Lanterns are always a part of traditional Chinese culture for thousands of years. You can see it whenever there is a celebration. Before the invention of electricity, people use lanterns lit up with candles. You can see big lanterns always hung up at the temples and lit up at night. My grandfather was a master paper lantern maker, and a lantern has a special place in my heart. At the age of five, I was fortunate to see how he made a big lantern with silk paper and bamboo sticks. There were always several large lanterns sitting in the courtyard to dry its paint when I visited them. Despite that my grandfather passed away when I was still little, my father was able to show me how to make the paper lantern from scratch. Since my elementary had an annual lantern-making contest, I entered the contest in my fourth grade. With my dad’s help, instead of using iron wire for the frame, we used the traditional technique to make it. On that memorable occasion, I learned how to trim the bamboo into desire thickness and slowly bent it with a lit candle. Then I used silk paper to secure two bamboo sticks together in a criss-cross fashion to make the lantern frame. In the end, I made a propeller plane wrapped with green glass paper and outlined it with a shining golden paper. I felt great and happy when we accomplished this project together. My lantern was one of the lanterns proudly displayed in the Longshan Temple, the oldest temple in Taipei, Taiwan, during that Lunar New Year.
Many people like me felt a sense of tranquility whenever we see a lit lantern since it might convey a more profound meaning from the lantern itself. There is an ancient Chinese proverb that says, "A light can extinguish a thousand years of darkness" [一燈能破千年暗]. This proverb may have originated from Buddhist scripture. It describes that the teaching of Buddha is just like a light shine through the darkness when people become awakening from the materialized world. The light gives us a vision and a sense of direction.
Similarly, Falun Dafa teaches people that the principles of the universe are truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance. When we encounter any hardships in our lives, we should use these principles to guide us. Our lives are full of difficult choices and decisions to make. Everyone has different backgrounds and experiences, and we tend to use a personal logic or impulse to make decisions in our lives. In the past twenty years of practicing the principles of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance, I see more options when making challenging decisions. It even helps me to overcome the hardship that I must face. In the darkest hours, I noticed that value of truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance as my guiding light helping me sailed through the uncharted sea. Watching and taking care of my wife for 30 days in the ICU and then the recovery phase while keeping everything else under control, every moment was not easy. There is a profound meaning behind these principles as if everything is carried of these values. It somehow gives us strength and hope at the moment we need the most.
By having a Truthfulness-Compassion-Forbearance Candle Lantern, it serves as a reminder for me and perhaps for all of us that we should live according to these principles – truthfulness, compassion, and forbearance in every moment of our lives. I passionately believed that there is a force of goodness when we make the right decision.
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