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Volume 6 no 1

It's A Blissful Life

Venerable Shen-Kai noted that since time immemorial the Buddha-dharma has often been spoken in ways that people find it difficult to relate to their lives, giving rise to an air of mystery or subtleness. So much so that the general public perceives Buddhism to be overly profound on one hand or mere superstition on the other. As a result some people are afraid to learn about it. The general public is, therefore, not able to fully benefit from it. In view of this, the Venerable dedicated his life to bring the Buddha's teachings into people's lives as a blissful culture for humanity. Here, practitioners of Jen Chen Buddhism share first-hand encounters where the principles of Buddhism are the source to a blissful life.

Living and Cultivating

In the early days of my encounter with Buddhist teachings, I found it a little amusing when a Buddhist teacher suggested that when we are faced with trying situations, be it with people or life in general, rather than to react to them, it is better that we welcome them as opportunities to cultivate ourselves. At that time I thought it was idealistic and easier said than done.

However, having contemplated over this advice for a long time, experimenting with it whenever I was mindful of it, and tasting the sweetness of triumph and bitterness of defeat, it is no longer an amusing statement but rather a very wise advice. It is not always that we can anticipate trying situations. If we can, then perhaps they are no longer trying. They do not appear at specific times or in specific places. Trying situations usually catch us off guard, occurring when least expected. Under these circumstances, what better defence mechanism can there be other than to cultivate at every moment in the course of life, and especially when these adverse situations present themselves.

In the aftermath of a trying situation - when pride has taken a beating, feelings are hurt, engulfed by anger and animosity, it is easy to see the similarities between it and a bomb that has exploded. Most bombs come with a fuse. Left unattended, it burns itself shorter and inches towards an explosion. Cultivation is about extinguishing the fuse, thereby averting the explosion.

It would not be easy for people to put that advice into practice at first, I am sure. It would not be surprising if we had to resort to clenching our fists in frustration. We may feel the blood pressure rising, the pulsating veins on the temples and the heat warming up the ears. We may hear the heart pounding and lungs bursting. We may bite the lips so hard they could bleed. And there will be times we wanted to scream our heads off. But, it will do us well to heed the advice that these are opportunities to cultivate and to seize them immediately.

In moments of darkness or ignorance, such opportunities had slipped me by. I had to taste the bitterness of regret and defeat. In times of brightness, I had seized the opportunities to cultivate and enjoyed the sweetness of victory. I had walked away from hostile confrontations because this helped me to cultivate inner strength and courage. I had kept anger at bay because this helped me to cultivate patience and compassion. I had refrained from the last say and turned a blind eye because these helped me to cultivate liberation. In all of these situations I had triumphed, not over anybody else, but myself.

Over time, the innumerable trying situations, that can confront us the moment we open our eyes in the morning right up to when we call it a day, will begin to diminish. It is not that they have disappeared, but rather because we have become more resilient and more mindful about seizing the opportunity to cultivate in the midst of living. When we make living synonymous with cultivation, there is only one thing that we can be certain of, and that is a blissful life.


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre