Thor Peng Tiong
Robin’s articles and translation make regular appearances in Taiwan’s Lapis Lazuli Light quarterly magazines. His creative way of writing has brought to life the stories of people from all walks of life, of how they started on the path of total health, and I have certainly gained a lot from reading them. He has benefitted readers by allowing them the opportunity to learn about the courage and determination of those people who appear in his stories.
“The Holographic Universe” is a book which receive a lot of comments from readers. Many who read this book expressed that they had indeed gained precious knowledge on the Laws of the Universe from this book. This is not a book which is easy to read or understand, and it is even tougher to translate it. And yet, Robin is the translator of this book. To do such a good translation job, he must have a good grasp of scientific knowledge, a sound basic in the teachings of Buddha and knowledge of the Universe.
I was fortunate to have the chance to interview and at the same time learn from Robin when we met in California. We had a good time talking about everything under the sun, from our links with Lapis Lazuli Light to the great poets of China.
Having interviewed so many people, Robin is definitely their best representative. Here, allow me to share part of my conversation with him.
Q: When did you get to know about Dr. Lai and Lapis Lazuli Light?
A: My family and I attended a seminar conducted by Dr. Lai in Taipei in 1993. That day, Dr. Lai led the participants to visualize golden light, and I felt a cleansing energy through my whole being. It was similar to those instances when monks lead believers to go through a 7-day Zen meditation. At that point of time, my perception was that she possesses special ability to lead us to such achievements.
When I returned to the States in 1994, my wife attended the workshop conducted by Dr. Lai, and got to know some of the volunteers from Lapis Lazuli Light. From that time on, we started on the diet recommended by Dr. Lai, and I really benefitted from it.
Q: Did you attend Dr. Lai’s workshop yourself?
A: Yes, I attended once. That time, I was the Mandarin-to-English translator for Dr. Lai. It was necessary because there were quite a few participants who did not understand Mandarin. After that, it became a regular activity for me to help out at such events. To me, it is helping myself, as what I gained definitely exceeded what I gave.
Q: When did you start becoming a vegetarian?
A: Actually, I was already a Buddhist and a vegetarian before I knew Dr. Lai. It was actually a habit in my life. At that time, I was lost, and I returned to the place where I was born in an attempt to change environment. Incidentally, my sister just started learning the teachings of Buddha, and I went along with her!
After reading some Buddhist scriptures, I thought about it and decided that, if I did not go vegetarian, it will be going against the Buddha’s teachings on Compassion of Heart. It would also have been going against myself, and other loving beings (animals). Therefore, I literally forced myself to embark on this path. Human beings tend to be greedy where food is concerned. Therefore, I had to get rid of this greed, and at the same time felt much better not to eat meat. However, I am not a vegetarian for health reasons.
In the initial stages of learning Buddhism, it was equivalent to starting from the spiritual aspect of my life. Hence, in descending order, health was not of utmost concern then. Understanding the concept of total health and natural healing can put us on the right pathway to health very quickly. However, when we look at it as such a descending order, it becomes a slower process. On the contrary, if we start from the bottom rung, that is, to start cleansing the body, it will actually be a more balanced process. I am really grateful to Dr. Lai for her courage in encouraging this concept of total health.
Q: Did changing your diet help in spiritual advancement?
A: Being more alert mentally, I was able to advance better spiritually too. Being tired mentally, it is easy to get discouraged. I am a quick-tempered person, and I am still trying to improve on this aspect. From the viewpoint of a Buddhist, everything arises from your heart. The external environment and factors only assist. To change, we have to start from ourselves, while everything outside only affects the process, be it positive or negative.
Q: Did you make a big change in your diet after getting to know Dr. Lai?
A: Actually, where this is concerned, I have to thank my wife. At that time, I was rather disconnected. That is, I felt a distance from the external world, and was not enjoying a solid presence. I felt that I was “up there”. My wife, on the other hand, was able to handle a lot of matters in a more practical way. She is what I would call, more “earthly”. We sort of complement each other.
Q: Is this the norm for most people?
A: Maybe! I was probably brought on by our old habits that die hard. Therefore, my wife helped me greatly in this, both physically and spiritually.
Q: We know your child is the healthy Vegetarian Baby. Was he born after you and your wife changed diet? What is the difference between him and other children?
