Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

Sweep Away the Dirt

Many Buddhists have ducked into an ivory tower by getting hung up on the written word. They may have thoroughly memorized terms of the Consciousness Only Theory, or know by heart arguments behind the Three Theories propounded by the Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna (ca 150–ca 250 BC), but they do not bother to participate in chanting, hymns singing, worshipping and repentance or other services required by a monastic life. They regard Buddhist theory as more important than its application. They may be eloquent in debates and their arguments may sound well-grounded, but their behavior is often full of greed, anger and delusion. Indeed, they fail to practice what they learn from the scriptures. It is true that the Buddhist scriptures are the ultimate Dharma treasures, capable of enlightening the readers. However, if scholars are obsessed with the meaning of the written text, not valuing the need to practise what is in...

A Hostel Guest in Fleeting Dust

Since I became a monk, Daily Chants for Chan has been the basis of my everyday chanting and hymns singing at morning and evening services, which has quite a gradual calming effect on me, replacing the secular songs I used to know. Nowadays, even if I do hear them occasionally, my ears seem to know when to shut down in time to avoid smearing my mind. Last month, however, I was browsing in a bookstore one day. The nearby music section was playing Teresa Cheung’s "Knowing You Is Karma" sung back in the 1960s. Not only was the tune nostalgic, but its lyrics seemed to contain some philosophical musings over the joys and sorrows in life, and my ears immediately perked up. The last line of the lyrics went, "Being born in this world is being fleeting dust", where the words “fleeting dust” left a deep impression on my mind,...

The Source of Music

Translated by: Andrew Yang  I had a chance to attend a music and tea gathering at LockCha cafe. It was delightful sipping tea with live instrumental Chinese music playing in an elegant setting. Upon returning to the temple where I was staying, with the melodious pipa tune still lingering in my ears, the ink and brush work of Su Dongpo’s poem “Fetching Water and Brewing Tea” I had just seen in the tearoom reminded me of another of his Zen poems, one about music from the lute. Su Dongpo, a talented lay Buddhist (1037-1101), was versatile in writing, painting, calligraphy and music. Once, when he was playing the lute, its soft beautiful notes aroused feelings of Zen in him, which made him compose these verses on the spot, “Were there music in the lute, why is there none when it is in a case? Were there music in the fingers,...

Let the Breeze Carry Away White Clouds

Recently, a middle-aged friend was laid off from work. In a fit of pique, he complained that his employer was unfair in not letting go instead the co-workers newer than him. Pitying himself, he holed up completely at home and became increasingly depressed. This upset his wife and children and seriously affected their mood. Thus, life in the peaceful family was turned upside down. Everything that happens to us is, indeed, due to karma. Quite often, for example, we may not get the credit we deserve for having tried our very best, but to make your boss at work happy takes things working together, such as making consistent efforts, being flexible but smart, and, importantly, having a lot of work experience. The one thing most often overlooked at workplace is getting along with your supervisors and co-workers. The time, place and how you work with people all need to be...

The Buddha Mother Great Peacock Wisdom King Sutra and its Significance

Translated by: Andrew Yang As the date approaches in March when our temple hosts a large-scale chanting and prayer ceremony for the Buddha Mother Great Peacock Wisdom King Sutra (i.e., the Mahamayuri Vidyarajni Sutra), I have been frequently asked what kind of classic the sutra is and what its historical origin and scripture sources are. Since our International Buddhist Temple already has an established schedule of regular ceremonies, some friends wonder why we need a special ceremony to address this sutra. Attempting to answer some of their questions, I am going to offer what I know for the sake of discussion. Please enlighten me with your wisdom where I am inadequate. The meaning of its title The Buddha Mother Great Peacock Wisdom King Sutra, listed as No. 982 in Volume 19 of the Taisho Newly-Published Tripitaka, was translated by tantric master Bukong of the Tang dynasty. Together with the Benevolent...

Message to Welcome the New Year

Good morning and welcome to all our guests and visitors joining us to celebrate the arrival of the Chinese New Year. I would like to begin by wishing everyone a happy, prosperous and healthy year of 2019. At this auspicious moment, the first hour of the New Year, let us talk about a very important concept. We all know that life has values.  What are the values of life? The Buddha talked about this subject in various sutras. We can summarize them by saying we must devote ourselves to attain 3 important values of life: The first value is “To be good”; we want to be a good person. The second value is “To be happy”; we want to be happy. The third value is “To be wise”; we want to be wise. When people asked me what are the values of life. I simply answer: “to be good, to...

Venerable Master Chien Ju and the Peacock King Sutra: An Interview with Venerable Tzu Chieh

Translated by: Andrew Yang The Peacock King Sutra (also known as the Mahamayuri Vidyarajni Sutra) is one of the three Buddhist classics used in chanting and prayer ceremonies for protection, blessing and disaster eradication. It is a powerful text that effectively responds to invocations. The sutra, however, after tantric Buddhism reached Japan during the Tang dynasty, was lost for a long time in the Mandarin-speaking China until the 1980s, when Venerable Master Chien Ju started to work assiduously for its revival. He later formed the Peacock King Lineage sangha out of Kaicheng Monastery of Taiwan, which he dedicated to propagating the Peacock King Sutra. Venerable Shan Ci had the privilege to make the master’s acquaintance and receive his teachings. In March 2017, Yilan Peacock King Temple in Taiwan held a seven-day Peacock King Sutra Chanting Ceremony. While attending the event, she had an opportunity to interview temple abbot Venerable Tzu...

Living Compassion: Early Work in Guizhou, China

Translated by: Andrew Yang A poor province known for its rugged terrain in southwestern China, Guizhou for a long time has seen many, if not most, of its abled-bodied adults heading off for jobs in far-away places, leaving behind children and elders in their family. For these and other reasons, in this mountainous region are many families not only suffering from poverty and illness, but children with single parents or no parental care, elderly people who have lost spouses, and those stricken by accidents and injuries. More than usual, some of these families find themselves in desperate need of help but may not have the government agencies’ relief services within reach. It is in these circumstances that Living Compassion has risen to the occasion. Living Compassion, a charity program set up by the International Buddhist Temple for southern China, began serving areas of Guizhou in autumn 2017. By mid-2018, it...

The Merits and Virtues of Alms Giving

Building temples A friend asked, "What merit and virtue is there in building a temple? Has anything been written in the scriptures?" According to tradition, in the time of Sakyamuni Buddha, an elder in Sravasti named Sudatta searched for a scenic spot to build a fine monastery for Buddha to better promote the Dharma. Sudatta received assistance from Prince Jeta, who donated a big piece of land, and together they built a monastery with a total of 1,200 rooms. While they were measuring the plot, Sariputra smiled to them and said, “As I observe with my deva eye, when you are still doing the foundation measurements before even breaking soil, your future blessings have already been set. The merits and virtues of creating a Buddhist temple are truly great!” According to Avadana Sutra, the stupa of Kassapa Buddha had been in disrepair for a long time when one day, an...
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