On April 14, 2012 which was Tzu Chi's 46th Anniversary, Tzu Chi Volunteers went on a prostrating pilgrimage with the aim to purify their minds and souls and to pray for world peace and stability.
Forty-six years ago, Venerable Master Cheng Yen founded the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. With an unwavering heart, she focuses on the first Mission of Charity and went on to accomplish all three other missions, leaving behind footprints of loving kindness in 72 countries across the globe.
To celebrate Tzu Chi's 46th anniversary, chanting of the Lotus Sutra were held nightly at the Jing Si Abode in Hualien from April 2-14, 2012. Volunteers from Tzu Chi Melaka also joined in the activity, synchronizing it through live video-conference.
24th day of third lunar month (April 14, 2012) was Tzu Chi's 46th Anniversary and also the birthday of Venerable Master Cheng Yen. At break of dawn, 320 Volunteers from Tzu Chi Melaka Branch congregated at the Melaka Jing-Si Hall. The prostrating pilgrimage ceremony took place. Participants prayed piously, attempting to tame their ego by emulating the wisdom and humbleness of a Buddhist Cultivator.
Fifty-six and 65 volunteers from Kota Tinggi and Tampin chapters, respectively, also held a prostrating pilgrimage at their liaison office. A total of 184 volunteers from Muar, Segamat, Kluang, Kota Tinggi, Tampin and Seremban participated in the Medicine Buddha Sutra chanting session and listened to the sermon by Master via video conferencing.
Two-year old prostrating pilgrim perseveres
Two-year old Yu Heng followed closely beside his father, Tay Boon Hin on the prostrating pilgrimage session. The little boy usually wakes up at eight in the morning. That particular morning, his father had to wake him up at 4am. Despite being deprived of sleep, he looked energetic.
The little boy followed the movements of his father, looking curiously at others around him. "This is a start of the spiritual path for him. He may be ignorant in the beginning, however, I would like him to be exposed to Buddhist influences at a young age," said his father. Being very obedient and without creating any fuss, his father was able to complete the pilgrimage with a peace of mind.
2012 is a special year for Boon Hin. He became a full time staff of Tzu Chi Melaka and a father the second time. On this special day, he pledged to walk on the Bodhisattva Path with his family.
Resolute and firm belief in Buddhism
"The energy level is very high. Despite being soaked with perspiration, we are doused in Dharma joy," said Tan Poh Seng from Seremban, a first timer involved in this activity. He elaborated that as laypeople, we have wandering minds which are susceptible to temptations from the sophisticated world. So, through the prostrating pilgrimage, he hoped that he can gather positive forces to tame his wandering thoughts in order to achieve a wholesome peace of mind.
Xiao Yu Man, Poh Seng's wife was attracted to the prostrating pilgrimage through the Da Ai TV channel. She commented: "As commissioners and disciples of Venerable Master Cheng Yen, we should participate in this event." Though she had to wake up early and drive to the venue, Yu Man enjoyed the session and was full of joy. She was a little nervous in the beginning, not knowing what to do but she persevered and overcame the challenge. "I may be a Catholic but am grateful that Venerable Master Cheng Yen's love transcended all religion and it allowed me to take part in the prostrating pilgrimage," she said.
Xu Ya Hua, who returned from England more than two months ago, was soaked in perspiration after completing the whole prostrating pilgrimage. "Before taking part, I did not have the faintest idea what the pilgrimage is about. The only information I got was that this event was arranged with the aim to wish Venerable Master Cheng Yen good health," she said. Ya Hua returned to Malaysia to recuperate after hurting her arm badly. Although everyone was worried about her injury, she was least bothered. She said "When prostrating, I was very focus. I only felt the pain after the event and now I am feeling alright."
A meaningful celebration
As early as five in the morning, veteran volunteer photographer Lee Chin Seong arrived at the Jing-Si Hall with wife, Tan Geok Poo who contracted Parkinson Disease a year ago. Chin Seong brought along two cameras with him and could not wait to take the first shot of prostrating pilgrims even before he entered the premises of Jing-Si Hall.
"I first thought that I could follow the prostrating team on a slow pace, but I felt weak after a while..." the upset Geok Poo said. She sat on a chair beside the Hall and wiped her tears. "Look at those elderly teammates, they are old but could still prostrate. I just couldn't..." she sighed.
"When singing the song "Our Vow", I broke into tears because I felt I am a burden as I need to be taken care of. I hope my illness will improve so that I can join the elderly teammates to proceed on the Bodhisattva Path."
Chin Seong turned 52 that day. The Tzu Chi Cultural Team and volunteers had planned a pleasant surprise for him by serving a heart-shaped birthday cake. The delighted Chin Seong made a birthday wish before cutting the cake:
"Vow to be Master's obedient disciple!" Chin Seong clasped his palms together and read aloud those seven words decorated on the cake. Geok Poo said "I wish he can be a certified volunteer soon!"
"Shibo, today is a special day. There are so many of us here to act as the witnesses. You must perservere!" the younger volunteers encouraged.
Chin Seong gently put his arm over his wife's shoulder and said: "I think it is time for me to do so!" With care showering from members of his family and the Tzu Chi big family, he was inundated by love and an unforgettable birthday gathering.
Due to work commitments, Chin Seong was unable to become a full vegetarian. Geok Poo is now truly relieved to hear for herself her husband's commitment.
Venerable Master Cheng Yen said: "It takes time to do the Prostrating Pilgrimage but eventually you will reach the destination. Likewise, as long as one takes the first step in cultivating oneself, one is bound to reach the destination, no matter how long the journey may take."
Tzu Chi Melaka interlinked with Tzu Chi Hualien in celebrating Tzu Chi's 46th Anniversary.【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】
Despite being a Christian, Xiao Yu Man was delighted to walk the Bodhisattva Path.【Photograph by Hoe Sin Huang】
Tan Geok Poo, who has Parkinson's Disease, was too weak to join the prostrating pilgrimage.【Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen】
Two-year old, Yu Heng followed his father Tay Boon Hin on the prostrating pilgrimage.【Photograph by Hoe Sin Huang】
Tzu Chi's big family gave Lee Chin Seong a pleasant surprise by throwing him a party at the Jing-Si Hall.【Photograph by Chin Fook Kuen】
"Vow to be Master's obedient disciple!" Chin Seong read aloud the words decorated on the surface of the cake. His wife, Geok Poo wished him well: "I wish Brother can be a certified volunteer soon!"【Photograph by Yong Siew Lee】
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