Thursday, April 22, 2010

Old Bodhisattva

Jian Tian-jin of Yilan County's Jiaoxi Township in Taiwan has 10-centimeter-long ears, with the lobes making up five centimeters of that size, and they can be pulled out to as long as 16 centimeters.

In fact, Jian's earlobes can be even pulled down to meet underneath his chin, astonishing onlookers who cannot resist touching them for luck.

Jian, now 71, said his earlobes were originally no different from anyone else's, but when he turned 60, they began to grow. Over the past 10 years they have clearly increased in size until they are now significantly larger than those of a normal person.

Jian said since his earlobes are so long, they actually move with the wind, creating an arresting sight. Because people have spread the word about Jian's lucky lobes, he is often approached on the street by complete strangers who want to pull his earlobes down underneath his chin in the hopes that it will bring them blessings or fortune such as giving birth to a baby or living a long life. Jian does not believe any of it, but he is willing enough to let people do it if they want.

A man once told him that he would do very well entering the government or business, or converting countless people as a Buddhist teacher, Jian said. However, he preferred to stay in the countryside to live a simple life. He eventually went to work for a local feed company until he retired.

Jian's neighbors said he is noted for his filial piety and public spirit, and he has received praise and won various awards for these attributes over the years. The plaques and certificates fill the walls of his living room. Although he has never truly been a high-ranking monk, Jian still likes to talk about Buddhism with others, and he has on occasion convinced them to take up the religion or do more good works.

Between this and his prodigious earlobes, Jian has earned the nickname "Old Bodhisattva."