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Monday, 08 June 2015 10:04

Healing a Strained Mother-Daughter Relationship

Written by  Tan Kim Hion, Pahang / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

For Ho Yoon Siew (centre), participation in the sutra performance has released her hatred towards her mother for the past 38 years. [Photograph by Loke Kim Seong]

During the sign language practice for Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance, Ho Yoon Siew could not hold back her tears upon hearing the lyrics, and in particular, the phrase, “in the boundless sea of suffering”, from the song, “Walking the Path of Enlightenment Life after Life”. Finally, she found herself breaking free from the acute pain inside her and slowly eliminate the hatred she had towards her mother for the past 38 years.


 
Trapped in the vast sea of suffering
 
Rising and sinking, in the boundless sea of life
We drift along with wind and wave
Our minds, so easily swayed
From whence it came and where it is headed
We cannot tell
 
Why is life so bitter? Is it true that we cannot be the master of our own life? When Ho Yoon Siew, a volunteer from Raub, first heard the song, “Walking the Path of Enlightenment Life after Life” at the Dharma as Water assembly held in Kaohsiung Arena, it touched her heart deeply. She watched the entire sutra adaptation performance presented by Taiwanese volunteers in tears that night.
 
In 2011, when she went back to Taiwan for the four-in-one cadre camp, Taiwan was showcasing the sutra adaptation performance for Dharma as Water. Through the story of Master Wu Da, it is hoped that everyone will appreciate the Karmic Law of Cause and Effect, repent and reform, as well as, correct past wrongs and cultivate for the future. Through the hand gestures and body language, each scene on karmic retributions was indelibly imprinted in her mind.
 
At that instant, she could not stop crying and felt utterly helpless. She then purchased the “Dharma as Water – A Commentary on the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance” book set by Master Cheng Yen. From the reading, she came across a story about an old volunteer, who had lost her child and lived in pain. Master then told her, “For a kite that is blown away, cut the string and set it free.” Thinking of how she missed her late husband, shouldn’t she just let it go?
 
“At that moment, I decided to listen to Master and allow my late husband to rest in peace. I should not have held on for so long...” However, she still could not leave the resentment towards her mother behind. After participating in the sutra adaptation performance, she finally faced the past courageously, repented and reformed.
 
Suffered the agony of losing loved ones thrice
 
Yoon Siew is a posthumous child. Her mother had led a hard life raising six children. When she was nine years old, she saw her mum leaving home with a suitcase. Her mother told her she would only be away for a few days but then, she never returned. It was widely rumoured in the village that her mum had run away from home.
 
The young Yoon Siew became a laughing stock in the village and was often involved in disputes with the villagers. Although she refused to believe that her mum, who had always been her guardian angel, had lied to her, her hope soon turned into disappointment and eventually resentment. Luckily, she and her other siblings were brought up by their grandmother with lots of love.
 
Just when Yoon Siew started working and was able to repay the kindness of her granny, the latter passed away. Facing the loss of a loved one for the second time, her bitterness grew stronger. At this time, her mother returned home unexpectedly.
 
With an intense hatred for her mother, Yoon Siew would treat the latter as a stranger, and would avoid her at all cost. Although she pretended nothing had happened, her heart was filled with sadness.
 
She had, nevertheless, found happiness with her husband. She said, “In our six years of marriage, my husband loved me very much and we have a daughter. I have never been so happy in my life; hence I could not accept his demise.”
 
Her husband, a lorry driver transporting timber, was killed in an accident when his lorry overturned. Losing someone dear to her for the third time had crushed Yoon Siew completely. She became very resentful and hot-tempered, crying all the time and could not sleep at night. In her grief, she had totally neglected her three-year-old daughter, who still needed her care.
 
She went into depression and even attempted suicide with a belt in front of her daughter but the belt broke. Her daughter cried, and there and then, she realized that she must live on for her child’s sake. She then sought help from a psychiatrist to find ways to forget her husband and even went to chant in the temple but it was all in vain.
 
She became very cynical and hardly smiled; and when her temper flared up, she would smash anything she could get hold of.
 
In 2008, she came across Tzu Chi when she attended a carnival and saw some volunteers promoting the Parent-child Bonding Class. She found the Jing Si Aphorism Teaching Method good for children and thus had accompanied her daughter for the 2009 class. Slowly, she began to join the recycling and other activities.
 
Due to her predicament, she always had a sour face. It was not until 2010 when she joined volunteers on home visits for study grant assessments that she realized she was not the most unlucky or the most unfortunate. She was much better off compared to those who were homeless and terminally-ill, as she still had a job, a filial daughter and some siblings.
 
In 2011, she took up the role of team leader for home visits; and having witnessed the livelihood of the poor and sickly on numerous occasions, her grieving heart began to soften. She became friendlier and started to approach and communicate with people.
 
Turned animosity into affinity
 
Surprisingly, a trip to Taiwan and an opportunity to read the book, “A Commentary on the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance” had changed her completely. She manage to let go of her longing towards her husband and she did not avoid her mother deliberately anymore. 
 
