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The Teachings Of Great Master Yin Guang

Whether one is a layperson or has left the home- life, one should respect elders and be harmonious to those surrounding him. One should endure what others cannot, and practice what others cannot achieve


The Sweetest Smile Yet

As we come to the end of our treatise on Loving and Dying, I should make it clear that I do not at all claim to be an authority on living, loving or dying. But I have tried to share some thoughts on the subject with you, thoughts about how to live and die with love and understanding all along the way


A World Of Anomalies

Reading the newspapers and newsmagazines can give us much food for reflection. Besides the orbituaries, there are grim reminders of uffering all over the world, though we may have become quite numbed to it.


Contemplation On Death

While we are alive it is good to contemplate on death now and then. In fact it is good to do it daily. The Buddha recommends frequent contemplation on death because there are many benefits to be gained from such contemplation. Let's look at how we can benefit in contemplating on death.


Our Death Should Be Serene

All of us have to die one day. Our death should be serene and peaceful. Therefore when someone is about to die we should make it as serene and beautiful for him or her as possible. Yes, are you surprised that death can be beautiful? If you are, it is because we normally have dosa or aversion towards death. There is fear of pain and the uncertainty of what is to come after death. Then there is attachment to our loved ones which gives rise to much pain in our heart in having to part with them.


We Are Our Own Saviours

Sometimes as a monk I'm asked to go for funeral chanting. I do feel sorry for the bereaved ones but sometimes I also feel quite helpless because there is so much confusion as regards the role of a monk in funeral chanting.


Loving Is Understanding

o die well we must live well. If we have lived well we can die well. There will be no regrets. We can go peacefully, content that we have done what we could, that along the way we have spread understanding and happiness, that we have lived according to our principles and commitment to the ideals of love and compassion.


We Must Do Our Bit

Earlier I said that when I saw the sick, the dying and the dead, two resolutions arose in my mind. One is to be able to take pain and death with a smile, to be able to remain mindful and composed to the very end. Now I wish to touch on my second resolution.


Tribute To Kuai Chan

'd like to tell you about a brave yogi who died peacefully from lung cancer with the word, Nibbana, on her lips. Her name is Kuai Chan and she passed away on December 18,1992 at her home in Kuala Lumpur.


Coping With Disease The Right Attitude

We should not look on disease and suffering as something which will destroy us completely, and thereby giving in to despair and despondency. On the contrary, we (ie. in the case of Buddhists) can look upon it as a test of how well we have understood the Buddha's teachings, how well we can apply the understanding we have supposedly learnt.


Two Resolutions

As I'm writing now, I recall that just yesterday a fellow monk died. He had been suffering from terminal cancer for eight months. When I was by his side at the hospital a few days before his death, he was in pain. I tried to feed him some broth but he could not eat. He looked quite gaunt and grim. He could hardly speak.


Hello Death Goodbye Life

One day when I die, as I must, I'd like to die with a smile on my lips. I'd like to go peacefully, to greet death like a friend, to be able to say quite cheerfully: "Hello Death, Goodbye Life."



I have written this book to share some thoughts on death with anybody who may care to read it. Thoughts about how we can go about facing death - with courage and equanimity. With dignity. And if you like with a smile. Thoughts about how to cope with suffering, to live with wisdom and compassion, or with as much of it as we can muster, until we die.



I am very much indebted to: Santivara for all his hard work in doing the layout and design of this book; and to Tuck Loon for his cover art and illustrations.


Loving Is Understanding

Chủ nhật - 29/09/2013 07:41
Loving and Dying

Loving and Dying

o die well we must live well. If we have lived well we can die well. There will be no regrets. We can go peacefully, content that we have done what we could, that along the way we have spread understanding and happiness, that we have lived according to our principles and commitment to the ideals of love and compassion.
Loving and Dying

By Visuddhacara

Illustration by Hor Tuck Loon


To die well we must live well. If we have lived well we can die well. There will be no regrets. We can go peacefully, content that we have done what we could, that along the way we have spread understanding and happiness, that we have lived according to our principles and commitment to the ideals of love and compassion.

Love is understanding. Love does not judge or condemn. Love listens and understands. Love cares and sympathises. Love accepts and forgives. Love knows no barriers. It does not segregate and say: I am a Theravadin and you are a Mahayanese or Tibetan. It does not say: I am a Buddhist and you are a  Christian, a Muslim, a Hindu. Or I am a Chinese; you're a Malay, an Indian, a Eurasion. Or I'm an Easterner and you are a Westerner; or I'm Malaysian, you're Japanese, an American, a Burmese, a Thai and so on.

Love transcends all barriers. Love sees and feels that we are all of one race, the human race. Our tears are all the same; they are salty, and our blood is all red. When there is this kind of love and compassion, we can empathise with another human being. We can see that we are all travelling in the same boat upon the stormy sea of life. We are fellow-sufferers in samsara, the endless faring-on in the round of birth and death. We are brothers and sisters.

