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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 07 June 2015 10:44

Immerse in the Dharma and Awaken to Frailties

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team,KL & Selangor / Translated by Chong Pei Fen

Joy Lu (middle) correcting the sign language formation while Lin Chia Hua (right) took note of each correction. Gao Jia Jing (left), staff of Tzu Chi Taiwan, was also there to provide assistance. [Photograph by Lee Kok Keong]

On June 5, 2015, Joy Lu, Planner and Director of the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance in Taiwan, and her team spent three days in Malaysia to share their knowledge with local performers, as well as conduct an acceptance review of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor’s staging of the Dharma as Water performance in July 2015. Local performers not only improved their skills but also developed better awareness towards the significance of the performance.


Dharma as Water is a compilation of Master Cheng Yen’s commentary on the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance Text (or Water Repentance Text in short). Combining traditional Chinese opera, theatrical sketches, music and sign language, the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance propagates the profound Dharma teachings in a way that is easily comprehended by the general public.

From June 5 to 7, 2015, Joy Lu, Director of the sutra adaptation performance, and her team, comprising Lu Ci Rang, Chen Pin Ru, Gao Jia Jing, Chen Ting, Chen Yi Yun, Zeng Hao Lun, Chiang Chin Hsien and He Cai Wei, were in Kuala Lumpur to coach the local performers and prepare them for the performance.

Time precision by the second!

On June 6, at her first acceptance review on the sign language formation, Joy found that the performers could not keep up with the timing of the music and lighting. As such, she has set a strict requirement for all performers not to be slack but to keep to the time precisely to the second.

Echoed through the foyer were Joy’s remarks, such as: “There will not be markers at the actual venue. From now on, you must memorize where you should stand and move, and stop relying on the markers.”, “You must take to the stage, be at the designated spot and be all ready within 12 seconds. It’s not a Space Odyssey! Remember to have your palms flat while descending from the stage and move fast!” and “It’s been a year, and you still can’t memorize and chant the verses? You must make sure that you’re able to do that. I don’t hear anything from the ‘Sea of Dharma’ section. Why aren’t you all singing? You must memorize each and every song…”

“The Dharma is deep and profound, rare is the opportunity to encounter it; now that I have the chance to learn and practise it, I vow to realize its true meaning.” This chanting of the “Sutra Opening Verse” was too soft, and Joy doubted if they would really be able to pull it off. So she said, “Empress Wu from the Tang Dynasty composed this 2,000 years ago, and now it has spread to Malaysia. Let’s chant loudly. Water Repentance presents a contemporary approach for sutra study; it is not Bhikshu or Bikshuni, but lay Buddhist practitioners telling the public what this sutra is about.”

Joy highlighted that a performer must first dignify himself/herself, memorize the verses and sing aloud, and remember every hand movement. She also emphasized that this is not an entertaining show, but a Dharma assembly. Hence, everyone on stage must portray the image of a Bodhisattva, and be confident in every step they take, so that they are able to preach the Dharma with their sonorous body language and eventually transform others.

Besides the performers, it is hoped that with a wholesome seed planted, the audience members will also realize the importance of reflection and repentance, and eradicate defilements with determination.

Lin Chia Hua, Planner of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor’s Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance, was with Joy all the time to learn from the latter, and take note of every adjustment made to the gestures and movements. She remarked, “Sister Joy has planned every sutra study and every sign language formation, as well as interpreted every verse with scrupulous attention to details.” With one more month to the performance, it is of utmost importance that everyone fully comprehends the Dharma and be engrossed in it wholeheartedly.

Realize the true meaning of the sutra

On June 6 and 7, more than 3,600 volunteers listened to Joy’s sharing on Dharma as Water in several venues (some via live video-conferencing) at the Jing Si Hall. Joy pointed out that each Buddha statue symbolizes a modern-day Buddha, who is here to preach the Dharma. It is not for worshipping, but for us to emulate the spirit of the Awakened One, to cultivate ourselves, and to constantly remind ourselves to observe a vegetarian diet and make great vows.

Joy said, “If you did not make a promise in the Vulture Peak’s Dharma assembly in your past life, you wouldn’t be here today. In this lifetime, regardless of your age, there may be 40,000 people listening, and 50,000 to 60,000 people preaching the scripture composed by Master Wu Da. It could be that you made a wish deep down, and now you are given this opportunity to preach the Dharma.”

She added, “In order to choreograph such Dharma service, one needs to study loads of sutra verses and express their true meanings through body language, leaving room for self-reflection. Instead of worshipping, we should take the Dharma to heart, nurture our wisdom and live out the Dharma.”

Many concurred with volunteer Tan Kim Hion’s sharing: “I finally understand that we are playing the role of a Dharma preacher, to promulgate the wondrous Dharma to all and inspire them to join us in Dharma learning. From the enmity against Master Wu Da that lasted for ten lifetimes (‘The Origins of the Water Repentance Text’) to ‘Vowing with Utmost Sincerity’, it is clear that the Law of Karma never fails and we must repent for our past wrongdoings. It also cautions us to develop conscious awareness of our body, speech and mind!”

