Friday, Mar 05

Gathering sincere hearts to pray for a safer world

August 09, 2015 | Jamaica Digo

In the early morning of August 9, Tzu Chi volunteers from various parts of the Philippines gather for a Lotus Sutra Ceremony and Walking Meditation. Over 500 volunteers, who came from different faiths, joined the religious event. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

Story Highlights

  • The over 500 participants to the first 4-in-1 Tzu Chi Philippines Personnel Training Camp joined a Lotus Sutra and Walking Meditation ceremony on August 9. The Buddhist rite gathered Filipino and Chinese volunteers, who came from different religions, in praying for a safer society and disaster-free world.

  • Dharma Master Teh Mai, a Buddhist nun from the Jing Si Abode in Taiwan, discussed about the importance of listening to the dharma talks during one session of the 4-in-1 Personnel Training Camp. Master Teh Mai’s talk taught the volunteers present that learning the dharma teachings is as equally important as doing charity works.

 

Chants of the sutra filled the Still Thoughts Hall in Quezon City as dawn breaks on August 9. On this day, over 500 Filipino and Chinese volunteers gathered together for a very special Lotus Sutra and Walking Meditation ceremony.

The Buddhist rite was led by Dharma Masters Teh Mai and Teh Fa, who came all the way from Taiwan to represent Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen in the first Tzu Chi Philippines 4-in-1 Personnel Training Camp. It was intended to bring peace into the minds of the volunteers and to pray for everyone’s safety as disasters happen more frequently across the world.

Solemnity wrapped the hall as the gong was sounded and the ceremony begins. Standing upright, their palms pressed together in a prayer, the Philippine volunteers chanted along with the dharma masters though many of them are not Buddhists nor can they understand the Chinese language.

“Many of the people who joined this ceremony came from different religions and I am one of them,” shared 37-year-old Ivy Dublado, a volunteer from Ormoc. “I am a Catholic; the others here are Buddhists. The rest came from other religions as well. But all of us are here together and it makes me happy to see that we are all united in one prayer despite our differences.”

Arlyn Bajen, a volunteer from Tacloban City, chanted the prayer sincerely. “I could feel the presence of God (while the ceremony was on-going),” said the 40-year-old volunteer, quite emotionally. “I am grateful that Tzu Chi did not neglect any religion. They still let me join even though I am not a Buddhist. It’s really fulfilling for me (to have joined the ceremony).”

Bajen is a Christian.

It was also a fulfilment for 78-year-old volunteer, Josie Pua. She is one, if not the oldest, volunteer who joined the ceremony. Prostrating before the Buddha along with her fellow volunteers who are much younger than her, Pua said she didn’t feel any pain in her knees or in any part of her body after the one and a half hour ceremony. Instead, all she felt was peace.

“I felt blessed,” Pua said. “I feel as though all my troubles in life were cleansed and all that’s left in my heart is love. We pray that there will be no more disasters in this world and for all living beings to be safe.”

After the ceremony, Master Teh Mai discussed about listening to the Dharma teachings of Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen. In her talk entitled, “Awakening to the Rings of Bell and Immersing in the Fragrance of the Dharma,” she explained the importance of studying the teachings of the Buddha in cultivating oneself to become better volunteers. According to her, the teachings are important in guiding the volunteers in the right path.

She cited how Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen works hard to expound the Sutra into simpler words so that people will understand. The Master wakes up very early every day to prepare for her morning dharma talks. Master Teh Mai then encouraged the volunteers to listen and to take to heart Master Cheng Yen’s teachings.

Elvira Chua, a volunteer from Quezon City, will bring home a lot of lessons from Master Teh Mai’s talks. Recently, Chua had only started watching and listening to the morning dharma talks of Master Cheng Yen. Since the camp started, she is also among the first volunteers to arrive at the Still Thoughts Hall for the Sutra Chanting and for the Dharma talk.

