Wednesday, Aug 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 17 May 2015 15:43

A Deep Sense of Repentance, a Result of Karmic Retribution

Written by  Julie Yen Yu Chu, Melaka / Translated by Goh Hwe Yong

A personal experience of karmic retribution led Tan Cheng Hock to go deep into the performance of Dharma as Water with a great sense of appreciation and repentance. [Photograph by Quek Kah Hoon]

Volunteer Tan Cheng Hock scalded her arm and as a result, a pork-chop like scar was formed. She knew it was karmic forces at work and repented deeply for what she had done. Henceforth, she puts all her soul into the sutra adaptation performance of “Dharma as Water”. Through this incident, her children were able to perceive the concept of Karmic Law of Cause and Effect.


 
When Tan Cheng Hock attended the weekly sutra study of Dharma as Water and related sign language practice in February 2015, her arm bandage attracted the attention of fellow volunteers; and her spouse, Tan Yen Pack, kept reminding her not to overstretch herself to avoid further tear to the wound.
 
The couple became Tzu Chi volunteers in 2010, after they joined the classes held at Tzu Chi Continuing Education Centre. They also chose to become vegetarians but left it to the children to make their own choice. Since then, there has been no meat served on the family dining table.
 
Ever since Cheng Hock, who used to cook gourmet food for the family, became a vegetarian, the children felt there was nothing to look forward to during festivals. As a mother, she could read her children’s minds and felt sorry for them so much so she had the desire to satisfy their urge for meat dishes. But the karmic retribution that followed had filled her with dread.
 
Ignorance planted the cause of negative karma
 
At the Chinese New Year Eve reunion dinner each year, she could see the disappointment written on the faces of her children. Hence, she proposed that they bring over some non-vegetarian dishes for their own consumption. However, at their request, and out of motherly love, she decided to cook them their favourite pork chop. She had a hard time mentally and physically while preparing the meat.
 
Next, she prepared the traditional yeast cake which she was very familiar with. Then something unusual happened. As she opened the steamer lid, a gush of steam from the pot escaped and scalded her hand. She did not bother about it after applying some cream. It was not until she finished all the kitchen chores that she realized a huge blister had formed at the scalded spot.
 
She immediately rushed to the hospital for treatment, and the doctor was taken aback, for it could not have been caused by steam from home cooking. The burn was not at the superficial layer, but had reached deep into the muscles. At this point, Cheng Hock knew the answer, “one must bear the karmic consequences of one’s own wrongdoing”. It was the Karmic Law of Cause and Effect at work.
 
Knife-cutting pain aroused deep and sincere repentance
 
Living beings are many and varied; in similar ways they live, breathe and rest.
Conditions arise and cease, everything is impermanent.
Evil causes, conditions and retributions, must be clearly discerned no matter how subtle, as the Law of Karma never fails…
 
Above verses from the song, “Perfect and Radiant Buddha Nature” from Dharma as Water kept appearing in her mind.
 
In repenting her ignorance, she made this analysis: It was not true love when I complied with my children’s request for meat dishes. Knowing that all lives should be valued, yet I chose to take the wrong action. I planted the seed (as a cause), so I reaped what I sowed (in karmic retribution).
 
When the doctor treated her wound layer by layer, she felt as if she was being slaughtered layer by layer. From the acute pain from the treatment every two days, she came to understand how terrible karmic retribution was.
 
Despite her wound, she still joined the weekly sutra study and sign language practice. As she gained a deeper understanding of the sutra, she realized that performing was not merely movements and actions, but rather an echo of the teachings.
 
The sea of suffering is vast and boundless; by turning back, we can return to the shore. 
Eliminate the Three Obstacles and all delusions, listen to the calling of the Buddhas.
 
It saddened her very much whenever she sang this part. She realized that to overcome karmic obstacles, it did not count much to just repent. Rather, a thorough change from inside out, from mental attitude to actions and behaviour was necessary.
 
Scar as reminder to rid desire for meat
 
Her wound treatment took over a month. After her condition was stabilized and the bandage was discarded to reveal her healed wound, she asked her children if her scar looked like a piece of pork chop. They were too shocked for words.
 
She then took the opportunity to educate her children, “Mummy has been a vegetarian for many years, but just because I wanted to satisfy your craving for meat, I suffered instant karmic retribution. From now on, I hope you can overcome your desire for meat so as to avoid negative karma.”
 
She even went on to explain that the pain she felt when she scalded her hand was likened to that of the livestock when being slaughtered. She further illustrated that negative karmic forces of many lifetimes would surely mature in time; if not now, it would be later. When her children tried all efforts to buy her the cream to heal the scar, she again taught them that it was good to keep the scar as a reminder not to kill.
 
 
Having had the opportunity to experience karmic retribution in February 2015, Cheng Hock has put all her heart and soul into the practice and rehearsal for Dharma as Water. She interpreted the verses with a profound understanding and a deep sense of repentance.
 
She felt grateful that Master Cheng Yen has employed such wise means in leading followers into the true meaning of the Dharma, hence awakening them for a paradigm shift from conceptual understanding to behavioural change, so as to avoid negative karma.
 
 
Tan Yen Pack and Tan Cheng Hock became Tzu Chi volunteers in 2010 and adopted vegetarianism after taking part in the performance of Sutra of Innumerable Meanings. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]   Tan Cheng Hock made pork chop for her children during Chinese New Year. But then she scalded her hand and the wound appeared like a startling pork chop too. [Photograph by Tan Yen Pack]

Tan Yen Pack and Tan Cheng Hock became Tzu Chi volunteers in 2010 and adopted vegetarianism after taking part in the performance of Sutra of Innumerable Meanings. [Photograph by Hong Geok Hui]
 
Tan Cheng Hock made pork chop for her children during Chinese New Year. But then she scalded her hand and the wound appeared like a startling pork chop too. [Photograph by Tan Yen Pack]