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Sunday Open House New Year's Eve

On January 25, 2009, CMC celebrated New Year's Eve with a talk by the Most Venerable Master Ren Jun, who presented the following poem.

We welcome the New Year and its brightness with the Spring Festival,
Permeated by great sounds of cheer.
With blessings and laughter,
We drink and eat and enjoy ourselves.

Men with great hearts look at a world that is desolate and depressed.
They are careworn with worry.
They renounce comfort and pleasure and steel body and mind to the task.
They reject shallow solutions and cultivate true peace.

Others idle their lives away, not knowing how to control themselves.
They are buried by their blessings and end up in misery.
Such stories are repeated endlessly throughout history and
Fill us with dread and frighten us to the core.

We come into this world with the call to become extraordinary and courageous warriors,

And when we leave, we have accomplished this ultimate goal.
Our bodies and minds are stirred to act with fervor and commitment.
We dedicate ourselves to this task, dropping any sense of a giver or something given.

Bright spring pervades everywhere, inspiring the spring wind.
With great energy, spring blossoms into a smile
That spreads across ten thousand flowers--
Spring bursts forth in the countenance of the Bodhisattva.

The following is an explanation of the poem by Most Venerable Master.

Stanza 1:
The New Year is also called the Spring Festival by the Chinese because, like spring, it brings brightness and cheer to all. The Chinese greet each other with blessings and laughter, and celebrate with lots of food and good times.

Stanza 2:
The current global environment is full of desolation. We have exhausted our energy and natural resources. Men with great hearts have genuine concern for the world, have greater vision than ordinary sentient beings, and vow to face this crisis. They give their bodies and minds to this effort, and as a result, have great health in body and mind. Those who are truly great at heart are clear in their vows and have inner strength compared to ordinary sentient beings. They do not conduct immoral actions.

Ordinary people settle for comfort and ease. They do not want to achieve greatness but are content with a comfortable home and good food. In doing so, they are really consuming the resources and energy of the world. Buddhists should not settle for physical comfort but should expand themselves and live with brightness and righteousness, true ease and peace. True Buddhists, true human beings, give up physical comfort, face hardships and obstacles, train their bodies and minds, and have true peace in body and mind.

Stanza 3:
What is commonly considered the good life is, in actuality, misery. Such stories are repeated throughout history. We should use these stories as reminders to not waste our lives in idleness and laziness.

Stanza 4:
True Buddhists enter the world to benefit humankind. They are like warriors, unafraid to do the difficult things in life. Their vision is beyond ordinary people in that they carry the ultimate mission for mankind. They have strong spirits, determination and challenge themselves so that they can carry more weight.

They give their abilities and let go of the material goods that they have acquired. They understand that the present has been given to them by innumerable sentient beings over many lifetimes and gladly give this body to everybody. They truly understand the concept of selflessness. Instead of being led by wealth, people should learn to give and share their wealth.

Stanza 5:
The Chinese call the spring "sun spring" because there is sunshine and brightness everywhere. We carry with us explosive energy in the forms of anger and frustration. We should not carry this explosive energy with us, and when others direct their anger at us, we should welcome it with smiles, so that they will never explode. We should throw away our mental lists of faults and past insults of others. Then everyone will become our friends, we will be happy, and at complete ease.

After Master Venerable’s talk, a video greeting by Master Sheng Yen was shown. This was followed by a brief talk given by Venerable Guo Xing, Abbot of CMC and DDRC, on the significance of "The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Who Perceives the World’s Sounds" which will be chanted on Sunday afternoons at CMC. Avalokitesvara or Guanyin made the great vow to deliver all sentient beings from suffering with wisdom and compassion. The bodhisattva will teach according to the type of practitioner, whether they are pratyekabuddhas, arhats, or ordinary sentient beings. Like Guanyin, when delivering sentient beings, we should try to understand our audience.

When we face obstacles, we should rely on the blessings of Guanyin. Many people who have recited this sutra have had deep experiences. It is good to be helped by Guanyin, but more importantly, we should be inspired by and become like this bodhisattva. Once we make a vow to become like Guanyin, our obstacles will diminish and we will be able to alleviate the sufferings of others. We all innately have Buddha’s wisdom, compassion and merits; Guanyin's wish is that we develop this wisdom, compassion and merits.

Master Sheng Yen talked about gratitude and making vows. We should be grateful for the good causes and conditions to learn Buddhadharma. With gratitude, we will develop our own wisdom and compassion, and by helping others, we can achieve wisdom and compassion. We must make this great vow.

When we have peace in mind, we have peace in life. We shouldn't worry about how we will live today after making a vow to achieve Buddhahood. Shifu emphasized that it is important to actualize what we hear and believe. This year, we can all live peaceful and calm lives, regardless of the economy. As long as we have one breath, we have hope. When we feel helpless, we should check our breath.

Venerable concluded the talk with a sincere wish for a hopeful year and encouraged that when we are hopeful moment by moment, the whole year will be hopeful. Day by day, moment by moment, thought by thought, we should check our breath.

(By Chang Jie)

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