10 Ways To Spot Unconditional Love
Trailer of the Musical made in Taiwan
We are currently making "history" by performing the musical SIDDHARTHA, a Musical Journey to Enlightenment. What makes it "historic"?
First, it's a musical about Buddha written in English by a Catholic playwright who also incidentally, composed majority of the songs based on the poetry of Ven. Master Hsing Yun, founder and head of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order in Taiwan.
Second, the cast and crew of 75 are all Catholics from Cebu, Philippines, a country known as the only Christian nation in Asia and the producers of the road tour are Buddhists from Taiwan under the Buddhist Light Intl. Association (BLIA), the Intl. Buddhist Progress Society, Fo Guang Shan University and Fo Guang Shan Monastery.
Third, it was the first time an English version of a play about Buddha was performed in the predominantly non-English speaking country of Taiwan.
Fourth, after the successful road tour performance in Taipei and Kaoshiung, there are plans to bring the troupe to other countries in Asia, Europe, and USA.
Fifth and most important one, amidst the differences in culture, race and religion, tradtions and belief, overflowing love, respect, honor, gratitude, generosity and joy was experienced by all involved in the project including its audience. The undeniable evidence of the power of compassion born out of unconditional love!
This amazing experience has inspired me to write a hub that pays tribute to all involved in this reality. It also serves as an inspirational article and testimony of how abundance follows those who are grateful.
YOU KNOW IT'S UNCONDITIONAL LOVE WHEN.......
1]...when religion becomes a bridge instead of a wall
2]...when one willingly takes the risk of facing persecution in order to serve those in need
3]...when one chooses to respond in compassion amidst an unpleasant condition
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Bridges that last are those not built by man. This is exactly the bridge built by the SIDDHARTHA musical. Instead of looking at the differences between our faiths, we chose to respect and honor them. We chose to see the similarities, the universal truths we shared, found amusement with our peculiar differences and appreciated the diversity of interpretations of lessons learned along the way.
It would be futile to break this bridge for such has its foundation on the essence of compassion in perfect love. Its resiliency is therefore, perfect.
Here's an account of a "controversial" scenario which illustrates the three points above.
Before leaving for Taipei some of our performers faced unpleasant experiences from their church members. They were accused of giving more priority to a project propagating Buddhism instead of evangelizing the word of God. Our performers could not help but be saddened by this situation for we treated the project as one way we could put into practice the teachings of loving without limits...loving without bounderies.
One night before the second day of performance in Taipei, these same actors prayed that they could find a chance to go to church the next day because it was a Sunday. Since we still had two shows that day it seemed impossible. But lo and behold! The matinee show had for its audience thousands of people -- including two priests who happen to be good friends of the Buddhist nuns.
Fast forward. Thus, the venerable masters (after having been informed by, yours truly, about the struggle of some performers) allowed a mass to be held for the cast and crew in the very place of performance 3 hours before the gala show. But that doesn't cover the whole story.
I learned later that there were people who wondered why a Catholic mass was being conducted in the venue. Since it was difficult to explain the need to give moral and spiritual support to the very performers who were retelling Buddha's enlightenment, these nuns made a gesture to assure other members that it was okay --- they sat with the cast in the middle of the mass. What a powerful message of loving beyond rituals.
4] ....when the difference in culture and tradition produces unity and oneness
5]....when equality is measured not by worldly standards but by a divine one
6]...when all similarities are celebrated and differences are respected
Do allow me to present this in a more humorous manner. In this portion WE would mean the Filipino Catholic cast and crew and THEY would mean the Buddhist monks, nuns, disciples, Taiwanese hair & make-up team and sets and props team.
WE speak Cebuano, Tagalog and English. THEY speak Fukien, Amoy, Mandarin and a bit of English. BOTH found joy in being skilled at communicating effectively in pantomime manner blurting out nouns, verbs and adjectives when necessary and it was ---- mind blowing! Laughter, usually, permeates the act.
WE tend to be "loud" with voices and movements attuned for stage.THEY tend to be soft spoken and gentle attuned to the solemnity of the temple. BOTH learned each other's ways by sharing the silence during meditation and enjoying the invigorating effect of animated expression during fun times.
WE feel fully and express totally. THEY keep their feelings in their smiles. BOTH developed the unique combination of showing affection away from the public's eye. It begins with the traditional bowing with hands in prayer position, a serene smile plastered on the lips gently uttering "Amituofo" followed by the outburst of endearing shrieks to end with a body choking hug. And oh, some tears, make their way to the scene.
WE easily get embarrassed when much attention is given us and feel undeserving of such. THEY shower attention generously because they see our humility and sincerity in hard work. BOTH found valuable lessons in this amusing state. That, receiving attention is actually recognition of one's value and importance and must be accepted with gratitude to set the stage for good karma to flow.
7]....when truth becomes the language for deeper understanding
8]....when humility reigns above the popularity gained
The musical conquered the language barrier with one perfect tool --- TRUTH. It was amazing to find out that though there were LCD screens with Mandarin subtitles in them, the audience was more focused on the action and drama taking place on stage and referred to the screen only for clarification. It seemed most of those watching were transfixed by real emotions being thrown by the actors and understood the scenes better through this truth which even drew many to tears during painful or triumphant scenes.
I had to share this comment to the performers during a company call and told them how proud I was that they finally reached the point of no longer simply "acting" the songs and dialogues but actually living the truth of the scene in every act. Passionate as they were, they too shed tears in the acknowledgement of this truth.
I explained further that the one reason they achieved a deeper level of truth in acting was the fact that we were recipients of the practice of the 8-fold noble path of right thought, right understanding, right speech, right action, right effort, right livelihood, right mindfulness, right concentration. As the Buddhists carried out this practice in the way they were taking care of us, we felt the love and concern and found deeper understanding of their philosophy; thus making the songs and dances more meaningful for us in a more personal level.
After all, the underlying truth behind the 8-fold noble path was Siddhartha's love for mankind that he relinquished his princely life to find the way of ending suffering in this world just as Jesus Christ did. These two powerful figures in history were motivated by perfect love.
This lesson, could well be, an example of the power of truth defying boundaries of belief systems.
9]...when gratitude pervades amidst a seemingly unpleasant case
10]...when perfection is seen in the imperfection of things
It happened in our gratitude performance scheduled a week after we arrived from Taiwan. It was significant for us because it served as a way for BLIA Cebu Chapter to celebrate Buddha's birthday. This also happened to be the closing show of the first road tour with 18 performances in 5 venues, two countries, in 4 cities in Asia. Whew!
The opening grand production number started not as energetic as we would have wanted since the cast could hardly hear the sound monitors from their end but they gave their all anyway, using the condition as a motivation. Seated at the audio and lighting control area behind the audience I could sense the singers could not hear themselves clearly and thus, gave instructions to adjust the monitors. And then it happened.
The music stopped and so did the microphones but without missing a beat the cast went on dancing and singing anyway. Seconds flew by fast and the audio team still could not figure out what was wrong. I knew I had to make a decision then. I walked toward the front of the stage and even when they saw me the performers never stopped not until they heard me say....AND CUT! I couldn't believe I was saying these words in a show! And as I turned toward the full packed theater I was amazed at how calm I was. I smiled at the audience and said something that I could not recall, except that after my first statement the audience began to applaud. I went on to explain that if we continued without the music then they would not be able to experience the full impact of the play.
Then I remember saying something like...." this is exactly the kind of situation these performers were trained to do...if you noticed they never stopped even if the sound equipment did''. They applauded again. Inspired by the kindness of the audience and buying for time for the audio team to fix the problem, I moved on to say things like in situations beyond our control Buddha and Jesus have taught us never to give up, to go on anyway and give our best knowing that what we do will benefit many. And as if on cue...the audio equipment functioned again.
With that, I gave instructions for the cast to prepare and in theatrical flair announced the resumption of the play. A thunderous applause followed suit.
What made an imperfect situation perfect? It brought out the best in everyone....from the backstage people, the performers, the producers and even the audience. We all experienced the power of understanding, support, forgiveness, appreciation, gratitude and love.
Ask anyone directly involved with the production and they will tell you ---"that was the best performance ever"! ...for the time being, at least.
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