Discovering Harmonious Living

Girlie Ooi

I had been a very tiring week and I was sick. Overwhelmed by work at the office, I had “forgotten” to go to the toilet to clear my distended bladder and was suffering for days.

When the call came inviting me to attend a talk by a Tibetan Lama, I was very hesitant to accept. “What!?!” I asked myself, “Spend the next few hours sitting through a talk when I’ve literally been drugged out by the doctor?” There was no way I was up for it. But something at the back of my mind said, “There’s no harm in going. You have nothing to lose – you gain something by going.” So I thought, why not?

Sitting through the talk the whole afternoon was not an easy task. Fidgeting throughout those few hours, I must have been like a water balloon on top of a durian! At the end of the day, I was a complete blur – there could not have been no bigger sotong (squid) than me.

I had expected to meet an old man, wizened with age, bent-over and using a walking stick. How very wrong I was. When the appointed time for the talk to begin, I saw this big man in full religious regalia step out of his room towards his throne. He looked every inch like a very strict headmaster, eyes scanning the hall at everyone present as if to say, “Watch it! I can see ya.”

It was to be a few years before I would even meet Tsem Rinpoche again. He had gone down from looking like a sumo wrestler to a handsome slim model – if not for his voice, I would not have been able to recognize him. That night turned out to be an emotional one and throughout the talk, I was unable to hold back my tears. I could not explain then what the reason was, and still can’t now. Some things are better left alone.

However, much has changed within me since these initial meetings with my Lama. He has given me the encouragement to face life and its many challenges. I now have the “fighting power” to go through life with more determination and strength – if Rinpoche alone can help so many other people, why can’t I at least start to help myself and others?

As I progress along my path, I keep check of myself by asking the following questions: Have I learnt to let go of my attachments? A little bit. Have I changed for the better? Sikit sikit ada-lah (A little bit). By trudging along the path, slow and steady. But watch out! Tortoise crossing! And as they say, slow and steady always wins the race.

Rinpoche has always advised me to be more involved in Dharma and though I cannot say I am now very deeply involved, I can honestly say that I am much more involved that I have ever been. I have gone from being an irregular visitor to the Goddess of Mercy temple (almost all Penangites refer to this place when they talk about places of worship) to having set up a full altar at home now. The difference between my practice then and now has definitely become more apparent.

Recently, I attended a charity performance by the China Disabled People Performance Troupe, held at Putra Stadium, Bukit Jalil. The performers comprised men and women who were handicapped – some were mute, deaf, blind or physically disabled. It was truly inspiring to watch their musical prowess on stage. Imagine a group of 20 mute dancers performing the Thousand-Armed Cherenzig dance in perfect unison. Not being able to hear the music did not mean they could not dance. Their choreographers were at the front corners of the stage, guiding them to time their steps in rhythm with each other.

Harmony was their secret, as Rinpoche had always advised us, when there is harmony in the house or whomever we work with, things will always go smoothly.