這次敬老會最年長的壽星是一百零四歲柬埔寨籍的 Dharmawara 法師，眞一法師也領著信眾前來，在座者尚有多位文教、經政界人物，分別為：吳俊升、楊治全、王師復、李邁先、胡國材、丁時範、鐵鴻業、楊訓苔、李英君等多位教授及宋壽椿將軍。他們表示，宣公上人一向尊敬年老有德的人，講法不咬文嚼字，也不說堂皇的大道理，但平淡中含有深義，讓人得到很大益處。而且上人平易近人，不會高高在上。
■慈祥和藹的 Dharmawara 法師
The compassionate Bhante Dharmawara
「松柏長青祝君安」，老年人要像松柏一樣，不服老。祝君安，祝賀每位同胞，每位年高有德的人，都是 good morning, good afternoon.（美好的早晨與美好的午後。）
Over two hundred guests attended the banquet. The restaurant was decorated with many calligraphic renderings of the character
shou, "Longevity", as well as fresh bouquets and potted plants. Most striking of all was the couplet hanging on the wall, composed by the Venerable Master (lines A and B in box). The title above the couplet read:
Evergreen like the pine and cedars. Because the Master places great importance on venerating the elderly, he personally selected the gifts for the elders and signed each one.
At the beginning of the luncheon, Jou Gwo-ru acted as the Mistress of Ceremonies, and then the Venerable Master invited the Chairman, Professor Richard F. Yang to speak. Afterwards, Dr. Yang led the entire party in singing "Happy Birthday." Then he recited with great feeling the Venerable Master's matching couplet in honor of the birthday party, and encouraged people to match the couplet.
Following that, a Dharma Master explained the meaning of this luncheon, mentioning two equally important merits of this Celebration to Venerate the Elderly: First, to introduce the concept of filiality in Western society, which has failed to emphasize respect for elders; second, to respect and cherish life by being vegetarian, thus earning the reward of longevity. Then another Dharma Master said, "Speaking of the character
shou 'longevity,' we are celebrating this birthday for one person, but we are simultaneously celebrating the birthday of all living beings in the universe. With this character
shou, we should remind ourselves to fulfill our responsibilities and revere the elderly and the virtuous."
The Venerable Master especially regarded those present and taught them a wonderful method for staying young: not getting angry. The Master said that originally his hair was white, but then he learned not to get angry. Even though he's still learning how not to lose his temper, his hair already has turned black.
Throughout the celebration, the Venerable Master would insert astute comments. Those gathered thoroughly enjoyed the Master's gifts of Dharma. Dr. Yang also read a poem and sang some songs he had composed, giving the banquet an aura of lively warmth.
The eldest guest at this birthday banquet was the one-hundred-and-four-year-old Bhante Dharmawara from Cambodia. Dharma Master Jen Yi and some of his disciples also attended. There were also many professors of literature, education and economics, as well as military and political figures, such as Wu Jyun-shen, Yang Jr-chwan, Wang Shr- fu, Li Mai-syan, Hu Gwo-tsai, Ding Shr-fan, Tie Hung-ye, Yang Syun-tai, Li Ying-jyun, Sung Shou-chwun, and others. They described the Venerable Master Hua as always having respected the elderly and virtuous, and said that the Master's lectures are neither stuffy and literal, nor grandiloquent; rather, his simple words always carry profound meaning and people derive tremendous benefit from them. Moreover, the Master is amiable and easy to draw near, for he never takes a superior position.
Finally, the Venerable Master concluded with an explanation of the couplets:
"Respect elders and honor the worthy for their seniority and longevity, and thus blessings and wisdom are perfected." These words appeared to me in a dream, so I used them as the first line of the couplet. After waking up, I composed the second line,
'Learn from the Buddhas and study with the sages, and at the advanced age of seventy or eighty, both the Tao and virtue are reached.' Then I added a title,
'Evergreen like the pine and cedars.' This couplet is my birthday gift to you all. It can benefit elders, young people and children as well. Someone said that this couplet really fails to express its meaning, so I sorted it out and made another four matches - from one couplet, four sons were produced. These four sub-couplets contain seven words each, making an eight-line poem.
