World


Jen




Chen






Buddhism



 
  繁體中文首頁 English Main Page 笢恅潠极首頁
  Home
Jen Chen Buddhism
The Master
Words of Bodhi
Bliss Culture
FAQ
Joy of Zen
Buddhist Tales
The Youth Center
Chi Hua Mun Stories



 





F. A. Q.

By Ven. Master Shen Kai


  1. Q: In the recent airplane crash in Guang-Zhou, China, all the passengers were killed except one person. Is this incident caused by the Karma?
  2. Q: How to manage insects in the house? Can they be killed?
  3. Q: How to rid the jealousy?
  4. Q: What is virtue???
  5. Q: What is Jen Chen's view of virtue??
  6. Q: How should we face the law of Karma in our cultivation? (difficult problems)?
  7. Q: How can one cultivate the self and alter one's behavior to best face life's unforseeable crises (difficult problems)?
  8. Q: How to manage insects in the house? Can they be killed?
  9. Q: Is it sufficient to be simply good people in our life? Do we still have to follow and practice Buddhism?
  10. Q: How to practice Buddhism in daily life?
  11. Q: Was the recent calamity in Taiwan caused by group karma of the people?
  12. Q: There are many sects in the Buddhism. Which sect does the JenChen Buddhism belong to?
  13. Q: For someone who has already taken refuge in Buddhism, how should meditation be practiced? Does meditation help to improve concentration?
  14. Q: We have been married for more than 30 years and have been fighting almost constantly for our entire married life. Now neither of us can endure this perpetual disagreement. Is it a good decision if we separate?
  15. Q: Forbearance is one of the six Buddhist virtuous deeds. In a Bodhisattva's practice of forbearance, he/she can be willing to leave behind his/her properties or possessions, let go of his/her own organs or body. But how should a layperson practice forbearance? For example, if a criminal insult me out of no reason, or comes to ask for money, how should I treat him?
  16. Q: How to get rid of the anger accumulated in our heart?
  17. Q: Is getting cancer a predetermined Karma?
  18. Q: Can the predetermined Karma be overturned by the use of Tantra in esoteric Buddhism?

Q: In the recent airplane crash in Guang-Zhou, China, all the passengers were killed except one person. Is this incident caused by the Karma?
A:
Yes, such things happen because of Karma, and very often the group (mutual) Karma of all the people in the plane.
There are two types of Karma, group (mutual) Karma or individual Karma. Mutual Karma is the Karma caused by a group of people together, while individual Karma is the consequence of the personal conducts. Sometimes mutual Karma and individual Karma coexist together. If you understand this principle, then you will know that the person who didn't die in this airplane crash survived because of his individual Karma in spite of the mutual Karma of the people in this plane. These people may have done something wrong in common. This person survived might be part of them yet had done something slightly differently, for example, performed some form of mercy to others. That's why he survived.
In our life, we have to avoid generating negative forces that lead to individual or even worse, mutual Karma. The Karma we accumulate should come from benevolence and philanthropy we perform. If we have mutual Karma that arises from such actions, then, each country and society will become more blissful and peaceful.
For example, if everyone is happy in this society, then suddenly there is an accident and one person is killed. Such a thing is caused by the negative individual Karma of that person despite the positive mutual Karma of the society. Thus, under the invisible law of cause-effect, we should try to create positive influence in our daily activity rather than negative percussions.
However, many people have heard my comment on "negative situation may have positive effects, and positive situation may generate negative force." They become very confused about the meaning of this sentence.
I remember one time there was a report about an airplane crash in America. When the flight was about to take off, one of the passengers rushed to the gate to get on the plane. He was very annoyed and frustrated because the other people stopped him and thought he was out of his mind trying to get on the plane that was leaving.
Afterwards, the plane was crashed and the accident was reported everywhere on the TV and newspaper. The man came to the airport again and thanked those people trying to stop him getting on the plane. If it were not because of those people causing trouble (negative situation) to him, he would have been killed.
Such is a perfect example of "negative situation may have positive effects, and positive situation may generate negative force."


