It’s almost unbelievable, but this is a true story taken from Hong’s book, Freedom to Love. A great demonstration of the power of love and how one simple act can have untold repercussions.
Many years ago, I travelled to a remote country town in Southern China. When I was waiting for a transit bus in a remote village, a skinny little beggar asked me for money. I gave him some money and a box of fried rice I had just bought for the journey. The little boy bowed to me and started to shout very loudly in his local dialect. I figured out he was calling out other people’s names.
Suddenly, I saw at least ten little boys and girls all running towards him. He took them to a nearby tree, took out the box of fried rice, and started to feed it into every kid’s mouth. Very quickly, there was no more rice left for him.
My bus arrived, but I stood there frozen. I could not move my legs. This little boy’s selfless love and compassion towards his friends had shaken and awakened the very core of my soul. I walked towards the boy, who was now licking the bottom of the rice box, and I asked him to call his friends again.
I took these kids to the restaurant and I asked the owner to give them whatever they wanted to eat. The kids went crazy and ate up all the fried noodles and rice, and then they started to put buns and fried breads into their pockets.
I asked the boy whether they were saving the buns for dinner. He laughed and said, ‘No, we are saving them for our friends. They are begging in other areas, two bus stops away. No one is as lucky as we are, sister. We have never met a Buddha like you before. You are so kind.’
I looked at these little kids with my highest admiration and I could not stop tears from pouring out of my eyes. I took out a small packet of floral printed, fragrant tissues. Before I could use it to wipe my tears, the little boy quickly stopped me. He asked whether I would be kind enough to give him the tissue. So I gave him the packet. He called out to all the girls and gave each of them a printed floral tissue. A little girl carefully smelt the fragrance of the tissue as if that was the last breath she was going to take on this earth. She closed her eyes, then slowly took a very long deep breath though the fragrant tissue and out came a most beautiful smile.
Then she said something that forever anchored in my soul. She cried out with joy, ‘Oh, Oh, Oh, I feel so abundant. I feel so rich, I feel so wonderful, I feel so lucky, I feel so loved, I feel soooooooooooooooooo blessed.’
Then she started to dance around, and all the kids started to shout at the top of their lungs, ‘We are so abundant, we are so rich, we feel so wonderful, we are so lucky, we are so loved, we are soooooooooooooo blessed….’
Their voices echoed in my soul
The voice of these kids has been anchored into my being and will echo in my soul for as long as I live. There is not one single day that goes by that I don’t think of those kids.
Twelve years later, I needed to travel to the same village again. To my surprise, the little restaurant was still there. I stood at the same spot where I stood 12 years ago, recalling my encounter with the kids, then all of sudden a young woman came up to me and started screaming. She dropped the dishes she was delivering on the nearby table and ran away while she screamed on the top of her lungs. Before I realised what was going on, the young woman ran back with a young man. They both ran up to me, stared at my face, then suddenly, they both screamed the roof down.
The young woman immediately ran away. The young man came up to me smiling from ear to ear. He stretched his arms out to hold mine, then he shouted, ‘Sister, sister, I am Chou Pi, I am Chou Pi, remember me? You gave me the fried rice, remember?’I stood there with my mouth open; tears were streaming down my face. Standing in front of me was the little beggar I had met 12 years ago, who gave all his fried rice away to others.
He was the kid who changed my life forever.
‘Sister, Sister’, the young woman came back again with a group of about eight or nine young men and women. They all came up to me, shook my hands, held my arms and touched my hair, all smiling, laughing, cheering, jumping. I screamed with the ‘kids’. I jumped up and down with them, basking in their joy and letting them take me through their explosive experience of happiness.
Chou Pi settled the ‘kids’ and asked them to go back to work. He got me a plate of fried rice, sat me down, his whole face flooded with tears. He said to me, ‘Sister, this is the moment I have been waiting for. I knew you would come back to see us again one day. I would not leave this place until I saw you again.’
I was shocked and overwhelmed to hear those words. ‘Why though?’I asked Chou Pi.
You changed our lives forever
‘Before we met you, we were beggars and thieves. We used to steal from the travellers. We actually planned to steal from you that day, but you put us to shame by your act of kindness to us.
‘You were so generous and so kind to us that none of us felt like we could steal after that experience. We felt we would have let you down and hurt your heart. So from that day, we decided not to steal ever again.
‘Instead, we started to help out the travellers. We started to help them carry the luggage from one bus to another. Initially, they did not trust us, but slowly, we gained their trust, and they really appreciated our help. So they started to give us money for what we did.
‘We also started to help out the owners of the restaurant. They were getting quite old. Old Pa died from a fall when he went to the creek to fetch water five years ago. A few of us took over his work and helped out Old Ma, as they had no kids of their own. She died three years ago and gave us the shop. We have been working to improve it ever since then.
‘Mei and I are together now (Mei being the girl to whom he had offered the fragrant tissue). She is very beautiful. We just live at the back of the shop. I love her. She is my reward. She is soft like a silk cushion…I am very lucky.’
I sobbed as I listened to Chou Pi while looking at his beautiful, innocent face that was full of grace and beauty. I had no idea that what I had done had created such a powerful impact on these kids’ lives. Just at that moment, Mei came running back to the table. She was holding onto something in her hand. With tears flooding down her face, she opened a little matchbox and pulled out the fragrant tissue I had given her all those years ago. I stood up and burst into tears. We hugged each other as if our souls had merged into one.
Chou Pi couldn’t stay apart from us. He wrapped his strong arms around both of us as we all sobbed together in ultimate joy. Never had I felt so much joy pulsing through my body. In that moment, it felt like my body was disappearing and I could clearly see that my spiritual body was so intimately connected with everyone and everything around me. There was no boundary between us all.
When my bus was leaving, the nine ‘kids’ followed the bus and ran after it for at least a mile. I waved at them until they disappeared behind the thick dust cloud. I was sitting next to the bus driver. My friend had got me a premium seat on the bus.
‘It is an honour to have you on board, Madam.’The bus driver turned to me and spoke.
‘Excuse me?’I thought he must have mistaken me for someone else he knew.
‘You are the lady who changed those kids’ lives 12 years ago. I have been driving on this route for 15 years now. So I am the most qualified witness of their change. You truly have saved them.’
I looked at the kind face of the bus driver. Tears flooded down my cheeks. How far will the ripple reach?
‘No, Sir’, I said wiping my tears, ‘It is the kids who have saved me.’
Hong is a Chinese medical doctor who specialised in psychological healing before she retired. She earned her expert status from having conducted over 38,000 consultations. She is author of Freedom to Love, from which this story was derived.
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