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In Chinese culture, filial piety is a duty that encompasses respect, obedience, and care for one’s elderly family members. This care extends to one’s ancestors, and is an important part of daily life for Dominic Yu, a frequent visitor to Song He Yuan, the stunning Asian cemetery set within Springvale Botanical Cemetery.
Here, Dominic explains how his daily Tai Chi regime at Springvale Botanical Cemetery connects him to his beloved ancestors.
When I was young, I’d always say, ‘Bye Dad, bye Mum!” as I left for school and, “Dad, Mum, I’m home!” upon my return. Although ‘Dad, Mum’ sounds so effortless and simple, since losing them both, these words are now a luxury. I’m a retired manager and still find comfort and happiness in those words as I practice my Tai Chi every morning at Song He Yuan.
I credit my dedication to Tai Chi to my father who was an accountant by trade, and a Tai Chi coach with knowledge gained over 70 years. Sixteen years ago, after my mother died due to illness, out of everlasting gratitude for the upbringing given to me by my parents, I chose to retire early to keep my father company at home. Giving with my heart and soul was never a burden, as I believed that it was a blessing to be able to look after my father.
During a visit to Springvale Botanical Cemetery one day, my father got his first glimpse of the land in Song He Yuan and fell in love with its perfect Feng Shui elements. He went on to design his own monument with a Taoism-influenced poem that is inscribed on the stonework; ‘Today my body returns to the earth, tomorrow my spirit ascends to the heaven.’ I think my father would be pleased to see how popular this inscription has become within Song He Yuan.
In the past, I accompanied my father here to visit my mother every day. With amusement, he would often say, ‘I don’t feel that I’m in a cemetery at all. How serene and beautiful it is,’ so there has always been a connection from the start to the botanical space created here. I now visit Song He Yuan early every morning. After the familiar greeting of, “Dad, Mum, how are you today?” I practice Tai Chi in front of their grave. I’ve been left with lots of beautiful memories and without a hint of regret.
Dominic’s story at Song He Yuan, a place where loved ones reside, is a great example of honouring the lives of those who have gone before us, and is central to the ethos of Confucius; “The human nature is the greatest among all things in existence. Filial piety comes first among all human actions.” In fact, Dominic’s dedication over the years is such that there is a worn patch of pathway where he practices in front of his parents’ grave.
*The above is an extract from a story first published in The Epoch Times in October 2016 and is reproduced with kind permission.