Monday, Oct 23rd

Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Monday, 15 June 2015 09:18

Finding the Missing Puzzle through the Sutra

Written by  Low Hai Loon, Klang / Translated by Lee Ren Hui


In order to have more time rehearsing, Wong Yong Geng (front) has turned his tuition centre into a practice ground. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]

Since October 2014, students of Wong Yong Geng have joined the team of Dharma Accompaniments at Banting Community Centre for the upcoming “Dharma as Water” performance. After months of practising, both teacher and students have overcome many difficulties together, and realized their own shortcomings through the sutra, which allows them to find the missing part of their life.


 
“I have been watching these kids grow up. School education is important but I felt there was something missing,” said Wong Yong Geng. The children referred to by Yong Geng are actually high school students; and since most of them are taught by his mother or sister in primary school, he is familiar with them in his tuition class.
 
Although qualified to teach in college, Yong Geng has chosen the secondary school instead because he has found that there is very little interaction between teachers and college students as soon as a class ends. In the secondary school, however, students are at a critical stage of personality development, and therefore in the process of teaching, he always tries to share more with the students about life, apart from disseminating knowledge and providing care.
 
Two years ago, Yong Geng was involved in Tzu Chi’s Year-end Blessing Ceremony, and so when the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation was initiated, he had the idea of inviting his students to participate. With the sign language coach of Tzu Chi Klang personally teaching at the centre once a month, it saves the trouble of commuting back and forth. Hence, at his invitation, 15 students have responded to his call.
 
At every practice, Yong Geng would spend nearly an hour fetching his students across Banting back and forth, so that they can practise with peace of mind, and not worry about traffic and commuting issues. However, this was only the first problem faced by Yong Geng and his students.
 
When the students started practising, their lifestyle was greatly affected and their parents were worried that their child’s after-school revision time would be impacted. Yong Geng then paid a special visit to every one of them to explain; and he would give positive encouragement to those students who feel tired during practice. In the process, a profound friendship has been forged between the teacher and his students.
 
Yong Geng bravely assured that the sutra may seem to be of no help to schoolwork, but after detailed explanation by volunteers, students discovered that everyone has their own inherent shortcomings. The teacher and students would remind one another at all times and this is certainly a life’s lesson that one will never learn in classroom or even at home.
 
Habits of every student are different
 
With the intensified practice, and under the teacher’s encouragement, the students have become wiser in managing their time. They would spend less time on their mobile and computer, and complete their homework as soon as possible so that they could spend more time practising the sign language and not be left behind in their progress. Yong Geng admitted frankly that his students’ positive improvement and significant changes have exceeded his expectations.
 
In 2013, Tee Chee Khang started helping his teacher at the recycling centre and also participated in Tzu Chi’s activities. Last year, when he was preparing for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (equivalent to O-levels) examinations, he excused himself from the sutra adaptation. However, instead of doing revision and taking proper rest, he went out a lot with his friends. As a result, he performed poorly and this had affected his chances of entering a university. In the face of uncertainty, Yong Geng had accompanied him and invited him to join the sutra adaptation. He finally joined the group in January this year.
 
Now, whenever he heard the verse, “I repent being drawn to deviant behaviour and evil friends,” he would repent for wasting his time previously and for not fulfilling his responsibility as a student. In order not to repeat the same mistake, he vowed to join Tzu Chi’s activities with his teacher, in addition to helping out at his teacher’s tuition class during his free time.
 
Another student, 16-year old Yam Yee Yang recalled, “When I was a child, there was once I got angry because of something my brother said, and I had picked up a chair and thrown it at him…” 
 
Following in his family’s footstep, he became a vegetarian at six. However, his temper had always been stubborn like a bull and would always think that he was right; and if there was a different view, he would get irritated.
 
After several months of practice, Yee Yang said, “Today when I encountered the same situation, the verse ‘my anger and rage often cause hurt to others’ would come to mind, and I would remind myself to be patient and learn to accept different views.”
 
