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Saturday, 30 April 2016 00:00

Treading Steadfastly for Half a Century

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

In the morning of April 30, pilgrims had walked each step with steadfastness and reverence, moving towards Jing Si Hall slowly and solemnly while chanting Buddha’s name. [Photograph by Beh Chun How]

On April 30,2016, while solemnly reciting “Namo Sakyamuni Buddha”, pilgrims took each step with steadfastness. With earnest hearts, they moved forward slowly towards KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, bowing and prostrating after every three steps. The pilgrims included not only Tzu Chi volunteers, but also the elderly, the handicapped and the young children.


“Are you able to wake up at 4 am?”
“Yes I can!”
“Are you able to complete the journey?”
“Of course!”

Six-year-old Pua Zhi Tung from Da Ai Kindergarten was so excited about the pilgrimage after learning from her teacher that it could cleanse one’s heart, hence has been persuading her parents to bring her to the pilgrimage. As the family had never participated before, the parents thought Zhi Tung was being playful but her will to participate eventually touched her parents deeply.

“My birthday is on April 29 but you don’t have to celebrate with me,” Zhi Tung told her parents in a fit of pique. Her mother then teased her: “So what do you want for a present?” She replied, “Can you take me to the pilgrimage?” Seeing her earnestness, her parents agreed.

Zhi Tung was happy that her birthday is very close to Buddha Day. “The Buddha has such great wisdom; Master also learns from Him and now the Master is teaching us to do good, speak kindly and cultivate wholesome thoughts.”

While the mother was chatting with a few other parents, she realized Zhi Tung had also persuaded her classmates to participate. She jokingly asked the other parents, “We are still short of one person, are you guys coming?” With persuasion from both of them, 10 out of the 15 students in the class agreed to join.

Zhi Tung’s father, Pua Han Guan, sweatered profusely from bowing and kneeling. Little Zhi Tung was at first unable to follow the pace, but after ten bows, she managed to be in time with the rest. With her parents’ company, she did not feel at all tired.

Zhi Tung’s mother, Shai Wei Chin, was holding her two-year-old youngest daughter, hence could not kneel and bow. However, she insisted on completing the journey even though her hands were sore. “I wanted to set a good example for the kids, not to give up easily.”

This was the first time Wei Chin participated in a pilgrimage. With every step she took, she reminded herself to strive for improvements and let go of her bad habits. She hopes that, from this pilgrimage, little Zhi Tung could strengthen her will power.

A walk through half a century

March 24 was Tzu Chi’s establishment day and this year is especially significant as it is Tzu Chi’s 50th Anniversary since it was founded in 1966. Tzu Chi KL & Selangor celebrated this auspicious day with a prostrating pilgrimage at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall.

“After the pilgrimage, it will be the Buddha Bathing Ceremony. Thus, we are facing manpower shortage as the two activities are only two weeks apart. It was a challenge to gather various functional groups to fix the markings on the ground,” said Yap Choong Lin, the coordinator of the functional groups. Finally, he managed to mobilize 37 volunteers to complete the ground markings and huge signages.

“I am grateful for everyone’s sacrifice in taking up the responsibilities for the two important tasks,” remarked a slimmer Choong Lin.

“We used to organize our activities in rented stadium where we always worked within a tight timeline. We thought it would be more relaxing at Jing Si Hall but it was not so, especially when the ground marking was finalized two days before the activity,” Choong Lin added.

To ensure a tidy procession, the team abandoned the positioning method by wires and instead adopted the bricks positioning method with nails. The team had used more than 3,000 nails together with cellophane tapes and paints to fix the markings along the pathway outside Jing Si Hall.

“We have 25 volunteers getting the markings done around seven last night but due to the rain, we requested volunteer Lai Long Men to do a final check at three this morning, to clear the water retention on the road and to highlight the 800 markings with chalk,” Choong Lin laughingly narrated.

To him, it was like having completed the pilgrimage twice so he felt more joy than the pilgrims.

A three-step-one-bow meditation

At 4.30 am, the sky was still dark but Jing Si Hall was fully lighted up. Volunteers had arrived early for Master’s morning Dharma sermon before the pilgrimage. After the Dharma talk, they quickly lined up in front of the Jing Si Hall. A total of 2,300 pilgrims participated in the procession which commenced from the main entrance and completed a full circle round the Jing Si Hall.

After the chanting of “Incense Praise”, the pilgrimage for Tzu Chi’s 50th Anniversary officially started. Step by step, the pilgrims repented through the kneeling, bowing and recitation of “Namo Sakyamuni Buddha”, cleansing their minds and letting go of their worries.

Volunteer Yeow Bing Wan felt blessed to have the opportunity to participate in this meaningful pilgrimage. “Master Cheng Yen had encountered many challenges from the very beginning but that did not stop her; this is what we disciples should learn.”

Bing Wan was grateful for the hard work the volunteers had put in whenever he stepped on the markings as every step and every bowing position were clearly marked, making it clear to everyone where to stop, stand, bow and turn. “This is like Master’s teachings, guiding us, in every step we take, to walk on the correct path.”

Closely following Master’s footsteps

83-year-old Low Yok Lian, whose back is stooped and bent, joined the pilgrimage together with her daughter and granddaughter, to rejoice in Tzu Chi’s 50th Anniversary and to wish Master a happy birthday. Although she was unable to kneel down, she insisted on walking and bowing.

After the pilgrimage, the granny felt energetic. “I wanted to wish Master good health. Master has helped many people globally so she is still needed by many. She has to remain strong and healthy!”

