BY GRANDMA SU
Our human experience is very complicated. To educate people well, it takes the right approach.
What is a Buddhist education? Buddhism, rather than being a religion, is a virtuous and perfect education for all mankind, committed to the growth of the mind and the human spirit. It is an excellent and comprehensive education for members of the human race. This kind of education is important for developing and elevating oneself as a human being.
It is my honour to introduce you to Namo Amitabha Buddha. Amitabha is the king of lights, and he is dedicated to helping us reach Nirvana, the state of trancendence from the earthly cycle of birth and re-birth. Based on the study of forty-eight vows created by Amitabha, he has spent five kalpas (approx. 6.7 billion, or 6,700,000,000 years) creating this paradise in the west.
The vastness of the Dharma lies in its infinite wisdom, which guides beings towards tolerance and broadmindedness, and helps us to practise compassion.
To be a Buddhist is not to follow blindly. It is an education.
The core teachings of Buddhism help us to turn away from negative thoughts and behaviours, and to move towards a more positive and beneficial mindset.
People usually have too many desires and long to acquire more and more possessions. They are driven by their greed, while forgetting that they could be happy with what they already have. People never cease to chase material success, causing them stress and disappointment and making them forget the happiness that they once enjoyed. At Hsiang Kuang Buddhist Temple, we would like to show you the way towards freeing yourself from this cycle– you just need to regain your sense of self by following in the Buddha’s footsteps. This will lead you to the purifying light of Amitabha, which will give you the power to grow into a new and better life.
Humans are born into this world where they constantly struggle to survive. They become tired from the unending cycle of life and death. We have a wonderful chance to be introduced to the true enlightenment of Buddhism, which enables us to be liberated and to find the right direction in life. This is the reason why we need to learn Buddhism and follow in Buddha’s footsteps.
To practice Buddhism means to improve our internal experience, which will change our experience of the external world. For a Buddhist, this precious life is best spent on practicing and finding your true self. Once you find your true self, you will feel a sense of freedom and comfort from within, so that you will never lose direction again. Many people do not know about the inner treasure called Buddha-nature, the true self you can find if you simply look inward. Instead, they spend their whole lives looking outward for impermanent things.
How should we update our education for the younger generation? It is common in our society to see confused and directionless young people who have no sense of purpose. Media reports of social disturbances are on the rise. Technological conveniences have entranced and distracted our children. Why does our children’s nature remain uncultivated, even as they receive more and more education? Because not many educators, in their minds and actions, teach children to find their true selves. Our educators have missed a chance to properly develop the internal fortitude of the younger generation. Could we improve and expand the education our children receive, to include skills and tools for them to better manage and navigate our modern world? Teachers are important, but it is doubly important that our children receive quality education from true role models willing to give them the most comprehensive education possible.
Without the help of knowledgeable and competent educators, our current education system will keep churning out unprepared graduates who will be a burden to society.
We value education for all people.
Namo Amitabha Buddha was a person who lived a humane life and truly practiced Buddhism in all its entirety. His practice of Buddhism developed his talent and courage- he was devoted to his spiritual practice and after his initiation he was a true role model. Amitabha Buddha created a world beyond for all sentient beings, and by his sheer courage, might and power, he demonstrated his ability to bestow enlightenment onto all those who seek to join him. His achievement spread through endless time and space to help all sentient beings, who are everywhere in the Dharmadhātu.
To practice Buddhism is not to be superstitious; it is to try, with every fiber of your being, to create your ultimate lifetime achievement. Amitabha Buddha hopes to see children learn how to achieve enlightenment. Worldly education is not capable of this. To be brief, practicing Buddhism simply takes “good intentions.”
Worldly desires tempt us. All sorts of attractions confuse our six senses (of seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing, and thinking). Driven by their curiosity, children grow up not just under the influence of formal education but also of the world outside of the campus and the family. Who can resist the influences of the outside world? Their pure minds are therefore polluted. Once polluted, it is hard to regain the clarity of the mind. In this information age in which we live, it is difficult to control the flow of information, and children are exposed to many unhealthy influences. This transformation of the world, just like the decline of morality, has been so drastic that it is impossible to simply “return to the good old days.” Our only hope is that the all-compassionate Amitabha Buddha will come to our rescue. This is why I am urging every one of you to help protect and promote the Dharma, which teaches us to recover our Buddha-nature (our true self). Once we’ve found our own Buddha nature, we’re endowed with infinite compassion, wisdom, and virtue. We no longer need to look outward and can live a peaceful life under any circumstances. Everything we need to live in peace and with ease is already within us. It is a precious true self that we should work hard to retrieve.
