Living in Harmony

Speaker: Ven. Man Kuang

Abbess, I.B.P.S. Dallas Temple, Texas, U.S.A.

I. Introduction

Auspicious Greetings to everyone. I am Venerable Mankuang from IBPS Dallas Temple in Texas, United Sates.

Thanks for the causes and conditions making us to meet each other online without any traveling and journeys, saving us a lot of time and money.

Let me start by telling you a story or you may consider it as a parable.

II. Wealth, Success, Wellbeing, and Harmony

On a rainy night of New Year’s Eve, a little girl was saddened by the disagreements that brought upon her family members.

Her brother insisted on buying a new motorcycle. And her Dad, Mom, and Brother were quarreling about it again.”

Dad told to Brother, “Can’t you use the old motorcycle? You just know how to spend money!”

Mom added, “The economy is bad, why don’t you just use the old one?”

Brother angrily said, “The old motorcycle breaks down all the time, you just can’t use it!”

Now, everyone is so upset. Mom went back to the kitchen, Dad repaired the old motorcycle with a scowl on his face. Brother slammed the door and walked out, he kept hitting the wall with his basketball.

The little girl ask her kitten “can you tell me how to make everyone happy for the New Year?”

Suddenly, four old men appeared. Mom said, “Gosh, it’s raining, Sirs, please come in for shelter.

One of the old men said, “Aha, thank you for your kindness, Madam. But we have a rule, only one of us can come in. Who do you wish to invite?”

The four old men then introduced themselves one by one.

They were Wealth, Success, Well-being and Harmony.

Dad exclaimed, “Wealth! So that we can have a comfortable life!”

Brother said, “No, no, choose Success! I want my family to be proud of me!”

Mom said, “Wait a moment! I think Well-being is the most important!”

Lastly, the little girl asked, “Mom, Mom, What is harmony? Why don’t you invite Harmony? Can Harmony bring us happiness?”

Dad said, “Yes, you’re right!  New Year is here, we should have a happy gathering. Let’s invite Harmony in, then!”

Seeing the four old men entering the house one by one, Father was astonished, “Eh? I thought you said only one of you can come in? But now…”

One of the old men replied, “We have another rule. If Harmony enters, Well-being, Success and Wealth will follow.”

III. Harmony as the Middle Path

Well, in reality of our life, peace and harmony may not bring us wealth and success but they are the long-lasting values and are required for the survival and growth of mankind. With mutual respect and tolerance, people are living together peacefully rather than fighting or arguing.

Harmony is actually the Buddha’s teaching of the Middle Path, which is a necessary guide to our modern world. Harmony is essential between family members, nations, various ethnic groups, every sector of our society and political party.  Since each of us is different from one another, everyone needs to build up connections and relationships, which contributes to developing harmony among different people as an effective way to eliminate confrontation and conflict.  The Buddhist Middle Way refers to the Buddha’s enlightened view of life, and also the actions or attitudes that create peace and happiness for oneself and others. In a broader sense, it’s seeking the way of life that gives the greatest value to human existence, and also helps relieve the world of suffering.

IV. Five Harmonies

How do we cultivate or practice harmony?  Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the founder of Fo Guang Shan Buddhist Order in Taiwan and a major propagator of Humanistic Buddhism mentioned these five points: harmony within oneself, harmony within the family, harmony with others, harmony with society and harmony with the wider world. 

The Five Harmonies are:

  1. Individual harmony achieved through joy
  2. Interpersonal harmony achieved through respect
  3. Family harmony achieved through deference
  4. Social harmony achieved through cooperation
  5. World harmony achieved through peace

Before we prepare to spread harmony in the world, balance finding in our own mind is the first thing we should do.  By observing compassion and realizing all beings on earth are interdependent, we can eventually be free of the suffering originating in fear, anger and selfishness. 

Through coexistence, we upgrade our minds by becoming more open-minded, fostering mutual respect and greater collaboration. In our daily lives, we recognize the importance of doing good things, saying good words and having good thoughts.  We cherish generosity, embrace differences and share commonalities. We interact with others so that we can develop broad friendship or affinities. We outreach for participants in international exchanges so that we can understand and learn about more from various cultures and religions.  These perspectives are not only for Buddhists, they are shared by all of mankind, universal truths.

We cannot exist alone in this world. We need the support of people from various fields, trades and professions.  Without others, how are we going to survive as the human race?   Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s Five Harmonies remind us no person, no community or country should be excluded on this Earth.  Only through harmonious actions can we build a better world.

Buddha once said: “In this world, hate never dispelled hate.  Only compassion dispels hate” It is only by cultivating loving-kindness for ourselves and others that we can maintain peace and harmony on earth.

IV. Be a Global Citizen

Finally, I would like to say one further point.  When Venerable Master Hsing Yun first moved to Taiwan, people called him a “Chinese monk”.  Later when he revisited his hometown in China, the locals there called him a “Taiwanese monk”.   He then realized “Actually, every person is a member of one big family—the planet Earth we are living in”.  With this thought, he considered him as a “global citizen”. Venerable Master Hsing Yun offers a profound example in promoting of harmony among the human race.

Like among the colorful flowers we appreciate in a garden, harmony is the beauty that different people create.  All of us can contribute to relational harmony for the world.

V. Conclusion

As my conclusion for today’s talk, I want you to know how the family in the story I told at the beginning solve their family issue.  Well, Dad fixed the motorcycle, Brother prepared to look for a part time job to pay his new motorcycle.  Mom still worked in the kitchen and the little girl was anxious to see the new transportation vehicle.

One change of our mind can make a big difference in our life.  Let’s harmonize!

I am Venerable Mankuang. Thank you for joining me. Take care!