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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.


We Must Do Our Bit

Thứ tư - 25/09/2013 14:42
Have I love you properly?

Have I love you properly?

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.
Loving and Dying

By Visuddhacara

Illustration by Hor Tuck  Loon



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. Yes, seeing how we human beings and in fact all living things, are subject to so much  uffering, I feel that the least we can do while we are alive is to contribute to the alleviation of the suffering around us. Many people are serving humanity in wondrous ways. Mother Theresa, for example, has devoted her whole life to the caring of the needy and destitute. Many people and organisations are involved in providing social services to the sick, the  andicapped, the starving, the old folks, the dying and others. All great religious teachers exhort their disciples to be charitable. Jesus Christ said: "Love your neighbour as  ourself." And he praised those who fed the hungry, gave drink to the thirsty, clothed the naked, gave shelter to the destitute, visited the sick and the imprisoned, saying that  Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brothers, you have done it unto me." There is a siilar saying in the Koran where Prophet Muhammad said God  light say to a person on Judgment Day: "I was hungry but you did not feed me. I was sick and you did not visit me." And when asked by the bewildered person how could that be, God would reply: "Such a one asked for bread and you did not give it to him. Such a one was sick and you did not visit him."

In Buddhism although we do not believe in a Creator God, we believe in goodness and we are exhorted not to harm or kill even an animal or an insect. We believe in the law of  kamma - that good begets good and bad begets bad. And so we are enjoined to always adhere to the good: to abstain from killing, stealing, cheating, sexual misconduct, lying  and taking alcohol and drugs. We are to train ourselves to reach a stage where we will do good just for the sake of doing good, and not because of the fear of hell or the  anticipation of rewards. We will then do good because we delight in doing good and are naturally inclined to good. In other words, we can't help but be good. Goodness and us are one.

The Buddha enjoined on his followers to be charitable and caring. In giving, he said every little effort counts. Even throwing some crumbs into the water to feed fishes is praised by the Buddha. Once, when some monks failed to attend on a sick monk, the Buddha personally bathed the sick monk and admon- ished the others, saying: "Whoever attends on the sick attends on me." The Buddha urged kings to rule with compassion. He advised them to weed out poverty which is one of the contributory factors to theft and other crimes. A man of peace, the Buddha once intervened when two countries wanted to go to war over a stretch of river water. The Buddha asked them: Which is more important - the water or the blood of human beings that will flow  as a result of a war. The warring parties saw the folly of their quarrel and withdrew without a fight. One of the most benevolent of kings  who came under the influence of the Buddha's teachings was Asoka, who reigned in India during the 3rd century B.C., about 200 years after the death of the Buddha. Renowned for his humanitaranism, Asoka's generosity and kindness extended even to animals. He was reputed to have provided doctors for the treatment of both man and beast. He built public parks, resthouses for travellers and hospices for the poor and sick. Although a staunch Buddhist, Asoka gave his people full freedom of worship and even supported other religious sects. In one of his famous edicts engraved on rocks, he said he "wishes members of all faiths to live everywhere in his kingdom ... (He) honours men of all faiths, members of religious orders and laymen alike, with gifts and various marks of esteem." He desired all faiths to be honoured because ''by honouring them, one exalts one's own faith and at the same time performs a service to the faith of others ... Therefore concord alone is desirable ... (and he, Asoka) desires men of all faiths to know each other's  doctrines and to acquire sound doctrines ... "

Asoka saw his role as a benevolent father and he regarded his people like his children, saying that he desired for them "every kind of prosperity and happiness." The Buddha,  could he have witnessed Asoka's reign, would have been filled with joy at seeing his teachings being adhered to so diligently by the great king. H.G. Wells, in his Outline of  History, said that among all the kings that had come and gone in the world, "the name of Asoka shines, and shines almost alone, a star." Surely, all governments will do well to study and apply Asoka's humane approach in governing.

And if we too are to follow the Buddha's teachings, then we would, like Asoka, work in our own way to alleviate suffering and spread peace and happiness. The Buddha himself had set us the finest example, having dedicated his whole life to showing people the way out of suffering. Yes, the Buddha was concerned not only with alleviating suffering but also with eradicating it completely. And so after attaining enlightenment he spent the whole of his 45 remaining years teaching people the way to the complete eradication of suffering. He taught the path of mindfulness.

