Theam Eng (智英)
In 1997, I enrolled in the 14th Chinese Dharma Class conducted by The Mahaprajna Buddhist Society (TMBS). Having registered in the Dharma Class of TMBS was my very first encounter with Buddhism. This brought about a revolutionary change in my perspective about the world, and of life and death.
I am immensely fortunate that this Buddhist society emphasizes on the proper teachings and practices of the Buddhist Faith and Dharma. This allowed me to truly understand what Buddhism is about, without confusing it with the superstitious practices that Buddhism is often associated with today.
In the blink of an eye, TMBS is now celebrating its 30th anniversary. TMBS is known for imparting the proper Dharma concepts and views. Hence, it is no surprise that it is the choice Buddhist society of many learned and devout disciples. Having completed the Dharma course is not the end of the journey. I found that there is always something to learn whenever I attend Dharma talks and discourses conducted weekly. Our Dharma lessons by the Venerable are constantly improving in quality and depth. To add on, the wonderful idea of inviting teachers to host sharing classes for alumni allow graduates to constantly keep up with the best practices. Thus, I make it a point to attend my sharing class or sit in on Dharma classes after work, as it never fails to invigorate me after my day’s exhaustion. I could not imagine a more meaningful use of my weekends and leisure time after work.
Progressing with the times, TMBS has expanded its educational activities, catering to the overall mental, emotional and physical wellbeing of its students and devotees. External speakers are now invited to the society to give talks on health and psychology, or host classes like video editing, arts & craft. There are Buddhist retreats (e.g. the most recent 2014 three days retreat in Taiwan) and oversea trips to places of Buddhist history (e.g. the annual graduating Dharma class trip to China). It is often easy to take for granted each of these painstakingly organized activities. Looking back to the times when I first joined TMBS, the rare few existing activities were only Taiji classes after Dharma lessons. Thus, it is undeniable that we have progressed far.
Furthermore, TMBS doesn’t fail to bring in the atmosphere during festive occasions like the Mid-Autumn Festival. I have personally participated in the celebration’s competition, performing in a skit as an elderly lady and winning first prize with my team. However, I believe it was the joy in bringing a sense of belonging and warm smiles to the faces of many Dharma friends that was the true reward to all of us. Hence, it cannot be neglected that through participation and volunteerism in the 5 sub-committees behind these increased multitudes of events, TMBS members are also given a chance to apply the Dharma and give back in gratitude to the society.
When I first embarked on the unending Bodhi path, I encountered many obstacles in learning and applying the Dharma itself. Misunderstandings
occurred frequently during interactions with others, which tend to slow down progress when I tried to move forth in Buddhism. It was undoubtedly a painful experience, having my mistakes pointed out. However, no lesson is better learnt than those personally encountered. On hindsight, I have realized that they were genuine opportunities that pushed me towards self-improvement in all aspects. I have since been humbled and progressively willing to learn, by accepting that everyone has flaws. Different individuals have differing views and needs. By putting myself in the shoes of others, being forgiving, and being an active listener, I eventually found that the purest of heart and the most genuine concern could get through to almost anyone.
Additionally, by utilizing self-control and logical reasoning in combination with compassion to others, I experienced a greater purification of thoughts and emotions. With each difficulty that I encountered, I was able to practice applying the Dharma rules to real life with perseverance. Thus, this instilled in me emotional awareness, interaction and management skills. Through accumulation of these merits, I hope to reach my final goal of attaining enlightenment, to return as Bodhisattvas in the human world.
Volunteerism, carried out with the best of intentions and sincerity, will help uplift and build the organization further. Following that, increased
propagation of Buddhism through Dharma education will eventually benefit all sentient beings. Active contribution displays the True Spirit of
Buddhism and facilitates bonding of Dharma brothers and sisters alike. By engaging myself, I acquired a better understanding of TMBS’s structure, and managed to monitor my own behavior more closely. Working with my fellow Dharma friends has been the most endearing experience, where we are connected by one common goal – to whole-heartedly support the right causes in TMBS.
TMBS is a Buddhist society bustling with activity and excitement, providing not just a sense of purpose and understanding of life, but all-rounded
knowledge from all fields as well. I first entered the society without any expectations, yet received so many returns that benefitted my personal life
and those around me. The arising of the Right View practiced in TMBS is key to a happier lifestyle and better interactions with all family and friends.
To conclude, one must remember that the future is shaped by the present, and action for tomorrow starts now. To have a Sangha with the right faith leading us onto the Bodhisattva path is not an opportunity many obtain. Living in the moment and making the most of it is the best way to treasure this fate we share with TMBS. May each and every one of us have the fortune and merits to encounter the Right Path of Buddhism again in our next life.