A Teenager Enters the Dharma

After having presented a segment from the "Dharma as Water" stage adaptation  entitled“The Four Evil Karmas of Speech” together with his class mates in August 2013, Cai Shun Yu, a student of the Tzu Chi Teenagers Class, realized that the repentance practice had indeed helped him to get rid of his negative habituations.  Wanting to enter the Dharma with his mother by participating in the full stage adaptation held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in December, Cai signed up as part of the sign language team. Though it was only two months to the opening of the stage adaptation, the facilitators were very patient and with their encouragement, Cai fulfilled his wish to participate in the stage adaptation.


In preparation for the "Dharma as Water" stage adaptation in December 2013, Tzu Chi Singapore cmmenced a series of intensive practice sessions since June. Though Cai Shun Yu was in the midst of preparing for his "O" level examinations and did not take part in the training till October, he was still fully committed and cherished the opportunity to be part of the adaptation.

Two years ago, his mother signed him up for the Tzu Chi Teenagers' Class after getting to know about it from a volunteer. In the beginning, he was reluctant to attend the lessons as it was held on Sundays. However after getting attending the classes, he changed his thinking.

"After I got involved, I felt that the lessons were pretty good. Tzu Chi volunteers show a lot of love and care, and they look after me well. I also find the activities very meaningful and interesting. We learn through play and in a very relaxed environment. For example, we visited a farm during a VERO 3.0 (the "Veggie Hero" initiative), and from there we learned not to waste food as it takes a lot of resources to produce it. I also learned (the concept of) eating till I'm 80% full (in order to benefit others with the remaining 20%).”

A Constant Reminder to Think Before Speaking

Cai has certainly learnt a lot from participating in the segment “The Four Evil Karmas of Speech” back in August 2013. He practices what he has learnt in his daily life and constantly reminds himself to think before he speaks. He has gradually come to understand what it means when Master Cheng Yen says “It is better to talk less rather than more, and speaking less pales in comparison to speaking kind words”.

In the past if things do not go my way, I would often criticize others and also had a quick temper. Hence I felt that every line of the lyrics seemed to be describing myself. For example, the line that states "Gossip gives rise to many conflicts; a society in turmoil is most ominous" made me realize that there are consequences and bad karma arising from what we say. “I am now more mindful of what I say and I will try not to instigate, criticize, flatter or tell lies. When I speak now, I try to be considerate of the feelings of others," said Cai.

His mother Cai Kun Ling has noticed that her son has changed for the better; his temper has mellowed, he is more mature in his interactions with others and does not need her to pick up after him in his daily life. She recalls one particular incident with fondness:“One day while at the parking lot, we needed to climb stairs and my knee was hurting from arthritis. Shun Yu offered to piggy back me up the stairs. I was really touched!”

Cai felt understanding the "Water Repentance" text has helped him get rid of his negative habits, so he decided to participate in the "Dharma as Water" stage adaptation along with his mother.This increased the amount of interaction between mother and son as they had one more common topic to talk about.

Commitment Towards the Dharma

Due to his busy preparation for the upcoming "O" Level examinations, Cai decided to join the sign language team which had fewer rehearsals. He was required to memorize 13 songs and master the sign language as well as the stage placements within two months hence time was very tight indeed.

In addition to preparing for the stage adaptation, Cai continued to actively participate in other Tzu Chi Teenagers' Class activities. He went to the camp in Taiwan and also took part in the skit during the camp.

"This is a great challenge for me, since I have to learn the sign language in a very short time. As I started much later, I became very anxious upon seeing others can do so well. Sometimes I want to go somewhere else to practice and want to give up, but since I really want to be involved in the stage adaptation, I told myself to persevere.” He was also very grateful to the teachers who were so patient in guiding him and their encouragement saw him through.

Other than the Tzu Chi Teenagers' class activities, Cai also had the opportunity to help out in the free clinic conducted in Sri Lanka. During that time, the thoughtfulness and warmth from fellow volunteers has really touched him. He recalls: "the aunties and uncles would always check if I was tired, if I had had my meals and would remind me to drink more water. They even helped me to refill my water bottle so I felt like part of the family. I am determined to be like them and continue to walk the Tzu Chi path!"

Cai invited his mother onstage, where she attested to how her son has changed for the better after attending the Tzu Chi Teenagers' Class. (Photo by Tan Cheng Hwa)Cai invited his mother onstage, where she attested to how her son has changed for the better after attending the Tzu Chi Teenagers' Class. (Photo by Tan Cheng Hwa) Cai's mother Madam Cai Kun Ling (left) cherishes the time spent with her son when they attend the frequent rehearsals for the stage adaptation. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee)Cai's mother Madam Cai Kun Ling (left) cherishes the time spent with her son when they attend the frequent rehearsals for the stage adaptation. (Photo by Wong Twee Hee) Madam Cai (right) is an optometrist, and she has made several trips to remote, poverty stricken areas such as Sri Lanka to provide optometry services for local residents. (Photo by Khor Chooi Kim)Madam Cai (right) is an optometrist, and she has made several trips to remote, poverty stricken areas such as Sri Lanka to provide optometry services for local residents. (Photo by Khor Chooi Kim) In October 2012, Cai (second from right) followed his mother and helped out in an overseas free clinic. (Photo by Khor Chooi Kim)In October 2012, Cai (second from right) followed his mother and helped out in an overseas free clinic. (Photo by Khor Chooi Kim)

(By By Hang Li Bin, Translated by Ho Xin Qin, 25/01/2014)

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