Q: Why do people have jealousy, and how to rid it?
A:
Jealousy comes when you feel upset that other people may be better off than yourself. For example, when other people have better food, clothing or tools, you feel envy and uncomfortable. When you see the luxuries enjoyed by others who make more money, while you have to work harder and still cannot make up, you may end up with robbing or stealing from other. This is the consequence of having jealousy.
I will tell you a story that happened a few years ago and reported on the newspaper. One little Indian boy visited Taiwan and he saw that other people have lighter and fair skin than himself. There were many ladies putting powders and lotions on the face to make themselves look pretty. He thought maybe this was why people all have fair skin. So he went to a store and rubbed a lot lotion all over the body without knowing that he needed to pay for the lotion first. He thought this would make him look fair. The manager of the store saw the boy and felt funny. He knew the little boy was young and foolish, so the manager let the boy go away.
Such a thing may happen to adults too. When we don't behave well, we must have some bad thoughts in our mind first. The defect on the skin cannot be corrected by solely polishing the surface. That's why the scriptures always say that we have to bear acceptance, benevolence, kindness … and many types of virtues. Then we become naturally beautified from within.


Q: How to rid the jealousy?
A:
I have to let you know the consequence of having jealousy. In one of the scriptures, there is a story about snakes. The snakes came initially because of jealousy. When other people are better off, you go to cause some trouble to them behind their back. Then you may become a snake in the next life as a result, always hiding in the dark and trying to attack other people.

Snakes are also cold-blooded animal just like cold-hearted people. Snakes have eggs that are not very rounded unlike eggs of other animals. This is as if people cannot work smoothly with others and solve conflicts. Snakes have very small stomachs as if people cannot tolerate any difference from others and withhold any frustration. If you see all these characters of a snake as a result of being jealous, then you probably want to get rid of your jealousy right away and not to become a snake in the future.

If you want to completely rid the jealousy out of your mind, then you will have to learn and practice Buddhism. When you understand the principles taught in the Buddhism and start to practice the way of Bodhisattva, then naturally you will never have thoughts of jealousy arising in your mind at all.


Q: What is virtue?
A:
What is virtue? This question is often asked, but the general public can not define it. I've done some extensive research to find out what universally is considered virtuous. Not a single source could provide a satisfactory definition. I also discussed the question with college professors and politicians. Neither could offer me an adequate answer. Numerous books reference virtue, but after perusing them, I am still asking what virtue is.

After all these quests, I finally realized that the answer has always been right in front of me. Jen Chen Buddhism promotes the purification of mind and living a blissful life which inevitably leads to virtuous behavior. It will stand as the new model of virtue.


Q: What is Jen Chen's view of virtue?
A:
It is so simple that everyone can understand it. The concept of benefiting oneself is called Tao; the concept of benefiting another is called Te. Tao-Te, then, is the concept of benefiting everyone; this means virtue.

Let me give you a few examples. A doctor may be skillful and knowledgeable. However, if he/she places profit above patient care, his/her goal of practicing medicine is to benefit himself/herself, not his/her patients. This is not a virtuous endeavor. Or, a swimmer may be endowed with the ability to brave rough waters and rescue people in danger of drowning. When a situation calls for him to jump into the water to save people, he is not virtuous if he does not do so.

On the other hand, It is also not virtuous for a non-swimmer to risk his own life trying to save another from going under the water. Therefore, to be virtuous, we must both know how to swim and know how to use that skill to help others from the perils of drowning.

Enriching oneself while in school is the Tao of being a student. Later on, using those acquired resources to educate the young is the Te of being a teacher. Children should know what comprises a virtuous act.

For instance, if a child disposes of his banana peel properly after he finishes eating the fruit or picks up the one lying on the walkway so no one will come along, step on the peel, and fall--these are virtuous acts.

Many people quote "virtue" in their speeches or writings despite not knowing what actually makes up virtuous behavior. Let me emphasize again that in Jen Chen Buddhism the concept of virtue can be summed up in three sentences--benefiting oneself is Tao, benefiting another is Te, benefiting everyone is virtue (Tao Te).

We sent these three sentences to several ethics organizations and received good responses from them. I wish that the education departments of many countries in the world would incorporate this concept into their elementary school textbooks so that young people, even the third graders, could understand how easy it is to carry out a virtuous deed. Then there would be hope for our movement in promoting the new view of virtue and, to follow, hope for humankind.


