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Duration | 8:45

Category | People

Organisation | Tzu Chi Foundation (Singapore)

Turning Grief into Positive Actions to Send Love to the Departed Soul

Tan Beng Hock:Every day, I arrive at the stall at around 10pm and ask my worker to arrange the ingredients. He will wake me up by phone at 3:30pm to prepare all the food. Then at around 4pm, the customers start arriving.

Tan Beng Hock Staff’s Yasin: Sometimes it is rather hard work, It is very tiring when there are a lot of customers. He is a very nice man. I really wish to work for him until the day he retires. I will only stop the day he ceases his business.

He is a good boss in the eyes of his worker. But, was he really a good person?

Tan Beng Hock:I’m a very different person now than before. I was very competitive in my younger days. I always wanted to get whatever I wanted. The outcome was never my concern.

As a reckless young man, he took the wrong path and went astray. I was sent to a boy’s home at 17 years old. 

Tan Beng Hock:I started living a disgraceful life from then onwards. I became a lottery bookie. I was also a loan shark. I did just anything, as long as it could make money. I also opened many gambling dens.

His frequent involvement in illegal trades brought fear and panic to his family.

Tan’s wife Pang Soon Boey: He misused his wits. He gambled outside and became indebted to the loan sharks. Oh… at that time, when the debt collectors came knocking at our door, our whole family would go into hiding. We hid in our rooms and dared not come out. (It’s all because of greed.) He was ruined by his greed.

In 2004, Tan’s family was hit by another misfortune when his second son, Guan Zhen, was diagnosed with Leukaemia. He slowly changed himself  after our son fell ill. At that time, Tzu Chi volunteers would come and visit us at our home.

Tan’s wife Pang Soon Boey: We let Guan Zhen copy Jing Si Aphorisms. (My husband) read the Aphorisms and slowly took in (the teachings).

Guan Zhen was unable to go to school when he was undergoing treatment. While visiting the family, Tzu Chi volunteers would guide the boy to copy Jing Si Aphorisms.

Tan saw the Aphorisms and was unwittingly influenced by each of the wise sayings.  

In 2005, Guan Zhen was on his way towards recovery after undergoing an

umbilical cord blood transplant surgery. The entire family was ready to move on to a new chapter in life.

A year later, an accident took away the precious life of the recovering boy.

(14-Year-Old Boy Died in a Car Crash)

(Traumatised Mother Chased After the Car that Knocked Down Her Son)

The misfortunate hit Tan so hard that he lost his mind as a result.

Tan’s wife Pang Soon Boey: He kept lamenting about it. He became easily agitated as he was overwhelmed with grief. He was very bad tempered at that time. He kept thinking about his son. He kept thinking about his son. He thought: “My son is so smart. Why is he gone now?

Tan Beng Hock:I couldn’t walk out of that pain. Everybody was like an enemy to me and I wanted to kill them to accompany my son. My eldest son dared not return home after seeing my condition. Once, when he was talking with his mother downstairs, I dashed down to hit him after I found out about it. Then my wife went insane and ran up to the 13th floor of our block. She placed one of her legs over the balcony  and said, “I will die first! You don't beat (our son) to death!” I suddenly awakened at that time and went after her at great speed. I knew that I was wrong. I ran towards her quickly and held her tightly. Then I realised that I should see a doctor, and I did. The doctor said I was suffering from schizophrenia.

Tzu Chi volunteers stopped visiting Guan Zhen when he was recovering from his surgery. After learning the news of his death, Tzu Chi visited Tan’s family once again to bring them care and support.

Tzu Chi volunteer Hsu Hsueh Yu:We knew that it was very heart-breaking for the family, so we visited them more frequently. As we interacted with Tan, we knew that he wished to overcome his grief. So we continued to care for him.

Tzu Chi volunteers accompanied Tan and helped him emerge from depression. He also discovered the source of human misery through learning the Dharma.

Tan Beng Hock:The Tzu Chi sisters would often call and remind me “Brother Beng Hock, it’s time to immerse in the fragrance of the Dharma.” I didn’t know what they meant by that. I thought it meant kneeling down with joss sticks in my hands. It doesn't mean that you will awaken immediately just by listening to the Dharma talks. It is not like that. It requires deep thinking and contemplation. It’s like immersing my entire brain in (the Dharma), allowing my mind to be fixed by it. Dharma Master Cheng Yen said that the reason why we have so much misery is because we keep having unnecessary thoughts. I can finally understand it. It’s very simple. There’s a Jing Si Aphorism that goes, “We have misery in life because we keep thinking about things that we should not be thinking of.” It is a habit of human beings.

Tan started joining the ranks of Tzu Chi volunteers and participated in the Dharma as Water Stage Adaptation. The Dharma verses helped him out of his anguish. 

Tan Beng Hock:My wife asked me to participate in the sutra adaptation. It was really powerful. I couldn't even lift this hand of mine at that time, due to overwork. After participating in the sutra adaptation, I could raise my entire hand. I felt awakened after that. I realised what I want and I know what to do with the rest of my life. I knew that my wife was having a tougher time than me.

Tan’s wife Pang Soon Boey:  I’m really thankful to Tzu Chi. Tzu Chi helped my second son. After joining Tzu Chi, my husband transformed himself gradually. That is what’s most important. Life was really tough in the past. Now, we only find it tough when we are working. The work is hard on our body only. What we endured previously was mental torture. We also had difficulties at work, coupled with the mental stress... Life was definitely harder when all these added up together. Our situation is much better now. It’s really much better. I am easily satisfied. I don't take that long to let go of what saddens me. I don't cling to it in my heart.

Tan Beng Hock:Tzu Chi volunteers automatically came into my life and helped me without any hesitation. They never expected me to give them anything in return. This is something that is not easy to come by.

Tan finally walked out of darkness, thanks to the care and support of Tzu Chi volunteers.

He found a new direction in life through the help of the Dharma. Now at 64 years of age, he has completely transformed.

Tan Beng Hock:Before I reached 50 years old, I could only describe myself as “foolish”. I was really foolish then. All the paths I took were wrong. I shouldn’t be living my life like that. Now, it is different. I have a happy family now. How did I walk out of the pain of losing a son? Let me tell you. I opened a vegetarian food stall and as I work there every day, I feel that I’m together with my son. I hope I can serve as a mirror to others. Life is short. Cherish your happiness dearly. Don't walk in the wrong direction and take the wrong path. 

Tan named his vegetarian food stall after his late son to give blessings to him. After letting go of his competitive nature and hatred, he is now a free man.

You only need a light in the darkness to illuminate the surroundings. You will open up and broaden your heart when you give others a helping hand. Although my life’s path is not smooth and tough-going, the wind dries up my tears and sweat as I walk on. I have an extraordinary heart and spirit. Defeat makes me even tougher, because “courage” is what I am.

The only way to break free of worries is to let go of them.
~ Jing Si Aphorism by Master Cheng Yen

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