by Kenyruu Ong
Kenryuu is a longtime Dharma student and a volunteer with Friends of Sravasti Abbey Singapore. Penang, Malaysia is his hometown, where he traveled to support Ven. Chodron’s recent teachings there. After offering lunch one day, he posted the following experience on his Facebook page.
It was a special day to have two of my most important teachers meeting each other for lunch dana.*
One is Ms. Chew Guat Paik, my primary school English language teacher who taught me for three years—the fundamental ABC skills in language to learn the Dharma.
Another one is Ven. Thubten Chodron, who is the Dharma teacher who taught me how to see the fundamental ABCs in our mind and heart.
I really thank them both for their kindness and for leaving so many positive imprints in my life.
Ms. Chew encouraged me to study by rewarding me a 30-year Malaysian Independence commemorative coin when I scored 100% in English. It was 1987 and I was in Primary 5,
Ven Chodron is giving me the knowledge that leads to the path of full awakening, guiding me along the path.
Ms Chew met Ven Chodron in the late 1980s at Komtar. It’s very likely the year was 1987, the same time I received the coin from Ms Chew.
Four or five years back, I reconnected with Ms Chew at a Primary School gathering, She shared with me that she is old now, doesn’t know how to use the Internet, and can’t travel to meet good English Dharma teachers. She mentioned meeting Ven Chodron in 1980s!
I was thinking of how fortunate am I to have the chance to listen to Dharma. I thought, “I shall bring good English Dharma teachers home to benefit English speakers.” That catalyzed Ven Chodron’s first visit to Penang in 2017. My parents invited her to come back to teach after so many years.
Today, I returned Ms Chew’s kindness with the best gift —the Dharma. I gave her a copy of the 4th volume of the Library of Compassion and Wisdom, Following in the Buddha’s Footsteps. My heart wept when I saw Ven. Chodron pass this gift of the heart to Ms Chew.
To both of you, I thank you sincerely for being kind to me and thanks for inspiring me to study hard with the commemoration coin. I also thank you for teaching me the skill to look into myself.
Both teachers have told me on different occasions that nothing else is needed to pay back their kindness except to study hard, practice well, and strive to be a kind person.
Ms Chew and I have signed an agreement: whoever who wins the race to full awakening must come back to teach the other person.
May you all be always well and happy. Ms Chew, if you awaken one day, please come to lead me along the path.
Tanjung Tokong, Penang, Malaysia. Dec 2019
*The traditional lunch offering that lay people make to monastics in Asia.