To be completely honest, I feel I lack the discipline to follow Buddhist teachings properly, but I still follow the dietary regulations carefully, and try in good faith to observe the rituals as far as I can.

When my mother died, I stumbled through the Sanskrit prayer (upon which the earliest Chinese translations were based). Though my level of Chinese hampers my ability to read the sutras, I found some solace, some disengagement from my sorrow, through the texts.

I was born a Catholic so the notion of everyday observance, mass, or reflection reminds me of man’s smallness in front of God, a fact I’ve always found salutary. One of my colleagues in the Department greatly inspires me with her daily devotion. Faith should take precedence over all, both in the active adherence—prayer and so on—but also as a latent immanence permeating every aspect of our being. Faith should be as regular as breathing, as inherent as air. Buddhism, in particular, reminds me of the connectedness of all things. Through my wife’s faith—her Mother was reborn as a follower of Guanyin in 2000—Buddhism has shaped the life of my family profoundly. In 2000 our sih fu began her Buddhist journey. This shift allows my daughters to understand the necessary transformations along life’s journey—birth, aging, grief, the nature of joy and pain—even as continuity appears among all of these phases. 

Sih fu is now the head of a Buddhist learning community in Kwun Tong committed to a particular interpretation of Guanyin, 孔雀明王, based upon the peacock incarnation. This interpretation fell out of favour with mainstream Buddhist commentators during the Tang dynasty, and lay dormant for over two hundred years. Now sih fu and her followers are seeking to bring it back into active practice in Hong Kong. I do not know the nuances of the scripture, but I am fascinated by this interpretive recovery, which requires acolytes (徒弟) to modify standard prayers and incantations slightly, as observed carefully by the senior nuns. It is a living tradition, and I am glad to be able to witness a faith-led life. My understanding of life according to faith is this: recovery in loss, rebirth after slumber, and the return to hope which is so much stronger than despair. I am not disciplined enough to practice Buddhism but I feel its impact on my family and for this I am grateful.