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The Love Never Parted
President Guo Ying-Lan of the CTK  Foundation
      Some drizzling rain fell outside the window. There was coldness in the breeze. This was the time for tomb-sweeping. Warm as the weather might seem, there were still chills around. An array of tomb-sweeping cars filled the road, coming and going. I looked back at the lively statue of Ta-Kuan on the altar and his urn placed under. Past unforgettable events scrolled in front of me. This has been a path of mixing joy and sadness. There were sorrows, reluctance, and there were gratitude and blessing.
      On May 18, 1997, a day with rain too, my beloved Ta-Kuan baby left this world in the grief of everyone. His short but eternal life ended. My heart was broken. I fell into tremendous agony, yet I couldn’t do anything.
      I recalled my little Ta-Kuan, delicate, smart, lively, cute and understanding, and he was loved by everyone. But he was so unfortunate to be tortured by illness, tortured to beome a mere skeleton and have his right leg amputated. Though he had strong will to survive, he couldn’t escape from the doom of death. Who could imagine my agony thinking of the hardships of raising the child for ten years and the fact that now the only company left for me was a pot of ashes? Ta-Kuan had gone. My heart was gouged empty. I am a walking corpse. I don’t know where to go? My heart has died too. I am completely hopeless. I thought of becoming a nun, but I still had unfinished attachment to this world. My body may be still at home, but my heart has already gone away from the human world. I am looking for Ta-Kuan every day. Ta-Kuan, you had gone.
     Ta-Kuan, where are you? How I would like to see you again! I visited Masters everywhere and asked them. The answer I got is that Ta-Kuan is in the Western Paradise.

      “Ta-Kuan is in the sky…”
      “Ta-Kuan is watching you from the sky…”
      “Ta-Kuan is beside you…”

      Where is Ta-Kuan exactly? I am too ignorant to understand where Ta-Kuan is. I can only pray day and night, hoping to see Ta-Kuan in dreams, but I can hardly sleep.

      Ta-Kuan had gone. In my lifetime, I can no longer see him, cherish him and love him. In order for my beloved child to have a better and happier life in another world, I followed Master’s words to abstain from meat, worship Buddha, chant sutras, carry on sacred Tibetan chants and transfer the merits to him because it’s recorded in the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva that, “… If purity is vigorously maintained in making the offering to the Buddha and Sangha, the dead one will receive one-seventh of the merit.” I wish my efforts have some merits to be transferred to Ta-Kuan.
      In order to fulfill Ta-Kuan’s wish, we held back our anguish, overcame all kinds of obstacles and difficulties, from planning to establishment, from nothing to something and finally established the “Chou Ta-Kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation”. This was like building a high-rise in the desert, but we had made his wish come true. We held a series of public benefit activities to care for cancer children that he concerned with. We promoted the movement of “fervently love lives, care for others”. Ta-Kuan! Ta-Kuan! You should be able to feel in another world the efforts we had made? In every event when I saw a group of lovely and pitiful cancer children and their helpless families, it seemed I was drawn back to the days in the past. I saw Ta-Kuan and saw myself. Even though it’s so painful like being scattered salt on the unhealed wound, we tolerate the intolerable and do the undoable because of Ta-Kuan’s love and we love him so much. He might be tiny, but his body shape filled up the entire sky. Ta-Kuan’s love had touched all living creatures and the love of all living creatures had triggered our endless vitality and guided us to fulfill his wish.
      Ta-Kuan had gone. There is no longer Ta-Kuan in the garden of life. The sun loses its glow. The moon is not beautiful any more. Flowers are no longer fragrant, nor do canaries’ songs appeal to ears. The garden of life is a total barren without any sign of life. Without the company of brother Ta-Kuan, Shang-Kuan is also spiritless. He lost the naivety and joyfulness that a nine-year old should have. He looked so helpless. Without brother Ta-Kuan, there’s no one to tell the unpleasant things happened in school. Shang-Kuan’s . Sadness crawled on his face. He was down all day and that happy and bright Shang-Kuan in the past was nowhere to see. He often sat in front of his desk, saying nothing, just filling papers with “How I missed brother!”, “How I missed brother!” There wasn’t a single day passed that he did not miss his brother or cry. How he wished to study with his brother again, to play together, to eat together, to sleep together, to play violin together and to spend their happy moment together! There wasn’t a day that Shang-Kuan didn’t call his brother from heart. But his brother would never return. Shang-Kuan asked the Heaven, “Why I couldn’t have a brother?” Even the Heaven shed tears for him! Shang-Kuan and Ta-Kuan’s brotherhood was so intimate that who could feel the agony and sufferings of losing a brother?
     After Ta-Kuan passed away, I managed to spend more time to stay with Shang-Kuan and comfort him. But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t replace his brother’s position in him. Shang-Kuan often said, “You are not my brother!” Shang-Kuan still felt lonely and being left alone. At quiet night, he burned incense in front of Ta-Kuan’s altar and played violin. Through the incense, his soul met with his brother’s; through the sound of violin, he told his brother how much he missed him.
     One day after school, Shang-Kuan stepped in the house, tossed his schoolbag away and said angrily, “I’ll never believe in God or Buddha any more. What kind of the God or Buddha? Why they took away my brother, such a nice person? Why Bai Hsiao-yan sister was killed?” Maybe he was bullied by classmates again today? In the past, no matter what unpleasant things occurred to him, he had his elder brother to comfort him to dissolve unhappiness in mind. But now? How can I make him believe in “God loves all people. Buddha has compassion for all people” again? How can I tell him that “everything happened is the best intention from God or Buddha”? How can I let him understand the meaning of “fate” and “cause”?
      The days were spent like years once a sibling was lost. Day in day out, winter comes when summer goes. I can’t tell how many days have passed when one day, Shang-Kuan was reciting the Analects and he suddenly discussed with me happily about the conversation between Simaniu and Zixia in “Yanyuan”,

