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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Friday, 06 February 2015 11:11

Found Her Way ‘Home’ at Last

Written by  Yen Yu Chu, Melaka / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

After leaving Tzu Chi for 14 years, Lee Shook Lan has found her spiritual way “home”, thanks to the inspirations from Dharma as Water. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

After leaving Tzu Chi for 14 years, Lee Shook Lan has found her spiritual way “home”, thanks to the inspirations from Dharma as Water. She has vowed to follow the Master for lifetimes to come and walk the Bodhisattva Path to help the poor and needy.


 
Lee Shook Lan, who returned from Taiwan on February 5, 2015, after her certification as a Commissioner, was all teary-eyed as she recalled receiving the Master’s blessing. When she heard the commissioning ceremony was cancelled last year due to the Ebola outbreak, she felt utterly miserable and cried for three nights. She was grateful to the Master’s compassion for arranging certification for her Malaysian disciples this year.
 
Before going on stage, she told herself to fight back tears so that she could see the Master clearly. However, when the Master whispered “bless you”, she could not help bursting into tears. That moment, she spoke in her heart, “Master, I am back! You will be my Master for lifetimes.” She hopes to pursue Tzu Chi work more energetically to make up for the earlier procrastination so as not to live with regrets.
 
Entangled in self-centred attachments
 
“I joined Tzu Chi as a volunteer end of 1997 without in-depth understanding,” Shook Lan related in detail her mentality then. She got to know the Master and Tzu Chi from the Jing Si Aphorisms booklet, and was full of praise for the Master’s virtue.
 
However, she expressed shamefully that as a result of a casual remark during the 1998 year-end distribution event, she turned her back on Tzu Chi after being involved for less than a year. She admitted that without proper understanding of the Dharma and the ability to discern the right from wrong, she felt hurt.
 
She then engaged herself in sutra chanting for two years. Again, without comprehending the true meaning, she could not fill her inner void or release her negative emotions. She had been living in pain every day.
 
In December 2011, volunteer Lin Li Yuan invited her for the sutra adaptation performance of Dharma as Water staged by Tzu Chi Melaka at Pay Fong High School. With her family’s encouragement, Shook Lan attended the performance together with her whole family.
 
“When I stepped out, I realized Tzu Chi is no longer the same,” she stated. She was stunned from the start by the neatness and beauty of the performance. When the act “Repenting for Our Afflictions” was played, she felt as if the lyrics were a reflection of her; and she immediately became tearful.
 
She revealed, “I had always been short-tempered, would get jealous easily, was overly concerned with gains and losses, and unable to let go simply. I also could not get over the grudges I held onto after the divorce, even with counselling. But the lyrics made me realize that I had been blaming others in the past and had never seriously faced my own mistakes.” Reflection and repentance had opened the door to her heart.
 
14-year search for spiritual ‘home’
 
In July 2011, the recycling centre at Taman Bukit Cheng donated by her sister, Shook May, was officially opened. As there were not much recyclables initially, Shook May asked her sisters, Shook Lan and Sook Wah, to join her in collecting recyclables from the streets. At first, Shook Lan could not swallow her pride and feared about bumping into relatives, friends and subordinates. Thus, she kept hiding behind her sister along the way.
 
On the first day of Lunar New Year in 2012, Shook May requested her two sisters to help at the recycling centre in view of the increase in recyclables. They only managed to call it a day at noon. Shook Lan finally understood the significance of recycling with her first involvement at the centre.
 
She said, “Despite the ant bites, hot weather and pungent smell, we kept going and the results eventually paid off.” Since then, she no longer feels embarrassed about doing recycling and will even collect recyclables alone.
 
Touched by the Dharma as Water performance, and with her recycling experience, she accepted Li Yuan and her husband, Kuo Chun Yen’s invitation to join them at Melaka Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall in March 2012 in preparing for the Buddha Bathing Ceremony scheduled to be held in May that year.
 
Although she could not understand the meaning of Buddha circumambulation, her eyes began to brim over with tears when the music played. She then realized the long lost family has always been there, and the door is always open for her.
 
