Speech by Singapore Chinese Chamber of Commerce & Industry President Thomas Chua Kee Seng
Honourable Yuan Fan Abbott,
Ladies and Gentlemen
Revisiting scenic Perth is like having arrived at a virgin pure land on earth. Clean and fresh air, stretches of greenery and blue sky, give urban dwellers like us the compelling charms of nature. In 2009, I had come to Chittering with my wife to practise meditation; that was a most unforgettable experience for us.
We had a packed programme for the meditation classes. We had to rise at 5 am, before daybreak, and practise the lotus position, meditate, listen to teachings of the Abbott, and retire to bed shortly after the evening classes ended. Being accustomed to a hectic schedule, it was not easy to get used to a totally different pace – everything was absolutely peaceful, strict and disciplined. But we gradually adapted, and gained richly from it. When we are preoccupied with a busy lifestyle, it is quite natural to neglect the inner voice, and forget our real pursuits, to the extent of going astray and even getting ourselves into trouble.
Coming to Western Australia to meditate, away from the noise and bustle of the city, and away from all kinds of meetings and social appointments, without the interruptions from the outside world, we are able to reflect deeply on our relations with society, with the corporate world, as well as with family and friends.
There are many different religions in the world, and the religions which are widely accepted and followed are largely those which teach the principles of goodness and kindness, and guide spiritual beliefs. In my opinion, Buddhism is deeply ingrained in traditional culture, and its teachings have deep insights and a long history. In Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-cultural society, there are many influential Buddhists who have made important contributions to community development and to social cohesion.
I have known Yuan Fan Abbott for five years. He is effectively bilingual and knowledgeable person. He was schooled in China’s Zen Buddhism, studied Theravada Buddhism, and is an expert in the teachings of Buddhism. Although he is Singapore born and bred, he took up the calling to promote Buddhism in Western Australia, and set up the Buddha Mandala Monastery in Perth. By doing so, he also built a bridge between Singapore and Perth and cultivated the friendship between the citizens of Singapore and Australia.
Perth is a wonderful destination. It has vast oceans, continuous stretches of desert, green mountain ranges, blue skies, warm sunshine and friendly people. The flight time from Singapore to Perth is only slightly more than 4 hours; the daily flights make it very convenient. With the opening of the Buddha Mandala Monastery, there is now another place where people could come to relax and meditate, and it is very suitable as a short break for friends from the Singapore’s business community.
In the corporate world, it is necessary to meet up with all kinds of people; being an entrepreneur is also a kind of discipline, especially as we have to continue improving the powers of observation, analysis, creativity and innovation, organisation and decision-making. These five different powers and abilities are very closely related to the teachings of Yuan Fan Abbott. Within the scenic surroundings of the Buddha Mandala Monastery, I can be totally immersed, obtain clear directions and be enlightened. This is one reason why I am willing to have a short stay here.
One’s life journey is very long, with many challenges to be faced along the way. My motto is to be practical and broad-minded in everything that I do, and to do everything to the best of my ability.
Today, I would like to share the words of wisdom of the late spiritual master Nan Huai-Chin: “The highest level of attainment in life: to internalise Buddhism as the heart, Taoism as the bone, and Confucianism in actions, in viewing the world. Have skills in your hands, ability in your body, and thought in your brain, in the passage of life.”
On this note, I wish everyone the very best of health! And may the Buddha Mandala Monastery earn praise through its continued good deeds!