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Lunar New Year prayers with the masses for 2012 January 19, 2012

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, Chinese New Year, faith, human quality, Singapore.
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Went to ‘The Jade Buddha Exhibition’ at Ngee Ann city and praying with others for universal harmony despite I knew very little of formal Buddhism as far as mantras were concerned. But I learn from visuals and see how things around me operate in a highly orderally manner that often always teach me precious lessons, which words cannot portray fully. The event was a very meaningful one for the forthcoming year.

I know very little about chants and by no means a Buddhist. But I thought I would just happily join in with the thousands who were there to sponsor the jade Buddhas and offerings. I followed the crowd, and the written chants pasted near the deities, passing from one ritual to another. Actually I didn’t quite know if I did it correctly but I enjoyed the process of getting my palms together, and made a few wishes. I even wondered if the deities understood me.— It wasn’t sanskrit, it was certainly not tamil, it was in mandarin with bits of English because there wasn’t a perfect translation for that few words. Couldn’t do them in German or even with a smattering of French, but it was more of an instinctive communicative and intuitive way of getting around language barrier to just use pure common sense in my modest prayers. I thought it should come from the heart. So I just did what I understood.

As I was offering my humble pack of rice, I prayed with the thousands for a peaceful and prosperous year of the dragon. The packs of rice will then be given to needy homes in the country. Then I started to ponder why so many people needed the staple when there are many who waste their food. Surely the terribly rich and the very poor are more than miles apart and that itself could set another separate topic about equality in wealth.

The thousands of bags of rice came in within hours and all the Jade statues were fully sponsored into the tens of thousands of dollars meant to go the construction of The Great Stupa of Universal Compassion in Melbourne, Australia.

The whole ceremony was about giving, sharing and remembering what others have sacrificed for us. The late Teresa Hsu was a live example of courage whenever Buddism came to place.

Teresa Hsu DTC

An Idol who forgot how much she had given.

She left the human world without her ashes collected was an act itself that showed her faith and definite courage. In Buddhist rites, bones are to be collected and kept properly. But she didn’t allow even that last rite to be done.

She feared nothing but I still am not fully recovered from the fact she left her ashes uncollected. It was a very unusual thing to do though it was a very courageous act on its own. It could be deem to be almost petrifying to think the remains were ‘unwanted’ especially when she was a pure real 1100% Buddhist. I wouldn’t hesitate to say she was willing to give her all at death to save people. Since she couldn’t, her last words were to tell people not to spend a minute of peoples’ lives to collect her remains. A drastic contrast to what many would have fought for their rights of every minute kind.

The remains of the day would be a life lesson learnt that she sacrificed for sentimental beings all big and small, both great and ungreat. That could even include the despicable. She didn’t mind what she was going to have or not going to have, she simply gave all. I thought she should have given some bit to her own when I saw how some people could eat up others alive for their own merit. In a material world where fame and fortune is power, such people like her are rare gems.

A leader of this might could instantly solve all problems but realistically speaking, few will do it in the kind of world we are now living in. On the positive front, those who did anything less than sincerity and honesty always pay in due course, either via the revenge of similar beings who were being mistreated or via nature through health woes. They will pay. And the price will be hefty. The crazy thing is that these people don’t even know they are paying for it though they know they are suffering from it.

On a grey scale of 10, we must aim to purify the partial hues and in the same time improving ourselves. 2012 will spell a year of transition when more people will realize why and how we have the economic woes of inflation, unemployment, physical pollution and metaphysical pollution all snowballed into a gigantic mix of chaos.Health problems that were used to be for the aged now exist in young people. The levels of mental psychological disorder increases due to rampant bullying and being bullied. Diseases arise from animals that we shouldn’t eat. Plants get contaminated because of the selfish desire to expand urban areas , and worse still, to use name of sustainability to promote their goods when they do not really mean anything healthy in the real sense. The power then will be laid in the masses of the common people to control what they want to change.

Thankfully there are three things that gives us hope with the freedom to voice. Consumer sovereignty, democracy of the people and the sheer natural law of sustainability do not allow the ills to propagate.

For the many who think the bad still get their reward, observe carefully that they live with worry, anger and fear behind the ill gained status. You hardly see them smile. Nor do you see them simple minded, which gives the absolute clarity of thought for peaceful living.

So in the real sense the new year is a year for the commoners. Those who fail to listen to these voices will flop miserably. And it is high tide that 2012 will belong to all who are kind and industrious.

