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Sunday, 14 May 2017 00:00

Dharma Masters and Catholic Nuns Gathered to Witness the Beauty of Buddhism

Written by  Loh Siew Lian & Tan Siew Chern, Melaka / Translated by Lim Wen Xin

Tzu Chi volunteers prayed piously and respectfully; the solemn Buddha bathing ceremony and genuine atmosphere touched many hearts. [Photograph by Yong Siew Lee]

Tzu Chi Foundation has been in Taiwan for 51 years, and in Malaysia for over 20. Years of emphasis on Buddhism in action has gained widespread recognition from the public. At the Buddha bathing ceremony, the invited representative of the National Society of St Vincent De Paul Malaysia turned up and sponsored some vegetables for the vegetarian reception; Hindu volunteers vowed to follow Master Cheng Yen; and Dharma Masters and Catholic nuns supported the Bamboo Bank Era, proving that kindness could cross boundaries of religions!


On May 14, 2017, Tzu Chi’s 3-in-1 celebration of Buddha’s Day, Mother’s Day and Global Tzu Chi’s Day, Tzu Chi Malacca held a grand Buddha bathing ceremony with volunteers sincerely inviting the public to “come home” for the ceremony. Various activities, including a “Veggie World” stage-clearing game, the return of bamboo banks, introduction to Jing Si products, introduction to courses offered by Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre and exhibition of students’ work, sharing sessions of Tzu Chi Malacca’s construction of an international school, and welcoming the public to become a volunteer or member, were set up to deepen the public’s understanding of Tzu Chi and current affairs, and to give them a chance to do kind deeds.

Tzu Chi volunteers wholeheartedly organized the event so that the public would be touched and could get to know the beauty of Buddhism. The public turned up with their family members and children for the Ceremony. This year, volunteers also focused on the promotion of “Ethical Eating”, which encourages everyone to have meatless meals. Tzu Chi Malacca’s Deputy CEO, Wah Jing Min said, “The true reason for Buddha bathing ceremony is to thank the Triple Jewels, our parents and all sentient beings. Whilst the ceremony itself remains unchanged, the annual theme varies and it gets better and better each year.”

Through prior mobilization of the community volunteers to personally go from door-to-door extending invitation to the event, they had successfully welcomed 6,000 attendees, including those who came via the 41 pre-arranged buses, to the ceremony. Also present at the event were ten Dharma Masters, three Catholic priests, five nuns and fifteen disciples, and 20 church members from the National Society of St Vincent De Paul Malaysia.

A joyful and mighty team

“Today when I see so many people coming to honour the Buddha, pay respect to the Buddha and learn about Buddhism, alongside with such a vast and mighty team of volunteers, I was filled with joy,” exclaimed Buddhist practitioner, Yau Kang Hwai. He continued, “The Saha World has five aggregates of sufferings. Master Cheng Yen is truly here to get everyone to better themselves and to transform lives.”

He said, “Where there is Dharma, there is a way; everything would be satisfactory if the Dharma is practised in real life. Master Cheng Yen established the Four Missions to recruit others (to Tzu Chi) through skilful means.”

He smilingly shared the joy of bathing the Buddha and mentioned that Buddha bathing can purify hearts, “The body is the carrier; we need to use it to do kind deeds, to help those who are suffering and the unfortunate to change their lives.”

Beyond religion

Twenty church members from the National Society of St Vincent De Paul Malaysia, who turned up for the ceremony, were especially eye-catching. They have been carrying out poverty relief work all this while, and when Director Mr Ng found out that Tzu Chi would serve vegetarian food at the Buddha bathing ceremony, he generously donated 20 kg of okra from his own farm. He had earlier invited other church members to the ceremony, and they had unanimously agreed to attend the event. He deeply believed, “all the religions should work together to form greater power.”

With his encouragement, many church members installed Da Ai TV channels in their homes to learn about Tzu Chi’s philosophy and the spirit of Great Love. He once saw Pope Francis (the current Pope of the Roman Catholic Church) praising Tzu Chi’s Great Love on Da Ai TV. Mr Ng humbly said, “We are here to learn the spirit of Tzu Chi’s Great Love.” They felt comfortable attending Tzu Chi’s solemn and peaceful Buddha bathing ceremony.

An Indian volunteer who vowed to follow the Master

Nadarajan a/l Kotaraju, an Indian volunteer from Malacca, was very pleased at his first Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony. He took a day off work, shaved the beard that he had kept for 40 years, put on his grey volunteer shirt for the first time, and rushed to the venue at 6.30 am to take charge of a care recipient, Chandrasekaran a/l R. Raju.

