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101 Year-Old Young Person Amitabha Buddhist Society of Singapore

Fellow students and practitioners, Mr. Bock Guan Lee has invited a 101 year-old "young person" here this evening. Would Mr. Lee and this "young person" come up to speak a few words before we begin our lecture.

Mr. Lee: Respected teacher Master Chin Kung, Dharma Masters, and fellow practitioners; I have with me "little sister". She has told me that she is a 101 year-old "young person." She does not need eyeglasses or a hearing aid. Every day, she helps others and at night, reads books until one or sometimes three o・clock in the morning.
She sits by herself, reflects on what she has read, and remembers the good parts while forgetting the bad; just like strangers who walk by but leave no imprints on her mind.

In the morning, she gets up, does yoga, and takes a walk. If it is raining, she simply carries an umbrella. She drinks a glass of milk for breakfast and her only meal is lunch. A vegetarian since childhood, her body itches and swells when she eats fish or meat. She eats raw food without oil or salt and sometimes only has an apple or raw vegetables for lunch after having washed and cut them. For supper, she has a cup of buttermilk. When she arrived here tonight, we gave her some water but she didn・t drink any.

Every day she helps others and thinks about how she can do more for them. People give her money because they see her doing good deeds and they too want to help. She never buys clothes but finds and washes discarded ones, then wears those that fit and alters those that do not. She says that with so many poor and hungry people around, buying clothes is a waste of money.

Can we practice like her? She is still helping people. Presently, she is reading the Chinese version of Master Chin Kung・s book Buddhism: The Awakening of Compassion and Wisdom. When she was fifty, she learnt nursing and began to manage retirement centers. Now, everyday she helps others, constantly asking what else she can do. We hear of some people who work here, who always think of themselves, and complain of being tired. She does not feel tired, so she is still young and busy.

The day the master and I visited her, she asked the master, "Am I eligible to become the Buddha・s student?" He replied, "Yes" and conducted the ceremony for her to
take the Three Refuges. So, I invited her here today. Her name is Zhe Xu. She was not smart when young, so her dad called her A-Gong (meaning stupid). Let・s now invite "Sister Gong" to talk to us.

Zhe Xu: Brothers and sisters, I・m very happy to be here tonight. Thank you! I will speak Mandarin, although I speak it poorly. Thank you for inviting me. Brother Lee asked me to talk about my daily life. First, I am 101 years young, not old; we do not want to be old. We are old if we think we are old and young if we think we are young. We can still do many things even if we are over one hundred years old. If you do not think you are old, you will not be.

Currently, I・m taking care of over twenty poor and elderly people. They came to Singapore as young adults, did housework, earned only two dollars a month, and had one day a year off. They mailed their two dollars to China for their nieces and nephews who were even poorer than they were. Now, I feel I need to take care of them. Every month, I give them rice, oil, sugar, coffee if they like coffee, or Milo if they do not. I also give canned foods so that they can stay home to cook their meals if they are not well enough to go out to buy food. All I do is provide a little convenience.

People ask me how much money I give to the poor; but I don・t know. I give away whatever others have given to me to help the poor pay rent and utility bills. Sometimes, I give money for them to visit their friends or pay for doctors・ visits or medicine. Without enough money, I can do little. This is what I do; thank you!

Mr. Lee: Is it okay if I ask some questions?

Zhe Xu: Okay.

Mr. Lee: What year were you born?

Zhe Xu: 1900.

Mr. Lee: 1900. This is 2000; so, for the Chinese way of counting, it is 101 years. What is your family name?

Zhe Xu: Xu.

Mr. Lee: What time do you wake up?

Zhe Xu: I don・t know. Sometimes 4 a.m. I sit still and meditate, do Yoga, and then I go for a walk to exercise my legs. After that, I return home and drink some milk.

Mr. Lee: What do you eat for lunch?

Zhe Xu: Vegetables or things that do not require cooking, like fruit. Many nutrients are lost through cooking.

Mr. Lee: Why do you eat so little, why not three meals a day?

