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Spiritual Growth Amidst the Difficulties of Daily Life

On Sunday, June 7, 2009, Venerable Guo Ru gave a talk entitled, "Spiritual Growth Amidst the Difficulties of Daily Life" at CMC.

We are constantly confronted with challenges and difficulties in society, family, workplace, our interactions with people and our response to obligations. Often in the midst of all of this, we wonder, how is it possible to find peace, a pure land, a heaven in our environment?

The so-called "pure land" is not a place we escape to. The path of seeking the pure land is not an escape route. From a practitioner's perspective, it is in the midst of our challenges that we find a pure land. In the midst of interacting with others and in the complexities of life, we are able to not only confront them but embrace them. It is through our interactions that we can learn and refine our lives.

The process of learning and refining our lives is to live through our full potentials as human beings. We don’t see the pure land as a place other than where we are now. When we can learn to develop our wisdom and compassion, then we will find our pure land wherever we are, wherever we may be. Finding the pure land in the midst of difficulties is the way for practitioners to live out his or her life fully.

In order to have a peaceful mind, it is crucial to embark on the practice of Buddhadharma. Buddhist teachings is philosophical, a set of prescriptions and concepts, if there is no effort to integrate them into your daily life. It would be difficult, practically impossible, for you to settle the mind, to have a peaceful mind and a peaceful heart.

Only when you embark on the practice, taking what you know in the Buddhadharma, in the Buddhist teachings, and try to apply it in your daily life, to integrate it into your being, to use the teachings as a guide to filter and illuminate the world, to allow it to change your perspective little by little, then you will be able to truly transform old patterns that give rise to vexations and discover the pure land.

It is only when we use the Buddhadharma to transform our views and to open our hearts, the vexations will settle down and dissipate so that wisdom and compassion may emerge. That is the process of discovering the pure land.

One must cultivate wisdom and compassion by confronting difficulties, use it and allow it to reveal one’s own inner wisdom. The place where we have fallen is precisely the place where practitioners must learn to stand up by using all experiences whether it being negative or positive as sources of inner strength and confidence to face and tackle issues.

This kind of engagement with the world is the process of constructing a pure land on earth. By constructing our own pure land is the way to finding happiness in the midst of suffering and difficulties.

Grandmaster Dong Chu taught Buddhism by creating problems where there were none to begin with and put us in those situations to allow us to use our wits and inner resources. To him, the Buddhadharma is not something that is dead, not just words on paper but it needs to be used.

He taught that for most people, the conditions of the world manipulates people but practitioners are the individuals that transform the world.

Therefore, we have to use the external environment, the difficulties that we find ourselves in and integrate the teachings in our lives in order to overcome, to see beyond the patterns of our self-attachments and to transform.

(Translated by Dr. Jimmy Yu/Selections of the talk by Rosemary Duong)

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