Pre-semester 2 and Dhamma Camp

11 January 2014

This week, I went back to Singapore and straight after that I joined NTU Buddhist Society Dharma Camp 2014 which I am in the Publication & Publicity team.

On Monday, I returned to Singapore. While in Kualanamu Airport, I met Riko, Hiroto, and Adeline which in turn also took the same flight with me. Arriving in Changi Airport, we had lunch first at Burger King before going back to NTU by taxi. After arriving at my room, the first thing I did is cleaning the room. Wonder why the dust can be accumulated inside the cupboard and the drawer. Next thing is to pack my things for Dharma Camp which some of the committees (including me) are told to be there since Day 0.

On Tuesday, we went to Beh Low See Temple and settled down things. The first “job” is to cut the thank you card. Next, I was borrowed from Liniki a camera and was told to take pictures. Day 0 was mostly the trial for Day 1. Because the camp food was for Day 1-4, we had lunch and dinner at a hawker center near the temple. The day ended around 11pm when we were debriefed by camp master, but it continued for me because I have taken too many pictures: I was told to delete the pictures which was not nice and I reduced it to 200 photos (still very many, but then I learned that if a not nice photo are taken, just delete it directly to avoid additional work in the night).

Day 1 (Wednesday)

The committees woke up around 0630 and did morning puja first before setting up the registration and waited the participants to came. I’m assigned to be the crowd controller (the one to direct the crowd to the registration and to make sure the queue up in one line). If I’m not mistaken, the first non-committee participant to register was Yu Zhen. After all of them registered, the opening ceremony was held. It was a simple one: played camp trailer, the main committees sung “A Place Called Home”, and then the camp master gave a speech.

After that, it was followed by ice breaking game within each groups and then across the groups. By the way, I’m in a group named Anicca led by Pei Zhen. We had a temple tour led by the GLs before having lunch. After that, the presentations of Buddhist etiquette are held. I had to leave the temple with Chun Hee as we are to fetch Venerable Chuan Guan at Kong Meng San. We we late because we took a long route (and since I don’t know, I just follow Chun Hee). After arriving at KMS, we met Venerable at the carpark and he drove us to Beh Low See. In the way there, he told us not to take MRT and buses; and to take taxi because “time is of the essence”. Arriving at Beh Low See, he gave a Dhamma Talk about the camp theme: Anicca (Impermanence), Dukkha (Suffering), and Anatta (Non-self). This time, he talked about Impermanence and Suffering: everything is impermanent (and constantly changing); and suffering is caused by wrong expectations which led to disappointment. He also talked about the 8 cause of suffering. After the talk, I & Chun Hee ushered him to the temple (Beh Low See) carpark. He reminded us that for the next kapiya, they should not be late.

After the talk, we took turn to take shower and to had dinner. After that, Brother Shi’An led a movie screening. The movie itself was a documentary about the movie Inception. The topic is about dream and reality. It makes me almost slept. After the movie screening, he explained the topic himself while also asking for the audience experience about the topic. After supper, each group had its own debrief. This day, Shienny did the photo filtering of our group. Got nothing to do, but then I decided to help Shi Wei and Ivan to filter the photo of their groups. The work finished around 12am. (but then Shi Wei said that he was woken up again to join the video editing process)

Day 2 (Thursday)

On this day, I was woken up by the first alarm which was set by Dhika (Welfare team), who should woke up earlier to prepare breakfast. After took the cold water shower, I rested again. The morning puja was held on 0630. And after the Milo drinking session, they held an aerobic session in which I was assigned to take photos and videos. After that, we had breakfast: bread with Nutella (or jam). After given some time to discuss the skit performance, we were taught to do song singing (with hand gestures for “A Place Called Home”). Here, I realized that some PnP people are missing. Later I found out that they (Alice, Liniki, continued video editing at MC room. The next activity was Tea Zen. Here, Venerable You Deng led the session. This session required us to do actions mindfully. When we were told to decide how much tea leaves we want, I used quite a lot because I liked thick tea. But then later it turned out that the tea leaves that I got was Jasmine Tea which has a sweet scent (and no wonder other tea I received from other people was not in the same colour and mine tastes sweet).

After having lunch, we had a Dhamma Talk by Venerable Chuan Guan. This time, he continued talking about Suffering and Non-self. What I learned from this talk is the 3 types of suffering:

  • Pain suffering
  • Loss suffering
  • Neither pain nor loss suffering

The pain and loss suffering is the obvious type of suffering because one will not want those types to happen. But then the third one is suffering that did not make one painful nor feel loss, this type is caused by unawareness and will lead the person to cultivate ignorance. At this moment, I was like so “Wah”.

