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In the world as we know, there lives humans of various races, religion and culture, where histories, legacies and great discoveries are made. But humans are not always that strong to build and contribute to the society as the digital era of ours today. Even the power of race and culture was unable to keep them going but religion did. They believe in their respective religions which gave them will and determination as devotees to continue the work of God himself.

There may be many religions, and every religion educates their devotees to be righteous. I was educated in a Buddhist way, that with rightattitude and thoughts made me a new man. All these years of being a Buddhist, I finally realised that Buddhism is mainly about the way of life, in fact, the Buddhist way of peace, loving kindness and wisdom can be just as relevant today as it was in ancient India, where Buddhism was originated. Buddhism taught me to view life in a very different way. I could face problems with a new perspective. Buddha explained that all our problems and suffering arise from confused and negative states of mind, and that all our happiness and good fortune arise from peaceful and positive states of mind.

In addition, Buddhism taught me methods for gradually overcoming our negative behaviours such as anger, jealousy and ignorance, and developing our positive behaviours such as love, compassion and wisdom. Through this we can experience lasting peace and happiness. Peace and calm was what I felt the whole time. I also learn about Karma which means ‘intentional action’ and refers to the universal law of cause and effect. Karma is created not only by physical action but also by thoughts and words. Just as action causes reaction, karma causes effects that come back to the original actor. We must never do bad or else bad will come to us.

Being a Buddhist enlightens me to follow the righteous way of the teachings of Buddha who is also the enlightened one. His teaching had conveyed to millions, including me. The teaching of Buddha cannot be defined and explained, it must be understood by heart and implication in life. That is the beauty of Buddhism.

“There must be something that I can do”, when His Holiness Dalai Lama exiled to India, that’s what he told himself.

People only started to really live their life deeply when they know that they got incurable disease, that’s what Ven. Mahinda said to us. I am gracious that I didn’t have any health problem, so in this limited time span that I have, while I am still healthy, what can I do to make my life worthy?

After much searching of the meaning of life in the past 20 years, I found something that speaking to my heart—Buddhism. Understanding the teaching is not enough, I must practise. Just like Thich Nhat Hanh says, “To Love is to be there”. If you are physically there it is not enough, your mind must be there too, and that’s the True Present. When I know about YBAM, I am telling myself that, I must be there, it is like i have arrived at my home. I must have my true present there, serving the community.

In the past, there are many people worked very hard to protect and nourish the growth of Buddhism in Malaysia. Many of them they are now the consultants and advisors of YBAM. Because of them I got a chance to know and learn deeply about Buddhism, and now it is time for me to do something and contribute.

We might think that we are who we are because of our own effort. That’s not the whole truth. The truth is that many people are helping us, the nature is nourishing us too. We are living in a world that people, natural, mineral are interbeing.

I find my friends in life while I am serving in YBAM. I have been joining YBAM and take up National Council post since 1996. Before that while I was still an undergraduate, I already a member of one of the portfolio, Buddhist Undergraduate Coordination Committee (BUCC). Contribute in the organisation, we nourish our brotherhood and sisterhood, supporting each other on the path of liberation. I always inspire by their thought and deed, and in gratitude. I feel that I am not alone in the path; the community of love have nurtured me and my idea of serving.

Having a hobby in life is precious. I can tell that my hobby is to be a social worker in YBAM, a platform that by the youth and for the youth. Youth is the future of our country, how good if I can do something for them. They need guidance in life so that they won’t be carrying away by different temptation in life. I strongly believe that the teaching can help them to find their way in life. I am the testimony.

In order to help or provide service to the community, we ourselves need to practise as well. I told myself that I have to grow in YBAM. I learn various skills too other than the practise. What’s important is that I find happiness when I learn how to develop both mind and heart when serving the community.

Do you believe in interbeing? The place that we live is a net, everyone affecting and influencing each others. May be you might think that taking care of your good self and your family is good enough. For me, that’s not enough. I strongly believe in cause and effect and impermanent. When I am still fit I want to do something good for the community. If one day I am in scrap, I might need helping hand too. Especially when I got four children, I hope that they can have a better community to live in. That’s why when we are contributing to the community, we are also doing something good for the future of our children and family.