Happy Lunar New Year from the equator. 🙂

Karen Fu

Teresa Hsu Chih (1898-2011) – tribute & lessons learnt. December 20, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, ethics, faith, human quality, life challenges, real power, Singapore.
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Image taken from hestar.com.my modified by daringtochange at wordpress 20 Dec 2011

[Image from the Star.com.my; modified to use on DaringToChange at WordPress]

I don’t know how to chant. Neither do I know the actual culture of praying in the religious sense. I only know ‘amitabha‘ for Buddhism and ‘the lords prayer‘ for the Roman Catholic. Teresa Hsu used to be a Roman Catholic before she was converted to Buddhism. I supposed it was uncanningly a perfect fit somewhat. So I decided I’ll just shut my eyes, knelt down and just prayed in my style at a temple. I probably did it all wrong and I hope someone who knows how to pray could mend it up. She instructed no ceremonials or rites, but she didn’t instruct people not to offer prayers.

The turn of the century itself spelt change where the usual formula for success does not hold valid. But often people, usually those who came straight up on the Academic ladder appears to miss points.
The late Teresa Hsu is a fine example. She represents a person who was born with nothing but became almost everything that meant what life is about and how we should run life to be successful. No degree of political and social sciences, nor the degree in ethical studies could match. Why? If a degree could do so, we wont have hypocrites and white collar crime of the most hideous kind and when some of these people are also prestigiously educated. Being purely ethical doesn’t require a degree or a thesis to write about. It is just a common sense logic of feel to what can be done and what cannot be done. It spreads too. People who received kindness will receive kindness because it can be felt.
Born in China in the late 19th century, when China was at the helm of change herself, she must had seen the revolutionaries fought, and how famine starved the thousands to death. She was a survivor whose father abandoned her mother with three children, someone who didn’t even know when her birthday was. She was obviously a disadvantaged child right from the start. Under such a background, children tend to grow up with a resent of how life has ill-treated them. The after effects of a harsh surrounding, too, would have sculpted the character of a demon. Such of which many villains turned up to be. But she didn’t.

I never believe that a life that is lack of love and sensitivity could bring up a harmonious society. It is logical to educate people not only on ethical aspects but as well as the skills that we need to learn. But I am afraid that I have over emphasized the value of education itself when I see some elites failing to or rather choose to ignore the voices of the common ground of layman and the disadvantaged. It is in such a materialistic society usually in a highly sophisticated and urbanized setting that people tend to care for themselves. Where the extreme class disparity spells hatred due to the short of genuine communication. Surely some people are lazy to be upwardly mobile. And some are just born to be bad no matter how much energy you put in to drag them out into the positive light. However it seems in today’s context, the misgivings of top education where prestige and material benefits over weigh the justice in life do make a lot of people hypocritical. It also boils up uprise of demonstrations and riots from the ground because fairness is absent. Shades of grey are chosen over the distinct colors of black and white where your eyes and your heart knows what is right and wrong.

Teresa Hsu knew the differences. She sure sounded simple but should the simple parts of speech be undermined and labelled as inferior? Her key aim was to make sure no one in her power would go hungry/ to feel inferior due to disparities/ be left out of being loved and cherished. The idea of her ‘hee hee ha ha’ philosophy by being plain happy may be simple and to some, simply laughable but she went to places and she made things happen. If she had not been intelligent she wouldn’t be ale to build rapports with people in such a wide scope and understood pain and suffering in depth.
She was an avid learner. Despite poverty, she got herself educated when at the time where females were despised. She came to Singapore, where the size of this country is no where the size of most small countries in the world. She represented the Chinese emigrants of the 20th century who came to South East Asia with nothing but perseverance and motivation to strike a new life based on diligence and thriftiness . What made her stood out was she stood absolutely pure and outlived everyone to pass on the message of simple love.
We should always remember her teachings and her 100 years of struggle. If we fail to remember how our forefathers have taught us and go into a line of deceit, shortsightedness fights and arrogance, then we will fail miserably and wasted our forefathers’ sacrifice.

With only a Senior Cambridge qualification, she worked as stenographer and could have been very well off given her character and intelligence. But at the age of around 47, she chose to be a a nurse. A profession that was not highly paid with very tedious work to do. She never seeked fame and humbled herself despite the obstacles she had faced. At many times, I am so glad she lived long enough for us to discover her. Just when we started to know her, her health began to frail.

It may sound strange but when I saw her starting to slow down in her thoughts, and when she finally lost all her teeth about 2 years ago, I had that ominous feeling she may not live long. The point when she was in the wheelchair had actually foretold me she would definitely not live long. But still when I learned about her passing on the 14th, it was nonetheless a huge shock and sadness was beyond words. The worse hit was the part she didn’t want anyone to collect her remains and despite she was a Buddhist, she wanted no rites and all. She made herself disposable to all man kind who needed help. But she disposed herself in the manner that I personally cannot take it. She deserves the highest respect and honor for what she thought was nothing. Simply because the deeds she didn’t require any kind of high end skills or ‘professionalism.’
I beg to differ. In reality there are just too many who scramble to get what is in for them, and would do whatever despicable means to reach their goals. It is ‘professional’ but professional deceit. Be it bullying, backstabbing and even physical killing, she definitely knew all that. Yet she threw everything out and gave even her youth, her time, her energy and money to those who were in need. She neither showed detest or the slightest resentment to those who had done her in. She gave her all and wanted none in return. Her caretaker must have felt bad to keep the news of her death secret and finally broke out a week after her cremation which happened on the same day of her death.
She made herself totally disposable.

