Shopping heaven

4 July 2010 - 6:24am Comments Off

On the last weekend of June, May Woo of Kechara Paradise joined Manjushri class to talk to us about the Dharma outlets, one of the 13 departments of the Kechara organisation.

Kechara Paradise consists of various retail outlets in Kuala Lumpur (SS21Utama, Sunway Pyramid), and one in the northern state of Penang. There was, until just this week, a branch in Bangsar too, which is now being moved to a brand new outlet in the upcoming Viva Mall in Cheras. Looks like things are growing and expanding within this busy department!

In these retail stores, one can find many items related directly or indirectly to the practice of Buddhism, be it a Buddha statue, a book, a DVD, a khata (offering silk scarf), a mala, pendants and much more. For many Buddhist practitioners, this is where they can find the items needed to support their practice or discover the perfect gift for that special someone.

Yet, what is most beneficial about the Kechara Paradise outlets is that they each spread the Dharma to the city and to many people who might otherwise never connect to spirituality. Approximately 30% of Kecharians come to Kechara House through the outlets: they first saw the outlets, were attracted by some item or statue, entered the store and talked with the retail assistant. For many, who are now working in the organisation full time or become very involved in the centre’s activities, it started as simply as this.

So the purpose is definitely not merely commercial! It has helped many people add Dharma in their lives and by the benefit they have received, these people are now bringing Dharma to others. How wonderful!

The outlets are also a fabulous way to learn and practise Dharma for those who work there. The lucky ones working at any of the Kechara Paradise outlets quickly become a well of knowledge in the symbology and iconography of the Buddhas, in the setting up of altars and in the contents of Dharma books. More than that, they also learn how to share this knowledge by talking to customers on a daily basis, and advising them with the knowledge they have acquired.

This achieves two great things in one fell swoop:

  1. The outlet staff and volunteers each have the chance to learn much Dharma
  2. They also sharpen their skills in sharing what they know and learn with others.

And the “others” that walk into the shops are of many levels, with many diverse expectations. This can be challenging so the outlet staff have to adjust their explanations and be flexible in the way they deliver the knowledge without ever distorting the information. By the time, effort and care that they take to speak to their customers, they create a direct connection with the rest of the world, bringing Dharma to them and introducing them to Dharma. It is truly something to rejoice in to see that that one can actually work a “normal” job and simultaneously make it a Dharma practice FULL TIME!

For customers and friends, a visit to the outlets is a simple and easy way of  finding out about the Kechara organisation as a whole, as everyone working in the outlets are trained to be very knowledgeable on all Kechara departments, its people and activities. If Kechara is a mandala (the celestial abode of the Buddhas), then the Kechara Paradise outlets are the gateways into this most sacred space!

Kechara Paradise isn’t just something you read about – it’s something you experience! So do come and visit the outlets of Kechara Paradise if you haven’t already and discover a whole new shopping heaven!

More information can also be found at www.kechara.com/paradise

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