Thursday, Apr 15

Sowing good karma with an age-old aphorism

July 22, 2019 | Jonas Trinidad

Classmates Francess Koengchiat (far left) and Winnie Ong (beside Francess) will join others on the day of the performance in February 2020. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

Story Highlights

  • During weekend practice for the Water Repentance Text adaptation on July 14, Tzu Chi scholars are urged to “think good thoughts, say good words, and do good deeds.” These actions would have lasting ramifications in one’s present life and the lives after that.


“Think good thoughts, say good words, do good deeds.”

Arguably, no other aphorism sums up the nature of a positive virtue than this phrase. In a world rife with hate and conflict, the path to lasting peace starts with oneself. And the simplest way to achieve it is with these three small but significant actions.

For many Tzu Chi scholars, this is the caveat from their July 14 practice session for the Water Repentance Text adaptation. Scholars from Grades 10 to 12, 175 in total, underwent hours of sign languagepractice at the Tzu Chi Great Love Campus in preparation for the stage adaptation on February next year.

Before the practice, however, the scholars had to first understand what the text entails. Written by Dharma Master Wu Da during the Tang Dynasty, the Water Repentance Text was a result of his realization that karma—good and bad—carried over life after life. The text explains the law of karma and the need for people to be aware of their behavior.

Among the topics discussed are the Eight Consciousnesses of Mahayana Buddhism. The first five consciousnesses are the five senses: sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch; while the sixth is the mind that collects input from the five to create a coherent picture.

The seventh consciousness, as the pre-practice lecture highlighted, is the “decision maker,” the mind in planning. It’s where one decides, based on the input from the six consciousnesses, whether to do good or bad. It’s where a person’s thoughts and opinions are conceived. These “seeds” that form said thoughts and opinions are stored in the eighth consciousness and soon give rise to positive or negative karma.

That is why it’s important for people to remember to “think good thoughts, say good words, and do good deeds.” Everything they think, say, and do define who they are, if not what they will become in the future. Winnie Ngo and Francess Koengchiat, Grade 10 students of Chiang Kai Shek College, gave examples on how to plant good seeds not just for themselves but for others.

“If I always say good words to my friends, so that they won’t be hurt or even harbor bad thoughts in their minds,” said Ngo.

“When you have a group project and already your members are reacting negatively, you need to think positive and encourage them that they can do it,” said Koengchiat.

  • A total of 175 Grade 10, 11, and 12 Tzu Chi scholars attended the July 14 session of the Water Repentance. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Among those discussed in the session was the Eight Consciousnesses of Mahayana Buddhism. According to Buddhist texts, these comprise the mechanism from which people perform good or bad things. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • The scholars study the handouts given to them. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Tzu Chi scholars practice sign language for the Water Repentance during the weekends. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】

  • Students try to comprehend the sign language portion of the Water Repentance adaptation. 【Photo by Jonas Trinidad】