Captured below are words of wisdom from my visit to the Chung Tian Temple, Brisbane.
Take care of your thoughts because they become your words and actions. Take care of words and actions because they become your habits. Take care of your habits because they become your character. Take care of your character because they become your destiny and your destiny will be your life. Fate or destiny is self determined and not by any divinity. Life is the echo of our thoughts and actions.
The Way of a Leader
A leader who brings greatness to his nation welcomes criticism directed at him. A leader who brings chaos to his nation prefers praise that glorifies his name. For the former, good fortune will follow him because he will make fewer mistakes over time. But for the latter, misfortunes will beset him as he sinks deeper into the false acclaim that is detrimental to his virtues. Confucius said, ‘Reprimand yourself harshly but reprimand others more forgivingly.’
What is violence?
What you call yourself an Indian or a Muslim or a Christian or a European, or anything else, you are being violent. Do you see why it is violent? Because you are separating yourself from the rest of mankind. When you separate yourself by belief, by nationality, by tradition, it breeds violence. So a man who is seeking to eradicate violence does not belong to any country, to any religion, to any political party or partial systems; he is concerned with the total understanding of mankind. (J.Krishnamurti)
Virtue / Calamity
Virtues and benevolence are the foundations of our inherent nature. The Law of Cause and Effect is the law of the universe. When doing virtuous deeds, a hundred auspiciousness appear. When doing unwholesome deeds, a hundred calamities befall. (Master Yin Guang)
Kindness / Compassion
The world is not a world for one but for all. He who shares benefits with the world will earn the support of the world. He who monopolies benefits for himself will lose the world.
When You Know, then Follow
Buddha said, ‘Do not go by revelation or tradition, do not go by rumour or the sacred scripture, do not go by hearsay or mere logic, do not go by bias towards a notion or by another person’s seeming ability and do not go by the idea that ‘he is our teacher’. But when you yourself know that the thing is good, that it is not blamable, that it is praised by the wise, and when practiced and observed that it leads to happiness, then follow that thing.’
Try using benevolent (well meaning and kind) means first before enforcing the law. Try using education to transform people first before using penalties to punish them.
The key to business is solving problems. The key to speaking is clear reasoning. The key to practice is practicing every moment. The key to observing precepts is sincerity. The key to meditation is forgetting time and space. The key to sleeping is to put aside worries. The key to admitting mistakes is courage. The key to study is intelligence and flexibility. The key to health is walking more and eating less. The key to relationship is, ‘I am wrong and you are right.’
-Master Hsing Yun
See Through and Let Go
Anger is to punish yourself with other’s fault;
Distress is to torture yourself with your past mistakes;
Regret is to destroy yourself with your past frustrations;
Worry is to scare yourself with your virtual risk;
Loneliness is to imprison yourself in your self-made jail;
Low self-esteem is to discredit yourself with other’s strength.
‘There is nothing good or bad in the environment. The good and bad come from the mind.’
-Master Ou Yi
Endurance and the Merits of Patience
In this world, how should I deal with one who slanders me, bullies me, insults me, ridicules me, disparages me, belittles me, offends me or deceives me? Just tolerate him, let him be, avoid him, respect him, ignore him, wait for a few years to see what becomes of him. The greatest strength in this world is the power of patience and endurance. It can transform one into a person of honour for the merits of patience are vast and give rise to limitless accomplishments.
Living in a Grateful World
I am grateful to those who have hurt or harmed me, for they have reinforced my determination.
I am grateful for those who have deceived me, for they have deepened my insight.
I am grateful to those who have abandoned me, for they have taught me to be independent.
I am grateful to those who have made me stumble, for they have strengthened my ability.
–Master Chin Kung
Cause / Effect
‘People are often unreasonable and self-centred, forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of your ulterior motive, be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you, be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous, be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow, do good anyway. Give the world the best you have but it may never be enough, give your best anyway.’
For you see, it was never between you and them. It was between you and your conscience as everybody bears his or her own cause and effect.
The ancients said, ‘There are two things that individuals will find difficult to achieve in life – one is the willingness to accept and correct their own faults; another is the wisdom to know when to point out and correct the faults of others.’ The inferior man places the blames of his faults onto others, and always resents heaven and begrudges others. The superior man takes on the blames of other’s faults himself, and always reflects on what is required of himself. (Master Ou Yi)
What is the difference between Buddhism and other religions?
