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Never Forget the Ten Acts of Parental Kindness

On the 16th, 23rd, and 26th of June 2014, a total 82 Tzu Ching participants hailing from the junior colleges, institute of technical educations and tertiary institutions of NUS, NTU and SIM gathered together during a group study session with a focus on the “ Profound Parental Love" musical. That day, they learnt in detail about the ten kind acts shown by parents in raising their children.

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Taking good care of ourselves and not letting our parents worry is also a form of filial piety. With the "Vegetarian Quiz" challenge, students learnt more about vegetarian food and were one step closer in taking good care of their minds and bodies. (Photo by Chen Jia You)

"From threads in the hands of the compassionate mother, clothes for her wandering child is born. Before the departure every stitch with care is tightly sewn, her only worry the homecoming will be delayed..." The Tang dynasty poem “Song of a Wanderer” uses very concise phrases to convey the eternal warmth of a mother's love. Our parents toiled hard and never complained while raising us up; the deep kindness of this act is as vast as the ocean, and this alone is enough for us to contemplate deeply on.

On the 16th, 23rd, and 26th of June 2014, a total 82 Tzu Ching participants hailing from the junior colleges, institute of technical educations and tertiary institutions of NUS, NTU and SIM gathered together during a group study session with a focus on the “ Profound Parental Love" musical. That day, they learnt in detail about the ten kind acts shown by parents in raising their children.

Away from Home, With Time, One Realizes the Kindness of Parents

According to the chapter in the "Sutra of Profound Gratitude Towards Parents”-- Ten Acts of Kindness,” there are ten kinds of kindness of the parents who brought up their children: the kindness of protecting the child in the womb, the kindness of enduring the pain of delivery, the kindness of forgetting her own suffering, the kindness of enduring suffering and giving selflessly, the kindness of saving the best for the child, the kindness of nurturing and raising the child, the kindness of cleansing the unclean, the kindness of remembering the faraway child, the kindness of great care and understanding and the kindness of lifelong compassion.

From the time of pregnancy and childbirth, to raising us and seeing us leave home all the way to their deathbed, our parents always think about us. Their pain, suffering and tears are the love that we cannot ever repay in our lifetime. Tzu Ching senior Dai Ming Han shared his understanding of the ten kinds of parental kindness from his own experience with his own parents.

Dai who grew up in Malaysia, successfully applied to the National Technological University after graduating from secondary school. "I still remember the dinner the night before I left for Singapore, even though it is just one strait away from Malaysia, my mother was very reluctant to see me go and ate with tears flowing down her face." He thought then that his mother was blowing things out of proportion and found it strange. If he were to go to a country that was even further away for studies, wouldn't his mother cry for a week then? With wisdom gain over the years, he finally understood his mother’s reluctance and worry at that moment.

In the eight or nine years since leaving home and coming to Singapore, Dai and his family's time together had been limited to only one or two weekends per month. His parents used various methods to express their love. As his home is more than five kilometers away from the bus station, every time Dai goes back home, his father would come and fetch him. No matter how busy or tired, as soon as he got the call from his son, he would be there despite any difficulty. "I used to complain when my father was late in receiving me. Now I bring a book along and read while waiting." Every time he goes to Singapore, his mother would pack his bags with festive snacks such as dumplings and mooncake. She worries that he does not eat well and frets that he will be alone in a foreign land during the festive season.

As soon as Dai mentioned this, many overseas students identified with what he said. Liu Pei Wen, also a Malaysian, shared, "I still remember the last time I went home, my mother was as thoughtful as ever and wanted to help sew the lost buttons back on my clothes. When I saw that my mother was trying very hard to tread the needle, I immediately took the needle from my mother's hand and did it for her. My mother smiled at me and said that now she was old, she even needs her daughter’s help for this." Liu has an inexpressible sadness in her heart. Her mother is indeed old now, yet she cannot be by her side very often.

Taking Care of Body and Mind-- the Basics of Filial Piety

After the presentation, Dai shared some videos with the students. In it, a Taiwanese lady Cai Ying Mei, travelled thousands of kilometres alone, just so that she could deliver a packet of Chinese medicine to her daughter who had just given birth. Due to her language limitations, she was holding on to a piece of paper which had her destination written on it in various languages. She asked for help everywhere and slept at the airport, not to mention carrying a heavy luggage and rushing around to be in time for her flight. The customs officers too, presented her with challenges due to the communications barrier. For the love for her daughter and her grandchild, Cai could put up with all these difficulties.

Such great love from the mother touched Yang Yu Heng's heart. A graduate Tzu Ching, she shared, "I was very moved after watching the video. Now I hold a mother’s love in esteem even more. This is just like the story of my aunt. She flew to the United States for the same reason, to help take care of her daughter and the new baby. Even though my aunt doesn't know English, just based on the love for her daughter, she had no fear. I still remember that when she came back and shared her journey with us, she never mentioned her suffering, her mind was only on her daughter and grandchild's health."
Another Tzu Ching Li Yu Hui shared what she once saw on TV that related to ‘the kindness of cleaning the unclean’. There was a child who had constipation for very long, only a little poop came out after straining very hard. The father didn't even flinch when he used his hand to help the child to remove the fecal matter. Other than parents, who else would not be disgusted to perform such an act?" After listening to her sharing, everyone was impressed by the greatness of parental love.

To repay the kindness of our parents, one of the things we should do is to take care of our body and mind, not letting our parents worry. Under the direction of the vegetarian promotion group, a fun "Vegetarian Quiz" was held. "Using one hundred grams as a unit, which food has the highest amount of protein? Is it soybeans, lean pork, eggs or bean curd? The answer is soybean!" This fact dispelled the misconception that meat is the main source of protein, encouraging more to go green. Being vegetarian not only helps to protect lives, it also is a form of cultivation that would grow our wisdom.

Zhang Wen, a graduate Tzu Ching also spoke of her own experience: "I remember when I climbed Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia, I was one of the few at the front. As long as we keep our nutritional intake balanced, vegetarians can also participate in outdoor sports." The interesting session gave participants more information and brought them one step further in caring for their body and mind. As the saying goes, "Our body comes from our parents, not harming it is a basic act of filial piety."

Before the end of the lively study session, the host offered a question for contemplation: "When we were little, our parents willingly fulfilled our wishes, yet when our parents are old, would we willingly fulfill their needs?" It was not answered, but on their way out, in everyone's heart there doubtless was already a clear answer.

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Dai Ming Han who came to Singapore to pursue his university studies shared that he used to complain whenever his father was late in arriving at the bus stop to receive him when he returned to his hometown. After learning of the ten acts of kindness in the sutra, he has changed and now spends the time reading while waiting for his father. (Photo by Chen Yi Wen)

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Yang Yu Heng (right), a graduate Tzu Ching,  recounts the story of her aunt who flew to America despite not knowing English, after seeing the video of a brave mother journeying tens of thousands of kilometers alone to meet her daughter who just given birth. (Photo by Ye Jin Xing)

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Zhang Wen, a graduate Tzu Ching, shared her experience of being a vegetarian. As long as we ensure a balanced nutritional intake, vegetarians can also take part in outdoor sports, just like how she was one of those in the lead when climbing Mount Kinabalu with a group. (Photo by Ye Jin Xing)

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Dai Ming Han explains the difficulties a mother undergoes during her ten-month pregnancy and the pain of childbirth, including each physical change she experiences and the suffering of carrying both her own heavy body and her belongings to the hospital for the delivery. (Photo by Ye Jin Xing)

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