This story was told by Venerable Master Chin Kung in one of his lectures.:
Venerable Xiuwu was an illiterate bricklayer before he became a monastic. After becoming a monastic, he did the most menial tasks, work that nobody else wanted to do. He cleaned the toilets, chopped wood, and grew vegetables. Always mindfully chanting “Amituofo” while doing all these tasks, he gladly did his work. Because he knew that he was able to do only the most menial work and nothing else and that he could not compare to other people, he was respectful to everybody.
The first time Jile [Ultimate Bliss] Monastery conferred the precepts, Venerable Xiuwu volunteered to take care of the sick. But after only a few days, he asked to take leave from Master Tanxu, the abbot. The master asked him to stay until all the precepts were conferred. Venerable Xiuwu said that he could not stay because he was going to the Land of Ultimate Bliss. The master was surprised and asked him when. Venerable Xiuwu said in ten days. The next day, he came and told the master he was leaving the following day [and he did]!
This is a good example for us. Venerable Xiuwu did the hard work at the monasteries without taking a day off. He succeeded in his cultivation. He had no karmic obstacles.
He did not compete with others and was respectful to everyone. Many looked down on him, but he did not get in anyone’s way. He did his work and mindfully chanted “Amituofo,” which no one knew. He showed such ease and freedom when he passed away.