The boy recites the name of the Buddha and sits in a vat with his body coated with gold
Fifteen to sixteen years after Brother Zhou's death, his story is still being circulated by the people of this town.
Zhou Peng, a native of Suizhou, Hubei Province, was born in 1988, died on March 4, 2000, at the age of 12.
Brother Zhou was the son of a friend of my father's. He had a very kind nature. When he saw children of his age hurting animals, he would dissuade them and teach them the Dharma. He also taught them to recite Namo Amitabha Buddha. At the age of six, he followed in the footsteps of his grandparents and took refuge in Buddhism. His Dharma name is Yan Peng. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of eight.
After learning that he had leukemia, Brother Zhou became more diligent in practicing Amitabha-recitation. Due to his illness, he could only go to school a few days a month, but his score was the top in the class. He was very mature. Knowing that the hospitalization cost was very high, and that there was no sign of his recovery, he refused to be treated further. At the age of twelve, his condition became critical.
Three days before his death, Zhou asked his grandpa to take him to the temple where he took refuge as he wanted to attend a consecrated ceremony (normally a special ritual for the Buddhist monk to bring to life a Buddha image or a place of worship). His grandpa saw that he was weak and could not walk and asked, “what’s the purpose of going there?” Believing that he had lost his mind due to the illness, his grandpa refused to take him. But Zhou insisted. The next day, the second day of March, his parents, grandparents, and several other villagers painstakingly took turns to carry him on their backs to the Tong Ling Feng Temple on top of the mountain.
At the temple, his grandpa told the abbot, Master Chang Mao, the entire story. To their surprise, Master Chang Mao said that the temple was indeed holding the Seven-day retreat of Amitabha-recitation and that there would be a consecrated ritual for the Hall of Patriarchs the following day. Master Chang arranged for them to stay.
On the morning of the day after the consecrated ceremony, Brother Zhou asked his grandpa to bathe him and wash his hands and feet thoroughly. Shortly after the bath, he died peacefully.
After Zhou died, Master Chang Mao was planning to hire a carpenter of the temple to build a coffin with some wooden boards for Zhou. As he was about to fetch the wooden boards, they fell on top of him and he couldn’t move. At that moment, he saw a water vat in front of the main hall, and an idea flashed across his mind: "Do you want to sit in the vat instead?" With this thought, the master broke free from the boards.
So the master asked several lay Buddhists to quickly wash the vat and lay Zhou in it. After three years and nine months, when the vat was opened, they found that Brother Zhou's body was intact, with long hair and nails. The year following the opening of the vat, we officially dressed Brother Zhou's body in gold and placed his golden body in one of the temple halls.
Looking back at the whole incident, I feel that even though Brother Zhou was young, there must have been a profound connection between him and the Buddhist temple which could be traced back to his past lives. Hence, this incredible miracle.
To this day, the story of Zhou’s rebirth is still being relayed by the villagers, touching every local Buddhist aspirant. Today, I am sharing his story with everyone. May you all recite the name of Amitabha Buddha together and be reborn in the Land of Bliss.
June 20, 2017
(Translated by the Pure Land School Translation Team;
edited by Householder Fojin)
- Recitation of Amitabha’s name, relying on his Fundamental Vow (the 18th)
- Rebirth of ordinary beings in the Pure Land’s Realm of Rewards
- Rebirth assured in the present lifetime
- Non-retrogression achieved in this lifetime
The 18th Vow of Amitabha Buddha
If, when I achieve Buddhahood, sentient beings of the ten directions who sincerely and joyfully entrust themselves to me, wish to be reborn in my land and recite my name, even ten times, should fail to be born there, may I not attain perfect enlightenment. Excepted are those who commit the five gravest transgressions or slander the correct Dharma.
Faith in, and acceptance of, Amitabha’s deliverance
Single-minded recitation of Amitabha’s name
Aspiration to rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land
Comprehensive deliverance of all sentient beings