Da Feng's Biography
Grand Master Song Da Feng was born on the 29th Day of the 10th Lunar Month in AD1039 during the reign of Emperor Xuan He of the Song Dynasty. His birth place was in Putian County of Fujian Province (formerly known as Min Nan). His secular name was Lin Yi and religious name Da Feng. He was born to a noble family, schooled and qualified as a scholar. He also studied Buddhism when he was young. In the year AD1074, he was appointed as the magistrate of Shaoxing County in Zhejiang Province. As an official, he was upright, fair and benevolent to his people. During his office, he witnessed the incompetency and widespread corruption in the Government. He therefore resigned from his post and became a monk. He vowed to help people in need and in the course of his travel around to help people and collect alms he came to a place in Nan An of Min Nan Province. He decided to settle at that place as there were many needy people. He was revered by the people there as Master Da Feng for his works in helping them. He stayed on for about 18 years before deciding to move on. He next went to He Ping Village of Caoyang County when he took up abode at Mian An Temple.
He Ping Village, located at the coastal county of Caoyang is criss-crossed by several deep rivers. Villagers crossing the river at He Ping Village had drowned as the roaring waves capsized boats. The compassionate and benevolent Grand Master Da Feng decided to build a stone bridge to ensure the safety of villagers crossing the river. His ambition was mocked by the villagers as unrealistic but this did not discourage the Grand Master and he proceeded with his fund raising efforts. He even tried to survey the depth of the river, made an estimation of the amount of wood, stone and manpower required for the construction of the bridge. In year AD 1123 in order to implement his plan, he sent all the money collected from his fund raising efforts to Min Nan to the surprise of the people. Five years later, after sufficient funds were collected, the Grand Master shipped in foodstuff and materials for the commencement of construction works on the proposed stone bridge. After a year of hard work, a 19 arch stone bridge was near completion except for the two ends which needed to be connected to the banks. Just then, the Grand Master passed away and the remaining work was completed by Mr. Cai Gong Yuan, a capable man from the village and it named He Ping Bridge which stands till today.
According to folklore, during the construction period, the Grand Master wrote to the Cheng Huang Gong (Town God) and Shui Hu Ye (River God) to help in the project. Miraculously, there was no roaring tides for seven consecutive days. As the saying goes, the Heaven will not let down those who are diligent. It was also a case of an eminent monk making his mighty presence felt, testifying to the legend that the Grand Master has magically constructed the He Ping Bridge.
In his lifetime, Grand Master Da Feng urged people to build temples and carry out charitable works. His maxim being “Benefit others for self benefit, rescue others for self rescue. The home that accumulates good deeds will be rewarded by Heaven”. In commemoration of his great contribution, the villagers changed the name of Mian An Temple where he lived to Bao De Temple. Thereafter, in compliance with his teachings, various counties in Caozhou have one after another built temples set with the primary objective of carrying out charitable works according to the Grand Master’s teachings. The Temples included Bao De Temple of Caoyang, Xiu De Temple, Cai De Temple and Tai He Temple of Cao-an, Jie Shi Temple and Tong Jin Temple of Jieyang. In Shantou, there are the Cun Xin Temple, Cheng Jing Temple and Yan Shou Temple.
The Grand Master’s deeds and benevolence will live forever in the hearts and minds of people. His Temples can been seen today outside of China, in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand where his disciples continue to adhere to his teachings and carry out charitable works guided by His “Five Golden Rules”.
Da Feng's Golden Rules
In order for the masses to understand the profound teachings of the four sacred philosophy of Buddhism, Grandmaster Song Da Feng simplified it into the five-word golden rules, namely Birth, Age, Illness, Death and Agony.
Life begins with birth. For the senior to the junior, it is to raise, and for the junior to the senior, it is to serve. One is benevolent when he is able to serve the senior, and it is a love when he is able to raise the junior. Benevolence and love will pass on from generation to generation, and to impart and to learn them, and vice-versa, one learns to cherish life and get good life, thus, reproducing cleverer new life.
In the secular world, things change constantly and ceaselessly with the ups and downs in fortune taking place alternately. Nobody can stop a person from ageing. From macro point of view, one should care for the old and young as though he is taking care of his own old and young. They will realize the responsibilities of taking care of the old, providing them with food and accommodation. This is how the benevolent people spreads the good deeds.
Illness arises from self-cognition, physiology gives rises to five roots of cognition (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and skin), five roots of movement (hands, legs, tongue, genitals and excretory organs), together with the root of heart, they make a total of eleven roots. Self-cognition includes five senses (color, sound, smell, taste and feeling), they are also known as five-greatness (earth, water, fire, wind and space). Together they make up the human body and it is vulnerable to infection, affection, injury, hurt and fatigue, leading to illness. Therefore, medical cure should be given according to different causes. The temple employs competent physician with benevolent heart to diagnose, prescribe and give medication to the patients in order to achieve recovery. It is charitable deed in accordance with the teaching of Buddhism.
Death is an end of life and is in accordance with certain ways. Life ends in emptiness. But emptiness is actually a substantially because a good ending is a return to truthfulness. A high monk will expiate the sins of the dead and relieve him of earthy vexations and achieve eternal tranquility. From death to life and life to reincarnation. the temple offers prayer service for the dead and helps the destitute family to purchase coffin and arranges burial for the dead.