Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

Forging Character through Hardship

Translated by: Andrew Yang Edited and Revised by: Venerable Hong Ci Only the deaf appreciate hearing, only the blind realize the manifold blessings that lie in sight...Make the most of every sense; glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you." -- Helen Keller According to Buddhism, within the six paths of transmigration, humans inhabit the four continents of the saha world surrounding Mount Sumeru: Purvavideha in the east, Aparagodaniya in the west, Uttarakuru in the north and Jambudvipa in the south. Jambudvipa is the place we live in. Of the four continents, it is also where Buddhism is the most thriving. In these four worlds, Uttarakuru is where humans with the most wholesome karma dwell, whereas Jambudvipa is a place where pleasure is often overshadowed by suffering. Despite this shortcoming, Jambudvipa inhabitants are known to possess a more noble character than the other...

Master Faxian – An Admirable Senior Adventurer

Translated by: Andrew Yang There is no age limit for pursuing wisdom. With perseverance and the right goal in mind, even if you reach the age of an elder, you can still achieve a feat that dazzles the world. In China’s Eastern Jin dynasty, that is, over 1,600 years ago, lived a Buddhist master who, at the age of 64, risked his life by travelling all the way to India to study the Dharma. At 64, normally one is already close to enjoying their happy retirement surrounded by grandchildren. Had he not been a monk, however, how would Master Faxian at that age have taken all the hardship in climbing the snow-clad Pamirs and other dangerous mountains and crossing mighty deserts to learn the Dharma in India? It just shows what a strong will he commanded and how admirable his dedication was. Master Faxian’s journey to the west happened two...

Cultivating Views on Impermanence

Written by: Venerable Guan Cheng Translated by: Andrew Yang Edited and revised by: Venerable Hong Ci   Impermanence, or anitya in Sanskrit, is a universal truth. In Buddhism, it refers to everything in the world that arises and passes from karmic causes and conditions. According to Volume 43 of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra (or Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom), there are two kinds of impermanence: gradual and momentary. Gradual impermanence is progressive change that can be observed in the passing of time. This includes the human phases of birth, aging, sickness and death, and the natural cycle of creation, growth, decay and extinction of all things. Gradual change is easily observable on a macro scale. Buddhists often use the term "Kalpa" as the unit of measurement for extremely long periods of time. There are small, medium and large kalpas: a small kalpa is approximately 17 million years, a medium...

Karma: Part III (The Finale)

I’m often asked what qualities make a good Buddhist practitioner. On most days, without skipping a beat, I would usually go off on a discourse about the six paramitas or the noble eightfold path, but on this day, I felt inclined to raise a few eyebrows in the crowd. A couple of bankers were in the group, who seemed rather aloof to our whole conversation, so to keep them engaged, I boldly responded, “A good Buddhist practitioner must also be a good investor!”. Too cool to be interested in this whole touchy-feely spiritual affair soon turned into curious anticipation as their eyes, as if sparkling with dollar signs, a good indication they had been conditioned by their jobs for too long, darted towards me. I then went on to say, “Believe it or not, the Buddha was one of the greatest investors who ever lived”. “I thought Buddhism was all...

Giving Thanks & Practicing Gratitude on Thanksgiving

Over the past few years, as I’ve evolved a Buddhist lifestyle, Thanksgiving has become one of my favourite Western holidays, right up there with Christmas because it feels so good to give. Here is a personal list of my reasons why: Thanksgiving is one of the least commercial holidays the western world has that provides an opportunity to complete acts of kindness for family, friends and people we don’t know. This holiday tradition of gathering family and friends together to “give thanks” for everything and everyone that this life has given them is an opportunity to strengthen and/or repair personal relationships. There are many community and personal opportunities to volunteer your time or donate money to those who are less fortunate. You have the choice to make an incredible vegan or vegetarian meal to celebrate in which no animals will be harmed. (There is a link to a recipe for...

Karma: Part II

We learned from the last article that karma is not a deterministic law that the Hindus and Jains had advocated, but more like the continuous adding and tasting of new karmic ingredients in the melting pot of life. As a seed planted without water, sunshine and the right soil will never blossom into a flower, the initial karma without considering it in context of one’s intention, state of mind, present and future actions cannot account for the full karmic result of an event. This is encouraging news to all of us for the results of our past karma are not etched in stone. With new wholesome intentions and skillful actions, we can undo the foolish deeds of our past. But before we set course on our voyage towards greater freedom and happiness, we ought to first learn some basic sailing terminology and know-how to make our journey a smooth sail....

Practicing Metta and Mudita

When asked what important concepts I’ve learned in my 10+ year Dharma journey thus far, two that stand out are: metta and mudita. In short, here is why: These definitive Pali words have no singular equal in English. They remove the burden of one’s ego involvement in the practice. These concepts connect all beings in a positive non-clinging way. The Pali word metta is defined in English by http://www.accesstoinsight.org as: "loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. The Pali commentators define metta as the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others (parahita-parasukha-kamana). Essentially metta is an altruistic attitude of love and friendliness as distinguished from mere amiability based on self-interest ". What is important to note in the practice of metta is that of non-clinging. This non-clinging quality is the antidote for eliminating personal expectations - when you want your kindness and love to be...

Debunking the Myth of Meditation

Finding a meditation center in your area is hardly a challenge these days. They’re everywhere. There are even smartphone apps for it. With mindfulness studios and workshops springing up in major cities like New York, San Francisco, London and Hong Kong, it’s no wonder why this ancient practice has gone mainstream in our current era. Much has been done by media and the medical community to showcase its benefits. Mainstream culture has popularized meditation as a simple, cheap, no-frills approach to improving your health and mental well-being, arguably much better than shelling out thousands of dollars for prescription drugs or long therapy sessions with a psychiatrist. There is also a plethora of scientific and medical studies that extol its many health and stress-reducing benefits. The medical evidence is certainly convincing. It also accounts for why it has caught on so quickly in the secular sphere – those holding to no...

No Doubt, No Awakening

I was recently approached by a layperson, who told me she had been struggling with doubt in her practice since starting on the path a few years ago. She was born to a Chinese Buddhist family, but being raised in the west, and with a deplorable habit of suspecting almost everything she could be suspicious of, she found it really difficult to insulate her practice from her persistent skepticism. In spite of her shortcoming, which is not unusual today in the age of modern secularism, she was particularly drawn to the Medicine Buddha Sutra and would recite it almost daily. As she later revealed, there was one phrase in the sutra which constantly challenged her to her core. Every time, when her eyes would try to gloss over that sentence, the words would spring out at her like a prematurely released jack-in-the-box. She would go on to reluctantly read, one...
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