Concert Reflection

Concert Reflection  Sam Gieng

First off, I have to make a disclaimer that I am not musically inclined. Due to some great cause and condition, an opportunity arose for me to attend a special concert organized by Dharma Drum Mountain San Francisco Chapter. Throughout my life, I always felt that things happen to me, not by choice, at least not conscious choice. Things have a way of sorting itself out.

When I first arrived, there was a big crowd already forming outside the auditorium where the concert was being held. Once the auditorium doors opened, people started to pour in, and I was one of them. Naturally, just like going to the movies, I wanted to get a great seat to fully enjoy the event, so I sat as centered as possible. I had no expectations of what was to come. My mind was like a child's, waiting to absorb whatever came its way. I had no idea who this pianist was. All I knew was that he is from Taiwan and had some affinity with the late Master Sheng Yen of Dharma Drum Mountain.

The lights dimmed, and the concert began. The host came out; he did his thing. The pianist, 'NiuNiu', as he was called, came out; he did his thing. In between the main program, there were informative videos about the late founder of Dharma Drum Mountain, Master Sheng Yen. There were live musicians, along with live commentary. Towards the end, the current Dharma Drum Mountain Abbot President Venerable Guo Dong gave some closing Dharma words of wisdom and encouragement. Following that, the current Dharma Drum Mountain San Francisco Chapter President Mr. Kyle Shih gave his thank you speech to everyone that made this concert possible.  Lastly, the choir group came out; they did their thing. Finally, the Lamp of Wisdom ceremony was performed, signifying of passing/spreading forward of the Dharma wisdom.

My reflection was not about music. Rather, it was about my daughter. In the course of the concert, we got to watch a short video snippet of NiuNiu's past, when he was just a child, but already proficient in piano playing.  This stirred my mind. Questions ran through my mind of why the parents would do this for their child. The cost would be enormous if it was the wrong path for NiuNiu. Money would be wasted on some far off dream. How did they know it was the right path? Then I started to answer my own questions. Maybe NiuNiu liked it first? That could be the reason his parents moved forward to hone in on his piano playing skills. It was a chicken and egg issue. Was it the parents who chose this path for NiuNiu, or was it NiuNiu himself. Like all chicken and egg issues, they are difficult to resolve. At then end, my mind started to turn inwards. Instead of looking to questioning NiuNiu's parents, I started to question myself.

What I reflected, was the fact, that I may not be doing enough to create the opportunities for my daughter. Could I do more? Should I do more? Before this time, I thought I had been doing enough. My daughter was getting much more than I had when I was growing up.  Throughout my childhood, I didn't get much encouragement or opportunities to pursue anything; therefore, my mind was to settle to the basic essentials of living. Growing up poor, my family had lived on food stamps. We once lived in a basement apartment where our family of seven slept in one room. I can only remember one time of gift getting.  I don't remember having my birthdays celebrated.  I think these memories and ideas had carved my thinking, and these thoughts were silently being imparted over to my daughter.

After this concert, I realized there were in fact more options for my daughter than I had originally imagined. Maybe, one day, my daughter could be a great pianist like NiuNiu - who knows. Like everything else, this opening of opportunities has to be in moderation. Even though I want to give my daughter everything, there still needs to be some control or guidance. It could get overboard, very fast, if my monkey mind takes over. But, does one really know where the limit is? Too much option is no good, and too little may not be enough. How do we know? I thought and thought, and I came to a conclusion that I will never truly know. I can only live and do what I think is the best in the present moment. One thing that could help in making the best choices would be to use a clear mind in making decisions. To have a clear mind means meditation practice; be it sitting, standing, walking, running, or other forms, I need to continue the practice.

So, having this expansion of opportunities doesn't really change the core of what I currently think and do. Metaphorically, it is like a box. I am living in this box. The box has just expanded, due to new views, but I am still inside the box. I still need to exist in this box, albeit; a bigger box. Having a bigger box does mean I can better plan my next movement. I will still continue to open more doors of possibilities or my daughter, but now, I have a little bit more doors to open. Will I get to open these new doors? Only with the correct causes and conditions, we will ever see the correct fruits.

I guess there was an auspicious reason for me to be at the concert. Maybe, not just me, maybe others with the same mind as mine. The causes and conditions were ripe for my mind to absorb the wisdom Dharma that had been brought forth during the concert. For this, I thank all the people that brought it all together.