Original Discourse By Venerable Jing Yuan; Translation by StudyingTheDharma.wordpress.com
Hello, everyone. Happy New Year to all.
Today, we have many people from different places attending this gathering via online connection, including Indonesia and Malaysia. There are many places connected to one another. I would like to wish everyone again – Happy New Year, may all wishes come true, and may everyone be blessed with increasing bliss and wisdom. According to our practices in the past, our Master will convey his new year wishes to people from different places every year. In the later years, we conveyed our wishes via telephone calls, and now we can do so with video calls where everyone can see one another.
Due to our different karmic conditions, we have been scattered all over the world. Everyone was born in different regions and different cities, in Malaysia, Indonesia, so many places. This process of dharma learning and practice will still happen in this way life after life. Perhaps we may feel that there is no other way, there is no way in this life, to be born in a place where our Master or teacher is, so we may feel that they are quite a distance away from us. Personally, I feel that there is no need to have such a great regret.
Throughout the history of Buddhism, we have seen that many generations of highly accomplished masters or dharma seekers, whether they belong to the sangha community or as laypersons, they were also born all over the world. They too, had to spend a tremendous amount of time, setting off on a long trek, travelling a long way to find their spiritual teachers to learn the Dharma.
Master Xuan Zang spent four years trekking thousands of miles to India to learn the Yogācāra teachings from the great Master Śīlabhadra. The Great Master Atisha, after travelling from Bangladesh to India, scoured everywhere in India to find his spiritual teacher, and even travelled by boat to Sumatra Island so as to meet and learn from Master Ser-ling-ba. Even now, our sangha members in Taiwan are also travelling to another place far away by plane, to Canada, to learn from our teacher.
So when we are presented with the karmic condition of our present situation, it is not necessarily one where we are in a disadvantage. The most important thing for us is to grasp hold of our lives and make the best arrangements. Although we may be born in different places, but because we share the same teacher, we are able to follow the same teachings, especially the complete teachings that Master Tsong-kha-pa has taught us.
And through the efforts of our fellow practitioners, we are able to continuously form different discussion groups to learn and practice the stages of the path to enlightenment. Just as what our teacher has mentioned – like each lotus flower blooming in a lotus pond. Thus everyone, although we may be in different places, but we are like in a lotus pond, full of blooming lotus flowers, this meaning our discussion groups. This is such a gratifying matter. And everyone, I also have full admiration for everyone, because through everyone’s learning and practicing of our Master’s precious teachings in different parts of the world, we are able to propagate the teachings to others around us, resulting in many more lotus ponds.
During the Chinese New Year, we often wished one another ” good fortune according to your wishes ” and “abundance of wealth”. So what is the best ” good fortune according to your wishes “? To be able to learn from our teachers life after life and practice the dharma teachings, so that each and every lifetime we are able to advance to our final goal of attaining Budhhahood, that would be the best good fortune. To be able to meet the Triple Gem, that is the best of all wishes. To be able to complete our collections of merits and sublime wisdom through the practice of the dharma, that is the best of all wishes. Once we are able to overcome our sufferings, what else is there to wish for? Thus, I wish for everyone to be able to come across the teachings of Master Tsong-kha-pa, to increase our merits and wisdom, and to attain complete compassion and wisdom like the Buddha.
Since we all seek wealth, then what is the best wealth? The opportunity to be able to make offerings to the Triple Gem, be it monetary offerings or dharma offerings, or the offerings of dharma practice, these offerings help us accumulate great merits. Monetary offerings allow us to plant the cause for the freedom from worrying about good and clothing for many lifetimes. Compared to many others around the world, many of us are very blessed. There are many places where people have neither enough to eat nor warm clothing to wear, and there is no reason for them to celebrate the festive new year at all. Today, all of us are in our own country, in our own homes that have been decorated with festive cheer, and also we have many tasty festive goodies. This is what we call blessings. So if we could treasure whatever we have at this moment now and practice giving, then we will have more and more blessings in our future lifetimes.
For the giving of dharma, it could be like we are now gathered here together, I can strongly feel that everyone has gathered here not for the purpose of worldly gain and fame, but to sincerely pay our respects to the Triple Gem, and to wish one another a happy new year. To have everyone gathered and to wish one another – by “one another” I mean especially fellow dharma practitioners – there is an effect of mutual encouragement. With the start of a new year, it is a period of much chaos. When everyone is gathered together to wish one another well, to bring encouragement to one another, using your body and speech to show support so that others will continue to persevere on in advancing on this dharma path with faith and stead. In actual fact, this is also a form of giving of the dharma. Does everyone agree? If you agree, then you should encourage one another, pat each other on the back, give the other person a great handshake. If there is no one else around you, then your left hand can give your right hand a handshake, just like that. “Good job, good job!”
Although when we cross each other’s path now, we are unrelated to one another in any way and we may have forgotten that we were once virtuous dharma friends, but we are here together now, becoming dharma friends that rely on one another. To be able to meet time and again throughout our infinite lifetimes, this is definitely a cause that we have planted in our previous lives. If you and your family members have the same connection with the dharma, then you are all dharma partners, that is for sure a cause planted in the past, that is even more auspicious, so do treasure it.
With the Dharma still in existence on this earth, and in the upcoming two thousand or more years, we must cherish it. Time passes by very quickly and moments are gone too soon, much too soon. Although we will continue our Bodhi life in other realms, we must still make good use of these two thousand and five hundred years that we have right before our eyes. I have always felt that to be able to have everyone get together and celebrate the new year via dharma practice, this creates a virtuous energy that will sustain the strong bond that binds all fellow dharma practitioners together life after life, and not be separated by the cause and effects of the secular world.
That is why in the past, our Master explained the reason for encouraging everyone to pay respects to the Triple Gem at the monastery during the chinese new year. The most fundamental objective is, besides celebrating the festivities in accordance to tradition, our Master wished that everyone would be strongly reminded that we must advance along our lifetimes. Even when we might be distracted during the festive season to indulge in merry making, we must be reminded of our reliance on the Triple Gem so that our virtuous karma gets better and better.
Therefore, we can spend the new year with a very sacred, joyful, and with an even purer intention, just like this time today. Although there are no special preparation for hospitality, there is no delicious food, but everyone has gathered together for the purpose of the dharma. Everyone has the motivation to desire in following our Master’s teachings. I think this is the most gratifying thing, and our Master would feel more and more at ease. Our Master has guided us through many lifetimes, and this bond with him will not be broken just because he has left this world. We will see our Master again soon, and we are still being taken care of by our teacher, so we can follow our great teacher.
On a good day like today, today is the second day of the new year, I am also very happy to wish everyone great progress in the new year, may you have good fortune according to your wishes.
Venerable Jing Yuan is currently the abbot of BW Monastery in Singapore. The original discourse of this article is in chinese and can be found here: https://bit.ly/2BH0lkK
If dharma teachings interest you, catch more snippets at BW Monastery – https://bwmonastery.org.sg/discourses/