By an early disciple (Originally in Chinese)
Twenty years ago, before Master became well known with a large following of spiritual practitioners, She lived in a mountain in Sindian in suburban Taipei, with a few monastic disciples. We lived in a house that was originally in ruins and surrounded by weeds, which we were able to rent at a low price. At the time, we had about NT$10,000 (about US$300) a month, which had to cover rent, living expenses, utilities, and house repairs. Despite the tight budget, Master always asked the disciples to buy and deliver daily necessities to various orphanages and people in need.
Master never worried about money, even when we reported to Her that little was left. She did not take it to heart and continued to ask us to give the rest away to those who were in a more desperate condition. When I once told Master that I was worried about our financial situation, She said it was all right even if we had no income at all, adding that She could teach English to support us as long as we were diligent in our spiritual practice. Master’s words touched my heart deeply and have left an indelible mark in my memory.
Master has a generous heart for others, yet She never seeks personal physical comfort. She never asks anything for Herself, not even the very basic necessities. A most unforgettable incident was in a time when Master needed a winter coat, but She did not ask the disciples to buy one for Her. Coincidentally, a fellow practitioner showed up with a piece of cloth that had been discarded by a factory. She thought that throwing it away would be a pity and brought it to us. When I gave the cloth to Master, She said, “God knows what I need.” Only then did I realize that Master did not have enough winter clothes. I could not help but ask Master why She had to endure such suffering, as She only had to request and we disciples would have done as asked. Master said, “This is not suffering. Everything is arranged by God. If God thinks I really need something, Hes will send someone to bring it to me.” I will never forget this incident. In Her heart, Master only thinks of other sentient beings and never of Herself. Even for a simple coat, She would not ask. How could anyone be in such a noble state of mind without any self-desires unless that person is really egoless?
Master has always taught us to be honest and upright. Once we were passing by a remote orchard and some of the disciples picked a few fruits to quench their thirst. When Master noticed this, She immediately told us, “Anything that does not belong to us, even a blade of grass or a tree, we should not take. Spiritual practitioners should be righteous.” Master instructed us to put some money—more than enough to pay for the fruit—in a plastic bag and tie it to a tree for the owner of the orchard. This was a small incident, but it remains imprinted in the hearts of disciples. Ordinary people might not consider picking a few fruits a big deal when there are no outside witnesses. But Master said, “We have to behave the best even when there is no one watching us.”
A prisoner who had been sentenced to death once wrote a letter to Master, saying that he had a chance to borrow one of “The Key of Immediate Enlightenment” books from someone and was deeply touched by Her teachings. He said that if he only had the good fortune to learn about Master’s teachings earlier, he would not have committed such a big mistake out of ignorance. He thanked Master for giving him a new life and helping him to face death without fear. He also vowed to devote his next life to following an enlightened Master in spiritual practice. Upon hearing the letter, Master’s eyes filled with tears and She said, “Whatever is beneficial to others, I will sacrifice even my life to do it.”
Could such a truly enlightened Master, who is willing to give Her life for the benefit of sentient beings, seek ephemeral material gains for Herself? These small but true stories, though known by few, are proof that every word and action of the Master is an example of righteousness and selflessness for all disciples. Although Master does not care for Her reputation and has long ago relinquished any attachment to physical life and death, we would still like to highlight the noblest aspects of Master through these few ordinary stories between Master and disciples.