7 days, 168 hours after, I am finally back to my upbeat self (well, almost!) after a week of shingles scare when I first detected it. Pretty sure a number of you would have had this very experience in your life when you encountered something uncertain or unfamiliar and the first thing you do is to exaggerate the fear even further into the unknown. That’s exactly what I have been through and most importantly, learnt a great deal from.
Picked up my best friend, Google and the more I read, the more I fear what is happening to my body. A visit to the hospital when the doctor said there is nothing he can do but for me to bear with the pain and finish the entire course of anti-viral medication did not help much either. After a few days dealing with downhill mood swings worrying how this will affect my work performance, how it will breakdown my nervous system, this and that – this very incident flipped me upside down.
It was when out of pure coincidence I decided to text my dharma sister in London Fo Guang Shan to ask her how to cook vegetarian cuisine given I need to be on a strict diet, in which then she decided to bring me to another dharma sister for Chinese treatment. The pain was excruciating but her words remain very vividly in my mind – “Bear with the pain as though you are bearing with your past karma, and continue to cultivate yourself with goodness in everything you do”.
Then, came a gentleman in crutches limping his way through for treatment. Again, this dharma sister amazed me with her kind compassion. Instead of asking for a fee from the treatment, she offered to donate some money for the gentleman to go for physiotherapy as he is currently unemployed and her rationale was as simple as – “Learn to accept other’s kindness when you need it, when you regain your health, help others in your own capacity and that would be the best repayment”.
It amazed me how sometimes; we take certain conditions for granted like how we strive for what we need to strive to achieve the worldly success and help others after. Yet, what I was fortunate enough to meet all the way here in the UK, are dharma sisters who dedicate their actions along the Bodhisattva’s path to help others first and believe with strong faith to spread goodness and compassion.
What I have learnt is this - while an ordinary intellect person will not be able to comprehend the mechanics of the law of moral causation (karma), as Buddhists we believe we reap what we sow just like what the Samyutta Nikaya gathered:
"According to the seed that’s sown,
So is the fruit you reap there from,
Doer of good will gather good,
Doer of evil, evil reaps,
Down is the seed and thou shalt taste
The fruit thereof."
On that very simple note, for us who are enjoying the fruits of youthfulness at the moment, do not take your youth for granted. Do not assume there will always be time to practice or to do good tomorrow. The moment is now. And, for those of you who always ask “I do good all the time, why is this bad happening to me?” – Practicing good thoughts and actions are like planting a seed; it takes the right conditions to bear fruits. Be patient and if you are mindful enough, you will notice the leaves and flowers appearing momentarily.