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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Thursday, 21 May 2015 10:24

Repent to Form Good Relationship, Learn to be Thankful through Buddhism

Written by  Sia Ah Tong, KL & Selangor / Translated by Lee Ren Hui

Tan Chin Loo (front) and his wife Chong Sook Fong (back) study the Dharma as Water sutra together. Not only it purifies their heart, they learnt to repent on their previous wrongdoings and establish good relationship with others. [Photograph by Tia Yee Ling]

By enlarging and displaying the doll images and sutra scriptures in his living room, Tan Chin Loo could read the phonetics under the scriptures and learn them diligently. He and his wife, Chong Sook Fong, would practise, study, discuss and remind each other daily of the correct movements. They often have different experiences and would be moved to tears when chanting certain verses.


 
Suffered from ill-fate and death of loved ones
 
When his eldest sister passed away in 1992, Tan Chin Loo fell into despair. From 2000 to 2007, his mother, father, brother and second sister, who was closest to him, passed away one after another.
 
Faced with the departure of loved ones, and speculations made by some friends, Chin Loo was never doubtful and superstitious, and he blamed no one for his losses. On the contrary, he cherished his friends and relatives, and also became more positive towards life, thanks to his second sister, who introduced him to Buddhism before her demise. Buddhism has given him strength to remain strong when faced with life’s challenges.
 
He could not hold back his tears when speaking about his second sister. He shared, “My second sister was eight years older than me. She never got married and worked hard to attend to our family. From taking care of my brother and then my mother, she eventually passed away due to lung infection, all these happened within a very short period of time and caught us by surprise.”
 
“It was in April 2007 when I was about to fly to Japan for my first major business deal, that my second sister suddenly fell ill and was pronounced dead after being admitted to the hospital the same day. I was in a dilemma of whether to give up my business trip and stay back for her funeral. But, with assurances from my third sister, Tan Lay Guat and her husband, Law Teng How, that they would take care of the funeral, I left with a heavy heart.”
 
“When I was in Japan, I kept worrying about her funeral and eventually broke down in front of my Japanese client. I then decided to shorten the seven-day business trip to two days,” added Chin Loo.
 
“My second sister sacrificed a lot for the family. When my mother was ill, she had phlegm in her throat which she could not expectorate, resulting in difficulty in breathing. I watched my second sister removed the phlegm from my mother’s throat by sucking it out. How many people in the world would do that?”
 
Touched by scriptures and shed tears of repentance
 
After joining the “Dharma Accompaniment Team” in the sutra adaptation performance of Dharma as Water, Chin Loo has enlarged and displayed the doll images and sutra scriptures in his living room. He even applied specific colours to certain important moves.
 
“I am old now and cannot see clearly, and my Chinese is not good. I can only read the phonetics under the scriptures after enlarging the images. By doing this, I can be more focused when practising,” explained Chin Loo.
 
Every day, he would practise with his wife, Chong Sook Fong; and they would study, discuss and remind each other of the correct movements. In the course of practice, they often have different experiences and would be moved to tears when chanting certain verses. Chin Loo said, “Maybe in the past, we have committed grave sins, and the scripture seems to recall our past mistakes,”
 
When Chin Loo was young, he would play truant, fight and even gamble. He was only concerned about making quick money, hence he became a loan shark and was involved in black market dealings.
 
When the debtors could not repay their debts, he would chain up their houses, threaten them with knives and even throw bloody chicken into their home and so on. He had won lotteries before but spent all the money within a short period of four years. Chin Loo conceded, “We must not do wrong because in the end we will be the ones to suffer.”
 
Repenting now for all previous greediness
 
“Perhaps in the past, I have established good karma, as I have met many mentors in this lifetime. When I first worked in society, my boss held me in high regard and trusted me, giving me room to progress. My landlord, who did not understand Chinese, taught me English, and encouraged me to read the newspaper, so that I would not experience language barriers when expanding my business. My friendly suppliers gave me favourable credit terms when I was facing financial hardship. These are some of my many mentors. Thanks to them, my business is successful.”
 
Although his business is on track, Chin Loo wanted to earn more money due to his greed. Thus in December 2013, he joined a few friends to form a partnership to invest in a deforestation project in Gua Musang, Kelantan.
 
He informed, “The original agreed capital was RM100,000 per person, but we were all bogged down like a bottomless pit. After ten months, I ended the business with a loss of nearly one million.”
 
During that period of time, Chin Loo was very upset, and he would go out drinking every night. His business loss was secondary to him. When the East Coast of Malaysia was hit by a severe flood in December 2014, he felt uneasy that the flood could be the result of the deforestation project he invested in earlier.
 
He said, “One of the hardest hit areas was near the deforestation project. I often asked myself if I was responsible for causing the flood. To reduce my sense of guilt, I made donations and wished that I had the opportunity to visit and help out at the disaster area. If I had participated in the sutra study of Dharma as Water earlier, I would not have invested in the business of cutting down trees.”
 
After joining the study group, he started to read the Dharma as Water, and was shocked to learn that even Master Wu Da had experienced negative karma and affinities. This has deepened his understanding of the Karmic Law of Cause and Effect, and that the Law of Karma never fails.
 
As a result, he slowly became more acceptable to the series of misfortunes he encountered.  Furthermore, he began to watch Master Cheng Yen’s Life Wisdom daily. Seeing how Tzu Chi volunteers are helping those who are suffering, he hopes that one day he would be doing the same.
 
