Today (Sunday, October 15, 2000) we celebrated the Day of Guanyin Bodhisattva's Leaving Home at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. The other students in the girls' dormitory decided to recite the "Universal Door Chapter" in the main hall, but I chose to bow.
It was a chilly and dark morning. I was bundled up in so many clothes that I looked like a polar bear. I was hoping that it wouldn't be as cold if I wore more layers. I was also hoping that I wouldn't hurt too much from the kneeling. From the start, I thought, "I'm not going to allow myself to hurt too much though there's merit in bowing." I bowed down slowly but came up fast because the ground was so cold. When the day broke I noticed that an elderly woman was ahead of me, bowing sincerely. Her half-hunched back was bending down strenuously. Suddenly, I felt incredibly inferior and ashamed.
She was wearing less than me, just a sweater and a jacket. I, on the other hand, had on two pairs of pants and two sweaters, yet I was complaining that it was too cold and too painful. Looking at her from behind, I could tell that she was very tired. I, on the other hand, am young and strong, yet I started to moan and complain soon after we began to bow, "It's so tiring. It's such a pain!" The elder was trying her best to keep up with everyone while I was falling behind because I was afraid of the cold. Looking at her, I felt embarrassed and ashamed. I began to imitate her pace, bowing down after every three steps. I was very cold at first. I wanted to give up because of my cold hands and feet, but I told myself to persevere when I caught a glimpse of her as I got up. Gradually, the stones on the ground didn't seem so spiky, and the temperature didn't seem so nippy. My body gradually warmed up; my feet didn't feel so icy anymore. As I bowed and bowed, the complaints in my mind subsided and the road didn't seem so long anymore. I was calm as the sound of the Buddha's name encircled me; I could practically hear my own heartbeat.
I focused on bowing, paying no attention to what was around me. By dawn, I started to smile, both for the elderly woman and for myself. Even though she didn't see me—I never spoke to her or greeted her— I want to thank her from the bottom of my heart. Because of her, I learned another lesson: to endure suffering and be patient. Because of her, I saw myself clearly.