I don't have to take you with me because you're too many. My heart...(Master laughs)...would break. It is already beginning to break now because you're going.
Take care of yourselves. Take care of your family members like you would take care of me. That's the best way to serve God, because we cannot love everyone, really, I mean not personal love -- so strong. So at least we must love our family members. If they want to join us, it's all right; if they don't want to join us, it's all right because all of them are Gods, all of them are Buddhas (fully enlightened beings). There's no need for them to do anything they don't want to do. Same with you. We are all free.
Set yourselves free, set your family members free, in your heart only. But hold on to them because if you have a very nice family, very sweet relationship with your relatives and friends, you feel very happy. It's almost like heaven. Despite the fact that we meditate, we follow the precepts or if we're enlightened inside, in the physical existence we still need friends, we still need personal warmth and love. So take care of your "treasure" at home. Do not think that after you're enlightened, you don't need anyone. Even if you don't need, you must care because they need you. And that's why they're with you. The reason why we are together with someone is because there is an affinity, there is a necessity that we join together somehow to learn to love each other. If you cannot love a human being, maybe you just take care of a dog. Let him teach you how to love -- unconditional love. The dog would not care whether you are a vegetarian or whether you eat hot dogs. He loves you all the same.
Similarly, we must have such devotion for our family members. After one week of separation, you will probably feel more closeness to them and more appreciation. That should be so. And that should continue every day of your life. Make every day special. Don't wait for your relatives or friends to treat you nicely. You treat them nicely. Why not? The problem with us is that we always wait for someone else to treat us nicely. Then we're disappointed and cry. We should be the ones to treat them nicely and the result would be obvious. You believe in karma, the cause and the consequence.
Perhaps in the beginning of your journey to your spiritual home, you probably felt that maybe your family members didn't understand you. But you must understand them. If you think you are enlightened, you have better knowledge now and you've discovered all the knowledge inside, you must be the ones who understand your family members. So no more complaints to me. They are all Buddhas. If they choose to stay here longer in this world to do their other work and their other training, their enjoyment, let them be. They don't all have to be vegetarians, and don't all have to practice meditation. Not everyone must do it. They do what they want.
Everyone has freedom. The same as you have freedom to choose to walk this way, to walk in Truth, beauty and virtue, they have the freedom to choose to walk the other way. You must understand this, and no more quarrels. No more "you-must-follow-me" kind of attitude. No one must follow anyone. We all have to follow ourselves, because we are the Buddha, we are God's children. They follow themselves. That's the course of their lives. Some have a "map" that they have charted for themselves before they descended into this world. You have no right to interfere into people's way of thinking and their choice of life-style; and not because of the different choice of life-style. We should not make a dispute between each other.
We can always have different opinions, but we can love each other -- no problem. You can love birds, dogs, cats, elephants, all kinds of beings. They are different from you, are they not? They eat differently to you. If you love an elephant and you force it to eat tofu, that's ridiculous. That's unfair for it. It'll die.
In China there is a story about a king who loved a bird so much that he trapped the bird and put it in a golden cage studded with diamonds, rubies, sapphires, etcetera. Every day he fed it all kinds of delicacies that he loved like spare ribs, beef steak, hamburgers, McDonald's chips, Kentucky chicken. He also fed it whiskey, vodka, rum, etcetera, because these were the best things that the king could think of to offer to his most beloved pet. But as you know, birds don't drink whiskey. Or do they nowadays? No. Okay. And birds don't eat chicken. Birds only eat some kinds of grain, drink pure spring water, and sing and fly in all freedom with the vast sky above it and limitless universe around it. So if the king loved the bird, he should have set it free. Let it be what it is -- a bird. Let it chose what it wants to eat. Let it fly whenever it wants to fly. Let it sleep when night falls. It lives with nature and it's happy.
Similar to us, everything good for you might not be good for someone else. Vegetarianism, meditation -- everything good for you because you like it, because it benefits you. But other people might not want to try. So that's no reason for us to be distant from them. You must always show your love, doesn't matter how people treat us. It's how we treat people that is important. Why just criticize people all the time and say that they're no good, they're bad, they're cruel. Don't have to. We have to do what we want to do. Other people do what they want to do.
