The Rainbow of Life

Speaker: Venerable Miao Zhong

Fo Guang Shan San Bao Temple, San Francisco, USA

I. Introduction

Auspicious greetings to members and friends of Fo Guang Shan around the world. This is Miao Zhong from Fo Guang Shan San Bao Temple in San Francisco, California. How is everyone doing? Hope you are all safe and well. Thank you for joining this session of Fo Guang Shan Online English Dharma Service.

In the previous talks, our venerables talked about the Eightfold practice, sheltering in peace, discovering inner power, and interconnected loving kindness, understanding impermanence, and finding true happiness with mindfulness practice. I hope you have found the Dharma talk helpful and are able to put them into practice.

The topic for today is “The Rainbow of Life.” What is a rainbow?

As you know, rainbow is a natural phenomenon that is caused by reflection, refraction, and dispersion of light in water droplets, resulting in a spectrum of light appearing in the sky. Because rainbow usually appear after storm, so people often think of rainbow as hope. Some might think of peace and serenity. Because of the spectrum of colors, some people feel joyful seeing it. In modern times, people also relate rainbow with gay pride, representing diversity and acceptance. Rainbows are wonder phenomena in our life that brings us so much positive and beautiful meaning.

Right now, the coronavirus pandemic is challenging our health, work, family, food, and fun. It is this course of time that we need more rainbows to bring us the joy, hope, and peace. But how can we create more of these beautiful rainbows in our lives? Well, it can be done by practicing the Four Givings taught by Venerable Master Hsing Yun.

The Four Givings are:

Giving others confidence
Giving others hope
Giving others joy
Giving others convenience

These practices are ways that we can form rainbows, not only in our lives, but also to everyone around us.

Venerable Master Hsing Yun once said that the meaning of life can be found by working towards a more truthful, virtuous, and beautiful humanity. By understanding the everlasting vitality of life through giving, giving is the most beautiful action in the world, especially when we give with kind words and goodwill. As well as by smiling at others and giving them a helping hand. Let’s look at the ways we can practice the Four Givings, which I also call the Giving Rainbows.

II. Giving Others Confidence

We cannot implant confidence into others, but then we can help them find confidence. Before giving others confidence, we have to have it within.

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time. One of his famous quotes is, “Failure makes me work even harder.” He was rejected several times to be part of the varsity team during his sophomore year. But that didn’t make him give up. Instead, he decided to work harder, practice basketball for longer hours when others are resting, and visualize that he will be a great player. He had the confidence within. All of his hard work and effort paid off. His motivation and perseverance help him win various NBA championships, MVP awards, and other recognition. Through his charitable work in the community, Michael Jordan has also given confidence to students by donating thousands of books to develop lifelong love of reading, and financially supporting food programs so people would not be hungry.

During this pandemic, there are many others who have faced setbacks because of layoff, or just the lack of employment opportunities. At this time, even if we cannot give people jobs or refer them to someone who could, we could still give them words of encouragements, such as:

“Knowing you, I know you will come back even stronger.”
“I’m sorry to hear about your situation, but I know your next company would be very lucky to have you.”

III. Give Others Hope

There was once a lady who had two daughters. One sells umbrellas, and the other sells noodles. The lady would be crying on a sunny day, because one of her daughters wouldn’t have umbrellas to sell. She would be crying on a rainy day, because the other daughter wouldn’t be able to dry the noodles and sell them.

One day, the lady met a venerable, and asked what she can do to help her daughters.

The venerable said, “On a rainy day, think of the daughter who sells umbrellas. And on a sunny day, think about the other daughter who sells noodles.”

This is a story from Bodhi Light Podcast, which shows us the importance of giving people hope by reframing their outlook in life. With all the tragic things that are happening in the world as a result of coronavirus, can we find a silver lining in this situation, and see the possibilities and opportunities that are present?

Right now, there are numerous examples of people giving hope to others. Children writing letters to the front line workers, more volunteers willing to help low-income families, neighbors sharing homemade food with one another, citizens make masks or 3D-printing face shields at home to donate to organizations, companies opening up free online resources and providing online Dharma services and discussion, such as this. It is in this time that we can bring more hope to the people around us.