Q: How should we face the law of Karma in our cultivation?
A:
This is a very good question too. Cultivation, cultivation, cultivate in actions. One time I took a long journey by walking to the east coast of Taiwan. Some people asked me, "Master, as a monk should you meditate in the temple and pray to Buddha all the time? Why are you coming outside and traveling around? This doesn't look like the normal way of Buddhist practice."

I replied, "Cultivation, cultivation, Buddha taught us to practice in action, not to simply sit in meditation. In my cultivation, wherever I go, I will never curse other people and use careless words, I will never let my mind wandering about different things, and I always think positively and avoid any destructive thoughts. This is called cultivation, cultivating in action. I visit many places, but I will never go to those places that cultivators are not supposed to be, I will never be involved in killing and other negative or immoral conducts. This is part of cultivation too."

With the law of Karma in mind, I will never have negative action, thus, I will not cause negative effect and have negative consequence. On the other hand, if people are involved in destructive conducts or apply incorrect way of cultivation, then they will have to face destructive or negative consequence. Thus, cultivators have to be aware of the cause-effect all the time and put that into daily practice.

Nevertheless, when we see other people suffer from the results of prior actions, we should not tell them, "What you have done are not right, what I am doing is the correct way." We have to know, "Those who respect others will be respected; those who curse others will be cursed; those who hurt others will be hurt." If you slander other people, you are generating a destructive force. Afterwards, other people may slander you, which is the repercussion of the prior action. In Jen Chen Buddhism, we asked the students to be polite and humble wherever you are, then other people will treat you with politeness and respect as well. This is how we should put the law of Karma into practice.

Thus in Jen Chen Buddhist cultivation, we have to be with the illumination of the Bodhi (pure awareness) all the time and watch out for those subtle details of the cause-effect. However, when we are with the Bodhi, we will be able see what to do right away, as if there is a clear mirror showing the reflection of ourselves and the reflection of our mind. Whenever we have a thought arising in the mind, we can witness its origin and motivation, and possible repercussion. This is how we should practice with the awareness of the law of Karma.


Q: How can one cultivate the self and alter one's behavior to best face life's unforseeable crises (difficult problems)?
A:
I wish the person who asked this question had been more specific and given me a concrete example. For example, some might consider taking an exam a difficult problem, but only sentient beings experience hardships in life, not the Buddha or Bodhisattva. If we learn from Buddha, attain wisdom from Buddha's teachings, and perform good deeds, the difficult problem will never arise in our eyes.

Many challenges face us now. The ever present problem is the question of "life and death."

For many people, grasping -- let alone facing -- this quandary is quite unfathomable. However, if one could be like Mr. Wang, who cultivated his life according to Buddha's teachings and strived to be a Bodhisattva, one would be able to avoid many hardships in life and prevent such difficult problems from emerging.

Assume that one dies before having the chance to cultivate and practice the Buddha's way: in the end, one would transmigrate perpetually through the six realms. Such is not the way to transcend life and death. Our teacher Sakyamuni Buddha was born into this world and attained the means to liberate himself from "life and death." We, too, can gain salvation by following Buddha's footsteps and his teachings. Thus, we wil never encounter the difficult problem in life.


How to treat insects in the house?

Q: How to manage insects in the house? Can they be killed?
A:
Some people blow the ants away when they come in the house. We don't feel anything when the ants roll away in the wind. However, in the eyes of the heavenly people, we may appear just like ants crawling on the earth. When heavenly people have a sneeze, it may feel like a hurricane on earth, causing many damages and casualties.

Therefore, compassion has to be used even in treating ants. Do not wait until they come into the house and end up killing them. There has to be prevention ahead of time, and not let ants come inside first of all.

For example, if we spread baby powder on the paths of the ants, they will leave soon because they can't walk steadily. Or, kylin oil can be spread around where the ants live. They don't like the smell of the oil and will move soon too. But it will be unkind if we make them move to other people's houses or exhaust them by forcing them move too far away. We can simply spread some food to a certain place, the ants will soon find it and live there happily thereafter.

