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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Wednesday, 10 June 2015 11:31

A Rich Man’s Meal is Equivalent to a Poor Man’s Meal for a Year

Written by  Siow Lee Kien, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Tan Sin Hin, who has never hit a drum, has joined the Drum Team for the upcoming Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]

Tan Sin Hin, an alcoholic for 30 years, has given up drinking. He could even resist temptation from friends and would substitute alcohol with tea. When being invited for a drink, he would answer politely, “I had consumed much in the past, it is time to give my body a rest.”


 
Lost in the mundane world, we lose sight of our true nature
When the Three Minds are obscured, afflictions arise
Though Buddha-nature in every person is inherent
Foolishly, from karma of body, speech and mind, ignorance arises
Today, I sincerely and reverently vow
I will not create negative karma of body and speech
 
These verses from Dharma as Water would regularly appear in Tan Sin Hin’s mind, and in particular, the verse, “I repent for my ignorance, foolishness and delusion; my blind oblivion to the Law of Cause and Effect”, when comparing to his real life.
 
Intoxicated with liquor
 
Sin Hin was rebellious when he was young. He left school after Primary Six and was involved with gangsters under the influence of his friends. He led a messy life and considered smoking, drinking, gambling, womanizing and debauchery as his life’s goals and benchmark for success. He started drinking at the age of 17, and had been an alcoholic for the past 30 years.
 
Most of Sin Hin’s friends were alcoholics and they always got drunk together. Yet Sin Hin would feel smug about it. Prior to his marriage, he drank daily; and after marriage, he continued drinking for five days a week with his friends. When his wife advised him patiently to stop drinking at night, he chose to drink in the daytime as he could not get rid of the bad habit.
 
Disciplined with precepts
 
Tan Boon Seng is a good friend of Sin Hin. In 2014, he joined the Entrepreneurs’ Group to Taiwan to attend a Tzu Chi camp. Since then, he has been a vegetarian. Sin Hin said, “I found it unbelievable as Boon Seng used to love meat very much!”
 
Sin Hin was curious as to how Tzu Chi had managed to change his friend totally. Hence, he wanted to know more about Tzu Chi. He tried in vain to convince Boon Seng to stop being a vegetarian. Thus, he decided to pay Tzu Chi a visit.
 
On one occasion, at the invitation of Boon Seng, Sin Hin attended a sharing session by volunteer, Lim Haw Sek. He was so inspired by Haw Sek that he vowed to change his lifestyle; and with his fervent determination, he finally joined the big family of Tzu Chi.
 
On May 11, 2014, Sin Hin attended the Buddha Bathing Ceremony for the first time and was moved by the solemn and serene atmosphere which he never experienced before. He began to ponder about the life he had been living and started to wonder if he wanted to continue with that for the rest of his life.
 
In August 2014, Sin Hin participated in the community volunteer training programme. He was in shame whenever he recited Tzu Chi’s Ten Precepts of “no smoking” and “no drinking”; and his voice would get softer. After much contemplation, and having witnessed how Boon Seng and Haw Sek had successfully led a meaningful life, Sin Hin decided to stop his drinking habit.
 
Treated Tzu Chi as cultivation ground
 
In early 2015, he participated in the sutra adaptation performance of Dharma as Water. When he sang the verse, “I repent for my ignorance, foolishness and delusion”, he recalled his past drinking habit and realized that not only had he wasted a lot of time and money, but his drinking had also damaged his body and mind.
 
Back then, he felt proud when making others drunk and would later drive home under the influence of alcohol. He never put his safety first, not to mention his family’s concern.
 
“After I was drunk, I would talk very loud,” said Sin Hin, who realized the negative karma he created through his abusive language. He could not imagine he had led such a ridiculous life previously. With a deep sense of repentance, he decided to change over a new leaf.
 
When he followed volunteers on home visits and discovered that what he used to spend on a night’s drinking could be a whole month’s expenses for a poor family, he was truly ashamed of himself. He realized that a meal by a rich man could be the meals for a poor man for a year.
 