Our minds are in flux. After years of change, we have paid a heavy price. Look at the people walking down the street. Look in their eyes and you will see the restlessness and tension. How can you free yourself from the sadness or restlessness in your heart? Why has psychological therapy become so popular these days? The decline of our civilisation is serious. It is difficult for people to free themselves from their physical and mental worries. The real solution lies at the root of all our troubles. By what means can we be truly liberated from physical and mental suffering? Many people are searching for the truth to fill their empty hearts, without realising that the truth is actually in their minds.
Many people fear dying from illness. How can we get rid of such a fear? Most of us do not want to face this reality, believing it to be too heavy a topic for us to delve into at a given moment. However, if we do not face illness and death in advance, how can we ever discover that life is supposed to be carefree, and that we can indeed live without worries?
Our respected Amitabha teaches us the infinite wisdom of Buddhism, emphasising that the core of truth lies in the concepts of no-self, no-mind and no-thought. A sincere mind knows how to change and purify itself, realising the way in which its life should flow. The preciousness of human life lies in the fact that human beings are able to become Buddhas - enlightened beings who delight greatly in helping other beings attain enlightenment. The ‘other beings’ here are not limited to those living on Earth, but include those living in other realms, other planets, or even far across the galaxy or universe.
Not being sick and not dying is not a dream. It is a truth that can be realised.
Some of the blessings bestowed upon you when you practice Buddhism are protection for your health, and the knowledge of your soul’s infinite existence. Following this path leads to being liberated to go to the Western Pure Realm of Nirvana and receive eternal purity and brightness. You can achieve this goal though the intensive practice of Buddhism which is to work on your own. You can chant the Buddha's name, prostrate before him, and recite the sutras, all of which will calm your mind and purify your karma. It can help you find your true self, clear your mind, and regain your original spiritual forms.
Feel the joy of selflessness
As a human being, you should not think only of your own interests. How do you distinguish between those who have compassion for other beings and those who do not? The sense of the individual self, or the "I", is the least helpful way a being in this world can view themselves, because if this sense of "I" is the center of your identity, how can you truly serve others? The education advocated by Amitabha Buddha aims to help the public by cultivating compassion in the masses and teaching them to empty their minds and quiet their thoughts, and become selfless, and willing to sacrifice themselves for others. One criterion for judging the success of a Buddhist education is whether children will show sufficient generosity and kindness when they join charitable organisations in the future. They should be taught to feel the joy of selflessness, and with this joy, they can live in the world without feeling any burden.
How can our children free themselves from the law of cause and effect? It is vital to heal their hearts, which silently cry in pain. There is so much physical and mental suffering in modern society. People have secrets in the dark corners of their hearts, and many feelings and memories of the past go unshared. Healing the heart means getting rid of the mind's pain and allowing someone to hear the voice inside of us, and respond to it with reason. That way, people can understand the problems that surround them, and learn to be the masters of their own lives, so they will no longer be affected by their ever-changing emotions.
A red light is flashing in this world right now: so many people suffer from physical ailments stemming from mental illness and paralysis. Efforts should be made to heal their physical and mental illnesses and help them find harmony between the mind and body.
Buddhist education helps people to attain ultimate peace of mind. It cures the fallacies of the secular medical world and allows you to realise your desire to be free from suffering. Sadly, many people leave this world in sorrow because they do not understand the true meaning of life and death. I would like to ask you all: Are children panicking inside? Most of them will answer that they are afraid of the unknown, and of the uncertain future. If you take a Buddhist education and adjust your mind and behaviour, all of your anxieties and illnesses will naturally become better no matter how serious.
'Right Mindfulness' is the panacea for all delusions and suffering. It converts all the illusions we suffer - no matter how they are caused - into a clear, pure state of mind, where you are no longer troubled by physical ailments or mental anguish.
Amid human contradictions and suffering, there is an obsession with emotion, such as that between men and women. It is an abstract force, hidden from us, impossible to measure or detect, yet it affects us all deeply. It triggers such a powerful attraction and interest between a man and a woman that the man's heart races at the sight of a woman he desires, and a woman falls in love with a man in the same way. It is a driving force of karma in the universe, and further imprisons us in the cycle of cause and effect, our relationships with those who surround us being shaped and driven by these echoes through our past lives.
Freedom to simply live
"Those who live such a life may be called enlightened -those who live a spiritual life on earth."
The teachings of Amitabha Buddha and the path towards the Western Paradise are at the center of Pure Land Buddhism practice. We must have faith in these teachings in order to make the "two powers" work - the power of the self and the power of the Buddha. To be reincarnated in the Pure Land of the West, one must see through reality and let go of everything, knowing that in this life on earth we only have the 'right to use' and not the right to 'own' the things that seem to belong to us. With such knowledge comes a carefree life, a life without burdens, and with all the happiness that comes with this. This is the state of true spiritual balance of mind and body - It is the freedom to simply live.
"Those who live such a life may be called enlightened - those who live a spiritual life on earth."
