Thursday, Dec 14th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Friday, 01 September 2017 00:00

Amassing Kindness and Blessing in the Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month

Written by  Kok Ling Lin, Loh Siew Chien & Julie Yen Yu Chu, Malacca / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

In conjunction with the Seventh Lunar Month, Tzu Chi Malacca organized a blessing ceremony to promote right understanding of “deliverance from suffering” and instil right views. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]

It is a folklore that the Seventh Lunar Month is a “Ghost Month” and many would organize ritual of offering with extravagant spread. In order to transform such superstitious belief, volunteers of Tzu Chi Malacca visited the local community and invited them to participate in the Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month Blessing Ceremony at the Malacca Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, with the mission of spreading the right view and right practice.


Tzu Chi Malacca organized the Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month Blessing Ceremony on September 1, 2017. The ceremony began with 640 participants singing “Incense Praise”, and the Offering Team members piously presenting lights, fruits and flowers. Following that were the video screening of Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma discourse, sutra adaptation performance, and sharing by volunteers on their experiences in embracing or promoting vegetarianism.

The scenes of natural disasters, especially the recent flood that hit Malacca, struck a chord with the audience. They were moved by the beauty of humanity, where Tzu Chi volunteers extended timely aid to the helpless victims.

The programme led the audience to gradually understand the true meaning of “deliverance from suffering”. It is to protect and love all sentient beings, and render aid promptly when others are suffering. It is only when everyone is reverent towards Mother Nature and cherishes all beings, that we can amass collective blessing and bring peace and harmony to the world.

An eye-opening event

“Is this a ‘liberating ritual’? Why is it different from the ones I had participated before elsewhere?” Seventy-one-year-old Gan York Choo, who attended the ceremony at the invitation of volunteer Tan Kim Kiak, jovially expressed her view. She thought it was a typical “liberating ritual” but to her surprise, it turned out to be a special yet heart-warming blessing ceremony for the Seventh Lunar Month, which was an eye-opener for her.

Though it was York Choo’s first participation in Tzu Chi’s Seventh Lunar Month event, she was familiar with Tzu Chi. She was introduced to Da Ai TV programme over a decade ago and through it, she had picked up some concepts of environmental protection. The blessing ceremony encouraged all to replace meat offering and paper-money burning rituals with right views and practice. She remarked, “Nowadays I only burn a little paper money during the three major occasions in a year to pay respect to ancestors. My husband passed away on July 20 this year, and to commemorate him, I offered vegetarian dishes for the prayers that lasted for 49 days.”

She understood the significance of vegetarianism in reducing carbon emission despite the fact that she has yet to become a full-fledged vegetarian. She has been taking less meat for many years and would prepare vegetarian dishes as offerings for ancestor prayers. As the programme highlighted environmental issues, she could feel the urgency of environmental protection in view of the rampant occurrence of natural disasters around the world. Hence, she decided to embark on recycling mission. There and then, she enquired about the location of the recycling centre from Kim Kiak.

Protect the Earth with right practice

Tay Heong Peng, a volunteer at Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre, also participated for the first time in Tzu Chi’s Seventh Lunar Month Blessing Ceremony. She felt peaceful and the footages and volunteers’ sharing that promoted vegetarianism and the non-slaughtering of animals impacted her deeply. She made a vow not to buy meat as offerings for community “liberating ritual” this year, hoping that this will reduce animal slaughtering.

Recognizing the urgency of environmental protection in reducing the effects of global warming, Heong Peng has been consuming less meat and more of vegetables in her daily diet. She hoped that changes in her lifestyle would contribute towards environmental protection.

She had gained a deeper understanding from the Master’s Dharma talk that the Seventh Lunar Month is not a “Ghost Month” but an “Auspicious Month” with neither taboo nor superstitious belief to be feared unnecessarily. That evening, she filled up the vegetarian pledge card sincerely and piously, and wished that she could share the merits and blessings with her late parents.

