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The Value of a Drop of Water

      "A single spark can raze the entire plain, and a drop of water can pierce a rock over time." A drop of water can penetrate deep into the earth, and its strength can eventually flatten a hill. Drops of water can also form streams, rivers, seas, and oceans. When a drop of water is sprinkled onto flowers and plants, its moisture can bring forth growth and blossoms. A drop of water is like sweet morning dew to a thirsty person.We should never dismiss a drop of water for being small, for billowing waves and raging rivers are formed from drops of water. Forests and vegetation in the wild rely on drops of water for moisture in order to flourish.

     Once, a Japanese Chan master carried a bucket of water for his teacher to wash his feet. When he was finished, there was still water left in the bucket, which he just casually threw out. His master chided, "You are desecrating the value of nature's resources! A drop of water can save lives and provide moisture; a drop of water can become an ocean and flow on endlessly. How can you waste half a bucket of water so casually?" Upon hearing his teacher's words, the Chan master broke out in a cold sweat. He later changed his name to "Water Drop" in memory of the lesson learned and eventually became a renowned monk in Japan.

      We often say in Chinese,"Upon receiving a drop of generosity from others, we should repay it with gratitude in gushing torrents." This is such a wonderful way to relate to others! Inreflecting on our lives in this world, the help and generosity we receive from others is far from being just a "drop"-the benefits of all heaven and earth have been bestowed on us! In our lives, our parents' efforts to raise us can hardly be compared to a drop of water. Our teachers educate us, so our gratitude to them should be as immense as the ocean.

      Then there is the care and encouragement we receive from our friends and relatives and the daily necessities furnished by people from the different trades and professions. When we want to take a walk, there are parks in every community. When we want to go somewhere, there are broad, smooth highways everywhere. Bus drivers take us to our destinations when we wish to visit our friends. The postal carrier delivers our mail through sleet and snow, and technicians work hard to install the necessary wiring so that we can telephone our loved ones thousands of miles away and our homes can be lit up with electricity. Should we need anything, the shops and malls are full of products to satisfy our every need. At mealtime, the food on the table is nutritious and delicious. We should realize that every stitch of clothing and each morsel of food is not easy to come by. We have received all kinds of causes and conditions from our families and relatives and all kinds of support from our communities that enable us to live in abundance and ease. Therefore, "do not dismiss a drop of water for its small size, and do not regard a small act of kindness as being negligible."

      A drop of water is the result of the strength of the universe, and a small act of kindness is the accomplishment of all of one's good intentions. The offering of a small part of our hearts is as good as any other offering to all the Dharma realms and sentient beings in all directions.

  • The Value of a Drop of Water    4:23
      Recorded by Steven Chan   Toronto Radiant Subchapter