Seated at my desk, I was about to finish my homework when there was a sudden commotion in the room. Our homeroom tutor nun had just asked the class president to post our recent exam results. Everyone surged forward, yet I couldn’t gather the courage to do so.
“Third place in debate! Venerable Fa-Dan!” (Note: Ven. Fa-Dan is my sister.) The room burst out in a sound of praise. I was really happy for her. When it was my turn, I decided to mentally prepare myself with the teachings of Lamrim: “This being the case, the wonders of this life will be mere memories at the time of death, like waking up and remembering the pleasurable experiences in a single dream.” When the result of “bottom five” came into view, my mind was surprisingly calm.
The next day, I happily invited Ven. Fa-Dan to see the results with me, completely unaware of what she had in mind. Only afterwards did I learn that she’d personally ask Ven. Fa-Xin, our oldest sister, not to reveal her grades to our parents. She was worried it’d give me a lot of stress. Growing up, I’d rarely receive a poor grade. In the few occasions where I did, Ven. Fa-Dan would always be there to comfort me. However, whenever I did well, I’d never consider her feelings.
“Why didn’t you tell mom and dad about your grades?” I asked curiously.
“Learning isn’t about the grades.” She replied casually.
Ever since we’ve started learning the Five Great Treatises, I’d often see her with her nose buried in her books, or with our parents’ photo in hand as an encouragement. This is how she’d motivate herself – in order to bring our parents true happiness, she must first battle her own afflictions. I’m grateful to the Three Jewels for giving me such a role model. Compared to her title of third place, I think this is perhaps her most beautiful grade.