Negative karma unconsciously created
 
In addition to diligently practising the sign language, Yong Geng and his students have also adopted a vegetarian diet, which many students found difficult to adapt to initially. To encourage them, Yong Geng initiated an online competition to see who has the most number of vegetarian meals. Surprisingly, this “good initiative” has triggered Tan Chee King’s will to win.
 
Form 4 student Chee King, who often follows his teacher to participate in environmental protection activities, found that taking vegetarian meals was not a difficult task. But to win the competition, he would always skip home-cooked meals without informing his parents, and have vegetarian meals at food-stalls. His family could not understand his intention and thus had a very bad impression on his participation in the sutra adaptation.
 
Upon learning this, his teacher then advised Chee King to let go of his stubbornness to win and to communicate with his family. He later requested his mother to prepare an extra vegetarian dish for him, and this had resolved the misunderstanding with his family.
 
Wong Meng Yam could not stop talking about eating vegetables. He had actually shared on the vegetables he dislikes instead of how much he loves vegetables. He said, “I don’t like bean sprouts and bitter gourd. Actually, I don’t like vegetables that I need to chew a lot.”
 
Meng Yam conceded that before learning the sutra, he had taken vegetables only once a month, but now, he would request his mother to prepare more vegetables and then quickly finish his dinner. He shared shyly that he was afraid he could not resist the temptation of eating meat.
 
Regarding his changes after learning the sutra, Meng Yam informed that he used to “attack” his friends verbally. Whenever he saw students that he disliked, he would trick them by sabotaging their bicycle’s tires. Although he was just being playful, he learnt from the sutra that he was wrong to build his happiness upon the suffering of others.
 
Now, he is often reminded of his previous behaviour whenever he performed the sign language of the verse “I vow never to speak ill of others, neither will I slander. I vow to speak good words gently, like lotuses emerging from the mouth.” 
 
Having witnessed his students’ growth, 33-year-old Yong Geng was deeply surprised, that a positive attitude has been ingrained into their hearts. He also admitted that in the process of guiding them, he has also improved his temperament. “They are following my footsteps, I am also treading theirs. We are actually developing together because we have all experienced unexpected changes.” Initially, his intention was to help these students find the missing part of their life, but they have all benefitted from the sutra. It has been a mutual teaching and learning.
 

 

To help participants in remote areas learn the sutra, volunteers would travel to Banting for coaching lessons every month. [Photograph by Soh Teck Hing   Wong Yong Geng encourages his students to become vegetarians by preparing vegetarian meals for consumption together. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]

To help participants in remote areas learn the sutra, volunteers would travel to Banting for coaching lessons every month. [Photograph by Soh Teck Hing
 
Wong Yong Geng encourages his students to become vegetarians by preparing vegetarian meals for consumption together. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]
 
Wong Yong Geng (front row, fourth left) and his students have realized their shortcomings through the sutra, and found the missing part of their life. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]   Tan Chee King used to misunderstand the purpose of being a vegetarian, but after his teacher’s explanation, he has learnt to let go of his stubbornness and has reached a consensus with his family. He is now a happy vegetarian. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]

Wong Yong Geng (front row, fourth left) and his students have realized their shortcomings through the sutra, and found the missing part of their life. [Photograph by Lee Wei Kean]
 
 
Tan Chee King used to misunderstand the purpose of being a vegetarian, but after his teacher’s explanation, he has learnt to let go of his stubbornness and has reached a consensus with his family. He is now a happy vegetarian. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]
 
Tee Chee Khang repented for “being drawn to deviant behaviour and evil friends” and is thankful that he has turned over a new leaf after learning the sutra. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]   Wong Meng Yam, who used to tease his friends, is reminded not to repeat his previous mistakes through the verse, “I vow never to speak ill of others, neither will I slander. I vow to speak good words gently, like lotuses emerging from the mouth”. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]

Tee Chee Khang repented for “being drawn to deviant behaviour and evil friends” and is thankful that he has turned over a new leaf after learning the sutra. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]
 
 
Wong Meng Yam, who used to tease his friends, is reminded not to repeat his previous mistakes through the verse, “I vow never to speak ill of others, neither will I slander. I vow to speak good words gently, like lotuses emerging from the mouth”. [Photograph by Tai Fuey Tat]