When we can see and feel this, then all barriers of race, religion, ideology and so on will fall away. We can reach out with a heart of pure love. We can  understand and feel another's suffering. Compassion will swell and fill our breast. And in whatever we say or do, this love and compassion will come across. It will soothe and heal. It will contribute to peace and understanding.


Love goes hand-in-hand with compassion. When we have a loving heart, compassion arises easily in us. Whenever we see somebody suffering, we feel an urge to reach out to ease that person's suffering. Compassion has this quality of desiring to eliminate suffering. It can be especially felt when we act spontaneously to remove or ease another's suffering. A story here will help to clarify the point: A man saw a scorpion drowning in a puddle of water. A spontaneous desire to save arose in his heart, and without hesitating he stretched out his hand, lifted out the scorpion from the puddle, and put it on dry ground. The scorpion stung him. And wanting to cross the road, the scorpion resumed its walk and headed straight again into the the puddle! Seeing it floundering and drowning again, the man picked it up a second
time and was again stung. Someone who came along and sawall that had happened, said to the man: "Why are you so stupid? Now you see you have been stung not once but twice! It's a silly thing to do to try to save a scorpion." The man replied: "Sir, I can't help it. You see, it is the nature of the scorpion to sting. But it is my nature to save. I can't help but try to save that scorpion." True, the man could have exercised some wisdom and used a stick or something to lift out the scorpion. But then he might have thought that he could have lifted the scorpion with his hand in such a way as not to be stung. Or he might have thought that a scorpion in such a dire strait would not sting him. Whatever it may be, the moral of the story is in the spontaneous response of the man in wanting to save another living being, even though it
may be an insect. It also shows that the compassionate man is such that even though he may receive ingratitude from a person he had helped, it does not matter. It is just his nature to help, and if he could help again, he would. He doesn't know how to harbour any bitterness or grudges!

Compassion then is the language of the heart. At the time when we are motivated by love and compassion, we reach  out to help without discrimination as to the race, creed or nationality of another. In the light of compassion, identification to race, creed, etc becomes secondary; they become insignificant. Further, such compassion is not confined to human beings but is also extended to all living things including animals and insects. In line with the above theme of compassion as the language of the heart, I will like to offer you a poem:


Mahayana Theravada Vajrayana
Christian Buddhist Muslim Hindu
Malay Chinese Indian Eurasian
Malaysian Japanese American African
White man Black man Yellow man Brown man
and so on and so forth
as you like.

What does it matter?
The language of compassion
is the language of the heart!

When the heart speaks
A thousand flowers bloom
And love flows
like the morning sun
streaming through the window.

No words are needed
a look, a touch,
will suffice
to say
what a thousand words could not.

And Compassion glows
like the radiant star
in the night sky

Barriers crumble
prejudices flounder
Supremacy regain
e & Compassion
vanquishing all fears & misgivings
healing wounds


The language of compassion is the language of the heart

I feel that if we have tried to cultivate this kind of love and compassion, then when the time comes for us to die, we will go peacefully. Even if we have not succeeded 100 per cent in loving perfectly, we can still be happy and content that we have tried.And surely we would have succeeded to a certain extent.


If we have been trying to cultivate this kind of love, then keeping the five basic precepts will not be that difficult. The first precept, as we know, is not to kill, not to take any life, even that of an animal or insect. This is a beautiful precept. It means that we respect life. Nay, not only do we respect life, we also cherish it.  Life is precious to all. When we give life, we are giving a most precious gift. When we keep this precept we become kinder. Not only do we refrain from killing, we also refrain from harming any living being.

True, in this imperfect world where the strong prey on the weak, killing is rampant. We can see this in the animal world, how a tiger would feed on a deer, a snake on a frog, a frog on a fly, a bird on a worm, and a big fish on a small fish. And we humans too kill the animals and fish and even each other. But we are not here to judge or condemn. We understand our human imperfections and the imperfect nature of existence. The Buddha understood too. He says that when we can purify our mind and attain Nibbana, then we can opt out of this imperfect existence, this cycle of birth and death. It is for us to verify whether this can be done. When we have cleansed our minds of all greed, hatred and ignorance, we will know with the certainty of direct experience whether the Buddha spoke true or not. Until then, I have faith that I can do no better than to follow the path of the Buddha, the path of purifying the mind.

Each of us has to follow our path of development. Let each one of us try to keep the first precept to the best of our  ability: We should not kill; we should spare life, give life.