After the talk, we played team bonding game. There were 5 games to be played. Although one of the games were too easy to be played (a cooperative game, i.e. game that we can win the game fast when we did a cooperative strategy among the sub-teams). Besides that, there are games about trust, about leadership (and fellowship), about pressure, and the last is **I forgot what was the meaning of the game led by Naing Htoo cause I’m hungry already**. Towards the end of the games, I’m getting worried and worried if the battery is enough. I’m relieved when the game is over and started charging after that.

After dinner and taking showers, we did the evening puja. Next, Bro. Kweh (and his assistant, Harry) gave talk about Sigalovada Sutta. They talked mostly things that I’ve already known and therefore I’m quite sleepy during the talk (especially when his assistant talked). After the talk, we had a group debrief and then did the skit discussion. But then I left them after supper to start working to filter the photos taken together with other PnP committees. It was until 2 am that I was too tired to continue and decided to sleep.

Day 3 (Friday)

On this day, I woke up on my alarm at 0602 am. But then I still feel very sleepy and tired. After joining the morning puja unmindfully, I joined the yoga session which made me fresher. Next was meditation session led by Bhante Rathanasara. This meditation was nice although somehow it was too long to focus on our mind thinking of the causes of suffering. Then this day we got a lot of skit discussion time because at the night we got to perform. Before lunch, we had another song singing session (in which many PnP committees are missing, again).

After lunch, Venerable Chuan Guan gave a Dhamma Talk again. This time I did not know what general topic he was discussing but this time he was giving a lot of examples of people problem and the solution of it. He also shared his personal story of his life. Lastly he taught us how to do the right full bow.

Next, we had a Dhamma Trail which was a quiz which in the middle of the quiz we had a mini version of The Amazing Race inside the temple. The game started when one of our friends got kidnapped in the middle of the quiz. For my group, there are 3 people missing (Dhika, Jeff, and Shienny; Jeff is the programmer, so I can assume that Dhika and Shienny got kidnapped). The game is somehow very tiring and uses a lot of planning a good strategy. After we got into the room which they got kidnapped and solve the last puzzle, we were told to had shower and dinner. But then we still could not find Dhika. At last, I found out from Chun Wah that he left the temple temporarily.

After the dinner, we did a puja followed by a final preparation for the skit. I got a minor appearance in the skit by the way. Our skit is about a rich guy called Benny (performed by Benny) who had a beautiful wife (performed by Crystal) and daughter (performed by Shienny), suddenly got poor because of the fall in the stock market (news reporter performed by Yu Zhen) and then went to loan shark (performed by Jefferson) to borrow some money which he used to gamble (other gambler performed by Dhika and Long Khor). When he got nothing left, he almost killed the loan shark when the loan shark demanded the money. In some months, he turned very skinny (performed by Hiroto) and when he tried to steal food at a hawker center (hawker performed by Wilton), he was saved by Holly (performed by Holly), which he denied in the first scenes. At last he find a job through the job application posted on the newspaper which was brought by Holly; and he realized that he had to let go and to move on. The end.

Finally, we had a final song singing session which “A Place Called Home” is the most exciting part. And then we had light passing ceremony, to share the light that we received and then place the candles to resemble a stupa. Here, we got mass photo taking session. After the supper and debrief, PnP team started to work. The rest of the group is still having HTHT session while the PnP team filtering the photos. It was 3.30am when we finished filtering out the photos and passed on the work to Shi Wei.

Day 4 (Saturday)

After a very short sleep (can be called a nap), I was woken up by the Chief Programmer, Stephen. I’m unaware of me stopping my alarm and turning on my handphone. This day, most of the PnP committees skipped the fourth day activities (yoga, and meditation session led by Prof Tan) and just continue working on the camp video which must be done by 2pm. In the morning, during the meditation session (which I skipped), I got the time to take shower, write thank you card, and had a little nap. After the session, we decided also to include the Day 4 photos. Finally, during the lunch time, we started to render the video and the video was finished on time (around 1 pm when finished rendering). Yay!

After Buddhism Awareness Week presentation by Martin, then it come to the time to watch the video together. After the video, camp master gave a closing speech. We started to move out around 3 pm and arrived at NTU around 4 pm (dunno why the bus took so long time). Some of us took dinner together first at Canteen 2 before going back to our own rooms.

Going back to my room, I started to read emails, read notifications, etc. It was quite a lot of work to do as 5 day left with not reading emails results in around 50 unread emails. I slept early this day.

On Sunday, I woke up at 8 after missing an alarm. I’ve been still unaware of stopping the first alarm and turning on the handphone. This day, my parents visited me at NTU and then we went to Orchard to have lunch. I went back just right before lunch and then I had dinner at Canteen 11, it has been some times since I ate here.

Next week is the starting of Semester 2. Hope I can survive the semester. 🙂

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