Wednesday, Aug 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Saturday, 18 April 2015 17:14

Thankful to Grow Spiritually through Adversity

Written by  Gan Chian Nee, KL & Selangor / Translated by Jacqueline Khoo

Chong Choi Ha practising the song, “Vow with Utmost Sincerity”, at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Tia Yee Ling]

After suffering from illness, Chong Choi Ha stood in the formation of the Water Repentance sutra adaptation performance with a bright and confident smile. She performed the sign language while singing, “We vow to turn the Realm of Hell into a Pure Land by eliminating karmic obstacles. We vow to turn our animosity to goodwill…”


 
Chong Choi Ha feels that Master Cheng Yen has been saving all beings in the Saha world, and one day, our world will become a pure and beautiful place!
 
“When an unwholesome thought rises in our hearts, sometimes we couldn’t even realize it as it is very tiny,” said Choi Ha, who thought that she was good at applying and restating the Master’s teachings. However, when faced with challenges, her worries would rise immediately; and only then would she realize that she “did not have enough Dharma” and “did not really understand the Master’s teachings”.
 
Although she has been certified as a Commissioner, she still has to hold on to the precepts without slacking; otherwise, she could not be sure that she could handle the situation when faced with a challenge. Once, while eating out with her colleagues, Choi Ha could not resist her cravings and broke the precepts by having meat. She bravely confessed and repented her deeds in front of the audience during a group cultivation, and reminded herself that as a disciple of the Master, she should observe the precepts resolutely.
 
Unprepared for unexpected events
 
Choi Ha recalled that as she was a perfectionist with a strong sense of responsibility, she would finish all her work properly no matter how tired she was. Her job in the bank was really busy, with working hours sometimes exceeding 12 hours a day. But, the fact that her superior held her in high regard had motivated her to work harder. She recalled that when in a rush, she would often have her meals while driving; and she regarded that as “enjoying” a busy life.
 
Choi Ha shared that sickness comes from our thoughts, and worries can affect our emotions and lead to illness. In April 2014, the long suppressed tiredness and physical complaints finally surfaced, and she was diagnosed with breast cancer that had spread to her lymph nodes. She was terrified. The chemotherapy treatments resulted in pain in her bones, numbness in her hands and mouth ulcers, all of which brought about her worst mood swings.
 
Every three weeks, her husband had to drive her from Kuantan to Subang Jaya Medical Centre for her chemotherapy, and the return trip would take about four hours. Seeing how tired they were after each round trip, fellow volunteers felt sad and volunteered to accompany Choi Ha to Kuala Lumpur for her chemotherapy.
 
Choi Ha was very touched and grateful for her family’s support and care, and the volunteers’ thoughtful help and sincere care. When impermanence struck, she could not face it calmly, but she was thankful that Tzu Chi had led her back to the right path. Now, she cannot find anything that will make her life better than joining Tzu Chi.
 
Adversity as teacher
 
People always realize the truth after a huge change in life. Illness was Choi Ha’s U-turn in life, which changed her for the better.
 
In the past, she always heard the word “diligence” in Tzu Chi. Now, she knows that it does not mean to keep working hard, or to prove our capability to others. Rather, it is a spirit of not slacking. Choi Ha hopes that through her participation in the sutra adaptation performance, she could reflect on and repent for her mistakes, make a vow to nurture a Bodhisattva mind and not to repeat her mistakes.
 
Master Cheng Yen’s teachings flow into her heart like a stream of water. To quote the Master: “Adversity presents us an opportunity for growth”, thus, Choi Ha thinks that in good times, we should move on bravely so that we would not encounter other adversities; and even if we have a hard time, it would also be a chance for growth. Be diligent, and the hard times will hone us to understand karmic retributions and impermanence better. She said, “The Master taught us to be thankful for the adversity we face, because it is a fated encounter. Adversity allows us to have a clearer view on reality, and know that we have to learn to love ourselves before loving others.”
 
During the period of her chemotherapy, Choi Ha developed an impartial mind and a heart of loving-kindness. In empathizing with other patients, she learnt to show her care for them and supported other cancer patients by sending positive messages to them. She said, “I have many virtuous friends around me, from Tzu Chi volunteers to some helpful people of other religious beliefs. Indeed, Great Love embraces all.”
 
Life after life on the Path to Enlightenment
 
In line with the intensive Dharma study for the Water Repentance sutra adaptation performance in July 2015, Choi Ha, who took up the role as a ‘Dharma seed’, has to plan and organize the monthly “Dharma as Water” group study at the Tzu Chi Kuantan Liaison Office. She sets aside other tasks and gives her top priority to the sutra adaptation performance. During the group study, she carefully figured out every action and gesture. After arranging the standing positions of all performers, she said with a confident smile, “I hope I can be more diligent!”
 
“I take the vow of the Earth Treasury Bodhisattva; May all sentient beings be free of suffering; May I realize the heart of Guan Yin Bodhisattva; May love spread without boundaries; I vow to have the heart of a Bodhisattva, life after life on the Path of Enlightenment…” Every line of the lyrics to the song, “Life after Life on the Path of Enlightenment”, was like a call from the Bodhisattvas to Choi Ha.
 
As Choi Ha sang the song, she recalled her busy life and her meeting with Tzu Chi, which led her to cultivate compassion and learn to care for others, she began to tear. Now, there is only one thought in her heart, “I also want to be on the Path of Enlightenment life after life, and I want to follow the Master for lives!” Knowing how to live her life to the fullest, Choi Ha is determined to continue treading on the Tzu Chi Bodhisattva Path with deep faith.
 
 

 

 
 
Two months after her chemotherapy ended, Chong Choi Ha grabbed every opportunity to contribute her efforts. [Photograph by Chin Jeou Woei]   Chong Choi Ha is deeply grateful to her husband, Chan Ming Fei (right), who took good care of her and drove her to hospital in Kuala Lumpur to receive her treatment regularly. [Photograph by Teng Pick Cheang]

Two months after her chemotherapy ended, Chong Choi Ha grabbed every opportunity to contribute her efforts. [Photograph by Chin Jeou Woei]
 
Chong Choi Ha is deeply grateful to her husband, Chan Ming Fei (right), who took good care of her and drove her to hospital in Kuala Lumpur to receive her treatment regularly. [Photograph by Teng Pick Cheang]
 
While waiting for her turn for practices, Chong Choi Ha made good use of her time to practise sign language. [Photograph by Tia Yee Ling]   Despite the pain in her knees due to standing long or walking up and down staircases, Chong Choi Ha treated the sutra adaptation performance as something truly important. [Photograph by Tia Yee Ling]

While waiting for her turn for practices, Chong Choi Ha made good use of her time to practise sign language. [Photograph by Tia Yee Ling]
 
 
Despite the pain in her knees due to standing long or walking up and down staircases, Chong Choi Ha treated the sutra adaptation performance as something truly important. [Photograph by Tia Yee Ling]