Once time, the Master had a dinner with two Tibetian monks, and there were mosquitoes flying around. The Master simply waved them away, yet the monks would probably have killed the mosquitoes. The Tibetian monks eat meat, however, they will relieve the animals to transcend this world right afterwards. Maybe in the Tantra Buddhism, there are ways to relieve the sentient beings in this manner. But the students of the Jen Chen Buddhism should better not to follow such a way, because your cultivation has to reach a very high level to be able to fulfill such a task. Do not treat killing of the insects lightly, even such a seemingly trivial act will have causal effects.

In America, there is a type of insect treatment that can be used for mosquitoes. They become aron and cannot reproduce afterwards. As another example, the roaches enjoy beer very much. If you put an empty beer bottle by the corner of the house, the roaches will climb into the bottle. They can't come out easily after become drunk. And then you can invite the roaches to have a happy meal by putting the beer bottle out in the garbage. Therefore, even in treating the insects in the house, there have to be compassion and wisdom without any anger and resentfulness.


Q: Is it sufficient to be simply good people in our life? Do we still have to follow and practice Buddhism?
A:
It is rather easier to say that we want to be good people than reality. The problem is many people want to be good, yet they don't know how to be good people. There are clear criteria and definition of being good or bad in Buddhism, yet most people are not aware of these standards.

In Buddhism, there are ten meritorious deeds, which can help us to ascend to a higher level. These ten meritorious deeds are, non-killing, non-stealing, non-sexual-misconduct, non-lying, non-idle-talk, non-slandering, non-harsh-speech, non-greediness, non-anger and non-ignorance. Furthermore, one has to be generous and benevolent, respectful and dutiful to the parents. With these virtues, one may be able to reborn as a celestial being. Although there are many ways of performing charity, the basic principles are all contained in the ten basic forms here.

Quite on the opposite, there are ten evil conduct, including killing, stealing, sexual-misconduct, lying, idle-talk, slandering, harsh-speech, greediness, anger and ignorance. Added together with mistreatment of parents, all the evil deeds can be summarized into these ten forms, which make people to fall into the three lower and bad realms (animals, ghosts, and hell).

In fact, there are many other religions that promote benevolence and removal of evil acts. But only Buddhism advocates development of wisdom, enlightenment and liberation, the spirit of Bodhisattva, and Buddhahood as the ultimate path, the process that is far beyond only performing the meritorious deeds. Therefore, we should not be merely content with ascending to heaven with these meritorious deeds.

Compared with other religions, Buddhism is also very unique and superior, in the way that it teaches people the ultimate path of attaining emancipation and freedom. There are four sequential stages on this sacred path, Arahat, Pratyeka Buddha, Bodhisattva, and finally Buddha. None of the other religion has such a vision and approach. That's why Buddhism is an exquisite yet profound religion encompassing and surpassing all the others. In Buddhism, we not only have to be good people by performing charity, but more importantly, we have to purify the mind and attain the ultimate liberation in the end.


Q: How to practice Buddhism in daily life?
A:
Be Buddha with you, this is how Buddhism should be practiced in everyday life. For example, everyone likes to hear pleasant words. Therefore, wherever I go, I will never speak harshly or rudely, use dirty words or unpleasant words. On the contrary, I will always offer encouragement, comfort, or condolence. Buddha is gentle and calm, I will be gentle and calm. Buddha would not speak unnecessary words, I will not speak frivolously. It is important to say those to be spoken, not to say those that are not to be spoken.

As long as we maintain the state of self-purification and serenity, with the purified mind, then we will be in harmony with Buddha everywhere. Buddha is beloved by all people, thus, we will feel welcome by all people too if our hearts are with Buddha.

If everyone can follow these basic principles, then it is practicing Buddhism in daily life.


Q: Was the recent calamity in Taiwan caused by group karma of the people?
A:
There are many types of karma caused by the people in this world. Roughly speaking, they fall into either group karma or individual karma.

All the catastrophes encountered by an individual person are caused by his/her own individual karma. The catastrophes encountered at the same time by many people together are caused by the group karma of these people. But sometimes individual karma could also take place and overrides the effects of the group karma.

For example, many people could die out of a major accident. Nevertheless, one, two, or three people may escape the accident and survive.

Some time ago, there was a collapse of an underground coal mine that killed many people. When the bodies were recovered, there was even one or two person still alive and survived. This time, there were also a few people survived the mud slide in Taiwan. Last earthquake in Japan killed many people. But there were a few people escaped without even injuries. Such things appeared to be strange, but are because of the individual karma outstanding the group karma.

There are also incidents because of the group karma overriding the individual karma. For example, there was a major airplane accident a while ago. Someone who was not planning to take the flight was killed because this person was called to attend an emergent situation and thus had to catch the flight in the last minute. This is caused by the group karma of the people who took the fight. In the meantime, someone else who was supposed to take the flight happened to miss the flight. This person was saved on the other hand because his individual karma.

Thus we have to understand: everything has reason and causal effects. The cumulative effects from many people's conducts are the group karma. It is important to perform positive things, and avoid negative things.

Many people say, someone has done such bad things, why he still hasn't gotten any bad returns? But in reality, good deeds will generate positive forces, bad deeds will generate negative forces. It is not a matter of whether the effects will take place or not, it is a matter of time. Sooner or later the consequences will occur. For the examples I showed above, if you ask the people who survived the major accidents, surely they will have done certain positive things earlier, and thus they could survive the catastrophes.

There was a story in one of the Buddhist sutra: there was an old monk who took a young boy as a disciple. The monk knew that the young disciple may die at his earlier age, and there might be only a few days left before his death.

The old monk thought that young disciple's parents would feel very sad and blame the temple for causing the death of the disciple. So the monk came up an idea to send the disciple back home to visit and stay with his parents for his remaining time. The disciple was very happy to go back home and so he went.

Strangely, after a few days, the disciple came back to the temple alive. The monk was very surprised and asked the disciple what had happened and if there was anything out of place during the trip. The disciple thought a while and replied that everything was normal and fine. The monk didn't believe the disciple and asked again whether there was a major storm or something to that effect.

This time the disciple remembered and answered that there was an indeed a severe storm on his way back home. He was hiding by a tree and saw an ant mount flooded away by the rain. The boy felt sympathy for the ants and managed to build a bridge for the ants with grass to save them. Because of his compassion and saving of the ants, the disciple escaped his own fate of death and actually lived a long life until eighties. This was the result of the positive force generated by his karma.

Therefore, people who have killed the other creatures will shorten their own lives; people who save the lives of others will have long lives. Good deeds generate positive forces, and bad deeds generate negative forces. This is the rule.


Q: There are many sects in the Buddhism. Which sect does the JenChen Buddhism belong to?
A:
After the Sakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment, he preached Dharma for 49 years with more than 300 sessions of teaching. His teaching was in accordance to people's needs and situations, all for the purpose of purifying people's mind. He did not specifically set up any sects. But according to people's wisdom and understanding, he taught Jen Chen ( the Human Vehicle), the Heaven's Vehicle, the Great Vehicle (Mahayana), the Middle Vehicle, and the Minor Vehicle ( Hinayana). The various sects in Buddhism were established by the sage patriarchs because of the different needs of the people at different time.

After thousands of years, I think the current world really needs the Human Vehicle Buddhism. Therefore, I want to promote and advocate this vehicle to the world. If you ask which sect does the Jen Chen Buddhism belong to? I would think it is most appropriate to be called "Buddhahood sect".

One of the Sutra quoted, "Among all the lands under the Buddha, there is only one kind of Dharma; there is no second or third kind of Dharma; (Dharma appeared to take different forms because) it all dependeds on how the Buddha taught the Dharma according to the situations".

In some of the Sutras have pointed out that all beings have the Buddha nature, and they all can fulfill the Buddha Vehicle. Dharma cannot be separated into two or three different Vehicles, and is the only path that should be taken by all the beings. If all the beings can take the path to become Buddha, further, human beings are the life force of the earth, and the karma are mainly caused by the human beings, then, people should take the Human Vehicle, practice the way of Bodhisattva to attain the Buddhahood. This is the right way of practicing the Buddhism. Thus, I think the Jen Chen Buddhism should best be called the sect of Buddhahood --- there is one and the only one kind of Dharma.