“I realized that I still have a lot of things to learn. I learned that it is not enough to do activities, to do recycling, go to dental missions, or medical missions. We have to study and learn about the dharma teachings. It’s only when we combine the two (learning and doing) that we will develop ourselves to be better persons to help Master Cheng Yen (in her missions),” Chua explained.

As the 4-in-1 camp nears its end, Philippine Tzu Chi volunteers are learning that nurturing the right teachings in their hearts is just as important as doing charity works.

  • At 5am, just before dawn breaks on August 9, Tzu Chi volunteers from Marikina and other parts of Metro Manila arrive at the Still Thoughts Hall in Quezon City to listen to the morning dharma talk of Master Cheng Yen. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • At 4:30am, Chinese Tzu Chi volunteers are at the Still Thoughts Hall to listen to the dharma talk of Master Cheng Yen via online conferencing. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Filipino Tzu Chi volunteers gather early morning to listen to a recorded morning dharma talk of Master Cheng Yen. These volunteers came from different parts of Metro Manila. 【Photo by Judy Lao】

  • Dharma Masters Teh Mai and Teh Fa lead the Lotus Sutra Ceremony. Here they start the ceremony the by ringing the gong and chanting the sutra. 【Photo by Light Li】

  • Although coming from different faiths, Filipino Tzu Chi volunteers sincerely pray and joined the Lotus Sutra ceremony on August 9. 【Photo by Light Li】

  • Tzu Chi Philippines volunteers pray piously to repent for their mistakes and hope for a safer world during the Lotus Sutra Ceremony on August 9. Over 500 volunteers joined the religious event. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • As one, the Tzu Chi Philippine volunteers gather on August 9 for a Lotus Sutra Ceremony where they pray for a safer world for all beings. The ceremony begins the final day of the 4-in-1 Personnel Training Camp being held this weekend. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Dharma Masters Teh Mai and Teh Fa, who represent Tzu Chi founder Master Cheng Yen, lead the Tzu Chi Philippine volunteers in praying for a safer world through a Lotus Sutra Ceremony on August 9. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Tzu Chi Philippine volunteers participate in a Walking Meditation. This is part of the Lotus Sutra Ceremony held on August 9. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Praying sincerely for a disaster-free world, Tzu Chi Philippine volunteers piously do the Walking Meditation during a Lotus Sutra Ceremony on August 9. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Mindful with their every step, Tzu Chi Philippine volunteers do the walking meditation as part of the Lotus Sutra Ceremony on August 9. 【Photo by Light Li】

  • Ivy Dublado, a volunteer from Ormoc, joins in praying for a peaceful world during the Lotus Sutra Ceremony. A Catholic by religion, she is happy to see volunteers from all walks of life and different faiths gather to pray for a harmonized society and safer world. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Arlyn Bajen, a volunteer from Tacloban City, chants along with the prayer sincerely. A practicing Christian, she felt the presence of God during the ceremony. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • 78-year-old volunteer, Josie Pua, joins in prostrating and chanting the Lotus Sutra. She says the ceremony washed her heart clean of all negativities and left her only with love. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】

  • Dharma Master Teh Mai talks about the significance of learning the dharma for the Tzu Chi volunteers not to lose their paths during the second session on August 9. This is the last day of Tzu Chi Philippines 4-in-1 Personnel Training Camp. 【Photo by Heng Choun Lee】

  • Pens and notepads on the ready, Tzu Chi volunteers listen intently as Dharma Master Teh Mai discuss the importance of learning the dharma in becoming a good disciple of Tzu Chi founder and Dharma Master Cheng Yen. 【Photo by Bernice Ty】

  • Elvira Chua, a volunteer from Quezon City, is attentive as she listens to the talk on the significance of learning the Dharma for a Tzu Chi volunteer. The talk taught her that only by learning the dharma and putting it into practice will Tzu Chi volunteers be able to help Master Cheng Yen better in her missions. 【Photo by Jamaica Digo】