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YEAR OF NEWS :
Friday, March 24, 2017
When Dharma Drum Vancouver Center announced classes on chanting of Buddhist prayers and praises, I was thrilled. The opportunity to learn more about the unique Dharma instruments was intriguing and, more importantly, I wanted to learn how the chanting could enhance my practice
I remember last year a veteran volunteer of Care Service Group asked the Dharma teacher to shed light on a question: “How can we urge and advise devotees afflicted by troubles to ‘let go’?” The monastic replied, “We don’t advise others to ‘let go’ when we ourselves haven’t really experienced and realized ‘letting go’.” Not long ago, I heard a long-time devoted supporter of ours claim: “I’ve achieved letting go.” So, I deeply feel that many people have actually misunderstood and misapplied the Buddhist expression, “letting go” (放下), when they haven’t deeply delved into practice and attained thorough enlightenment. This is why ancient patriarchs and masters seldom used this expression in teaching the Dharma. After all, in our short life of cultivation, understanding our self is already as hard as looking for a needle in a haystack, not to mention entering the stage of letting go of what is “mine,” which is an even longer journey to go.
Hello, my name is Tim Dai. I joined Dharma Drum Vancouver Center about two years ago, and I have recently taken refuge in the Three Jewels at this Center. Also, I have started volunteering at the Center which teaches me lessons that have benefitted me enormously. I’m happy to share what I’ve learned from the experience.
Today was Sunday, May, 24, 2015; it wasn’t a normal typical day, it was Buddha’s Birthday. It started out with me panicking and trying to remember exactly what I was supposed to do in the drumming performance. Even though deep down I knew the song perfectly, for some reason I needed to be a perfectionist and play the song with everything I had because I knew everyone was counting on us to perform a show that nobody would forget.
Over the past eight months, I’ve been busy with relocating, decorating new home, and entertaining visiting friends and relatives, as well as familiarizing myself with the new neighborhood and possible routes to avoid traffic jam. Meanwhile, as I’m just starting my own business, new challenges keep emerging almost every day. To put it nicely, I am learning by living, and living by learning; but to put it frankly, my nerves are on edge.
This is my fear before the Beginner’s Mind Retreat:
- Not talking for a whole weekend?!!
- Vegetarian for the whole weekend?! Am I going to be starving or fainted?
- Meditate for the whole weekend? Never done that before!
In general, we can say that all liberated beings (aryas), such as arhats and buddhas, have thoroughly penetrated the Four Noble Truths. And because these truths pervade the understanding of these holy beings, we call them noble. They are also called noble because by understanding and practicing them, we too can reach liberation.
As a result of the Buddha's three turnings of the Dharma Wheel even the least gifted of the five monks became enlightened6, and became aryas, awakened ones, the Buddha's first disciples, and the first sangha--the community of Buddhist monks. For forty-nine years afterward, the Buddha continued to expound on the Four Noble Truths and all the other teachings of the Buddhadharma until he entered great nirvana. Prior to that, he always admonished his disciples and followers to abide by the precepts (vinaya)7, to accept the Dharma as their teacher, and take liberation (nirvana) as their ultimate goal.
In this, the Buddha’s first teaching2 he expounded on the middle way between asceticism and indulgence, and also taught the Four Noble Truths. With this teaching he set in motion the Wheel of the Dharma--the teachings of Buddhism. The Four Noble Truths are thus the foundation of the Buddhadharma. Tounderstand, to practice, and to realize the Four Noble Truths is to realize the whole of the Buddhadharma. While most Buddhists may understand the Four Noble Truths to some degree, not everyone may be clear about all their implications. Therefore beginning today, I will explain and try to clarify these four truths as spoken by the Buddha.
Soon after he realized full enlightenment, the Buddha wanted to share his discovery with all sentient beings. He traveled a hundred-fifty miles on foot from Bodhgaya, where he experienced illumination under the bodhi tree, to the city of Sarnath in Benares. His purpose was to seek out five monks1 with whom he had previously practiced asceticism. The monks had left him when he turned away from asceticism to follow the middle way. Now he had become enlightened and in his great compassion wanted to help his friends find the path to liberation. So his very first teaching as the Buddha was to these five monks at a grove near Sarnath called Deer Park.
《Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel》p. 0002
Giving is receiving. I am sure we have all heard of that expression before, but to experience it fully is another thing.