Thing change when we think less about ourselves. In every one of us, there is little child in us. The little child is neglect by us because we keep seeking from outside to fill the hungriness or the desire in us. The past experiences keep hunting us like shadow. After I learn to listen to my little child in me, I started to accept my past and enable myself to learn from my experience and I am no longer the beggar of happiness. I know that I am precious; I am so rich because I can walk, see and I can serve. The platform of ybam provides me a space to contribute and boost my confidence in the path. When we serve, we think less about ourselves and happiness grows in us.

In Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, other than basic need for survive, human need to have fulfilment or self-actualization in life. Even homemaker has the same need. We can also serve the community and do something other than taking care of our family and children. I believe that a homemaker needs to have her own social networking and keep themselves update about the environment that they live in. It will be helpful especially when they face difficulty in life. They will know what are the resources that they can tab in to solve their problem. That’s why I am so perseverance that I must not draw a box for myself. Impermanence is everywhere; we must get ready for that. We don’t wait until it happen then only we want to look for ways to solve it. When you are in scrap it’s a bit too late.

I believe that in every one of us there are suffering and longing for happiness in life. When I am desperate, I always tell myself that there must be something that I can do. As a mother of four, I recognize the limitation for me to serve, but I always believe that there must be something that I can contribute in YBAM and make big aspiration to serve and practise. There must be something that you can do for the community, for Buddhism in Malaysia too.

I was fortunate to have attended the World Buddhist Conference on 25 – 26 Sept 2010. The various distinguished speakers from different parts of the world were most frank in sharing their thoughts and lessons with the participants. Their presentations were thought-provoking. I have a much deeper understanding of mindfulness, loving kindness and compassion after the conference.I also become more aware of the development of Buddhism in different parts of the world. The relevance of Buddhism in this 21st century becomes clearer to me.

Some participants may share their views and experiences gained from the conference from a different perspective. I believe many participants have learned important things from the conference. I would just like to share some simple observations with you. Hopefully, my lessons will benefit you in one way or another. That is the whole purpose of me writing this small article.

Among the materials given to participants was a small booklet, produced by a group of Singaporean Buddhists whose website is www.conversion.buddhists.sg. The booklet is entitled “Agree to Disagree”. It provides very useful tips how to say “No” respectfully when we Buddhists are approached by believers of other religions who are rather aggressive in preaching their religions to us and trying to convert us to their religions. I will quote a few examples below just to show how well-written the booklet is. Those who wish to read more, please visit the website as stated above.

EXAMPLE 1: Your family member / relative try to persuade you to take up their religion. The proselytizer says: “As a family, it is important we share the same religion. Do come and join in my religious activities. “

You say A: “I understand that you care about me. Don't worry. In my religion I am taught to do good.”OR

You say B: “I have a different view. As a family, I think each of us can have different religion. Being respectful of each other's religion is important too. “

EXAMPLE 2: A stranger on the street approaches you to share about his religion. The proselytizer says: “Good afternoon. Have you heard of X religion? “

You say: “I have heard of it. I am a Buddhist. Thank you. “After that you just smile and walk away.

I salute our Singaporean friends for their effort in preparing that booklet. It reminded me of the many occasions when I was faced with such proselytizer on the street and in college. I am sure many Buddhists have such experience before too or you will face such situation in the future somewhere.

Certainly, we Buddhists should refrain from being aggressive; but shouldn't we do a bit more in propagating the Buddha Dharma? Relatively speaking, Buddhists tend to be too quiet. Many lay Buddhists due to their lack of understanding of the Buddha's teachings, think that propagating the Dharma is the responsibility of members of the Sangha only.

We must give strong support to the good work of those members of the Sangha who are dedicated in spreading the Dharma. Likewise, we should provide assistance to lay Buddhists who are dedicated in propagating the Dharma. We should in our little way, propagate the Dharma too, at least by setting a good example as a Buddhist and refrain from doing negative things.

