Yong Vui Kong is a death row inmate in Singapore. He was arrested at age 19 with 47.27g of heroin, convicted of trafficking and sentenced under the Mandatory Death Penalty. His final appeal was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on 4 April 2011. He can now only plead for clemency from the President (acting on the advice of the Cabinet).
If the President does not grant clemency to Vui Kong, these will be the last 12 letters he will ever write.
The following is the fourth letter:
The Fourth Letter : Studying Buddhist Philosophy
Without even noticing it we have already exchanged 4 letters. Please let me express my gratitude to you, a kind-hearted stranger, for granting my wish. I don’t have much more time to write to you, but I will continue to write until the very last moment.
Today, let me share some of my experience in studying Buddhist philosophy.
I feel that every young person needs faith. Only with faith can you save yourself, because a good religion, no matter if it’s Christianity, Islam, Buddhism or Hinduism, teaches you what is right and what is wrong. This, to me, is extremely important. When I was a rebel, I didn’t have faith, and so I went astray and followed a path from which there is no return.
When I first came in, my sister gave me three book of vows, one are the Earth Buddha and another one is Heart Sutra. These three books are a great help and make a great impact on my studies, my thinking and my life.
Wisdom, compassion, morals, cultural enlightment do not differentiate between race or age. If one works hard to learn, one will be able to reap the benefits!
Buddhism teaching has 84,000 dharma. If you wish to understand where I’ve started from, that I started following the Earth Buddha, the scripture entitled “Earth Buddha vows”. I start from the most basic scriptures, and I wish to reach a certain level of understanding before adding more! I am learning about being happy with what we have in life, learning about helping others.
I am not sure if you have seen my drawing of the Earth Buddha? At that point in time, I dream about the Earth Buddha, and I am so calm. Since then, I am even more determined to learn Buddhist philosophy.
From that day on, I woke up early every morning to study, studying all the philosophy of Earth Buddha scripture. When I read about filial piety, my heart aches, because I have not been filial to my mother for so many years. I don’t know if I still have a chance.
Mother’s Day has just gone by, right? Did everyone have a good meal with their mothers?
My question is the same: “Will I have a chance to go home for a meal?”
We can read a lot of books related Buddhism teaching, but if we lack faith, we will not truly understand it. I do not have the chance to talk to my mother to calm her mind. My mother is ill, I cannot tell her about my impending punishment. That’s why, Yetian, we have to cherish our family and friends!
Thanks to all the good-hearted people, I am grateful to each and everyone who had copied the Heart sutras. It was not written for me, but for everyone. The effort was not mine, is everyone’s;
Yetian, you told me that a forum has talked about me, saying that I did all these because I am afraid to die. I know you are angered by it, and many others who have helped me. Don’t, don’t be angry, because it will cause us to make more mistakes.
Even though I am an inmate about to be executed, I wish to say that I am not an inmate who wastes time; I hope to use this time to educate more people. This is my hope, that in this last bit of time, I can do more meaningful things.
Studying Buddhism teaching allows me to understand about gratitude, and about what courage is. To me, this is the biggest experience I gained.
With a soul that found faith, we will be at peace, content, happy, free and full of hope, now, in the future and in the afterlife!
Do you still remember that in the first letter I mentioned about my beads? They are made of flour and I have used them for a long time. When I use them I take good care of them because they are fragile, and might be broken if I squeeze too hard. When I think about it, if a person is weak, and he takes good care of himself without being influenced by others, then this person can endure for a long time.
That’s what we have to do in life. We have to be strong.
Before I stop, I would like to say a prayer for everyone, hoping that everyone is healthy, safe and happy! Work well! Let things go your way!
Note from Yetian:
Before the end of this letter, please allow me to add a short note on my thoughts.
In Buddhism teaching, there is this one story about a man in ancient India. He is a monster, killed many people. After he killed the 999th man, he met Buddha. Buddha has changed him with his teaching.
He asked the King, “if you seen this monster, he shave his beard and hair, and became a monk; he did not kill anymore, he did not eat when night falls, and eat only once a day, and he became good and kind, what will you do if you met him?”.
And the King answered “I will respect him’.
Even though this man still faced the consequences for what he has done before, he is, afterall, repented and changed.