I was mentally prepared for the “sacrifices” here. Upon stepping into the guest room in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB), I was astonished by its simplicity, but I knew I would be able to manage living with such simplicity. However, I was still worried about how these two young children of mine would view and accept the simplicity of this place, particularly as they were used to living a life where anything they wanted was always available to them.
After unpacking the clothes, Guo Guo looked around the room. I quickly asked her if she liked the room. To my surprise, she rushed into my arms, her eyes shining brightly, and exclaimed “Mommy, it is such a small room but it is so cute! Did you prepare this small room specially for little Guo Guo?” I was so relieved she liked the room that I alternately shook and nodded my head.
Without television and a computer, these two little ‘night owls’ who were accustomed to going to bed around eleven o’clock at night actually went to sleep at quarter past seven on Sunday night! This had to be a miracle! CTTB might be the only place that could possibly change their bad habit of staying up late and waking up late. I have quarreled several times with my husband over this bad habit of theirs. I have also raised my voice to them many times in the past. I could not believe that at last, they would wake at sunrise and go to sleep at sunset!
I thought to myself, isn’t it like the life in the Peach Blossom Garden (paradise)? If there were more people in this world who lead that kind of life, I am not sure but I think we would conserve our resources.
We slept through until 6:30 the next morning when we heard Yuan Yuan mumbling, “Guo Guo, do you think it is already morning?”
Guo Guo looked sleepily out the window, and said very knowingly, “No, it is still midnight!”
Yuan Yuan yawned and said, “Then let’s keep on sleeping.” Upon hearing this, I immediately jumped up and said, “No, it is already morning; you must get out of bed. Today is Monday, and both of you need to attend class at the new school.”
The nights are long in the mountains in January. At CTTB, the sky gets dark around 5:30 pm, and it lightens at 7 am in the morning – yet another whole new experience.
The flagraising ceremony took place at ten minutes to eight in the morning. Standing outside the door, I saw a classroom full of young children under the guidance of a Dharma Master. They were singing the “Three Refuges” with serious faces. A warm feeling crossed my heart, and I was touched. How I envy this group of children for being able to receive guidance and training in the Buddhadharma at such a young age. I, in contrast, traveled so many winding roads of life before getting this opportunity to listen to and learn the Proper Dharma. From here onwards, I have the opportunity to tread upon the path home.
While I am still thinking about this opportunity, the door opened suddenly and the Dharma Master – who was also a teacher, came out with a boy who was holding something in his hand. Without wearing shoes, they quickly ran barefoot outside. I was about to chase after them to ask them to put on their shoes, as it was the winter and very cold. The door opened again and they came back inside. I asked what was wrong and was told that some ants had appeared from somewhere and might frighten the children. Fearing that the children would accidentally hurt these creatures or become more afraid, the Dharma Master and the boy had picked up the ants and hurriedly rushed to release them in the grass outside. I smiled warmly at the thought of seeing something so unexpected happen. The Universe is large, and strange happenings abound. Yet perhaps this is something that would only happen at Instilling Goodness Elementary School in CTTB. One’s heart can be peaceful, knowing the children are under the care of such a teacher.
School finished at 4:00 pm. When my twin daughters saw me, they jumped into my arms. As twins, they both said in one voice, “Mommy, how I love this new school!”
Looking deeply into their eyes I saw the stars in their eyes, like the moon, very clear and brilliant. With one child on each side of me I hugged these two wee, small children. I let out a long sigh of relief from my heart.
To be continued