There was an Indian master. Once when he was crossing a river on a boat, he saw a scorpion -- this is Indian folklore. The scorpion was drowning in the river. He extended his hand and tried to take the scorpion into the boat for safety. The scorpion stung him and he dropped it, crying: "Ah! Ah, ah!" (Laughter) After a while, the master put his hand back into the water and tried to rescue the poor drowning scorpion. But the scorpion stung him once more and he cried, "Ah! Ah!" After a while, he extended his hand again into the water and tried to pick the scorpion up onto the boat for safety. Before he reached the scorpion, his disciple stopped him." Don't do that, master."
The master said, "Why, I want to rescue it."
The disciple said, "It will sting you again, won't it?" The master said, "Yes, it will." The disciple said, "So why are you rescuing it? You will only suffer again." The master said, "The habit of the scorpion is to sting anything that touches it. It cannot change that. And my habit is to help anyone who comes in contact with me. I also cannot change that." (Applause)
So make a habit of always extending your loving kindness, doesn't matter how people treat you. You may be firm sometimes. Some people stubbornly disturb you sometimes with their misunderstanding, even though you have tried your best to explain. Nevertheless, never forget your loving kindness inside. And whatever way you can, and whenever possible, always extend this loving kindness from inside, because that is you, that's the real you, the unlimited love which is Godly. Because of the situation of the world, because of the hardships of life, of the trials and tribulations that we encounter daily, we tend to withdraw within ourselves and shield the love that we once had in abundance and lock it away somewhere.
From today, from the day of initiation, from any day, we must open that lock and let the love free. That is the only way to make your life happy. That's the only solution. If you ask me how to be happy, that's the only solution, unlocking the love within you and let everyone share it. It doesn't matter if he still locks his, she still locks hers, you open yours first and later, they will open theirs. No one is really a hard nut to crack. No one is truly very, very difficult and unrelenting inside. They just get "stung" by the poison of life, so-called contact with the difficult-to-exist world and they just close themselves and defend themselves all the time.
Just like an oyster. When you touch it, it closes. Even if you want to stroke it, comfort it, it just closes immediately out of habit. Just like a bird, if you shot it, wounded it before, every time it sees a bent tree or branches, it's afraid; it thinks it's a bow. But from now we already know. We know that even if we protect ourselves with the hard shell outside and lock our love inside, that won't make us happy. That won't protect us at all. We rather die happy than live miserably. (Applause)
Try to understand your family members, your husbands, your wives. If your husband is serious and rather hard to get on with, maybe his work is too demanding for him, taxing his energy and nerves. You find out what drags him down and maybe try to help him. Or maybe your wife, being a woman; being so delicate, so fragile, so pure, but because of the economic situation, she has to plunk herself into the harsh world of men, of competition, of power, hunger and fame searching. So she feels less feminine than she should be. She feels more defensive and more tired, less passionate towards you. You also must find out how things affect her at work or anything that affects her. Then you help her, show your sympathy and understanding. That's how your love will grow stronger and stronger.
If you are parents, your children, when they grow through adolescence, they have a lot of changes in their hormones, in their bodies. They're clumsy, they are very, very anxious and scared about the changes from a child to an adult. It scares them. Unconsciously, they know they're going to face the world very, very soon and they are not sure whether they are ready for it. They're so pure, so weak inside, so fragile, like a newly hatched chick. Try to understand their difficulty in adapting, try not to be too harsh, not to be authoritative, too demanding; but talk to them, find out what is bothering them, what really makes them feel good. I cannot tell you all the details. You imagine the rest.
Like sometimes you have been married to each other for a long time, and you don't think you should buy your wife a rose anymore. You should! Not on her birthday, any day. Surprise her. Or take each other out for dinner. If the husband doesn't take you, then the wife takes. Yeah, take him to a candlelight dinner, buy him a rose, surprise him. See what an idiot he looks like (Master laughs), if he will look very surprised. You can see his reaction. Even the children, sometimes they follow Master Ching Hai and the parents forbid them and things like that. There's no need to worry. You just do your children's duty and then everything follows. Even if your parents don't like your teacher, it's okay. It's not possible that everyone likes me, not possible.
I don't expect anything. You like me or not like me -- it's up to you. I hardly have contact with the people that like me or not like me, the same. They like me, they come; don't like me, stay away. Very simple. But you must do the children's filial duty. Open the door for the mother -- car door, house door -- whenever you can, whenever you see. Move the chair out for her to sit on or push it back in. Don't let it stay there. When you go to restaurants, or even at home. Take care of the elderly in this way, and they will be touched by your love. They don't have to follow me. Your parents are independent individuals as well as your children, also independent souls.
