Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Reflections on Combined Sharing at Buddhist Fellowship (BF)

Just last Saturday 28th March, Buddhist Fellowship (BF) Youths held a combined sharing in their own compound. Due to the recent passing of our honorable MM Lee, SBMY's attendance was slightly affected. In the end, we managed to gather five of our girls to attend the sharing, including Yenteng, Wanlynn, Sabrina, Jia Hui and myself. Honestly, it was the first ever combined sharing I have attended and I could remember being extremely extremely excited for this event, which would include not only youths from SBM and BF, but also youths from Singapore Buddhist Federation (SBF) as well. The whole idea of meeting other members of the Buddhist community, sitting down together and discussing Buddhist teachings sounded really interesting and fun to me.

Buddhist Fellowship,  undeniably, had a much larger compound than SBM. We were one of the first to arrive and I remember being instantly swept into a deep sense of tranquility the moment I stepped into the activity room. In a phrase, I would describe the area as white and bright, clean and neat. The floor was occupied with immaculately arranged pillows and basically the spacious room was very well-maintained to welcome arriving guests. Nicola, one of the youths from BF, immediately greeted us upon our arrival and guided us to take a seat. Beside the Buddha statue sat the photo frame of our beloved Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, which was honored with a number of flower offerings. Once again, I felt more connected to them through the common grievance we share towards the loss of our nations father. 

After the arrival of all youths, we started with Nicola leading Puja. Followed by Puja, another member, Harry, led meditation. It was the usual breath meditation (Anapanasati), but it lasted longer than those conducted in SBM. Frankly speaking, there were moments when I could not help but doze off! I guess it was time for me to practice meditation more frequently.    

The sharing was kickstarted by Brother Vincent Chua's sharing about the recent passing of MM Lee and also his personal experiences serving MM Lee as a cabin crew member when LKY was on board with The Singapore Airlines. He talked about how MM Lee was the biggest inspiration to him and how he read almost every single of his publications. He shared insights to MM Lee's thrifty, humble character and how the latter was a man of fairness. He also shared his experience of serving Mr. Lee a glass of water on a particular flight, which he felt was very symbolic and meaningful. Overall, I found the sharing of Brother Chua an excellent tribute to our late MM, to remind us youths of the contributions he made to Singapore, and the lessons we could learn from this upright and capable leader.

After his insightful sharing, the time was passed over to the youths, and to get to know one another better, each of the youth groups sent a representative to introduce themselves. The atmosphere was very lively and high and most of us had a good laugh by the humorous representatives from other youth groups.

Here comes the main part of the sharing session: Sutta youth discussion!!! Eventually we splitted into four groups to head on with the discussion on the fire sermon, which was about suffering derived from our senses. Slowly we opened up and many of us shared some of our past experiences and feelings that could relate to suffering.  These are some of the reflections:

"I've learnt about pleasant, unpleasant and neutral feelings, how people can have different feelings about the same situation." --- Wan Lynn

"I learnt what causes our suffering  and how to minimize it. From our six senses, we tend to identify whether things are pleasant, unpleasant or neutral to us, and from that, we tend to have different feelings such as anger, hatred, desire and all these leads to suffering. I feel that this is a really interesting session and a good way to teach dharmma. Look forward to more of these sessions!" 
--- Yen Teng

"I learnt about how things are all impermanent and it is important to let go of our cravings sometimes to prevent further suffering." --- Jia Hui

"We had a sutta discussion and we discussed about the fire sermon from adittapariyaya sutta. Harry told us how suffering and cause of suffering comes about and Dhika (group leader) used examples to explain how our feelings can lead to the 3 poisons, namely greed, hatred and delusion. I found it a very enjoyable experience!" --- Sabrina

To summarize, from our six senses, our brain will process situations and things around us as pleasant, unpleasant or neutral. When one classifies something as pleasant, for example going to a KPOP concert, he or she will want, crave and desire to go for more and more concerts, and in the period when one cannot attain what he/she wants, one undergoes suffering. When one classifies something as unpleasant, such as being scolded by a teacher, he/she develops hatred and anger towards the teacher, which manifests into suffering because one cannot let go of this unhappiness he/she feels. Likewise, neutral feelings are encouraged, but that does not mean that we should be ignorant to the things around us. For example when I sit on a floor, I should not classify it as a "a cold floor" or "a smooth floor", "a comfortable floor" or "an uncomfortable floor". But neither should I be ignorant of the fact that I am sitting on a floor. Hence, the most appropriate way is for me to just acknowledge that I am sitting on "a floor" and to appreciate the presence of it. This way of thinking can be practiced through meditation which trains mindfulness.

Overall, we girls felt that it was an interesting and insightful session. Everyone was friendly and outgoing, and some youths even went all out to include people that tends to be more shy. The surprise birthday cake and mini party planned by the BF youths for Huiyan, who is also one of their members, was particularly heartwarming, and they eventually included other March and April babies (Jiahui went!) to join Hui Yan in the celebration. They also enthusiastically gave out the cakes not just to their own members but also to us and SBFY as well which we found was a very amicable and lovely act. A truly enjoyable experience indeed! (though a more dharmmic way is to take "enjoyable" out of the sentence :D)    

The next combined sharing will be on 9th May, and so for those that are interested to come for the next one, please do make the time because it will be worth it! Thank you :)

--- Layshuen, SBMY member 

No comments: