Lecture on the Wisdom of Fa Hua in Taichung: Sharing the Strength of Compassion

The second lecture of the lecture series on the Wisdom of Fa Hua (Lotus Sutra in Chinese) was convened by DDM of Baoyun Monastery following resounding success of the first lecture. This lecture, titled “Strength of Compassion”, kicked off at 2 p.m. on September 14, 2014 at the Taichung City Hall. The wife of Taichung City Mayor, Shao Xiao-Ling, famous singer, Chyi Yu, CEO of Sheng Yen Education Foundation, Associate Professor Yang Pei as well as representative of DDM Sangha, Ven. Guo Shyang were invited to share their inspiring life experiences; these experiences were drawn out through witty questions and comments by the host.

This public lecture was the first one attended by Ms. Shao after surviving a horrible traffic accident 8 years ago. While she was in a coma after the accident, people from all walks of life in Taiwan prayed for her well-being. To-date, she is still very grateful for the kindness shown and has come to view criticism as just a means to reduce bad karma. She also vowed to repay society by devoting her life to helping others. Moreover, she viewed the accident as a blessing in disguise as it led her to change many habits due to the loss of her arm and subsequently to her non-attachment of beauty. The audience and media personnel were moved by the depth of her feelings as well as her compassion.

Chyi Yu was also moved to tears upon hearing Ms. Shao’s encounter and experience. Contrarily to Ms. Shao’s ordeal that was caused by external factors, Chyi was of the opinion that her setbacks were the result of her own idleness. She is very grateful for the compassion shown by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas through Buddhist hymns that enabled her to resume her career in singing and led her out of difficulty. Chyi and the audience sang her famous song titled “Olive Tree” with warmth and sincerity at the host’s suggestion and thereafter she was given a big hug by Ms. Shao.

As the first nun ordained by the late Venerable Master Sheng Yen and having served as Master Sheng Yen’s translator, Venerable Guo Shyang narrated the strength and wisdom of the Master through her popular writing titled “My Master”. She recollected the occasion when Master Sheng Yen was in Singapore to support and assist high school teachers in Buddhist studies. However, he contracted shingles due to the constant heavy workload that forced him to return to Taiwan for treatment; his feebleness bought tears to many followers who saw his condition upon his return. Nevertheless, Venerable Guo Shyang was instructed by Master Sheng Yen to inform those in Singapore that he was fine and to not let anyone worry about him; such compassion in the face of intense suffering is something that Venerable Guo Shyang could never forget.

Associate Professor Yang Pei who is good at using psychotherapy to help people commented that those who understand psychology are actually insignificant. She recalled an occasion where she accompanied the late Venerable Master Sheng Yen to the remote mountain area of Nantou to care for the victims of typhoon Toraji in 2001. That area was badly damaged and in one of the ruined houses, only the mother survived. Yang, who is good in psychotherapy, didn’t know how to console the traumatized mother. On the other hand, Master Sheng Yen gave the distraught mother a string of Buddhist beads and advised her to chant the Buddha’s name to lessen her suffering. Such compassion that originates from the heart naturally surpasses any psychotherapy and left a great impact on Yang. Yang finally understood that to help others, she must first open her mind to feel as others do. In conclusion, she now uses her heart to help instead of just relying on her skills.

This lecture culminated in a video illustrating the wisdom expounded in the “Lotus Sutra”. In this video, Master Sheng Yen cautioned the ever presence of greed and short-sightedness in people’s mind. In addition, he encouraged the cultivation of compassion as well as to be mindful of the effect of our actions; thought of being benefactors and Bodhisattvas to others should be ever present. Good thought of helping others, good words and deeds should be practiced at all time and place. This timeless exposition was very much appreciated by the audience in addition to leaving a great impact on them.

(Translated by Tom Hsieh/Edited by Leefah)

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