      Simaniu, full of anxiety, said, “All people have brothers, I alone am without them.”

      Zixia said to him, “There is the saying which I have heard- ‘Life and death are preordained; wealth and rank depend upon Heaven.’ Gentleman is reverent without any misconduct and is respectful to others with propriety. Then all within the four seas will be his brothers. What concern need a gentleman have that he is without brothers?”
      Shang-Kuan seemed to have certain thoughts about this context. His mood became much open and optimistic. As is said by ancient people, “Using half of the Analects is enough to successfully govern the country.” Maybe one chapter of the Analects is enough to bring liveliness back to Shang-Kuan! I hope he can soon walk out of the shadow of his brother’s death.
      I still remembered that one month after Ta-Kuan’s death, I took him with me to Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society to visit Master. The first word came out of Shang-Kuan when he saw the Master was, “Can I become a monk?” It seemed Shang-Kuan had a strong desire to become a monk – maybe this could let him forget about the pain of losing his elder brother.

      The Master smiled and said to Shang-Kuan tenderly, “You are too little. You may come back again after two years.”
      Last night, I recalled this past event in the chanting sound of Na Mo Guan Shi Yin Pu Sa. I asked Shang-Kuan whether he was still thinking of becoming a monk. Shang-Kuan touched his brother Tian-Kuan’s head and pleasantly replied, “I don’t want to become a monk any more because I need to take care of my elder brother.” In his eyes, Tian-Kuan is Ta-Kuan. Tian-Kuan is both his younger brother and elder brother. Even since Tian-Kuan was born, Shang-Kuan took care of him thoughtfully. He wanted to love Tian-Kuan as much as he himself was taken good care of by Ta-Kuan. Ta-Kuan’s love to Shang-Kuan was like “The world may die when time comes, but this love shall last forever and ever with no end.” I expect Tian-Kuan to grow up peacefully and both of them can support each other, fulfill their dreams and work together to create a wonderful life that belongs to them.
      Separating with someone you love so deeply is the most profound, the truest and the most heart-stricken pain. Buddha said among the eight sufferings in life, “the suffering of being departed from the loved ones” was the most. Facing the departure of Ta-Kuan, I felt there was nothing left for me to keep on living. I assumed this heart-broken agony and I had no courage to walk ahead. It seemed there was no way out and the life stopped here. Yet, the scenery of life brightened up again. Fortunately I overcame the most treacherous winter in my life. In the garden of life, spring came again, tiny sprouts emerged from branches and flowers and trees were thriving. I am so grateful for those who silently cared and helped us. I am even more grateful for my beloved Ta-Kuan as he came back to me with a brand new body.
      I still remembered that Ta-Kuan had told me many times that, “I want to come back again to be your child. I want to live longer than you.” Before Ta-Kuan passed away, Masters also comforted him by saying, “Little Bodhisattva, don’t be upset. This body decayed, but you can change to another body and come back again. So come back soon after you leave.” Very quickly Ta-Kuan came back to be my child as he promised. Yes, he shall live longer than daddy and mommy. His new life shall be as long as a century. His love shall last forever, not just this life or next life.