Buddhism does not believe in the existence of a God who creates and controls the life of all sentient beings (able to perceive or feel). Suffering or happiness is not determined by God, but by each individual with karmic force. All dharmas (things or phenomena) in this world are conditional and exist in the mode of Dependent Origination. They cannot exist independently and permanently. All sentient beings have Buddha nature and are potential Buddhas. All have equal chance to become enlightened and liberated.
What is ignorance in the Buddhist view?
In Buddhism, defilements such as greed, self attachment and pride develop from ignorance which is considered as the origin of all sufferings. Ignorance is the mind of unawareness, regarding self as something real, immortal and perpetual. As long as self-attachment exists, ignorance is present in our lives. A wise person such as a scientist may spend his/her entire life creating extraordinary products, but he/she cannot turn off craving, hatred and ill-will unless through the practice of ethical disciplines, meditation, and wisdom. Thus, knowledge cannot destroy ignorance, craving and self-attachment without understanding the truth of life.
If Buddhism is a non-theistic religion (belief in one God), is it a religion of science or philosophy?
Buddhism is not inclined to any interpretation of science though what the Buddha taught was always very scientific. When science is intensively developed, its discoveries help to verify the teachings of the Buddha, particularly in the field of psychological studies. However, the most fundamental doctrine of Buddhism is the teaching of the Four Noble Truths that make us realise the causes of suffering and ways to gain true happiness and liberation. In reality, Buddhism is called a religion of wisdom. Wisdom and compassion are always the true career of a Buddhist.
How does the Buddhist concept of happiness differ from the mundane concept of happiness?
The basic difference between Buddhist happiness and that of the mundane world is defined by ‘attachment or non-attachment’. Being free from attachments, Buddhists live happily and freely no matter what circumstances they encounter or how reality affects them. On the contrary, happiness of the mundane world is connected to the notion of ‘self’ which results in craving and attachments, silently destroying the potentiality of true happiness and pulling you into the bitter regret over gain and loss, pleasure and pain. Thus, non-attachment in the Buddhist view is true happiness.
Can a person’s unwholesome karma be eradicated through repentance?
A person should have the awareness of sin and is always ready to repent whenever he commits one. Repentance is to feel regret and remorse for a past sin and promise never to commit again. When performing repentance in front of the Buddha, your earnestness and sincere promise of not committing again will purify your mind, and reduce the karmic force which will not be powerful enough to produce unwholesome effect.
What is Meditation?
Breathing meditation relies on breathing in and out to dispel thoughts and to control the mind, while insight meditation involves meditating on the four kinds of mindfulness about body feeling, mind and forms.
What is the Karmic Law of Cause and Effect?
Karma and the Law of Cause and Effect are two important issues connected to human life. They are the reasons for the existence of living beings in the rebirth cycle as nothing happens without causes. Karma refers to all our intentional deeds. Karma is operated within the Law of Cause and Effect in which the mind always serves as the foundation. A good mind produces good karma and a bad mind gives bad karma. Hence, to have a life of peace and happiness, we must cultivate wholesome karma of body, speech and mind. Thus, a practitioner should always nurture the Four Virtues of loving kindness, compassion, empathic joy and equanimity.
What is the nature of self or ego in the Buddhist view?
Ego is an individual self to which a person attaches and assumes to be true. In Buddhism, self attachment is the most ignorant mistake of humans as it leads to all kinds of sufferings. We wrongly attach to the body as self which in reality is just a combination of the five aggregates (form, feeling, perception, volition (a conscious choice) and consciousness) and is ever-changing. With such a wrong view, there will be the differentiation of self and others that everyone will try to protect and satisfy the self. The more you attach to a self, the more you will suffer and the more the mind will develop selfishness, raving, hatred, ill will and pride.
What is the core of spiritual practice in Buddhism?
The primary core of spiritual practice in Buddhism is to develop ethics, concentration and wisdom. Practicing ethics is to avoid unwholesome deeds and to lead a life of dignity and virtue. Practicing concentration is to purify and calm down the mind from all afflictions. Practicing wisdom means developing right views and right thoughts by recognising the truths of life.
If there is no self, who will suffering or who will be happy?
The truth tells us that the feeling of happiness or suffering does not need a self to exist (e.g. the happiness moments of life are those moments in which we live at ease, in peace and tranquility, without being disturbed by the ‘I’ which always makes the mind worry, fear and hope. The greatest feeling of ease is the feeling of pure rapture in which the notion of ‘I’ is completely absent. Contradictorily, the status of suffering will increase if it attaches to the presence of ‘I’ such as I lost money, I lost fame or I lost power. Indeed, happiness and suffering are all manifestations of Dependent Origination, at which we should use the mind of non-self to look into it.