After attending the study group, the performers have realized the significance of the sutra adaptation performance and their great responsibility in creating a harmonious society. They repented for being complacent and thought that it was good enough just to get the hand gestures right. Kim Hion said, “The unreserved scolding by Sister Joy today has made me realize that I have not really taken the Dharma to heart, but only practising for the sake of performing! Thanks to Sister Joy’s reprimand, we are enlightened now!”

The most precious is self-reflection

“We are presenting the scripture to the audience through collective efforts. The Dharma teachings are translated into an integration of theatrical sketches, Chinese opera, contemporary dance moves and so on, something that they can easily understand and apply in their daily life,” remarked Yong Siew Lee from Tzu Chi Melaka, who is confident that the audience will not have any problem understanding the Dharma presented through the skilful means.

She also commented that at this final stage, and with the actual performance fast approaching, everyone must be fully aware of what he/she is doing; and it should not be done aimlessly, or else, it will be a waste of a rare and precious affinity.

“Aren’t we living for such an opportunity to be awakened?” Siew Lee related that she attended the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, and was intensely moved. Later, when the performance was staged in Singapore, she assumed the role as a photographer. Then, her focus was on taking beautiful and spectacular photos, without understanding much about the scenes.

Joy’s sharing has acquainted her with the implications of each scene and act, and she was stunned. She said, “When the clean and clear water flows from the raised stage towards the performers and then the audience (through lighting effect), it purifies more than the body, mind and soul of all present. We must really start from purifying ourselves.”



On the evening of June 7, everyone gathered at the Gratitude Hall for the overall acceptance review on the drum and theatrical sketch teams. Joy affirmed their encouraging progress from the first day to the last, with mindful guidance from the instructors. She also reminded everyone to chant the verses loudly to envelop the stadium with an air of solemnity. In her hoarse voice, due to the intensive coaching over the three days, she said, “As indicated by the drill outcomes tonight, (the performance) next month will surely be a success!”

Echo Chien, CEO of Tzu Chi KL & Selangor, remarked that the three-day intensive training has boosted her confidence. She also thanked the Taiwanese team for coaching and passing on the essence of the performance. She hopes that everyone can seize this precious affinity, practise more diligently and reverently in this final month, and give the best portrayal of Buddha-nature to transform oneself and others through spiritual cultivation.

 

Joy Lu chaired a meeting with the Organizing Team, which includes volunteers from Central and Southern Malaysia. [Photograph by Wong Poh Fatt]   On June 5 evening, more than 400 group leaders of the sign language team attended a study group specially arranged for them. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]

Joy Lu chaired a meeting with the Organizing Team, which includes volunteers from Central and Southern Malaysia. [Photograph by Wong Poh Fatt]
 
On June 5 evening, more than 400 group leaders of the sign language team attended a study group specially arranged for them. [Photograph by Ong Siew Geok]
 
On June 6 and 7, the sign language teams took turns for rehearsal and acceptance review on the mock stage, while some observed and learnt from the upper floor. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]   Performers were in a panic when Joy requested them to take to the stage and be ready at their designated spot within 12 seconds. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]

On June 6 and 7, the sign language teams took turns for rehearsal and acceptance review on the mock stage, while some observed and learnt from the upper floor. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
 
Performers were in a panic when Joy requested them to take to the stage and be ready at their designated spot within 12 seconds. [Photograph by Lim Su Nguan]
 
Lu Ci Rang correcting the performers’ hand gestures at another venue. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]   The performers listened to Joy Lu’s sharing on Dharma as Water through live video-conferencing. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]

Lu Ci Rang correcting the performers’ hand gestures at another venue. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
 
The performers listened to Joy Lu’s sharing on Dharma as Water through live video-conferencing. [Photograph by Sam Pin Fook]
 
Joy Lu pointed out that each Buddha statue represents a modern-day Buddha who is here to preach the Dharma. It is not meant for worshipping, but rather for emulating the spirit of the Awakened One. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]   On June 7, a review was conducted on the performers after two days of fine-tuning by Joy Lu. Seen here is a scene from “Great Love Lights Up the World”. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]

Joy Lu pointed out that each Buddha statue represents a modern-day Buddha who is here to preach the Dharma. It is not meant for worshipping, but rather for emulating the spirit of the Awakened One. [Photograph by Ng Su Lim]
 
 
On June 7, a review was conducted on the performers after two days of fine-tuning by Joy Lu. Seen here is a scene from “Great Love Lights Up the World”. [Photograph by Lim Chin Shein]
 
A round of applause was given to the nine-member Taiwanese team for their guidance and sharing. The instructors were all touched by the local performers’ passion in learning. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]  

A round of applause was given to the nine-member Taiwanese team for their guidance and sharing. The instructors were all touched by the local performers’ passion in learning. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]