Q: For someone who has already taken refuge in Buddhism, how should meditation be practiced? Does meditation help to improve concentration?
A:
You have taken a very good and important step of taking refuge in Buddhism and wanting to practice meditation. However, meditation is not the only way to practice concentration in Buddhism if you are too busy and lack of time in daily life.

What is concentration? It is the tranquility of the mind in the non-disturbed and original state, with the illumination of the awareness.

If during meditation, you keep on thinking about other things, "I have to go to look at the stock market, …", this is not meditation and will not get you close to attaining concentration.

The most important point is not to have discursive and random thoughts in daily life. The mind has to be kept pure, clear, and without any disturbance. If you maintain this state all the time, then you can attain the supreme concentration and serenity.

For example, during work, avoid any other unnecessary and wandering thoughts, simply concentrate on the work itself. Similarly, when you are reading a book, doing house work, or any other things, do not have any other meaningless and distractive thoughts. Keep the mind clear from any disturbance, then the mind will be pure and tranquil, and will see things clearly as they are. If you live a life with a muddy mind filled with confusions and delusions, then just by practicing meditation itself will not be much meaningful.

There are many ways of meditation. If you simply follow the meditation techniques taught in the Buddhism, it is possible to see the first and even the second Dhyana Heaven in the meditation. At this time, some people may also experience supernatural power. However, if you start to run after such super-nature power and miracles, then this is not practicing Buddhism anymore. It becomes a dangerous and even evil superstition and completely diverts from the Buddhist path.

Thus, Jen Chen Buddhism advocates people to be very cautious and stay away from the desires and methods of seeking power and miracles through meditation. Even if the supernatural power may come as a natural result of practicing Buddhism, you should simply ignore it and remain to be in meditation with a pure mind. Always remember that the ultimate and the only destination is to attain the supreme wisdom, enlightenment and liberation.


Q: We have been married for more than 30 years and have been fighting almost constantly for our entire married life. Now neither of us can endure this perpetual disagreement. Is it a good decision if we separate?

A:
Bickering and fighting among couple is sadly the norm. The genuine Buddhist cultivator will discipline himself / herself neither to initiate nor become drawn into any kind of altercation. However, in moments of carelessness or inattention, he /she may be ensnared into arguing with one's spouse, which will in turn leads to family discord. It is not disagreement itself, but our reactions to it that creates most of the problem.



It requires patience and understanding on both sides to resolve differences when a couple is in conflict. But if they can no longer tolerate each other, lashing out at and inflicting pain on each other, Jen Chen Buddhism advocates "to make the unbearable bearable." As long as the cultivator realizes and cultivates (grasps) that not a single thought of the three time periods ( past , present and future) is graspable, then his/her conduct will validate "making the unbearable bearable".

In order to live a harmonious and joyful life, we must learn to forget the unpleasant incidents of moments past. One must learn to detach oneself from thoughts of three time periods and from four notions of self (ego- self, other self, living beings, and universal self ).



Although you take refuge with Three Treasures and live as a Buddhist, acting in a manner contrary to Buddhist ideals can lead to unbearable marital problems. Separation or divorce may be one of the options. It is not the Buddhist way. The innocent victims of this messy ordeal are the children.



As Buddhist we strive to seek deliverance for ourselves and strive to help others to attain deliverance as well. No matter who they are, be they our kin, creditors or nemesis, we should treat them on an equal footing. Even when we are in stressful situations, we must remember to care for our kin, and not to blame or fight with them. If a couple embraces this teaching and still falls into arguments, the frequency and extent of the arguments will be kept to a minimum.

There will be mutual loving kindness and respect.

A happy and blissful family life will be theirs to keep.




Q: Forbearance is one of the six Buddhist virtuous deeds. In a Bodhisattva's practice of forbearance, he/she can be willing to leave behind his/her properties or possessions, let go of his/her own organs or body. But how should a layperson practice forbearance? For example, if a criminal insult me out of no reason, or comes to ask for money, how should I treat him?

A:
The word of forbearance in Buddhism comes from two parts: tolerance or acceptance, and insult or hardship. However other people treat me, under whatever situations, I can all accept or tolerate with an ease of mind, this is forbearance in Buddhism. A Bodhisattva indeed is able to let go of his/her possessions and even body in the practice of forbearance. However, ordinary people will not be able to attain such a state, that's why they are ordinary people, not Bodhisattvas.



