Saturday, October 16, 2010

Taken from book 'The Pursuit of Happiness and other life observations' by Venerable Shi Fa Zhao

'Only the grateful are truly rich'

'You will receive peace when you give joy'

'Character is destiny. To change destiny, one has to change one's own character first'

'The important thing about giving is not the actual quantity, but the sincerity and reverence'

'By virtue of the act of giving, one may forsake some stinginess and greediness in one's heart, and allow a pure mind to grow that reaches out for others and seeks to benefit others. In this way, one can receive blessings beyond measure'

'Be a wise person with morals' - in order to achieve real liberation, justice and happiness, we have to face the reality of life and revamp ourselves constantly

The value of religion is to enhance one's ability to conquer difficulties and purify his minds, to reach the state of pure compassion. Buddhist Teachings help to purify the unusual feelings, ill will and negative thoughts in us. It guides us to correct path that takes us to the bright future. It's like a wise person with great morals, moving towards a perfect life with pure spirits.

According to the Dhamma, life is persistent and continuous. However, there are shortcomings and barriers in life; sometimes we are happy, and sometimes we are sad. In order to achieve real liberation, justice, and happiness, we have to face the reality of life and revamp ourselves constantly. It is the change of 'essence' of our mind and body: From passion-driven to wisdom-driven.

Having life with morals is the basis of social harmony, a happy family, trust between friends and cooperation between people. In our society, teachers are responsible for teaching; doctors are to treat all patients like their own family members; workers have to work hard to contribute to the country; businessmen are to run their business legally; soldiers are to fight and protect the country. Confucius had also suggested that generosity, gratitude, forgiveness, justice, honesty and so on are some moral principles in life.

With kind spirit, knowledge will be used in a good way, whereas the usage of knowledge by evil spirit will cause disasters and darkness. We are all following Buddhist Teachings and we have to practice them with determination and compassion. Do what is skilful, so that we will bring benefits to every human race.

'If we want to change our lives, we must think positively. It will bring us happiness and increase our wealth'

'If what we have to say is 'harmful to others, we should keep quiet; if an idea in our mind is bad for others, we should not think about it; if every step we take is destructive, we should stand still; if our action is damaging, we should stop the act. Therefore, one must think carefully before any deed'

In the process of learning, one should not be worried if his ability is not recognised and he is not given opportunity to perform. Instead, he should worry about whether he can handle the task given. As long as one is determined to work hard and is prepared to learn, the surrounding environment is a secondary issue.

It is a blessing to be able to learn, understand and appreciate the value of Buddha's Teachings. One should treat it with respect and put it into practice. Thus, one will be freed from troubles, leaving suffering and obtaining happiness.

One who leads his life with passion and goals is unlikely to be influenced by the criticism from others. He cares about what is to be done and what is not done. As a result, he is able to accept comments from others and work well with them.

Action is the meaning of life. Action is the energy of life. With action, one can move forward, learn, work with others and participate in group activities. If one is capable of working well with others, he is able to gain their support and help. A person's way of life cannot be based on one particular period. It does not only involve people around us, but also depends on the situation we are in, our practice and our state of mind.

No matter how much money we make at work, it is simply just 'getting water'. If we make use of our free time after work to develop our ability in other interest areas, like 'digging our own well', we will still be able to support our lives after we retire, when we are physically weaker than the young.

'To have reverence, humility, contentment and gratitude, and to hear the Dhamma at an appropriate time, that is the Highest Blessing'

We could change the prevailing circumstances, but the important thing is whether we play our role well. One should never forget: If life is like a movie, then whether or not our roles are important is secondary. So long as we perform our best, our achievements will definitely be affirmed. Contentment is merit.

In reality, suffering and joy in this world are mutually inseparable and interdependent. Some people want only the wows and not the woes, but there can be no joy without suffering. If things have always gone well, one can hardly feel blessed. Thus, it is suffering that gives joy its worth, and misfortune that makes the fortunated blessed, just as sickness and poverty makes one appreciate good health and wealth better respectively.

While working hard with total commitment is no doubt a positive thing, it is also often a waste of effort when we are too eager to act and neglect to reflect. He who works all day has no time to consider what the meaning of life is. He spends the energy of his entire life, only to gain nothing beyond day-to-day sustenance. Ultimately, we do things for the sake of helping ourselves to think. Only when there is thought can there be any progress.

The fact is that the state of life of every individual is totally determined by mentality. If one maintains inner serenity, everything can be done just right with good pace, order and leisure.

'To simply persist in working hard, but blindly, does not necessarily lead to success. One who does not know how to contemplate will learn nothing, even when he has spent all his life. We earn money to live, but we live not just to earn money. Only the cool-headed thinker can grasp the truth of life. Silent contemplation is the key to successful living'

Leaders, in particular, must not focus on goals and missions alone, but must create a positive, healthy atmosphere for esprit de corps. A flexible way of thinking can often bring about great spiritual strength. Powerful mental capabilities can readily solve a lot of seemingly impossible problems.

