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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Wednesday, 22 October 2014 00:00

Penetrating the Dharma through Group Cultivation

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team, KL & Selangor / Translated by Chong Pei Fen

Three sessions of sutra study on “Dharma as Water” were held at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, in preparation for the sutra adaptation performance to be staged next year. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

On October 22, 2014, Deepavali, about 2,600 Tzu Chi volunteers from Central and Southern Malaysia attended a three-session large-scale sutra study on “Dharma as Water” at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. Guided by volunteers-in-charge, the attendees learnt the verses in the sutra, followed by their sign language interpretations, in preparation for the grand sutra adaptation performance next year.


 
Echo Chien, CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, shared with joy, “This year, we finally received the Master’s blessings to stage the full version of ‘Dharma as Water’ musical sign language performance. It will be held on four stage platforms at the Putra Indoor Stadium, Bukit Jalil, on July 4 and 5, 2015. About 4,000 volunteers are expected to be involved in this event.”
 
Opening the doors to repentance
 
It is the volunteers’ earnest wish that this sutra adaptation performance, which expects to draw an audience of 50,000 people in total, will open the doors to repentance - repent and eliminate our defilements by taking the Dharma to heart, and purify our body and mind by reverently observing vegetarian fasting for 108 days. With more people learning the Dharma and realizing the truth, the resonance of goodness will be amplified.
 
Echo Chien informed that ever since the successful staging of the sutra adaptation performance of “Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance” by Tzu Chi Taiwan three years ago, the KL & Selangor Branch has been looking forward to this great affinity. However, the Master requested that her disciples must first understand the origin and meaning of the sutra through study group, before advancing to the sutra adaptation performance.
 
Despite the delay, Tzu Chi KL & Selangor had in the past two or three years, presented sections of the sign language interpretation of the “Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance” during the Year-end Blessing Ceremony; and the response had been overwhelming.
 
Echo Chien also observed that the sutra, “Dharma as Water”, is most appropriate for Tzu Chi volunteers because it conveys the petrifying consequences of creating bad karma and reminds us to retain our pure innate-nature while serving among the crowd. She added, “We had created a lot of bad karma in our past lives due to the lack of Dharma in our hearts. The ‘Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance’ helps unearth our pure innate-nature through self-reflection and repentance, and imparts in us the right knowledge and right views. It also lays an excellent foundation for volunteers to tread on the path of Mahayana Buddhism.”
 
Undaunted by difficulties
 
Lin Chia Hua, leader of the planning team, was happy and touched that the volunteers’ dream to stage a full version of the “Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance” musical sign language performance in Kuala Lumpur has finally come true.
 
She revealed, “I had witnessed five shows of this sutra adaptation performance on either two or four stage platforms. But, I had secretly wished we could stage a performance utilizing four stage platforms here in Kuala Lumpur, so that more people are given the chance to partake and learn the Dharma. I know it is a very challenging task, but it is also my responsibility and mission, so I must overcome all difficulties by all means.”
 
Chia Hua and her team members returned to Taiwan in September this year. In recalling the Master’s repeated reminders for her to be more heedful, she said, “Assuming a hefty mission this time, I must be extra mindful and cautious to ensure that we live up to the Master’s expectation.”
 
To reduce the burden on the sign language team, Chia Hua divided the eight tracks in the performance into three groups and handed them to community volunteers for further execution. The involvement of about 480 people as sign language coaches clearly indicates how careful the planning team has been. Chia Hua believes that with prior experiences in staging sections of this sutra adaptation performance in the past Year-end Blessing Ceremonies, and with well tacit cooperation among the volunteers, they will be able to create a captivating and touching atmosphere during the actual shows.
 
After this large-scale sutra study, the planning team will proceed with a series of preparatory work, which includes recruitment of actors. Everyone is full of anticipation to see the list of local actors, who will join the line-up.
 
More confident as doubts cleared
 
Volunteer Liao Shu Yu revealed that prior to the exchange trip to Taiwan, volunteers in the planning and Dharma interpretation teams had cause for panic when they received a wealth of resources. It was almost impossible for them to go through and understand each piece of information given. As they were lost and did not know how to handle the resources, they could not wait to consult their counterparts in Taiwan. Thanks to the sharing and exchanges with the Master, Taiwanese volunteers and Da Ai TV crews, they finally had a clearer direction.
 
