Reaping rice during a barren year and feeding the people
In 1923, the Master was eighty-four. At that time, several strange events were witnessed: a transformational lotus appeared upon the cremation of Mrs. Li; a pagoda was made by ants for Bhikshu Tao Ming; and Bhikshu Chu Hsing transformed himself and attained birth in the West. Next year, 1924. the Master was eighty-five, and spent time rebuilding various shrines and temples. In 1925, when the Master was eighty-six. he transmitted the precepts, explained sutras, and held long meditation sessions. The Master was eighty-seven in the year 1926. In the ensuing few years, large numbers of soldiers plundered Yunnan Province, frightening the people. The rice was ripe, but they did not dare harvest it. The Master, therefore, asked the Army commander not to allow his troops to obstruct the harvest, which was subsequently carried out by the monks. Because of the lack of food, one thousand peasants gathered at the monastery to take their meals. At first, rice was eaten, then gruel, then chaff, and finally just water was all that remained. The people appreciated the fact that the monks underwent the same hardships of life along with them.
The gatha says:
At first they all ate rice alike, and then drank thin rice gruel.
Finally they took just chaff and water, the monks and the peasants eating together.