IV. Giving Others Joy

Like Venerable Master Hsing Yun said, “We come to this mundane world to pursue true happiness.” Joy or happiness is indeed a type of medicine to maintain our well-being. Here is another story from Bodhi Light Podcast.

There was a lonely king who was known to be rather odd and eccentric lived in a strict and serious way everyday. One day, the king became sick and felt very weak. His ministers called on the nation’s greatest doctors, and even found a well-know writer, a great musician, and an artist, and even called on one hundred beautiful maidens to play music and dance for the king to find a cure for his illness. However, the king did not get any better.

One day, a monastic was invited to see the king. The venerable greeted the king with joined palms and proceeded to sit by the king for a few moments in silence. Then, the venerable spoke,

“There once lived a married couple. As days went by, the wife became suspicious about her husband cheating on her. As days went by, the husband thought about cutting off a finger to prove his innocence. Since his little pinkie finger and not much of use, he thought he could do without it, So, he cut of his little finger. One day, the husband’s ears were suddenly itchy, he wanted to scratch his ear with his pinkie, but he no longer had it. This was then he realized that something may be small and useless, at times they are extremely important.”

After hearing the story, the king fell into the laughter, and said, “This is great! I like it.” From that day forward, the venerable would come to see the king daily, each time he visited, he would share with the king a funny story. Sure enough, the king was cured with no use of any type of physical medication.

As the podcast host, Venerable Miao Guang, said at the end of the story, “In today’s hectic life, people live and work under enormous pressure. It is important to relax, take a break from our busy schedule and do something we enjoy. If you can cure it with laughter, you will surely be able to rid yourself of your troubles and worries.”

Venerable Master Hsing Yun also said, “One little smile can give boundless joy. Don’t underestimate the joy your smile can give others.”

V. Giving Others Convenience

Here comes another story called, “A Bowl of Noodle,” also from Bodhi Light Podcast.

There was a high school student named Annie who lived with her mum. One thing she feared most about coming from school was her mom non-stop gossiping and complaining. One day, Annie came home after a bad day at school and couldn’t stand her mom’s non stop nagging. She stomped out of the house and spent hours walking around the town until she was tired and hungry. When she was about to order a bowl of noodles, she found herself without even a penny with her and was so disappointed.

The shop owner welcomed Annie and cooked a bowl of noodles with no charge. Annie was so moved and brought into tears. When she was eating her noodles, she told the owner that she was very touched and thought of her own mom, who always complaining and comparing her to other people and never had any kind words for her.

On the other hand, she thought the owner was so kind to her and cooked her noodles even without knowing her. The owner shook his head and replied, “Well, I have only given you one bowl of noodle, yet you felt so touched. Yet, have you ever put yourself in your mother’s shoes? How many meals has she cooked for you? I’m sure that despite her complains, she means well.”

Shocked by his words, Annie realized she had been thoughtless and selfish. She felt bad for snapping at her mother without understanding her true intentions. After finishing the noodles, she thanked the owner and quickly made her way home.

As she neared home, she saw her mother had been waiting for her by the door. Looking anxious, she asked Annie, “Where have you been? I was worried sick! Anyway, the food is cold now, I’ll heat it up for you! So come in and have dinner!”

Because of one bowl of noodle, a conversation, and a convenience from the shop owner, and Annie had nothing with her , she realized her mom’s greatness and became so grateful and thankful to her parents. So don’t underestimate just one act or one sentence, you might change another person’s entire life.

VI. Conclusion

During this pandemic, we can find comfort and solace in the Buddha’s teaching. By incorporating the Buddha’s teaching into our daily life, we can broaden our horizons and widen our perspective on how we see things to reduce our own sufferings and that of others. We can help people find hope, peace, serenity, joy, and beauty of acceptance by practicing the Four Teachings, one of the teachings of Humanistic Buddhism. I also called them the “Giving Rainbows,” as it can bring more hope and rainbows to people’s life.

Thank you for joining us in this cultivation session. Let us join our palms and dedicate the joy and merit from this past hour to our loved ones, our society, our nation, and all beings in this universe. May everyone around the world be safe and well. See you next week. Omitofo.


Bodhi Light Tales 
by Fo Guang Podcast

Weekly tales of wisdom for mindful people on the go.
Host: Venerable Miao Guang

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