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Volume 9 Issue No. 4
It's a Blissful Life
... Encounters of Buddhism in life by Jen Chen Buddhism practitioners

Two bowls of noodles


According to Venerable Master Shen Kai, when the mind is completely pure, its awareness is so keen that it sees a flower blossoming in another world as though it was blossoming in your palms; so pure that you are aware of an ant crawling under your bed even when you are asleep. "Two bowls of noodles" tells of a similarly intriguing encounter with the power of awareness.

The Abbot of the Jen Chen Vihara in Singapore, Venerable Jue Zhong Shi, organized many Dharma trips to Ci Guang Shan monastery in Taiwan. This was the monastery that Venerable Master Shen Kai built many years ago. It is situated in the outskirts of the picturesque village of Yi Zhi Hsiang. From the monastery, one can see the distant mountain range spread out like the wings of an albatross. In cooler mornings and evenings, the monastery would be clouded by a light misty fog.

The monastery had dormitories for lay people who wanted a retreat and experience the monastic life for a few days. And, they do come from all over the world. They would begin their day before dawn, joining the Shangha for their morning and evening services. The morning service would end just as the first light of day pierce through the sky, exciting a joyous mood for a brand new day. Dharma talks and sightseeing trips would be specially arranged for. It was ever so inspiring to see the monks and nuns going about their chores in their flowing robes. They were very gracious and dignified, and they looked as though they were floating when they walked.

Although the Venerable Master was always busy on his teaching trips, Venerable Jue Zhong Shi would always time the trip to coincide with his presence so that we could have an audience with him. My family, especially my mother and I seldom miss the opportunity.

Once, when she could not travel on the same flight as the rest of the group, my eldest brother accompanied her on a later flight and planned to make their own way from Taipei to Puli and from Puli to the monastery. He had never been to the monastery before and knew neither the duration nor the local transport system. By the time they arrived at Puli, it was already close to midnight. Puli is a small town and at that hour it was dark and deserted. He certainly didn't know the way, and tried to telephone the monastery to see if it was possible for them to be picked up instead. Unfortunately, the only public phone he could find was not working. They began to worry, with the prospect of spending the night by the roadside. Suddenly, a taxi pulled over. Before they could say anything, the taxi driver pleaded, "Please make my day and let me earn some money!"

My brother and mother were a little suspicious. They did not know if a stranger could be trusted in a foreign deserted town, and at that hour of the night. With these reservations, my brother asked, "Are you sure you know how to get to the monastery?"

He replied, "Of course, I often go there to feast on auspicious Buddhist occasions!"

Finally, when my brother and mother arrived at the monastery, everybody had gone to bed (lights out at nine o'clock). But much to their surprise they found a monk and two bowls of steaming hot noodles waiting for them. What a relief!

We later learned that the Venerable Master was out of town and not at the monastery that day, but he called to instruct for some food to be prepared for them. When the monk replied that he will do that when they arrive, Venerable Master replied, "You should start to cook now so that it will be ready when they arrive."

How did the Venerable Master know? The Venerable Master always tells us to be diligent in cultivation and completely purify the mind so pure that even when a flower blossoms in another world, you see it as it is blossoming in your palms; so pure that even when you are asleep, you are aware that an ant is crawling under your bed.

I think we get some idea of what does it mean to attain a completely purified mind.


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