DDM Offers Good Wishes and Comfort to Patients on Christmas Eve
On 24 December 2013, the Venerables and students of Dharma Drum Sangha University (DDSU) visited patients of the Taipei Veterans General Hospital (TVGH) as part of the Patients Caring Program. The kindness and compassion as well as sincerity of the DDSU group not only gave comfort but also encouraged the patients and their families to persevere and accept their physical and mental suffering well. They were also advised to try and cultivate “peace of the mind” which is crucial to the healing and recovery process. The Venerables, patients and their families spent a peaceful Christmas Eve together, and many were delighted to find out that they would be meeting the Venerables again on New Year’s Eve.
Patients suffering from severe illnesses often find it difficult to reconcile with their sufferings. They might complain and blame their situation on everything and everyone, and even attribute their disease only to karma. Ven. Chang-Jian of the DDM Social Caring Department observed that young patients tend to consider themselves as undeserving of their conditions as they have not done anything wrong. Ven. Chan-Jian reminded them that in the teachings of the Buddha, age, illness, and mortality comes to everyone without exception. It is a universal truth and needs to be acknowledged as such without fear, anger or hatred. Innocent children are admitted to the hospital every day, and life’s journey is different for everyone and not always smooth. We must be mindful of “causes and conditions” and be aware that we all have to live with the consequences of our actions, both positive and negative. We should therefore make it our purpose in life to practice and uphold our vows diligently and take in stride whatever life throws at us rather than to regard life negatively.
Ven. Chang-Jian also found that patients and their families experience fear and anxiety because they do not understand the truth of life. DDSU students then shared with the patients and their families the power of spiritual faith and taught them concentrative Buddha-chanting methods aimed at stabilizing the body and mind. In addition, they illustrated life as a tree that changes according to the seasons, but whose spirit will remain intact in spite of the external changes. In Buddhism, death is referred to as “rebirth”, symbolizing the beginning of another life, so life is always full of hope.
After three visits to the hospital, Ven. Yen Jie realized that caring for patients is harder than he imagined. It is through keen listening and observation that one can truly sympathize and care for the patients’ deepest needs. In addition, he found that the medical personnel were in need of spiritual care too. Ven. Yen Jie cited one example where a nurse who had been caring for a patient for a while was so shaken and upset when the patient died that it affected her capability to work and function properly. The incident shocked her and filled her with unease. However through patience and guidance to help her face the incident with gratitude and understand the impermanence of life, she learnt to let go and was able to return to her day to day duties again.
Chen Guang-Ming, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer two years ago, tells of how he relies on his faith to maintain optimism and open mindedness throughout his treatment. He said to the Venerables that his past volunteering experience in monasteries equipped him with the ability to handle problems using the mantra “Face it, Accept it, Deal with it, Let it go”. Because he often practiced chanting to the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva, he observed that he was very peaceful and calm, without any impediments before his operation. After his operation, he vowed to receive bodhisattva precepts in DDM and hopes to acquire more profound wisdom by following and observing the precepts.
The Buddha Hall of TVGH was consecrated by the founder of DDM, the late Venerable Master Sheng Yen, over 23 years ago. He had often visited the hospital to provide support and care for the patients. He also used his own illnesses as an example to provide guidance to the public to consider hospitals as monasteries, to put trust in their doctors, and to let the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas decide on their fate. DDM sees the importance and value in providing such visits and support to patients. Hence, the Patients Caring Program will continue as long as demand exists for it.
(Translated by Tom Hsieh/Edited by DDM Australia Editing Team)