"Mother is like a living buddha at home, (so we should take good care of her instead of going outside to seek the Buddha)," said Teo Choon Sing, who often serves as a volunteer at Buddhist temples. He once heard a Dharma master say, “Parents are like living buddhas at home,” and these words have become deeply rooted in his heart.
Teo’s 85-year-old mother, Ng Mong Yew, has lived in Serangoon for more than 30 years. She has been under the care of her son after a stroke attack in 2017. In the afternoon of 26th May 2019, a group of Tzu Chi volunteers came to Teo’s home with a Lucite Buddha statue and some carnations to hold a simple and solemn mini Buddha Bathing Ceremony.
Madam Ng used to work as a cleaner in a school in her younger days. She has a friendly personality and maintains good relationships with her neighbours. After suffering from a stroke, Tzu Chi began providing her with a monthly supply of adult diapers. Teo, who was 64 years old at that time, was duty bound to look after his mother personally, despite suffering from knee degeneration himself.
Despite walking with pain in his knees, Teo takes great care of his mother and manages the household very well. When the volunteers visit them every month, they will see the elderly mother smiling happily, like a living bodhisattva.
While visiting Teo and his mother a month ago, the volunteers proposed the idea of having a mini Buddha Bathing Ceremony at their home and the suggestion was welcomed by Teo. However, due to the limited space in their home, Teo suggested to use the vacant space next to the staircase for the event. And he could invite his friends and neighbours to the ceremony, too.
Teo began inviting his neighbours and friends to attend the mini Buddha Bathing Ceremony as early as one to two weeks ago. He even made another trip to his neighbours’ homes to remind them to attend the ceremony before the volunteers arrived. While the volunteers were setting up the Buddha Bathing altar with a Lucite Buddha statue and some magnolias, they were pleasantly surprised at the arrival of a number of Teo’s relatives and friends.
Teo’s neighbours had brought some chairs for everyone to sit and listen to the briefing by the volunteers on the purpose and significance of the Buddha Bathing ritual. Then, the ceremony commenced with a few Tzu Chi commissioners piously offering flowers, light and fragrant water to the Buddha while singing the “Praise to the Buddha” verses.
Madam Ng, who was sitting in her wheelchair and accompanied by her son and daughter, performed the Buddha Bathing ritual by bowing to the Buddha and receiving a flower. The ceremony was attended by 22 people, including 2 children.
"The weather is very hot these days. It is a rare sight to see Tzu Chi volunteers (holding a Buddha Bathing Ceremony) here. Their presence has brought an invigorating breeze," said Chen Ya Xiang (pictured below).
Chen runs a store selling joss sticks and paper money downstairs and was very glad to have the opportunity to “bathe the Buddha”. That was why she immediately said “Yes,” when she was asked whether she would like to attend. She usually works long hours, so she cannot go to a temple on Vesak Day each year, even though she wishes very much to do so.
Chen knows about Tzu Chi and has made a donation at the Jing Si Hall before. This was the first time she was taking part in such a solemn and heart-warming Buddha Bathing Ceremony. She piously bowed to the Buddha to pay her respect with joy in her heart. When the song “Three Earnest Prayers” was played, she lifted her lotus lamp and prayed sincerely together with everyone, and was deeply touched.
The volunteers also gave a bouquet of carnations to Teo and his younger sister to give to their mother to express their gratitude to her. Enduring the pain in his knees, Teo took the cup of hot tea prepared by volunteers and respectfully knelt before his mother to serve it to her. After that, Teo’s niece followed her mother and uncle by serving a cup of hot tea to her maternal grandmother, who has loved her since she was young.
Madam Ng rarely steps out of the house. The mini Buddha Bathing Ceremony has allowed her and her old neighbours to enjoy a gathering together. Although she could not express herself verbally, the happy and content smile on her face was etched in the hearts of those present.