At the Taipei Arena, "Passing on the Dharma of Infinite Meanings - Sutra Adaptation Performance" unfolded over three days with 8 performances, from October 20th to October 22nd. In a world fraught with unrest and conflict, this production aimed to bring a sense of serenity and peace.
Perfecting and bringing the performance to life was not just about attending rehearsals and repeating the words and gestures. The true essence of the sutra can only be expressed by those who fully understand its teachings. Be they professional performers or participating volunteers, all those involved participated in study groups to understand thoroughly the teachings of the sutra. Hence it was not only a performance, but also a gathering of love and prayer for a world free of disasters.
Watch the performance with English subtitles.
Over two years in the making, this production aimed to convey the profound teachings of Buddhism through the life of the Buddha. Furthermore, it bears witness to how Tzu Chi has put these teachings into practice over the past 57 years. Po-Wen Yen (顏博文), CEO of the Tzu Chi Foundation, attributes these achievements to Dharma Master Cheng Yen, founder of Tzu Chi, as it is under her guidance that these teachings of the Lotus Sutra and the Sutra of Infinite Meanings have been realized.
Joined with traditional artistry, the performance showcased the essence of Buddhism. It involved renowned performance art troupe "U-Theatre," the captivating "Tang Mei-yun Taiwanese Opera Troupe," and the harmonious voices of the Taipei Philharmonic Chorus. To add a unique dimension to the experience, 19,584 Tzu Chi volunteers from all across Taiwan put in countless hours to serve as supporting performers, subtly weaving together art and the beauty of Buddhism.
Mayor of Taipei, Wayne Chiang (蔣萬安), offered his blessings during the event and expressed gratitude to all the participating groups. He highlighted Tzu Chi's commitment to promoting the spirit of great compassion, and quoted Master Cheng Yen, who emphasizes the importance of giving and contributing to the improvement of society. Mayor Chiang has pledged continuous support from the Taipei City Government for Tzu Chi's service in helping the less fortunate and providing disaster relief around the world. Taiwan's willingness to extend a helping hand internationally represents the compassion of all Taiwanese citizens and makes the nation proud.
Seamlessly Blending Faith, Ethics, and Artistry
Eric Yao (姚仁祿), Head of Tzu Chi Culture and Communication Foundation, expressed deep gratitude and admiration for the opportunity to be part of this production. He emphasized that the performance was not just a show but a presentation of the path to enlightenment as taught by the Buddha 2,500 years ago. Every story from the Lotus Sutra is intertwined with Tzu Chi's accomplishments over the past 50 years.
By blending "Buddha’s teachings with art" and "making art accessible," the performance aims to introduce Tzu Chi's journey to a wider audience. Leader of the Tang Mei-yun Taiwanese Opera Troupe, Tang Mei-yun (唐美雲), said that this cross-disciplinary cooperation had been regarded as a valuable learning experience as well as a process of gratitude and learning for them.
The U-Theatre troupe took a significant role in the performance; they emphasized that they had been preparing for this sutra adaptation performance since 2020, dedicating nearly three years to the project. The greatest lesson they learned during the process was how fortunate they were to enjoy such comfort in Taiwan, thanks to Tzu Chi's efforts locally and worldwide. They felt deeply honored to contribute through their artistic expression, contributing to the spread of these profound teachings.
A Prayer for the World
May this sutra adaptation performance truly serve as a source of inspiration to uplift and bring out love and compassion in all. May we all strive to have a pure heart, may all societies be in harmony, and may the world be free of disasters.
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(By Yan Fu-jiang, 2023/10/20, Taipei Report)