The Buddha saw that only through a radical approach can one eliminate suffering. Although taking care of the sick, healing diseases, providing food and material aid to the needy are part and parcel of the treatment of suffering, the Buddha wanted to attend to more than just the symptoms: he sought for a total cure  from the disease of suffering. So he meditated on the whole question of life and death. And he saw that to solve the problem at the very root level, we need to do a complete overhaul of the mind. Suffering is  essentially mental. When there is physical pain, a person normally reacts to it with grief, fear and depression. But a meditator, the Buddha said, can tolerate the physical pain in such a way that there is no mental suffering. In other words he does not react to the pain with grief, worry, depression, aversion, anger and so on. Instead, he can respond
with calmness and equanimity. He can be cheerful, and even comfort and encourage others! So the Buddha saw the problem as essentially mental. If we can rid our mind of greed, anger and ignorance (of the nature of life), the Buddha said we can totally overcome and eradicate mental suffering, such as worry and anxiety, sorrow and lamentation. As for physical suffering, we have to concede that it is unavoidable as long as we have this body. All of us know as a fact that nobody can escape from old age, disease and death. But  the Buddha said once the mind is purified of all defilements of greed, anger and so on, then physical suffering does not frighten us anymore. One becomes unshakable. Nothing can upset one anymore, not even the most excruciating pain that diseases such as cancer can bring. One's mind can remain cool throughout. Thus, when the Buddha's disciple Anuruddha, was once asked how he could remain cool when he was grievously ill, he replied that it was because he had well mastered his mind through his practice of mindfulness as taught by the Buddha.

Finally too, the Buddha taught that for such an accomplished person who had eliminated greed, anger and ignorance, there is no more rebirth. When he dies that is his last life. He has attained the state of Nibbana - perfect peace. Not undergoing rebirth he can never undergo old age, disease and death. Just that, the Buddha said, is the end of suffering.

Alleviating suffering 

While we are striving to make a complete end of suffering, we should, along the way, help to alleviate suffering in whatever way we can. Yes, it is obvious that there is no shortage of suffering in the world. Many people are suffering in various ways. If we read the newspapers we can find suffering all over the place. People quarrel, fight, kill, rob, lie, cheat, and inflict pain in various ways on each other. Out of ignorance we hurt each other. Furthermore, calamities, accidents, mishaps, starvation, disease abound. And always disease, old age, and death are dogging our every step.

Yes, the world is laden with suffering. Why should we add to it? Shouldn't we instead try to alleviate the suffering? Even if we cannot do much we can do a little. Every little effort counts. As somebody puts it: Nobody made a greater mistake than to do nothing because he could do only a little. Each one of us can do something, according to our inclination and ability. For a start we could start being nicer. For instance, we can check our anger. Everytime we are angry we cause pain to ourselves and others. But if we can just check our anger and cultivate tolerance and patience, love and compassion we can be nicer people, and that can go quite a long way to help spread good cheer and happiness.

In other words, we must start by cleaning up our own minds of unwholesome and negative contents of greed, hatred and delusion. Corresponding to our ability to check these unwholesome states, love and compassion will develop in us. We can be kinder in our relationship with the people close to us and around us. We can try to speak more lovingly and gently, and avoid all harsh and rough speech. We can become more considerate and caring. If we are only concerned with our own well-being, then we will not be able to love very well. To love well we have to consider not so much our own well-being but that of others. So we have to ask ourselves. Do we love enough? Do we care enough? If we do not, then we cannot act to alleviate suffering. For it is out of real love and  compassion that we can act.

A Meditation Master once said if you want to know whether  you have loved well, you should approach your loved one one day and gently take her hand in yours. Look deeply into her eyes and ask her: "My dear, have I been loving you properly? Do I love you enough? Am I making you happy? If I am not, can you please tell me what is lacking so that I can change and love you better?" If you ask her gently with true love and care, then she might cry. And that, the Master said, is a good sign. For it meant you have touched a chord in her heart. And there can be communication between you.

My dear, have I been loving you properly?

