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by Venerable Master Hsing Yun (1927 - , Fo Guang Shan)
English translation: Rosalyna Huang

One day, a young man saw an old man. He was curious and asked, “Sir, can you tell me how old you are?”

With a smile, the old man replied, “Oh! I am four years old.”

As it turned out, the old man was already in his eighties, but had only discovered Buddhism by chance and found the real meaning of life four years ago.

Many people would like longevity, but seldom consider their pursuits in life. It is said in the Treatise on the Scripture of Adorning the Great Vehicle, “It is difficult to be born as a human; it is also difficult to cultivate faith. It is difficult for money and valuables to bring contentment; it is also difficult to come across a field of merits again.”

Having heard the way in the morning, one may die content in the evening!

Being a four-year-old old man is not lamentable. What is lamentable is speaking of the illusory in a dream, and assume the false as real, just like the perplexity of Zhuang Zhou dreaming that he was a butterfly without knowing that he was Zhou.

── from Hsing Yun Shuo Yu (Hsing Yun’s Commentaries on Allegories)