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What to Do with the Cough?

By on 02/02/2018

‧Written by Sheng-yen Lu‧
A US Daden Culture Publication

  I returned to Taiwan on November 15, 2014. Two days later, I woke up and my voice was hoarse.
  I did not mind it at first.
  Then I started coughing, and this turned into more and more serious and frequent coughing fits.
  It was such a severe, dry cough that I started heaving slightly each time.
  I visited an ear, nose, and throat specialist and took medication, lozenges, and cough syrup.
  I finished all the medicine, but there was no improvement.
  During the first week’s dharma ceremony, I would cough before going up to the dais to give a dharma discourse. During the discourse, however, I did not cough at all. After the discourse, the coughing resumed.
  The same situation happened the second week. I started coughing prior ascending to the teaching dais. There was no coughing during the talk, but it resumed right afterwards.
  During the Buddhist ritual “Yoga for Distributing Food to Flaming-Mouth Hungry Ghosts” at the Nectar Vihara (Ganlu Jingshe in Taichung), I did not cough at all when giving the dharma discourse. Other times, I was coughing.
  It was strange! The coughing only stopped when I gave dharma discourses.
  After announcing my cough in public –
  Students started sending me medicine:
  Cough syrups.
  Cough powders.
  Effervescent tablets.
  Western medicines.
  Folk remedies…
  With the amount of drugs accumulating in my home, I could open a pharmacy. I picked over the drugs and took some of them. To this date, as I am writing this article, I am still coughing.
  I threatened the Golden Mother of Jade Pond:
  “If this cough does not stop, I will convert to Christianity!”
  I also said to her:
  “If I keep coughing, I will become Muslim!”
  But, the coughing continued!
  Suddenly, I was confused! What to do? What to do? What to do? What to do? What to do?
  Many physician students of mine tried to help me.
  I asked myself what to do?
  I replied:
  “I don’t know!”
  “Will you blame and complain indiscriminately here and there?”
  I replied:
  “I will not!”
  “Did someone put black magic or Gu poison on you?”
  “Ignore it!”
  “Could it be the poor air quality in Taiwan?”
  I replied:
  “Poor air quality is a fact. But no one else in the group that came back has a cough except me. So, I cannot blame the air.”
  “You use the throat to speak the dharma and this is creating such an inconvenience for you. Why not find a quick cure?”
  I replied:
  “Let nature run its course!”
  “Does a great saint, an enlightened guru, and a buddha who has realized the Buddha-essence still have to undergo physical torture?”
  I replied:
  “Shakyamuni Buddha had migraines, bone spurs, and gastrointestinal problems.”
  “When will you be well?”
  I replied:
  “When I am well! Haha!”

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