On 20th May, Tzu Chi volunteers from the North Zone pushed a mini Buddha Bathing platform to the doorstep of the home of Tzu Chi beneficiary, Peter. His wife practically glowed with joy as she welcomed the visitors, and his daughter came forward and exchanged pleasantries in Singlish with everyone just like old friends.
Over the past month, volunteers have visited this household a few times, and journeyed with Peter through his disappointment, sadness and fear over his amputated leg, until he slowly began to accept his new reality and gradually pull himself together.
The volunteers began the Buddha Bathing ceremony by singing the song, “Praise to the Buddha”, followed by “Love and Care” and “Verse for Sharing of Merits”, before guiding Peter and his family to pay respects to the Buddha and receive a fragrant flower. Although it was a simple ceremony, the house was filled with a deep air of spirituality from the pious singing of volunteers and Peter’s family.
“There is real peace in our hearts; let us invite the Buddha into the house.”
Peter’s wife clasped her palms, and was deeply moved as she gazed at the beautiful Lucite Buddha statue.
More than a year ago, Peter, aged 50-plus, accidentally had a metal wire pierce his right foot while working, and that spelled the beginning of his nightmares. Although a small wire might not seem like much, but the resulting injury cost Peter practically his entire life savings. After an operation, Peter continued to suffer from inflammation that required continual treatments.
The doctor had proposed amputation, but Peter was not mentally prepared to be an amputee. Within the span of slightly more than a year, Peter had undergone as many as 31 operations. However, in April this year, a bombshell was dropped with the dreaded news that Peter’s right leg must be amputated as it was seriously inflamed.
His daughter was understandably distraught and felt overwhelmed, so she decided to call Tzu Chi for help. Volunteer Ms Choo Pui Voon, after receiving the call, decided that this family needed care before and after Peter’s amputation surgery. Thus, on the day before his surgery, volunteers paid a visit to Peter to pray for him, and to give him support and courage.
Under the encouragement of volunteers, Peter’s family started adopting a Tzu Chi bamboo coin bank, to save up what they could spare to help others in need, giving rise to a kind thought as they dropped their donation into the coin bank each day. During her father’s hospitalisation, the daughter used a small empty bottle as a substitute for the bamboo bank, to enable her father to continue his charitable deed every day.
A few days after his discharge, someone donated a wheelchair at just the right time for his use. With the blessings from everyone, everyone hoped that Peter’s family would begin to see hope in their situation.
“See if you can see yourself in the video!”
At the end of Buddha Bathing ritual in Peter’s home, a volunteer played a video clip of the Buddha Bathing Ceremony held outside the Jing Si Hall earlier in May. The segment on “Return to the Bamboo Bank Era” elicited a shy smile from the daughter, who was one of those who gave testimonies that day, on how their practice of adopting a bamboo coin bank for charity had touched and changed their lives.
Volunteers also took this opportunity to encourage the daughter to express her gratitude for her parents’ love. And in a kneeling posture and with tear-brimmed eyes, she began to serve water (in lieu of tea) to her parents, to express her heartfelt gratitude and love for them.
“I am grateful to papa for his guidance and encouragement all these years, allowing me to learn how to take on responsibilities. I am thankful to mama…”
“We Asians are not accustomed to express our love to our loved ones; I’m really moved,” said Peter’s wife.
Upon hearing the moving words from her daughter, the mother also became very emotional and thanked her daughter for her support during this trying period of their lives.
“Papa has always been a pillar of strength in our household, but this accident changed everything. I am really touched to be able to serve them ‘tea’ today,” the daughter said through joyful smiles. She hoped that one day, her father would be able to stand up again and continue to support the whole family.
As the Jing Si Aphorism goes, “With open hearts, fortunes will turn, and blessings shall come.” The Buddha Bathing ritual is not only a solemn ceremony, but it also allows one to express one’s gratitude for the Buddha’s compassion and virtues, while at the same time “bathing” one’s own innate Buddha-nature. It is a reminder for each of us to return to our pure, innate nature, and not to be distracted by the worries in life, and to calmly face life's vicissitudes.