From “Emptiness [Meaningless] to Fullness [Wholeness]”—Loo Kwok Lai Interviewed/edited by: Kwan Tack Yin.
[Original in Chinese published in EDMONTON CHINESE NEWS April 27, and April 29, 2005; Truth Monthly-October, 2007; Blessed Lives P319-325, October 2008]
From “Emptiness [Meaningless] to Fullness [Wholeness]”—Loo Kwok Lai Interviewed/edited by: Kwan Tack Yin.
English Translation by LKL (November 2019)
Loo Kwok Lai (the person being interviewed) has spent a few decades in his lifetime in the studies of Buddhism. However, when he came to a point of making important decisions he would first consult the “casting lot” prescribed by Hung-Ming. After retirement, he became whole-heartedly believing in Jesus [Christ]. What are the reasons behind such a change?
Loo Kwok Lai (LKL) has spent many decades in the studies of Buddhism. But after retirement, he started believing in Jesus [Christ]. For he thinks that Buddhism is only a philosophy of life that will not have a solution to the final ending — i.e., death. Therefore, ultimately, he has put his faith in Jesus; because, in the Lord, he has found love, grace and joy in eternal life. Now I’d like to ask Loo Kwok Lai (LKL) to tell us about his testimonial pilgrimage of life.
LKL: This year I’m already 68 years old. But I still go to work with a joyful heart and a peaceful mind. I believed in Jesus [Christ] in Vancouver about 11 to 12 years ago. Why have I believed in Jesus? It’s actually the grace of God. Now, reflecting on the previous half of my life, though having been to many roads unnecessarily, I stepped onto the right path. Truly, this is the best road of all. As the Bible says; “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end, it leads to death” (Proverbs 14: 12) Finally, I’ve stepped onto the road to eternal life is my Salvation from God.
As early as 78 we immigrated to Toronto. Shortly after that, we returned to Hong Kong until 89 “June 4th Democratic Riot”, when many people in Hong Kong were fearful, my wife said that it was time to re-consider migrating to Toronto to settle forever. Then we decided to go again to Canada. We felt that Vancouver might suit us better. So we’ve settled down in Vancouver until today.
Looking back, as I was born before the Second World War, [my father] fled with me to the interior of China, hence I had no schooling for a long period of time. I entered Primary One [Grade One] at the age of 11. After graduating from Secondary School, I went into a teacher’s training college. And I had taught in a [primary] school before I worked in the District Office. At that time, I had no firm religious faith, but I remembered what the principal of the teacher’s training college said: “In life, if we have no religion, we must rely on philosophies for guidance.” Personally, I prefer philosophies to guide my way of life.
Why I made such a choice?
On the one hand, it was my personal interest. On the other, it might be the fact that my mother died young. She died at the age of 27 when I was two to three years of age. My mom’s early death had brought the kind of effect on me I knew not. I only knew life was unpredictable. To search for the meaning of life, I thought I ought to seek answers in philosophies. Not only studying philosophies, but I was also openhearted to all religions. I also learn from others the teaching of Buddha. Perhaps, my mother’s funeral service, which was conducted in a traditional so-called Buddhism ritual, imbued me towards Buddhism.
[After the Second World War] my father re-married. Step-mother has brought me up. When I was 12 years old, Step-mother asked me to attend Bible Class in a Catholic Church. After some time, I was baptized as a Catholic, though I had not submitted to the Catholic faith—giving no further thoughts to it.
I got acquainted with her (now my wife) in childhood and we played in the village. In her house, there were three big Buddha statutes for worship and praying in the mornings and evenings with the offering of burning incense. Consequently, I continued having contact with Buddhism and monks. Prior to my marriage, I was adopted by a monk. Hence, I learnt more about Buddhism. But surprisingly, despite my studying in Buddhism, I was not much more influenced by it than that of the teaching of Confucius. Therefore, when I was young, I kept on reading books on philosophy, and my perception of all religions was the same as one in a crucible—all of them were good. I was not concerned with what religion one ought to believe.
