In her journey of life, Teh Soo Peng had continually asked herself the question: “Where does the meaning of life lie?”
Teh, who always wears a smile on her face, looks gentle and demure. But after developing a firm conviction, she made great efforts to live it out.
When Teh was aged around 40, she had a stable job and a comfortable home, as well as a car. And she was able to go overseas for holidays every year. She was leading a life envied by many. However, all these material comforts did not really bring her true, inner joy……
“In the middle of 2014, I went to a library to look for some books on religion and happened to come across (the Chinese edition of) the book, Master of Love and Mercy: Cheng Yen. I was deeply touched by the stories about the Master’s life, her philosophy and charity work (described in the book),” shared Teh.
She felt that Tzu Chi’s work and philosophy truly align with her direction in life. One month later, she went to Tzu Chi Singapore’s Jing Si Hall with her husband, Beh Keng Hua, to learn more about the NGO. Then, they were invited to participate in Tzu Chi’s Seventh Lunar Month Prayer Ceremony’s sign language performance, 《诚心斋戒》 (Sincerely Uphold the Vegetarian Precept), and the couple started joining the ranks of Tzu Chi volunteers.
In 2017, Teh went to Taiwan to be certified as a Tzu Chi commissioner and took refuge with Dharma Master Cheng Yen.
Facing challenges in life with a big heart
In 2016, Teh quit her engineering job to run a vegetarian restaurant. She said, “I thought that I would be able to easily make time to volunteer with Tzu Chi and hoped to promote vegetarianism, too.”
But in reality, things did not turn out as expected. For example, she often had to worry about the finances of her business. Thus, she changed her mindset and started to think that it is an opportunity for her to form positive karmic connections with people.
“What makes me happiest is hearing that non-vegetarians love the food in my vegetarian restaurant after dinning there,” said Teh.
After becoming a Tzu Chi volunteer, her originally comfortable and easy life underwent many changes. Besides taking care of her family and business, she tried to find time to involve herself with Tzu Chi. In 2019, she took on the role of the head of Fuhui Books & Café, and became responsible for promoting Jing Si’s products.
Each day, she busied herself with work that was unrelated to her personal interests and worked for the greater good, instead of just for her own family. Then, gradually, she started encountering various issues and challenges.
Early each morning at 4-plus am, Teh will leave her home to attend Dharma Master Cheng Yen’s Dharma talk. Subsequently, she will go to her vegetarian restaurant to work. Sometimes, she will travel to the Jing Si Hall to attend meetings and participate in volunteer activities. Her busy life once caused inner struggles in her.
“At times, I would think of quitting and would also have doubts about others. Master Cheng Yen said that we must believe that our intentions are selfless and that there is love in people’s hearts; we must broaden our hearts,” said Teh.
Hence, she often reminds herself that every setback and challenge she faces serves to test and train her abilities.
Recruiting living bodhisattvas
“Master Cheng Yen says that we must encourage many others to serve as living bodhisattvas, starting from those closest to us. I also hope that my family members will find their life’s direction (by joining Tzu Chi),” said Teh.
After Teh and her husband started serving in Tzu Chi, they began to encourage their family members to join the NGO, too. The latter include their son and daughter, Teh’s mother-in-law, and sister-in-law, Beh Bee Ping.
Towards the end of 2014, Teh saw that Bee Ping often felt troubled due to work stress and interpersonal issues. Thus, she encouraged her sister-in-law to join her in attending the early morning Dharma talks.
In fact, Bee Ping had come into contact with Tzu Chi in her university days, but did not join the organisation due to some misunderstanding. So Teh said to Bee Ping: “You are the ‘prodigal son’ that the Master speaks of. She is calling you to come home, but you don’t want to return.”
Master Cheng Yen happened to be expounding the chapter, “The Parable of the Prodigal Son” from the Lotus Sutra at that time.
With constant encouragement from her sister-in-law, Bee Ping started attending the Dharma talks, and subsequently joined the ranks of Tzu Chi volunteers. Now, she is a certified commissioner, too.
Although the length of one’s life is limited, the breadth of one’s life can be limitless. Teh is determined to walk on the Bodhi Path unwaveringly and learns to bravely face and deal with every situation that comes along the way. She strives to emulate the Buddha’s heart and take Master Cheng Yen’s mission as her own, unleashing her potential to do good.
“Where does the meaning of life lie?”
She has finally found the answer to the question that she used to hold in her mind.