Sunday, Oct 22nd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 14 June 2015 15:17

Travelled Afar to Accomplish Dharma Assembly

Written by  Low Chow Ping & Lim Being Cin, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Volunteers from various locations gathered at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall for practice and correction, in readiness for the upcoming sutra performance. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]

With the “Dharma as Water” sutra adaptation performance scheduled on July 4 & 5, participants from various locations in Malaysia have been travelling to KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall for their monthly group rehearsals. This is to ensure their gestures and movements are perfectly synchronized.


 
On June 14, 2015, buses ferrying 1,045 participants from various locations were seen at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, getting ready for their group rehearsal for the upcoming sutra performance. They have been gathering every month for repeated practices and timely adjustments.
 
At 11 am, the foyer at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall was already jam-packed. There were 201 participants from Raub, Kuantan and Mentakab, as well as, 844 from Melaka, Seremban, Muar, Tampin, Kluang, Kota Tinggi and Ulu Tiram. They took advantage of their early arrival to rehearse immediately.
 
Choong Yoke Wan, a staff with the Office Administration Department at Melaka Branch, is in charge of the administrative matters for participants in the Southern region. To her, the main challenge lies in the distance.
 
For every rehearsal at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, volunteers need to travel two to six hours each trip. Besides having to bear the transportation expenses and the long distance, the participants were undeterred. To them, this gathering was essential so that all participants could practise together in totality for a more organized overall performance. Thus, with sheer determination, all participants have overcome various obstacles to accomplish this Dharma assembly.
 
Not troubled by breakdown of bus
 
For this sutra performance, there were 108 volunteers from Kuantan, with Ng Kim Hua (Kuantan Liaison Office) at the helm. The latter informed joyfully that this was their sixth practice at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. Due to the long distance, they had boarded the bus at 6.30 am; and previously when the practices were scheduled for 8 am, they had even departed for Kuala Lumpur as early as 4 am.
 
Despite the early departures, everyone had shown great enthusiasm for each rehearsal. They would grab the opportunity to sleep during the journey so that they could practise with more energy and spirit immediately upon arrival at the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. On their way back, they would share their experiences and stories, or practise the simple sign language in the limited space to familiarize themselves.
 
On one trip, one of the two buses ferrying Kuantan volunteers broke down halfway along the highway, and their arrival was delayed by 1.5 hours. While the bus was being repaired, volunteers took the opportunity to practise the sign language in the bus. When told that the repairs would take some time, they decided to walk about 800 metres to a nearby petrol kiosk for safety reasons and for a rest.
 
Practised outdoor in the dark
 
As volunteers lacked a mock stage, they tried hard to search for a place with a eleven-step staircase. A volunteer then constructed a wooden one at the Kuantan Liaison Office but it could only go as high as five steps.
 
After much searching, they found a suitable “venue” at the Thean Hou Temple. Although there are sufficient steps, there are barriers in between which hinder their movements. As a result, the “hull” of the Dharma vessel can move freely but not the “sails”. Moreover, as it is an open-air staircase, they could only pray for rain-free night for their practice. Nevertheless, volunteers are contented and happily throw themselves into the practice sessions.
 
To remind everyone of the approaching premiere, Chen Yong Hao, a Tzu Chi Collegiate Youth, would flash the countdown on the screen during practice to spur everyone on.
 
The participants ranged from various ages and quite a number of them are from the same family, like Kim Hua, her husband and three children. She said, “There are lots of benefits with joint participation. We can practise and discuss the true meaning of the sutra together.”
 
Shortened the distance with right thinking
 
To meet with volunteers from Ulu Tiram for the large-scale sutra study at 11 am, volunteers from Kota Tinggi would board the bus and depart for Kuala Lumpur at 4 am. To them, punctuality is key whereas the six-hour journey is secondary.
 
As Johor observes Friday and Saturday as weekend rest days, participants would not be able to attend the large-scale sutra study when it is held on Sunday. Hence, to cater for all, the sutra study had also been held on Saturday sometimes. Participants would try their best to accommodate every practice so as to build up a common understanding.
 
For a tidier gesture, continuous practice is necessary. For a smoother movement, constant adjustment is inevitable.
 
Wang Zu En from Kota Tinggi was tested when his position was changed from the left side to the right. Due to his inability to adapt to the changed steps and directions, he wanted to give up; and had even spoken negatively about it to his close friends.
 
But when a friend of his uttered these words of wisdom to him: “One must seize the present moment to participate in the sutra performance”, he felt enlightened and decided to stay on. Now, he has learnt the new steps by heart. With an adjusted mindset, he has again joined in the rehearsal joyfully.
 
 
Regardless of where they come from, participants have overcome various difficulties to see the performance through, hand-in-hand, heart-to-heart.
 
 

 
Southern volunteers have undertaken the performance on one stage. They were seen rehearsing at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall to synchronize their pace and movements. [Photograph by Lai Jih Chuan]   Buses ferrying volunteers from various locations parked outside KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Tan Ken Teik]

Southern volunteers have undertaken the performance on one stage. They were seen rehearsing at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall to synchronize their pace and movements. [Photograph by Lai Jih Chuan]
 
Buses ferrying volunteers from various locations parked outside KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Tan Ken Teik]
 
At the five-step staircase constructed in Kuantan Liaison Office, the head of some volunteers could be seen touching the ceiling when standing at the highest step. [Photograph by Ng Kim Hua]   Kuantan participants overcame various challenges to practise in the dark on a marked canvas laid on the staircase at Thean Hou Temple. [Photograph by Ng Chi Keong]

At the five-step staircase constructed in Kuantan Liaison Office, the head of some volunteers could be seen touching the ceiling when standing at the highest step. [Photograph by Ng Kim Hua]
 
 
Kuantan participants overcame various challenges to practise in the dark on a marked canvas laid on the staircase at Thean Hou Temple. [Photograph by Ng Chi Keong]
 
Person-in-charge for Kuantan Liaison Office, Ng Kim Hua appreciates the affinity to participate in the sutra performance. Each trip to KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall would take up to four hours. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]   Ng Kim Hua’s whole family has joined in the sutra performance. They would practise the sign language at home and share with each other on the meaning of the verses. [Photograph provided by Ng Kim Hua]

Person-in-charge for Kuantan Liaison Office, Ng Kim Hua appreciates the affinity to participate in the sutra performance. Each trip to KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall would take up to four hours. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]
 
 
Ng Kim Hua’s whole family has joined in the sutra performance. They would practise the sign language at home and share with each other on the meaning of the verses. [Photograph provided by Ng Kim Hua]
 
Once, the bus ferrying volunteers broke down halfway. As the repairs would take some time, volunteers walked 800 metres to the nearest petrol kiosk for a rest. [Photograph provided by Yap Heng Kooi]   Participants seized the time to practise the sign language during the bus journey from Southern region to KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Tan Yen Pack]

Once, the bus ferrying volunteers broke down halfway. As the repairs would take some time, volunteers walked 800 metres to the nearest petrol kiosk for a rest. [Photograph provided by Yap Heng Kooi]
 
 
Participants seized the time to practise the sign language during the bus journey from Southern region to KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall. [Photograph by Tan Yen Pack]
 
With a change in the mindset, Wang Zu En (2nd right) has learnt the steps by heart. [Photograph by Ng Min Hui]    

With a change in the mindset, Wang Zu En (2nd right) has learnt the steps by heart. [Photograph by Ng Min Hui]