Compassionately Helping and Universally
Benefiting All Beings
For many years, wherever the master has gone, he has been very concerned about local moral education as well as social welfare. Regardless of religion or ethnicity, he has accorded with conditions and done his best to help, whether it is the construction of schools, scholarships, medical equipment, or disaster relief. Being Chinese, he often holds the thought of “keeping in mind the kindness shown me and repaying that kindness” and dedicates himself to China.
His sincere compassion overcomes the barriers of distance, language, and culture. The Indonesians had commented, “Venerable Master Chin Kung loves Indonesians more than they do themselves.”
In recent years, the master proposed “An Idea for Social Welfare for Seniors: A Seniors’ Paradise.” He said:
I have been to many countries in the world to lecture on the sutras. Wherever I go, I am concerned with two things. The first is their social welfare for seniors, and the second is the crime rate of teenagers.
Why do I specially care about seniors? Today, the reality is that the worldwide population is aging. How to help seniors enjoy their remaining years is an urgent concern of governments. The traditional social system of “raising children to provide for old age” no longer exists. It is not that children are no longer filial to their parents. Many of them do not have the ability to provide for their parents and to care for them. Retirement homes have gradually become the main home for seniors.
Presently, there are only a few countries that provide social welfare for their senior citizens. Countries such as the United States and especially Australia have complete social welfare programs, and seniors are very well taken good care of. But retirement organizations, whether run by the government or by the private sector, mostly emphasize caring for seniors’ physical conditions and pay less attention to enriching their spiritual life. Those who take care of the seniors often do so mechanically and may show little love or consideration. Consequently, seniors can feel empty, lonely, and helpless, waiting daily for death.
In view of this and inspired by the four kinds of mind and practice of great compassion that we learn in the Avatamsaka Sutra, I have a new idea for senior retirement. I hope people of vision and foresight will gladly promote and implement it.
Seniors have devoted themselves to society and should start enjoying good fortune in their old age. This is the realization of a perfect society.
(1) An ideal retirement home would have the management and service of a five-star hotel. The rooms would be warm and comfortable with a good view. Every senior would have their own room. Housekeeping would be done on a daily basis. Funds to build this home may be raised by selling the rooms in advance or selling or renting them out when the construction is complete. Vacant rooms may be used to accommodate friends and relatives of seniors who come to visit. The rooms can also be used to put up people who come here for vacation and for learning on a short-term basis.
(2) There would be many restaurants providing various kinds of buffet meals all day long. The facility would cater to the seniors’ dietary and religious needs.
(3) The name need not have words like “retirement home” to avoid making the seniors feel sad about their age. It is better to use words such as “manor house” or “villa” and add the name of the place in front. For example, a retirement home built on the foothill of Mt. Cang may be called Cangshan Villa or Canghai Manor House. The manor house should also be a multi-purpose building that serves as a university for the seniors, a multicultural activity center, a teaching place of moral education, an exhibit hall for arts and culture, a performance hall, and more.
(4) Next to the manor house, an affiliated hospital and a kindergarten or an elementary school should be established. Being close, the hospital can provide timely treatments and care for the seniors. The staff of the manor house will lovingly serve the young and the old, fulfilling the concept of “providing for the old and raising the young.” The children attending the kindergarten or the elementary school will have opportunities to interact with the seniors, allowing them to enjoy the company of children and happily forgetting their own ages, regardless of whether they are related or not. At the same time, these children will be able to cultivate the virtue of loving and respecting the seniors.
(5) The staff of the manor house, the medical staff of the hospital, and the school teachers must first receive the teaching of the Confucian Guidelines for Being a Good Person, the Buddhist Ten Virtuous Karmas Sutra, and the Taoist Accounts of Request and Response. This will ensure that they have the concepts of filial piety and respect for the seniors. This way, they will serve the seniors with sincerity and filial piety and become the seniors’ “filial children and grandchildren.”
The Lujiang Centre of Cultural Education in the township of Tangchi, Anhui, China, has achieved remarkable results in implementing and promoting the teaching of Guidelines for Being a Good Person and received high recognition from UNESCO. This centre can serve as a model for training the staff and the teachers.
(6) Seniors of the different religions would live in the villa area. There would be a modern hall for multicultural activities and classrooms, and the seniors can take turns to use them. For example, the hall may be used for praying, religious services, the propagation of religious teachings, religious meetings, and so on. A projector may be used to project a cross or the image of a Buddha on the screen. This would be very convenient. On New Year’s Day, holidays, and weekends, activities and performances on multiculturalism would often be held. The contents would be the favorite programs of the seniors. This will enrich the seniors’ spiritual life. Learning the teaching of morality, the law of cause and effect, wisdom, and science will elevate their spiritual states and deepen their understanding about life.
(7) If a senior has a specific skill and wishes to pass it on to future generations, he or she can teach as a volunteer. People of all ages will be welcome to come and learn. DVDs on the happy life of these seniors can be produced and circulated for the public to view.
(8) When the construction of this ideal retirement manor house or villa is completed, we will invite representatives of the United Nations and all countries to visit and learn. This will help them promote social welfare for seniors all over the world. A multi-national company may be formed to build a chain of such manor houses or villas in many regions and countries and run them in the same manner and with the same ideals. Such establishments would surely be welcomed by virtually every government and receive their full support. This will help to solve the social problems for each country and reduce the burden for nurturing seniors.
(9) There are many good traditional performing arts all over the world, such as local dramas, singing, and storytelling. People today do not know to appreciate much less learn these, and consequently these arts have declined. Seniors are very familiar with these arts and love them. If a global chain of manor houses invites performers of these arts to perform at the manor houses all over the world, not only will seniors be spiritually fulfilled and feel happy, this will also provide a stage for the performers of traditional performing arts and enable the arts to continue and flourish. Doing so will make this project even more meaningful.
Every one of us has had parents, and most of us will also become old some day. Mencius said, “We should respect our parents and extend that respect to all old people; we should love our children and extend that love to all children.” Seniors have dedicated their lives to their families, society, and countries. It is only appropriate that children show filial piety to their now elderly parents and repay their kindness. We should truly extend the filial piety for our parents to all the seniors in the world, establish a paradise for seniors, and show our love and respect for them. If we can do so and, additionally, (1) help religious groups and ethnic groups to work together, (2) propagate good traditional cultures in the world, and (3) promote the sages’ teachings of filial piety, respect for those who are older, and loving-kindness, then all people will be happy and they will support our undertaking, together with the beings from all dimensions. A harmonious world can be expected soon.
A Brief introduction of
Venerable Master Chin Kung’s