Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

“Lay Down the Killing Knife and Instantly Turn into a Buddha”

Translated By: Andrew Yang A popular Buddhist saying goes, “Lay down the killing knife and instantly turn into a Buddha.” Its meaning is subtle, and should not be taken word by word. By the Song dynasty (960-1279), a form of this proverb had already appeared in numerous Zen quotes. According to Volume 25 of Records of Passing On the Lamp in the Jingde Era, “The Zen master Fa’an Huiji of Bao’en Abbey in Jinling told the audience, Be aware of illusion and depart right away. Doing so is not an act of expediency. Once away you have awakened. This awakening is not gradual… You should follow the example of Guang’e the butcher, who dropped his cleaver to attain arhatship.” Later on, in A History of Zen Buddhism Based on Five Books of Zen Quotations, this metaphor became the saying, “Put down the butcher’s knife and right away change into a...

Gratitude: Buddhist Practice 101 (Part II)

Translated By: Justine Tsui In Part I, we looked at the way gratitude functions in the everyday life of an ordinary person. Next, we examine how it may relate to the personal practice of a Buddhist follower. Gratitude and the practice of Buddhism On gratitude, the Mahavaipulya Sutra on the Tathagata's Inconceivable State has this to say, "One should be grateful, reciprocate and support his parents, master, teacher and those from whom he has received worldly benefits. Why? Because even though grateful beings are subject to death, their wholesome roots will not be damaged. However, ungrateful beings doing various unwholesome deeds destroy their own wholesome roots. Thus, all Tathagatas praise grateful beings and reprimand ungrateful ones." Among Buddha's teachings are five approaches to meditation: mindful breathing, contemplation of impurity, contemplation of compassion, contemplation of causes and conditions, and worldly discrimination. Contemplation of gratitude is a preparative step for contemplation of...

Gratitude: Buddhist Practice 101 (Part I)

Translated by: Justine Tsui Gratitude is a virtuous way of life based on wisdom gathered through lived experience. Every person, whatever their background, should have a thankful mind. What, then, does gratitude exactly mean? The meaning of gratitude Gratitude is a source of happiness With a thankful mind, we may better appreciate the wonders of nature. This appreciation stems from our love of and hope in life. All beings are dependent on nature, since no one can live without air, water or sunlight.  This is a simple fact. Secondly, we live in a diversified society, and our relationships with nature, with other human beings and the community itself all have major bearings on our wellbeing and survival. In other words, every one of us is obliged to the society we belong to. Grateful people, treasuring what nature and society offer them, tend to have a positive, healthy and vibrant mind....

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...
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