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Last updateWed, 11 Nov 2015 11am

Saturday, 25 July 2015 12:28

Role Switch Led Teacher to Greater Dedication

Written by  Lim Beng Cin, KL & Selangor / Translated by Goh Hwe Yong

Chong Sok Fong deeply regretted and repented for not being understanding towards her students. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]

Education is divinely challenging, with the school teachers shouldering the responsibility of passing knowledge to the students. But a teacher is not an expert in all things, and this was what Chong Sok Fong had realized when she participated in the sutra adaptation. Realizing the negative karma she had created through her faults and defilements, she decided to change for the better.

Chong Sok Fong lectures in a private college, and is currently studying for a doctorate degree. She revealed that she had never thought of joining Tzu Chi, because she was not used to the humble mannerism of Tzu Chi volunteers. She felt she would be hypocritical if she were to behave likewise.
Then came the day when her doctorate thesis reached a bottle neck, and she became unhappy, wondering why and how to face the stress over her study and work. She got into her car and drove around aimlessly. On passing by a Tzu Chi recycling centre, she noticed the happy laughter of those working at the centre. What a contrast to her own mood. “I was puzzled by the fact that they could be so happy messing with such dirty work,” expressed Sok Fong.
Something in their happy chuckles attracted her into Tzu Chi, as she wanted to be as happy. Consequently, she accepted an invitation to partake in the sutra adaptation performance of Dharma as Water.
All religions basically similar
As a Christian, Sok Fong treats all religions basically as having similar values. To her, both Christianity and Buddhism are about selfless love. Christianity is concerned with compassionate love, while Buddhism teaches selfless-giving to all sentient beings. Their teachings do not clash, and in fact, they could co-exist peacefully.
However, her Christian friends did not understand her move, and raised questions at her choice. But since she had studied the Bible well, she firmly replied that the Bible never forbids Christians to learn anything good. Moreover, how would God love all man if He held different views about His believers and non-believers?
Her treatment of religions won the trust of her Christian friends. She quoted the Bible that “love means not to seek benefits for self” – the underlying spirit in all Tzu Chi activities. Hence, she confidently joined others in the Dharma as Water sutra adaptation.
But she felt defeated as she was not so good in performing sign language as in lecturing. She thought of backing down due to her studies and work. However, after her trip to the Philippines with Tzu Chi Teachers’ Association to promote the Jing Si Aphorism Teaching Method in schools, she has leant what to let go and what not. Thus, she decided to grasp every moment to do more good deeds.
“I wanted to quit time and time again, yet what should be done has to be done. So here I am, back again,” said Sok Fong.
Even though she was back for good, she was mentally prepared to be disqualified because she was slow in learning the sign language. She found it difficult to understand the verses, both in its content and in the classic written form of the characters. But, a month prior to the show, the sign language volunteers in her community went all out to ensure she picked up the gestures. Only then did Sok Fong begin to put in serious effort.
Repentance necessary for wrongs done
It is generally assumed that teachers are all knowledgeable. But what Sok Fong encountered was somehow embarrassing, as she was unable to read classic Chinese characters.
“Why? Aren’t you a teacher?”
“Aren’t you very knowledgeable?”
She took such response to heart, and ran to the toilet to sob for a whole half hour. She thought she had tried her very best and yet she failed. Then she recalled the times when she was puzzled when her students came to her with questions for clarification. “I had explained clearly, yet you still don’t understand,” Sok Fong shared. She even accused them for not paying attention and would then flare up.
Now that she had encountered similar problem of not being able to grasp the content despite putting in great efforts, she realized she had hurt her students, who had come to her with genuine problems. She shared, “Only now have I realized that I was not understanding towards my students.” Such realization made her regretful. She should have put herself in their shoes and be more understanding. 
Reversing negative karmic force
When the performance was finally over, Sok Fong was physically tired but the following verses were still ringing in her ears even after a few days: There are three types of retribution – the first being present life retribution; the second, the next life retribution; and then there is future life retribution; all of which will surely come to pass. Both good and evil karma will ripen, retribution will duly manifest.
She watched the entire performance from the Internet and discovered that she had missed many meaningful verses because she had focused too much attention in practising the sign language. The Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance had helped Master Wu Da to resolve his revengeful hatred of ten reincarnations.
This realization brought her back to her past memories of living in hatred and pain. Through taking part in the performance, she was able to understand Buddhist teachings, which has enabled her to see the truth of things, thereby relieving her of her old heartaches.
Consequently, she specially searched on Facebook for those whom she had deep hatred, and talked about her inner feelings while looking at their photographs. She wished them a happy life and was surprised that she could actually let go of negative emotions and return to the pure innate nature. She felt joyful as the pain caused by ignorance was a past.
Sok Fong added, “I firmly believe that for every person that I could help to become a good man, there will be an added sense of happiness and peace in our social environment, and a lesser sense of evil and fear.”
In the Dharma as Water, theBuddhadharma is compared to water, which is able to cleanse us of the thick dust of ignorance. The tears that Sok Fong shed were the water that cleansed her defilements and ignorance. No more wrongdoings that would lead to negative karmic force. Furthermore, Sok Fong vowed to follow Master Cheng Yen in walking on the Bodhisattva Path, and serving all sentient beings life after life.

Chong Sok Fong found happiness doing recycling work at Tzu Chi recycling centre. [Photograph provided by Hsu Lu Wen]   Chong Sok Fong joined volunteers at the recycling centre to find out what made them so happy. [Photograph provided by Hsu Lu Wen]

Chong Sok Fong found happiness doing recycling work at Tzu Chi recycling centre. [Photograph provided by Hsu Lu Wen]
Chong Sok Fong joined volunteers at the recycling centre to find out what made them so happy. [Photograph provided by Hsu Lu Wen]
Sign language facilitators patiently coached Chong Sok Fong, hence she tried to put in more serious effort. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]    

Sign language facilitators patiently coached Chong Sok Fong, hence she tried to put in more serious effort. [Photograph by Kevin Tan Kok Sieong]