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Shining the Light of the Dharma

The performers walked onto the stage with synchronized steps and led the audience into a spiritual conversation with the Buddha. [Photo by Lim Chin Tong]

Master Cheng Yen once said, “If everyone harbours a kind heart and abides in the true Dharma every day, then every day is an auspicious day.”

The Dharma Hall was a scene of sobriety.

“The incense is now lit, and its fragrance fills the Dharma-realm. From afar, the scent is inhaled by the Buddha Assembly. Auspicious are the clouds that gather…” These solemn lyrics of “The Incense Praise” reverberated throughout the Dharma Hall of the KL Tzu-Chi Jing Si Hall, marking the opening of the 2022 Auspicious Seventh Lunar Month Prayers and Blessing event, which was held over two days from July 30.

With hearts entrenched in deep focus and movements carefully synchronized, the performers led the audience into a spiritual conversation with the Buddha. They visualized smoke rising slowly from the censer, permeating the Ten Dharma Realms with images of auspicious clouds. With utmost reverence, everyone invited the Buddhas to manifest themselves in their entirety.

With sincere piety, the performers led everyone to appreciate the Dharma in a different way. [Photo by Lai Jih Chuan]

The dignified atmosphere, accompanied by sonorous singing, was awakening for those who were struggling to find their directions in life. Against the backdrop of the “Sutra Opening Verse” rendition, the audience learned from the screen that the Sutra of Infinite Meanings embodies the essence of the Lotus Sutra, and serves as a foundation for spiritual practice amongst Tzu Chi volunteers.

Participants seated in the Gratitude Hall watched the performance streamed from the Sutra Hall and performed the sign language rendition along. [Photo by Boon Wui Kong]
“The Vulture Peak lies only in our hearts; within each of us is a Vulture Peak stupa...” Participants in the International Conference Hall were engrossed in the performance. [Photo by Ng Shie Yuh]

The performers clasped their palms together, moved forward and lifted their hands. Their outstretched hands symbolized a thousand helping hands reaching out to those who are in need, just like a compassionate Guanyin Bodhisattva with a thousand hands and eyes. Through their gestures and expressions, carefully choreographed with vivid images of Tzu Chi’s footprints, the audience was able to connect the spirit of the Sutra, which Buddha expounded over 2,500 years ago, with Tzu Chi’s work around the world.

“The sutras are a path, and this path is a road for us to walk on.” The Buddhist scriptures show us a way of life, which we must diligently put into practice, while the musical adaptation of the Lotus Sutra is a skilful means to lead everyone into the profound Dharma. Prior to the event, the performers had gathered for book study sessions and sign language practices, during which, the sutra verses and meanings were imparted and deeply ingrained in their minds. And now, the teachings resonated with the audience through their performance. When one radiates kindness from within, embracing awareness and the light of the Dharma in everyday life, one can rid ignorance and afflictions, and attain happiness in life.

The event saw a resounding participation of 6,013 performers and audience members. This included participants from Temerloh, Raub and Kuantan, Pahang, as well as those from eight Tzu Chi KL & Selangor’s sub-chapters in East Malaysia, who joined via live broadcast.

◎ A prayer for the world

Ani Lordo Sangmo from Thrangu Drubdeling was touched by the verses from the “Preaching” chapter of the Sutra of Infinite Meanings. “All are ever-changing, never at stasis. Though but one teaching, each understands his own. The four phases of change are fundamental to all. Supreme is the teaching of the Buddha.”

She explained, “The contents and meanings of the scriptures are profound, but we need to understand and let them sink in the heart. Whenever we face difficulties, those sutra verses would help us resolve our doubts and free us from our attachments.” She felt that the way to practise the Bodhisattva Way is to give, because the aspiration to benefit others is an important process in spiritual practice. If one has a great aspiration and a genuine vow to do good deeds, the outcome will be completely different.

Ani Lordo Sangmo said we need to understand the profound Dharma and let them sink in the heart. [Photo by Ang Siok Hui]

To many participants, the event has cast the seventh lunar month in a different light. Wong Lai Kuen, an elderly, who was accompanied by her daughter, said she had not visited Jing Si Hall since the Covid-19 outbreak, and the event was refreshing. When asked if she was worried about the endemic, she replied optimistically, “I am not afraid. I have done good deeds and I believe God will keep me safe.”

She had attended the event with the hope of praying for the world as she felt it was very important for people all over the world to be safe and well. She added, “What is the use if only I myself am safe and well? Only when the world is well, can we be at peace and can there be no wars.”

Sandiran, an Indian volunteer in Raub, Pahang, was able to understand the sutra verses and picked up the sign language with guidance from fellow volunteers. Knowing that the musical adaptation would form part of the prayers and blessing event, he hoped to pray for his family and the souls of his late wife and son.

Once an alcoholic, Sandiran said, “When I dedicated myself into Tzu Chi, I feel respected by the volunteers. Hence, I want to work harder to repay Tzu Chi.” Taking refuge in Tzu Chi, Sandiran has been helping out with recycling activities post retirement. He claimed, “Following Master’s example, I shaved my head two years ago. It made me feel lighter and much calmer, and I could focus on helping others.”

Sandiran from Raub, Pahang, was once overwhelmed with grief after having lost his wife and child. He found inner peace and managed to get rid of his bad habits after encountering Tzu Chi. [Photo by Lee Wei Kean]

The event also brought calm to Lau King Yew and his wife, who were involved in the sign language performance. It was their first participation in a large-scale Tzu Chi event, and despite his limitations in the Chinese language, King Yew felt calm and was moved by the sign language rendition.

He recalled that his parents used to burn joss sticks and joss paper in observance of the seventh lunar month. However, he believes that instead of spending on joss paper as offerings to the ancestors, it would be better to make donations for charitable causes and transfer the merits to the ancestors. He remarked, “In Buddhism, it is a more realistic approach if we help people to be good and to sow blessings.”

Following the iconic presentation, the performers look forward to another dignified presentation at the end of the year. [Photo by Lee Kok Keong]

Through the musical adaptation and sharing of the Buddha’s wisdom, the event has sparked renewed aspirations, besides offering prayers for world peace and happiness. The call was also to practise vegetarianism and do good deeds to live out the true meaning of deliverance in Buddhism.

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