IBC Dharma Tour in Sungai Petani and Penang

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Recently, Than Hsiang Temple, in conjunction with many Buddhist organisations throughout Malaysia, organised a one-week Dharma Lecture Tour by staff and students of International Buddhist College (IBC). The main objective of the tour was to express appreciation to all Malaysian Buddhists for their kind and generous support of IBC and to introduce IBC to more people in Malaysia with the hope of recruiting more Malaysian students to study the IBC courses in the IBC Main Campus or in Than Hsiang Temple.

The Dharma Lecture Tour started off on Saturday, 25 February 2006 in Kuala Lumpur and from there, six groups of staff and students went in different directions to cover the major towns and cities of Malaysia. On 2 March 2006, three groups gathered at Beng Siew Sean Seah in Sungai Petani to perform a Cleansing Ceremony at 7.30pm followed by a Dharma talk in English and Pali chanting.

While waiting for the Cleansing Ceremony to begin, the crowd was shown a video on IBC, its concepts, its beginnings, its lecturers, its students, and its administrative staff. Venerable Wei Wu led in the Cleansing Ceremony performed by the Mahayana bhikshus, most of whom were lecturers and students of IBC. Venerable Wei Wu then took the stage and talked about IBC. Following this, Venerable Seewali and Venerable Panutip went up on stage to address the audience. Venerable Seewali is a senior bhikkhu, lecturing in Pali in IBC.

Venerable Seewali talked about the seven noble qualities of a humane person:

• To support and look after the parents throughout the whole life,

• To always respect and revere the elders,

• To speak kind words, gently and sweetly,

• To never speak ill of another person nor bear tales,

• To practise generosity,

• To always speak the truth, and

• To suppress anger and to instantly remove it when anger arises.

Venerable Seewali said that anyone keeping these seven noble qualities could aspire to become king of the gods (devas). He said that it was rare to be born as a human without any mental disabilities, free from sufferings due to hunger and the lack of basic necessities and in an environment where the people are virtuous and do not behave like animals. We should thus make full use of this precious life to strive towards Buddhahood.

The next speaker, Venerable Panutip was a bhikkhu studying in IBC. He talked about the difference between being a bhikkhu in his homeland of Bangladesh and life in IBC, Thailand. He said he was stared at as if he was alien back in his country, but found himself readily accepted in Thailand and Malaysia. This increased his resolve to strive to be a learned and wise bhikkhu so that he could spread the teachings of the Buddha.

Following this talk, the Theravada bhikkhus performed a Pali chanting to bless everyone present. The next day, 3 March 2006, a Dharma Assembly of Buddha Name Recitation, Noon Offering and Amitabha Sutra was conducted from 9.00am till 6.00pm. In the evening, a Dharma lecture was held in Mandarin.

On 4 March 2006, all six groups met at Than Hsiang Temple and gave a Dharma lecture in Mandarin at 2.00pm. In the evening of the same day, a Dharma lecture in English was held. Venerable Wei Wu, Venerable Seewali, Venerable Satyajit and Bro. Yeoh Tze How went up the stage for the Dharma lecture in English. Venerable Seewali started off the session by leading the Theravada bhikkhus in Pali chanting. Venerable Satyajit then talked about his experiences in IBC and how his life had been affected for the better. After Venerable Satyajit's talk, Venerable Wei Wu gave a brief presentation of IBC. Bro. Yeoh Tze How then talked about the Spiritual Path to Enlightenment of the Lam Rim. During the question and answer session, several questions were posed to Bro. Yeoh and he was able to answer the questions lucidly. The Dharma lecture ended with Venerable Seewali leading the Theravada bhikkhus in another session of Pali chanting.

The next day, all the students and lecturers left for IBC in Thailand. Everyone without exception found the tour to be a new experience to them and the people everywhere they met to be warm and kind.

Many thanks are due to all who had contributed their time, effort, money, and in one way or another helped to make this IBC Dharma Lecture tour a great success. Amituofo!