Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

Good or Evil, A Fleeting Thought Makes All the Difference

Translated by Andrew Yang   The Flower Adornment Sutra says, “If people want to understand all Buddhas in their lives past, present and future, contemplate the nature of the Dharmadhatu. Everything is created by the mind.” All phenomena in the world, good and evil, originate from mental activity. One good thought may benefit sentient beings and guide them towards Buddhahood and ultimate enlightenment. One evil thought, on the other hand, could harm them and make them descend into the three evil realms of existence of beasts, hungry ghosts and hell where they endure infinite suffering. Therefore, we must always pay attention to our own thought and make sure it stays on the right path. If one lets it wander freely with the objective environment and get entangled in sensual desire and impurity, sooner or later they are to suffer retribution. For illustration, consider Wei Zhongxian (1568-1627) and Kou Liancai (1868-1896),...

Dr Sun Yat-sen’s Fortuitous Encounter on Mount Putuo

Translated by Andrew Yang   Buddhism advocates equality, fraternity, compassion and philanthropy.  -- Dr Sun Yat-sen   Dr Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), leader of the 1911 Revolution, is the founding father of modern China. He once visited the sacred Mount Putuo and witnessed something sublimely providential with his own eyes. That experience he recorded in his “Notes of Fortuity on A Putuo Tour”. On August 25, 1916, after inspecting the military ports of Zhoushan and Xiangshan, Dr Sun went on a pilgrimage to Mount Putuo with his entourage. Along the way, he saw the vastness of water and sky around an island filled with strange crags, steep caves and verdant foliage. The sights included the Sound of Waves Cave, Sound of Bodhi Cave, Crystal Palace, A Thousand-step Hill and Hermit’s Well, which were all breathtaking and spellbinding. Dr Sun witnesses a divine spectacle Upon arrival at Mount Putuo, Dr Sun and...

Fate Lies in Your Own Hands

People in general are more concerned about themselves than about anyone else, especially their own fate. Some assume that they are dealt a bad lot in life, and blame heaven or other people. Others believe that since everything is decided by heaven, they need only accept what is given and not work hard to improve their destiny. Most people straddle in between. Those fond of astrology and numerology like to quote this rhyme to prove that everybody’s path in life is predestined. “Either the young are lucky like Gan Luo or the elderly are fortunate like Tai Gong the Revered,” it goes. “Shi Chong was wealthy and Fan Dan was wretched. Peng Zu enjoyed longevity but Yan Hui was short-lived. The fortunes of these six were all dictated by the Five Elements.” As it happened, Gan Luo became prime minister for First Emperor when he was twelve years old while...

Not Seeing Mount Lu Just Because One is Right in It

Translated by Andrew Yang Su Shi (1037-1101) wrote a short poem titled “Written on the Wall of Xilin Temple” (see Note 1), describing the scenic Mount Lu where the temple was located. Its meaning is both philosophical and rich in Chan. Its frontal view is a mountain range, the side view a peak. At a differing altitude or distance, the view changes. One may not be able see the true face of Mount Lu, Just because they are in the mountain themselves. The first line is about how, when he first arrives at Mount Lu, the poet is immediately fascinated by its majestic beauty and unique grandeur. From the front, the mountain ridges appear to be soaring into the clouds, stretching far and winding unendingly. Interestingly, if one takes a look from the side, what they see may be stunning peaks protruding everywhere and vertical pinnacles cutting straight into the...

The Suffering from Association with a Hated One

Translated by Andrew Yang Buddhism teaches us that there are eight types of suffering in human life: birth, aging, sickness, death, separation from a loved one, association with a hated one, not getting what one wants, and the instability of the five skandhas, that is the five aggregates: form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness. Someone who do not understand the meaning of suffering from association with a hated one, asked the author for an explanation using examples from real life. The most basic of human associations, of course, are those among family and then in society. Confucius calls them the five cardinal relationships, i.e., between ruler and ruled, father and son, husband and wife, among brothers and among friends. We all associate with one another in this life because of karma planted in previous lives. In other words, everyone else in one’s circle in this life used to know each...

Do Animals Have Spirituality?

Translated by Andrew Yang A friend asked, “Why should believers in Buddhism be vegetarian? My religion believes that animals have no spirituality. If so, why can't they be killed and eaten for food?” Gentle readers, do not make light of slaughtering animals and eating their meat. It is important to know that of all evil karma, killing is the worst. Brahma Net Sutra tells us that carnivores cut off their seeds of great compassion. Buddhism, indeed, captures all good practices with compassion and mercy. Compassion means loving sentient beings and bringing them joy, and mercy means taking pity over them and removing their suffering. Further, compassion and mercy apply to all sentient beings including animals, and so no killing is upheld as one of the fundamental Buddhist precepts. Practising vegetarianism is thus an embodiment of Buddhist compassion and mercy. Buddhist scriptures point out that unintelligent as they may be, animals...

Brotherhood

Translated by Andrew Yang A younger brother repaying grievances with compassion In the times of Sakyamuni Buddha, there was a farmer in Benares, India, whose wife had passed away leaving behind two sons. The family of three lived on a few acres of meagre vegetable plots, and felt life was happy. Later, the farmer became seriously ill, and on the deathbed, told his sons, “The younger one of you is only ten years old now. You must take good care of him and fulfill your responsibility as the elder brother. In time, when he is old enough, give him some of the land so he could till himself, and the two of you should take care of each other”. The next day, the farmer died, leaving the brothers deeply miserable. And a year passed when the elder brother had got married, but his wife was not a kind person. Being...

Birth and Fate

Translated by Andrew Yang Two scholars, born on the same day but with different destinies According to An Ancient Mirror for Moral Education, there were two scholars in the Qing dynasty born exactly on the same day at the same time, and in the same town. Local astrologists and numerologists all predicted that they would follow the same destiny. Sure enough, both of them passed the same examination on the same day for employment by the central government, and both secured an official post in central China, one in Ezhou and the other in Huangzhou. They agreed that in future, if there was any change in their fortune, they would inform the other, to confirm that the predictions made by the fortune tellers were accurate. After a few years, the official stationed in Huangzhou suddenly passed away. The one in Ezhou went to mourn him and said in front of...

Do You Know Your Own Mind?

Human beings continue to develop science and technology while advancing material civilization by leaps and bounds. At the same time, their understanding of the spiritual world is unfortunately becoming progressively inadequate. Generally, when psychologists, for instance, give themselves a task of investigating the “mind”, they focus on analyzing the minds of other people, but not on their own. And they tend to limit themselves within the confines of the consciousness of “delusion”, ignoring the nature of the human mind that is supra-consciousness and detached from phenomena. How, then, could such an approach properly explore the profound significance of the true mind? Modern people tend to value the enjoyment of material life, and follow the rule of guarding individual interests. Thus, most people attend more to appearance and ignore the virtue of spirituality. In fact, this mental entity is the inherent Buddha nature of all sentient beings and the source of...
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