Living in Faith
I remember that when we settled again in Vancouver, my wife was pretty upset. All along in my work, I was good at making decisions, but not so this time. Should we continue to stay in Canada or not was a difficult decision to make. In the past, whenever I had an important and difficult decision to make, I would consult Hung-Ming by casting lots. Basically, Buddhism is a philosophy, which will not help forecast the future, nor will it guide us to escape from dangers to secured places. This time, by casting Hung-Ming lots it gave me no resolve for my question asked. The advice given was neither clear nor unambiguous. My burden was not relieved.
By chance, an elderly lady came across my wife and took her to church worship in China Town. After having been to the church worships, her heart’s burden was much relieved. Also, I was so relieved. Primarily, I wanted her to take part in church activities more often so as to get her to know many friends in the church to expand her social circle and to improve her life–monotonous and mundane. When she was happy, I could then plan to settle down at ease. At that time, I accompanied her to the church to worship. Gradually, I found that in this religious faith there were a lot of things worthy for me to contemplate. For instance, the Christians I met were very joyous and peaceful at heart. This was very special—my ineffable feeling. Then I started to read the Bible, attended Bible Classes, continued in pondering. Since baptized until now, I’ve been praying in devotions daily and keeping my journals. I longed for learning more about the truth in the Bible. And this time when I read the Bible again, my heart was certainly relieved in peace. This is something I haven’t got in all these years in the study of Buddhism.
Truly, “Buddha” is the highest excellence—which no one can reach. As such why should I continue to study Buddhism? In the end, it would be “meaningless” (“emptiness”). Buddhism says, there is no God in this world—everything comes from “no beginning”. This is contrary to what I believed all along. I believed that the universe was a big “formula”, within which many sub-formulas. It should be a complete system. This universe, which is so orderly, and so systematic, its occurrence could never be accidental. Only I knew not by any means who was the Creator.
I accompanied my wife to attend church worship, and through the study of the Bible, I learned objectively the truth. Bible clearly reveals that the beginning of the world was originated by God– the Creator of heaven and earth. This is the doubtless reality, to which I submit. And plus my subjective experiences of Him, I certainly know the existence of God; because my wife and I both have experienced peace from God. In my heart, I have peace, which I’ve never had before. In my heart, I’m at ease. Trusting and relying on the true God is no mistake. Reflecting on the past ten years when I studied Buddhism, basically, I had no answers nor relief in my heart. In adversity, Buddhism couldn’t help me. Because Buddhism is a philosophy—not a religion, where can I find exits and guidance? Now I’ve faith in God, the triune-God, the Most High, who can govern my life. I’ve found the true way out.
Faith in the Lord is Life
While having faith in Jesus I know I’ve been pardoned; because I believe in Jesus I have eternal life. I have hope in eternity. My personality inadvertently commences to change. I always feel peaceful—in fact, I’m tremendously different from my past self. Comparing with the past ten years of studying in Buddhism, the difference I feel (between now and then) is sky-high. I know Buddhism teaches every one of us to self-cultivate to the level of Buddha. But after becoming “Buddha”, then what? I have no answer. Further, Buddhism in China is different from Buddhism in India. Buddhism in China has been influenced not only by Buddha, but by Confucius, Taoism, and so on, with the addition of incredible life principles and observations—all these are quite acceptable by the Chinese culture lovers. The expression of thoughts of Buddhism is quite without “three dimensions”, leading people into surrealism and deep. But the Bible is different. Initially, I felt there wasn’t much in it. Only one book (Bible)—far from Buddhism having thousands of books. The Bible seems shallow—the teaching in it does not seem standing out or special. Nevertheless, after long pondering on the Bible, I feel that the Bible is marvelous. If it is not the revelation by God, how can it outlive space and time through thousands of years without changes– it’s still the same Bible. This is the greatness and uniqueness of the Bible.
Now, look around and behold other religions. If humans wish to worship the true God, it must not be self-projected images for worshiping. Otherwise, they are false gods and idols. Humans are very limited not to mention their sinfulness—their prepossession, and inclination in projecting gods for worship are not without worshiping idols.
