Feelings and Affection in Buddhist Life

 When doing liturgy practices at home, the main thing is to be consistent in doing it at fixed times. Ideally, the sessions should include making offerings, prostrating, meditating, reciting the Buddha’s name, reading and chanting sutras, making vows, and transferring merit. Making offerings means placing incense, flowers, lamps, fruits and other foods, as well as clean water, before the Buddha statue. If conditions allow, these items should be replaced daily to keep them fresh. We should never allow the offerings to become rotten, polluted, or wither. The principle is to keep the altar clean, tidy, and solemn.   We should designate a specific time each day to conduct the same service. It’s better to choose a time when our minds are clear and our bodies are relaxed. Usually, it is in the morning after washing up and before breakfast, or after dinner following a brief rest. These are the two best times for liturgy practice. These two routine sessions will take one to two hours daily in total, but need not be more than four hours. Spending too much time for services may interfere with regular family life and work. If these time periods are not feasible, we can also choose any other designated times in the morning or afternoon for liturgy practice.   These liturgy sessions are called “regular liturgy practices” or “daily liturgy practices,” and should be held without interruption each day. It should be habitual, like our other daily routines: brushing teeth, washing up, eating breakfast, cleaning the house, etc. The purpose is to harmonize our body and our mind, to nurture our body and cultivate moral character, as well as to vigilantly and diligently improve ourselves. Buddhist practice at home is not about formalities; rather, it is about being persistent in helping ourselves to attain peace, health, and happiness. Besides the values of self-cultivation and introspection, such practices will bless us with the sup

 In Chinese, the term “ganqing” refers to the feelings and affectionate relationships between men and women, parents and children, and among friends; as such, it includes romantic love, parental love, and friendships. Buddhists are ordinary people, so it is natural that they have parents and friends, and except for monastics, they may also have spouses. Buddhism refers to sentient beings as “beings with feelings,” and as sentient beings we experience the three affectionate relationships mentioned above. So, it is ultimately human beings who should practice the Dharma, and everyone who practices begins as an ordinary person. Therefore, their engagements and interactions must be in accordance with affection, reasons, and laws. If Buddhism only speaks of detachment from desires, it would be difficult to bring ordinary people into the gate of Buddhism. Furthermore, if Buddhist teaching is devoid of feelings and affection, it would be difficult for people to cultivate Buddhism and transform themselves.  In Buddhadharma, “compassion” seems to differ from “feeling and affection”; however, the foundation of compassion lies in the relationships of affection between people. Some would call it love, but just as love can be conditional or unconditional, there is also selfish love and selfless love. The compassion of the Buddha and bodhisattvas is selfless, while the love between humans involves a sense of self. The love between parent and child is unconditional, while romantic love and friendship can be conditional. Buddhadharma aims to use love as the basis to cultivate selfless compassion.   While buddhas and bodhisattvas are selfless, ordinary sentient beings are not; therefore, it is necessary for sentient beings to cultivate and gradually transform from self-centered love to selfless compassion, and from conditional love to unconditional love. Thus, Buddhism does not ask people to leave feelings and affecti