So, whatever I do, I feel like I’m just repaying their kindness, and I feel like God has given me this opportunity to repay their kindness, to spread love. That’s all. I never feel like I am doing any favor for anybody. And you should feel the same.
Maybe she was a cat. No, she’s like a cat, (A lion.) and she climbs so fast. She is used to the wild life. She is street smart, so smart. Before, when we were in Thailand, we fenced everywhere but we could never catch her. I hired everybody. And then one time, luckily, we used the big basket that you use for leaves in the garden. And then one Korean guy, looked like he had affinity with her, he came in and just caught her like that. But two days later, she was gone again, etc. Never mind, don’t talk about that. And last night, I was so tired looking for her. Everybody was looking, and to everybody else I said, “You go home and sleep. I’ll wait for her. She will come back.” I just don’t know when, that’s all. She’ll come back. They always come back.
They know where. I’m just worried in-between something might happen. And that little skinny daughter of hers, she doesn’t have that much energy. She’s so skinny; no matter what she eats, I never see her stomach come out. I don’t know why. It’s gone immediately or something, dissipated. So, I worried she might be exhausted in the middle of the street somewhere or in the forest. Here it’s very big, so we will not even know where to find her. I’m worried about her; I’m not worried about the mother. She is too clever. But I’m worried about the little one that had to trot along with her to “protect her.” My God. I said, “You protect her? Look at you. Look at her. She’s so chubby and good and fat. And you don’t eat much and you’re so skinny like this. How could you protect her?” I said, “Don’t ever go out again.” I said it many times. She said, “OK, OK” and then she forgot. You know dogs, they forget in ten minutes. That’s what they say. Just like I gave her something to eat, and then she came back again a while later, I said, “I just gave you something, remember?” “No. No.” Maybe they pretend.
We have to really meditate well in order to help the world, to help others. Otherwise, we could not even cover our own expenses. The contamination of the world, our own karma, our relatives’ and friends’ karma, the food-we-eat karma – everything in this world costs us something.
I have many people, you know that. You would think I have a lot, a lot of, hordes of people hanging around me, ready to pick out my little pimple for me, or scratch my back. No. I can’t afford it, really. Because if I keep cleansing their karma every day, then I am exhausted, then I have no more time to do other things, when it’s too close. I’m too sensitive nowadays, more than before. Before, I wasn’t this sensitive. I immediately sense it, people bring different things. And another thing is that, if somebody keeps helping me too long, they become attached, and become more like possessive, and begin this game of competition, jealousy stuff, and I hate all this.
And even if I don’t want to change people, I have to. I have to. I hate changing people because you have to retrain again and get used to the different energy, different personality, different habits and liking, and not liking, again and again. But whenever I smell this kind of possessiveness, competition, jealousy, I cannot bear, then he or she has to go. Because the energy becomes conflicting, fractioning. It’s no good for me. I’m too sensitive. Sometimes I bear it as long as I can, but it’s not always possible. That’s why I don’t have people living around me, not nowadays, anymore.
I used to live with groups of people and I didn’t feel anything much because at that time, I also didn’t have a lot of disciples anyway, only some monks and nuns. And yesterday, I saw some show that they were showing something about our earlier time, when I was still wearing monk’s robes, having a free life, and free of money as well – I mean, nothing. Free of worry, free of mortgage, free of car insurance, but we were very happy. I lived with a group of monks and nuns, and we camped anywhere, we drank anything, and nothing happened to us. And nowadays, I eat nice food and just have stomachache sometimes, or headache because maybe the cook is not good that day, not in a good mood that day, or somebody looked at the food before, or wishy-washy something. Or some people don’t have good karma, not clean enough to cook that food.
So, many times, I have to leave many foods, return it, because I cannot eat that. It looks the same like yesterday or the day before or last month – same food, same vegetable – but I cannot eat it. Even sometimes, (vegan) congee, I cannot eat; it depends on who cooks it. Or if they cook it from the leftover rice or not, then I cannot. If I eat it, I will have problems, not just stomachache – sometimes I cannot meditate well, restlessness, and all kinds of stuff. So, karma is a very unpleasant thing. And the people around us, sometimes they help us, but they also bring their own trouble and we have to share it. That we cannot escape, no matter whom.
Even Shakyamuni Buddha, remember? He had to eat that horse feed for three months, because of the disciples’ karma. It’s written in the sutra, one of the sutras like that. But He was tough. He was a man, so it was different. Men’s bodies are always stronger than women’s. Of course, it depends, but generally, it’s like that. So, one time, Shakyamuni Buddha was walking and then He saw two heaps of bones; one was black, one was white. And He asked His people. Even the Buddha did not know this. He asked, “Why is one black and one white?” So, one of the disciples said, “Because the white bones belong to men and the black bones belong to the women.” After they died, their bones blackened, meaning they probably rotted quicker, because they were weaker, because maybe every month they lost some blood, and they gave birth to children and all that. It weakened their bodies, weakened their bones, and hardship and all that. So, the Buddha cried. After Buddha heard that, He cried. Or maybe He didn’t ask. He knew it, right? It doesn’t matter if He asked or not; I might be wrong there.
