Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

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...

Hell in the Human World

Translated by: Andrew Yang A friend once said to me, "The hell described in Buddhist scriptures is so shockingly unimaginable. It would be too brutal to use these instruments of punishment torturing sinners! In our human world we have no such horrendous miseries. Human civilization simply does not allow these barbarous, stupid, sadistic means to exist." But really? Is there no hell in the human world? Unfortunately, there is. Sadly, however, you are not aware of it. If you go to an abattoir or a food market, or visit the kitchen of a restaurant, you will see the slaughtering going on, of cattle, sheep, pigs, ducks, chickens, fish, shrimps, crabs, you name it. Some restaurants advertise "live seafood", "live monkey brain", "flame over drunk shrimp", or "lobster sashimi" as their proud “house dishes”, yet the cruelty involved is no less than “hanging upside down, cutting, chopping, dicing, mincing, skinning and...

Seven-day Dharma Retreat at the International Buddhist Temple in Fall 2018

Author: Wanda Chu My name is Wanda Chu and I come from Toronto. Between September 30 and October 7, 2018, I attended a dynamic and inspirational Dharma Cultivation retreat in Vancouver hosted by the International Buddhist Temple of Canada and the Vinaya, Samadhi and Prajna Lecture Hall of Hong Kong. The 70 participants came from Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, England and other places of the world. It is the first Buddhist retreat I have been to. Meditation The idea was for all of us to spend a whole week living a monastic life and learn to calm the mind by practicing basic Buddhist philosophy. A big part of the week-long retreat was the cultivation of Zen through medication. In strict accordance with the Buddhist tradition, we got up at 4:00 am each morning and spent between two to four hours a day on sessions held in the Meditation Hall. As...

The Land of Fragrance Accumulation

Translated by: Andrew Yang Someone just starting to follow Buddhism asks: What is the state of being a Buddha like? What is reaching Nirvana like? What Buddhist scriptures tell us is, in fact, often abstract and mysterious. Take "Nirvana": it is interpreted as neither germinated nor terminated, and neither produced nor destroyed. Such terms are so obscure that one wonders if they could be adequately explained in modern language and made thoroughly understandable to us. Indeed, the state of being a Buddha or reaching Nirvana is beyond description by any language. The effect of using words to express the truth of things is often limited at any rate, usually one-faceted and generally deficient. Hence, many Buddhist texts employ adjectives such as "unimaginable" and "unspeakable" to imply limitations inherent in language. For one thing, personal emotions may not be totally conveyable by words, let alone the state of Buddhahood. Research has...

Living Compassion: Stories from Guangxi, China

Translated by: Andrew Yang During the summer vacation, our volunteers of Living Compassion in Guangxi, China have worked tirelessly visiting families of the aided students to learn about how they have been faring and found that the students and their families are going through delightful changes. Here are just a few of their stories to share with you. When outstanding student Tan Huimei was accepted by a reputed high school, everybody thought it was good news. But her family was too poor to pay her tuition, so she had to drop out to help her father with farming instead. Since the future of rural girls lies usually in being married away, Huimei was sad and constantly in tears. As Living Compassion learnt her story, we went to persuade her father that the more girls learn at school today, the more promising their life would be in future, so marrying was...

Nothing but Karma Follows You

Translated by: Andrew Yang Whether rich or poor, one may live a long or a short life. As well, one may or may not be good looking. And one could be smart or not so smart. It all depends on one’s karma, good or bad, not on fate, nor on gods. Buddhists have a well-known saying, “Someday when impermanence strikes, One realizes that life is a dream. On leaving the world, You keep nothing with you but karma.” Until the day they die, mortals do not realize that life is nothing more than a dream. And when it happens, they take away nothing with them except the karma they have made, which will activate their reincarnation in the six paths of transmigration. Karma is something that never perishes unless and until one attains Buddhahood. As human life is not purely physical, the karma one makes, wholesome or evil, stays on...

Introducing Living Compassion

Translated by: Andrew Yang Origin and purpose Established in early 2017, Living Compassion is a wholly-owned charity of the International Buddhism Temple. Working in line with the aims of poverty reduction, student aid and emergency relief, Living Compassion assists persons in need in the Chinese mainland, including orphans, children without parental care, elderly widows and widowers and the disabled. Mode of operation We seek volunteers with work experience and expertise, who have a sense of gratitude and a sense of mission to do good, and those who have already done so. Local volunteers identify cases in need of assistance and learn on-site the real situation of assistance recipients. The captain of a local team leads volunteers in regular visits to schools and homes of the assisted students, follows up on their changing situations and makes periodic reports. To facilitate the identifying, monitoring and tracking of the assisted students and their...
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