Dharma Panel: Finding Our Way Out of Crisis—Part 4

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 4


Thank you Venerable Juewei, for sharing your 3C with us. I always thought of 3C as cellphones, computers, and cameras, but now I know that the 3C means creativity, compassion, and capacity. I feel this something we can keep in mind in our Buddhist practice.

For the next part of the panel, I just like to raise a question, in our Fo Guang Shan English Dharma Services series, we often talk about how to develop our strengths and inner power. For example, Venerable Chueh Fan, you talked about how to transform the uncertainty of life during “Shelter in Place.” It seems that most of the crisis that we talked about centers on the pandemic that we are facing. But crises can come in different forms, for example, the Australia bushfire, the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as the current outrage against racism in America. But crises can also appear not on a global level, but on a more personal level. I would like to open this question to everyone: 

Could you share a little about how the Noble Eightfold Path can help develop our inner power and how we should view crisis in general, on a macro level?

Ven. Chueh Fan:

This year is definitely a special year for all of us in facing such an experience in our lifetime. However, I have also told myself—this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that we are going to face. Having an additional experience added to my life is also a time to test my cultivation and how am I going to handle this situation.

I. Acceptance

First, what are my mindset and reaction? “Acceptance” is the first thing in my mind. Acknowledge the problem and accept that it has happened. As a Dharma practitioner, the first test is to make my mind a zone of peace. Instead of becoming entangled in pain and flusters that exist externally, I need to face the fear and suffering and transform them into compassion. I have to think of the safety of all members in the temple, and all visitors. We have to come up with a set of policies in order to safeguard everyone’s mind, listen to the government, wash our hands, keep social distancing, and work from home.

II. Acknowledge the Problem

But just like the Four Noble Truths teach us, we have to acknowledge the problem. Acknowledge that there is suffering in the world. Just like when we do case study, we have to identify the issue before we can make it into a case. We acknowledge the problem and analyze it and keep studying the case, collecting the causes and conditions, and find a few possible solutions to come with a way to solve that problem. The Buddha has found the ways for us that lead us and resolve the issues in our lives. Of course, you can still keep analyzing and find your own way. However, as Buddhist practitioners, I found that the Noble Eightfold Path keep me to move forward in changing my mind and calming myself, so that I can see the path clearly in front of me, showing me the way that I should go. You can get swept up by fear, or you can respond calmly with prudent actions and a fearless, steady heart.

III. Discover Inner Peace

Right view is the most important part in the Noble Eightfold Path. If we can understand well enough of the causes and conditions of each incident, think deeper on the reasons, and having right thoughts on the whole process, I believe we can find the calmness somewhere inside ourselves, and bring that peace and calmness from that insight, and share with others. Madness, nervousness, and anger would never resolve the problem.

With what has happened in the United States and around the world, we know that a country would not become strong or wealthy or advance by initiating wars. A country can only become stronger when all nations work together towards a mission, sharing experiences, learning from past mistakes, and correcting them. From the sutras, we realized that the Buddha counseled that when a society comes together and make decisions in harmony, when they honored their elders and the wise ways that was established, when they care for its most vulnerable members, when it respect environment, and listen to its citizens, it can be expected to prosper, and not decline. We know that we are all together, we are not alone. This is reflected in the Buddhist teaching of interdependence. Your relationships with other, right view, right thought, right speech, right action, and right livelihood, are all paths to enlightenment and expression of the enlightened heart.

II. Find the Solution

From a quiet heart, you can look and see how society treats its most vulnerable members and whether it is acting in ways that foster greed, hate, fear, and ignorance. You can begin to identify what you can do both nationally and internationally to support generosity and respect, to minimize violence, end racism, and exploitation. Once you looked clearly, you can dedicate yourself to bring about a wise and compassionate society.

This is definitely a bodhisattva act, like setting a compass for the heart. This dedication expresses your deepest value. So, as you sit quietly, you will see what is needed to bring benefit to the world. The Buddha taught that inner peace grows from mindfulness, compassion, and respect.

Recap: How to Handle a Crisis?

1. Acceptance
2. Acknowledge the Problem
3. Discover Inner Peace
4. Find the Solution


Thank you, Venerable Chueh Fan, for reminding us that no matter what crisis we are facing, whether global or personal crisis, we should treat it as once-in-a-lifetime experience and opportunity for us to grow, that we should face the problem, acknowledge it, accept it, but look at it clearly with mind of peace and in that way, we can transform suffering into compassion.

As we begin to discuss the ways in which we can transform suffering into compassion, I would like to invite our Zoom guests audience to join the discussion.

Ina Denton:

I was really touched by what Venerable Chueh Fan said, because there are times when I thought, “When is right speech and right action not being done by our silence? By not addressing the issues in our society.” I think it’s important as Buddhist practitioners to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, to stand up for what we understand is right for people. 
In my view, sometimes “wrong speech” is staying silence, because sometimes that is dishonest. I see now in this country (United States), this country of my birth, and think that there are people who are born here and have suffered. We have a role to play in talking about acceptance and compassion and the equality of everyone. It’s important for us to raise our voice for that.
Having been in a temple with Venerable Chueh Fan over the years, I know what it’s like to reach out to people that have been spurned by society because they might not look the way we look, or they might not smell that well, or have behaviors that we find objectionable, instead of being there for them. I think this is the time for all communities of faith, including Buddhism, to really put into practice what we have been talking about. Put in practice, reach out, having a strong voice (not just a soft voice), but sometimes we have to research, acknowledge that there is a problem, find the solution and fight for that solution, especially for people who are in pain.