If he had not participated in the “Dharma as Water” study sessions and learned about the teachings in the Water Repentance Text, Joo Yeow Sing would not have been able to be so forgiving for the unfathomable injury inflicted on him. At the combined practice for the “Dharma as Water” stage adaptation (a.k.a. sutra adaptation of the Water Repentance Text) held on Oct. 13, he voluntarily shared with everyone present his personal experience of how he cleansed and purified his mind through learning the Buddhist teachings.
On Oct. 13, when the combined practice for the “Dharma as Water” stage adaptation was about to end, Tzu Chi volunteer Joo Yao Sheng voluntarily shared his personal experience with close to 100 fellow participants. Everyone listened attentively as he elaborated why he decided to join the sign language team for the stage adaptation.
“Do you know the importance of Water Repentance to me? …I’m participating in the stage adaptation this time to cleanse my mind and I hope to inspire the audience by sharing the Dharma with them. As the date of the stage adaptation draws nearer, I feel worried. I’m worried that our stage adaptation wouldn’t be successful. So I invited my friends to come to my home and join me in practicing.” Touched by Joo’s frank and sincere sharing, his fellow participants gave him a round of applause.
There was a participant who felt that it was too difficult for him to learn sign language and was thinking of dropping out from the stage adaptation. When Joo learned of that, he encouraged the participant not to give up and invited him to go to his home and practise together with him. Now the participant has already mastered all the hand signs.
There are merely nine more weeks before the presentation date, yet some of the participants have decided to quit as they couldn’t keep up with the intensive practice and/or they have problems with kneeling due to physical limitations; and those who just joined recently are still trying to catch up with the rest. Hence, Tzu Chi is still short of the target of 1008 participants required in the stage adaptation. To help spur everyone on, Joo took the initiative to share his own life experiences.
Getting to Know Water Repentance Amid Bad Karma
“I came to know about Water Repentance almost as soon as I joined Tzu Chi… I was really very fortunate as that was when my bad karma caught up with me!” said Joo.
In November last year, Joo, who runs a hawker stall, fell down unexpectedly and injured the ligament in his right hand. His condition only improved marginally two months later. Wanting to be helpful, a friend recommended a TCM physician to him, and his wife, Li Qiao Zhu, accompanied him to the physician’s clinic, hoping to find a cure for his injury.
Joo said, “When I was at the clinic, the physician diagnosed my condition as frozen shoulder. A symptom of frozen shoulder is pain in the shoulder, which becomes more acute as one moves his arm, and it is impossible to raise the arm. The physician then told me that he wanted to work on my two ligaments, and he rotated my hand once. That was just terrible!” This was how Joo’s ligament got broken.
Both Joo and his wife were certain that Joo’s condition was due to his fall and not frozen shoulder, but strange enough, both of them didn’t immediately stop the physician from moving his hand. This further made Joo believe that it was all due to his past bad karma which he couldn’t escape from.
Thereafter, for three months, Joo couldn’t go to work, and he could only sleep on the sofa at night ─ the pain was killing him. He had to rely on his two children to support the family, and there was a delay in his surgical treatment. After he had the operation, the doctor helplessly told him that he was expected to regain only 60% functionality of his right hand.
“Were it not for the Water Repentance teachings, I would definitely have hated my friend and that TCM physician. I only had a fall to begin with, how could I have ended up in such a condition?” After studying the Water Repentance Text, Joo understood that he was just reaping the fruit of his past bad karma, and his friend was just part of the karmic conditions. Hence, he willingly accepted what had happened to him.
A Thin Line Between Blessing and Misfortune
After accepting his lot willingly, Joo did physiotherapy at home with a positive attitude and saw a speedy recovery. He said, “When I went for a regular checkup, the doctor was really surprised to see that I was able to move my right hand in circles and asked other doctors to come and examine me.” Joo raised his right hand and rotated it as he shared with the participants.
“The Water Repentance Text is really very important. As all of us come from different backgrounds, what brings us all together to study the text?” Joo continued, “What is repentance? Repentance is about admitting one’s wrongs from the heart and not committing the same mistakes again. When we settle and relax our minds, we will be able to understand the meaning of the teachings. Then we can take in the teachings.”
Joo got connected with Tzu Chi through his wife. Shortly after the Tzu Chi Free Health Screening and Medical Clinic opened, Li Qiao Zhu happened to pass by the place one day and decided to drop by as she was earnestly looking for a charitable organization which she could make donations to. Despite being totally new to Tzu Chi, she decided to become a Tzu Chi donating member after listening to Tzu Chi volunteer Xu Xue You’s sharing about Tzu Chi’s missions.
Due to their busy lifestyles, both the husband and wife had not been participating in any Tzu Chi activities. It wasn’t until Joo was recuperating from his injury at home that both of them could spare some time to take part in Tzu Chi activities. They got to know the Water Repentance Text through joining the “Dharma as Water” study group.
“Lost in the mundane world, we lose sight of our true nature. When the Three Minds are obscured, afflictions arise. Though Buddha nature is inherent in every person, foolishly, our afflictions arise from the karma of body, speech and mind.”
Every time he picks up a microphone to share his life story, he will sing these verses from the song, “Repenting the Obstacle of Karma - Make Vows with Utmost Sincerity” in the stage adaptation to share his inner thoughts and feelings. To him, the opportunity to join the stage adaptation this time is truly a very special one. Though he has come into contact with the Dharma before, he had never developed such deep feelings about the teachings. He feels that he has to constantly repent for his wrongdoings and cleanse his mind of all impurities.
“I’m not sure whether what I had experienced was a misfortune or blessing, but I’m very grateful for the opportunity to come into contact with Tzu Chi and Water Repentance,” remarked Joo. Looking at things positively from another perspective with gratitude, even with an injured right hand, he is not discouraged from sharing the Dharma through sign language in the stage adaptation.
（By Wu Jia Han and Cai Li Hong; Translated by Dr Ong Eng Hong 13/10/2013）