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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Sunday, 28 June 2015 08:46

Final Countdown to Sutra Adaptation

Written by  Tzu Chi Documenting Team, KL & Selangor / Translated by Tan Heang Shin

Entering the final week before the premiere, volunteers have been practising every day to ensure a solemn event. [Photograph by Lim Chin Tong]

After a year of preparation, the “Dharma as Water” sutra adaptation has seen a participation of over 4,600 volunteers and public members. Since August 2014, study groups have been held in communities, and volunteers have observed a vegetarian diet and deeply repented. With three days to the premiere, preparations are entering the final phases to the staging of a solemn Dharma assembly.


Tzu Chi KL & Selangor is staging four Dharma as Water sutra adaptation performances over July 4 & 5 at Stadium Putra, Bukit Jalil. The response was overwhelming with tickets for all the shows fully distributed in June. The event organizer later decided to open the two full dress rehearsals on July 3 to the public.
 
The show is an integration of traditional opera, songs, sign language and theatrical sketches, adapted from the Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance Text. The cast includes HsuYa Fen, a well-known Taiwanese opera performer, and famous Malaysian artistes, like Remon Lim, Loo Aye Keng and Laurens Teo, to name a few.
 
It is hoped that through the sutra adaptation, everyone will be inspired to practise repentance and eradicate unwholesome thoughts to bring peace to the world.
 
Cast and crew members geared up
 
The sutra adaptation has drawn media attention. Following Tzu Chi representatives’ appearance on Ai FM Radio on June 4, Lin Chia Hua and Liao Shu Yu from the Planning Team and three experienced artistes (Johnson Low, Sam Chong and Eric Chen) from the Theatrical Sketch Team were also invited by 988 FM Radio on June 24 for a live interview by DJ Wang Piau Ming.
 
The on-air promotion has offered a great deal of publicity surrounding the performance. Apart from the radio, the event was also published in local mainstream newspaper. With the photos in newspaper, the teachings are expounded indirectly, and public members are invited to attend the Dharma assembly and eliminate impurities from their hearts.
 
With the premiere just around the corner, the event organizer has also intensified rehearsals and sutra study internally, including movements on and off stage, hand gestures adjustments and neatness. Local artistes in the Theatrical Sketch Team and volunteers in the Body Language Team have all made time to rehearse full-time hoping for a perfect interpretation of the sutra.
 
Preach and preserve the teachings
 
On June 27 and 28, participants from various locations gathered at KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall for the final large-scale sutra study. In propagating the Dharma, volunteers have practised diligently hoping to disseminate the teachings through the sign language.
 
Ng Siok Wan, a Body Language Team member, is a natural on stage. To ensure she brought out an air of spiritual refinement, she listened to the advice of coach Chiang Chin Hsien to adopt a vegetarian diet. She felt that she has to first uphold and live out the teachings before transforming others.
 
She has seized the opportunity to participate in this divine affinity because she considers herself young and hence, has no reason to back off. But as they are getting closer to the premiere, it was a mix of joy and stress for her. She has, however, taken it as a driving force to reflect upon herself and to spur her on.
 
She said, “It is indescribable to see the volunteers going through an arduous process of spending almost a year practising the sign language, learning the sutra and familiarizing themselves with the stage. The Body Language Team, on the other hand, has only started practising for two to three months. We hope to spread the teachings widely and bring harmony to the world.”
 
Participating in the first act, “Overture” has made her realize that many times, people get afflicted because of attachments. If it is a minor attachment, it affects only the individual. But if it is a major attachment, it would affect the entire team. Through participating in the sutra adaptation, she has learnt to let go of her ego for the greater teamwork.
 
To her, although the results of the show are important, knowing how to handle worldly affairs with ease is even more important. “I hope the audience would gain some insights from the Dharma assembly.” Prior to the premiere, she patted herself on the back and offered her deepest blessings for the show.
 
Nurture the root of goodness in all
 
During practice, the Body Language Team had sustained some minor injuries like falls and sprains, but they did not mind. They have the same aim in mind, and that is, to accomplish the Dharma assembly and inspire more people to do good.
 
