不一樣的慶生
文/菲律賓海天禪寺英文研經班學員 傳定(Michella Cacdac)


  當我還是小女孩時,父母對我們保護有加,所以在成長過程中,我並沒有很多朋友。但令我非常訝異的是,每逢我過生日,家中就會出現一些不認識的小朋友。他們都是母親在鄰近貧窮地區隨意看到的小孩。原來,在我還不懂布施時,母親已經在教我和弟弟、妹妹布施的意義了。母親邀請這些小孩一起來過生日,也讓他們分享我們家擁有的一點點小福報。

  在一九九○年代早期,菲律賓皮納土波(Pinatubo)火山爆發時,父親忙著救那些災情慘重的百姓。他親自到現場把那些差點喪命在火山泥漿中的人救出來。但同時,我也差點失去父親。而另一頭,我的母親和我們全家也忙著打包物資分給災民。雖然家中經濟有限,但我記得我們用盡了所有的辦法去幫助災民。

  二○○七年,我們開始在海天禪寺上禪修班。上課教的許多觀念至今仍影響著我們全家,其中一個就是布施。以前只知道,我們是在布施的環境中長大,但並不懂得它的含義。了解布施的意義後,將家人的慶生方式,改成全家去探望、布施一些特定的慈善機構,至今還是如此。

  於是父親開始帶領他當時的部下,舉辦了多次的義診。母親則選擇幫助一些學生,因為她的生日剛好在六月的開學期間。我們開始去協助一些鄉下的當地小孩,例如:達拉克(Tarlac)、贊巴勒斯(Zambales)、歐羅拉(Aurora),還有像帕亞達斯(Payatas)這種非常貧窮的地區等等,這些多半在遠遙偏僻的鄉下。

  那些小孩雖然可以去公立學校讀書,但他們沒有錢買文具、書包、鞋子,以及一些上學的基本用品。結果,他們的父母多半要求他們輟學,一起扛起家計。由於這些小孩在缺乏教育及知識的環境中長大,所以他們就成為那些反政府叛軍想要吸收的最理想成員。在我們慈善範圍的名單中,這些分別來自達拉克(Tarlac)、帕瑪剛(Pamangga)、帕亞達斯(Payatas)等地區的小朋友,從一開始的二百位,擴大到現在約八百位。我們看到這些小孩多麼渴望上學,然而卻沒這樣的環境和機會。

  我們家人有一個觀念,不論家裡的經濟多有限,我們要持續布施更多。只要花一點點時間和精力就可以大力改善這些小孩的未來。我們很感恩所有曾探望過的小朋友和那些常去的慈善機構;像老人院及一些家暴亂倫的收容所等等。定期去探望他們,其實是他們給我們機會付出。一開始只有我們家,到現在有很多朋友也加入我們布施的行列。他們剛開始也只是付出時間幫我們分發物資,但是現在他們有些人已經開始學我們的做法,即便他們只是付出一點點小小的力量。甚至因為父親的帶領,他的同僚也有機會參與我們。他們很多人都深受感動;原來小小的布施,如僅僅只是跟這些人講講話、聽聽他們傾訴,就能帶給這些人無限的歡樂。

  有時候我們分工合作,我負責準備食物,妹妹唱歌娛樂他們,同時也和他們互動交流。但是每次去老人院看那些老人,我們都會非常傷心。因為只要有一些老人往生,名單上就再也看不到他們的名字。其實,這也是我們學習不執著的一個好方法。有時候我會為此哭得很傷心,但慢慢學習愈來愈堅強。

  我十三歲的女兒凱莎(Keisha),定期會把一些不用的東西收集起來,等到聖誕節時,再把東西送給我們平常去探望的慈善機構。有一次,女兒要我把一件舊洋裝送給一位叫「珍貴」(Precious)的女孩。珍貴生下來就有身體上的缺陷及精神上的疾病,生下來就被媽媽遺棄。我們等了很多個月之後,才有機會去看這些棄養的孤兒。我帶了那件女兒的舊洋裝要送給珍貴。到了那裡,我非常興奮地到處看那些小孩,卻發現珍貴不見了。我問看護們,我想她應該只是被移到另一個房間。看護們告訴我,珍貴在幾個月前就往生了。聽到這個消息,我心都碎了。但我必須提醒自己,這就是佛法說的無常。

  我很珍惜海天禪寺法師所教的佛法。最重要的是,我們全家都想要練習「知行合一,說到做到」。我們珍惜這些佛法,就要把它拿來實踐。經過一段時間的薰修,我學到更多佛法,知道布施要不斷地實踐,才能達到圓滿的境界。雖然離「開悟」還很遙遠,但親自去實踐才能更清楚佛法的意義。而且才能讓我們在成佛的路上有很多小小的領悟。實踐幫助我們踏實修行,以及全心全意地像親人一樣幫助這些不幸的眾生。

