Sunday, 24 March
After breakfast I went with Sun Fo and others to the Commercial Press in the Chunxi Road. We bought quite a few books as the stock level of books in the Chungking market is low, so it is not easy to buy books there. But the stocks here are quite plentiful.
We went to Xindu. County magistrate, Luo Yuanyou (羅遠猷), received us. Firstly we went to the tomb of Wang Mingzhang (王銘章), Zhizhong (之鍾). General Wang Mingzhang was the first division commander who lost his life among the division commanders in Sichuan. During the battle of Tai’erzhuang, Deng Xihou was the general commander of the Field Army. He ordered Wang Mingzhang to be division commander of the 122nd division to defend Teng county for three whole days. He died and the county fell to the enemy. The government conferred the posthumous title of General on him. Therefore we went to pay our respects. His children were already there waiting for us. They are still in their infancy.
We went to Baoguang temple. The place where the temple is situated is one of the biggest forests in Sichuan. It is said that it was first built in the forty-third year of Zhoulingwang. The current building was built in the Tang dynasty. The temple was quite spacious. The front part was temporarily taken by the freshmen corps of the Central Military School. The regimental commander and the head of the temple, Zudu, received us quite warmly. They took us on a tour around. First we went to the main hall. A Burmese jade Buddha was enshrined there. The religious art was really delicate. Nevertheless it was a pity that the Buddha statues enshrined there were duplicates of famous Indian paintings and they were from Huntley & Palmer Biscuit advertisements in Britain. It was rather ridiculous that these pictures filled with the words “Huntley & Palmer Biscuits” were worshipped in a sacred manner. There was a stupa in which three pieces of śarīra were enshrined. They hailed from India in the thirt-second year of the Guangxu Emperor. (1906) Rohan Hall was at the side of the main hall, which was one of the fifth major Rohan halls in China. It was much bigger than the Rohan hall at the Lingyin temple. We went inside and found the religious art as well as the gold paint were far superior to those of the scriptures in the Guangxiao temple in our Guangdong. The bamboo forest at the back of the temple was green and lush. The texture of the bamboo was very special there, which we could not easily see in other places. We bypassed the bamboo forest and came to a forest of giant phoebe zhennan. The trees were so tall that they were over one hundred feet high. They were all several hundred or even up to one thousand years old. The most curious thing was that their branches were not interlinked. If we looked up from the bottom, we could see the trees were separated from each other through which we could always see patches of sky. In the whole temple there were some one hundred people. During services there would be several hundred. There were also several elder nuns.
We went to Gui Lake. The lake was quite small and devoid of water, which belied its name. Now it has been converted into a park. There is a hostel (hotel) inside and it is quite clean. By the lake there is a hall where the posthumous image of Yang Shen (楊慎) is honoured. Yang Shen was a native of Xindu. He came first in the imperial examination in the sixth year of Zhengde of Wuzong (of the Ming Dynasty). He was quite knowledgeable. It happened that Wuzong did not have a son so he took the son of Prince Xingxian as his heir. Yang Shen argued against this decision so Wuzong was angry with him. Yang was exiled to the Yongchang Wei of Yunnan. He died where he was exiled. His sense of morality and literary talents were admired by the Sichuan people. He also had many works. There were some one hundred sweet tea olives. Regarding the size of the big one it was as wide as two people embracing it. When it was in full blossom its scent could be smelt ten miles away. Now its greenery is at its maximum. Nevertheless the pool has dried up so it did not blend with the greenery to make a good setting for a picture.
We went to the Xindu county government offices for lunch. The country magistrate said the most important economic activity of Xindu county was the production of tobacco. About one hundred thousand dan were produced every year, with a value of some one million dollars. It was sold mainly to other provinces. Even Dihua also used the tobacco produced here. The tobacco here has recently been improved, using American varieties. Twenty-eight types can be used already and the result is quite encouraging. The breed which is so-called “sheltered” is particularly good. It is because previously sunlight was used which made the taste of tobacco not very good so an oven is used now. As for rolled cigarettes, because there was no capital to build factories this has been unable to be launched. The planting of tobacco is started after the tenth month of the lunar calendar, which will not hold back the growth of the rice. The annual grain production for the whole county is about some five hundred thousand dan, which is valued at over a million dollars. The annual vegetable income is some ten million dollars. Therefore the land price is quite high being valued at around one thousand dollars per mou. Recently the farmers’ living has been quite good. A household of five can farm ten mou of tobacco fields, from which they can achieve several hundred dollars profit as the majority of the grain goes to the tenant landowners. The lands were previously owned by the warlords, now much of the land has been bought by tenants. The late General Wang was the biggest landowner here, having around one thousand mou of land.
After lunch we went to Wenshuyuan. The place where the temple is situated is also one of the biggest forests in Chengdu. In the early Tang dynasty it was named the Xinming temple. During the last years of the Ming dynasty it was burned down during the Zhang Xianzhong rebellion. It was then rebuilt in the reign of Kangxi and was renamed Wenshuyuan. The temple monks led us to the rear of the temple to take a rest. The spider plant there was really good. I heard that the vegetable dishes were quite good so it was a pity we could not try them. In the main hall there were bronze statutes like the Sakyamuni Buddha, Arya-kāśyapa, and Arya-Ānanda. They were quite delicate, and were the best among the various temples. A jade Buddha was also enshrined in the temple, which hailed from Burma. There was a tiny gold Buddha on which the engraving was quite good. There were some 300 monks in the temple.
In the evening, the various party, political and military organs treated Sun Fo and the wife of the British Ambassador to a banquet at Pan Zhongsan’s residence. At the same table was Miss Zhang who was the wife of Professor Guan. She sang several songs as a soprano. She sang so well that I could find no counterpart for her among the Chinese. I heard that she graduated from the National Musical Academy and later studied in the United States. Now she is teaching singing at Jinling University. She is also pretty and lovely. After dinner Tan Pingsan went with us to the hostel and we talked about the KMT-CCP issue. He suggested Sun Fo should put more effort into it. I thought that given Sun Fo’s situation, Fo should be discreet. We talked until midnight then he left.