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Wednesday, 24 October 2018 00:00

Leaving the Past Behind for A Happy Home

Written by  Yong Siew Lee, Malacca / Translated by Ong Mooi Lin

Chew Chin Ping actively takes part in various Tzu Chi’s activities. He appealed to the public to perform good deeds at the “One Person, One Good Deed” campaign in 2018. [Photograph by Ngow Judy]

Fame and wealth were all Chew Chin Ping cared about previously. Now, he is transformed into a person enriched with the selfless spirit of Great Love. Guided by his extended Tzu Chi family, he has changed for the better and is striving towards becoming a full-fledged Tzu Chi volunteer, who upholds Tzu Chi’s principles and serves the greater good.


“My mind used to be preoccupied with only fame and fortune – nothing else. But now, my daughters tease me, saying, ‘Dad, you are Tzu Chi personified!’ I never expected myself to have changed this much!” shared Tzu Chi volunteer Chew Chin Ping, after listening to the live broadcast of Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma talk at dawn. Sporting a crew cut with the buttons on his shirt fastened up to the last one, he exudes a friendly demeanour.

Several years ago, it was the norm for Chin Ping to return home drunk in the wee hours of the morning, before having to wake up sober a few hours later to fetch his two daughters to school. He constantly ended up quarrelling with his daughters as his temper flared easily, compounded by the lack of sleep. He took after his father’s egoistic personality, often exerting a domineering stance over his conversations with his daughters, who barely had the chance to get a word in. He would admonish his daughters, provoking protests from them, and he would raise his voice at them in return. Mornings would start with heated exchanges between father and daughters, before ending in the daughters’ sobs. Chin Ping’s daughters were intimidated by him, leading to a tense relationship between them.

Back then, Chin Ping gave up a lucrative job offer abroad as he wanted to spend more time with his daughters growing up. His daughters would run to him excitedly whenever he returned home, but the happy times did not last long. He quit his job and started his own business venture, working hard to provide a comfortable life for his family and quality education for his daughters. However, frequent social events, an unhealthy lifestyle and accumulated stress made him irritable and short-tempered, threatening to jeopardize his relationship with his family.

The comfort of home

“I love the comfort of home,” mused Chin Ping. He once remarked in the past that he was not suited for marriage, but eventually realized that his initial reservations towards marriage were due to his ignorance of how to maintain positive family relationships. This dilemma gradually took a turn for the better after he joined Tzu Chi as a volunteer.

Four years ago, Chin Ping’s younger brother introduced him to fellow volunteer Low Seng Lee, who invited Chin Ping to attend the Buddha Bathing Ceremony. It turned out that Chin Ping had heard of Tzu Chi in his university days, but was clueless about the nature of the organization. He never ventured to find out either, despite having lived in close proximity to a Tzu Chi Liaison Office. Subsequently, Seng Lee invited Chin Ping to participate in the “Dharma as Water” Sutra Adaptation Performance held on July 4, 2015.

Throughout the preparations for the performance, Chin Ping had witnessed the sincere gestures offered by many around him, free from superficial niceties or pretence. His growing affinity for Tzu Chi has intensified ever since. He was moved most deeply by the sense of belonging he felt after joining the extended family of Tzu Chi, where everyone bonds through unconditional love that transcends boundaries.

Chin Ping remarked, “The volunteers are not related to each other in any way, much less as family members. No one has anything to gain by taking advantage of another, yet everyone is committed to serving from the heart. I am touched by their warm sincerity – even family members might fall short of displaying such genuine affection.” Once, when Chin Ping was down with a prolonged bout of coughing, volunteers expressed constant concern for him and even prepared sweet soups for him. He applied all that he had learnt in Tzu Chi in his daily life by making positive changes to his relationship with his family.

Improving family relationships

Chin Ping described his relationship with his father in the past as hostile and confrontational. When his father called to inform he was sick, Chin Ping would chide him: “You have only your stubbornness to blame.” His critical tone would incite his father to abruptly hang up on him in anger.

Being involved in Tzu Chi had opened Chin Ping’s eyes to the many facets of life. By participating in volunteer training courses and watching Da Ai TV programmes, he had gained a better understanding of the importance of filial piety: If he is capable of caring for care recipients, why not his own father? When his father suffered from illness due to old age, he started visiting his father every Sunday to keep him company.

“The more positive values I learn in Tzu Chi, the more motivated I am to commit myself to meaningful deeds,” said Chin Ping. Initially, Chin Ping felt awkward coming into physical contact with his father, but he persisted until it gradually became second nature. Since young, he had never held his father’s hand. But now, he is used to showing tender love and care to his father in place of harsh criticism. His change in attitude towards his father has made the latter more dependent on him, to the extent that his siblings would turn to him to mediate conflicts between themselves and their father because they unanimously agree that their father is particularly fond of Chin Ping.

Chin Ping and his family now live in harmony, a stark contrast from his former temperamental self, who used to bring home pent-up stress from work and kept mostly to himself, exchanging few words with his wife and daughters. Back then, he idled most of his time away indulging in hedonistic pleasures. Now, he dedicates himself to Tzu Chi. His wife once protested in mock jealousy, “Your Tzu Chi commitments are more important to you anyway, so why don’t you take refuge in Tzu Chi then?”

“He has changed a lot,” shared Chin Ping’s younger brother with Seng Lee, in recognition of Chin Ping’s transformation, while acknowledging his own shortcomings.

Embracing vegetarianism is my choice

In the process of preparing for the “Dharma as Water” Sutra Adaptation Performance, Chin Ping’s understanding of karmic cause and effect was reinforced through immersion in Buddhist spiritual music, Dharma sharing sessions and stories of repentance by others. He pledged to commit to a vegetarian diet for 108 days in order to fulfil his obligations for the performance. However, as a property developer, the temptation of lavish spreads at social events was inevitable. In addition, he could not resist his favourite fried chicken. Hence, to assuage his guilt, he would devote the following two days to vegetarian meals to make up for each day spent on non-vegetarian meals.

