The Old Master's Advice

Yu Yan

PureInsight | October 10, 2007

[] An old master
brought his young disciple and they went down the mountain to do
errands. They ran into an old lady who was nearly starving to death.

The old master took out some dry goods and silver and gave them to the
old lady. The disciple was not quite willing to part with them. The old
master tried to enlighten him and said, "Life and death and virtue are
only between our notions. This food and silver are for us to stay alive
temporarily. However, they can save her life." His disciple seemed to
understand some of it and respectfully replied, "I'll remember your
teachings. One day when I can build a big temple, I will help those in
poverty." The old master heard that and shook his head.

A few years later, when the old master was about to die, he gave a book
to his disciple before he could finish his last sentence.

The young disciple was quite capable and continued to enlarge the
temple. He thought that after the temple was completed, he would follow
the old master's instructions and save more poor people. After the
temple was finished and looked quite presentable, he thought, "Perhaps,
I should wait for the temple to get bigger and better before I help
those poor people."

Time flew. Several decades passed and the temple changed from an old
run-down place to a splendid looking one.  However, the disciple
was so busy building the temple he forgot to do even one good deed.

Before he died, he remembered the book that his old master had given
him. He opened the book and saw these words written by his old master
on the Title page:

Helping someone once is better than reciting the scriptures for ten years.

Actually, we do not need to wait until we have sufficient ability
before we help others. We should remember that a helping hand in time
is far more important. A helping heart is natural and from our true
self. When someone is waiting until he has sufficient resources or
ability, he is merely trying to cover up his unwillingness.

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