Zhe Xu: We do not need to eat that much. We eat three, four, even five times a day out of habit. This wastes time since we need to buy groceries, wash, cook, and eat the food. Then we have to clean up. All these chores waste a lot of time. If we ate raw food, we would only need to wash and eat it; so, instead of wasting so much time, we could use it to read and do things for others.

Mr. Lee: What do you eat for dinner?

Zhe Xu: Sometimes buttermilk. I don・t eat if I don・t need to.

Mr. Lee: Do you make or buy your clothes?

Zhe Xu: I got this out of a trashcan. I never waste a penny buying things because I take care of very poor people. I want to be as poor as they are, so I use what others throw away.

Mr. Lee: Are you still reading daily? What do you read?

Zhe Xu: Now, I・m reading a book by Master Chin Kung called Buddhism: The Awakening of Compassion and Wisdom.

Mr. Lee: You・ve read many books. Do you remember them? What about the good things you read? And the bad?

Zhe Xu: Now, I・m reading Buddhist books and I want to learn more. I believe that Buddhism is very good, so for now, I want to learn more about it.

Mr. Lee: You meditate daily. Do you cross one or two legs? Could you show us? This is the agility of a 101 year old.

Zhe-Xu: Like this?

Mr. Lee: Okay! Can the audience see? Look at her sit. Doesn・t she look like an old Zen master? She constantly reflects and regrets her thoughts and behavior. We know that some young people can・t sit in the lotus position, much less do so for several hours. She teaches Yoga to others. Look V isn・t her posture straight? Good, thank you! Do you feel cold wearing such light clothes?

Zhe Xu: Not cold. I don・t feel hot or cold!

Mr. Lee: A mind without wandering thoughts does not feel cold, hot, or hunger. What do you think of all day?

Zhe Xu: Buddha Amitabha.

Mr. Lee: From birth until now, have you thought of doing anything for yourself? Or for others? What do you think of every day?

Zhe Xu: I don・t need anything. I believe that God will take care of me; so, I don・t need to. I take care of others.

Mr. Lee: Master has told us that we eat so much due to wandering and selfish thoughts. Look at her, a vegetarian since birth. To eat, we buy and prepare our food, and wash dishes.

Zhe Xu: I cannot eat other things, because if I just eat a little bit of fish or some meat, I become red all over, so I can only eat vegetables, potatoes, and yams. I cannot eat seafood.

Mr. Lee: In your heart, what is religion?

Zhe Xu: There is no religion other than to love all people for they are our brothers and sisters. This is my religion, nothing else.

Mr. Lee: We met over thirty years ago when we took some things to the elderly. A practitioner who had brought some food said, "That nun gives food to old people and happily treats a poor person the same way we treat our president." He visited her last week and saw her take some young people to apply for an apartment. At 101, she doesn・t need eyeglasses or a hearing aid; reads all day and sometimes until 3 a.m., and forgets to sleep when the book is very good. She has already reached the stage of no-self. Master calls this purity of mind. Today, we want everybody to see how pure her mind is. She constantly thinks about helping others not of herself. She had two sisters who were school principals and a brother who was a priest. Only she is alive. What does she think of everyday? She helps over a dozen retirement centers in South Africa. Is that right? Where are they?

Zhe Xu: One retirement center is near Clear Water Road. I forget the ones abroad; many are in India. At times, we mail things to Malaysia, Nepal, and Lahat in New Village where there are many poor people. We send money when we receive it.

Mr. Lee: She has a wish - is it to start a retirement center?

Zhe Xu: Yes, not an institution, but one that works like our family. We would care for old people who come to us just as we would care for our parents or grandparents, and in this way they are treated with special care. The center would be just like our home. We also hope to have a very big place to accommodate their friends from abroad when they visit.