And so she might tell you between sobs how thoughtless you had been at times. For example, she might say: "You don't open the car door for me anymore. You used to do that when you first courted me and even during the first year of our marriage. You would see to it that I was properly seated and then you would very gently close the door for me.  nowadays you don't do that anymore. You just get into the car first and start the engine. I have to open the door myself and get in quickly. Otherwise you would start moving off even before I had closed the door! I felt like crying when you behaved this way. What had happened to the gentle and thoughtful person that I married?" And she might continue: "You don't hold my hand anymore when we cross the road. You just walk ahead and expect me to follow you. So too when you walk into the restaurant. You don't  open the door and invite me to go in first. You don't pull out the chair for me to sit on. You don't ask me what I'd like to eat but you just order what you like to eat. You don't buy me any more pretty dresses. You don't buy any presents for my parents, not even on festive occasions. And although you may remember to give me presents on my birthday, you don't include one of those lovely birthday cards with beautiful and heartfelt messages. In short, you don't do all the nice little things you used to do when you first courted and married me. If I knew you were going to change like this, I would have second thoughts about marrying  you. I have been wondering whether you really love or care for me anymore!" And she may go on in this vein, citing a list of her unhappiness. She might even sob louder and you may be taken aback, for you hadn't known she was taking all these things to heart, that she was missing all the nice little things you used to do for her, that she missed your little but important demonstrations of care and affection.

Of course, it is also possible that you too might have some legitimate grievances. So this might be a good time to have it out, but in a very gentle way. You might say: "Oh, I am so sorry for the heartless and thoughtless way that I have behaved, my dearest. Believe me, I truly am. Please forgive me. I will make it up to you from now on. I promise I will not be so careless in future. I will take good care of you. I will resume to do all the little things which I have neglected to do for you. I didn't realise you miss them so much.

"But dear, please do not get angry at what I'm about to say. As much as I am at fault, you should also know that there were some  things you used to do for me that you never do now. For example, you know that I love the kangkung fried in sambal belacan that you used to cook for me. But nowadays you never cook that anymore, not to mention the spicy tomyam soup and several other dishes. You know, the old saying about the way to a man's heart is through his stomach is still quite pertinent.

"In the old days you used to wake me up with a smile and a gentle peck on the cheek but you never do that anymore. Sometimes you wake up rather late and I have to prepare my own breakfast or eat at the office. You used to be waiting at the door for me when I returned from work and asked me how my day was. You were really interested to know then and you were very sympathetic and comforting whenever I had a bad day. But nowadays, you don't seem to care about how I am faring anymore, whether I have been having a good day or a hard time.  You would be watching the TV, yelling at the kids, or be at the beauty parlour or doing something or other. When I called out: "Hello dear, I'm back," you sometimes snapped at me and said things which are not very endearing." And so on and so forth.

And so both of you can have a heart-to-heart exchange. Communication is very important in a relationship. Is it not? Relationships break down when there is no communication,  and both parties keep their grievances to themselves, privately nursing them in their heart. But when there is communication there can be understanding. A pouring out of the heart between two parties can lead to understanding and love. If two persons care enough and value their relationship, then they can communicate and take corrective measures whenever necessary. In that way, the relationship can become more strong and beautiful with each passing day.

Each one of us needs to contribute in our own way, in whatever way we know how. In my case, for example, I, as a monk, can contribute by sharing what little Dhamma knowledge I know, what little understanding I may have. I can encourage people to practise meditation and guide them a little along the way. I can urge people to be loving and caring, considerate and patient, and so on. Of course we are not perfect and there are times when we ourselves fail to deliver. The saying that it is easy to preach but most difficult to practise what one preaches is very true. So I should be the first to acknowledge my own shortcomings and to accept corrections. I ask though that people, in judging me or
others, would consider mitigating factors such as good intention. We mean well and we do not mean to hurt. But because of our own defects, unskilfulness, impatience, intolerance, conceit, etc, we may hurt others even as we mean well. But if a person is magnanimous, he or she can understand and be forgiving. The ability to forgive is a very wonderful quality, which is why the saying To err is human; to forgive divine has been coined.

Avail yourself to giving and you yourself will know best how you can contribute. All of us have different skills, talents and  aptitudes. Our conditions and circumstances may differ. So each of us can only contribute in our own way, according to our conditions and inclinations. The important thing is that we try; we do something according to our ability. As we have said, every little bit counts and as time goes on, we may find that actually we have done quite a fair bit. And that is cause for us to rejoice. Of     course it doesn't mean that we should rest on our laurels. There  is still more work to be done. So we keep trying; we keep forging ahead.


Tác giả bài viết: Visuddhacara

Nguồn tin: Chùa Tịnh Luật

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