He then vowed to do more charity and help the poor as much as he could. He felt so relieved seeing the smiles of the aid recipients. Sin Hin said with a grin, “I have never experienced this kind of satisfaction and happiness in my life before.”
 
In 2014 during the East Coast flood, Sin Hin had personally raised funds for the victims. He was surprised he had actually swallowed his pride to hold a donation box and make a 90-degree bow.
 
He had also been involved in the cash-for-work programme. When he walked through the thick layers of silt and witnessed the flood- and mud-ravaged areas, he said while holding the fire hose, “Had it not been for Tzu Chi, I could not imagine the situation at the disaster areas and I would not have the opportunity to come and clean the neighbourhood for the villagers.”
 
Through helping others without expecting anything in return, he felt a great sense of Dharma joy, something that money and entertainment cannot buy.
 
For the upcoming Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance in July 2015, the Entrepreneurs’ Group has undertaken the drum performance. Sin Hin has learnt drumming from scratch and with a strong determination to change himself first before changing others, he has stopped his drinking habit and has adopted vegetarianism, moving from a mundane world to treading the Bodhisattva Path.
 
 
Tan Sin Hin started drinking at 17 years of age and would invite friends for drinks every night. Photo showing him (3rd left) and his buddy, Tan Boon Seng (in black shirt) drinking together. [Photograph provided by Tan Sin Hin]   Photo showing the embarrassing moment of Tan Sin Hin when he was drunk. He would sleep in his car and puke all over. [Photograph provided by Tan Sin Hin]

Tan Sin Hin started drinking at 17 years of age and would invite friends for drinks every night. Photo showing him (3rd left) and his buddy, Tan Boon Seng (in black shirt) drinking together. [Photograph provided by Tan Sin Hin]
 
Photo showing the embarrassing moment of Tan Sin Hin when he was drunk. He would sleep in his car and puke all over. [Photograph provided by Tan Sin Hin]
 
At Tan Sin Hin’s home, there is a huge liquor cabinet with a good collection of wines and wine glasses. These had become decorative items on the day he stopped drinking. [Photograph by Lim Yen Kuan]   At the Dharma as Water sutra study held at Puchong Community Centre, the verse “I repent for my ignorance, foolishness and delusion” has penetrated Tan Sin Hin’s heart. [Photograph by Aw Lee Ching]

At Tan Sin Hin’s home, there is a huge liquor cabinet with a good collection of wines and wine glasses. These had become decorative items on the day he stopped drinking. [Photograph by Lim Yen Kuan]
 
 
At the Dharma as Water sutra study held at Puchong Community Centre, the verse “I repent for my ignorance, foolishness and delusion” has penetrated Tan Sin Hin’s heart. [Photograph by Aw Lee Ching]
 
Photo showing Tan Sin Hin holding a donation box raising funds for the East Coast flood victims. Realizing he had wasted much time in the past, he has thrown himself into charity, finding the direction in life. [Photograph by Woo Phing Pheng]   Tan Sin Hin has treated each repentance and sharing with the audience as a reminder not to slack off but to walk on the Bodhisattva Path with more diligence. [Photograph by Woo See Ming]

Photo showing Tan Sin Hin holding a donation box raising funds for the East Coast flood victims. Realizing he had wasted much time in the past, he has thrown himself into charity, finding the direction in life. [Photograph by Woo Phing Pheng]
 
 
Tan Sin Hin has treated each repentance and sharing with the audience as a reminder not to slack off but to walk on the Bodhisattva Path with more diligence. [Photograph by Woo See Ming]
 
Tan Sin Hin is practising hard on his drumming for the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance to be staged in July. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]   Tan Sin Hin thanked his wife for her tolerance, patience and guidance. The wife felt relieved seeing the change in her husband. [Photograph by Lim Yen Kuan]

Tan Sin Hin is practising hard on his drumming for the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performance to be staged in July. [Photograph by Choo Kok Choi]
 
 
Tan Sin Hin thanked his wife for her tolerance, patience and guidance. The wife felt relieved seeing the change in her husband. [Photograph by Lim Yen Kuan]