They came to you for some reason, not necessarily to practice the same method with you. That might not be their reasons for coming to this world at this time. There are many reasons for human beings to be together, as family members, as husband and wife, as sisters, brothers, friends and relatives, etcetera. Among them is to practice together. That's just one of the reasons, and it's not always included in all the reasons that you have to be together. So if your family members are not willing to practice with you, let them be. Be kind to them, love them as usual. This you must do, if you say you follow me. That has been the only thing I've wanted since the beginning of my teaching up till the present day, and it will continue to be so.
If you cannot do this little thing, then don't ask me why you life is in trouble; why your family is not in harmony; why your relatives don't listen to you and respect your Master. You don't make a very good representative of mine if you don't serve them, you don't love them. Serve them and love them unconditionally, not with the thinking that "Okay, I'm going to love her so she will follow Master Ching Hai." No, that's also not unconditional. We have to do it because we must. We have to do it because that's the way it has to be. We have to do it because we have to represent love and nothing else. We have to do it because that's the only way, means and weaponry to destroy all hatred, all discomfort, all troubles in this world and in your small world as a family unit.
That's the only reason you must do it. Not because they have to follow me, not because they have to love you in return, not because they think you are great. No need for anything else, but to be loving for the reason itself.
I know some of you still have some questions, which are all nonsense. Some of you older initiates know, in the beginning when you first get initiated you are eager to come and say, "Mama, I want to ask this, ask that," all the time. If you don't have the opportunity to ask me, or you had the opportunity to ask me, a few years, a few months later, you look back and see how ridiculous you were. There's no need at all to ask so much, because all the answers you get inside. You just look inside, because you are the master of yourselves, master from heaven. None of you are not a master. None of the people in this world are not the master.
If you really have questions and you want to ask me, you can write a letter, anytime. You can send to me or not send to me, but write it down; because as soon as you write it down, the answer will come. Listen to it, listen to your intuition, the inner voice, which is quietly telling you what you need, what you should do at every moment of your life. Just write down what you want to ask, formulate clearly what you want to know, and sit quietly for a moment and the answer will come. If you're too noisy and you couldn't get the answer yet, it will come later, when you're still, when you meditate. No problem. You are in God's hands. You are in your own destiny. There's nothing that can befall you. Besides, life is dangerous -- it always ends deadly. So nothing else to fear. We are already in a dangerous game. No one escapes it. In the end, we die.
You are already in it. Nothing else can make us fearful or afraid. We came with nothing, we will go with nothing. So renunciation is a must, all the time. Must remember this. We might die tomorrow, or any second, so there's nothing really so important. Most of us are middle aged, like me -- I mean I'm old for middle aged, but don't tell anyone this. I give us fifty more years, all right, sixty. And for the young people, I don't wish you to die so young. Stay there, do some work. When we are gone, nothing matters anymore. So many things that have happened, that mattered to us so urgently -- fifty years ago, forty years ago or thirty years ago, they don't matter anymore today, right? All the sorrow, all the sickness, all the sadness, all the impossible desires -- gone. Similarly, fifty, sixty years from now, also gone. Gone out of existence. Of course, we will begin in some other existence. But this existence will not matter to us at all once we've left.
Okay, I've talked too much. I wish you a happy journey home and a very lucky, prosperous, enlightened new year. (Applause)
Before you leave the hotel, don't forget to thank the staff members, whomever you meet. They took care of us so kindly and so understandingly, even though we are such a huge crowd. It scared them somewhat. It's good that you had a good record last time in Chicago. Maybe that's why they let you in. Otherwise you'd be standing outside of the hotel, just reading the name only.
This is a very high class hotel. For them to accept us like this, it's very generous, kind and trusting of the hotel management. We also wish them a happy new year. If you see any of them, just shake hands, good-bye. Oh! Too many thousands of people -- don't shake hands. (Laughter) Just say, "Happy New Year" if you can. If you cannot, pray for them inside your heart, and pray for everyone in America as well as the world. That's it. Love you. (Applause)
Thank you. Sorry you can never have enough of me. You never will. That's the way you are. See you. Remember, take care of your families. Thank you.