Tuesday, Oct 24th

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 06 October 2014 00:00

Love without Obstacles

Written by  Yo Choon Yen & Soh Sing Yee, Muar / Translated by Lee Ren Hui

Transform personal love to greater love, Chan Jiao visits rehabilitation centre to bring care, love and joy to children through games. [Photograph by Low Choon Hui]

Suffering from long-term depression, Chan Jiao lost her mind and forced her son’s head into a bucket of water. When her son struggled, she suddenly woke up and quickly released her hands. She uttered, “What am I doing? What had happened to me?”


 
The simplest dream of every parent is for his/her children to grow up healthy and happy. No matter how arduous the process, they never regret how much they have sacrificed.
 
After marriage, Lu Jun Hui and Chen Chan Jiao have two daughters and one son, and were enjoying a happy family life. As the only son in the family, Jin Yuan received all the pampering since birth. When he was three months old, Jin Yuan began to experience unusual symptoms like having cramps thirty to forty times a day, sometimes almost rendering him unconscious. He was then diagnosed with multiple disorders, including autism, spasms, and mental retardation.
 
Chan Jiao said, “Every time he had cramps, he would walk in circles, holding on to both my husband’s and my hands, and would keep on walking until we were too tired to continue.”
 
Jun Hui said, “He would run inside the house all day long, and kept shouting …”
 
The couple struggled to cope with Jin Yuan’s hyperactive behaviour; and he would cause trouble every time he was not attended to. Once, Jin Yuan hurt himself when he fell after climbing up onto the window, and breaking the glass window. Chan Jiao reluctantly said, “I would lock him inside the room every time I need to leave him alone.” She also could not sleep well at night, as she would wake up as soon as she heard the slightest noise; and she also had to comfort her son, who would suffer from cramps around midnight.
 
Unlike other parents, Chan Jiao only hoped that Jin Yuan could learn to take care of himself. She strived hard to train Jin Yuan to go to the toilet and drink water on his own, but was unsuccessful as his medical problem was serious.
 
Mental breakdown, in search of spiritual haven
 
The couple tirelessly looked for reputable doctors around and across the country, from traditional Chinese medicine, Western medicine, computer tomography to acupuncture … They never gave up despite the disappointment each time. Chan Jiao was so desperate that she even began trying out folk remedies, including visits to traditional Chinese temples. On one occasion, the person-in-charge of the temple brought her son alone into a room, where the sound of whipping could be heard. It broke Chan Jiao’s heart when she heard her son cry. She said, “No matter what, he is my child; I want him back. I do not allow other people like to torment him like this.”
 
Chan Jiao was physically and mentally exhausted, unable to handle the tremendous pressure and was slowly losing her mind. Once, she forced her son’s head into a bucket of water, and when he kept on struggling, she suddenly woke up and quickly released her hold. She uttered, “What am I doing? What had happened to me?”
 
It was then that Chan Jiao realized she was unwell. She started to look for counselling sessions and medical advice. Consultant Physician, Liu Jian Li of Persatuan Kesihatan Minda Muar said, “When family members feel tired or have broken down, we will recommend sending the patient to a safe place where he/she will be taken care of by professionals. Families also need a breathing space.”
 
“Having taken daily care of the child for more than a decade, the carer had worn out her body and mind. Eventually we will be old and will not be able to take care of the child, so there must be a place to take care of him.” Heeding this advice, Jun Hui finally made the decision to send his son to Muar Maharani Community Rehabilitation Centre. That year, Jin Yuan turned nineteen years old.
 
However, after sending the child away, Chan Jiao dared not visit her son for a full three years.  She revealed, “I was too cruel to leave a child over there.” She felt that she did not fulfil her duty as a mother and was ruthless.
 
See others’ suffering, learn to count blessings
 
When the child was not around, Chan Jiao felt lost. Every night, she would quietly think of her son and cry for a long time.
 
When visiting his son, Jun Hui would often bring food, diapers, as well as, nutritional supplements. He was praised by Mrs. Dewi Suryaakala, the President of the Centre, for being a good father.
 
Fearing that his wife would be depressed being home alone, Jun Hui introduced her to Tzu Chi’s activities. With this move, Chan Jiao had found a remedy for her broken heart. She participated in family visits, as well as, regular caring sessions at rehabilitation centres (PDK). She witnessed many unfortunate and helpless families under Tzu Chi’s care, as well as, a large number of physically and mentally-challenged people, who have a giving heart and have remained optimistic and caring despite their difficulties.
 
Chan Jiao was deeply moved when she saw a grandmother, who, despite having to raise two mentally-ill children, was open-minded and had a bright smile on her face. Then, she came across a pair of siblings (sister, Xiang Lan, and her brother, Gui Cai) with mild mental retardation syndromes and both cannot live independently. Volunteers took almost two years to train them before they can do some basic cleaning work, such as, sweeping the floor, wiping the refrigerator, doors and windows. Having witnessed their helplessness, Chan Jiao felt that she has the responsibility to teach these two children. As a result, she re-opened her loving motherly heart. Through visits, Chan Jiao began to realize her own happiness, and has stopped complaining.
 
Understand karma, one person does the work for two
 
After participating in the study group and reading the “Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance”, Chan Jiao learnt to repent. From the Dharma and living testimonies, she finally understood that her relationship with her son is a result of karma, a cycle of cause and effect. The phrase, “the law of karma is infallible,” is like a wake-up call. She recalled that in her younger days, she used to help her parents in slaughtering chickens, and the latter would struggle. This is akin to how her son would react when suffering from cramps.
 
