The Love of Life

32. An Ideal Birthday Party


Granny Hsu was the mother of the imperial scholar Hsiyu. They lived in Kunlun, near Shanghai, during the Ming dynasty.

Granny Hsu was a lifelong vegetarian. She enjoyed doing good deeds. She did all she could to help the poor. Every morning and evening she practiced her Buddhist devotions, and she never missed a day.

She was kind to her children, and her children were very good to her, so they had a happy family.

In 1637, Granny Hsu celebrated her sixtieth birthday. The sixtieth birthday is important for Chinese, but she didn’t celebrate with a cake and candles. Three days before her birthday, she had her children prepare food and money for all the poor people in the area.

When the big day came, the poor people crowded around her house and everybody had a great time. Of course, the feast was all vegetarian dishes, and were they delicious! Everybody was stuffed.

Granny Hsu’s friends and relatives all came, too, but Chinese don’t give presents at birthdays, they give money. Granny Hsu got a whole pile of money for her birthday. She called Hsiyu to her. ‘Take this pile of money and print the Lotus Sutra for these friends and relatives?

In those days, printing was very difficult, and books were hard to come by. Most books were printed by carving the text on boards, word by word, page by page. The Lotus Sutra is pretty long, so it took three years to finish.

The Sutra was ready just in time for her 63rd birthday, so she invited all her friends and relatives to another birthday party, and this time, she gave every one of them a copy of the Lotus Sutra.

Granny Hsu lived for a long time. She was still lively and healthy at eighty, and she always had a good appetite. Everybody said she didn’t look a day over sixty. Her children and grandchildren said they were so happy and prosperous because they were all vegetarians, and Granny Hsu had done so many good deeds. She lived to be over ninety years old, and died cheerfully, without any sickness.

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