She should have at least allowed people to collect her remains. Though she had no immediate family of her own, she is part of our Singaporean family. In duty, we should collectively collect her remains because she died with no family of her own. She treated herself almost like thrash when she treasured others like gold. That made me very upset.It is the most unusual and rare human trait that she illustrated with her life that could shame us all.

It is our duty to repay her years of dedicated work where she kept so quiet about for 100 years. It would be a fine idea to set up a monument in remembrance of her character that life is always golden when you have passion and compassion.
Upset about her passing not because of her sufferings and that in a world where deceit lies and shades of grey, here is a human being whose life goal is to keep everyone out of hunger.
She may sound simplistic In her approach to her salvation of the human race, but then again who is to say that with degrees of expertise that you could give everyone their livelihood and to filled their stomachs?
We deserve a good bash and a smack in the face for the life we had and the education we had never really sort out problems for good. Rigidity in the methods of thinking and solving has never been really freed. It has been in some kind of system that is over layered by yet another set of system. As a result, many lost feel of the ground which the fundamentals that we call harmony, peace and love that are replaced by unreal efforts to attentively listen to needs and wants. The part where knowledge is there for us to benefit those who deserve them is never really touched because we think we are so far up and so important.

Change has come in my opinion for the next year. Why? Many have come to believe that current systems fail as they cannot solve social economic problems that are in the world. Would we be damn foolish to stay corrected when problems are not solved? And that the quality of human character changes for the worse as a result?

2012 will certainly be another step to the turn of tides. People will question more and with the tearing down of barriers of various kinds.

Here is a human being whose education was deprived. She had no degree, nevermind a PhD. but she strived to learn beyond books and education systems could deliver. She kept 2000 books at her hougang residence. Why? Because she had the curiosity to explore with the positive zest of life that most people don’t have.

She should know that when people start to ask where she was when her active lifestyle suddenly stopped, and when people wondered where she was. You can’t stop people and the media to know about you because you are a special person.

I am only a little elfinic citizen who wishes that her remains will be kept by the state and be given special treatment. She is an inspiration for us all here in Singapore and probably for others abroad.
If we follow her simple virtues and steadfast duties, would we have unrests, riots, demonstrations and terrorism?
If there is a spiritual channel which she could read this, I would really want her to know that there are many many Singaporeans who would be more than willing to take care of her. And there are people ready to collect her remains and give her the deserved respect and the rites. It is not a trouble at all compared to her century’s effort. She cannot be left like that for the quantity and the quality of humanity she had given with her life.
Madam Teresa, you gave both passion and compassion to us all. It is our duty to take care of you even after death. It is definitely not a trouble at all. Rest in peace, our redeemer, our positive cheerful person whose humor may not be sophisticated but definitely first class with her clever simplicity.
You’ve made all Singaporeans, and the Overseas Chinese proud.
Karen fu
1. Other related posts on this site on Teresa Hsu: https://daringtochange.wordpress.com/tag/teresa-hsu-chih/

‘The Human Religion is Love’ Teresa Hsu’s 100 years of Simple Love beats Pretentious Theories. March 5, 2011

Posted by @Karen_Fu in change, ethics, faith, human quality, life challenges, Singapore.
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(A) “The Human Religion is Love’

Simply said and dutifully followed excellently for the past 100 years.

All her siblings are all deceased except her. Listen to what she says and notice how she says & you’ll easily notice her lucid clarity shows no sign of slowing down at her ripe age of 113. She offers not only the art of longevity but she gives priceless insights of great life by first being pure-hearted. I love it!

She feels uneasy when she is better off than the poor. And thus joins one of the them to feel for them, as she believes that it is not good to enjoy in the face of the poor. As long as she is alive, she makes sure that no one goes hungry.

