NUS Participants Journal
In the midst of the SARS situation, anyone in the right state of mind will have avoided going overseas in fear of catching the virus. Well, it was after much persuasion to my parents that I was able to proceed to this camp finally. Quan Yin is NOT the typical fun-filled games kind of camp that can be found in Singapore. In fact, it comprises of lessons, meditation, talks and an hour of leisure similar to school life. (Yucks! right?)
I regretted almost immediately when I found out all that. But the days that followed changed my mind. The days that were spent in the camp were of a fixed schedule and at a leisurely pace. No doubt there were lessons and discipline but I did not feel the slightest tinge of stress there. In fact, I felt peaceful and at home there. The knowledge that was imparted to us enabled me to understand Buddhism into greater depths. The daily discussions and presentation helped to sharpen my thinking skills and flexibility in applying Buddhism to daily life. Some of the topics were ‘ Buddhism is often viewed as a pessimistic religion. Discuss’ and ‘ How do u deal with good and bad situations’. The youths there showed deep passion and exhibited immense grasp of Buddhism. I learnt about their culture and realised that some of the Buddhist societies in their universities were actually unrecognised and had to go ‘underground’. Their fighting spirit to carry on Buddhism made me realise how fortunate I am and that I have been taking a couple of things for granted.
The last night was probably the most memorable part for me. We had a ‘Wu Jin Teng’ that we sang Buddhist songs and had a session where emotions could be expressed. I felt overwhelmed by the emotions and truly thanked Buddha for all that he had done. It’s a kind of feeling that words cannot be expressed and have to be felt personally. Leaving Taiping Buddhist Centre a place that I called home was full of willingness but I know that deep in my heart I will return again someday. This is a camp that anyone who cherishes Buddhism should go ahead and try it. Believe me, u won’t regret!!
The main theme for this camp is “The way to Buddha hood”.
Very Simple summary of “The way to Buddha hood”
First, the definition of triple gem was clearly introduced to us. So, in order to continue the path of the learning of Buddhism, we need to listen and to read the teachings from the Buddha; then, digest to understand the teachings. The Dhamma is like medicine which freed us from sufferings. We are lucky to be human being whom surrounded with both happiness and misery; so, we will be motivated to learn and understand (because we have intelligence, 5 senses and able to interpret) the Dhamma. Unlike the other sentient beings from other realms, they are either lack of the ability to learn or are celestial beings who indulge in luxury (hence; they might not motivated to learn Dhamma as they thought luxury is permanence). Also, during the lecture, the 3 different levels (in hierarchy) before attaining Buddha hood were mentioned. Besides that, we also touched on the precepts and merits one should have before attaining to be Buddha. Then, the eightfold path (which is the correct way of living to free us from misery) is introduced; and also “Da cheng” and “Xiao cheng” were clearly defined. Lastly, the whole process to Buddha hood was reviewed again.
^_^ (Feel free to borrow my lecture notes to know more about it)
Si Fu defined the five senses and intelligence. Sometimes, without knowing, we often have mistaken excitement to any of our senses as a form of happiness (which actually cannot give us happiness ultimately). From there, Si Fu touched deeper into the topic.
Besides the talk from Ji Cheng Si Fu, there were other interesting talks in the evening which come very handy in our daily life e.g.
Lastly, my favorite session is the entertainment and discussion session. I am impressed by the sweet voices during the singing and also their enthusiasm and the depth of their knowledge during the discussion sessions.
Before the trip, the SARS incident had arise some fear within me and my parents. After much considerations and struggles, I finally set my mind for the trip. On the cool dawn, we reached the Buddhist centre; then, 2 little cute excited dogs came into our directions and started barking to welcome us. In fact, I was shocked to see the students started mediating at 6am. Actually, on the first day, I was feeling unwell (terrible headache); also, I need some time to adjust to the environment. So, at night after all the activities ends, I really have the urge to pack my home to return home. However, on the second day, things got better (e.g. my headache got better). In fact, I started to like the place and got used of it. I did not feel as a torture to wake up at 5.30am. Thanks to Sabrina to wake me up ^_^. Besides that, I also find the participants very friendly and they were curious to know more about us and our way of life. I find the lessons were interesting but sometimes, unknowingly, I fall asleep especially during the 9-10am lesson. This may due to Si Fu smoothing, nice voice. Anyway, I tried very hard to stay awake which was successful during the last 4 days (I think). Also, I get to know many friends like a girl who have curly hair just like me ^_^. Till now, I still keep in contact with them through ICQ. Lastly, I think all the Si Fus are very friendly. In fact, they are not those stereotype Si Fus who look very stern.
On the last day, we visited Kong Xing Si Fu’s (who taught us mediation) house for chatting. It was a nice place on the hill. After the visit, we went for mountain walk at Taiping Mountain. Poor Alex got bitten by 2 leeches. Actually I very “kan cheong” because that was the first time I saw a leech. Anyway, thanks to Sabrina for being so calm to help Alex.
Then, just before we leave the Buddhist Centre, we visited Ji Cheng Si Fu. Again, he talked about tea culture which was very interesting. Actually, I was very touched when he brewed many varieties of precious tea for us to taste. At the moment, when I was leaving the centre, I really cannot bear the place. It was so different and contrasting from the feeling I had on the first day. It was a mixture a feeling and also I have already attached to the place. Haha....of course in the end we still left the place but as we leave, I brought along the precious knowledge that I have learnt and nice memories of this trip along with my luggage ^_^.