Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

The Six-metaphor Lay Practitioner

Translated by Andrew Yang “A worldly life is like a boat with a low awning. To the west coast or the east, it keeps moving. Many a time the crescent moon becomes round, and the wind blows north after it goes southbound. Year after year, no one is forever good to get along. When in late spring no flower stays red for long. Right or wrong, what one hears one is to tolerate. And also, act half demented and half deaf-mute.” Life is like a lone boat with a small canopy to shelter from wind and rain. In the sea of time, it drifts along with billowing waves. Sometimes things are joyful like a full moon, and sometimes they turn sorrowful like a new moon. When things are well, they are like a warm southerly wind, and when they are adverse, they behave like a harsh northerly wind. All dharma...

2021 Lunar New Year Speech by Ven Guang Cheng

Edited by Ven Shan Ci Translated by Ven Shan Hu Respectable practitioners, I wish every one of you a good new year. May you all enjoy good health, abundance and peace of mind. At the turn of a new year, it is a great opportunity to share with you how to apply the Buddhists’ dharma in adversities. The Lotus Sutra says, “There is no peace in the triple realm, Just like in the burning house, Which is full of various suffering.” We, sentient beings in the desire realm have no way to escape afflictions. We feel troubled when in adversities.  Difficulties in our personal life, family or society are adversities beyond our control. We may not be able to change the situations we are in but we can change our mind as afflictions come from our mind.  Through practice, we can change our mind. The Yogâcāra (Consciousness-only) school of...

The Poems of Zen

Translated by Andrew Yang When practitioners of Zen (or Chan), reached a high level in meditative contemplation, this state cannot be expressed in words, nor is it possible for ordinary people to gauge or think about through mental acuity. Buddhist scriptures sometimes describe this state as “it is where words and stream of thoughts ceased to function”. Once they attain enlightenment, their perception and understanding have exceeded the realms of speech and consciousness. Their hearts are joyful, and their literary wisdom overflows from a hidden spring, enabling them to render their attainment in meditation in poetry. For this reason, there is a large collection of Chan Buddhist poems. On the surface, Buddhahood and poetry seem to be distinct from each other and unrelated. Buddhahood belongs to religion, while poetry belongs to literature. In terms of content, the former is the result of awakening to the truth of life and the...

The Clouds Gone with the Storm Overnight

Translated by Andrew Yang During China’s Five Dynasties period (907-960) following Tang, there lived a Chan master named Master Zhizhi, a disciple of Huanglong Huinan and hereditary disciple of Linji Sect of Chan. Once, Master Zhizhi had a residency as a visiting monk at Guizong Temple on Mount Lu, but feeling that there were too many monks living in the monastery, and as he always liked to stay away from crowds and rather live alone in serene mountains, he bid farewell to the abbot and made home up on a nearby peak. At the time, all the colleagues persuaded him to stay, because with no one else around, there would be no donor community to support him, and since the peak was shrouded in clouds and mists, they thought he would not be able to grow food. And if, every day, he lived on nothing but yam and wild vegetables,...

Why Practise Vegetarianism

Translated by Andrew Yang A young friend believes that believing in Buddhism and following a vegetarian diet are things for the elderly to do. Young people, having a long way to go, do not need any religious faith, he thought. And as long as they work hard, with luck they will certainly acquire status, fame and fortune. He also assumes that vegetarianism is just a rule for some religion, and inasmuch as one is kind-hearted and do plenty of good, why bother about being a vegetarian? Gentle readers, it is true that as long as young people are willing to work hard and strive to improve themselves, they may indeed have a bright future. But, when we look at it from another angle, do wealth, reputation and social standing encompass all our lives? If they do, then why are there those who have achieved brilliance in business, politics, and academia...

Insight at the Three Passes in Gradual Awakening with Gradual Cultivation

Translated by Andrew Yang In querying “Who is chanting Buddha’s name?” questions are raised about Who is it? And Who after all? With untiring perseverance on the part of the Chan practitioner, his noumenal intrinsic nature becomes both serene and part of the voidness. In his mind then, the atma or permanent self is extinct but the dharmas are still extant, and so, while the ego-inspired clinging is gone, his clinging to the phenomena is not yet terminated. This is “insight at a beginning stage”, and hence one needs to pursue further. When confusion-based questioning and a sense of the void get knotted, the more query one executes, the more questioning and knotting there is. By this time, the practitioner is not aware of anything except his own confusion. But once all that is thoroughly cleared, the voidness crashes, the earth recedes and there is a sudden liberating enlightenment. His...

Interview with Dr Chung-kwong Poon

Dr Chung-kwong Poon served as president of Hong Kong Polytechnic University for 18 years, member of The Legislative Council and member of The National Committee of The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Since retiring in 2009, he has been actively involved in charity and dedicated himself to promoting Buddhism and personal cultivation in Pure Land. In the following interview, we ask him about some of the milestones in his life and his personal experience in practising Buddhism. Dr Poon, how did you walk into Buddhism as a scientist and become a serious practitioner? Hong Kong is such a unique place, with its prestigious schools dominated by either Catholicism or Christianity. While studying at Christian schools in my childhood, I accepted Christian doctrines and found that the teachings of Jesus are very good, but I was not baptized. After getting married, I followed my wife to become a Catholic, and we...

Vimalakirti Delivers A Resounding Thunder, Silently

Translated by Andrew Yang   “Where will Vimalakirti go? Forever, it has been tempting but unreachable. About the one and only Dharma approach, ask not how so? At nightfall, the bright moon ascends a lone hill.” This poem is written by Xuedou Chongxian (980-1052), a Chan master of the Song dynasty, after inquiring and inspired by “the silent thunder”, a gong-an or koan involving Vimalakirti. Accessing “the one and only Dharma approach” means that the practitioner has transcended all dualistic thoughts on the extremes and realized the truth, so it is known literally as “the non-duality gateway”. According to the chapter on Accessing the One and Only Dharma Approach, Vimalakirti Sutra has it that once, Vimalakirti and many bodhisattvas assembled to discuss the non-duality gateway as spoken by the Buddha. The Bodhisattvas enumerated many dualistic concepts, such as birth and death, purity and pollution, good and evil, blessing and sin,...

Tathagata Chan

Translated by Andrew Yang What is Chan or meditative concentration? From an ontological point of view, it is not anything, and yet it is everything. If one thinks of Chan as a kind of thinking, it is not what it’s meant to be. The aim of Chan is to free the practitioner from the shackles of thought. Considering this, how is it possible then to set up an ideology system through Chan? We should know that everything that exists, whether material or spiritual, is not the ontological body of Chan itself, and in that sense, Chan is nothing. At the same time, however, it is not accurate either simply to say that Chan is nothing, for although it is not thought per se, Chan has led to an infinite wealth of human thinking. In addition, since beginningless time, it has never departed from the seeing, hearing, knowing and understanding of...
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