But then He knelt down in front of the black bones, the black heap of bones, and bowed to it, very respectfully, reverently. And all the disciples said, “Master, You are the teacher of humans and Heavenly beings, why are You prostrating in front of the rotten dry bones?” And the Buddha said, “You don’t know. Those bones could be from one or two of my mothers, from many lifetimes or this lifetime. Because of the hardship that the mothers have to go through, through daily work, and then bearing children, and losing blood every month, so that’s why their bones became blackened like this.” And He felt so sorry, so sorry, so very, very sorry, and very compassionate for all the women in the world. He said, “I just pay respect and thank the mothers.” I feel like I want to cry myself.
We take many things for granted, but truly, in this world, we owe a big debt to everyone that exists, now and before us. So, if we do anything good… The vice president – she’s two times vice president, former – came to visit me again last week and she told me, “You do a lot of meritorious deeds. You are so compassionate,” and all that. I said, “No. No, no, Ma’am. I feel like in this world, I myself owe a lot of debt. Everybody worked in order for me to grow up, to have food to eat, have clothes to wear, to have opportunity to study, to be literate, and to be able to understand many things. And monks and nuns, they’re passing down the Buddha’s teachings, Jesus’ teachings,” etc. Something like that.
So, whatever I do, I feel like I’m just repaying their kindness, and I feel like God has given me this opportunity to repay their kindness, to spread love. That’s all. I never feel like I am doing any favor for anybody. And you should feel the same. I suggest you should. We owe the doctors, the nurses, so that we have a good birth, and we owe them to continue to survive with our measles, our chickenpox, or duck-pox, whatever-pox. If we had no doctors, no medicine, no nurses, we could not have survived until now. Not to talk about the food we eat, the shoes we wear, the clothes we dress – everything. Actually, the world is so kind to us, giving us so much, so much, so much.
When I was young, I was maybe 20-something, I went back to Âu Lạc (Vietnam) one time from England, before the nation changed to a different policy. I came out on time. Otherwise, I would’ve probably got stuck or maybe gone on the boat or something, or maybe ended up in the Philippines right now. Then you might come and say, “Hallo! What are You doing here?” I’d say, “I have no idea.” Not being a Master or anything. And then, when I was in Saigon, at that time, Saigon, there was an old lady from somewhere. She came and asked me, could I help her; give her a hundred đồng, Aulacese (Vietnamese) dollars, because the thief took everything from her already. And then I said, “How much do you need?” She said she needed only the money to take the bus to go home. That’s all she needed. So, I gave her some and then some extra if she needed some to eat. And she knelt down and bowed to me.
And she was crying. I said, “Oh, no! Please, please don’t do this, “mom”! Stand up. Please, please! If I am in need, somebody else would give me that. The same. So, we’re just helping each other. And maybe you have helped this world also.” I was young but so wise already. Not wise, but I mean, knowing some little things. I said, “Don’t do this. No, no. It’s just a little thing. I can afford it and I am happy that I can help you. Please just go home and take a rest.” And she was still crying. She said, “I’m no beggar.” She said, “I’m no beggar, child. I’m not. I’m just stuck here, and I kept begging, and nobody gave me anything until now. That’s why I am so grateful that you gave me the whole sum even, so I don’t have to stand here begging all day, or until tomorrow or the next day. I never know. If everybody just gave a little penny or ten dollars (đồng), then I don’t know when I can go home.” “I’m no beggar,” she said. I said, “I know, I know.” She dressed well.
So, you never know, we can always get into a situation. And some people, just like I said, in America, I saw some people who were homeless. They had a home yesterday. They had a fancy car the day before. They had a house, they had a television, they had everything. They had a beautiful girlfriend or boyfriend even. And then today, they’re just nobody. Everything can pass quickly. So today we’re happy; tomorrow if not, then it’s OK. Then we know, c’est la vie. That’s life. Frank Sinatra, he sang a very beautiful song. “That’s life. That’s what all the people say. You went up in the sky and got down in May.” Something like that. “But I won’t let, won’t let that get me down. I pick myself up” what? I pick myself… “Every time I fall down, I pick myself up and go back to begin again.”
Something like that. It’s a very nice song. I used to know how. I remembered but now I forgot. You make me forget everything, everything except just reading you stories at bedtime or even not bedtime. And never enough even. Mealtime, you don’t want to go to eat. Bedtime, you don’t want to go to sleep. Don’t I know this somewhere in my house? (Your dogs.) My dogs. Yeah, you’re right! How do you know everything? She knows everything. They fight. They fight with the assistants. They want to take them to eat only, it’s mealtime, and go out to do their small business. Oh, fighting! “No! No, no, no, no!” And then whoa, wah! The whole body was really fighting. And then go run under my legs to take refuge. I said, “You went to the wrong place, baby. Now you go.” I have to get a hold of her for him, for the attendant to put the harness on her.
Oh man, they fight really tooth and nail, truly, and run away, run to the other corner. In the morning, it’s a drama to get them out of my house, or my whatever, cave or whatever. Don’t care what, just don’t want to go. And then after they (attendants) left, (the dogs) want to go out. Yeah! Ask me to take them out! Joking? They think I have nothing to do but dogs, nobody else but dogs, nothing to do but take care of…? (Dogs.) Dogs. God. And then talk like they understand me, everything. “Oh, Master, You work very hard day and night for everybody, for the animals. Thank You.” And all that. “But work for us, work for me, work for the dogs, it’s better! Don’t stress Yourself. Take a walk with us. What for You’re reading all this stuff? It’s so boring, paperwork. Why? Take a walk with us, fresh air, running, climb trees, or whatnot. Go drink the water in the lake, even though it looks dirty but never mind. It’s cool. It’s free.”