However, we have to realize that there are many ways for a Bodhisattva to enlighten the sentient beings. For example, when a criminal comes to rob your money, you do not have to practice forbearance under this circumstance. You may need to rely on other means to treat him. We can all learn from Avalokitesvara (Bodhisattvas GuanYin). In his/her practice, Avalokitesvara can appear as a person with whatever appropriate form to educate and save people. If the form of a policeman is appropriate for this particular situation, then Avalokitesvara will transform to a policeman to advocate the Dharma. If you want to practice true compassion for this criminal, it maybe better to call the police for help.

Forbearance has to be placed in the context of wisdom; the same principle applies to compassion. Whatever we do, we have to have wisdom. If you accept a criminal's insult simply because of forbearance, this is not the Bodhisattva's way. Obviously if a criminal comes to threaten you, and you will let him kill you, this is not forbearance, not a wise way.

In a Bodhisattva practices, he/she is willing to let go of his/her body, for example, if his/her eyes can save the lives of other people, then the Bodhisattva will donate his/her eyes without hesitation. This is Bodhisattva's cultivation, and completely different from giving in to the criminal's threatening. That is not the right understanding of the forbearance, but out of the ignorance.

In certain Buddhist sutra, there is one type of Bodhisattvas that appears as angry warriors instead of the regular loving and compassionate Avalokitesvara. Some people will listen and behave well with the appearance of Avalokitesvara. However, for some other people, only the appearance of angry warriors may take effect. Under the later circumstance, a Bodhisattva will have to appear as an angry warrior to educate such people.

This is a very natural thing in our daily life. For example, a mother will first try to teach her children in a gentle and loving way when they misbehave themselves. However, if that approach does not work in no matter way, then the mother may have to try a more forceful way to make the children listen. But if you say that the mother has to practice forbearance and compassion, so she will let the children follow their own free will and make a mess. What benefit does it provide to the children? This will not be very meaningful to either the adults or the children.

Similarly, if a criminal comes to threaten you for money, how to practice forbearance and compassion under this circumstance? Then you will have to be tolerant for the time being when confronting the criminal. Why? If you are not tolerant but start a fight with the criminal, you may not be able to put him into control but hurt yourself instead. So the best way is to put up with him at the moment but call the police immediately afterwards. The police will have a better way to deal with the criminal with legal means so that he will not commit crime anymore. That might be a truly wise way of practicing forbearance and compassion.



────── *


Q: How to get rid of the anger accumulated in our heart?

A:
How to get rid of anger? Then I would ask you, is this anger coming from your own mind, or is this something given by other people? In other words, do you have anger when you see the other person, or does the other person have anger and pass it to you?



I will have to tell you a story.

Long time ago, there was a king who had a spiritual advisor in the court. How important was this advisor's position? As an example, if one of you sitting here as my students will become the president of the country later one, then I would become the national spiritual advisor.

This king's teacher was really an accomplished monk, thus why the king took him to the court and endorsed him.

The prime minister of the king saw that the king's teacher did not have anything serious to do everyday but was respected greatly by the king. The minister became very jealous of the teacher and wanted the teacher to leave the court. However, the minister worried that the other people might laugh at his own narrow-mindedness and envy of the teacher, so he hided his anger in his heart for a long time without letting it out.



One day the minister finally came up with an idea to make the teacher leave the court: if the minister asked a very tough question and the teacher could not come up with an answer right away, then he would be shamed to stay in the court any longer.

The minister then went to the teacher's room and greeted him. The teacher asked the minister, "Is there something I can be of your help today?"

The minister replied, "I am a beginner in the Dharma. Today, I come here to ask you to teach me the Dharma. Please advise me what ignorance is in the Dharma?"

The teacher answered very angrily, "What qualifies you to ask me such a question?"

The minister heard this reply and was so upset that he could not even say a word.

The teacher then took a mirror out of his desk, showed it to the minister and said, "This is called ignorance." …



How to get rid of anger in our heart? When you come to such a situation as in the above story, and when you meet a enlightened teacher and he knocks on your head, then you may be able to understand and rid your anger right away.