      I also remembered forever the speech from Venerable Master Yong Rong, the abbot of Pumen Temple, “Do not persist in the affection between a mother and son. Ta-Kuan is also your Master!” This is such wisdom that a practicing Master possesses. Yes, Ta-Kuan was my good boy and also the guide in my life. His love truly appeared.
      Life is impermanent and things change all the time. We should realize that high status and riches are like passing smoke. We cannot take with us any treasure in life. Everything in front of us will be completely gone one day, even affection. Nothing in life should we persist in getting, nor is it worth to get with the price of our precious life. Life is also a responsibility. The course of life from birth to death has its specific mission. Each and every suffering and frustration during the course is a practice and a test to purify our minds. Human body is hard to come by without the practice for hundreds of thousands of billions of eons in the past lives. Therefore we should cherish our lives and grab every chance to practice charity. Make good use of each day and think about how many memorable and grateful things we have done today when each day comes to an end.

      Life is short. In the long river of the universe, who has the longest life? And yet people desire to “have a life as long as the South Mountain”. What’s the meaning of long life? Just to have a few more years to eat and drink than ordinary people? The meaning of life has nothing to do with its length, but whether we make good use of the limited time to benefit others, help others to escape from suffering and attain happiness, and the value of life is thus shown from the devotion. Ta-Kuan! Ta-Kuan! Every time when mommy was so painful to see your merely ten years of life and couldn’t let go, you would say, “Mommy, don’t cry. Ta-Kuan is still here. Ta-Kuan’s love is more than ten years.” I think about my own life. Do I really live longer than Ta-Kuan? The meaning of living longer is to let us think, to listen to the teaching of the Way, to practice the Way and eventually to realize the Way, the so-called “if a man in the morning hear the right way, he may die in the evening without regret!”

      Ta-Kuan had gone! He let me face death calmly and realistically and then I am not afraid of death any more as death is not the end of life. When we leave this world, there is a better place than this world for us to go. If we have the cause, we may return to this world again because life is eternal. It is like filling a glass with water and when the glass breaks, the water still exist which can be contained by another glass and the water remains to be the original water. The same theory applies to human being. When this body decays, the soul does not disappear. When chance arrives, this soul will be still there in another body.

      Ta-Kuan had gone! As common and ignorant as I am, in the middle of night, I was still agonized by the thought of my beloved child. I couldn’t let go. I couldn’t forget those things happened in the family. But, what I felt more is the gratitude. I am so grateful for people in the society to care for us at a time when we were the weakest and most helpless, and to support the Chou Ta-Kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation. I really can’t give enough in return. But my suffering has transformed itself into strength of compassion, seeing so many people in need in this society and so many unfinished responsibilities I have to carry. Thinking of what my beloved Ta-Kuan told me before his death that, “The value of life lies in caring for others”, I am thus guided to walk on the path of caring for lives.

      Ta-Kuan! Ta-Kuan! Not only had you fulfilled the life truth of “life is impermanent; keep love forever”, but you had also paved a bright path in life for me. Thank you, my good child! I am so proud of you!
      Ta-Kuan! Ta-Kuan! You came. You went. You came again. Back and forth you traveled and your love never left. You had turned yourself into numerous Chou Ta-Kuans to exist in each corner of this world. Ta-Kuan is beside me. He is in hospitals, schools, prisons and every other place that needs him. His incarnation of the “Chou Ta-Kuan Cultural and Educational Foundation” shall care for cancer children forever and continue to promote the Love of Lives activities. May everyone be safe, healthy and happy in completing the course in life with the shining of this “Light of Life.”