|Volume 6 no 4|
It's A Blissful Life - Encounters of Buddhism in life by Jen Chen Buddhism practitioners
That we are well and alive does not happen by accident. It is the result of other people's compassion and loving-kindness. Thus, while some plant the Fields of Compassion, others plant the Field of Gratitude as the first story illustrates. Children are nurtured and moulded by the words and actions of their parents. Thus, they are often said to be 'chip of the old block'. The second story tells of what a child learned from his mother and his commitment to pass these on to the next generation...
|The breadth of kindness and depth of gratitude|
|When my colleague,
Chai, told me with teary eyes that he has to hurry back to his hometown
in Malaysia, I knew that something must be amiss. He had told me before
about his grandfather who doted on him. He was in his nineties. Because
of his advanced age, my immediate thoughts were that perhaps something has
happened to him. As it turned out, it wasn't so.
We sat down for a quick chat and for the next few minutes I learnt a lesson about kindness and gratitude.
But, there was one kind man, Liu. He was a farmer in a neighbouring village. When Chai's mother approached him, Liu who was as poor as anybody else saw how desperate the situation was and agreed to take Chai in. Although he was a poor farmer who had 11 children of his own, he still had room in his heart for one more.
Of course, Chai added to the Liu family's burdens. However, they gave him their undivided love and took care of him as one of their own. Chai's health began to improve from strength to strength. Before he was one year old, he regained his health and was returned to his family. Chai's parents had never forgotten about Liu's kindness. They taught him to be grateful to the man who had saved his life. Of course Chai was too young to know what he had gone through, yet over the years the strong sense of gratitude helped to create a strong bond between the two families. Chai also regarded Liu as his father and Liu's family as his own.
That was many years ago. Now Chai has a family of his own and Liu laid critically ill, not having much longer to live. He had to hurry home to see him and thank him again, perhaps for the last time. If Liu's time were indeed up, perhaps his presence would help to give him a peace of mind.
What struck me immediately was the compassion and loving-kindness of a poor farmer, and the depth of gratitude of a man whose life the farmer had saved. While Chai spoke, I was moved and had to hold back the tears welling in my eyes.
Two days later, Chai called me from Malaysia to inform us that his 'father' had passed away. And, yes, Liu did wait for him.
When I related the story to my other friends, they too felt the kindness of Liu and the gratitude of Chai. I believe there is room in everyone's heart to appreciate stories of compassion, loving-kindness, giving and gratitude like this. I have Chai to thank for these lessons, for I feel that both his and Liu's actions are worthy for us to emulate.
|Lessons from my Mother|
We had little and life was tough. At one time all seven of us were in school. For the most part of our formative years my father had to work away from home. We learned our values of life mostly from her. The quality of life in those early years, in the material sense, was Spartan by today's standards. However, in the moral and ethical sense, it was very rich. Against the advice from some of our neighbours to put her children to work rather than in school, she borrowed from friends and relatives so that we could remain in school. She never had an education herself, but she could see that our future lies in having an education. Some of us eventually went to university. The others completed secondary education and went to work, partly because they felt duty bound to relieve our financial burden. We learned about courage, wisdom and responsibility.
Often we ran errands for her like borrowing or returning grocery items such as sugar or some rice, or even money to tide us over difficult times. She never failed to remind us to say "thank you" to these people. We learned to be grateful, to be honest and to return what does not belong to us. I vividly remember that time when an old beggar came to our house and asked for some money. He held out a worn out a half coconut shell, which contained some coins. We were poor ourselves but she gave him a few coins. Another time, it was during the lunar New Year, she did not give us the traditional "hong pao" because times were bad for us. We didn't dare ask. Yet, when a relative came visiting with her little son, my mother gave that fortunate kid a "hong pao".
It must have worth at least a dollar and twenty cents! A dollar and twenty cents - that was a big sum! We didn't get any from his mother though. It was very painful for us, but we learned. We learned about giving.
She farmed on the land and eventually bought it over with money borrowed from her own mother and brother. The merchants liked doing business with her because she was prompt with her payments. It is her principle not to fail others who put their trust in her. On many occasions she vehemently resisted my father's proposal to sell the land and use the money to go into business. Businesses could go either way, but without the land how are we going to live? She was right. On the land, my father eventually built a small factory. We all chipped in. My father fulfilled his dreams. He passed away a few years ago, but the business that he set up continues to thrive. We learned about perseverance, trustworthiness and wisdom.
Now we have all grown up and have children of our own, but her love for us remains as strong as ever. Her bliss and blessings are the envy of many.
Here is a mother who gave her children a set of values to live life with. Without which, life may still be filled with material comfort, but it would have been a life of emptiness at the same time. A mother who gave her children a set of values that nobody can take away from them. They are now theirs to pass on.
She could have been anybody's mother, but I am just very fortunate that I have her as mine.