But you will have to think where the anger comes from? What benefit do you have by becoming angry? If anger is important and can be very beneficial to solving the problem and to your health, then you should go ahead to lose your temper everyday. However, if you think calmly and the answer is the opposite, then you will have to get rid of the anger and free yourself. This will be the best way.

Q: How should we face the law of Karma in our cultivation?

A:
This is a very good question too. Cultivation, cultivation, cultivate in actions.

One time I took a long journey by walking to the east coast of Taiwan. Some people asked me, "Master, as a monk should you meditate in the temple and pray to Buddha all the time? Why are you coming outside and traveling around? This doesn't look like the normal way of Buddhist practice."



I replied, "Cultivation, cultivation, Buddha taught us to practice in action, not to simply sit in meditation. In my cultivation, wherever I go, I will never curse other people and use careless words, I will never let my mind wandering about different things, and I always think positively and avoid any destructive thoughts. This is called cultivation, cultivating in action. I visit many places, but I will never go to those places that cultivators are not supposed to be, I will never be involved in killing and other negative or immoral conducts. This is part of cultivation too."

With the law of Karma in mind, I will never have negative action, thus, I will not cause negative effect and have negative consequence. On the other hand, if people are involved in destructive conducts or apply incorrect way of cultivation, then they will have to face destructive or negative consequence. Thus, cultivators have to be aware of the cause-effect all the time and put that into daily practice.

Nevertheless, when we see other people suffer from the results of prior actions, we should not tell them, "What you have done are not right, what I am doing is the correct way." We have to know, "Those who respect others will be respected; those who curse others will be cursed; those who hurt others will be hurt." If you slander other people, you are generating a destructive force. Afterwards, other people may slander you, which is the repercussion of the prior action.

In Jen Chen Buddhism, we asked the students to be polite and humble wherever you are, then other people will treat you with politeness and respect as well. This is how we should put the law of Karma into practice.

Thus in Jen Chen Buddhist cultivation, we have to be with the illumination of the Bodhi (pure awareness) all the time and watch out for those subtle details of the cause-effect. However, when we are with the Bodhi, we will be able see what to do right away, as if there is a clear mirror showing the reflection of ourselves and the reflection of our mind. Whenever we have a thought arising in the mind, we can witness its origin and motivation, and possible repercussion. This is how we should practice with the awareness of the law of Karma.




Q: Is getting cancer a predetermined Karma?

A:
Getting cancer can be called predetermined Karma, though the opposite is possible also.

For example, if there are certain things that will cause cancer, then I will try to avoid those causes and possibly prevent the cancer itself. From this perspective, getting cancer may not be predetermined, but it is the consequence caused by certain factors.

However, if someone behaves improperly without knowing the law of Karma, he may committee certain crimes, and getting cancer as part of the consequence. Ever worse, the cancer may be so fatal that will take his life away. Then such Karma becomes predetermined, and cannot be altered easily.




Q: Can the predetermined Karma be overturned by the use of Tantra in esoteric Buddhism?

A:
Sorry I don't belong to the esoteric sect, and I am unable to comment on this question. However, if you ask this question from the view point of Jen Chen Buddhism, I maybe able to teach you all I know. I don't feel strong enough connection with the esoteric Buddhism, though I was indeed trained in the esoteric sect for eight years. In the end, I had to let go of those practices. At that time, I had attained a high state of practice, for instances, I could even make water or rice jump up when I practiced meditation. It is true that water and rice could even jump.

However, later on, I realized that such phenomenon was caused by mere mental force. Even though I could make water jump and rice jump up and down, it would not help and had nothing to do with my cultivation and ultimate emancipation.

That type of practice is a part of the imagination technique in Buddhism, imagining certain things happening. For instances, just like some people want to become rich by imagining hooking up treasures with ropes, as if in the cowboy movies, the thieves ride on horses and rob passengers with guns. I felt all of such practices were only delusions, and would not help to attain spiritual freedom at all. That's why I decided to drop all of those in the end. The ultimate goal should be to practice true detachment and renunciation, to cultivate the spirit of Bodhisattva, and to save ourselves and save others. That is the more meaningful way of Buddhist cultivation.

© Copyright 1998-2006. All Rights Reserved. Jen Chen Buddhism Houston Mission.