Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

Happiness Begins with Cultivating the Mind

Translated by Andrew Yang A middle-aged reader once remarked, “I feel depressed and miserable. I work hard for my family and my job. I am busy all day to get us by with food, clothing, shelter and the commute. Yet all the time, I face overwhelming pressure from work and from getting along with people. A guy has only a few decades to live, and I am already working so flat out, yet why do I still feel unhappy?” The concept of “happiness” is relative. People without a dime are happy when they have just a few bucks to meet their urgent needs. Those wanting to make it quick are happy once they turn nouveau riche. For people who are sick, getting well soon alone makes them happy. Compassionate Samadhi Water Repentance says, “One who is content, though sleeping on the floor, is happy. One who is discontented, though being...

When Impermanence Strikes Home

Translated by Andrew Yang As COVID 19 ravages the world, significantly impacting normal life, everything from social order to the natural and living environment to international travel, let alone family, school, jobs and so on has all been devastated. This is an instance of what we call “impermanence”, and when it calls, we are all caught off guard. During this time, we have heard news from devotees who have different troubles. One friend, cooped up at home much more than usual like most of us, has had to confront accumulating differences with his spouse, and as things rapidly go out of control, he is now dealing with a divorce. Another member, who had just bought a home, was laid off and is distressed about employment and paying the bills. Still another, with a travel plan wrecked, made blunders while grappling with the unexpected. All this reminds me of the following...

The Six-syllable Brilliant Mantra

Translated by Andrew Yang Many Buddhists, Tantric or otherwise, routinely chant Om Mani Padme Hum, the Six-syllable Brilliant Mantra in Sanskrit. The Chinese transliteration of the mantra becomes Om Ma Ni Ba Mi Hong. Since ancient times, Lamaists have long upheld the mantra as the heart mantra of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, something used by Amitabha Buddha in praise of the Bodhisattva. Tibetan Buddhists chant it in a hope to eliminate misfortune and eventually reach Pure Land. According to the Tibetan Chenrezig classic Mani Bkah Hbum, it is a source of relief, salvation, wisdom and joy, and it has been ever popular with monastics and the lay alike. The first verse of the Mantra of Avalokitesvara Inspiration chanted in Chinese temples every morning is the very Six-syllable Brilliant Mantra. Among the many Chinese Buddhist scriptures, the most detailed explanation of its origin and merit is found in the Mahayana Sublime Treasure King Sutra, translated by Devasantika (?-1000), a...

Who Am I?

“Human life is a pure fantasy. Indeed, in a worldly encounter, who is meeting whom? Prior to my first breath, who was I? And upon my last gasp, who do I become?” This poem is a gatha sent to the king of Goryeo, a Korean kingdom (918-1392), by the monk Zhongfeng Mingben (1263-1323) during the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368). Its profound meaning has made numerous readers wonder about the origin of life, and the question “Who am I?” has since been an enduring topic for Buddhist discourse and contemplation in pursuit of enlightenment. The origin of life has been a perpetual mystery since ancient times. Since countless kalpas ago sentient beings have been reincarnating without knowing from where they come at birth or to where they go upon dying.  What drives them to the hustle bustle of this world, and what makes them eventually leave after such fleeting stay. A view...

Nurturing the Next Generation with Authentic Dharma: An interview with Malaysian Buddhist Association (Part 2)

Translated by: Andrew Yang Question: How do you promote Buddhism in a Muslim country, so that Buddha's holy teachings benefit as many beings as possible? Answer: First, it must be stated that while Islam is Malaysia’s official religion, in substance it is not an Islamic country. Furthermore, the task of purifying the people’s minds cannot be done by any religion or single race alone. With Buddhism, which is based on compassion, we work out of love to encourage fusion and harmony. While fostering mutual understanding and respect among different ethnicities, cultures and religions, we maintain good contact with the government and, on a macro level, cultivate respect and solidarity with all other religions and races. In 1970, we established Malaysian Buddhist Institute under the initiative and leadership of our founding president Venerable Chuk Mor, and have worked hard since then on Buddhist education. For five decades, our institute has had...

Dawning in Spring

The pastoral lyric from the Tang dynasty (618–907) is known for portraying simple, rustic life and nature. It reminds people of the kind of leisure, harmony and innocence in life once possible. Furthermore, because of its frequent depictions of shifts of the sun and moon and cyclical change of seasons, it would help the reader appreciate the meaning of impermanence and how it connects to human experience. “Dawn in Spring” by Meng Haoran  (689~740) is a well-known example: I woke up to a spring morning, To hear, far and near, birds trilling. With a storm raging overnight, How many flowers fell off? I wonder. “I woke up to a spring  morning,/ To hear, far and near, birds trilling.” Waking up from a sweet spring-time sleep, you hear birds chirping in trees all around. Here, spring symbolizes a colourful, beautiful life. Those who dream in spring may not detect the approach...

Uniting Buddhist Organizations to Promote Authentic Dharma: An interview with Malaysian Buddhist Association (Part 1)

Translated by Andrew Yang In November 2019, Venerable Guan Cheng, abbot of the International Buddhist Temple, toured Malaysia to promote the Dharma. Venerable Shan Ci was on the team accompanying him, and to exchange ideas and learn from fellow Buddhists and Buddhist organizations, she spoke with Malaysian Buddhist Association on November 5, 2019 about the history and growth of Buddhism in the nation. Participating in the candid interview were Venerable Ch’an Liang, Acting President, Venerable Ching Chieh, Director of Youth Affairs, and Mr Li Chen Shuang, Deputy Director of General Affairs of the Association. Malaysia appoints Islam as its official religion. According to its constitution, all Malays, who are the country’s majority ethnic group, are Muslim, accounting for 70% of the national population. Among the ethnic minorities, Chinese make up 20%, and Indians close to 10%. In general, Malaysian Chinese are Buddhists, Christians or folk Chinese religion believers. According to...

A Full Moon over Cold Hills

Those who live in cities cramped with high-rises may not get to see the moon even when it is bright and full. Being accustomed to the hustle bustle of urban life and having to deal with the daily grind to make a living, how many of them can afford the luxury of leaving behind their daily chores and enjoy a paltry moment of tranquility in the wilderness? For most of us city folks, admittedly, that is not easy.  But if you do have a moment, try to sit back and quietly read a few lines from the unique Tang dynasty (618-907) Zen poet Hanshan Zi. You may actually ease off a mind that is so occupied with a will to make it in the world for the achievement of fame and fortune. Since ancient times, Zen and poetry in China have been inseparable like a hermit and mountains. Zen tries...

The 8th Ordination Ceremony of International Buddhist Temple

On February 9, 2020, the International Buddhist Temple held its 8th Ordination Ceremony for two practitioners.  The ceremony was permeated with an overwhelming joy of the Dharma. The ordination took place at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak, which made it yet more memorable. To protect public health and security, the temple had earlier closed its doors to visitors and volunteers until further notice. All temple services, however, take place as scheduled with participation limited to its sangha and staff. By 8:30 am on the morning of the event, a group of well-wishers from the temple had gathered at the Hall of Grace to give the two new sangha members their blessings. With a ceremonial guard of honour, the Dharma bell and drum went off to a special, solemn ceremony under the guidance of the presiding monks, Venerable Guan Cheng and Venerable Yuan Chuan. The process took two hours and...
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