Welcome to all the monks and novices, and blessings to all the laity. This Friday we learn Dhamma about goodness and the people who are rare to find in this world. There are two types of individuals who are hard to find in the world. One is the person who is a pubbakārī. The one who, after doing goodness for others, don’t seek for any benefit in return at all. This is like our mother and father. The second type is kataññū katavedī. This is a person who knows the goodness that they’ve received and tries to repay it. Like one’s mother and father, who has done goodness for their children, and that child has gratitude and tries to repay it. Then these people are rare to find in this world. The Buddha taught that one who practises in this way has a blessing in their life. Being a mother, they are a person who is a pubbakārī, in that they wish for their child to have just goodness. Growing up, they raise them well and cherish them. They do their best to give a good education to their child, so that later they can look after themselves. And as for the good child, they reflect on the goodness of their mother and father, and they try to repay this love and kindness of theirs. They will help with the work of their parents. They continue on the family traditions. They practise so that they will be a worthy inheritor of theirs. And after the parents have passed away, then they make merits in dedication to them. As for the father, they have love for their child, and so will help the child. That is, they restrain them from all evil, and to be established in goodness. They teach them an occupational skill, find them a suitable partner, and give them the inheritance when the time is right.

So a person who knows the goodness they have received and tries to repay it is a person who has gratitude. They know the value of the goodness that others have done to them, and they express themselves in homage to that goodness. And they aren’t careless and don’t put off what they should do for their mother for later. Because life is uncertain. There may be no time left to give back to them. Or when one becomes aware of what they should do, it is too late to fix it.

So we can see in society, there are a lot of children who don’t have gratitude towards their parents. There are a lot of news on the internet, especially in the current situation, that when the mother has caught Covid-19, the child won’t dare to go close to them, and don’t dare to go look after them. They won’t even extend their hand to give them any food. They call various organizations to go help. And later when the organization enquires, they find out it is that person’s mother, but they have no consideration to even help bring them food. The helpers of those organizations feel bad that there are children like this. They themselves are trying to strive and help the best they can a person who is suffering and troubled with sickness from the harmful virus. So even though the people they’re helping aren’t related to them, they are fully willing to help. But even the person’s own child is too scared to help their own mother.

So there are lots of people like this in society. But with the extent of this pandemic, we can see that mothers worry for their children and have love for their child. When one mother’s daughter and son-in-law caught Covid-19, she goes there and wipes the sweat off their body, and looks after them very well, so that their fever reduces. So that their sickness lessens and the fever can subside. And ultimately her child’s fever reduces. Both her daughter and son-in-law had caught Covid-19. But possibly because of the merits and parami–spiritual qualities–of the mother, she didn’t get infected with Covid-19 even though she was so close to someone infected.  So there are cases of being so close to someone sick, and not getting infected.

So we can see the mind and consideration of a father and mother is great. If we try to express the virtues of a father and mother, it would be difficult and we won’t be able to fully describe it. Here, the Buddha had taught that he had built his merit and parami as a Bodhisattva. He had practised it before, like in the lifetime when the Buddha was Suvvanasama and his parents were blind. The Bodhisattva felt bad that his parents were blind, but he also was happy that he had a chance to express goodness by looking after his parents. And he did so with full effort and without being deficient in any way. Here this was our Buddha who had built his parami already, his spiritual perfection of metta, loving kindness. 

And even in the lifetime when the Buddha was a layperson of the royal lineage, but when he saw a tiger in a gorge, which had her starving cubs around her, the Bodhisattva had the metta that he didn’t want the tiger to eat her own cubs. So he jumped down into the gorge, so that he would die and give his own flesh and blood for the tiger to eat. But that tiger saw that the Bodhisattva had made such a great sacrifice like this, and it made a deep impression on the mind of the tiger, and it didn’t want to eat the Bodhisattva as its food. So the bodhisattva had to smash his head onto a rock mound so that he would die and become food for the tiger. This was so that the tiger wouldn’t have to eat her own cubs.  The Buddha had done this before. He had made these sacrifices for an animal who wasn’t even related, not his brother or sister. The Bodhisattva sacrificed his life for the animal. And the Bodhisattva could sacrifice his life because he saw that all living beings, every mind, is one full of suffering. He saw them all as being like his own children, his relations, like his brothers and sisters. So the Buddha made great sacrifices like this in the past. 

But I want to mention that in the present day situation, there are stories similar to this too. There is one 14 year old child from China, living in Monton Guangdong. Her name is Quan Hongchan. This girl is only 14 years old, and she trained and developed her skill as a competitive diver. She overcame all sorts of obstacles to be able to compete internationally, and had only competed five times nationally before going to compete in the Tokyo Olympics. She achieved an impressive result by winning the gold medal in the 10m platform dive. And what was significant was that she got a perfect 10 twice from 5 platform dives. In her second and third dives, all seven judges unanimously gave a perfect 10 score. The English commentator praised how amazing the dive was and it was incredibly rare to see such a flawless dive like this. While her coach said that this is what she deserves. But we shouldn’t call her a prodigy or a dark horse. When announcing the list of the Chinese national team for the Tokyo Games, there were many who questioned her age, whether she was too young for this stage. But the coaching team guaranteed that here is a real diamond. She grew up in a poor farmer family. Previously, the Chinese media had filmed the story of her living in her house. The house was shabby and old, without any amenities. She had never had a good meal like everyone else. She mostly stayed at home, and never went to amusement parks or zoos because they had no money. Her mother was in a car accident and required treatment until now and she had to spend a lot of money.

Quan Hongchan gave an interview as to her inspiration for winning the gold medal. “My mother is sick. I want to earn a lot of money to use it to heal my mother. I want my mother to be healed.” These innocent words came from the heart of a child. This caused the audience to be teary and it entered deep into their hearts. So this was the success that came from her power of gratitude. And she had a mind that just wanted to have fun as well. After the Tokyo Olympics, she wanted to go to some amusement parks like a normal child. So this is the thoughtfulness, this is skill, this is motivation, and this is gratitude, that she was devoted to giving her full effort to train, compete and succeed in winning the gold medal, so as to be able to get money to treat her very sick mother. 

So this is a good person whom we can see in the world. In this period of time, the world is full of stories, which may be discouraging ones like the children who don’t look after their mother when they’re sick with Covid-19. Or there are many stories where we see the goodness of the mother that sacrifices herself to help her sick child. Or the stories of those who aren’t even related or close friends who help. Like we can see various organizations coming in to help the people in pain, the people who are sick, so that they can be free from the suffering that is coming up in the present time. There are some people who take a taxi and give a bit more tip so that the taxi driver can live on, because it’s extremely difficult for them in the present situation. Or there are some who book a taxi and who don’t even ride in the taxi, but instead just give the money to them so that the driver can live on. 

So we can help people in trouble in these times of difficulty and suffering. Or you can help with your mindfulness and wisdom. So even if it’s just helping a little, how much ever we are able to, it is merit and goodness, it is building our merit and parami. When our merit, parami and spiritual development is full, then we will be able to understand the Dhamma of the Lord Buddha clearly. This is because of our sacrifices, from putting in full effort, our diligence, and not being self-centered. 

So we can see Quan Hongchan is a person with gratitude. She remembers the virtues of her mother and tries to repay her. She tried to help her mother be free of suffering, difficulties and troubles. She raised money to treat her own mother until she was able to get it. This is something very good. I and the Sangha anumodana, rejoice in this. May we all anumodana with the goodness of this little 14-year-old girl who has fought without retreating. May you grow in blessings.