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Wednesday, 20 May 2015 15:41

Eradicating Negative Habits through Sutra Performance

Written by  Lai Shao Bin, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Li Shan Shan used to vent her anger on her husband over trivial matters, but has changed after participating in sutra performance. The couple felt particularly happy when looking at each other during practice. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

Due to their cultural differences, Li Shan Shan, a Mainland Chinese, and her Malaysian husband, James Chan, often argued over trivial matters. However, ever since their participation in the sutra performance of “Dharma as Water”, they have established a blissful and joyful married life, together with a sense of contentment and gratitude.


 
Li Shan Shan, who hailed from Shenzhen, China, was a hotelier for more than ten years and had enjoyed life in high society. She married James Chan from Malaysia despite their different upbringing and culture, gave up her career and followed James to live in Malaysia. However, reality soon kicked in, causing them to start fighting over small little things. Shan Shan then thought about returning to her home country.
 
Irritable nature hurt others
 
Shan Shan revealed, “I used to have a great deal of hatred and was very bad-tempered. I will scold my husband with very harsh and vicious words to vent my frustrations.” She preferred life in Shenzhen, where she owns many properties and had her own business. Thus, she was unhappy; and moreover, her husband is only a Manager of a public listed shoe company.
 
“Upon learning the Dharma, I realized it was due to my conceit and arrogance, and I had always felt more superior to my husband. I felt that every single word of the Dharma as Water had stirred my heart,” added Shan Shan. Through the Dharma, she learnt to control her temper.
 
Even the neighbours noticed the changes in Shan Shan as they used to hear her shouting at her husband every time they quarrelled.
 
Shan Shan shared, “I am a Tzu Chi volunteer and if I do not show a good example, people will have doubts over Tzu Chi. So, I must be mindful to change myself. Whenever I felt like flaring up, the two Bodhisattvas at home would remind me that, ‘anger and rage often cause hurt to others’ or ‘speak good words gently, like lotuses emerging from the mouth’, and that would stop me immediately.” 
 
The two Bodhisattvas are her four-year-old daughter and husband, James, whom she used to belittle. In her eyes, her husband is a “Mr Nice Guy” with extremely good temper.
 
James got to know Buddhism in his twenties and hence he is much more controlled in his emotions. He would just keep quiet whenever his wife threw a tantrum. He was asked to join the sutra study by his wife initially, but after two sessions, he began to participate in the sutra performance and practise earnestly.
 
Desires curbed through sutra performance
 
“I was nervous initially thinking about performing on stage but I have no time to worry about that now as I only think about the sutra and the sign language,” James shared. By thinking about the sutra and portraying through the hand gestures, James has brought his mind and body together.
 
“As Buddhists, we always feel we are better in a way; and I did not know I have done so much wrong prior to understanding the Dharma,” James detailed his experience. His biggest challenge was to be a vegetarian. “Look at his body and you can tell he is a carnivore,” Shan Shan said teasingly.
 
James came from Johor Bahru and there was no livestock selling at the wet market. When he was first in KL, he felt scared when he heard the screams from the dying chickens and would run away immediately. But that did not stop him from consuming chicken.
 
To curb his desire in consuming meat, he would often remind himself with the verses from the sutra, “I vow to uphold in every lifetime, the vegetarian precept; that I may never hear mournful cries of the slaughtered.” “Now I have more confidence, I know eating meat is not the only choice,” he added.
 
James has conquered his food cravings while Shan Shan had conquered her insatiable greed. The couple is renting a small flat with no balcony in KL. Shan Shan, who has a house in China, had lamented about the vast difference in her lifestyle. Here, she was cocooned in a small living room where renovations and purchase of additional furniture are not allowed.
 
It was only when she came across this Jing Si Aphorism, “It is better to have a big heart than a big house” that she finally saw the light. “There was once a Dharma sister who shared with me that she does not have a good relationship with her mother-in-law although she is living in a multi-storey bungalow. After listening to others, I realized I am very blessed indeed.”
 
Joint participation led to a happy family
 
The family always practised the sign language at home, and their daughter would sing along when she heard the lyrics, “lost in the mundane world, we lose sight of our true nature”. Shan Shan thought it was the most beautiful moment for the family when they were practising.
 
“There is a scene where I am performing with my left hand while James is performing with his right hand and our darling will be standing in between. There is an act which both of us have to look at each other and I think that is the most beautiful moment,” expressed Shan Shan.
 
“She used to look at her iPad while I watched television in the past but now, we have something in common,” James stated. Once, Shan Shan quarrelled with her husband and the thought of returning to China resurfaced. “But there is no Tzu Chi in China and what should I do then? Thinking about the beautiful moments we had when we were practising our sign language, I dropped the idea right away,” said Shan Shan.
 
There will always be ups and downs in the daily household but with a peaceful mind, the couple has found the path to happiness by participating in the sutra performance of Dharma as Water. Even though there is not much materialistic fulfilment, they have nevertheless grown together spiritually, paving the way for a happy family life.
 
 
 
Li Shan Shan’s daughter attended Da Ai kindergarten, hence she has become a Loving Mother and has assisted teachers in administrative matters for the class. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]   When she read the verse, “I repent my anger, rage and maliciousness which often cause hurt to others”, Li Shan Shan strived to be more vigilant. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

Li Shan Shan’s daughter attended Da Ai kindergarten, hence she has become a Loving Mother and has assisted teachers in administrative matters for the class. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
When she read the verse, “I repent my anger, rage and maliciousness which often cause hurt to others”, Li Shan Shan strived to be more vigilant. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
At Tzu Chi, Li Shan Shan learnt to repent and reform, and gradually eradicated her negative habits. She is living a very joyful life now. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]   When the couple disagreed with each other occasionally, their four-year-old daughter would become their moderator. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]

At Tzu Chi, Li Shan Shan learnt to repent and reform, and gradually eradicated her negative habits. She is living a very joyful life now. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]
 
When the couple disagreed with each other occasionally, their four-year-old daughter would become their moderator. [Photograph by Low Mai Yin]