At the foot of Mount Liangshan in Shandong Province, China, there lives a senior lady, now in her eighties. Her name is Ma Chun. From the time Chun was a little girl, she practiced Buddhism and ate only vegetarian food. Ma Chun is a straightforward, down-to-earth lady and kind-hearted.
This episode goes back to the time when Ma Chun was in her twenties. In the winter of 1953, it was particularly harsh and bitterly cold, with temperatures well below freezing.
On one such winter’s morning, Ma Chun brought along her 10-year-old son to the temple to pray. When they reached a bridge, they saw a beggar cooking underneath it. In the severe cold weather, the beggar wore only a single coat and only had a torn cotton quilt to keep himself warm. He was trembling. In front of him was a small iron basin sitting on a few stacked bricks and in the basin, he was cooking rotten leaves.
Seeing the beggar in such a pathetic state, tears started to flow down Ma Chun’s cheeks. Ma Chun did not continue her journey. She turned back with her child. They went back to the house. There she searched and found an old quilted jacket and trousers. She packed a small bag of flour and dry food and quickly returned to the bridge.
Ma Chun handed the food and clothes to the beggar who nodded his head and said: “Bless you! Bless you!” From then on, Ma Chun continued to give food to the beggar every two or three days.
During this time, a painful form of pinkeye struck the Liangshan area. It quickly spread from person to person. Almost everyone in the village was infected. Ma Chun’s son was also infected and both his eyes were red. Ma Chun decided to bring her son to the hospital for treatment. On the way, as she approached the same bridge, Ma Chun saw that the beggar was leaving.
The beggar saw Ma Chun and waved to her. Ma Chun asked: “Are you going away?” The beggar answered: “I am a beggar and also a wanderer. Thank you for your kindness. I will give you something as a remembrance.”
The beggar stooped down to pick up a pebble from the ground, he shook it in his hand. He then opened his palm and suddenly a blue-green, transparent jade bottle the size of his palm appeared.
The beggar handed the bottle to Ma Chun and said: “This is an eye medicine bottle. The medicine inside can treat all kinds of eye diseases. The mouth of the bottle is very small. Sprinkle a little bit onto the eyes. That should be enough. Quickly return home and treat your son. I’ve got to go. Bye!”
Ma Chun was stunned by the phenomenal sight in front of her. A thought suddenly flashed in her mind: “He is a living God!”
She immediately knelt and bowed with her head down saying: “Thank you for your great compassion!” When she looked up, the beggar was nowhere in sight!
Ma Chun hurriedly searched and looked everywhere for the beggar, but no one else had ever come across a beggar underneath the bridge.
Ma Chun returned home and took out the jade bottle. She saw that the opening of the bottle was tiny, as thin as a needle tip. She shook the bottle a few times and sprinkled the medicine on her child’s eyes. The child told his mother that his eyes felt cool and very comfortable and no longer painful.
After hearing the news, people in the village rushed to Ma Chun to seek the miracle treatment. Ma Chun treated everyone patiently. The effect of the medicine was so much faster than the treatment in the hospital. This miracle immediately spread to the neighboring villages. Everyone knew that Ma Chun had met a living God and obtained a magical bottle.
From then on, people with eye disease would go to Ma Chun for treatment. Ma Chun enthusiastically helped everyone without asking for any monetary returns. What is even more puzzling is that even after several decades, the medicine in the bottle seems inexhaustible. This is the mystery of the message in a bottle from Heaven.
Translated by Chua BC and edited by Michael Segarty