, were devout followers of Buddhism. Wherever they went and saw Buddha statues, they paid tribute. Cui Hao often teased and admonished them for their beliefs.

About three years after Cui Hao persuaded Emperor Taiwu to ban Buddhism and kill monks, he offended the emperor, who subsequently had him jailed and brutally tortured. To further humiliate him, dozens of guards also poured human waste on Cui’s body. His painful groans travelled far and wide. Since ancient times, few have suffered as much in capital punishment as Cui Hao. The entire clan of Cui, except for Cui Mo and Cui Yi because they did not share in Cui Hao’s ideals, was implicated and killed. Their bodies were scattered on the streets for people to see.

After Emperor Taiwu eradicated Buddhism in his country, a monk named Tanshi mysteriously appeared in his imperial court one day. An imposing figure, the monk held a khakkara in his hand and appeared fearless and upright. Shocked, Emperor Taiwu ordered his guards to kill the monk, yet no one seemed to be able to get near Tanshi. The emperor was furious and drew his own knife to slay Tanshi. After failing to touch Tanshi, Taiwu had him thrown into a tiger cage. The tiger, however, appeared very frightened at the sight of the monk. Taiwu next sent into the cage his head priest, Kou Qianzhi. This time the tiger roared and tried to eat him. Emperor Taiwu suddenly came to the realization that the monk was no ordinary person. He immediately released the monk and asked him to visit his palace. He kowtowed to the monk non-stop, asking for forgiveness and promised to reinstate Buddhism. In fact, seven years after the initial ban, Buddhism made its way back to the Northern Wei people’s lives.

We see time and again that even emperors and high-level officials were not spared when they committed crimes against the righteous beliefs of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.

The first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221 – 207 BC), also known as Qin Shihuang, listened to his courtier Li Si’s suggestion to burn books and persecute scholars between 213 and 206 BC. During the campaign, the Hundred Schools of Thought were pruned. What awaited both men, however, were the killing of Li Si’s entire clan and the miserable death of Qin Shihuang outside the capital city not long afterwards.

Emperors Huandi and Lingdi of the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 – 220 AD), as well as emperors Zhaozong and Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD), became enamored of their empresses’ and concubines’ beauty and allowed them to intervene in state affairs. Ill advised, they ordered the killing of numerous scholars and righteous people. The result was that their respective reigns did not last long.

Emperor Wudi of the Northern Zhou Dynasty (557 – 581 AD) fell victim to his courtier Wei Yuansong’s ill advice and decided to eradicate Buddhism. Just four years later, Wei was demoted and died shortly afterwards. Wudi then contracted a sudden disease, and his whole body became rotten. He soon died at the age of 36.

Emperor Wuzong of the Tang Dynasty was heavily influenced by Zhao Guizhen and Li Deyu, who suggested that he destroy all Buddhist temples in the country. In less than one year, Zhao was killed and Li died in exile. Wuzong died at the age of 32, even before he was able to produce an heir.

Among the numerous emperors during the Five Dynasties (907 – 960 AD) and Ten Kingdoms (907 – 979 AD) period (an era of political upheaval in China, between the fall of the Tang Dynasty and the founding of the Song Dynasty), no one topped the governing capabilities of Emperor Shizong of The Later Zhou Dynasty. Yet Shizong disrespected Buddhism and was responsible for the widespread destruction of Buddhist statues under his rule. In less than one year, he lost his reign.

Despite these trials and tribulations, righteous beliefs always seem to be able to find a way back to people’s hearts. No more than thirty years after the Qin Dynasty’s “Burning of Books and Burying of Scholars” movement, Buddhism was reborn in the country. A few years after the Han and Tang Dynasties’ abandonment of Buddhism, Buddhism flourished again. In the Northern Zhou Dynasty, Buddhism returned in just six years. In the Tang Dynasty, Buddhism was revived in less than one year.

Those who suggested and implemented the elimination of righteous beliefs brought shame and destruction to themselves. Li Si and Cui Hao were the first culprits who banned Buddhism, so they received the most immediate and severe retribution in their lifetime.