I remember very well a dedicated Christian pastor who came to our village to preach when I was a young boy. That was some 50 years ago. During that time, as almost all villagers were poor, parents had to work hard to earn a living, only young fellows below 12 years old were free on each Sunday afternoon to go to the church. There were only about 30 odd of us small fellows in the Sunday class. I was 9 years old then. Many of us could not follow the pastor's teaching. Despite the poor attendance and lack of interest on the part of the young boys and girls, the pastor kept coming every week. He told us many stories about his religion. Each time he would ask us some questions about those stories. For those of us who answered right, he would give a small present: a pencil, an exercise book or something like that. Once a month, the pastor and his colleagues would distribute cans of cooking oil or biscuits or other food stuff to the poor villagers. I was one of those boys who could answer his questions correctly and so did not have to buy pencils and exercise books for two years then. Looking back, although I do not agree with the pastor in many ways, but his dedication is something we should respect and learn.

That was my first encounter with proselytism. Somehow I merely regarded those stories and teachings by the Christian pastor as nothing more than stories. I considered my self lucky that I was not converted. That must be something to do with my good root in Buddhism in my past life, I guess.

The same tactics may be used by the pastor's colleagues in other poor countries until now. Their strategies in Malaysia, which is economically much better off compared to 50 years ago, must be very different now. But one thing for sure, proselytism is going on in Malaysia.

Since Malaysia is a democratic country, we cannot stop other religions from preaching their beliefs to us, but we must know how to interact with them respectfully and politely. In the process, we must get the other side to respect us as well. Keeping quiet and not explaining what are the basic Buddhist teachings to non-Buddhists is not the way to move forward for Buddhism in this present time. Buddhists must communicate more.

Various speakers of the conference stressed the importance of putting the Dharma into practice. Buddhism is not empty talk. It has to be seen to be relevant to today's needs. It was an eye-opener to me to watch monks and nuns from the Plum Village of France chanting and playing guitar and violin. Modern tools have to be employed to spread the Dharma to as many people as possible, especially to the younger generation in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Another thing I learned from the World Buddhist Conference is that we must stand up and state our position. It is not to fight for our individual rights, but more to uphold the interests of a larger group. If only our personal interest is affected we may just smile and walk away.

That reminds me of a recent incident in which a Chinese lady was deeply offended by a government officer and she decided to tell her side of the story to the public with the assistance of a member of parliament. That lady had only 5 years of primary education. But she was brave enough to stand up because she believed she was voicing the feelings of many; she wanted justice not for herself alone, but justice for all those who were given that kind of unfair treatment.

I know that humble lady for about 25 years. Before this, I would never expect a soft-spoken and gentle lady like her to be so courageous in seeking justice. In fact she told me that her children tried hard to persuade her not to be a “busybody”, but she was determined and very firm in defending the rights of a larger community.

I was very much inspired by her, especially her words “I am doing this to uphold the rights of Malaysians.” She is not a politician at all, just a very ordinary house cleaner. She goes to people's houses to do cleaning once a week and earn a small wage for her hard work.

She also related another story to me. She went for a trip to Hong Kong with one of her employers. She paid for the trip just like any other participants in the tour group. So she should be treated like any other tourists. Unfortunately, during the trip that employer of hers asked her to do things as if she was the servant. She was humiliated, but she just tolerated and did not react. She said “ It was something personal between me and that employer. I just smiled and ignored the incident. No point to get angry with that kind of person.”

She is less than 5 feet tall. Because of her small size and very humble background, her courageous deed to stand up has an even greater significance. I have learned something from this friend of mine. What about you? Shouldn't we Buddhists, monastic as well as lay persons, be more out-spoken when the situation warrants it? Of course, it is important that when we stand up, it is not for our selfish interest, but for the interests of the religion, society, Malaysia as a nation, and mankind.

In the 1980’s, a few Dharma friends and I started the Persatuan Buddhist Hilir Perak (PBHP) with the realisation of the need to set up a Dharma Centre to promote the Dharma in the region. We used various strategies and approaches in order to introduce the Dharma to people from various backgrounds:

•Non-Sectarian

The emphasis was the Buddha-Dharma rather than rigid demarcation of the traditions. Thus for Dharma education and propagation, we invited Dharma speakers from all the three traditions of Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana.

