Would suicide bring endless torture?
Let’s first look at how karma is formed. Karma is the accumulation of the things we have done. At the very moment a person commits suicide, he or she is overwhelmed by aimlessness, fear and helplessness. Fear would leave an indelible mark in memory. If a person manages to end his/her own life, such feelings would be deeply rooted in the eighth consciousness and would have profound effect on his mental state in his next life.
Whenever he runs into something disagreeable in his new life, the same feelings would emerge again. After he has been subjected to all kinds of mental and physical torture, he would choose the same way to end his suffering. This kind of self-torture is endless.
As I grow old, I think that every religion is worth knowing as a way to compensate our own deficiencies. Broader knowledge helps prevent narrow vision or short-sightedness. But getting to know a religion doesn’t mean that one has to convert to that religion. This is my mind set. However, it is disturbing to note that every religion is minded to differentiate from one another. This phenomenon is seen even in many Buddhist friends. Some said I am stubborn and queried why I hold on to not converting even though I am conversant with so many Buddhist theories. They said I have to be clear about where I stand and I must, when confronting other religious groups, draw a clear line from them and view them with hostility. I used to think this only happens to Catholics. I was amazed to learn that Buddhists are the same. The original Buddhist teachings draw no boundary. How does such territorial confinement come about?
People living in these days, always have the typical qualities and characteristics of these times: such as prejudice and inflexibilities. Irrespective of your status, you are bound to be smeared in one way or the other. This affects religious followers, parents, children, and in fact, everybody.
Your understanding is absolutely right, but not everyone reaches your level. Buddhists are human beings, too. They have their own characters, and face their own learning impediments. Do not judge a religion or organization simply on the basis of the different views held by others. This will lead to tunnel vision and narrow-mindedness. Those who reap the real benefits from a religion are able to free themselves of troubles by cleansing their mind and thus achieve spiritual purity. The purpose of your going into Buddhism is nothing more than enriching your knowledge. Then why you act on others’ advice and not learn from and listen to the Buddha?
Enjoy your journey learning from the wisdom of the Buddha. This will surely bring you greater benefits.
Dear Master, it is very difficult to secure tickets for your talk on each occasion. Could you find a bigger venue so that more of your fans can attend your talk?
I hope to fulfill your wish. I didn’t feel at ease each time I learned that many people could not get the admission tickets. Bigger venues would require a bigger budget and would result in higher ticket prices. This would add to the burden on them. The majority of people coming to my talks are from the grassroots; they are both mentally and physically beaten, entangled in sorrow and trapped in sufferings. I just hope to use the most simplest and practical way to help them get rid of their sufferings in an unadorned manner, so that you people can get real benefits from my talks with your sincere hearts. Not long later I will give talks on two consecutive evenings in the Polytechnic University. I hope this would meet the need of more people.
How to prevent from going too far and getting possessed by devils during meditation? What happens if I can't wake up from the state of meditative absorption?
One will not get too far and get possessed by devels during meditation. There is no such a thing in Buddhism. Nor will a person be unable to wake up from the state of meditative absorption. Never take having fallen asleep as the state of meditative absorption. I advise you to attend group practice under teachers' proper guidance. Never practise on your own with only the reference to books.
Why does someone who has committed to observe the Bodhisattva precepts still often uses abusive words to others?
often uses abusive words to others?
We can see it from another angle. If he has not committed to observe the Bodhisattva precepts, he may even bite or beat others. When one has committed to observe the Bodhisattva precepts but still uses abusive words to others, he not only upsets the others but also produces karma with his words. Actually a person who does not verbally abuse others is not necessarily a person of compassion. Observing the Bodhisattva precepts is a standard. We cannot expect those who have committed to do so would reach the standard all at once. We should try to give him more love. We all have different karmas and experiences in life which in turn have left different marks on us. Buddhist precepts are uniform but their effect on each person who is observing them is different. After he has learnt a lesson from using abusive words, as long as he tries hard to learn, I believe he will gradually feel ashamed and contrite, and will mend his mistakes.