Emperor Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1127 AD) converted Buddhist temples to Taoist temples. Though he did not promote Buddhism, he did promote Taoism. As such, his fate of house arrest was not as bad as some of the other emperors.

In a nutshell, no matter who you are (emperor, courtier or commoner), which period in history you belong to, if you disrespect and slander righteous beliefs, you are committing a grave crime and will ultimately receive retribution.

毀誣正信 遭到慘報

根據《魏書》記載,北魏時的司徒(官職名)崔浩,見聞廣博,記憶力強,才智過人。太武帝非常寵信他,但他就是不信佛,勸太武帝毀教滅僧。崔浩看見自己的妻子誦經,就大怒,並把經書燒毀。崔頤、崔模是他的弟弟,虔誠信仰三寶,他們無論走到哪裏,每次見到佛像,也一定行禮。崔浩譏笑並斥責他們。

後來,因為國書事件,崔浩觸怒了太武帝,被關押到囚車裏,送到城南,嚴刑拷打,極其殘酷。太武帝還派衛士幾十人,把屎尿潑在他的身上,崔浩哀叫不斷,聲聞曠野。

自古以來,被處極刑的人,沒有像崔浩這樣淒慘。崔氏一族人,都因他而受到牽累,拋屍於街市。只有崔模和崔頤,因為與崔浩志向不同,就得以免禍。

周氏按曰:太武帝滅法以後,有位僧人名叫曇始,他手持錫杖,走上皇殿。氣宇軒昂!

太武帝命人把他殺掉,但都無法砍倒他,根本就不能傷害他。太武帝大怒,抽出佩刀,親自來砍,也不能傷害。於是把他投進虎牢,老虎見到這位僧人,都恐懼,畏縮。太武帝就再派天師寇謙之去虎牢,老虎一見寇謙之,就咆哮如雷,想要吃他。太武帝這時,才有所醒悟,立即恭請僧人曇始來殿,再三禮拜,懺悔罪障,答應恢復聖教。

唉!三教(指儒教、道教、佛教)聖人,無非是想要引人為善,哪裏願意後人各立門戶,比長論短呢!秦始皇中了李斯的奸計,焚書坑儒,最後,秦始皇身死野外;而李斯的全族被殺!漢朝的桓帝、靈帝,唐朝的昭宗、宣宗,被宦官寵妃所迷惑,寵信他們,殺盡天下名士,最後輔臣被殺身,就亡了國。周武帝被衛元嵩所迷惑,也出手滅法;但滅法沒有四五年,衛元嵩就被貶而死;周武帝忽然得了惡病,全身糜爛,三十六歲就死掉,後世墮落惡道,所受痛苦簡直就說不盡!唐武宗寵信趙歸真、李德裕,毀壞全國的佛寺,不到一年,趙歸真就被殺,李德裕就流放而死,武宗三十二歲便即夭折,後世沒有太子!在五代的許多君主中,才能沒有能超過周世宗的,但周世宗不敬佛法,導致毀壞佛像,並用佛像來鑄造錢幣,所以不到一年,就喪失了江山!

再來看一看:秦廢儒後,不到三十年,儒教就復興;漢唐中間廢教,沒有幾年,佛教就又興旺起來了;魏廢教後,七年就恢復了;周廢教後,六年就恢復了;唐廢教後,不到一年就恢復了。那些廢教的人,不正是仰天吐痰,反而玷污了自己的臉嗎?李斯、崔浩是滅儒滅佛的首犯,所以他們現世受報,也最殘酷。宋徽宗雖然改天下寺院為道觀,總算還不是完全滅法,所以他雖然被抓去軟禁了,但帝位名義上還得以延續。

也就是說:無論你是何人,無論哪朝哪代,無論你當多大的官,也不管你是有多大功業的皇帝,只要你誣蔑佛道神,便是罪大惡極,便會遭受天譴!

(事據清代周思仁《安士全書》)

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