Read up on our latest Dharma teachings

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...

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...

Forging Character through Hardship

Translated by: Andrew Yang Edited and Revised by: Venerable Hong Ci Only the deaf appreciate hearing, only the blind realize the manifold blessings that lie in sight...Make the most of every sense; glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty which the world reveals to you." -- Helen Keller According to Buddhism, within the six paths of transmigration, humans inhabit the four continents of the saha world surrounding Mount Sumeru: Purvavideha in the east, Aparagodaniya in the west, Uttarakuru in the north and Jambudvipa in the south. Jambudvipa is the place we live in. Of the four continents, it is also where Buddhism is the most thriving. In these four worlds, Uttarakuru is where humans with the most wholesome karma dwell, whereas Jambudvipa is a place where pleasure is often overshadowed by suffering. Despite this shortcoming, Jambudvipa inhabitants are known to possess a more noble character than the other...

Master Faxian – An Admirable Senior Adventurer

Translated by: Andrew Yang There is no age limit for pursuing wisdom. With perseverance and the right goal in mind, even if you reach the age of an elder, you can still achieve a feat that dazzles the world. In China’s Eastern Jin dynasty, that is, over 1,600 years ago, lived a Buddhist master who, at the age of 64, risked his life by travelling all the way to India to study the Dharma. At 64, normally one is already close to enjoying their happy retirement surrounded by grandchildren. Had he not been a monk, however, how would Master Faxian at that age have taken all the hardship in climbing the snow-clad Pamirs and other dangerous mountains and crossing mighty deserts to learn the Dharma in India? It just shows what a strong will he commanded and how admirable his dedication was. Master Faxian’s journey to the west happened two...

Cultivating Views on Impermanence

Written by: Venerable Guan Cheng Translated by: Andrew Yang Edited and revised by: Venerable Hong Ci   Impermanence, or anitya in Sanskrit, is a universal truth. In Buddhism, it refers to everything in the world that arises and passes from karmic causes and conditions. According to Volume 43 of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra (or Treatise on the Great Perfection of Wisdom), there are two kinds of impermanence: gradual and momentary. Gradual impermanence is progressive change that can be observed in the passing of time. This includes the human phases of birth, aging, sickness and death, and the natural cycle of creation, growth, decay and extinction of all things. Gradual change is easily observable on a macro scale. Buddhists often use the term "Kalpa" as the unit of measurement for extremely long periods of time. There are small, medium and large kalpas: a small kalpa is approximately 17 million years, a medium...
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