I am a Buddhist but my family members are Catholics and Protestants. Now my aunt who has liver cancer wants badly to convert my religious belief when she is still alive. I am in a difficult situation. What should I do?
If you will feel guilty and remorseful after she dies for not acceding to her wish, then you’d better convert it as soon as possible. Otherwise, the best way is to talk her out with the righteousness of a cause and to explain to her that even you are in one family, each of you may have different causes and circumstances to have a religious belief. What she thinks the best may not be suitable for others. No matter what your belief is, one should always respect others. Only when we make an effort to respect, understand and to maintain harmony and balance, can true world peace be achieved.
Being a Buddhist I should not kill but there are cockroaches at home. What should I do?
You must have hygiene problem for having cockroaches at home. A Buddhist should not kill, but you can try to communicate with them instead. You may beat some object to make sounds and announce to them that you are going to have a big clean-up on certain date, and request them to move out of your house before the deadline. During this period, you have to repeat beating objects and making the announcement. They will really move out in due course. Most important of all, you must clean your house thoroughly after the cockroaches have left. Don’t keep miscellaneous items. You should store food with a plastic box or put it in refrigerator. Sterilize your house regularly. Insects or cockroaches won’t come to live with you when your house is clean.
After my friend has become a Protestant, she always preaches to me. When I make my religious belief clear to her, she would say Buddhism is unrealistic. She has a lot of twisted theories on Buddhism and I feel bad about that. But I don’t want to let this affect our friendship. How should I deal with her in words and in action?
You don’t have to explain anything. Just be her friend with an open mind, care about her with real actions. When someone does not understand our religious belief well or even has misunderstanding about it, we should better ourselves all the more. They will understand our religious belief gradually when they see our kind heart and behaviours. This will take time and we should be patient with it.
When our family members or relatives have died for many years, they may have already reincarnated. Can they receive the meritorious virtues that we dedicate to them?
Love transcends life and death, time and space. Certainly they can receive the merits. Do good deeds in the name of your deceased family members or dedicate to them the merits of chanting sutras or reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha. This sincere wish is positive energy which will certainly reach them and better their life. Alternatively, you can make donations to monks, monasteries, or charitable organizations. In this way, these organizations can focus on spreading the Buddhism teaching for the benefit of people and purifying their minds. This is a good way to let the deceased continue to make a virtuous connection with this society.
You often praise other religions in public. But the others always defame Buddhism. What do you think about that?
I praise other religions not in the hope of others praising me. I respect other religions not in the hope of others respecting me. A religion master must have a vision and an open-mind. What we convey is true love and peace. We do it not for just one single family, religion or country but for all mankind. We have to maintain this awareness in mind no matter what others do or say.
Do you remember the famous conversation between the meditation Master Foyin and Su Dongpo? You see others as a Buddha when you have a Buddha in your mind. You see others as shit when you have shit in your mind.
Master, you have said that if we miss our deceased family members so much that we want to dream of them, we can make good wishes to them, and visualize that they are living a happy life. Buddhists believe in reincarnation. My father has died for nearly 30 years. He should have been reborn already. He would be a different person with a different appearance now. Even if I can see my father with the appearance of 20 or 30 years ago in my dreams, he is actually another person now. How can I make visualization of my father as he was 20 or 30 years ago living happily now?
You can wish all who connected with you live happily. That would certainly include your father whom you miss.
Can a Buddhist invest in securities and funds?
In the modern society, investing in securities and funds is regarded as a decent business. But there is a blind spot in this respect because one not only needs luck in investment but also skills, vision, experience and capital etc. One should at least know when to stop. Don’t invest with borrowed money or with improper means.
When I meditate, once I saw myself there meditating. I was scared and dared not meditate again. Is that correct?
This is a common occurrence. You should return to the ‘perceptual object’ as soon as possible. A ‘perceptual object’ is your meditation method. For example, if you meditate by observing your breath, you should return your focus on your breath immediately. Your mind will settle down. You should have no fear in meditation. Observe all things that appear as they are. Ask your teacher immediately if you have any questions.