The second precept is not to steal or cheat, not to take anything with dishonest intent. We are honest and we shall earn
our living the honest way. There are some people who say that an honest man cannot succeed or become rich. I do not agree with this. I'm sure there are many honest men who stuck to their principles and succeed. And furthermore they  enjoy the happiness of a clear conscience and peaceful mind. On the other hand those who cheated are often exposed and punished in the end. Even if they do manage to escape detection, they still suffer from fear of detection and the pangs of a guilty conscience; and when they die, the suffering of a woeful rebirth awaits them. As such, honesty has always been and will always be the best policy. Do not listen to those who say otherwise. The honest can be more successful. Even if we should face greater obstacles, we would not cheat to succeed. We would rather be honest and poor, than to be rich but crooked. There is nothing so blissful as a clear conscience, especially at the time when we face death.

The third precept is to be responsible in sexual matters. If two partners take their relationship seriously, are considerate, loving and faithful to each other, then their love is sealed. No third party can come in between them. Sexual  responsibility is very important. Because of irresponsibility, victimisation occurs. Pimps destroy the lives of young girls; and men who succumb to their lust are abettors to the ill-deed. But we are not here to judge but to plead for true love and compassion. Truly, if we can purify our mind and check our lust, there will be less suffering and exploitation in this world. And the dreaded AIDS disease which has become a world-wide scourge can also be contained.The fourth precept is not to lie but to speak the truth. Again do not listen to those who say that one cannot succeed without lying or making false representations. Truth is one of the ten paramis (perfections) held fast to by a bodhisatta (a person . aspiring for Buddhahood). All Buddhists have to develop their paramis to a considerable extent too if they want to attain arahathood - liberation from the round of birth and death. The Buddha wanted us to be so perfectly truthful that he  exhorted us not to lie even in jest. So we should try our best to uphold this noble precept of non-lying. Furthermore, though we may not seek it, the reputation of an honest man will nevertheless spread far and wide. Even his detractors will have to concede and give him due respect.

The fifth precept is not to take alcohol and drugs because they befuddle the mind. And they are also bad for the body. Some people think that this precept may allow a little social drinking but I do not think so. The Buddha would not want us tocompromise our mindfulness which could in turn cause us to compromise our other precepts. Besides, alcohol is harmful to our health. As for drugs we are all agreed that hard drugs such as heroin are out. But cigarette smoking may be thought by some people to be not included in this precept. (During the Buddha's time, tobacco had apparently not  been discovered.) However, in the light of present day overwhelming medical evidence on the harmfulness of tobacco and the efforts of governments all over the world to ban or curtail its usage, we can confidently say that if the Buddha were here today, he too would strongly discourage us from smoking; for he would not want us to compromise our
physical health nor would he want us to be addicted to a mild but proven hazardous drug.

More could be said on the great damage alcohol and tobacco had wreaked and are still wreaking on society, but it is not within the scope of this work to go into a long discussion of the subject. Suffice to say that it is our view that even a little so-called social drinking and smoking too would infringe somewhat on the spirit of the fifth precept. It is better to abstain completely, especially in the case of alcohol, having given due consideration to these very words of the Buddha: "Monks, taking of intoxicants when practised, developed, and repeatedly performed, causes one to arise in hell, in the world of animals, and in the world of hungry ghosts; the very least result is that even should one be reborn as a
human being one will be inflicted with insanity."

When we keep these five precepts, we give happiness and security to others. How? Why, nobody need to worry about us.They need not fear us. They can feel very secure and comfortable with us. For they can be assured that we will not harm them, steal from them or cheat them. We will not have any affair with their spouses. We will not lie to them. And what more, if we do not drink or smoke, they do not have to worry about their children aping our drinking or smoking  habit, or the hazard they face by breathing in our side-stream smoke. They will feel they can trust us, for we don't even drink. We are religious and keeping to the straight and narrow path. We are harmless. Those who strongly crave for sensual pleasures may think that we are living a very dull life and that we are foolish. But it doesn't matter. We are  happy for what we are. We are happy as we are. And truth to say, we will be praised by the wise.

So it is good when we can keep the basic five precepts.Furthermore we practise generosity and kindness. We care and
we share whatever we can afford. We also cultivate mindfulness as advised by the Buddha. We try to live a mindful life. We meditate to gain more understanding of the nature of our existence, its characteristics of impermanence, suffering and no-self. Thus when we have done all these, when we have lived a good life, what do we have to fear when we die? What regrets can we have?

That is why we say that to die well we must live well. And that when we have lived well, we can die well. We can go peacefully, content that we have done all that we could. True, we may make some mistakes along the way. But then who hasn't? Jesus Christ once said: "Let him who has not sinned cast the first stone." So before we had learnt and mellowed, we may have done some bad deeds. That is understandable, because we are all not  perfect. But the thing is that once we realise our mistakes, we begin to cultivate love and compassion, we begin to keep the precepts and purify our mind. We can be happy because we had time to change to the right track. As they say it is better late than never. We may arrive a little late after the others, but at least we still arrive.




Tác giả bài viết: Visuddhacara

Nguồn tin: Chùa Tịnh Luật

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