Saturday, February 06, 2010

Spritual Renaissance

Domestic Violence. Wife battery. Those were the initial thoughts occupying Venerable Chang-Hwa's mind one day when she was attending to a lady devotee who seemed visibly shaken at the Buddhist Temple she was stationed, not long after her ordainment as a Buddhist nun under the late Venerable Grand Master Sheng Yen. “What did Shi Fu teach us under this circumstance?”

She continued to stall for time while churning her mind trying to look for an appropriate response. Meanwhile, she learned that their children knew about the incident as well. "That's not good," she reasoned.

Then the question followed naturally. “Why did he hit you?”

“Well, he likes to donate to orphanages and welfare homes. And I always nag him as it's like throwing away good money.”

“Huh?”. And after a palpable sigh of relief, Venerable Chang-Hwa was in her elements. “Do you know what great blessings your husband have accrued by giving to others? It's a tremendous act of kindness that should invite praise, not criticism. You're indeed blessed to have him as your husband whom you should cherish.”

After a brief moment of bewilderment, the woman's face beamed. That's how a change of perspective can tip the emotional balance from utter outrage to gratitude.

The above anecdote is just one of many that Venerable Chang-Hwa shared with us on Jan 24, 2010 in Clearwater, a Dharma session organized by Brother Peter and Sister Nancy Kau on behalf of the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association (DDMBA).

Entitled the Art of Letting Go, Venerable Chang-Hwa, who is the Director of the New York Ch'an Meditation, led the attendees through the various pathways toward cultivating inner peace and leading a life that is devoid of cravings, but instead, one filled with compassion and rich with giving that are enshrined in the Living Proposition for the 21th Century as encapsulated in the 5/4 movement of the Mind, a thoughtful legacy from the late Grand Master Sheng Yen who has worked tirelessly to inject tranquility into the daily hustle and bustle of the masses through Buddhist practice and meditation. (The image of the Late Grand Master on the right is taken from the newsletter of the Malaysian Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhism Information Center.

The 5 refers to the five realms, and the 4, virtuous pathways under each of the realms. Captioned as the Spiritual Renaissance, the 5/4 Movement of the Mind has its roots in protecting the four environments (Spiritual, Living, Natural, and Social) that the late Master Sheng Yen first advocated in 1992. The bilingual version of the essence of the 5/4 Movement of the Mind appears below, courtesy of Wify's Chinese calligraphy based on the handouts and the DDMBA website for the English translation:

Fivefold Spiritual Renaissance - A Proposition for Living in the 21st Century

The Four Fields for Cultivating Peace

To uplift the character of humanity, we propose to cultivate:

* Peaceful Mind through being content and having few desires.
* Peaceful Body through diligence and a simple life.
* Peaceful Family through love and respect for each other.
* Peaceful Conduct through peaceful thoughts, words, and actions.

The Four Guidelines for Dealing with Desires

A proposal for calming minds:

* Our needs are few.
* Our desires are many.
* Pursue only what we can and should acquire.
* Never pursue what we can’t and shouldn’t acquire.

The Four Steps for Handling a Problem

A proposal for resolving difficulties in life:

* Face it: Face the problem, do not deny its existence.
* Accept it: Accept the reality; everything happens for a reason.
* Handle it: Take care of things with wisdom, and take care of people with compassion.
* Let it go: Make best efforts to resolve the matter, regardless of its outcome

The Four Practices for Helping Oneself and Others

A proposal for getting along with others:

* Be grateful for favorable and adverse situations that nurture our growth.
* Be thankful for opportunities to offer ourselves to others.
* Be reflective on improving ourselves through meditation, contrition and beginning anew.
* Be inspiring to others through our behavior.

The Four Ways to Cultivate Blessings

A proposal for increasing blessings:

* Recognize our blessings: be content and happy.
* Cherish our blessings: treasure what we have and repay the kindness that we have received.
* Nurture our blessings: share with others and give to those in need.
* Sow the seeds of our blessings: benefit all people with the growth of wisdom and compassion.

They are self-explanatory. The hard part is to embrace them in our daily life, making ourselves the living proof of the spiritual renaissance, one day at a time.

Sister Nancy Kau introducing the Dharma teacher of the Day, Venerable Chang-Hwa.

Venerable Chang-Hwa engagingly answering a question from the floor.

The attentive audience.

A group photo, courtesy of Brother Peter Kau.

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