  佛法是無止境的學習。非常感恩佛陀、感恩老和尚、感恩法師們、感恩我的父母,還有所有的師兄們,您們都是我的大善知識。謝謝您們幫我鋪一條大道,讓我走向真正的快樂和平靜。我非常有福報,能有這些機會學習,能有這麼多志同道合的人在身邊,大家同樣追求無我和放下世間的一切執著。雖然在生命中還有很多的挑戰和不圓滿,但我會盡全力依教奉行,讓生命過得更有意義。

A Special Way to Celebrate Birthdays

By Michella Cacdac

  As a little girl, I grew up not having many friends because my parents were very protective of us. To my surprise, every time it was my birthday, there would be kids whom I didn’t know coming to our house. They were just random poor kids whom Mom would see around the neighborhood. At that time, I was unfamiliar with the message, but Mom was already introducing the value of charity to me and my younger siblings. She invited the children over for us to spend our birthdays with and to share our little blessings.

  During the eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the early 1990’s, Dad was busy saving lives of civilians who were greatly affected by the calamity. He personally rescued people who were endangered by lahar (like lava). We almost lost our Dad during those rescue operations. On the other hand, Mom and the rest of the family were busy packing and distributing relief goods for the victims. We couldn’t afford so much then, but I remembered being able to help as many people as we can with whatever means we had.

  It was in 2007 when we began attending meditation classes in Ocean Sky. One of the teachings that continue to inspire our family is that of charity. We knew what charity was like growing up as we had many occasions to be exposed to it, but we didn’t really understand its true essence. After studying it thoroughly in the temple, we now celebrate our birthdays with our chosen charities, which we regularly visit as a family.

  Dad started doing several medical and dental missions together with men and women under his command. Mom’s focus is more on students, since her birthday falls in June during opening of classes. We reached out to indigenous children of Tarlac, Zambales, Aurora provinces, and in depressed areas like Payatas, etc. Most of these places were in far-flung provinces.

  These children had public schools and teachers, but they didn’t have school supplies, bags, slippers and other basic things which were needed in school. As a result, most of them were persuaded by their parents to quit school, and just help in working for sustenance. They are actually perfect candidates for recruitment to rebel groups when they grow up due to lack of education and understanding. From 200 kids in our list, they have now increased to almost 800 from different areas of Tarlac, Pamangga and Payatas. We saw how much the children were eager to learn, yet they didn’t have the means.

  Our family always felt that no matter how limited our resources were, we still wanted to share more. It only requires time and little effort to reach out to these children, paving the way for great changes in their lives. We are thankful to these children and the other charities we visit, such as Home for the Aged, and minors who are rape victims by incest, etc. Visiting them constantly gives us opportunities to help. Starting with just our family, we now have more friends joining us in our mission; people who just dedicate their time to help us distribute the goods. Now, some of them are also replicating what we have done in their own little ways. Even people who worked under Dad’s command had opportunities to join us in these events. Many of them were overwhelmed with the joy that they brought to the less fortunate, just by simply talking and listening to them.

  There were times I would prepare their meals, then my sister would sing for them, and we would interact with them. For the elderly, we were sad that each time we visited, some names would be stricken from the list since they had already passed away. This truly is a good way of learning non-attachment. I still cry sometimes but as time passed, I’ve learned to be stronger.

  My daughter, 13 years old Keisha, regularly sets aside things that she does not use anymore. When Christmas time comes, she gives them away to different charity institutions that we visit. One time, she gave me an old dress to give to a girl named Precious. Precious was born with mental and physical abnormalities and was abandoned by her mother. After long months of waiting, finally it was time for us to visit these abandoned children. I brought the dress that Keisha wanted to give to Precious. I was so excited to see the kids and as I was going around, I noticed that Precious was missing. Thinking that she was just transferred to another room, I asked the caregivers. They told me that she died just a couple of months before I arrived. My heart was really crushed, but I had to remind myself about Buddha’s teaching of impermanence.

  I value all the things taught by Ocean Sky. Most importantly, as a family, we try to “walk the talk.” We give value to the teachings by practicing what we learned. As time passes and more lessons learned, I know that charity needs constant practice to attain “mastery” level. We are still far from becoming “enlightened,” but these experiences give the Buddhist teachings more meaning, and let us experience small enlightenments along the way. It also helps us to be grounded and to stay dedicated in reaching out to our brothers and sisters in need.

  The learning doesn’t stop. I’m truly grateful to Buddha, to our Grandmaster, Shifus, my parents, and to all Dharma brothers for being my great teachers. Thank you for paving the path that gives me true joy and peace. I consider myself blessed for having these opportunities to learn, to be surrounded by people who share the same goals in being selfless and unattached to mundane standards. I am trying my best to live it right by following the Buddhist teachings despite the challenges and imperfections of my daily life.






海天禪寺

地址:716 Jose Abad Santos St., Little Baguio, San Juan, MM.
TEL:(63)2-723-6132, (63)2-726-0600
FAX:(63)2-722-4400
Email:oceansky@mail.ctcm.org.tw
    mail@oceanskyzen.org  
http://oceanskyzen.org/wp/

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