After I had taken refuge in the three jewels, I sometimes dreamt of ghosts and weird things. I was frightened in the dreams and I would recite the names of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Amitabha Buddha, and soon they disappeared. What does it mean?
Perhaps you dreamt of similar things before without noticing. After taking refuge in the three jewels, you have started to get to know yourself by understanding your body and mind. Your awareness is enhanced. Therefore some karma force or past experience would arise and come forward. Don’t treat the things in your dreams as ghosts or evils. Treat them as the things in your past or present lives which are somehow related to you or are inspiring. Dedicate your merits to them with kindness to yourself and compassion to others. Your mind will calm down very soon.
My father passed away two years ago. I did not know anything about Buddhism then. In the hospital, when he was dying, we did not know what to do but only cried. We shook him and called his name. We used the customary Taoist funeral rituals. Now I am learning the Buddha’s teachings. I want to know how to help him reborn in the realm of ultimate bliss.
Your mind has been unsettled since your father passed away. You can chant Ksitigarbha Sutra or Amitabha Sutra for him for a period of time. Every time when you finish, wish your father reborn in the realm of ultimate bliss. Your mind will settle down gradually. You have to maintain a settled mind. Otherwise, this will not help. Wherever your father starts his life now, you have to support and bless him with a settled mind.
I am only a worldling. Every time when desire, anger and ignorance arise in me and I am jealousy or angry with others, or have negative feelings about myself, I cannot adjust my wrong views by applying the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Please enlighten me.
You cannot use the method swiftly means you still need practice. Actually you are already using the method of the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. At least you are aware that you are unable to master your mind as you wish and that you still lack the mind power. You are also aware of the arousal of evil thoughts. Take your time. Keep contemplating daily. Achievement grows with your practice.
Buddhism says that everything in the world will, without exception, go through the four epochs, i.e. formation, existing, destruction and annihilation according to the rule of dependent arising. Will the Buddha’s teaching annihilate too? What should we sentient beings do then?
Whether Buddha had appeared and preached his teaching in this world or not, the law of the truth always exists as it is.
Dharma is Buddha’s teaching. Buddha says everything in this world arises and diminishes depending on causes and conditions. This rule of nature will never change. Even if all sentient beings are gone, and mountains and rivers decayed; this rule of dependent arising will always exist. When sentient beings uphold evil teaching and despise good dharma, it is the annihilation of Buddha’s teaching. When humans do not believe in the Buddha’s teaching or pursue it, everyone will suffer.
Everyone must take responsibility of his own behaviour. We should cease the evils and do good deeds while we still can and before things get even worse.
Every night when I go to sleep, I would play some Buddhist sutras or Buddhist hymns and chant along in my heart in bed. Is it not a good thing to do?
To listen to Buddhist hymns is fine but do not listen to Buddhist sutras while lying on the bed. Just chant sutras in your heart. Otherwise you would become disrespectful to dharma as time goes by. Many people chant the name of Amitâbha Buddha or sutras on the bed when they fall ill. It is an exception.
However it is better to get into the habit of going to sleep with a quiet mind. Do you find it hard to concentrate when you work? Do you have a lot of pressure in your daily life? If you do, you have to learn how to solve the problem.
What are the standards of correct faith of Buddhism? How to become a good follower of Buddha’s teaching?
Please refer to the works of Master Sheng Yen: “Buddhism of Correct Faith” and “Clearing Your Doubts When Learning Buddhism”.
We often conduct ceremonies or rituals to create merits to our ancestors. However, they were gone a long time, is there still such a need?
There is no need to create any more merits, but you may take them as a way to remember them and be grateful to them.
I am going through a divorce and I have a boyfriend. Apart from this, I like fun-seeking and frequent night-clubs. May I take refuge in Buddhism?
