In 1992, the Venerable Master organized the first Honoring Elders Day.? In November, at the International Translation Institute (ITI), the Venerable Master announced his intention to hold an Honoring Elders Day for all the elders in the world to wish them longevity.? The following month - December - the inaugural Honoring Elders Day event was held at Tian-en Vegetarian Restaurant.
The Venerable Master was personally against celebrating birthdays. He said there was an element of greed in it -- greed for fun and greed for gifts.? On our birthdays, the Venerable Master said we should recite the sutras and bow to the Buddhas; then we should dedicate these merit to our mothers given that they endangered their lives in giving birth to us. Therefore, the Venerable Master never celebrated his own birthday, saying, "If you were to organize a birthday party for me, then I would die."? In 1994, a grand birthday celebration was prepared for the Venerable Master at the City of Dharma Realm.? The following year, 1995, the Venerable Master entered nirvana.?
During this morning's repentance ceremony, while we were transferring the merit, there was a phrase stating, "Bear the hardship and toil on." When I read that phrase, I felt really ashamed because I did not feel like I was bearing the hardship and toiling on. I just felt that our group's bowing effort during the repentance ceremony was very good, and that time passed by so quickly.? We had just started the repentance bowing not too long ago, and today the session is about to come to an end.
Time truly does go by quickly.? I remember that one day when we were establishing our dharma affinity: we came across an excerpt from the Venerable Master's instructional talk, stating "When we examine all problems that exist, we realize that all problems somehow revolve around these four words - good, evil, cause, and effect.? Good and evil reap corresponding retributions.? ?When we humans do good deeds, we reap wholesome retribution; meanwhile, when we do evil deeds, we face evil retribution.? Every person reaps what he or she sows.
From the moment we are born, our lives follow a similar process to that of bees making honey and silk worms weaving cocoons in the spring, as described by Elder Master Empty Cloud.? Everything in the world is illusory and impermanent.
Spurred by a single thought of ignorance, we living beings enter the mother's womb.? After we are born, we slowly form the concept of self and others.? As we grow up and enter society, we experience interactions and sentiments, feelings of right and wrong, notions of fame and profit. We spend a tremendous amount of time and energy pursuing our goals.? When we become adults and have our own family, we work on making the best arrangements for our children's provision (food, clothing, shelter) and education. Nevertheless, when impermanence arrives and we take our last breath, everything we have done becomes irrelevant.? This is akin to how bees toil away their entire lives making honey, yet don't get to taste the fruit of their labor.? However, the karmic offenses that we accumulate throughout our lifetime are similar to the cocoons spun by silk worms in springtime; they rapidly envelop us and are difficult to get rid of. We have no choice but to accept the corresponding retributions. People's lives are a series of endless toil. We make all sorts of plans and preparations - for ourselves, for our family, and for our children.? This same pattern repeats generation after generation.
When a person is born, he/she already holds a script to follow. It seems like all events occur according to the script, whether it is a major event concerning the nation or a minor event concerning oneself. Everyone keeps playing his/her role according to the script until the end.? After the curtain falls, everyone exits the stage, only to follow yet another script.? Whatever happens to us is a result of our own actions.
(To be continued ...)