•Bilingual Approach

Both Chinese and English were used in the various programmes and activities to teach, learn and share the Dharma. Dharma Talks in Chinese and English were held regularly.

•Diverse Skilful Means

To realise the objective of teaching, learning, and practicing the Dharma for realisation, diverse skilful means were used to cater to Buddhists of all ages, from pre-school children, students and youths to adults.

•Reaching Out and Looking In – ‘Serve To Be Perfect, Be Perfect To Serve’

The Dharma Education and Promotion programmes focused on a balance between outreach and welfare work on one hand and self-cultivation on the other.

Throughout the years we served the community through various activities, programmes and projects including Dharma talks, discussions, Sutra study classes, Dharma library, puja and chanting sessions, meditation and retreats, Fellowships, Excursions and Tours. From these activities, we not only introduced the Dharma to the local community, but also helped to train the future Buddhist Leaders.

In addition to that, since 1989, we started to have the Buddhist Sunday School, and various Dharma classes were then also established following the successful model of the Sunday school. Among the Dharma classes we started were English and Dharma Class (for secondary school students), Chinese Dharma Class (for secondary school students) and both Chinese and English Sutra Classes for Adults. The response from the members was encouraging and today, these classes are still running, benefiting individuals of different backgrounds and with different needs.

Personally, I would think that the success of the PBHP in attracting people to participate in the activities is perhaps due to the interesting programs that we organise for them, which, to name a few include tours and excursions, youth recreational activities, youth and children’s camps, singing & choir groups, and academic guidance classes. These activities are pitched at the right level to suit the needs of the community, and they feel that their needs are addressed well through the activities.

However, there are still challenges and difficulties we are facing in running the PBHP. A lack of manpower is the main issue we are facing now. Youths are migrating out from the town for their career in the big cities and this leaves us with problems and difficulties in looking for committed, innovative, creative people or Dharma-based young professionals to be the teaching staff or volunteers for the Association. In addition to this, sensual attractions of the outside world lure Dharma Students away. The impact of the mobile phone, cyber games (at Cyber Cafes, over the Internet, Mobile phone), social networking (Friendster, Facebook, MySpace etc), Entertainment over the Internet, Supermarkets, etc is very strong indeed. Hence we need to think hard in getting them to join the various activities of PBHP. We need also to make the youths feel that the programs of PBHP can benefit them a lot in terms of their education or working life apart from enhancing their social circles. We are also hoping to have more participation from the parents of Dharma students. If the parents’ involvement is minimal, then it would be really hard to influence the next generation to attend the activities.

Realising the problems that we are facing, we work strategically to tackle the problems, including having dialogues with parents and encouraging more engagement of parents. Special programs and activities are drawn up where parents are involved, for example, Adult Dharma Classes, Family Day, housekeeping and kitchen work, Fellowships, Celebration of certain cultural festivals etc. In addition, we organise more outreach work, for example, “Gotong Royong”, “Welfare and Metta Visits”, and Recycling Projects so as to involve the youths in the activities. For Dharma classes, now the Dharma teachers use multimedia in their teaching instead of mere ‘Talk & Chalk’. We also have greater promotion of the English language and more campaigns to promote reading among the young.

Being a part of PBHP, I do think that in order to realise the vision of PBHP, which is spreading the Dharma for the happiness and peace of all, we need to strive to learn and understand the Dharma more, practice well and realise the Dharma so that we can grow in compassion and wisdom. In addition to this, we also need to know the Dharma well and make Dharma known by others too, and serve as more committed Dharmaduta workers in PBHP, or anywhere in the world.

Waking up in the morning, going through the daily routine, driving to and fro from work, clinching on the steering wheel, gazing to the left and right, waiting for the green light, reaching home, lazing on the sofa, going through the daily routine, knocking off, waking up in the morning, going through the daily routine, …

That was what my both eyes see every day. I often asked myself, “where is the balance?” “where is the life?” “where am I?”…

Starting from day one of my life, fortunate to be brought into a Buddhist family, grew up with the Buddha Dhamma, I thank my parents for this wonderful gift, the gift of Dhamma.