Her now grown up daughter, See Zheng Yi, was also instrumental in mending the mother-daughter relationship. Zheng Yi had often reminded her mother of one of Tzu Chi’s ten precepts, that is, “to practise filial piety and be moderate in speech and attitude” in activities or sutra study. She had also been advising her mother that “doing good and filial piety should not wait”.
 
Yoon Siew understood where her daughter was coming from and she too knew that she would suffer if she were to continue avoiding her mother. Thus, she met and talked to her mother, and even had meals with her. However, deep down, she still could not forgive her mother to start calling her “mama”.
 
When Tzu Chi KL & Selangor announced the decision to stage the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance, both Yoon Siew and her teenage daughter registered themselves for their participation. Yoon Siew would always share with her daughter on the stories related to the Karmic Law of Cause and Effect from the book, “Dharma as Water” and that the Law of Karma never fails. Her daughter would then take the opportunity to persuade her mother to have more dealings with her grandma.
 
Zheng Yi knew that if her mother and her grandma could not resolve the resentment in this lifetime, the effects could affect them in the many lifetimes to come. Zheng Yi, who loves her mother dearly, does not want her mother to face the bad consequences in the coming lives due to a mistake in this life. She shared, “Mum has taken good care of me, educated me and loved me; I do not wish to see her suffer. I told her, I hope she can be a good role model to me and that I want to be proud of her.”
 
Zheng Yi’s kind intention had touched Yoon Siew’s heart. She had been to Taiwan three times and shared her pain and agony on stage. She felt more relieved after her sharing each time and even consulted the Master at the Jing Si Abode on how to release her pain. The Resident Master then advised her to treat her parents with respect like Living Buddhas. She listened carefully but somehow she still could not get over the grudges against her mother.
 
When practicing the sign language and chanting of sutras, Yoon Siew had wondered as to why she could not open up to her mother. This had kept her up at night. After much struggle and with her daughter’s constant persuasion, she decided to mend her relationship with her mother.
 
On May 10, 2015, during the three-in-one celebration of the Buddha’s Day, Mother’s Day and Tzu Chi’s Day at Raub Liaison Office, Yoon Siew asked her elder sister to bring their mother to the Buddha Bathing Ceremony. She invited her mother to be seated, knelt down in front of her and offered her a cup of tea. When her mother drank the tea, she called out “mama” with teary eyes.
 
The 78-year-old mother cried upon hearing this and said emotionally, “I have been waiting for this moment for a long time.”
 
After 38 years, the long buried resentment in Yoon Siew’s heart was finally erased and she could not help but cry after calling her mother. Zheng Yi was so touched that she too knelt down and offered her grandma a cup of tea. At that very moment, she could feel that love had replaced hatred.
 
The most blissful thing in life is to have a happy family, Zheng Yi was grateful that the Dharma has liberated her mother from resentment and suffering. She thanked her mother for leading by example as this would be the greatest gift from her mother to her.
 
 
Ho Yoon Siew had a nervous breakdown when her husband died from a work-related accident. Living in bitterness and resentment, Yoon Siew had neglected her then three-year-old daughter. She became bad-tempered, often cried and suffered from insomnia. [Photograph provided by Ho Yoon Siew]   Through understanding of the sutra, Ho Yoon Siew wished to free herself from the sea of suffering. She looked back courageously, repented and reformed. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]

Ho Yoon Siew had a nervous breakdown when her husband died from a work-related accident. Living in bitterness and resentment, Yoon Siew had neglected her then three-year-old daughter. She became bad-tempered, often cried and suffered from insomnia. [Photograph provided by Ho Yoon Siew]
 
Through understanding of the sutra, Ho Yoon Siew wished to free herself from the sea of suffering. She looked back courageously, repented and reformed. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]
 
Ho Yoon Siew and her daughter, See Zheng Yi seized the opportunity to join in the sutra performance. They often practise at home. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]   See Zheng Yi would feel sorrowful for her mum when recalling her hard life. She has used Jing Si Aphorism, “one should not wait to do good and be filial” to advise her mum to clear her misunderstandings with grandma so as not to suffer from karmic entanglement for lifetimes. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]

Ho Yoon Siew and her daughter, See Zheng Yi seized the opportunity to join in the sutra performance. They often practise at home. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]
 
 
See Zheng Yi would feel sorrowful for her mum when recalling her hard life. She has used Jing Si Aphorism, “one should not wait to do good and be filial” to advise her mum to clear her misunderstandings with grandma so as not to suffer from karmic entanglement for lifetimes. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]
 
Ho Yoon Siew would repeatedly read the sutra and share with her daughter on the stories related to the Karmic Law of Cause and Effect. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]   At the three-in-one ceremony in Raub, Ho Yoon Siew knelt down and served tea to her mother. After tearfully calling her mother, the resentment deep within her had vanished at last. [Photograph by Loke Kim Seong]

Ho Yoon Siew would repeatedly read the sutra and share with her daughter on the stories related to the Karmic Law of Cause and Effect. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]
 
 
At the three-in-one ceremony in Raub, Ho Yoon Siew knelt down and served tea to her mother. After tearfully calling her mother, the resentment deep within her had vanished at last. [Photograph by Loke Kim Seong]