The rebirth story

Ham Son Zen Master ‘s physical body

Update: 20/05/2007
Ham Son (1546-1623) (Zh. Hanshan) was a great Buddhist monk of Zen and Pure Land Sect. He was named “one of the four Saint Monks” of Minh Dynasty (China). The three others were Tu Ba, Dat Quan title, Lien Tri and Ngau Ich. Zen Master Ham Son left behind couutless lectures for all social strata of that time.

Ham Son Zen Master ‘s physical body


After his death, Zen Master Ham Son left behind his non-damaged physical body which was kept in Tao Khê, the same place where Hue Năng Zen master’s and Dan Dien Zen Master’s physical bodies were kept. Presently, this location belongs to Hoa Nam pagoda, of Thieu Quang rural district, of Kwang Tung province, China.

Zen Master HamSon’s summary history

The great master Ham Son, also called Ham Son Duc Thanh, whose first name was Thai Duc Thanh and his title was Trung An. He was born on November 5th, 1546 in Toan Tieu, of Chau Phu Truc Thu, presently belongs to An Huy province. On his first birthday the Zen Master suddenly contrated a serious disease which could not be cured. His mother then vowed to Avalokitesvara at a pagoda that if her son escaped his death, she would let him enter monkhood. And her son’s illness really got over miraculously. In his chidhood, the Zen Master usually thought of the reason for ‘the human birth-death circle’. During his lifetime, he was often unwell and his body was often ill-treated by his scabies.

At his 11 years old, he was successful in convincing his father, who was not willing to let his son become a monk, of becoming a temporary novice at Bao An pagoda but not becoming a true monk, for this was not approved by his family. Not until at his 19 years old could his hair be shaved to become a monk.

In 1571 Ham Son Monk started his trip on his Dharma teaching to various locations.

On the occasion of a walk-trip before his entering into meditation, he no longer felt the presence of his body. This consciousness led him to the writing of the following verse:

The one-mind moment stopped my frenzy

And let me master all my in-and-out origin

My body was heightened to the space high above to destroy all my badness

So that evil things in me have been destroyed from now on

That year the Zen Master reached 30 years of age and travelled to many places and wrote many works in Buddhism. In 1595, due to a slander on a land dispute of Hai An pagoda, he was imprisoned and was tortured barbarously and was forced to have stolen 3,000 taels of gold from a public property. But such a sum of money was later proved in the court books that it had been used for the famine relief in Son Dong province in 1593. Finally, he was convicted to have built the pagoda illegally. For this, he was forced to return to the secular life and exiled to Loi Chau (of the border of Quang Chau province) in November, 1596.

During the time of exile and although returning to the secular life, he still continue performing the Dharma preaching, annotating and printing Buddhist books. Also in Quang Chau, he carried out a conciliation of a conflict that could lead to the death between many Cantonese and Phuckien traders. It was thanked to this that the province chief of Quang Chau allowed him to return to the ancestral Zen temple in Tao Khe (where ancestor Hue Nang ever performed the preaching).

In 1696 he was granted temporary amnesty on the occasion of the birth of a boy of Minh Dynasty Crown Prince. During this time he had to stay in Tao Khe, practising his preaching until the amnesty was officially granted to him in 1610. Later, he came to Khuon Son and in 1614 he shaved his hair and re-used his cassock again.

In 1622 he returned to Hoa Nam pagoda in Tao Khe and passed away there on the fifth of November of that year.

The above-mentioned history was a collected document.

Translated into English by Mr. Hoang Huan, layman

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