When he arrived at the Tzu Chi Malacca premises, he saw a sea of people ahead of him and commented joyfully, “It feels like I have entered a huge happy family and that I can proudly tell others that I am also Master’s disciple!”

He changed his appearance to prove that he was prepared and determined to undergo training to be a volunteer. He often read the foreign language version of the Jing Si Aphorisms given to him by a volunteer, using it to better understand the Master’s ideologies. To him, Buddhism and Hinduism were not contradictory; and since the Master had influenced countless people around the world to follow her teachings and to make changes, to Nadarajan, this teacher was worth respecting and following.

An utmost sincere prayer for a family member

Tai Wee Ping, who had joined Tzu Chi’s home visit to the care recipients once, began dialysis this March. As he had witnessed the suffering of others, he never sulked because of his illness. Instead, he thought he was blessed. He was a man with a big heart. Although he was ill, he did not forget to offer his filial piety at the solemn ceremony. He did not request anything for himself; he prayed for longevity for his mother, who had lived all her life for her children, and world peace with a most sincere heart.

Sixty-two-year-old care recipient, Chandrasekaran attended Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony for the first time, accompanied by volunteer, Lee Shook May. He wanted to pray for his daughter Priya, a comatose after an accident last year, on top of being recently diagnosed with final stage cancer; and his wife, who suffers from multiple diseases.

After Priya was injured, the youngest daughter became the breadwinner of the family of four. Last December, when the youngest daughter found a job in Malacca, the entire family moved from Seremban to Malacca and rented a place temporarily. A nurse at General Hospital Malacca referred their case to Tzu Chi Malacca, and the volunteers sent them an oxygen tube and a sickbed, and monthly supplies of adult diapers. Shook May and other community volunteers invited Chandrasekaran to attend the ceremony, hoping to gather the strength of the public to pray for his family.

“My daughter and wife’s illnesses gave me lots of stress and worries. When I come to Tzu Chi, I feel many earnest hearts are helping me. Their concerns have helped me to overcome all difficulties. Today, when I bathed the Buddha, my heart felt calm. I believe my family will receive this prayer I devoutly prayed from the bottom of my heart.”

To give devoutly to nurture kindness

Venerable Chang Fa from a Buddhist temple, Zhu Lin Jing Yuan in Malacca, has been attending Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony since 2011. He deeply agreed with Tzu Chi’s way of presenting the spirit of Buddhism and celebrating Buddha’s Day through a solemn and orderly ceremony by its team of volunteers. Venerable Chang Fa adopted a bamboo bank last year; since then, whenever there was a service at the temple, he would take the bamboo bank around, requesting for donations from followers and later bringing the donations back to Tzu Chi.

“I often tell the devotees, a drip of water would fill up a pot one day; (do not underestimate the impact of) small kind deeds. This method could cultivate the goodwill of people to practise giving, remove greed, encourage the concept of many a little makes a mickle, and it could help those in need.”

Venerable Chang Fa learnt about Tzu Chi from the online Da Ai TV. He thought that good things needed to be shared and promoted, and praised, “Tzu Chi doesn’t question those they helped about their religion or their citizenship. Although Buddhist practice does not insist on collecting merits, this kind act has greatly influenced Buddhism. It tells others that Buddhism is doing its best to help others, that it changes people. Thank you, Tzu Chi, for doing so much for the world, and to tell the world that Buddhism can make a difference too. You have all taken the first step, so future generations can follow your lead.”

Venerable Chang Fa also mentioned that today’s society is in a chaos with firm hearts for retaliation amongst human beings; only a compassionate heart could change their minds. The best way is to turn vegetarian and end all killings so as not to evoke hatred with sentient beings. It was because of this that Venerable Chang Fa hoped to correct the public’s rooted mindset at his temple, that is, not to visit the temple solely to donate money. Instead, it is a good place to purify one’s heart.

Create opportunities for doing kind deeds

Seventy-one-year-old Sister Theresa Yeo, who is in charge of Sacred Heart Kindergarten in Malacca, attended the ceremony for the third time with a frame of mind to respect all religions.

She said that she had heard other Catholic nuns mentioned that Tzu Chi was good and was helping others. Last year, on her second trip to Tzu Chi premises, she came across the posters about the various missions of Tzu Chi and understood that Tzu Chi had done lots of meaningful work. She said, “Tzu Chi is an organized group that is engaged in similar work as the Catholics to help the world and to carry out environmental protection efforts so Earth could become a better place to live in. This is a great thing.”