Shu Yu had always thought that the target of the performance is the actual shows. When the Da Ai TV crew informed that the focus of the event is not on the actual performances on July 4 and 5, 2015, but rather on the preparatory process and interactions with the public members and volunteers throughout the process, she was suddenly awakened to the fact that the actual target is a real Dharma assembly that brings about a heart of repentance in recognizing our unwholesomeness.
 
Since August this year, sutra study on “Dharma as Water” has been held bimonthly at 18 community centres in KL & Selangor. The Dharma interpretation team has worked together with the training team to seek, study and compile resources from various sources, prepare formal information kits, and conduct meetings to demonstrate the delivery of contents prior to the group cultivation.
 
Through the exchanges, Shu Yu also realized that the scope and ways to deliver the Dharma interpretation are not restricted to brief reports and explanations based on the verses. They could actually think outside the box and convey the Dharma interpretation through experiential activities, questions and answers, confessions, and so on.
 
With her doubts cleared, Shu Yu is all the more confident in leading the Dharma interpretation team of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor.
 
Travelling the miles to learn the Dharma
 
Ong Seng Yeow, person-in-charge of Tzu Chi Kluang, informed that 23 volunteers and public members had travelled all the way from Kluang to KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall to partake in this large-scale sutra study. He was full of praise for Yang Meng Chao, the first volunteer in Mersing, who had transported seven people through a journey of 450 km to the event. In response, Meng Chao shyly said that besides the purpose of experiencing the solemnity of a large-scale sutra study, he also wished to visit the long anticipated Jing Si Hall.
 
Seng Yeow admitted that the need for mental strength, time management and transport arrangements are all challenges to him. He hoped that volunteers, who had attended the sutra study, would take up the responsibilities to teach other performers and get more people to join the performance. He would also make some adjustments to the programmes of community activities and try to get volunteers from Kluang to lead the study group in Mersing.
 
Another volunteer, Zeng Ruo Li, who accompanied her family members to the event, was full of anticipation for the actual performance. She felt that by learning the Dharma, one can cultivate internally by getting rid of one’s unwholesome habits, and externally by inspiring the loving-kindness in others, as well as, observing one’s mind, body and thought and the ten precepts. She said, “I am looking forward to the joint performance with volunteers from Tzu Chi KL & Selangor next year. I hope I can internalize the Dharma and dispel all unwholesome habits.”
 
 
About 2,600 volunteers from Central and Southern Malaysia participated in the large-scale sutra study, conducted at three different venues in the Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]   An acceptance assessment was carried out on the performers, who had gone through community-level sutra study and practices in the past three months. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]

About 2,600 volunteers from Central and Southern Malaysia participated in the large-scale sutra study, conducted at three different venues in the Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
An acceptance assessment was carried out on the performers, who had gone through community-level sutra study and practices in the past three months. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]
 
During the exchange trip to Taiwan, Liao Shu Yu realized that the actual target is not a performance, but a real Dharma assembly that brings about a heart of repentance in recognizing our unwholesomeness. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]   Volunteers-in-charge of sign language mindfully ensured that everyone got the gestures right. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

During the exchange trip to Taiwan, Liao Shu Yu realized that the actual target is not a performance, but a real Dharma assembly that brings about a heart of repentance in recognizing our unwholesomeness. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]
 
 
Volunteers-in-charge of sign language mindfully ensured that everyone got the gestures right. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
Yang Meng Chao (1st right), the first Tzu Chi volunteer in Mersing, transported seven people through a journey of 450 km to the sutra study. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]   Zeng Ruo Li, a volunteer from Tzu Chi Melaka, accompanied her family members to the sutra study. She hopes to learn the Dharma and cultivate herself, both internally and externally. [Photograph by Lim Kar Guan]

Yang Meng Chao (1st right), the first Tzu Chi volunteer in Mersing, transported seven people through a journey of 450 km to the sutra study. [Photograph by Yong Kar Chew]
 
 
Zeng Ruo Li, a volunteer from Tzu Chi Melaka, accompanied her family members to the sutra study. She hopes to learn the Dharma and cultivate herself, both internally and externally. [Photograph by Lim Kar Guan]