An Incredible Experience
Lately, I’ve been involved in the Kechara Soup Kitchen (KSK) food distribution; it has been many years since I last engaged in activities as such. I was very excited to revisit KSK again with my family. Thank Buddha the haze decided to take a break on that night, I remember the air was quite clear and fortunately everything went well.
We hopped into a KSK Van and in the car were five law students from University Sains Malaysia, four Malay students and one Indian student, such a wonderful example of Satu Malaysia (One Malaysia). I really enjoyed their company and this is what Kechara Soup Kitchen is all about. Put aside religion, skin colour and language, and we are all humans, we all need friendship and love. Somehow at that moment, I felt really proud to be a Malaysian, it’s really nice to have all people of different races getting together to accomplish a goal bigger than ourselves and that was to feed the homeless. We visited 12 stops in total and the main purpose was to go around distributing food to the homeless who are elderly, and physically unable to travel far to get food.
As we were driving around, one of the senior volunteers of KSK told us of some tragic incidents that have been happening to the homeless. To our surprise, quite a number of homeless were robbed and killed. Can you imaging, their fellow street inhabitants robbed them and took away their lives! This is what a portion of our society has turned into, inhumane and cold-blooded. What’s worse is that we all know what happens to the women who are defenceless and vulnerable.
It is definitely not easy to live a life full of fear and uncertainty. I can’t imagine myself living under those circumstances. Just having that thought upsets me but at the same time motivates me to do more to better the situation for these unfortunate individuals. One may wonder, what can an 18 year old do to change the world? But Rome was not built in one day, and with that in mind, I feel KSK has been tasked to make a difference in our society, one homeless person at a time, through their vision of getting them off the streets by assimilating them back into functional society.
At that moment, I was plagued by a feeling of guilt because I realised I am way beyond fortunate. I do not have to worry about money or food because I have my parents who are always there to back me up when I need them and I respect and love them very much. Sometimes I’d notice myself ranting over some really small and petty things and they are NOTHING compared to what these people go through, without families, support or a home.
We tend not to appreciate what we have and always focus on what we don’t have, and that’s how our greed and dissatisfaction in life grows. If we keep feeding our greed, there’s no way we can be contented and happy. This greed or the feeling of always wanting something more will not get us anywhere in life; slowly we will be blinded by all these unnecessary attachments and lose our direction. This is why to me, dharma is very important. In dharma we are taught to always focus out and not to think only about ourselves. Have we ever heard of a good Samaritan getting depressed by helping others? I certainly have not, and this is something that we should all think about.
We put the food in their hands; they received the package with both hands and the smiles on their faces also brought a smile to my face. This made me realise that happiness can be easily obtained when we have gratitude for what we receive in life. We just have to change our ways of looking at things, our perceptions, angles or whatever we call it, and embrace the good and bad. The reason why we are unhappy is because we constantly blame others for the frustrations and unhappiness we are dealing with, and we don’t realise that we are the actual cause of our unhappiness. We allow our minds to be depressed and bitter. Some of us really do operate in this way, hoping that we’ll get some attention from our friends. We want someone to tell us that everything is going to be fine when it’s not. The thing is, we all have our own personal problems and issues, so what makes us think that there’s always someone there to listen to all of our problems? In fact, why must we be so arrogant to demand the attention of our family and friends to comfort us in our every whim, when all we have to do is control our mind? Yes, of course we will catch our minds slipping at times but I personally think that it’s totally fine as long as we pull it back on track when we catch ourselves slipping. The decision is in our hands.
Why waste time drowning our minds with a bunch of negative thoughts when we can use it to do something meaningful, be really happy and not feel guilty about it? For example, getting involved in KSK. It’s not difficult at all and all it takes is just a little effort once a week. Some people may say that the task stretches past midnight, but haven’t we all sat in restaurants with our friends until dawn? I must say that KSK is an incredible experience that we can learn so much from, and for just that one night, we are not focusing on ourselves anymore. We are in control of our own thoughts and actions, no one else is. Just don’t let our laziness get in the way, we must always remember not to let the “enemies” within win.
I am truly grateful to my supportive and loving parents, especially H.E Tsem Rinpoche who instilled dharma in me ever since I was young and who always makes sure I am on the right track. I am very proud of my father who has been very committed to all his dharma works for so many years, from managing Kechara Paradise to building Kechara Forest Retreat and, most recently, leading Kechara Soup Kitchen as the president. Yes, these tasks kept him busy and that equals to less time spent with the family, but we are all so proud of him because his work is done to benefit many people, present and future. In any case, there are also many families where the parents spend all their time working to bring in money for the family and spend no time with the children.
So, those who wish to criticise such a lifestyle should not be selective and only criticise the parents who do Dharma work. While one family brings home material wealth that can only help the family in this lifetime, my father brings home spiritual wealth for us. To me, that is much more important than any amount of money that my parents can give me, because ultimately I believe in reincarnation and the law of Karma, and I know what my father is doing is good for himself and our family, and that makes me happy and thankful to Rinpoche for making Dharma practice possible for my father.
Although my father has many portfolios, I never once heard him complaining nor talking about giving up. He is indeed a great example of Guru devotion and loyalty. Through his actions, he shows how much he respects and loves his Guru, H.E Tsem Rinpoche. There is no doubt about it. People like father inspire me to do dharma work because I have witnessed drastic changes in him over the years and that is what convinced me dharma can change someone’s life if we are determined and sincere in our practice.
I am currently taking about a year off before entering college to volunteer in the Ladrang. I am very grateful and honoured that I was given this precious opportunity to be exposed to the “outside” world where everyone has to work hard in order to achieve their goals. The things that I have learnt here are just indescribable and very impactful, and I am happy that I made the right choice to “work” for dharma.
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