Highlights of Online Dharma Teachings (Ep. 1-4)

From left to right: Ven. Miao Guang, Ven. Juewei, Ven. Zhi Yue

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak, most FGS cultivation Dharma services have been moved online, this is why the Fo Guang Shan Localization Committee started a series of online English Dharma service, with 20 minutes of English Buddhist chanting, followed by a 20-minute Dharma talk by a weekly Dharma speaker. 

Here are the highlights for the first four episodes of Dharma talks:

Dharma Talk 1

In Times of Adversity: How to Face the COVID-19 Outbreak with Mindfulness and Dharma
Speaker: Venerable Miao Guang

In face of adversity, how do we keep calm? How can we apply the Dharma?
Let us take a look at how the Noble Eightfold Path offers some clear directions to help us remain mindful.

Excerpt from Dharma Teaching:

Right View
Basic Buddhist Definition: Right view encompasses insights that lead us away from delusion and wrong views. In other words, it is a proper understanding of the law of cause and effect.

i. Realize the oneness and coexistence of all:
As the law of dependent origination taught us, we are all in this together, no one can be safe from the virus just because of who they are, where they come from, or how much money they have. Every being deserves loving-care and every form of support to survive the outbreak.

ii. Show compassion for the self, others, and the coronavirus too.
Fear not the virus but the destructive influences of human ignorance. What this world needs now is not discrimination, blames, or hatred. As Venerable Master Hsing Yun once said, “Getting angry does not solve the problem, working hard to resolve a situation does.” Let us care and support one another in such a difficult time. This would be a proper cause to the end of the pandemic.

Dharma Talk 2

Loving and Kind Inter-Connectedness Instead of Social “Distancing”
Speaker: Venerable Miao Guang

This week, instead of social distancing, listen to how loving-kindness, self-compassion. and the realization of our inter-connectedness can strengthen our bonds in spite of physical distancing.

Excerpt from Dharma Teaching:

Other than the virus itself, the following are also what we can distance ourselves from should we wish to live a better life:

1. Distance ourselves from selfishness: Ego tends to be the delusive controlling entity that puts the self in the center of everything. This ego wears an impenetrable armor that blocks us from the bigger picture lessons. A sense of equality to remind ourselves that what you yearn for is just as much as what others wish for too, we will remember that every being deserves to be happy, not just ourselves. Give others a chance too.

2. Distance ourselves from affliction: Like a marching army that continues to circle our minds, the afflictions of love, hatred, jealousy, and pride ensures that the mind is without any moment of peace. Through the contemplative practices of Buddha’s teachings such as dukkha, sunyata, anitya, and anatman, we may begin to see the true weakness of this army and give rise to kindness and compassion for self and other.

3. Distance ourselves from ignorance: Ignorance means lacking clarity and insight of reality as it is, causing us to chase after the delusions of what we think reality should be. Battling this outbreak with greed, arrogance, or doubtful hatred will never lead to peace. Remember, we are all in this together, no one can be exempt. Being in the presence of people whom you can trust and depend on in this fight can help bring about right view, right thought, and right action.

4. Distance ourselves from arrogance and doubt: Doubt in a proper cause to the situation at hand is sometimes a denial of truth which causes people to blame others for our own misfortune. Believe and trust in shared effort and experiences in ways to fight the pandemic will help save lives and stop mankind from falling into the abyss of despair and dispute. While it is never easy to achieve the above acts of distancing ourselves from enemies that are in the dark. A first step is to become aware of their presence. As has been said, we are our own worst enemies. Better to know what this enemy looks like before we set out to conquer them.

Dharma Talk 3

“Shelter in Place”: From Physical Abode to Dharma Abode
Speaker: Venerable Zhi Yue

Many of us are experiencing “shelter in place.” This week, join us in a prayer for the sick and listen to how we can transform physical quarantine to spiritual retreat.

Excerpt from Dharma Teaching

Instead of locking ourselves out of fear and worry, let us transform our experience “sheltering in place” into a more positive one. In a pandemic, self-isolation is called “quarantine.” But in Buddhism, self-isolation is considered to be a “retreat”. Since ancient times, many Buddhist sages have purposely isolated themselves from society to go into deep contemplation.
In a quarantine, physical movement is restricted to a certain space to prevent the spread of disease. But in a retreat, we are limited to a certain space in order to prevent ourselves from wandering off—both physically and mentally. By focusing the mind, one’s energy is directed inwards for reflection, prayer, and meditation. Instead of going outwards, one goes inwards for introspection. In this way, we can begin to develop ourselves and discover the endless Dharma treasures within us.

Dharma Talk 4

My Dharma Reflection on the Coronavirus
Speaker: Venerable Dr. Juewei

As each of us face more time for introspection, listen to Venerable Dr. Juewei’s Dharma reflection on the coronavirus as she practiced compassionate isolation and digital detoxing.

Excerpt from Dharma teaching:

Without experiencing the hardest hardships, how can one rise above the ordinary? Not enduring suffering and not working hard, where can there be achievements?

The Four Noble Truths begin with the acknowledgement of existential difficulties in life. I am now starting to realise that those who can overcome one difficulty at a time, will eventually transcend any sense of suffering. Let the coronavirus be the friend that helps us to rise above the ordinary. We can learn to let go of some basic comforts through our practice of meditative concentration.

Coming up this Saturday (4/11):

Taking a BreakWhere is My Inner Power and Peace?

Speaker: Venerable Chueh Fan
Abbess of FGS Toronto

That’s all for now. Please stay safe, wash your hands frequently, check your temperature regularly, wear facial mask if needed, and spread news that are true and accurate.