Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

Buddhism: A Religion or Philosophy?

Friends wonder whether Buddhism is a religion or a philosophy. On this issue, as a matter of fact, scholars disagree as well: Thome Fang, a philosopher professor, said it is both, but Ouyang Jingwu, a consciousness-only theory expert, said it is neither. Religion works on the basis of faith whereas philosophy relies on rational analysis. Strictly speaking, faith being subjective, it would be more objective to accept something faith-based through understanding it. Therefore, Buddha encourages practitioners to use their reasoning ability to understand the reality of the Dharmas in addition to their sincere beliefs and earnest practices. On faith and understanding, the Zen master Yongming Yanshou (905-974) had this to say, "Faith without understanding increases ignorance. Understanding without faith increases deviation.” Faith and understanding, like two wings of a bird, are neither of them dispensable. Thus we say that Buddhism is both a religion and a philosophy. Some people stop...

Living Compassion: Humanitarian Work in Southwestern China — A 2019 progress report

Translated By : Andrew Yang So far in 2019, Living Compassion has continued the following work: Providing financial aid and donating books in the provinces of Guangxi and Guizhou In Guangxi, new and continued financial aid is working in 12 cities and townships, benefiting 259 students from 100 families, 17 households living in poverty, 12 village schools and one secondary school. Overall, 3,738 copies of 1,250 children’s books have been distributed. The total amount of aid is 751,320 RMB yuan, of which 280,860 RMB yuan will be given out to students in spring 2020. In Guizhou 15 students from 8 families have received financial aid. Thus, in both Guangxi and Guizhou, Living Compassion financial aid has reached a total of 274 students from 108 families, of whom 38 students have also been granted information kit expenses, and 17 households living in poverty. In all, 3,738 copies of 1,250 children’s books...

Ritual and Meaning in Buddhism

Translated By: Andrew Yang Among Buddhists nowadays there is a typical lopsided ritual versus meaning phenomenon. Prayer and repentance ceremonies, for example, tend to attract a far larger crowd than regular chanting sessions. Indeed, of course, worshipping in repentance helps reduce sins and increases blessings. Hence the eagerness. Yet on the other hand, although reading and chanting Buddhist scriptures also helps in gaining someone wisdom, these sacred writings often seem abstruse and hard to follow. Hence the reluctance. After all, is such an attitude towards Buddhism a correct one? When I first approached Buddhism, a big-hearted elder taught me many things in earnest. The most memorable and surprising of all, as I recall, was a difference between the ritual and meaning of things, and he stressed that all of us cultivating Buddhism should know it. In real life, without a doubt, rituals are rituals and the meaning of things are...

Form and Emptiness

Translated By: Andrew Yang Many who have not studied Buddhist scriptures interpret the Sanskrit word "rupa" or “form” as a body color reminiscent of lust, and “sunyata” or “emptiness” as the last empty space left over after extinction. Such far-fetched interpretations vulgarize a profound philosophy. So if you want to correctly understand these two fundamental terms, do you, then, have to peruse the classics, call upon masters, or sit and meditate until a few rush floor cushions wear out? Buddhism focuses on both thinking and observation, and does not encourage practitioners to stick to the sheer philological meaning of words, or interpret a text word by word. In Zen there is a saying, "Draw a cat like it is," meaning that if one draws simply after the shape of things, he may end up with the picture of a cat when he is drawing a tiger. Thus, one may never...

Podcast Series Now Available from the International Buddhist Temple

Over the years, Venerable Guan Cheng’s teachings have guided thousands of people through their journeys of life, in the formats of videos and articles on the Temple’s website (www.buddhisttemple.ca), as well as postings under its WeChat public account (@BuddhistTempleCA). To make the Dharma teachings more accessible to those who lead a busier life, we are now launching two Podcast series to regularly publish English Dharma talks given at the Temple. The two series are, (1) International Buddhist Society This series features Q&A with Venerable Guan Cheng and other Venerables at the Temple on common issues about the Dharma and Buddhism. The 30-minute episodes cover a wide range of topics in a dynamic format, accessible to people with different backgrounds and interests in Buddhism. (2) Dharma Talks at International Buddhist Society The Dharma Talks series contains more extended lectures and themed talks on Buddhism in English, ranging from methods of meditation...

Forefathers’ Difficulties Rarely Known to Posterity

Translated by: Justine Tsui A few days ago, I passed by a vegetarian restaurant and saw a shelf full of Buddhist texts outside the place.  These canonical books were left there, covered with dust and stained by the rain, on the pavement beside a busy road.  Two Buddhists, with prayer beads in hand, picking and choosing books from the shelf meticulously.  One holding a book in hand and grumbled, “Over these two months, there’re nothing new but the Diamond Sutra, the Heart Sutra and the Great Compassion Mantra!  Why can’t they have some rare scriptures printed?  Those who sponsor the printing should know how to spend their money!”  He then stuffed the book back onto the shelf and left, seemingly unhappy. I couldn’t help but sigh about this kind of arrogance and disrespect towards Buddhist scriptures!  This attitude may be caused by that more and more people are giving out...

Thai Monkeys and Their Attachment

Upadana is an important Buddhist concept of attachment, grasping or clinging. Human beings’ attachment can be strong, and it arises from their innate greed, anger or delusion. In fact, this is true not only with humans, but also with animals beings. Monkeys  in Thailand, for example, are often captured merely because of their dogged craving. In Thailand, many coconut farms use monkeys to pick the fruit where the tall trees with straight trunks are difficult for workers to climb. The locals know well that monkeys are nimble and make best coconut pickers, and they have figured out a way to catch them. How do they do it? Well, monkeys are not stupid animals. They are agile, smart and good at learning, and it is not easy to make them fall into a trap, but the farmers simply take advantage of their greed for food to routinely catch them. Banana is...

A Milestone for the Dharma — Notes on a visit to Vernon, BC

Translated By: Andrew Yang On the afternoon of June 16, 2019, Venerable Guan Cheng, abbot of the International Buddhism Temple, and four senior Buddhist priests, all of them his disciples, set off for the city of Vernon, BC. The weather was sunny and beautiful. Our car drove along a scenic road, crossing rolling fields, lush green plains and pine-filled valleys and mountain peaks. After 500 kilometres, we arrived. On this visit Master Guan Cheng was going to talk about the Buddhist Dharma in a predominantly white community to people had not heard of it. It all started three months ago, when Mr Sherman Dahl, a father who had recently lost his daughter, came to the monastery for help from the master. He confided that his 18-year-old daughter was an athlete representing her school in competitions and was preparing to enter university, but sadly, this lively, bright girl had committed suicide...
1 2 3 5