“I hope that I can do Tzu Chi’s work until the end—till I can no longer do it,” shared Tzu Chi volunteer Loo Soon Huat.
Loo was originally from Malaysia. When he was in his teens, his father arranged for him to stay with a relative in Johor Bahru so that he could receive a better education in a high school there. After graduating from high school, he went alone to Japan to further his studies in Mechanical Precision Engineering. In 1991, he was posted by his company in Japan to Singapore to work.
When he turned 50, he has achieved financial stability and has a stable family, too. As he reflected on how he had received much help and care from people around him throughout his growing-up years, he started to ponder: “What can I do to repay society?”
One day, when he was doing morning exercise at MacRitchie Reservoir, he got connected with Tzu Chi volunteer Sim Hee Chew. Under the invitation of Sim, he participated in the Dharma as Water stage adaptation presented by Tzu Chi Singapore in 2013. After that, a volunteer leader in the community invited him to serve as a volunteer driver for fellow volunteers during Tzu Chi activities.
“At that time, I didn’t have a religious faith, and neither did I know what kind of organisation Tzu Chi is. I simply joined the ranks of volunteers (without much thinking),” shared Loo.
Learn to cherish blessings after witnessing suffering
Subsequently, Loo began walking into the homes of the needy (Tzu Chi’s beneficiaries) as he started participating in Tzu Chi’s monthly charity home visits. Besides distributing aid, he will also patiently lend a listening ear to the aid recipients, and further cheer them up with his humour and positive vibes.
Through the home visits, Loo discovered that the hardships of the needy really helped him learn a lot of valuable lessons about life. He is thus able to gain deeper insights into the teachings in the Buddhist sutras in the process.
Apart from joining the monthly home visits, Loo also actively attends the pre-dawn Dharma talks by Master Cheng Yen, Dharma book study, and volunteer meetings to discuss about the aid cases.
Seeing how fellow volunteers faithfully attend the early morning Dharma talks and book study sessions, Loo deems it his duty to serve as their volunteer driver to drive them to and from the venue. In 2017, he was certified as a Tzu Chi commissioner, which gave him a greater sense of mission to care for and help the needy and to raise funds for Tzu Chi’s charitable causes.
Loo thinks that Tzu Chi is different from other Chinese temples, as the volunteers do not light joss sticks or burn joss paper to pray for wealth or safety. Instead, they embrace Right Faith, Right Mindfulness and Right View in Buddhism and work to transform worldly knowledge into wisdom. Thus, they are able to dispel superstitious beliefs while going into the community to serve people.
“I really love learning the Dharma through the book study sessions. It’s easy for me to understand the teachings and to take them to heart this way,” shared Loo, who makes an effort to apply what he has learned to his daily life.
His favourite Jing Si Aphorism is, “As one foot steps forward, the other must let go.” He believes that as he serves people in the community, as long as he is heading in the right direction, he must walk forward steadfastly. He does not allow negative situations or conditions to disturb his mind and hinder himself as a result. As long as he can let go at the right time, he will have peace and ease of mind.
In 2015, tragedy struck his life unexpectedly. His eldest daughter, who was 19 years old then, passed away just three months after being diagnosed with colon cancer. The sudden death of his beloved daughter caused unspeakable pain to his family. During this difficult time, fellow Tzu Chi volunteers gave him continued care and company, sending him well-wishes and Jing Si Aphorisms via mobile phones every day.
Once, Loo happened to read an article titled, “Let the kite fly”, which was shared by a volunteer, and it was taken from a Tzu Chi nursing magazine from Taiwan. In the article, Master Cheng Yen said, “A loved one who has passed on is like a kite that is flying in the sky. If a string is attached to it and is still pulling it, it will keep struggling. We should give the ‘kite’ (deceased loved one) our blessings and let it go, so that it may fly freely to where it is meant to go and settle down.”
These words by the Master brought much comfort to Loo and his family, who were trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one. He said, “In life, we will inevitably face some adversities. But we can derive some inspiration from the Dharma (which will help us move on).”
Loo is thankful to fellow Tzu Chi volunteers who accompany and help him along the way. With their support, he is able to courageously face the vicissitudes of life and transform his inner suffering into strength that propels him to go among people in the community to sow seeds of blessings. And he dedicates his merits to his loved ones overseas.
A role model for all
To his fellow volunteers, Loo is a role model whom everyone should emulate.
“He responds to every request from us and never rejects anyone. And he is a very committed Tzu Chi volunteer!” said volunteer Ong Beng Chong, who thinks that Loo’s positive attitude is exemplary for all.
“Although Loo joined Tzu Chi quite late, he is very hardworking and diligent. He took on a leadership role of a function group and is able to work in the team like the experienced volunteers. He is really a role model for all Tzu Chi volunteers,” said another volunteer, Hong Leng See.
Loo shared that throughout his five years of participation in Tzu Chi activities, he had to work with various volunteers with different personalities and dispositions. Thus, he sets an example for all through his actions.
He said, “There is no need to talk too much; do not always reject the invitations from others (to do volunteer work); actions speak louder than words; and really just go and do it!”
He believes that only by doing so can the strength of people be pooled together to work for the benefit of all.
Through participating in various Tzu Chi activities, he can understand where “suffering” comes from and better realise that when one does good, one will less likely commit wrongdoings. And by doing so, one can help oneself and others, too.
Loo is clear about his path and direction in the future—he wants Tzu Chi to be part of his daily life and at the same time, he will make good use of time to work to develop his wisdom-life. He wants to take hold of each moment and give of himself with the spirit of love.
Loo revealed his heartfelt wish with a smile: “I will try my best to do Tzu Chi’s work until I can no longer work!”