A: Yes, we had him only after we changed our diet. Actually, this child does not have a very good temper. But the good thing is that he does not worry easily like some other children do. Many people say that parent’s energy will affect a child. I guess my own personality is a rather big influence on him too. Like Rudolf Steiner ever mentioned before, when a child is young, his whole body is like a sensor. They absorb fully whatever influence their parents have on them. This actually served as a big warning to me, that I was always careful of what I did that could affect my child adversely. Steiner said that the influence one has on his child is not what he says, and it is not even what he does. It is actually what you are. Therefore, a parent has to change himself positively to have a positive influence on his child. Of course, it is not easy to achieve this, as whatever we are is actually brought forward from our previous lives. What Steiner teaches only serves as an alert to us.
Q: How is your child’s state of health?
A: Very good. He has definitely benefitted from all these changes. My wife breast-fed him, thus he is practically free from all childhood illnesses. Occasionally he gets the flu, but nothing major, and it only takes him a day or so to recover. He never has to see the doctor. In my opinion this is also his own good destiny, which led him to be born in a family of vegetarians. He probably has good karma from previous lives.
Q: After getting to know Dr. Lai, was there any change in your thinking and life’s path?
A: Yes. I feel that Dr. Lai is indeed a precious “scarcity” I practice Tibetan Buddhism, and yet I still hope that I can be like Dr. Lai, to have the courage to be the first to “light the lamp”, Dr. Lai reminds me of a brightly lighted candle which goes around lighting up other candles, and yet does not diminish itself. After attending Dr. Lai’s seminar, I return to my own country and started practising what I learnt from her, and to me, that is a form of spreading the light too.
Q: How do you intend to spread the concept of total health in the near future?
A: I do not have the answer to such a question. I will let nature run its own course, I guess. Its all fate and destiny. I think, if the beings in the world do not have them, Dr. Lai would not have appeared, and Lapis Lazuli Light would not exist.
Q: Have you ever made the wish to follow Dr. Lai the whole of your life? Or is there any other wish you have made before?
A: It’s my good fortune to have known Dr. Lai, and I am really grateful to her. Actually, I have not really made any wish, but I believe that once you have decided to step on a certain pathway, even if you have not made the decision to follow whoever, the right people will still appear to lead you in the right direction.
If I have to state a wish I have ever made, it would be that when I came to this earth, I decided that if I did not step on the path of righteousness, I will suffer from illness and pain.
Right now, I need pain and suffering to advance myself. Like Steiner said, suffering is present because we want to improve ourselves spiritually.
Q: What was your feelings like when you were translating “The Holographic Universe”?
A: I found this book too condensed, and hence more difficult to comprehend. The author included too much content in it. If a comprehensive explanation of it is to be given, the book would be very thick. In the process of translation, we are also not supposed to include any sort of explanation on behalf of the authors themselves.
As a matter of fact, I was translating word for word at that time. Therefore, I was pretty much restricted by the words themselves. I guess it is possible to translate this book in a more “balanced” manner. However, due to time constrain at that time, I did not put in my utmost effort in translating that book.
The main point of this book is actually the fact that all things arise from the heart. If the readers had understood this point when reading the book, the author had achieved his aim. My knowledge of science and Buddhism helped me a lot when I was translating this book.
Q: From what you have learnt from Rudolf Steiner’s (publications), what have you actually learnt and achieved?
A: I feel that the Buddha is really a noble and wonderful being. From Steiner’s books, I have comprehended the detail of the mundane world, what it is really like. For instance, the daily morning and night meditation and scripture-chanting routine was never clarified by Tibetan Buddhism, but in Steiner’s concepts, we could clearly see the importance of these routines. He teaches in a manner that reaches our heart directly, he teaches us how to solve problems in the most straightforward says. Human beings tend to think of doing this, accomplishing that, but that is where we stop too, the word “think”.
In this case, what is the point of knowing what the end result would be like? Reading and understanding Steiner’s works has indeed increased my confidence in what Buddha teaches and advocates.
Steiner’s teachings have also benefitted me on other planes of understanding. For example, I used to think that Christianity is all about heaven and earth, which to me was definitely not substantial enough. After Steiner, I realized that I had been too narrow-minded all along. I discovered that what Christians meditate on also help them to advance spiritually. Therefore, never turn your nose at religions other than your own.
With destiny on our side, I was able to go into retreat with Robin in Los Angeles. In that short period of time, we learnt together, and discussed about Buddha’s teachings, which undoubtedly benefitted me to a great extent.
Oozing with the type of confidence and easiness that can only come from poets and spiritualists, Robin exuded a unique charm. What is wonderful about him is that he was so modest, never hinting at all that he was so full of wisdom and knowledge, and the level he has reached spiritually.
We were once talking about the day I interviewed him, and I revealed to him that I had felt like I was chatting with a monk, and surprisingly he said that he had felt similarly about me, and we could not help but start chuckling away at each other.