I believe that I have a mission to complete, a task to do as remembering what our late chief said “Life this life with purpose and to do what is needed to be done”.

There seems to be so many things to be done, so many people to help, so many programs to be executed. How can we find the balance between all these and on top of this; family, social and work commitment?

It took me years to find this balance and until now, I am still searching. This searching has become a learning point for me and will always be. The thing that really puts you on the line to strike a balance is PRACTICE.

Practice comes from within, a self exploratory journey which leads to the arising of wisdom. This wisdom then enables one to manage efficiently the striking of a balance. In order for these to be in place, I explored a few methods of teaching and realized one thing in COMMON which is profound enough to lead one to this wisdom.

In our everyday life, we tend to segregate the spiritual practice and our daily routine in order to be concentrated, to be mindful, and to practice strictly with expectations of some attainment. I then realized that this may not be the best way for me. I then continue to search for the next best practice.

Once, I had the opportunity to meet in person a great teacher, a great master. He spoke words of wisdom, showed us the path to liberation, and empowered us with a profound wisdom.

Sitting on the dining table, I observe the quiet moment while taking my servings, chewing my food, and drinking my tea. Mindfully walking from one point to another point, concentrated on the actions, the thoughts, and the speech of my everyday life, I mindfully observe the coming and going. As I go to work, I am mindful, I am alive, and as I breathe, I am here, I am present, and I am alive.

Being present, being here and now, being alive has been the keywords for me to strike this balance in my everyday life since being inspired by Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. This approach has given me the wisdom to enable myself to be present and be mindful of the present moment and this has initiated a coming together of the many components that constituted ME; my work life, my spiritual practice, my social endeavors, my spiritual contributions towards the society and my family well-being.

Ladakh - the land of the extremes!

There's alot of words to describe this magnificent awesome place call Ladakh! But nothing beats showing you pictures, of why I like this place. Well there's reasons to make you want to think twice about coming back here again.... but one of the few things that I deeply treasure about this trip:-

1. Opportunity to meet Ven Sanghasena & the chance to listen to the very sincere, full of wisdom & compassion, frank but funny Dhamma sharing. 2. The exceptionally warm welcome & hospitality shown by the children! Honestly, on the first day of my arrival at Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre in Devachan, listening to the voice of the children singing welcome-song in their own style, and bowing to you, and offering you lovely flowers as you walk pass all the children lining up to greet you endlessly... believe me, my heart sank.

The beauty of Mahabodhi, lies not just on the picture perfect snow-capped moutain view surrounding you but on the warm smiles of the children, especially the very cute little ones! You just don't know where they get the Metta look from! Maybe they all inherit from their most respected Venerable Sanghasena. I have utmost respect for Ven Sanghasena, a Theravada-trained monk, who encourages non-sectarian approach, who encourages the order of nuns just as much as for monks, who places education as primary agenda to curb poverty in poor Ladakh for the people.

It's amazing to find out how a visionary monk can truly inspire me. For the whole week when we were in Ladakh, we were being constantly reminded to 'live here and now'. It was quite easy, to just breath in / out, and not let the mind wander off. I was just being there. I also realized something about 'change' or 'growth' and I managed to survive without digital communication for nearly a week! It is indeed possible! When there is no signal: no sms service, no Internet and the mind is living by the present moment. I do not have to be a slave to my mobile-phone and the computer! The only thing I've not yet learnt to let go is my digital camera.

I took about 2000 pictures and I had to delete some earlier photos to fit it a few Delhi pictures on my last day in India.

Some of the difficulties that I have to endure at Ladakh:

1. The very cold temperature in the early morning / at night, so much so I hardly bath. It was freezing weather!

2. The mountain view is incredible no doubt, but the bumpy winding journey up the mountain maked me very dizzy, worst when I tried play with my camera while on the moving vehicle.

3. The milk is really not for me. Though they always humbly serve us milk tea and most flasks contain milk instead of hot water. I could not take the smell of the milk! In fact on the first day in Ladakh, I vomited. I don't know why except that I know I'm embarrassed that I couldn't enjoy their food.

This trip also made me feel so thankful for Malaysian food! Now I love thosai / roticanai with dal & milo drink & nasi-lemak with aromatic sambal even more!

