Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation

Jun 17th
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Vegetarian Feast in honour of Ipswich SES volunteers

Vegetarian Feast in honour of Ipswich SES volunteers On 3rd March, 2013, Gold Coast Tzu Chi cooked a vegetarian lunch for the SES volunteers to thank them for their great work. Owing to the fact that many of them were on duty unable to attend the luncheon, Chief Coordinator Aric requested Tzu Chi to repeat the function later in the year. After much consideration and consultation the date was fixed on 29th September, 2013. It was also scheduled to incorporate into the luncheon a simple Buddhist ceremony to pray for blessings on all beings. September was the start of a warm and lovely spring season with blossoms everywhere. 66 volunteers from Gold Coast Tzu Chi gathered at 6:30 am to board a coach to Ipswich. The coach was fully loaded with all the necessities needed for the occasion. When the coach arrived at the SES Centre, the kitchen volunteers were the first to disembark and to start preparing tantalizing dishes that all had been longing for. The volunteers were very professional in setting up tents and in decorating to adorn the Centre. 7 crystalline statues of The Universal Enlightened One, Sakyamuni Buddha, Founder of Buddhism, were displayed to bestow blessings on all beings. At the commencement of the Blessing Ceremony every SES volunteer and police led by the Lord Major and the Chief Coordinator moved forward to pay respect to Buddha and to entreat blessings. It was a touching scenario, solemn, respectful, regardless of religion or race, and everyone wholeheartedly prayed for all beings. Lord Mayor, Paul, had visited the Tzu Chi Headquarters in Taiwan and he wanted to share his thoughts. He recalled that our Dharma Master, Venerable Cheng Yen, gave an example that different religions are like well water, stream water and river water. The water is the same and Master hopes that all people will follow the Tzu Chi spirit to spread unconditional universal love. Howard, Chief Coordinator-in-waiting, was grateful that Tzu Chi brought together different religions and culture. He said he clearly understood that when SES volunteers were on duty, the loved ones at home would worry and would earnestly pray for them to return home safe and sound. They really need psychological consolation through prayers. This time many of the invited volunteers, especially police, did not turn up. The SES volunteers explained that just the day before, Gold Coast police apprehended three drug addicts and the gang marched into the Police Station to harass and beat the police. Ipswich police were deployed to help and support and hence they were unable to attend the luncheon. The SES volunteers expressed their concern that as there were so many natural and man-made disasters we really need Tzu Chi to conduct such Blessing Entreaty in the hope to avoid disaster and that people will live in harmony with peace of mind. A police constable came with his wife and daughter. The couple was in full uniform. His family did receive aid from Tzu Chi during the flood disaster. Before the end of the function he took his wife to work and then came back to help tidy up. He even climbed high up on a ladder to dismantle a large banner and we were so deeply moved by his bravery and enthusiasm. After all the cleaning up and retuning the Centre back to normal, it was time for the Tzu Chi volunteers to board the coach back to Gold Coast. The SES volunteers were quite reluctant to see Tzu Chi go. Tzu Chi said “ See you next year”. The SES jokingly said “See you next week”. Thus Tzu Chi has offered an opportunity to establish a close affinity among people so that all may live a more meaningful and flourishing life.

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