Chan Jiao informed, “Actually, every phrase I read reminded me of my past mistakes. I am experiencing the karma now. To quote the Master: Get a discount if you accept it willingly; otherwise, you will need to pay the interest.” Gradually, her heart that was once closed, has opened up and changed, and she is able to overcome her grudges over the past twenty-two years. After the change in her mindset, she is more steadfast on her path of learning Buddhism, hoping that she can sow more seeds of blessing for her son and herself.
 
“The Master wants us to bless our children to be safe, that is a positive belief. I need to do the work for two people, one for myself and one for my son, who cannot learn Buddhism on his own. I hope that I can help him to sow some seeds of blessing, so that he can have a better life and return with a healthy body in his next life,” said Chan Jiao.
 
During Wesak Day in May 2010, Tzu Chi volunteers conducted mobile Buddha-bathing activity from door-to-door so that more immobile people can be in contact with the Dharma. After witnessing Tzu Chi care recipient, Ah Bao, bathing the Buddha, Chan Jiao had mixed feelings and said, “I am envious of Ah Bao, who, despite being sick, still has the karma to learn the Dharma; my son will never have a chance to get to know the Buddha.” But, after consulting Tzu Chi volunteers, Chan Jiao’s wish for her son to bathe the Buddha was finally realized.
 
As they were approaching closer to the rehabilitation centre, Chan Jiao’s heart became increasingly heavy. Looking out at the passing landscape, she became anxious and reluctant. Although there was thought of her son turning over a new leaf, she lacked the courage to walk into his son’s world again. She was reluctant to step out of the car, but with encouragement from volunteers and her family members, she finally had the courage to come out. 
 
“He did not recognize me, I feel very sad. I am the one who brought him up.”
 
“He pushed me, he kicked me, I’m sad.  I am his mother!”
 
“At that moment I think I felt I should have come more often and let him know that I am his mother.”
 
After her son’s successful Buddha-bathing, she wants to have more contact with her son. She hopes that her son will rediscover the memory of his mother.
 
A knot untied, a happy family
 
In August 2014, Chan Jiao’s story was made ​​into a “Tzu Chi in Malaysia” program. After its airing on Da Ai television, she actually received an unexpected gift – a handwritten letter from her younger daughter, Lu Xiang Bin.
 
Her daughter, who is pursuing her tertiary education in Taiwan, thanked her parents for their true confession in front of the camera, which had enabled her to understand the family story that she had always been afraid to ask. She had finally understood her parents’ intention. 
 
She promised her parents: “I ​​will always remember to change my thoughts and never give up. I will take good care of my brother. It is indeed a great blessing that our family has the opportunity to get to know Tzu Chi.”
 
Her elder daughter in Brunei also called to apologize for not being able to offer any help. Chan Jiao is pleased that both her daughters are now grown up and can understand their intention. Initially, Chan Jiao’s mother did not understand why her daughter has the heart to rush Jin Yuan into the rehabilitation centre. But, after watching the program, she no longer invited Chan Jiao to visit temples for votive offerings.
 
 
At dusk, beautiful pink clouds filled the sky, while the soothing breeze embraced the Muar Tanjung Emas River. On the open grassland, lovely children played on swings, having fun with parents and blowing bubbles. This is the people’s favourite leisure park in Muar, and also a good place for families to spend time together. In the past, this was a favourite place of Chan Jiao and her husband, where they would always bring their children. Now, they return here feeling more at ease.
 
Chan Jiao is thankful for her husband’s wholehearted and dedicated companionship; the understanding of her two daughters, and she is also grateful to her son for leading her onto Tzu Chi’s path of Bodhisattva, allowing her to transform personal love to greater love, and loving more unfortunate families.
 
Life is not perfect, only those who count their blessings, even in suffering, can see the beauty of life. If you cannot change the environment, see the world from another angle, and then you will discover that happiness has always been around.
 
 
Through home visits, Chen Chan Jiao sees a lot of unfortunate and helpless care recipients, making her realize her own happiness and eliminate complaints. [Photograph by Tan Siong Kee]   During Tzu Chi year-end distribution for care recipients, Chen Chan Jiao (right) presented a sign language performance on “One Big Family” together with other volunteers on stage. [Photograph by Tan Siong Kee]

Through home visits, Chen Chan Jiao sees a lot of unfortunate and helpless care recipients, making her realize her own happiness and eliminate complaints. [Photograph by Tan Siong Kee]
 
During Tzu Chi year-end distribution for care recipients, Chen Chan Jiao (right) presented a sign language performance on “One Big Family” together with other volunteers on stage. [Photograph by Tan Siong Kee]
 
Tzu Chi volunteers conducted mobile Buddha-bathing activity from door-to-door so that more immobile people can be in contact with the Dharma. Chen Chan Jiao (right) and volunteers teaching a member on Buddha bathing. [Photograph by Low Choon Hui]   After Chen Chan Jiao untied a long-time knot in her heart, she often visits her son, Jin Yuan, at the rehabilitation centre with her husband. [Photograph by Tzu Chi Melaka Documenting Team]

Tzu Chi volunteers conducted mobile Buddha-bathing activity from door-to-door so that more immobile people can be in contact with the Dharma. Chen Chan Jiao (right) and volunteers teaching a member on Buddha bathing. [Photograph by Low Choon Hui]
 
 
After Chen Chan Jiao untied a long-time knot in her heart, she often visits her son, Jin Yuan, at the rehabilitation centre with her husband. [Photograph by Tzu Chi Melaka Documenting Team]