My initial exposure to English language Buddhist hymns was when I was five years old in Seck Kia Eenh Buddhist Temple in Melaka in 1970. Hymns sung were mostly devotional in nature written by American Buddhists of Japanese descent. The late Ven. Sumangalo who was a visiting monk between 1959 until his demise in 1963 was instrumental in introducing these songs to Malaysia and since Seck Kia Eenh was one of his frequent stops, these songs slowly grew popular with the youth. By the time the late Ven. Ananda Mangala became the resident monk in 1963, Buddhist songs were incorporated not only during Sunday morning service but also into Buddhist plays which he staged regularly.

When I started visiting this Temple, the singing of limited English Buddhist hymns and Pali gathas was already a culture there In the 1970s, Datuk Dr Victor Wee who was then a student and member of the youth section started composing or re-writing the tunes for various compositions and with that effort, the repertoire of Buddhist songs grew. Some favourite tunes then were The Sunrise Comes, Wesak Dawn and Anthem of Unity. He subsequently recorded into cassette some of these songs together with his sisters Ivy and Mabel Wee. When he left for Kuala Lumpur, he continued writing songs and subsequently formed the first English Buddhist singing group i.e. Wayfarers.

It was during Ven. Piyasilo’s tenure as the resident monk in Seck Kia Eenh that the Temple became the top Dharma education centre in the country. Dharma Teachers from all over Malaysia was given their first taste of Buddhist songs during Dharma Preacher Training Course (DPTC) conducted initially in Seck Kia Eenh and then in Kuala Lumpur. However the growth of the hymns singing and Dharma outreach in Melaka stifled after the departure of the Ven. Piyasilo from Seck Kia Eenh. An informal group under the stewardship of Bro. Tan Huat Chye consisting of Dharma friends who were concerned of the vacuum caused by the sudden departure of Ven. Piyasilo met weekly in the homes of team members to train Dharma speakers and hymn session leaders so that participating schools of the Melaka Buddhist Youth Societies (MBYS) were not left in the lurch. I was roped in due to my ability to play the guitar and under Bro. Tan’s guidance, I became involved in leading hymn session in the School Buddhist Societies meets. It was during this tumultuous period that Bro. Tan Huat Chye composed numerous heartfelt lyrics and tunes such as “The Wondrous Guide” and “O! Suffering World”. These tunes were sung regularly during such informal meetings and in turn were introduced to the School Buddhist Societies.

Due to this effort and perseverance, most of the members in the School Buddhist Societies became proficient in singing Buddhist songs and within the next few years, Inter-school Hymn Singing Competitions were well participated and attended when the annual competition was held during the Wesak month. For those who were uninterested in Dharma studies activities, the singing of Buddhist songs was another Dharma door to youth to get closer to the Truth. In the late 70s and in the 80s singing Buddhist songs was considered ‘hip’ and it was sung almost in every major event organized by the Temple and Sunday School and even in School Buddhist Societies Combined Meetings and Campfires. The youths of the day in Seck Kia Eenh were rather musical in nature and that interest bounded them together as they organised and participated in secular and religious concerts. It was this bond that kept some and brought the rest together and saw the formation of Expounder (2002) and later Messengers of Dharma (MOD) in 2004. Members who later left for tertiary studies spread the seeds of singing Buddhist songs into colleges and universities.

In the late 1990s and onwards, we noticed the popularity of singing English Buddhist songs in Melaka waned as the batch of youth left for further studies outstation. Singing Buddhist songs once more was relegated as part of religious service and hymn singing sessions were hardly conducted in Sunday School due to the lack of able teachers and interest in the subsequent batch of youths. In spite of the availability of new songs by Wayfarers and Bhikshuni Heng Yin, there was hardly any spike in the interest in singing such songs beyond the confines of the shrine hall. We also noticed the problem of repetitive songs during religious services and thus many were not aware of other songs available. Thus singing Buddhist songs slowly bordered on becoming boring and old fashioned.