Teresa Hsu (XuZhe) at 113 gives all in a simple notion ‘Love’  Noting more, nothing less. She bears no anger, no hatred, no sense of revenge. I feel she has understood the truest notion of what life is and how to value add people’s life by eliminating hunger and offering a great sense of sharing.By constantly asking what she could do every day to make sure that no one goes hungry, she keeps a simple life routine that focuses her time to value add others.  I wish that politicians and all leaders alike could do that. In fact, we should all aim towards this goal. It is a pure shame that people tend to be greedy over trivial things that waste time when the same amount of time could be use to share and give.And it is more than shame to manipulate people for selfish goals. But as life would have it, there would be precious  lessons like this one that keeps humanity going. TED Singapore has interviewed her and I wish far more people could read her:

(B) Poverty and the Poor

The majority of the world population is poor. There is no great policy in the world that has totally eradicated poverty and hunger. This is an important root problem to social unrest. Everyday I see all kinds of people. People who have all the luxury in the world & yet feel they need to exploit it all.

While economists, politicians, financiers etc romp around in complex policies about how to chop down poverty and hunger in a mess; she offers us a simple yet great formula of sharing, giving and love as a simple yet viable solution— the love of making sure that as long as she is alive, she will share her bowl of rice; making sure that ‘no one eats grass’. It may sound ‘simplistic’, and to some it may even sound laughable and childish. But its underlying concept of showing sheer empathy and earnesty to give, share and help goes way further than pretentious policies/ theories. If everyone were like her, we would be living in a chaos-free life. We won’t need to waste time and resources that often takes a merry go round around a problem. We could save our resources for enjoying a life of peace.

Looking at her great health and her vitality, I cannot help to think that her youth with an intelligent sense of humour is her reward from nature.  Her daily routine of  helping an average of 20 needy people everyday by moving around visiting underpriviledged elderly who are ironically much younger than her is impressive. Her voice is steady and her thoughts are impeccably sharp.

She mentions about her own hunger and uses that as her mantra in life: ‘grass didn’t satisfy my hunger though it satisfy my thought of hunger’ and thus ‘no one has to eat grass’ as long as she is alive. She will save her rice bowl for others. And when they are both equally hungry, they will share the bowl of rice. If she isn’t hungry, she would give all her rice.

(C) Life

Rather laugh than to cry in the face of adversity. Try the best you can and accept the rest. Know no anger can be hard, but try the best to smile as you work your way out. For anger, sadness dries your energy. Being mean sucks your life up. Look at her vitality and great health, I cannot help but to feel consoled that being nice and honest offers you at least sanity, sharp clarity and impeccable logic that are vital to sane and sustainable living. Her mark of clarity and simplicity is like no other. I have heard that she forgave those who mistreated her. Such sense of magnamity is rare in today’s world where people could choose to inflict harm to even to the most harmless of peoples.


While there are injustices around, rest assured that life has its natural ways of giving the transquility and smooth flow within one’s body to keep it healthy. Health is the most important factor to happiness. One may rich and powerful, but if the lack of kindness, and sheer honest integrity and love for human kind gives one the lack of trust that keeps the mind sane. Throughout history, there are boundless cases of insane people who opted a complicated life full of treachery. Why should we repeat the ills our predecesors hath done?

(D) Everyone’s a Family.

Everyone’s a family. And that very family is our planet earth. If we do what she does, would we need to demonstrate, yell the heads off for peace; trying every policy to rid off hunger and poverty? Food is precious. Time is precious. Her sense of living is simple but effective. It does good to the individual and to a world where food supply is lacking and diseases mutating. Physical and mental workout in her way may not befit any commerical sense. But try recalling a couple of very wealthy people whose health is on the line yet still thinking of scrapping every consumer dry.


By the end of the day, the person who gives gains more. The person who tries all uncanny ways to reap for their own need dwindles. Nature doesn’t work in the formula where people chooses to ‘eat’ one another up. Nature works in harmony only when one understands what simple ‘love’ is.

I always pity that she has not married, not honored beyond what she has been given. Perhaps it is the fact that she is simple that prestigious Universities and colleges choose to ignore her. Or that she lacks the ability to do profound findings. But I earnestly feel she has made one solid point: she used all that she have, and she genuinely uses her knowledge to do good. Not that she pretends to be good, she really means and does good. With such great sense of humor coupled with a big sense of wisdom, she shows her intelligence of words and fine layman psychology to understand people. Her words know no ridiculous, superfluous jargon. Simple, luicid, straight to the point; she delievers far more than a crazy looking thesis that is trying to smart. Thus beats different types of #$! theories that don’t work for the masses.

When solutions fail for the masses, riots and unreats will appear. The many reasons why we have all the rubbish. One of those is because we prefer to differentiate from one another and always on the greed-go to get more when one has already got more than enough.

Teresa Hsu is damn cool. She may not be wearing the funkiest street wear or any designer brand dresses and make up; but she gets her sense of beauty by being a true woman of substance. Her knowledge weighs ahead of anyone with a degree because she practices what she preaches. Shame those men who didn’t marry her. If I were a man, I would!

— Karen Fu

Further Reference:

1. Snappy Shots  on Her Idea of Life