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Purpose of Life: What's my future?

On June 13, SFYAD held its second session of the Dear Venerable Series, Purpose of Life. The meaning of life is a big question for all of us. What do we live for? COVID‐19 has impacted the way we live and work. Some may find themselves losing purpose being at home for a very long time. What could Buddhism offer to guide us during this journey of life? Hence, we invited Venerable Miao Hsi, executive director of Buddha’s Light Publications, the U.S.A, and Venerable Zhi Xing, Head of Department of Social Education & Outreach and monastic advisor for the BLIA Los Angeles Chapter Hsi Lai subchapter and BLIA YAD Los Angeles subdivision I, both from Hsi Lai Temple to share their wisdom and experience with us. A total of 21 attendees came for the event. This event is special as we also broadcasted our event on Clubhouse as a live podcast so we could reach viewers who prefer listening to video conferencing. There were nine people who attended this event on Clubhouse.

At the beginning of the event, Abbess of Fo Guang Shan Northern California, Venerable Ru Yang, encouraged everyone to learn from this event and gain confidence and wisdom on finding our value and purpose in life.

In the first 50 minutes, the two Venerables answered questions attendees posted over the past week on Slido. Examples of questions asked by our attendees were, "Careerwise, I do not think I am making a big positive impact on the world. Those that are more impact-oriented (such as NGOs) pay very little. Others are making money and becoming successful but I’m not. What can I do? Is it wrong that money might be my purpose in life?", "Due to the pandemic, I lost motivation, and become overwhelmed and stressed to keep working. Sometimes I start to doubt myself and feel life is meaningless. Should I quit my job? How could I find that passion I started off with initially?", and "How should I know that my purpose in life is good and upright? I realized that those values I had were not good. What should I do next? How to make it more meaningful?"

Both Venerables shared that the Eightfold Noble Paths serve as excellent guidelines for us in search of our values and purposes. For example, Venerable Miao Hsi posed a question on whether success made through illegal means or actions that harm others is good. In other words, do we have the Right Livelihood? Venerable Zhi Xing shared a parable of the elephant and the mouse saving each other from danger. She said that each and every one of us has our own values and purpose, regardless of our backgrounds. We need to discover this potential ourselves. Venerable Miao Hsi added that this needs time and balance, and we should not rush into things, especially when we are held up with negative emotions. Only when we have an objective view, can we evaluate ourselves better and make better choices.

In the last 30 minutes, the session was opened for a Q&A session with the Venerables. Many asked personal questions and sought guidance from the Venerables. The Venerables stressed the importance of meditation and patience during this segment. When we meditate, we are able to see things more clearly and with an objective mind. They mentioned that this may help us discover our potential, values, and purpose. Venerable Miao Hsi also stressed the importance of having patience as we are always in a hurry to get results.

Venerable Miao Hsi closed off the session, reminding everyone that we need to persevere in order to succeed in life; all good things have obstacles and hurdles. She also mentioned how Venerable Master Hsingyun overcame so many obstacles from a young age to achieve many things, such as the founding of Fo Guang Shan, the establishment of the BLIA, and schools, amongst others as well.

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