Governance of Humanity by God
The true God is over and above humans’ imagination. We can only have knowledge of the true God from His revelation. For instance, I won’t know a person unless he comes to tell me he is so and so, what kind of person he is, and what he likes. The Bible is a record of God’s revelation. He reveals to us what kind of God He is. He is God the Highest. The Bible also records how God participated in human history, let us know the real relationship between God and humanity. God’s revelation tells us that thousands of years ago God chose the people of Israel to proclaim His real participation on earth. In this world, the God of the Israelite is the only true God.
More and more, I feel God has given me grace and peace. In the past, I was not too aware of committing sins. Now, I certainly know I’m a sinner. I know, after repentance in the grace of God, I’ll start to live life consciously not to committing sins. Additionally, my wife’s changes after believing in the Lord caused me to change inadvertently. Then, I realized that this was the religion I’ve desired.
Buddhism teaches about “cause and effect”. I really feel that in life decades have passed in a twinkling of an eye. Purely relying on the cause and effect of life is too difficult to grasp and that gives me no security. In Christianity, it is the grace of God and His choosing. Everything is not incidental. If we are openhearted, we shall have a very good chance to receive God. You don’t receive God because you’ve closed the door to your heart. Aside from prejudice, be humble, you can let God come in. Those who are not open-minded, be objective, humble, and think about it. The universe isn’t it really incidentally exists?
Buddhism was fundamentally atheism. In our short span of life, we must wish to find the true God—the Creator of eternity, understand how life comes about and where to go in future. The Bible tells us so but not the other religions, which may not be clear or contradictory. After believing in Jesus [Christ] I have peace in my heart. We don’t need to go anywhere to be able to find God. Please trust me and many Christians. If [you] wish to believe in God, believe in the true God, who can give you joy and peace.
Believing in Christ
Although my wife wasn’t enthusiastic in her religious practice, yet she had to sing for many years the chants of Buddhism. From beginning to end she didn’t quite understand the meaning of the chants. But surprisingly only when the 80 years old elderly, who had never met her before, gave her a gospel leaflet, after reading which, she was moved to follow her to the church. After she was in contact with the true God, she had changed completely. Her life has been renovated. This was something she in all the years of singing chants in Buddhism could never achieve. I saw her change, while more at ease for me, I also believed in God.
After believing in the Lord, my greatest change is my worries diminished. I was living like one who “worries before others in the world and be happy after others”. Now if I have worries, I can pass them over to God. For instance, ten years ago my total asset was much more than now, but I was so worried. Now my asset is less, on the contrary, my worries are much less. A year ago, I had cancerous colon surgery. Because God’s given me the peace I had not the least worry in my heart. If this occurred before, I would be very worried, so fearful at heart—not knowing where to go after death, the pressure would be very great. After the surgery, I stayed in the hospital for 17 days—having no worries. With a light heart, I read every day Genesis in the Bible. Incidentally, on the seventh day, I read about God had finished the work he had been doing, and rested from all his work. At that time I had great peace from God. And I thought after seven days, I’d be all right. Truly, all tubes from my body were taken away on the seventh day. I trust God who gave me life would certainly care for me. During the re-hap period in the hospital, I deeply felt the tranquility and joy bestowed on me by God.
Why is it that Buddhism gave me no exit, whereas Christianity has provided me with the way to exit? The big difference between the two is: the former is atheistic whereas the latter worships the God who created the universe.
How to let a believer in Buddhism be aware of God?
My past experience tells me that one must try to think and understand really there is God in this world. We believers in the Lord, Jesus, see all things are the grace of God and from Him, nothing to do with the so-called “cause and effect” consequences as advocated by Buddhism. Only if believers in Buddhism would understand, how could there be so many occurrences by chance? Why such people and occurrences we would have encountered in our lives? Only if they would be prepared to abstain from prejudice, they could repent their sins and come to God.
The writer absolutely agrees Loo Kwok Lai said: Trusting an omniscient and omnipotent God who governs our life affairs is far better than relying on “the flickering cause and effect”—“the unknown” to prevail. Only rip attachment to self, be humble and openhearted, the God, full of grace, will come into your heart and bestow you with salvation.