Three days to the premiere, Yip Kam Seng from Klang, a sign language coach, admitted frankly that he is looking forward to the sutra adaptation. Even though he had hurt his left foot in March, and sustained some sprains, he has continued and never given up with the intensive training. His only fear is his inability to keep up with the team.
 
“I could feel the pain lately when I ascend and descend from the staircase. I have thus made a wish every day praying that my foot will ‘behave’. Even if it’s going to get worse, I hope it will happen after the sutra adaptation,” remarked Kam Seng. He is certainly determined to join the assembly, eradicate his negative karma and propagate the Dharma.
 
He feels that every participant is like a Bodhisattva on stage, hence, they must live out the teachings in order to inspire the audience to sing aloud so that their voices could reach all Buddhas and heavenly beings above, and pray sincerely for a world free from disasters.
 
On stage, Dr Lim Lian Cheoo (a coach) was nervous, “Although volunteers were doing well during rehearsals, I am still worried about the actual performance on stage. Therefore, I have taken some shots performed by other teams today using my mobile for sharing purposes with my community members later.”
 
Besides Dr Lim, all coaches were present at Jing Si Hall to provide support, guidance and encouragement in this final phase of preparation. Apart from the large-scale sutra study, there are also daily practice sessions to ensure a smooth Dharma assembly.
 
Working flat out in the home stretch
 
By turning back, we can return to the shore
Eliminate the Three Obstacles and all delusions
Listen to the calling of the Buddhas!
 
On the mock stage and seated areas, the movements of more than 500 volunteers are in sync. Sister Echo Chien, CEO of KL & Selangor, could not help but praise, “Throughout this week, I could see significant improvements and feel the spiritual refinement. This is excellent, keep it up everyone!”
 
Various functional teams have also held meetings, mobilized members, coordinated traffic control, and transported necessary materials to the stadium for advanced preparation. All these tasks needed to be done attentively and concurrently with the rehearsals.
 
An estimated turnout of over 50,000 public members is expected for all the six shows. It is hoped that this Dharma assembly could develop the right thinking, eradicate unwholesome thoughts and purify the mind of everyone, as well as, pray reverently for a harmonious society.
 
Photos shows a meeting was held on traffic control matters. An estimate of 373 buses is expected. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]   Of all preparations, stage and lightings proved to be most challenging hence the need to start and complete early.  [Photograph by Woo Yoke Bee]

Photos shows a meeting was held on traffic control matters. An estimate of 373 buses is expected. [Photograph by Ch’ng Kooi Tick]
 
Of all preparations, stage and lightings proved to be most challenging hence the need to start and complete early. [Photograph by Woo Yoke Bee]
 
The event was published in local mainstream newspaper. Photo shows reporters interviewing the Public Relations Manager for KL & Selangor, Chong Chuan Yit. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]   On June 24 at 10 pm, Lin Chia Hua and Liao Shu Yu from the Planning Team and three experienced artistes (Johnson Low, Sam Chong and Eric Chen) from the Theatrical Sketch Team were invited by 988 FM Radio for a live interview. [Photograph by Lim Yen Kuan]

The event was published in local mainstream newspaper. Photo shows reporters interviewing the Public Relations Manager for KL & Selangor, Chong Chuan Yit. [Photograph by Ong See Lim]
 
 
On June 24 at 10 pm, Lin Chia Hua and Liao Shu Yu from the Planning Team and three experienced artistes (Johnson Low, Sam Chong and Eric Chen) from the Theatrical Sketch Team were invited by 988 FM Radio for a live interview. [Photograph by Lim Yen Kuan]
 
Ng Siok Wan hopes to inculcate the right thinking in the audience through her performance. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]   Yip Kam Seng hopes to bring his acting to live on the actual day and that his voice could reach all Buddhas, to pray for a world free from disasters. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]

Ng Siok Wan hopes to inculcate the right thinking in the audience through her performance. [Photograph by Ivan Ooi Yoong Seong]
 
 
Yip Kam Seng hopes to bring his acting to live on the actual day and that his voice could reach all Buddhas, to pray for a world free from disasters. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
Dr Lim Lian Cheoo has taken some shots performed by other volunteers for sharing with his community members. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]  

Dr Lim Lian Cheoo has taken some shots performed by other volunteers for sharing with his community members. [Photograph by How Siew Heok]