Spoken By Supreme Master Ching Hai in Combodia
I do not play chess or play the electro-mechanical toys with her everyday. No, no. Our way of playing is different. I can work and play at the same time with her. For instance, while I am reading the newspapers, I would say, "Now I am reading the newspapers, you read your books over there. Let's read together." This way, she is already happy. Like two adults reading the newspapers. Perhaps I would ask her, "Can you understand this book? Read whatever you understand and practice your English." We both would think of a way to play.
It is not just playing with dolls or stuffed bears from morning until night that children consider playing, or that taking here do not have the time, we think of many ways of playing: for instance, cooking with her, teaching her to wash the vegetables. When I do not have the time, I let the attendant look after her, to be her baby-sitter. While washing clothes, she brings her along and tell her to do some washing. Now, she is washing one of her socks everyday. (Laughter) She told me, "Today I have work to do, washing socks and then help sweep the floor a little." In this way, the child is very happy.
Find ways for them to play. Playing is not just going out to buy many expensive toys all the time. On the contrary, if you bring them along more often while working, their IQ will improve; they will become smarter, livelier and more careful. Also, they will understand the parents' work more. Later, you will be able to communicate with them easily. Whatever you say they will understand your problem. Later, when you tell them how hard you had worked the day before, and so on, they will understand and will empathize with you. If you lock a child up and let her play while you work by yourself, then sometimes the parents are not able to communicate with her because she does not know what the parents had been doing.
You can try to find ways to play with small children. It is very simple! Sometimes helping me take my socks off, carry a pair of shoes -- carry it up, carry it down. This is one of the ways to play with children. Of course, I can do it myself or ask the attendant to do it. I can also just leave them there and soon someone will straightened them up. But I want to involve the child, so I tell her, "Help me carry this up. Help me carry that down! Later, we have non-alcoholic beer together." For example like that, and this would be very interesting for her.
Then, we each grab a bag of rice biscuits. She likes rice biscuits very much. Well, I would say, one bag each, open it and then go choose whatever drink you like. It becomes a game. How else could I have time to play with her? We can also play during breakfast. We race each other to see who finishes breakfast first, etc. That is fun. She likes it.
Young children do not demand much. As long as we pay attention to them, share with them, they are happy already. They do not ask for dolls everyday. Because no one plays with them, then they play with dolls. This is just a very small part.
In this way, she is already very happy -- to be able to spend time with me is enough, no matter what we do. As a result, she practices the spirit of serving people. She feels very proud helping me carry a book, carry my shoes up and down, helping me to carry an umbrella, or whatever. I can do these things myself, but she feels a sense of accomphishment, like an adult.
When we both have a bag of rice biscuit, sitting on the floor, each of us opens up a drink, which I let her choose. I open the refrigerator and say, "Take whatever drink you like." She feels that she has already grown up! I don't force her and say you should drink this or that. No, no. She knows that she cannot drink milk everyday. She'd get tired of it. Thus, I tell her to choose a can and I would also choose one. Then, we drink to each other's health and would eat and have a chat like two adults entertaining each other. I do not know your definition of playing. I feel that we both could play all day long. Many things can be played. She is very happy.
As children grow older, the more you share with them the happier they are. Not that you buy many toys for them that they are happy. If you play with them, then they are happy! Of course, they like toys, too, but toys cannot replace the parents' love. If you play with them everyday, talk with them more, explain to them more, they will become very smart and be one with the parents. When they grow up they will be like friends, because they have been with the parents. Whatever you do, they know. You just mention it, they understand. No need to wait until they grow up because by then it would be very difficult to explain if you were not used to communicating, only throwing toys at them.
Though I do not have the time, but because of the child, I have to take up the responsibility. Her parents died. She only has me left. Thus, I try to think of ways to play with her. Playing should not have to be toys or going to the park. I can play with her everyday, whenever I have the time. I can tickle her. She loves it very much. I can throw her onto the bed. Wow! She loves it! Sometimes we play 'skating'. I pull her by the hands and skate and skate. This is called skating. But playing this way is very tiring. It needs strong muscles. We play this occasionally, so she was not tired of it. I skate once or twice and wanted to 'slip' away (laughter). (Skate and slip away sound similiar in Chinese) She weighs twenty-something kilos, and I am only, at most, twice her weight. We can play with anything. Using a pen to draw, teach her to color many things. With just a pen, we can play a lot of things. Like drawing things for her to guess, she loves it.
As long as the parents accompany the child, he/she enjoy it no matter what you play. Small children like us to pay attention to them and share with them. No matter what you play, they will enjoy it. Small children are very curious about the world, since they do not know it. Thus, whatever method of play -- I didn't have toys to play with when I was young. I created my own way -- drawing, playing chess, jumping around, or play with chopsticks. Many things can be played. Why the need of toys? Also, no need for a lot of space. Great, now you understand!
Not long ago, many people came down with a flu. Master then kindly instructed those who had the flu to wear a mask over their mouth and nose for several more days after they had fully recovered.
Master said that the people who were infected had not taken good care of and protected themselves properly, while those who were ill did not take enough precaution. It was an inconsiderate, selfish quality. Do not think that this is a small matter. Its effects are far beyond our imagination. Master cited an example to explain it to us.
There was a fellow practitioner who was lost in a love affair and had not come to group meditation for a long time. Because his girl didn't like it. It was not easy for him to recover from his situation and come to attend a retreat, and with the determination to practice earnestly. However, because he caught a flu, he was unable to take care of himself when he returned home. That gave his ex-girlfriend an excuse and a chance to look after and influence him. Since his girlfriend was not a vegetarian, it was naturally difficult for his food to be pure vegetarian. Then, what would become of the aspiration to practice that this fellow practitioner so difficultly raised? Therefore, we have to be very careful even in small matters.
Master also talked about the time when She had a flu while She was abroad a long time ago. She wore a mask so that other people would not be infected, especially the children, who had a lower bodily resistance to infection.
In order to be even more close to Master and to see Her holy countenance even more clearly, the fellow initiates present requested that Master not wear a mask. They were willing to be infected, and thought that it would be a supreme blessing. However, Master refused to do so, to protect everyone. (A brother resident disciple immediately verified this.)
Master mentioned the incident only because of this occasion to cite an example, and several years later, which shows that all Her actions come from the most sincere affection and humility. By telling us this story, Master wanted us to know that She practices what She teaches us.
I recalled the first time Master came to our center in Phnom Penh. As She came to the stairs leading to the upper floor, She very naturally, and without any hesitation, took off Her shoes, and proceeded to go up the stairs. All the fellow initiates present were stunned and immediately asked Master to put Her shoes back on. It was because the polished stone staircase was not clean enough, and one should only take the shoes off walking on the smooth ceramic tiled floor there. After hearing that, Master replied calmly, "It's alright!" and went upstairs in Her socked feet. Everyone was greatly impressed by the humility of such a great Master.
Master had said that all the great people pay attention to small matters, and it becomes their habit. What Master spontaneously did in daily life is the best example of that.