The Pursuit of True Happiness: A truly happy life is one that is not bound by desires or bedazzled by material goods, and where the heart is able to settle down.

'If everyone is able to understand impermanence and view objects and incidents through the lns of impermanence, there is nothing to fuss about in life. If one is able to broaden one's Heart and make full use of his body and intuitive ability, he will be able to draw his own understanding and experiences'

'Life is like 'crossing the pass of seconds'. Every minute and second passed accumulates into time. The merits and Karma in life are are also accumulated through time. The person who is truly able to be at peace with man, incidents and the world has already understood the impermanence of the world. Ability to fully understand impermanence leads to liberation in life'

Someone once said: Life is like tea, and sampling tea is like savouring life. A single tea leaf appears to be slender, fragile and light, yet it is full of wonders within. When placed in a cup, it fuses with the water inside and releases its essence completely and unreservedly, thus maximizing its full value.

We should appreciate the importance of a compassionate heart. When interacting with others, try focusing only on the merits of others and forging close bonds with people. Open up your heart so that you will not feel lonely or unhappy.

Believe that a compassionate heart is the basis for the existence of mankind as well as the place where the true value of life lies. We are often oversensitive and tend to overreact to minor matters, or associate every little thing with ourselves. All these will increase our pain. It is important to learn how to transform and transcend pain - in other words, change perspectives - and search for the positive meaning in pain.

Our lives are in a state of flux. We should learn how to handle anger and hate, dispelling feelings of hatred through patience and compassion. This is to prevent ourselves from being affected by negative emotions.

A sincere motive is the best way to eliminate anxiety and fear. Knowing what one can do and not do will not result in a lack of self-esteem, but rather bring about a strengthening of positive energies. Trhough learning and training, negative thoughts like anger, hate, greed, etc. can be eliminated while positive thoughts like benevolence, compassion, tolerance, etc. can be strengthened. A happy life is rooted in a peaceful state of mind.

Your body is what makes your revolution possible. Without health, there can be no true happiness in life.

Health is like this pivotal '1'. Your career, wealth and so on are only the zeroes behind. So, to cherish health is to love life. Only with good health can your work and responsibilites have something to hang on to. Only with good health can you serve your country and poeple better. So we need to take care of our health from now on. Physically train yourself harder. Lay a firm foundation from which you shall work hard now and tomorrow.

'Keep learning as long as you live'

Societal duties, stress at work, the burden of your family - all kinds of troubles that maturing brings along will come your way. You need to deal with them with a positive outlook. At 40, you are moving towards maturity. You can no longer afford to pay the price of acting blindly. As the flames of passion gradually lose their glaring brilliance, you need to light a beacon of rationality for the way ahead. As you mature physically at middle age, your inner being and level of thought ought to be catching up too.

Maturity means bidding farewell to the perplexity stemming from uncertainty of vision, the shallowness of living life as a game, and the rashness of giving yourself free rein. Maturity means becoming a little more clear minded in life, a little deeper in thought, and a little kinder and more dignified emotionally.

Maturity is not a form of decline, but rather, magnificence. So, from now on, we should pay more attention to the conscious cultivation of our mind. We will complete the tempering of the soul in the crucible of actual practice, resolve the distresses of growing up by means of mature rationality, and be always ready to accept new challenges further down the road.

'Being self-conscious in life; Enjoying your days'

It is a fact of life that things will not always be as we wish. We should dispel all obstacles with a cool head, enlightened thinking and rational actions. We should tap the inherent power in us that resists misfortune, and resolve troubles as best as we can with righteous courage. Furthermore, we should also remind ourselves to prevent the worst results from happening. The more true strength you have, the more fearless you are in the face of everything. Nothing can truly harm you, not even poverty or the suffering brought on by disease.

Hesitation and bewilderment are bad habits that hinder you from pursuing progress. Suspicion and jealousy are warped mentalities. When external stimuli trigger wemotional disturbances, you cannot help but fall prey to stress, psychological illusions and deluded thinking, and show signs of losing grip on humanity. Thus, if we seek harmony and peace in life, we must power up with a strong and healthy life.

We are to understand the things of this world in terms of conditional causation and cause-and-effect, tackle the six mental poisons of human greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance, doubt and erroneous views by means of discipline, meditation and wisdom, as well as apply the four methods of amicable association in our interpersonal relationships. By being good to life, we can make it fuller and more exciting.

Life is an enormous stage, where everyone plays a different role. Tragedies and comedies of life unfold every day on this planet. Every one of us plays the lead, each getting a taste of sourness, sweetness, bitterness, spiciness and saltiness, as well as experiencing joy, anger, sadness, shock and fear. From childhood to maturity, we all go through a series of different roles.

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