He smilingly shared that he had thought of becoming a monk when older, so that he could repent for his past wrongdoings. “Now, with Tzu Chi, I can go among the masses to serve. Master says this is also the path of the Bodhisattva,” he exclaimed.
 
A ‘magic finger’ that turns one’s belly into a graveyard
 
“In the past, when I visited every country, I would find local cuisine to satisfy my desire. I would eat my favourites like lobsters, crabs, steaks, puffer fish, and so on. Money is no obstacle as long as the food is good. We used to spend over RM10,000 on a meal in one night.”
 
He had not realized that his “magic finger”, which had pointed to anything he wanted to eat, had led to the slaughter of so many lives. Crabs were split into many pieces, live lobsters were peeled, and puffer fish was eaten from skin to the bone. His stomach was the graveyard of hundreds of animals, yet he remained ignorant. Now, when he recalled his past desires, he felt extremely remorseful!
 
After comprehending the sutra, Chin Loo and Sook Fong became vegetarians. Chin Loo thanked his second sister for the guidance. As a Buddhist and a vegetarian, she used to help out at orphanages and elderly homes. She had often encouraged Chin Loo to be a vegetarian to reduce the killing of innocent lives; and she would always cook him vegetarian dishes or take him to eat delicious vegetarian food.
 
Initially, he used to think that by being a vegetarian, one would have a weak body. Now, he begs to differ. After being the first runner-up in a golf tournament, he has become more determined to become a vegetarian. Nowadays, he is proud to declare himself a vegetarian to anyone.
 
Parents are the best role models for their children. After Chin Loo and Sook Fong became vegetarians, their two daughters followed suit. Even their five-year-old Jing Xuan, who loved to consume meat, has decided to become a vegetarian as she does not want to kill innocent lives anymore.
 
Despite her daughters’ indication that they would not consume meat, Sook Fong had cooked meat for them. True to their commitment, her daughters did not eat the meat; and Sook Fong is truly proud of them.
 
Layman with many mistakes, repent and make good
 
The scripture mentioned that when one’s mind is full of aversions, he/she is stubborn and easily irritated. Sook Fong admitted that she did not like to go to school when she was young. When her mum went to the USA, she left Sook Fong with an aunt. At 19, she worked in a restaurant as a beer lady. Unhappy with her daughter’s situation, the mother brought her to the USA, where she spent eight years living there.
 
“When I arrived in Tennessee, everything was unfamiliar and I could not speak English. Thus, I had to work at my cousin’s restaurant. However, due to a small conflict, I packed my bag and left for New York alone, to stay with another cousin. There, I also worked at a restaurant; and there was no life except work. When I got sick, I couldn’t even take a rest. After being sick for several times, I left quietly.”
 
Sook Fong had been brooding over the bad relationships with her cousins. After comprehending the sutra, Chin Loo had also encouraged her to let go of the anger in her heart and to establish a good relationship with her cousins. “With their forgiveness, my depression has been resolved, and I feel so relaxed suddenly.”
 
Sook Fong also hopes that through learning the sutra, she could be less stubborn and that there will be harmony in the family. On the other hand, Chin Loo will often reflect upon himself and change his attitude. He said, “Everyone wants the best of everything. I remember Master once said, ‘Best is not to worry.’ Now that I have my own family, we should help others in need. Over the past 40 years, I did not make any positive contribution to society, so I must work harder in following Tzu Chi’s Bodhisattva Path. I hope to meet the Master soon.”
 
 
 
 

 
Tan Chin Loo and Chong Sook Fong enlarged the sutra scriptures and placed them at a corner of the house for easy reading and daily practice of sign language. [Photograph by Teh Poh Tat]   Tan Chin Loo made notes on the sign language sheets so that he could better remember the gestures. [Photograph by Teh Poh Tat]

Tan Chin Loo and Chong Sook Fong enlarged the sutra scriptures and placed them at a corner of the house for easy reading and daily practice of sign language. [Photograph by Teh Poh Tat]
 
Tan Chin Loo made notes on the sign language sheets so that he could better remember the gestures. [Photograph by Teh Poh Tat]
 
The couple practises every day and would remind each other of the correct movements. [Photograph by Teh Poh Tat]   Tan Chin Loo used to engage in projects that damaged the environment. He deeply repented when severe floods hit the East Coast. After learning about Buddhism, he has been careful in everything he does. Picture shows the deforestation activity engaged by him previously. [Photograph provided by Tan Chin Loo]

The couple practises every day and would remind each other of the correct movements. [Photograph by Teh Poh Tat]
 
 
Tan Chin Loo used to engage in projects that damaged the environment. He deeply repented when severe floods hit the East Coast. After learning about Buddhism, he has been careful in everything he does. Picture shows the deforestation activity engaged by him previously. [Photograph provided by Tan Chin Loo]
 
Parents are fine role models for their children. After comprehending the sutra, Tan Chin Loo’s entire family has turned into vegetarians and are enjoying the happiness of Dharma. [Photograph by Teh Poh Tat]    

Parents are fine role models for their children. After comprehending the sutra, Tan Chin Loo’s entire family has turned into vegetarians and are enjoying the happiness of Dharma. [Photograph by Teh Poh Tat]