Rajaletchumy a/p Ramasamy was sick the day before and thought of withdrawing, but after persuasion by volunteer Wong Siew Leng, with medication and a good night’s sleep, she felt energetic in the morning. Even though she was unable to kneel, she showed her respect by walking and bowing throughout the procession.

“With every step we take, we must calm our minds so that we can move forward,” she shared. She became a volunteer after her family benefitted from Tzu Chi’s Happy Campus Programme.  To her, Master created the world of Tzu Chi to do good deeds, to help the sick and those in need. Her family situation has now improved and her children are doing well too.

Rajaletchumy expressed, “I am a volunteer and Master’s disciple. I want to follow Master’s footsteps in doing good and become a good person.”

Insistence on completing the entire journey

After the pilgrimage, volunteers gathered at the Sutra Lecture Hall to chant the Medicine Sutra for the well-being of all. Cancer patient, Leong Kwai Chan, wearing a cap and looking emaciated, successfully completed the pilgrimage although her legs were weak due to her five-day weekly electrotherapy.

Kwai Chan sincerely prayed for the world to be free from disasters and for everyone’s safety. She felt that the pilgrimage had calmed her mind and during the procession, her legs did not weaken, allowing her to complete the journey joyfully. She was grateful to the volunteers who have cared and motivated her; through her actions, she wanted to spread her love to others.

Even though she felt tired halfway, she insisted on continuing till the end. “There were a lot of elderly who didn’t give up so how can I? We must tread the Bodhisattva Path with perseverance,” Kwai Chan spoke softly but with great determination. When it is the right thing to do, just do it.

She felt very blessed to be able to celebrate Tzu Chi’s 50th Anniversary. She encountered Tzu Chi when she was in her most vulnerable state and was given strong spiritual support. She hopes to seize each opportunity to contribute and aspired to be a volunteer one day to spread the spirit of Great Love.

Still around after fifty years

Nai Keng Hak, the head of Klang Branch, was grateful for the opportunity to participate in the pilgrimage to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Tzu Chi. Having a deep understanding of the law of impermanence, he felt blessed to be part of this important milestone. Fifty years is not a short time and some may not even live to see it, so the 68-year-old Keng Hak treasured the precious affinity to be part of the celebration.

He said, “Entering 51st year, we have to encourage ourselves daily that we will still be around in another fifty year’s time. If an 80-year-old granny has vowed to be stronger, there is no reason for me not to be diligent.” He believed the special occasion could touch the hearts of many. If everyone can make a vow, the world will be a better place.

In 2016, Tzu Chi celebrated its 50th Anniversary! Tzu Chi had faced many challenges on its Bodhisattva Path for half a century. However, despite all obstacles and challenges, volunteers had walked the path steadfastly with Great Love.

 

During Tzu Chi’s 50th Anniversary in 2016, 2,300 pilgrims had participated in a prostrating pilgrimage to sincerely pay respect to all Buddhas. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]   Six-year-old Pua Zhi Tung (3rd right) from Da Ai Kindergarten, together with her father Pua Han Guan (4th right) and mother Shai Wei Chin (1st right), participated in the pilgrimage. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]

During Tzu Chi’s 50th Anniversary in 2016, 2,300 pilgrims had participated in a prostrating pilgrimage to sincerely pay respect to all Buddhas. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
Six-year-old Pua Zhi Tung (3rd right) from Da Ai Kindergarten, together with her father Pua Han Guan (4th right) and mother Shai Wei Chin (1st right), participated in the pilgrimage. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
Master Cheng Yen’s compassion has deeply touched 83-year-old Low Yok Lian; she prayed for the Master’s health and longevity. [Photograph by Chin Seiw Yin]   Leong Kwai Chan, a cancer patient with an emaciated body, completed the pilgrimage although she underwent electrotherapy five days a week. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]

Master Cheng Yen’s compassion has deeply touched 83-year-old Low Yok Lian; she prayed for the Master’s health and longevity. [Photograph by Chin Seiw Yin]
 
 
Leong Kwai Chan, a cancer patient with an emaciated body, completed the pilgrimage although she underwent electrotherapy five days a week. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
Rajaletchumy became a volunteer after her family benefitted from Tzu Chi’s Happy Campus Programme. “I wanted to follow Master’s footsteps in doing good and become a good person.” [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]   Yeow Bing Wan (front) felt grateful with the Master’s teachings in guiding her disciples to walk on the correct path. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

Rajaletchumy became a volunteer after her family benefitted from Tzu Chi’s Happy Campus Programme. “I wanted to follow Master’s footsteps in doing good and become a good person.” [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
 
Yeow Bing Wan (front) felt grateful with the Master’s teachings in guiding her disciples to walk on the correct path. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
Nai Keng Hak, who has been with Tzu Chi for over 20 years, was grateful to witness the commemoration of Tzu Chi’s 50th Anniversary. He aspired to be stronger and to abide closely to the Master’s teachings. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]   Volunteer, Yap Choong Lin, the main coordinator for marking the ground, felt he had completed the pilgrimage twice, hence the immense joy gained from the kneeling and bowing. [Photograph by Beh Chun How]

Nai Keng Hak, who has been with Tzu Chi for over 20 years, was grateful to witness the commemoration of Tzu Chi’s 50th Anniversary. He aspired to be stronger and to abide closely to the Master’s teachings. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
 
Volunteer, Yap Choong Lin, the main coordinator for marking the ground, felt he had completed the pilgrimage twice, hence the immense joy gained from the kneeling and bowing. [Photograph by Beh Chun How]