Sister Theresa had two Tzu Chi bamboo banks with her, and one was filled with the kindness of a kindergarten student’s father. She shared that this father, who was poor previously, has started to lead a better life and had wished to help others. Last year, when he mentioned to Sister Theresa that he would like to bring joy to the children at Christmas, Sister Theresa gave him a bamboo bank and reminded him to return it. The father filled up the little Bank with lots of love (coins) and had Sister bring it back to Tzu Chi.

Sister Theresa said, “We gather our strength to do kind deeds. As God says that if you help a poor person, you are in fact helping yourself; give a little every day, you will receive them in folds. ”



For several years in a row, Tzu Chi Malacca’s Buddha bathing ceremony had been held at Malacca International Trade Centre (MITC). Although the venue could accommodate more people, the warmth of a “home” was missing.

Two years ago, Deputy CEO, Wah Jing Min, used a questionnaire to consult the opinions of the leaders of the community volunteers and realized that more than half of the volunteers preferred to have joyous events at their own “home”. Hence, after rounds of communications and discussions, everyone reached the consensus to utilize Jing Si Hall’s existing software and hardware equipment, and the Hall’s solemnity. This is the second year that Tzu Chi Malacca has held the ceremony back at Jing Si Hall.

It is because of the venue change that the volunteer’s internal cohesion was enhanced. Through the increasing number of attendees from the previous year, the earnest giving of the volunteers was acknowledged. This were the feedbacks and recognition the public had given Tzu Chi. They had also expressed their enhanced familiarity of Jing Si Hall’s environment.

May 14, 2017, was Tzu Chi’s 3-in-1 celebration of Buddha’s Day, Mother’s Day and Global Tzu Chi’s Day. Tzu Chi Malacca held a grand Buddha bathing ceremony at the Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Heng Ching Chuan]   Ten Dharma Masters and a Dharma practitioner from the temple joined the Buddha bathing ceremony. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]

May 14, 2017, was Tzu Chi’s 3-in-1 celebration of Buddha’s Day, Mother’s Day and Global Tzu Chi’s Day. Tzu Chi Malacca held a grand Buddha bathing ceremony at the Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Heng Ching Chuan]
 
Ten Dharma Masters and a Dharma practitioner from the temple joined the Buddha bathing ceremony. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]
 
Wah Jing Min expressed that the Buddha bathing ceremony was truly about repaying the grace of the Buddha, parents and all sentient beings. Although the ritual itself remained unchanged, the annual theme varied, and it got better and better each year. Picture shows Wah Jing Min showed his concern over the preparation work of the ceremony. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]   Buddhist Yao Jiang Huai felt happy to see the crowd who came to pay respect to the Buddha, and learn about Buddhism, not to mention the mighty team of volunteers. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]

Wah Jing Min expressed that the Buddha bathing ceremony was truly about repaying the grace of the Buddha, parents and all sentient beings. Although the ritual itself remained unchanged, the annual theme varied, and it got better and better each year. Picture shows Wah Jing Min showed his concern over the preparation work of the ceremony. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
 
Buddhist Yao Jiang Huai felt happy to see the crowd who came to pay respect to the Buddha, and learn about Buddhism, not to mention the mighty team of volunteers. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
Care recipient Chandrasekaran attending his first Buddha bathing ceremony, praying for his family. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]   Venerable Chang Fa from Zhu Lin Jing Yuan in Malacca had been attending Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony since 2011. He deeply agreed with Tzu Chi’s way of presenting the spirit of Buddhism and celebrating Buddha’s Day through a solemn and orderly ceremony by its team of volunteers. [Photograph by Heng Ching Chuan]

Care recipient Chandrasekaran attending his first Buddha bathing ceremony, praying for his family. [Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen]
 
 
Venerable Chang Fa from Zhu Lin Jing Yuan in Malacca had been attending Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony since 2011. He deeply agreed with Tzu Chi’s way of presenting the spirit of Buddhism and celebrating Buddha’s Day through a solemn and orderly ceremony by its team of volunteers. [Photograph by Heng Ching Chuan]
 
Mr Ng (middle) from the National Society of St Vincent De Paul Malaysia led other church members to attend Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]   Sister Theresa attended Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony with a frame of mind to respect all religions. She is seen here emptying the kindness of the father of a kindergarten student (a fully-filled bamboo bank). [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]

Mr Ng (middle) from the National Society of St Vincent De Paul Malaysia led other church members to attend Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
 
Sister Theresa attended Tzu Chi’s Buddha bathing ceremony with a frame of mind to respect all religions. She is seen here emptying the kindness of the father of a kindergarten student (a fully-filled bamboo bank). [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]