Transforming superstitious belief into right practice

“I wish to learn more about the Auspicious Month,” said Ng Seo Puai, who upon learning about the event from her Buddhist friends, seized the opportunity to attend together with her husband, Tan Liam Seng, and friends. Being the leader of a Chinese association in Malacca, Liam Seng had turned down two appointments in order to attend and find out more about the event.

Liam Seng’s mother came across Buddhism in the 80’s and had since practised vegetarian offerings in any prayer rituals at home. This has indirectly influenced him. He commented after attending the event that one should cultivate right views, and make vegetarian offerings and reduce the burning of paper money in the customary prayers because it is the thought that counts. As he observed, some Chinese associations and temples in Malacca have reduced on animal sacrifice in recent years, and some have even started to make vegetarian offerings.

The event gave him much reflections and he realized that global climate change is closely linked to environmental destruction. He concurred that vegetarianism is the best way to save the Earth.

Creating blessings through collective kindness

Another attendee, Quay Jin Fong, looked forward to attend the Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month Blessing Ceremony even though she has participated in the event for at least seven years. She informed that she had gained a different insight in each participation; and this time, it was more perceptual with sign language performance that conveyed the message that animals too have feelings. Hence, we, humans, should not slaughter them to satisfy our palates. She was also moved by the footage showing volunteers in action after the recent flood in Malacca.

Through the scenes of how Tzu Chi volunteers rendered timely assistance and care to the helpless flood victims, Mi Dee, who came from Myanmar, realized that true “deliverance from suffering” is to protect and love all sentient beings and relieve everyone from suffering.

In the past Seventh Lunar Month, folks at her hometown would hold extravagant feast and carry out prayers for three to seven days consecutively, and that involved the slaughtering of many animals and fish as offerings to show their sincerity and piousness. They would also burn stacks of paper money to the “ghosts/spirits”, seeking for peace and safety. Even though Mi Dee followed the customary practice, she felt that it was a waste of time and effort.

After coming to Malaysia, she learnt about Buddhism and listened to Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma talk; and gradually understood that Seventh Lunar Month is actually an auspicious month. She said, “Come to think of it, I was so ignorant and had created bad karma.” Now a vegetarian, she hopes that this event would awaken more people to eradicate their superstitious belief and have right views, embrace vegetarianism, inculcate compassion from within, and stop slaughtering to refrain from creating bad karma.

Indeed, a right frame of mind and a pure heart brings peace and harmony.

 

 

Public members brought their bamboo banks for donation. [Photograph by Kuek Kah Hoon]   Volunteers shared how they promoted vegetarianism at factories. [Photograph by Ngow Judy]

Public members brought their bamboo banks for donation. [Photograph by Kuek Kah Hoon]
 
Volunteers shared how they promoted vegetarianism at factories. [Photograph by Ngow Judy]
 
Public members and volunteers prayed with a sincere and respectful heart. [Photograph by Teng Swee Ueng]   Tay Heong Peng decided not to offer meat dishes at the community “liberating ritual” this year, hoping that this would reduce animal slaughtering. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]

Public members and volunteers prayed with a sincere and respectful heart. [Photograph by Teng Swee Ueng]
 
 
Tay Heong Peng decided not to offer meat dishes at the community “liberating ritual” this year, hoping that this would reduce animal slaughtering. [Photograph by Lee Kin Chee]
 
Ng Seo Puai (right) learnt about the blessing ceremony from her Buddhist friends and seized the opportunity to attend with her husband, Tan Liam Seng, and friends. [Photograph by Ngow Judy]   After attending the blessing ceremony, Gan York Choo was inspired to become a recycling volunteer to protect the Earth. She is seen here leaving her contact number with Tzu Chi volunteers for future correspondence. [Photograph by Choo Tee Seng]

Ng Seo Puai (right) learnt about the blessing ceremony from her Buddhist friends and seized the opportunity to attend with her husband, Tan Liam Seng, and friends. [Photograph by Ngow Judy]
 
 
After attending the blessing ceremony, Gan York Choo was inspired to become a recycling volunteer to protect the Earth. She is seen here leaving her contact number with Tzu Chi volunteers for future correspondence. [Photograph by Choo Tee Seng]