Dharma Panel: Finding Our Way Out of Crisis—Part 3

Panel Topic: Finding Our Way Out of Crisis

Ven. Chueh Fan, Abbess of FGS Toronto
Ven. Juewei, Director, Humanistic Buddhism Centre, NTI
Ven. Miao Guang, Deputy Chancellor of FGS Institute of Humanistic Buddhism

Ven. Zhi Yue, FGS Institute of Humanistic Buddhism

Question 3


Thank you, Venerable Chueh Fan, for showing us how Buddhist practice doesn’t always come in the form of Buddhist meditation. Sometimes, it can be dealing with daily things, such as fixing the septic tank, the roof, or paperwork. But throughout all your examples, you show that your practice come from the self and towards benefitting others. The Noble Eightfold Path is not just about liberating oneself, but how we put it in practice that will help others.

You mentioned that in the temple, you often have lots of young people coming in with their anxiety or suffering, I would imagine that it would be very difficult to stay positive after hearing these stories. Sometimes it might make you feel pessimistic about life.

So I would like to direct my next question to Venerable Juewei, the third of our panelist, with everything that’s happening around the world right now, it can be very difficult to stay positive and joyous. Venerable Juewei, since you are known to be the Buddhist nun with this amazing energy of joy. Some people even describe you as the one with an “infectious smile” that spreads light and wisdom.

How can people also maintain this joy in spite of all that is happening?

Ven. Juewei:

Thank you very much for the introduction, and thank you to my Dharma brothers and sisters, and all bodhisattvas and everybody in front of the YouTube channel. It’s a pleasure to be here following from Venerable Miao Guang and Venerable Chueh Fan is really difficult. We got two really good practitioners who have heart-felt wisdom to share with everyone. I live in an ivory tower, and here in the Nan Tien Institute there’s not very much to share, but let me just say a little bit about how I maintain a little bit of positiveness amidst everything around me.

I. The Dharma in a Rainbow

I think in terms of the metaphor of a rainbow. When you think of a rainbow, what do you think of? Doesn’t joy come to you? I’m sure many of you have an album or folder, and among them there may be some rainbows. When you look at rainbows, naturally most of us will think of the joy that comes with seeing the rainbow and the surprise that makes us want to capture the rainbow. That’s why we have all these photographs of rainbows.

But when you think about rainbows and when do they appear, they very often appear after a rain or thunderstorm. Rainbows are impermanent, isn’t it? Rainbows don’t last forever and that’s the Dharma—it teaches us about impermanence. Rainbows are made up of many atoms of different colors—non-self—as each color alone would not make it a rainbow; it has to be a collection. So from the rainbow comes this Dharma that the Buddha has been teaching us—to accept impermanence, to accept oneself. That’s what the world really is and that’s why we practice—to learn how to conduct ourselves in the world as it really is. Today we’ve heard from Venerable Miao Guang and Venerable Chueh Fan about about how the Dharma can be used in our daily life—that’s Humanistic Buddhism.

Many people have asked me—what is Humanistic Buddhism. After all, here in Nan Tien Institute we have the privilege of running the world’s first graduate certificate in Humanistic Buddhism. So when asked what is Humanistic Buddhism, I recently coined this phrase, I call it: Everyday Dharma for Everybody. And it is everyday Dharma, even amidst a pandemic.

So, this particular panel is about finding our way out of crisis, and I know that’s in this world today we tend to measure ourselves in terms of IQ, EQ, and SQ (Spiritual Quotient). I know have three CQs: (1) creativity, (2) compassion, and (3) capacity. I think that these three are necessary for us in this world and for us out of the pandemic, and they match very nicely with the Noble Eightfold Path.

II. Creativity: Right View and Right Thought

For creativity, I would like to include right view and right thought, because that’s what we need to have. We have to have the right view that although we are locked down, or we have to work from home, or we may be suffering from job redundancy that’s taking place. That’s not going to last forever—there will be a rainbow ahead of us. With that right view, it will give us the right volition to act—so that’s the creativity. For example, we have this opportunity for Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, and the equator to meet across all time zones. That’s creativity. We can create opportunities ahead of us. So, creativity is important for us to overcome whatever obstacles that might be ahead of us, and recognize impermanence.

III. Compassion: Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort

Secondly, compassion. What is right speech, right action, right livelihood, and right effort if not motivated by compassion? All practice has to be motivated by compassion and lead us down the compassionate path. Like what Venerable Miao Guang said earlier, it is the recognition of interdependence—I am in you and you are in me. We are in it together. In this sense of compassion, for example, I have a job today and someone else does not, can I send a care package to the person? Can we at least say “hello” to the person? Like Venerable Chueh Fan, who has to meet many suffering souls in the temple. She brings them, through her compassion, the light of the Dharma. So the rainbow tells us that the different colors have to come together in this perfect fusion, and this is what we are, in this interdependent world, that we can come together if we think good thoughts, and speak good words, and do good deeds.

IV. Capacity: Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration

Thirdly, capacity. Finally, we are creating capacity for ourselves with right mindfulness and right concentration. This capacity is necessary for us to move ahead. Earlier just now when we started, actually during the ritual part when we have the chanting, on my end it was silence. It was at that time that I think, wow, this is great! The best music is silence! And it was at that moment that I decided that I will not worry, I’ll just nicely join palms, and create my own mindfulness. It was at that particular time that I realized I could really relax. It was through that silence that I create the capacity through my mind—I don’t have to have negative thoughts: “Oh! What’s happening? Oh I told you to rehearse.” No. It’s just that moment, and living in that moment.

The Noble Eightfold Path is Everyday Dharma for Everybody, and for anytime.

With this, I hope the metaphor of the rainbow and the 3CQ will be able to help us all out of the crisis.
Recap of 3CQ:

Creativity: Right View and Right Thought
Compassion: Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort
Capacity: Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration