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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 11 May 2015 12:16

Treading the Bodhisattva Path Together with Diligence

Written by  Wee Suan Yean & Teh Aun Ni, KL& Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Tan Son Hong and Sin Me Lan felt it is a rare opportunity to encounter such Dharma assembly. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]

“Tzu Chi Taiwan staged a large-scale sutra performance after more than 40 years but Tzu Chi Malaysia is blessed with the opportunity after 20 years, hence I registered for it immediately,” said Sin Me Lan, a grateful participant. Her husband, Tan Son Hong added, “This may be the only chance for us to join in such a blissful Dharma assembly.”


 
The practices of the sutra performance on Dharma as Water have proven to be a physical challenge for an elderly couple, Tan Son Hong and Sin Me Lan, who found the many squatting and kneeling positions particularly strenuous.
 
The great vow of Master Wu Da reflected in the Water Repentance
The solemnness of the shrine and the unsurpassed Dharma on repentance
The cleansing of mental defilements using the Dharma water…
 
Minds are purified with the Dharma while lives are enriched with humanity. From April 2015, which is three months to the staging of the performance, volunteers from KL & Selangor have intensified their rehearsals every week; and everyone has performed with great repentance and devotion to pray for the well-being of all beings.
 
“This is a very rare opportunity, and this may be our only chance to participate in such a sublime Dharma assembly,” stated Son Hong.
 
A devoted Son Hong has taken all Tzu Chi’s activities seriously and treated each activity as a Dharma assembly. He studied the sutra thoroughly in order to perform naturally, comprehend the sutra and understand the true meaning.
 
When engrossed in the Dharma, he could empathize better with the suffering of all beings, thereby giving rise to loving-kindness. He hoped the audience could feel the sublime teaching through the “silent preaching” from his body gestures.
 
Eliminate negative habits, establish good affinities
 
Son Hong has been attending Master’s Dharma talk every morning, and he greatly treasures the moment. He said, “Master has been reminding us with her words of wisdom and leading us to walk the Bodhisattva Path; it is up to us to practise.” In order to motivate himself, he has volunteered to fetch other volunteers in his neighbourhood to attend the morning sermon.
 
He also realized the importance of practising the teachings to fully appreciate the Dharma. For a person who used to be vulgar before getting to know Tzu Chi and Buddhism, he has changed after encountering Tzu Chi and a Jing Si Aphorism, “Speak kind words, think good thoughts, and do good deeds”.
 
Understand the Dharma, change the attitude
 
One will improve in character after learning the Dharma. However, big mistakes are easy to correct but small habits are hard to eradicate. Feeling that time is running out, he has pleaded with friends around him to always remind him. “We must not waste our time, we must correct totally,” said a determined Son Hong.
 
During practice, he had difficulty kneeling down due to his previous waist injury. But he was undeterred and managed to conquer it by not thinking about the pain; instead he focused on the present moment and immersed himself in the sutra. He even told his body, “As long as we have a sincere heart, give our best and perform wholeheartedly in what we are doing, we can do it. Let’s not worry too much.” His spirit in spreading kindness was clearly evident.
 
In this chaotic world filled with all kinds of temptations, we are constantly drifting between wholesomeness and unwholesomeness. Therefore, using the Dharma as our guide is very important. “We can do more in a peaceful country like Malaysia. If we can influence one person to do good, we will reduce one evil person in society,” Son Hong added.
 
Human beings are easily swayed by emotions and environmental stimulations if there is no proper understanding of the Dharma. For example, we may get agitated if we misunderstand a casual remark by others and become emotionally afflicted. By learning the Dharma, Son Hong has learnt to be less self-centred when dealing with people and is joyful at all times.
 
He hopes to share the Dharma joy with everyone through the performance. Other than group practices at the Community Centre, he also practised at home and even consulted his wife, who is a sign language coach. Such diligence, yet he may not be performing on the actual day as he is a back-up performer.
 
His main responsibility is to handle stage engineering. Due to shortage of performers, he chose to cover both roles until further notice. But he did not mind being a back-up performer as he has benefitted greatly from the sign language which helped him to take the Dharma to heart.
 
Shouldering responsibility without fail
 
Son Hong and Me Lan have joined Tzu Chi for more than ten years and have been active in Tzu Chi’s activities. They are also joining in the sutra adaptation performance together. “It has been more than 40 years before Taiwan staged such a performance. We are so fortunate to have this opportunity after 20 years. Hence, I registered immediately,” said Me Lan, who felt truly grateful to have this divine affinity.
 
Two years ago, Me Lan joined volunteers in presenting sections of the sign language interpretation of the Water Repentance during the KL & Selangor Year-end Blessing Ceremony. She was deeply impressed then. This year, when she was invited by Tzu Chi KL & Selangor to participate in the sutra performance, she signed up right away without hesitation.
 
Me Lan and her husband are part of the “Sea of Great Love” team1 and they are required to kneel down most of the time. As such, Me Lan’s legs would be in pain after getting up due to a past surgery; and her knees would be bruised and abraded after the many practices.
 
She had thought of giving up but due to the shortage of performers, she did not have the heart to do so; and moreover, she is the sign language coach. Seeing other volunteers bravely stepping in despite being unfamiliar with the sutra, and with the encouragement, “Joining our hands and hearts, treading till the end, and never giving up!” from everyone after each practice, she decided never to quit.
 
A long time vegetarian, and through participating in the performance, Me Lan has learnt to respect lives as preached by Master Cheng Yen, who said that “Every animal has a life and we human beings need to live with them peacefully”.
 
● 
 
The unsurpassed, profound and wonderful Dharma,
is difficult to encounter in hundred thousand aeons,
I now see and hear it, receive and uphold it,
and I vow to fathom the Tathagatha’s true meaning.
 
Son Hong and Me Lan have faithfully accepted and practised the Buddha’s teachings with an open and pure heart. They treasure the opportunity to learn the Dharma, not only to self-liberate but also to liberate others. Through participating in the performance, they have joined the rest to deeply comprehend the sutra, openly repent and reform, as well as, sincerely wish for a pure mind in all people, a world free from disasters and a society in harmony.
 
 
1. Sign language performed by seated participants in front of the stage to echo the performance on stage.
 
 

 
With a previous waist injury, every kneeling movement requires strenuous effort on Tan Son Hong’s part. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]   Due to a past surgery, Sin Me Lan felt the pain when getting up from a kneeling position that is performed by participants seated in front of the stage to echo the performance on stage. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]

With a previous waist injury, every kneeling movement requires strenuous effort on Tan Son Hong’s part. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]
 
Due to a past surgery, Sin Me Lan felt the pain when getting up from a kneeling position that is performed by participants seated in front of the stage to echo the performance on stage. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]
 
Sin Me Lan (1st right) is a sign language coach. Her husband, Tan Son Hong (1st left) is one of the performers in the formation. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]   Through participating in the sutra performance, Tan Son Hong has learnt the sutra by heart in order to perform the sign language, take the Dharma to heart and realize the true meaning. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]

Sin Me Lan (1st right) is a sign language coach. Her husband, Tan Son Hong (1st left) is one of the performers in the formation. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]
 
 
Through participating in the sutra performance, Tan Son Hong has learnt the sutra by heart in order to perform the sign language, take the Dharma to heart and realize the true meaning. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
Tan Son Hong attends the Dharma talk every morning and treasures the opportunity of listening to Master Cheng Yen’s sermon. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]    

Tan Son Hong attends the Dharma talk every morning and treasures the opportunity of listening to Master Cheng Yen’s sermon. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]