Convey beauty and goodness with a pen
 
A week later, Li Yuan again asked Shook Lan to participate in the training programme for documenting volunteers. Being English educated, Shook Lan was worried about her incompetence in the Chinese language but ultimately agreed after continuous encouragement by Li Yuan.
 
During her three years in the documenting team, she has always advocated the values of beauty and goodness through her writing. From witnessing suffering and kindness, she has learnt to cherish her blessings. And she hopes to inspire more people using her pen.
 
She said firmly, “There are bound to be personnel issues and setbacks but I will not leave Tzu Chi anymore. Moreover, I need to catch up with the rest!” She lagged behind in 2014 due to her poor health conditions. But, she has regained her initial aspirations from her previous write-ups and non-stop caregiving from volunteers. This has helped put her in the correct frame of mind to move forward again.
 
She expressed blissfully that the Master’s personal blessing had boosted her confidence and courage. Coupled with strong support, she believes she will be able to withstand any challenges that come her way. She also vowed to stand by the documenting team, to continue producing stories that touch the reader’s heart so that more people will get to know Tzu Chi, thereby spreading the values of beauty, goodness and true Dharma.
 
Pause and discover happiness in life
 
Due to her deep resentment towards her ex-husband’s irresponsible attitude that led to a broken family, her life was at a low ebb. Although she performed sutra recitations, she could not understand why kind people come to no good in the end.
 
After she re-joined Tzu Chi, she was enlightened from the Master’s sermons that the script of one’s life is written by oneself, and that one’s present thoughts will lay the foundation for his/her life of tomorrow.
 
She gradually broke free from those mental shackles and felt thankful for being tested on various occasions as that had helped her grow and given her the opportunity to nurture her children into adulthood.
 
Nowadays, she would take the initiative to approach the family members of her ex-husband. She was overwhelmed when her ex-parents-in-law praised her in front of their relatives and treated her as their daughter. She has also learnt to get along with her own mother.
 
Shook Lan used to be a perfectionist with a strong personality, often unforgiving and lacking compliments for others; and hugging was alien to her. Her life then was filled with emptiness, helplessness, bitterness and gloominess.
 
Under Tzu Chi’s influence, she has learnt to soften her approach and tone down her language, a humbling experience for her. Looking back, she said emotionally, “There are many mentors in my life apparently. I am so blessed.”
 
 
Kuo Chun Yen (1st right) and his wife, Lin Li Yuan (middle), frequently invited Lee Shook Lan (in grey shirt) for activities. [Photograph by Chu Jun Chong]   Lee Shook Lan and her elder sister Shook May (left) are seen here collecting recyclables during the Masi Magam festival. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Kuo Chun Yen (1st right) and his wife, Lin Li Yuan (middle), frequently invited Lee Shook Lan (in grey shirt) for activities. [Photograph by Chu Jun Chong]
 
Lee Shook Lan and her elder sister Shook May (left) are seen here collecting recyclables during the Masi Magam festival. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
During her three years in the documenting team, Lee Shook Lan has always advocated the values of beauty and goodness through her writing. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]   Lee Shook Lan and her younger sister Sook Wah (right) posed for a photo with their virtuous friend, Lin Li Yun, in Taiwan. [Photograph provided by Lee Shook Lan]

During her three years in the documenting team, Lee Shook Lan has always advocated the values of beauty and goodness through her writing. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]
 
 
Lee Shook Lan and her younger sister Sook Wah (right) posed for a photo with their virtuous friend, Lin Li Yun, in Taiwan. [Photograph provided by Lee Shook Lan]
 
Lee Shook Lan, who could not kneel long for the past three years, finally managed to do it after practising the sutra adaptation performance diligently since last October. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]   While performing walking meditation during the 2012 Buddha Bathing Ceremony, Lee Shook Lan imagined that she was on the Dharma ship, ready to set sail! [Photograph by Chua Fook Yuan]

Lee Shook Lan, who could not kneel long for the past three years, finally managed to do it after practising the sutra adaptation performance diligently since last October. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]
 
 
While performing walking meditation during the 2012 Buddha Bathing Ceremony, Lee Shook Lan imagined that she was on the Dharma ship, ready to set sail! [Photograph by Chua Fook Yuan]