I embarked on my time voyage upon enrollment for the Sunday Dhamma Class in July 2010 and; by default was admitted as an ordinary member of the Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship (MVDF). Later I was inducted into the Sub-Committee for Communication.
Finding the evening courses organised by MVDF to be more relevant and fruitful to my practice, I left the Sunday Dhamma Class in 2014 and was no long an ordinary member much less a Sub-Committee Member and quitted MVDF in compliance with the then Constitution, which did not cater for dropouts.
In the same year, the Chairman of Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) (MVBT) Committee requested Bhante Cakkapala for MVDF to take over the dormant and neglected library. I was approached to consider taking up the task.
As MVDF would manage the library and I was not longer a member and was in a dilemma. In order for me to get back into the fold the Constitution was amended to encompass ordinary membership by default for all students attending classes, participants and volunteers in activities organised by MVBT or MVDF.
Gearing forward towards the cyberspace age MVDF launched the eDhamma.net blog on August 11th 2011. It garnered a total of 60 posts of which 40 are my humble contributions.
Gladly an article published on October 9th 2011:” The swastika sign (卐) – a symbol of Buddhism or Nazism?” gets listed in the Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia website and also cited by a blogger in his article “Buddhist Symbol Turned Bad: A Second-Order Sociological System Look at the Swastika” on Longwood Blogs Site.
My last article was published on August 11th 2013 and thereafter the eDhamma.net went into hibernation and remains dormant since then.
In September 2013 a blog styled as “Buddhism and Daily Living” was created as a personal blog to reflect and share the activities of MVDF with the readers with the first article published on September 21st 2013. To date it has 196 posts and is growing.
I became an ordinary member of Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) in 2013 and among the terms and conditions for membership is to contribute articles for its publications. I shared several articles from my blog and 10 articles were selected for the Newsletters and another 10 for the annual Echo of Dhamma until their last issues in 2016. In every issue of the two publications featured at least one article or more and since 2017 they ceased publication due to lack of contribution.
In January 2017, the official Mangala Vihara (Buddhist Temple) website was revamped and MVDF was offered a Webpage as with the other groups. I was requested to to take charge and seized the opportunity and with the guidance and tips on coding from Brother David Lee, the Webmaster of mv.org.sg, I became self-reliance to manage and update the MVDF Webpage.
Subsequently, the Blog and Facebook were subsumed into the MVDF Webpage. All activities and programs of each subcommittee are prominently featured to showcase to the global arena on these digital platforms. Thus, a Sub-Committee was formed to administer the Blog, Facebook and Webpage.
Understanding the true nature of things as they really are, anicca, dukkha and anatta, MVDF was not spared. It was at its doldrums in 2013 when Bhante Raja exited himself in April. Bhante Cakkapala assumed the post came on board and rejuvenated it.
In 2013, when MVDF started a non-examination Buddhism evening course known as Buddhism in Daily Life, debuted on March 18th 2013 and I joined the class and served as class coordinator and was later succeeded by Brother Chan Tuck Sing in 2015. In the same year he also started a Facebook account.
Our new Spiritual Advisor started the Sutta Study Class on August 14th 2014. I was allured by the unique approach in the presentation and enthused by the method on how Suttas are being taught. A main Sutta on a pertinent topic or subject is selected and supplemented with all other relevant suttas from the Tipitaka to give a complete and true meaning of the Teachings.
As suttas are profound, sublime and subtle, many explanations and elaborations are found only in commentaries and sub-commentaries. Unfortunately, these commentaries and sub-commentaries are in Burmese, Pali, Sinhala and Thailand language. English translated commentaries are scared and few in between and posed an obstacle for those whose lingua franca is English.
Abhidhamma in Daily Life a new course conducted by Bhante Cakkapala debuted on February 11th 2017. I assisted in the early stage in setting up the sound system and handed over to the class coordinator, Sister Sandra Koh when she became competent and confident to assume the task.
