We must navigate our way through the tangle of worldly pathways until it is time to transition to whatever comes next (if anything). I always remember your kind postcards and inspiring emails. You certainly seem to possess a sincere and deep connection with the Dharma. Master Xu Yun (1840-1959) would have been intrigued by your commitment, energy and ongoing Dharma-work! He always thought about the West and how the Dharma could be spread to help the ordinary people. This is probably because he met a surprising number of Western people during his very long life! I have spent a number of years carefully working my way through old Chinese texts and making extensive notes - keeping an eye on the dates and times, as well as the locations and the individuals involved. Every time I add up the years and cross-reference the dates and locations - the chronological age of Master Xu Yun always comes to 119-years-old - with him dying within (and during) his 120th year of life! I was once contacted by a Western scholar who was determined to prove Master Xu Yun's age 'wrong' and to suggest Master Xu Yun was 'lying'. He provided a photograph of an engraved tomb-stone in China which appear to suggest that Master Xu Yun was born in or around 1859! I located this stone and flew-out to China with permission to investigate. It transpired that once the moss and dirt was cleaned away - the date actually said '1839' rather than '1859'! The Chinese language numbering had been completely obscured but when restored it read '一千八百三十九' or more specifically the '20th year of the reign of the Emperor Daoguang'. This suggests that the Western solar years 1839-1840 span the single Chinese lunar year which began on February 3rd, 1840 (which was the 'Metal Rat'). However, the Emperor Daoguang ascended the throne on October 3rd, 1820 - whilst Master Xu Yun was born on August 26th, 1840 (according to Charles Luk's calculations). This is probably an editing error and should read 'August 29th' according to my research. As '1820' is counted as 'year 1' of Emperor Daoguang's reign (meaning that '1839' is year twenty of his reign) - it follows that any date before 'October 3rd' 1840 falls within the twentieth year of Emperor Daoguang's reign - and therefore Master Xu Yun was indeed born in the twentieth year of the reign of Emperor Daoguang. If he had been born on or after October 3rd, 1840, then Master Xu Yun would have been born during the twenty-first year of the reign of Emperor Daoguang! You are probably aware that within Chinese culture, when a baby is born - he or she - is already considered 'one year's old'! This habit of counting the first year as 'one' was used in dating and measuring reigns, etc, with another year added to a person's life when they died (out of respect)!