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Fiction or non-Fiction

February 28, 2014

Story 1

Theresa was born in Canton (China) and came to an island nation somewhere in the South together with her family.  Poverty-striken, sometimes they would barely eat once a day from their poor crop in their small backyard.  One day someone came over and asked them for food, saying they hadn’t eaten for three days.  Moved by that, she and her mom, gave up their food so that the hungrier is not as hungry.  Having close to no education, Theresa only started learning when she was in her twenties while working near a Primary school.  With that, she slowly worked towards a nursing degree after the second world war in her forties.  Another event struck, while attending a conference in the rich Hong Kong, she encounter a beggar asking her for food.  See the poor man reminded her of her poverty while she was young.  Vowing to help every person she saw that was suffering, she quitted her job and spent the remaining part of her life helping the poor and the needy.  It didn’t matter if she had to beg or to live extremely frugally (which she did), with her determination. Eventually she died at the age of 113 year-old and built many old age-homes and hospitals in her name in many parts of the world.  There was never a day she had three meals, or lived in a big home or have a big bed to sleep on.  Ironically she never fell sick.  Or maybe she did but never too sick to wake up to help others.  She did meditate and did yoga (when she learnt how in her sixties) but there was no religious dogma that told her to do what she was doing.

Story 2

She was born in Taichung in 1930s and was given to her uncle/aunt because they were childless.  But her father dies at 23 despite her family still very well-off, she became a Buddhist nun but not ordained.  Not a real nun, she tried helping poor people in the undeveloped eastern coast of Taiwan and helped the community by “sewing baby shoes, making concrete sacks into smaller animal feed bags, knitting sweaters, and raising their own vegetables” to support themselves and help others.  Her Catholics friends asked her why buddhists never have hospitals like Catholics.  This made her made a vow of starting and helping the poor by starting a foundation to build a world class hospital.  But with what?  They could barely support themselves and the Eastern coastal poor people in Taiwan.  The reason why Catholics can do what they have been doing is because of how the Vaticans and historically how money was cut from every willing member of the Catholic church from their salary.  But that doesn’t stop this weak, lady nun.  Fast forward 20 years and with this weak nuns vow, she is now a philanthropist; she managed to build a world-class hospital not just in Hualien, but also helped many victims in Pakistan, Indonesia and areas that were struck by disasters.  Little lady nun now has more than a million volunteers who are willing to be initiated and leave their comfort zone to help undeveloped nations in Africa or even Muslims area in Indonesia.  They now have their own TV stations, and go as far as the West coast of US to put a book containing wise words of this feeble lady nun.  Little lady nun was featured in this Documentary showing how much courage their volunteers have to overcome to put “non religious books” full of words of wisdom in every room of numerous hotels and motels of West coast America despite their huge language barrier and hotel receptions thinking they were scam artists.

Story 3

Po Kong was born in the 30s in some Jiangsu province and became a monk at age 13.  But also being part of Chang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Army, he moved to Taiwan after the nationalist were pushed to the south by Mao Zedong.  By about 1960, he was back to being a monk again.  A philanthropist helped him out and finance him to do a Japanese PhD in literature.  One would not think why a monk wants a PhD, but it is for sure, his reasons are not the same as that of a layperson going for his doctorate.  After that, he if off to New York City trying to help the Americans understand the Dharma.  Unlike most Catholic church who needed to spread Catholicism to a certain place, this monk will have to do it alone with no financial support from anybody or any temple.  He also have this idealized way of promoting Buddhism in higher education.  In fact he thinks he can talk to Columbia University alone.  At that time, he did not even have enough to eat in NYC.  In fact, for all purposes, he did not even have enough warm cloth to keep a typical person warm in the winter of New York!  So if you ever roam Chinatown in the 90s, it will not be surprising that you met him begging.  So the famous “beg, steal or rob”, he was determine to do the impossibility of spreading to the western his oriental version of the Dharma, except he could only beg, as stealing and robbing is out of the question as a Buddhist.  O, did I mention that he did not speak a word of English when he arrived?  He could only speak mandarin, Taiwanese and Japanese.  Did he succeed?  Could he even teach a few westerner his Chan meditation? Or is this another fictional story that I just wrote?

Story 4

He is a son of Sir George Dyson, an English composer in England but moved to the US to do Physics and Mathematics.  Although he has no PhD, he rubbed shoulders with men like Albert Einstein, Dick Feynmen, Niels Bohr, Enrico Fermi, Hans Bethe, Edward Teller, Robert Oppenheimer and Edward Witten.  You could say he is smart enough to win the Nobel Prize, but he has no regrets he didn’t.  He probably does not care today, he cares more that science should be good evidence that strengthen his faith and not evidence to be agnostic or atheistic.  He would give talks to support what he believes and counter everything Steven Hawkings or other famous atheists have said to support the existence of God.  For that, he won the Templeton Prize for broadening the understanding of science and religion.  I have an opportunity to meet this guy alone in the kitchen of the Guest House of some small college.  I did not know who he was when I made my coffee and chatted with him by the fireplace, but just before we part to go to bed, he said his name and knowing who he is, he has my utmost respect as the most intelligent and humble man.  He has written many books and many papers and even at the age of 85, he still has a mind clear and interpretive, open and nonjudgmental.  He is “unassuming” and “modest”,  he is the very embodiment of Newton’s belief that a man should strive for simplicity and avoid confusion in life.

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