On Saturday August 31st, SFYAD invited BLIA San Francisco Chapter President - Katy Hsu, SFYAD President - Selene Chew and SFYAD Member - Anna Chen for the very first English Book Sharing Forum, moderated by SFYAD Vice President - Qiulin Peng. They shared their reflections on Chapter 1 from the book, “I am Not a Dependent of the Buddha”, by Venerable Master Hsing Yun; describing their inspirations from the Venerable Master and the applications of Buddha’s teachings in daily life.
Venerable Master has a great habit of always being grateful even when he was scolded and felt wronged. From this we can learn that we should have a heart full of gratitude to return all the help and support received from friends and others. Selene shared that there could be times where we may not always have the opportunities to repay our benefactors directly, but what we can do instead is to pay it forward by helping other people when we are in a position to offer aid – this in creates a multiplier effect as a greater number of people are being benefitted from one kind deed.
On learning, Venerable Master is constantly learning from everything around him under all circumstances, regardless of good or bad with no distinction – an important point which everyone should keep in mind. Katy shared that one should appreciate every opportunity to learn and improve, especially when encountering difficulties. Instead of avoidance or procrastination, one should focus on problem-solving and learn something out of it the situation.
As Venerable Master said, cultivation is not only about chanting or sitting meditation, but cultivation can be practiced within our daily lives. Anna gave an example about Buddha not being only a statue that we bow and pray to, but the Buddha also lives in our hearts. With that realization, one should be mindful of one’s actions and consciously inspect and correct oneself; so that we can use our thoughts, words and actions as an offering to the Buddha within ourselves. That is exactly what cultivation in daily life means - to be mindful of your actions and contemplate every thought in the moment.
Venerable Master also talked about the concept of “owning everything by having nothing” in the book. But how do we achieve everything from nothing? Anna noted that, “nothing” actually represents the infinite potential one has when one believes in oneself, by opening one’s mind. By having the right mindset, we can expand our possibilities and unleash our potential. Selene added that making vows is also really important, as vows give us the strength and resolve to achieve anything from nothing. From a vow to the Buddha, this sparked Selene to take on more responsibilities, accepting all the causes and conditions on the way - during the process giving her a myriad of opportunities to learn new skills and expand her potential. Through her example it can be seen that opportunities come in all forms, and it is up to ourselves to take on these challenges; where our motivation can turn dreams into plans and into action.
Lastly, as the book title suggests, the most important message is “Buddhism depends on me”. Venerable Master had this mindset ever since he was a kid, which served him like a bright light in his heart, recharging him, illuminating and increasing his confidence. Being able to admit “I am the Buddha”, a takes a lot courage - when admitting “I am the Buddha”, this means one is ready to take on responsibilities to represent Buddha, to carry out the Buddha's teachings, form good affinities with others and spread Buddhism far and wide. In order to do that, we need to have right knowledge, right view, dignified manners, compassion, wisdom; and as we practice self-cultivation, Buddha can truly rely on us.
At the end the session, the moderator concluded that it is important to have a beginners’ mind to be always open and flexible in our daily lives.
The next book forum will be held on Sunday 9/29 2.30pm, where we invite SFYAD's Advising Venerable - Venerable Miao Zhong, and SFYAD’s Benson Kwek and Victoria Hibbert as our panelist, and Lillian Tao as our moderator.