Up north, the Gee Bees were actively singing Buddhist songs; old and current in Mahindarama Temple while the Wayfarers made headlines in the Klang Valley. To date, Wayfarers has produced 5 albums while the Gee Bees made home recording of the songs they usually sang. These home recorded songs can be downloaded for free from the internet. In the 1980s, YBAM also organized an English Buddhist Songs writing Competition and culminated with the production of a cassette album for the songs selected.

Where English Buddhist songs development retreated, the sudden emergence of the local Chinese Buddhist songs in the 1980s took the local Buddhist community by storm. Though there were some prevailing Mandarin Buddhist songs then, the snowball effect created by Bro. Tan Huat Chye’s ‘Yi Zhan Deng’ album sets the tone for the production of more locally produced Chinese Buddhist songs. Today, Chinese Buddhist songs have overtaken their English ones by leaps and bounds in terms of sales, quality and variety. The market for Chinese album is large especially within Southeast and East Asian Buddhist communities and with more local Chinese being educated in the Chinese medium, the future of Chinese Buddhist songs will remain bright.

When the pioneer members of the MOD gathered in early 2000s, they expressed the concerns of waning interest in the singing of local English and to a certain extent Malay and Pali language songs through the last decade and decided to do something to arrest the matter. On top of that, there is also the fear of these songs being boring due to the prevailing style of singing and thus repelling younger listeners. We noticed that there is a need to expand the current repertoire of songs and rhythms keeping in mind the changes that are occurring in the music industry. We also wanted to address the issue of the lack of proper music accompaniment and conducting technique during Buddhist songs sessions.

From mid 2000’s onwards, new English and Pali Buddhist songs were flooding the English Buddhist centres with the formation of younger Buddhist singing groups i.e. Messengers of Dharma, i-Gemz, Mahindarama Sunday Pali School singing group under the baton of innovative Bro. Leonard Tan, Expounders and Bro. MV Nathan. On a commercial note, Imee Ooi’s numerous albums based on Pali Suttas and Sanskrit mantras are sold in music stores and were incorporated into some Buddhist musicals she co-produced. In the international scene, Ven. Heng Sure and Ravenna Michelson from USA, Plum Village, Fo Guang Association from The Philippines, D-kidz of Singapore and Tzu Chi International, Taiwan also produced and released their English language albums within this short span of time. While such efforts are lauded, most local Buddhist centers hardly heard these lovely songs as they were not informed of the presence of these albums. Therefore, MOD has made it a point to include songs from other albums in their outreach performances and also to introduce these songs to the Buddhist community across Malaysia and Singapore while imparting the same message found in these songs – the message of loving kindness and compassion by Lord Buddha.

To tackle the problem associated with the lack of music accompaniment and lead for fellowship sessions and services, MOD is now working on producing low budget home recorded sing-along CDs based on the songs found in the Buddhist Song Book edited by Datuk Dr Victor Wee and as well as some published and unpublished songs. The CDs were created along thematic lines using suitable contemporary music arrangement consisting of the sing-along and minus one section. So far two albums have been released: VESAK (released Vesak 2010) and PRAISE (released Magha Puja 2011) respectively.The CDs are distributed to all Buddhist centers free of charge and can be downloaded from www.justbegood.net/Download.htm or www.sjbays.com/mod.

MOD has been truly blessed by the responses and support given today. The first two sing-along CDs were fully sponsored and we are confident more will come to cover the expenses for the remaining CDs. We will continue to collaborate with other groups and composers. One successful outcome was between MOD and multi talented Bro. Leonard Tan whose unflinching support brought the song The Story of Dona to greater height. He also shared his experiences in dabbling with home recording and encouraged MOD to consider that avenue during the initial planning stage of sing-along CD. Meantime, we continued to invest in training others to learn old and new English, Pali, Indonesian and Chinese Buddhist songs. Collaborating with Subang Jaya Buddhist Society Youth Section, MOD conducts sing-along sessions every Wednesday evening in D’Lot (Dharma Lot), top floor, 66 Jalan SS15/4D (same row as McDonalds), Subang Jaya, Selangor.The weekly sessions will resume after Chinese New Year 2011 and is open to all for free. For more information about MOD and her projects, kindly add us in facebook ID mod messengersofdharma or email to us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .