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More than 30 years ago, my father was in a critical condition due to a sudden brain hemorrhage. Being a beginner in Buddhism then, I’d just learned about the Guanyin Bodhisattva’s great compassion. As the sovereign regarder, she’d vowed to free all beings from suffering after hearing their cries for help. Praying to her had not only comforted me but also helped my father with his recovery. It further affirmed my devotion to Buddhism. Years later, I followed in the Buddha’s footsteps and became a renunciate. I aspired to help all beings rid of their suffering like the Guanyin Bodhisattva one day.

When mother passed away, my father was devastated. He cried so much that he lost his voice. Seeing him in great pain, I vowed to dedicate everything to the practice of Buddhism. Never would I want to see my parents suffer again.

Three years ago, my father had been admitted to ICU. Before long, they declared him terminally ill. My family then made the difficult decision to halt all treatment. My father was transferred into palliative care. They began chanting in prayers. I was overseas when I received the news. Over the receiver of the phone, I immediately began to pray. I thought to myself: how much pain is he under at this very moment? And where would he go after death? I couldn’t stop my tears. With our family photo in hand, I could only pray for the Guanyin Bodhisattva’s help.

At that very moment, I suddenly realized that even at life’s end, my father was trying to remind me of my own aspiration. The vow that I’d made: to commit myself to the practice of Buddhism, to attain Buddhahood in order to help all beings in the midst of suffering. Suddenly, grief turned into courage. I knew I had to repay his debt of gratitude. At my most helpless time, he had given me the strength to carry on.

Whenever I miss my father now, I’ll always think of my vow. Although I may not know where he is now, or may not ever see him again, I’ll always remember all that he has done for me. And I’ll repay that kindness, life after life.