2005 SLTS Retreat

 

On Saturday November 26th, 2005, as the sun rose over the Eastern seaboard, transforming its surface into a shimmering canopy of dancing golden lights, 60 high-spirited members and their families boarded the ferry at Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal, the youngest being 3 years old. After crossing the Straits of Johore, the ferry wound its way up Sungei Santi amidst lush greenery. 45 minutes later, we were transported to a different world where no buses or jostling crowds could be seen. Instead, we were surrounded by verdant vegetation, extensive grounds, a marina where boats were sedately berthed and beautiful water-lily ponds. We assembled at the facade of the Resort for a group photo after which we proceeded to the Conference room for the first of the workshops on the three poisons - Anger, Greed and Delusion.

 

The programme was arranged so that after each presentation by Chong Sanne, the participants broke up for discussions into four groups. The group leaders were Derrick Ong, Y. Y. Wong, Danny Giron and Rangarao Srinivasan. The groups discussed the topic at hand and everyone re-assembled later for presentations by the representatives of each of the groups. Discussions and presentations were lively, punctuated by much humour, and many participants shared their personal opinions and experiences.

 

Later that evening, 44 of us trooped into 2 buses for a trip into Sungei Rengit, a little rustic town near the resort. The group enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the streets and stopped by the roadside stalls to pick up fresh fruit, snacks, biscuits and clothes. We then headed for the local supermarket which was stocked with all kinds of nick-nacks. More snacks were bought before we finally headed back to the hotel for a sumptuous vegetarian dinner. As a bonus, a karaoke room had been booked from 9.00 p.m. to 12 midnight. Songs were enthusiastically sung and much fruit punch was consumed before sleep finally claimed the merry-makers.

 

The workshops continued the next day with the group discussions getting livelier as participants warmed up to the topics. The five obscurities envy, passion, vacillation, sloth and unbelief were deliberated upon and the groups had to rank them in order of severity in preventing one from seeing the truth. Ways to overcome the obscurities were also discussed and presented.
Many members remarked that they had learnt a lot and found the workshops to be very useful. Before the retreat, they had been under the delusion that they only had to overcome their anger, but the workshops had made them realize that indeed they suffered from the other poisons and obscurities as well! They remarked that the retreat had served as a wake-up call to face the truth squarely about their own deficiencies and they had to work harder to improve themselves. Indeed, the object of the retreat was to induce the participants to face up to their own flaws and to awaken their intuition to bring about self-realization. Hopefully, this would inspire them to continue to cultivate their virtues resulting in true self-transformation.

 

The families of the participants also enjoyed the retreat and remarked that it was a good idea that they could come along to be with their loved ones although they did not participate in the workshops. Both young and old occupied themselves with games, swimming, cycling and watching movies.

 

What about food? It seemed as though we never stopped eating! The food throughout the weekend was strictly delicious vegetarian and for many, it was their first introduction to how scrumptious vegetarian food could be. It was simply a case of using ones imagination and skillfully deploying the plentiful vegetarian substitutes available. Appetizers, main courses, desserts and tea-break snacks were all delectable, with many going back for seconds and even thirds.

 

As the retreat drew to a close, group C led by Danny Giron was given special mention as the group which laughed and talked the most. It was a good thing that their break-up room was sequestered in the karaoke room on an upper level as their enthusiastic and boisterous discussions could be heard miles away! No prizes were given out but they earned the distinction of being told that group C stood for the Comedians!

 

As the ferry brought us all back safely to Singapore soil, many remarked that we should hold these retreats at least twice a year!

 

By Lily Chong
 

 

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