There are few who would consider life perfect. Even if people are satisfied with their life—happy with the amount of money they have, with their children, and with the state of their health—they would still be unhappy about getting old and the prospect of death. In truth, the material conditions of our life aren't the most important; what matters most is the state of our mind and spirit. No matter what other kinds of situation we are in, we should try to face it with a heart of gratitude and contentment. If we are able to do that, so that our hearts are always full of gratitude and love for others, we will be the happiest people.
If, however, we always worry about gains and losses—wanting to gain more and worrying about losing what we have—we will suffer a lot. With such a mindset, even if we possess a lot of wealth, we would in fact still be poor. Take the recent financial crisis as an example. Many people are deeply worried about the stock market and the losses they might incur. They experience a lot of suffering because of this. If we can instead make a living based on our own skills and labour, live simply and frugally, and use the extra money we have to help others, we will lead a rich and contented life.
There is a Grandma Cai who is a good example of this. Grandma Cai has a daughter with two children – a boy and a girl. Theirs should have been the picture of a happy family. Unfortunately, her son-in-law didn't fulfil his responsibilities and abandoned the mother to support their children on her own. Hard enough as it was, this was even more challenging because one of the children has a serious case of epilepsy. Under the weight of these pressures, the mother developed depression. Seeing the plight of her daughter, Grandma Cai took her daughter and grandchildren in. One can imagine how hard it was for an aged lady to support her daughter and grandchildren by herself.
A social worker at a hospital in Kaohsiung referred their case to Tzu Chi. After receiving the case, Tzu Chi volunteers went to care for the family. Gradually, through their counsel and support, Grandma Cai's daughter emerged from depression. They also found her a job as a caregiver. This additional source of income helps to lighten Grandma Cai's financial burden. The grandson also helps by working part-time although he is still a student. Every member of the family who is capable of working is diligently trying to earn money through his or her own hard work.
In order to let her daughter work without having to worry about her granddaughter, Grandma Cai took on the responsibility of taking care of her granddaughter. When her granddaughter was little, she was still able to carry her. Now, it's becoming more and more difficult for her to do so. The doctor also told her that as her granddaughter grows older, her weight will increase and her disability will worsen as her organs gradually deteriorate. Although the job of taking care of her granddaughter gets tougher each day, Grandma Cai has never ever thought to give her up. “Since she was born to our family, it's our duty to take good care of her,” said Grandma Cai. Understanding the karmic law of cause and effect, she does not complain about her lot and can even accept her adversities with willingness. Her heart is truly pure, broad, and free of afflictions.
During her spare time, Grandma Cai involves herself in environmental protection work. If she manages to earn 30 or 50 NTD from the sale of the recyclables she has collected, she sets aside 10 or 20 NTD to donate and help people in need. She even lets her granddaughter put the coins into the coin bank herself, so that her granddaughter has the chance to do a good deed. As we can see, although the family is struggling financially and is still receiving aid from Tzu Chi, Grandma Cai not only takes on additional work to supplement their family's income but even donate money to help others.
As long as we have a healthy mind and body, we can be rich regardless of what our financial circumstances may be. Look at Grandma Cai. Though already hunched over with age, she nevertheless faces life's hardships with resilience. She still works to support her family, and while receiving aid, she even donates money to help others. How rich she is, and how strong is her spirit!
In life, our deeds in this lifetime decide how our next life will be. If we don't sow blessings in this life, once our blessings are “used up”, we will face difficulties and hardships that we cannot escape from. Hence, it is important to make good use of our time and contribute as much as we can. Do not underestimate what we can do. There are many forms of giving: the giving of material aid, the giving of guidance, and the giving of comfort that helps free people from fear. Look at the way Grandma Cai still tries her best to help those in need by earning money through her labour. This shows that so long as we set our minds on helping others, we will be able to do so.
Though we may be poor, if our heart is filled with love, we will be rich. We will also be able to face adversities with an understanding mind. Let us therefore live our lives with our feet planted firmly on the ground, and let us make effort to let kindness grow in our hearts.
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