The second yearly Elderhostel at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB) was held from October 13 to 18, 1997. Elders from as far away as New York and Wisconsin attended to learn hou Buddhism and meditation could help them to live life more fully.
Each morning began with exercises and meditation followed by lectures on ‘Living Life Fully’ by Steven Tainer from Berkeley. The lectures covered Chinese thought and Taoist and Buddhist traditions with instruction on meditation.
In the afternoons, Lucy Lewis, teacher of self-care from Sonoma, taught the Chinese system of self-care that includes acupressure and an exercise called Eight Essential Movements. She invited Dr. Zhonghe Zhang of mainland China to speak about Chinese medicine. He explained the importance of the liver and spleen in aging. Rebecca Lee of the Girls School at CTTB also spoke one day about nutrition for elders, noting that foods such as sprouts and baby carrots keep one young, as does spending time with young people.
In addition to lectures, the elders learned to arrange flowers in a class given by Bhikshuni Heng Hai. She compared flower arranging to the principle of no fighting: “Flowers should complement each other and not fight.” Robert Harker from Arkansas said, “I found arranging flowers challenging to my sense of order and soothing to my thoughts.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the Elderhostelers cooked their own Chinese dinner under the instruction of Michael Wen of CTTB's Jyun Kang Restaurant, with a lively translation by Josey Shun. They learned the art of cutting vegetables and cooking in a wok. Among some of the culinary delights they made were ‘Gold, Silver, and Jade Vegetables’ , boiled dumplings, and Spring Rolls.
One afternoon, everyone tried their hand at Chinese calligraphy taught by Bhikshuni Heng Liang and Terri Nicholson. The week ended with a Haiku poetry class in which everyone shared their impressions after a walk in nature. The elders were also invited to an ice cream party at the Boys School.
In the evenings, there were various discussions. Dr. George Weismann, coordinator of the Elderhostel, gave a series of talks entitled ‘East Meets West’ with Dr. Martin Verhoeven from the Institute of World Religions as guest speaker. Various members from the Sangha spoke on Buddhism and their experiences as monks and nuns. The nights ended with meditation led by Bhikshu Heng Syan.
Dottie Jones from Ukiah commented, “We were all made to feel a part of the community.” Emmy Lou Miller, from Palo Alto, wrote, “My whole life has changed. Now I'm very careful to not harm the little creatures that live in my house.”
The elders left CTTB revitalized, filled with pure vegetarian food and Dharma bliss.
Honoring Elders Day (Continued from back cover)
Following that, the students of Instilling Goodness Elementary and Developing Virtue High Schools gave a series of delightful performances that included Chinese orchestra, choir, piano and violin, plays, and Chinese dance. As they sang the heartwarming song "Colors of Wind," the students passed out 120 handmade paper lotuses to the elders. During the vegetarian luncheon, students enthusiastically and cordially served and waited upon the elders, making them feel right at home. Bhikshuni Heng Chi shared some Buddhism with the elders by teaching them to recite Amitabha Buddha's name. Ukiah City Manager Candace Horsley said she was very impressed to see the children at CTTB place their palms together to show respect when addressing their elders.
Sam Lin, a student at Developing Virtue High School, said, "Respecting elders shouldn't be just a token gesture of inviting them to have a meal and see some performances. We ought to sincerely respect our elders every day and at all times. We should appreciate the wisdom they have."