There is no such thing as ‘lucky’ for a Buddhist. You have to change your old habits and temperament. Do not indulge yourself in problems that can not be resolved. Otherwise, you will not be able to persevere on the path of a Buddhist practitioner. So, what is actual practice? First of all, you should strive to attain a pure mind and rid your being of contamination, view all sentient beings with compassion, without selfishness, without ego, without thoughts. A person who has attained these will naturally show that he is a companion of the Buddha, that his words and actions are solemn and respectful at all times - when walking, sitting, sleeping, or resting. A man or woman who has genuinely purified his or her mind, whose purity is natural, is a companion of the Buddha in their task of saving all sentient beings.
A proper understanding of Buddhism
A proper understanding of Buddhism and an appreciation of the truth means knowing the law of cause and effect and all beings' suffering in the six realms of rebirth (gods, humans, asuras, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell). It means an appreciation that revenge only invites retribution, and that hatred leads to endless hatred. This is why it is of utmost importance to know Amitabha Buddha and his Pure Land of Ultimate Happiness, which will help us to see through reality, let go of everything, and reach enlightenment.
When we practice or learn the sutras and teachings of Buddha's enlightenment, we can simultaneously summon our 'Karmic Creditors' and the spirits trapped in our bodies to join us in practicing the truth of life. In doing so, we are also helping our present and previous lives’ Karmic Creditors to be aware of the reasons behind their vengefulness, let go of their suffering, and leave us be. This can help to improve our illnesses and speed up our physical recovery. It is crucial to feel remorse truly. People who have an illness or are suffering in some way should understand that their illness is proof of the law of cause and effect, and is simply a karmic reflection of what they have done in the past, it is to say: bad karma acting back on you. It is not advisable to complain and curse or to hold grudges. Resentment can further complicate the reconciliation process and worsen your illness. When you are ill, it is best to repent completely. Repentance helps to heal the illness.
Amitabha saw all the suffering in this world.
The ritual at Hsiang Kuang Buddhist Temple, 'Skills for responding to retaliation from our karmic creditors', will enable you to gain insight into the inner-workings of your body and thus know where sentient beings reside within it. To converse with them through a skilled practitioner, write down these messages, and they will convey them directly to the spirit. Spiritual communication with these sentient beings will enable you to understand the cause of your illness. This will allow the beings to tell their story, after which you can dissolve past karmic enmities and respectfully invite and persuade them to leave - to the Pure Land of the West, where they can become Buddhist practitioners and be relieved of all pain and suffering. During the 'Thrice Memorial Ceremony' held at Hsiang Kuang Buddhist Temple and the daily 'Dharmakāya's Chao du,' participants honour the Buddha by reciting the six-character true saying Na Mo A Mi Tuo Fo (Namo Amitabha Buddha, 'Namo' means refuge), which will help those sentient beings seeking revenge to be reborn in the Western Pure Land.
“These six words - Na Mo A Mi Tuo Fo - contain the infinite energy of Amitabha. All his merits and blessings are incorporated into these six words.”
Why is it possible to save the world and cure diseases in this way? Amitabha saw all the suffering in this world. The practitioner of Hsiang Kuang Buddhist Temple, who had the same wish as Amitabha and corresponded with him, came here to abide in the monastery and teach the method mentioned above of saving sentient beings. All beings are reincarnated in the six realms and cannot find a way out. It is a great blessing to introduce them to the monastery and teach them how to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha. Curing illness is only one of the ways to escape from suffering. More important is the understanding that Amitabha exists to help all sentient beings be free from karmic suffering. If people wish, they can join the Buddha's extraordinary mission to save the world and all sentient beings, and then together, they can obtain liberation to the Buddha's Western Pure Land.
Hsiang Kuang Buddhist Temple is the Pure Land.
Devoutness is one of the human virtues promoted by Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Buddhism is about the "mind." All phenomena are a reflection of the mind. Once you become a devotee who respects others, you will radiate the aura of a devout and sincere person. Devotion is a crucial step towards focusing the mind and body, based on which your actions will naturally reveal your education and practice. Thus, we can attain all Buddhist practice achievements through devotion to piousness.
The gist of Buddhism is that we can summarise everything the Buddha teaches in one sentence. 'Know thyself, thy pure and clean self that we can transform into Nirvana.' This is the truth of what was, what is and what will be. We must realise that this is the ultimate purpose of our life on earth and the goal of our practice. - "to know our true self and to be transformed into Nirvana." Therefore, all active practitioners should do what the Zen Master Zhong Feng did when he founded the 'Thrice Memorial Ceremony,' a ritual chanting session designed. That makes participants realise that Amitabha is our mind and that there is no difference between our mind and the mind of Amitabha.
Namo Amitabha Buddha. -Praise the compassionate Buddha.
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