At the persistent invitation of Seng Lee and another volunteer, Lau Bok Lan, Chin Ping progressively took part in various Tzu Chi’s activities, including community recycling work, home visits and donor and volunteer recruitment drives. Yet, due to the nature of his job and his hesitancy in forgoing his favourite fried chicken, it was challenging for him to fully embrace vegetarianism.

Chin Ping has always looked up to volunteers like Bok Lan, whose speech and actions are consistent. Naturally, he willingly heeded her advice that “Spiritual cultivation is not a lone pursuit, but a virtue to be imparted to those around us.” With Bok Lan’s words in mind, Chin Ping is eager to spread the word about Tzu Chi’s missions with whoever he meets, besides clarifying his commitment to vegetarianism. Initially, his candid sharing was met with ridicule from naysayers who insisted that “Life is short; enjoy it to the fullest” and were skeptical of his way of life. Those who doubted his resolve eventually learnt to accept and respect his choices.

Avoiding karmic retribution

Chin Ping used to reprimand his employees incessantly from the moment he entered the construction site, and would turn a blind eye to even a job well done. He took his employees’ hard work for granted, as he believed that for as long as they were paid wages, they were obligated to perform on the job. His reprimands would last until he left the site, leaving his subordinates and construction workers shaking their heads in dismay, remarking that the mere sight of him would make their stomachs churn in disdain. His foul attitude towards his employees would have potentially resulted in negative consequences, for they would be driven to rebel by engaging in disruptive behaviour that incur loss and damage to the company, such as littering and stealing.

“I trusted only myself when I started my business. But after joining Tzu Chi, I trust Master Cheng Yen would enhance my wisdom. I will keep up a positive image and live up to my role as a Tzu Chi volunteer,” declared Chin Ping. He has been doing his best to observe the Ten Precepts of Tzu Chi. His attitude towards his employees has since changed for the better, and he communicates tactfully with them and generously showers them with compliments in order to achieve optimal work performance. The lessons on karmic cause and effect that he had learnt in Tzu Chi have also influenced his perspective on workplace relations.

Chin Ping said, “A durable house is the foundation of a happy home. It should last a family for life.” For Chin Ping, if the workmanship and the quality of materials used in constructing houses are substandard, bad karma would manifest not only due to complaints lodged by the homeowners, but also arguments that would arise between married couples living in the property. Therefore, Chin Ping exercises due diligence in upholding the standards of the housing projects under his supervision, and spares no expense in ensuring they are well-equipped.

“The building reminds me of Chin Ping’s sincerity, honesty, integrity and faith every time I pass by it,” said Bok Lan. “He exemplifies the spirit of empathy as advocated by the Master, who advised, ‘Build a house mindfully as if you were to live in it.’” Bok Lan is moved by Chin Ping’s dedication in putting the Master’s teachings into practice.

Recently, a sub-contractor complimented the fine workmanship of the construction projects under the purview of Chin Ping’s firm, and suggested that he apply for his firm to be evaluated through the Quality Assessment System in Construction (QLASSIC) to boost property sales.

“I don’t find it necessary,” asserted Chin Ping, who is content with working hard to make an honest profit, for he believes that simplicity brings happiness.

“I am more comfortable in my own skin and my present lifestyle, and my faith in Tzu Chi has been reinforced,” admitted Chin Ping. Now that he is approaching his 50s – he is 48 this year – his admiration for Tzu Chi has grown deeper, and he believes that the enduring relevance of Tzu Chi, an organization that is still standing strong after 53 years since its founding, speaks for itself. He remains ever willing to continue learning from and abiding by Master Cheng Yen’s teachings.

“Stay grounded and humble by taking things one step at a time,” mused Chin Ping. This year, he will be returning to Tzu Chi’s Headquarters in Hualien, Taiwan, to be certified as a Tzu Cheng Faith Corps member. Following that, he aspires to allocate more time to serve in Tzu Chi.
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His greatest wish is for all his family members to volunteer with Tzu Chi, and he envisions his family to be one united by a shared direction in life.

 

Before joining Tzu Chi, all Chew Chin Ping cared about were fame and fortune. He played the part of a character resembling his former self in a performance at the 2016 Year-end Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]   Chew Chin Ping (2nd from right) was invited to participate in the “Dharma as Water” Sutra Adaptation Performance in 2015. He was deeply moved by the performance and has since been actively involved in Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]

Before joining Tzu Chi, all Chew Chin Ping cared about were fame and fortune. He played the part of a character resembling his former self in a performance at the 2016 Year-end Blessing Ceremony. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]
 
Chew Chin Ping (2nd from right) was invited to participate in the “Dharma as Water” Sutra Adaptation Performance in 2015. He was deeply moved by the performance and has since been actively involved in Tzu Chi. [Photograph by Leong Chian Yee]
 
Joining Tzu Chi had enabled Chew Chin Ping to regain the warmth of family life. He is pictured here with his family. [Photograph courtesy of Chew Chin Ping]   Chew Chin Ping (far left) watches Da Ai TV programmes whenever he is free. He also attends the live broadcast of Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma talk at dawn every Saturday and shares his thoughts after that. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Joining Tzu Chi had enabled Chew Chin Ping to regain the warmth of family life. He is pictured here with his family. [Photograph courtesy of Chew Chin Ping]
 
 
Chew Chin Ping (far left) watches Da Ai TV programmes whenever he is free. He also attends the live broadcast of Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma talk at dawn every Saturday and shares his thoughts after that. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]