Leading a dedicated team of astute volunteers the newly computerized MV Library located at Rahula Room was revamped in August 2014 and became fully operational in January 2015, after five months of arduous labour. A new Sub-Committee for MV Library was formed to manage it.
Multi-media – Audio and Video Recording
Propagation of the Dhamma is indeed a noble deed. Since we are living in the internet world, it is not difficult to reach out to the students, participants and devotees who missed the class lessons or Dhamma talk and yet have easy access to them with any device with wifi connection. With this in mind, I started recording audio tracks and uploaded to the Blog so that they can listen to them at their own convenience anytime of the day. The first audio recording debuted on March 30th 2015 was a talk on “War and Buddhism” delivered by Venerable Dr Sumanasiri. Subsequently, an Audio Recording Sub-Committee was formed to handle all future recordings.
Moving forward we progressed from audio recording to video recording and Sutta Study Class debuted a video recording of the lesson on February 22nd 2018 and uploaded to YouTube and then embedded and shared with the Webpage for the global arena.
Similarly, a Dhamma talk delivered by Bhante Cakkapala on “Monastic Life Past and Present” delivered on July 16th 2018. The video file was uploaded to YouTube and then embedded and shared on the Blog and subsequently linked to the MVDF Webpage. A new Sub-Committee for Audio & Video Recording was formed to replace the Audio Recording Sub-Committee, for future recordings.
I participated or provided ancillary support to their various events like the annual Pindapata Day, annual Vesak Day, the monthly visit to the senior citizens at Eunos Crescent by the Community Outreach Programme and of course the sharing of joy during the Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn festival with them.We also ventured overseas and made a visit to an old folks’ home, Taman Bodhi Asri, in Medan.
MVDF also participated in overseas humanitarian aids like donation for flood relief in Myanmar, and also overseas trips like humanitarian trip to Myanmar, raising funds for projects on building and construction of infrastructure for monastery school and orphanage and a Buddhist Centre in Andhra Pradesh, in Southern India.
I have traveled thus far my journey with MVDF for nine years. Knowing the true nature of impermanence, MVDF has metamorphosed itself along the way: losing some activities and creating new contemporary activities to keep it relevant. Along the way we lost two chanting events Metta Bhavana and Buddhanussati Bhavana which were hijacked. The other activity was the demise of Nikaya Sharing due to impediment.
Happiness comes with sadness and loss comes with gain too. We added new and contemporary activities and created new Sub-Committees for MV Library, Video Recording and Blog, Facebook and Webpage maintenance, respectively to keep ourselves relevant and meeting the expectations of the younger generations. The Community Outreach Programme was expanded to include overseas humanitarian trips to India, Indonesia and Myanmar.
To mark a milestone of MVDF, which was launched on November 22nd 2009, will celebrate its 10th Anniversary on November 10th 2019. Just as a nation were to celebrate an occasion or event will commemorate it with issuance of memorabilia like commemorative stamps and first day cover by the postal authority for the philatelists or coins and currency notes by the mint for the numismatists and of course for the collectors and public as well.
In a similar vein I initiated and conceptualised an e-souvenir magazine, with gratitude to a dedicated team of editorial staff, contributors, writers, graphic designer and ancillary support helped to crystallise it.
This digital edition of a souvenir magazine to commemorate the occasion will be launched on November 10th 2019, as a token of appreciation and gratitude for all the members, volunteers, participants, devotees and as well-wishers who selflessly supported us to make what the MVDF is today.
I will journey on into a new milestone on the happy and historical occasion of MVDF 10th Anniversary Celebration on November 10th 2019. I will share the joy with a digital copy of “Mangala Vihara Dhamma Fellowship (MVDF) 10th Anniversary e-Souvenir Magazine 2019” available for download on the day.
Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!
Contributor: Chin Kee Thou
Date: October 28th 2019
Contents by contributor who takes responsibility for any inadvertence, factual or otherwise.