"To respect elders and honor the worthy is the teaching of Confucius and Mencius." This is what Confucius and Mencius essentially taught us. They emphasized having respect for old people and honoring the worthy. Confucius said, 'I treat others' elders just like my own. I treat others' children as if they were my own children.' He also said, 'The worthy take public office, and the capable are given important work to do. Trustworthiness and friendliness are valued by all.' 'To not solely love his own parents' - this is respecting the elders. 'To not singly cherish his own children' - this is honoring the worthy. To be 'filial sons and worthy descendants' is the teaching of Confucius and Mencius; this is a Confucian concept.
"Learn from the Buddhas and study with the sages: this is the teaching transmitted from Shakyamuni." Who teaches us the Dharma? Shakyamuni Buddha. 'Study with the sages': all Buddhist disciples should learn from the sages and worthy ones--learn their conduct, thinking and deportment. What is a sage like? 'He does not watch impolite things, speak about impolite things, listen to the impolite things, or do impolite things.' Just don't do the things which are improper-'this is the teaching transmitted from Shakyamuni Buddha,' passed down to generation after generation of Buddhists. What does one learn? One learns the compassion of the Buddha and the humaneness and virtues of the sages. This is Confucianism and Buddhism.
"Seniority and longevity are reached through the Patriarch's teachings." The Taoist patriarchs taught people to cultivate their energy in order to be eternally young. To stay young forever, one must first not lose his temper. What is the cultivation of energy? It is simply the practice of not getting angry. If one practices to the point that one never gets upset, one will never die. How come a person does not die? It is just because he does not get angry. Why does a person die if he loses his temper? Because your energy flows out, you soon die. Thus it is not a good idea to get angry. As soon as your energy flows out, you cannot keep your prime essence whole, nor keep to the middle and penetrate the whole, nor make the myriad thoughts return to one. All of these refer to the outflow of energy. When you hear 'outflow of energy,' you might think it's funny. Actually it carries very profound meaning in Taoism, Buddhism, and Humanism.
Venerable Master Hua and Mr. and Mrs. Bai
"At the advanced age of seventy or eighty, you'll experience a wide heaven and earth." 'At the advanced age of seventy or eighty' matches 'for their seniority and longevity.' When we turn ninety, our life has just begun. Didn't Professor Yang say in his verse, 'Living to seventy years is very ordinary. At eighty, one is still considered young. Life begins at ninety. We wish you, Sir, eternal life and blessings!' 'To experience wide heaven and earth' means 'While the chickens in the coop are fed, they are near the boiling pot; although cranes in the wild have no food, they enjoy the wide open space.' When people reach the age of eighty or ninety, they are simply carefree, with no impediments or obstacles, no others nor self, and no rights or wrongs. Isn't that to experience a wide heaven and earth? They are free wherever they go.
"With blessings and wisdom perfected, all people congratulate you." Blessings are perfected, and wisdom is also perfected. Blessings are the good fortune we wish to enjoy. Because of great blessings and great wisdom, no place is not perfect. Blessings and wisdom are both perfected. 'All people congratulate you': seeing you replete with blessings and wisdom, people all respect you and come to celebrate for you. This includes people with black hair, white hair, and no hair; in general "gray-haired people do no need to toil any longer."
"With the Tao and virtue both reached, even the grass and trees are delighted." The Tao has been obtained, and virtue has also been attained. 'Even the grass and trees are delighted.' This is a line from the poem "Return Home," which says, "The trees are beginning to thrive, streamlets are starting to flow; I envy the myriad things which all get their chance, and feel sad that my flesh body will eventually decay. Never mind. How much longer can I keep it in the universe. Why not just set my mind free?
"I feel ashamed of my stupid resolve to imitate the bamboo and plum tree which endure the ice and snow." Bamboo and plum blossoms are not afraid of ice or snow. They can withstand the ice and snow, and nothing can harm them. I feel ashamed of my resolve to be like them. Taking losses is my resolve - 'I am willing to suffer cold, hunger, and thirst. There is nothing that I am not willing to bear. I want to endure what others cannot endure, yield what others cannot yield, eat what others cannot eat, and bear what others cannot bear.' This is my stupid intention. Most people seek benefit, only I wish to take a loss. Just where in the world could you find such a stupid person as me?
"I wish all of you good health, resembling the pines and cedars, evergreen." The elders must be like the pine and cedar trees, not yielding to the old age. 'I wish all of you good health': I wish every fellow countryman, every elderly virtuous one a good morning and good afternoon.