Mr. Lee: So, the retirement center she hopes to establish would not be one that only provides for old people. She wants one like our Amitabha Village, where everybody gathers to practice like brothers and sisters. Visitors from abroad can also stay, just like a family. Her wish is the same as that of Master. At 101, she wants to start a career. So, the audience cannot say they are old and should be ashamed if they do. Today, we have proof of what Master has taught; a person with many wandering thoughts eats a lot. She doesn・t because she is pure. She doesn・t buy clothes but finds discarded ones, wears those that fit, and alters those that don・t. She is like Earth Treasure Bodhisattva, who does not seek personal comfort and happiness, but wants all beings to end their suffering;
and who will not become a Buddha until hell is empty. Poor people have problems, so she doesn・t buy clothes. We visited the room she lives in. It contains a small low bed, a small table and fan, no other electrical appliances. She cannot tell right from left, or follow the directions to come here even if she had walked here many times. Simple and innocent, with a pure mind, she has never lost her temper. How long does it take to calm down after we lose our tempers?

Zhe Xu: At least three days. Anger wastes time and brainpower.

Mr. Lee: Why don・t you get angry? What harm does it do?

Zhe-Xu: We hurt others and ourselves. If you tell one person that another is easily angered, you have affected the one you told. This is bad. Anger hurts others and us, and is a needless waste of time and energy.

Mr. Lee: So, those who are easily lose their temper need to think and remain calm because anger accomplishes nothing and can affect others who witness it. Since it can take three days to recover, she doesn・t lose her temper. She helped to organize and served as a volunteer at two retirement centers in Singapore: the Great Compassion Retirement Center and the Welfare Association Retirement Center. Fifty years ago, she helped the sick. At that time, they made a hole in the bed and placed a washbasin there for feces. The washbasin was cleaned once a day. One man had no one to wash the basin for him, so she helped. When he wanted to pay her, she refused saying, "I don・t take patients・ money, or I・ll get into trouble." She is like that; money is unimportant. She does charity work. Why do people give you money? What do you do with it?

Zhe Xu: People give me money because they know that I don・t keep it but immediately give it to those in need. I don・t need it.

Mr. Lee: She doesn・t carry money with her. She told me in the car earlier that recently she visited two very poor families. She doesn・t give away money until she investigates first. The family had one/three sons?, the daughter who takes drugs is in jail, and the son-in-law was a drug-trafficker who had been sentenced to death. The grandson attends elementary school. I asked her, "When you looked into the situation did you have any money?" She said, "I don・t know where the money will come from. When I need it to help others, I receive it." That night, someone had donated three hundred dollars. Right?

Zhe Xu: Yes. A newspaper person had just given me three hundred dollars and right after that, I heard of a fifty-six year-old man whose three sons were in prison for taking drugs. His twenty-eight year-old daughter, whose husband had been hung for drug trafficking, had an eight year-old daughter and six year-old twins. Two of the children weren・t in school because she couldn・t pay the three-month fee. So, I gave them the money.

Mr. Lee: When she does things, she doesn・t think about having money. As she said, when we do things for Buddhism, Bodhisattvas will help. As long as we do it, the money will come. She has no worries. We should be ashamed for she is a genuine Buddhist who does what Master tells us to do. When she asked him if she was eligible to be the Buddha・s student, we were very touched. Upon hearing his "Yes" she said she wanted to become his student and this made Master very happy. She sat next to Master and had a picture taken with him. Today, he is going to present the Certificate for The Three Refuges to her. Come! She said she wanted to kneel but Master said she did not need to.

Master Chin Kung: She believes in love and in loving all people forever. I・m giving her this calligraphy of the Four Kindnesses - have a kind heart, speak kind words, do kind deeds, and be a kind person; she has achieved all four. If we graded her, she would receive 100%. We are also giving her some Buddhist books because she enjoys reading.

Mr. Lee: Thank you.

Zhe Xu: Thank you all.

Mr.Lee: She got these books at the distribution section outside the lecture hall.

Master Chin Kung: They are Master Sheng-I・s commentary on the Diamond Sutra and Master Guang-Qing・s life story.

Mr. Lee: Is there anything you want to say?

Zhe-Xu: No. Thank you all.