No matter what type of person you were in the past, as long as your are genuinely determined to take refuge in Buddhism, you won’t be turned down. However, after you have done so, you should improve on your behavior and work hard to become a follower who has good moral standard and a kind heart.
What are the objectives of moral cultivation? How can we manage life and death?
Moral cultivation is to continuously improve our behavior in our daily life. It is about striving to improve incessantly and determining to serve others with our true hearts and efforts. It is about vowing to attain enlightenment and advance ourselves. If you want to manage ‘death’, manage your ‘life’ first. If we make good use of every moment and make the best of every single day of our life, we would have no cause to cravenly cling to life and fear death.
As the sayings goes “Even a hero can’t resist a Beauty”. How can I exterminate the flames of my emotions, desires and cravings ,and free myself from the cycle of life and death?
You should practice meditation more and gradually you would become more aware of the coming and going of desires. Maintain a normal living pattern and stay away from books, media or information which would easily arouse your desires.
During menstruation can females attend temples and participate in lectures and gatherings of Buddhism? Would she be considered disrespectful?
If one has respect in his heart one can attend temples and participate in lectures of Buddhism at any time.
My father is a Christian. He has decided on what rituals to adopt for his funeral services. May I still chant sutras and provide Buddhist services for him?
May I ask you a question first? Are you a Buddhist? If you are, what would you feel if someone read you the Bible?
When you truly love someone, you should give him what he needs. You may chant sutras and provide Buddhist services for you father in private in order to express your filial love to your father and to set your mind at ease. Would you also consider telling your father that you can read him the Bible?
Is insurance industry in contradiction to Buddhist doctrines? Do Buddhist monks and nuns as well as lay practitioners need to take out insurance policies?
Insurance industry does not contradict Buddhist doctrines. If you make good use of an insurance policy, it may serve to protect your life and enable you to plan your life more effectively. Indeed anyone may take out an insurance policy.
I have been diagnosed of a small tumor in my liver. I need to have a surgery to remove it. I am very calm and have learnt to accept it. Dear Master, what sutra should I chant that help me overcome my sickness?
As long as you have strength to overcome a difficulty, all the sutras have the same effect. It all depends on how you use your mind. You will be weak after the surgery and it’s hard for you to concentrate on long sutras. You may start with and when you regain your energy after some time, you may move on to chant the twenty-fifth chapter in Kumārajīva's translation of the Lotus Sūtra (《普門品》). Apart from chanting sutras, you should stay positive and optimistic. I wish you a speedy recovery. All the best!
I am a medicare officer and under great work pressure. I have very heavy workload and have to face the shortage of labour in the wards. I am also a mentor for students. I sometimes feel annoyed and very tired. My health is getting worse. What can I do in the Buddhist perspective?
Among the various fields of blessings, nursing the sick ranks the first. You are blessed to look after the sick. Only because of your capability, you have been assigned to be a trusted coach. This is impartation.
Do you sometimes walk out of the ward to unwind? Other than your job, do you have any hobbies? You must have a channel or some channels to relieve your pressure and relax. Meditation is the best way. It is just as simple as enjoying the breath without contemplating on deluded thoughts, and by doing so you can relax both your mind and body, thus you can rest. Are you willing to give it a try?
I grow organic vegetables at home but I have found there are insects. Their consumption of vegetables is much faster than human’s. I have made some enquiries with some shops, I have put a little bit of camellia seed power as suggested. However, numerous tiny aphis come out from the soil and stand on the edge of the pot, some even stay on the vegetable leaves. They kill my vegetables if I don’t do something but will I breach the precept of killing if I kill them?
there may be loads of aphid eggs in the soil. You must get it disinfected under bare sunlight and rake the soil.
To avoid the growth of aphis, you may try putting some coffee residue in the soil. You can get it for free at Starbucks.
Dilute some white vinegar with water and spray the leaves occasionally.
As you grow the vegetables in pots, don’t do it at a place of high humidity.
When there are still problems even after you have tried all these methods, change to grow another kind of vegetables and take turns to grow them.
My deceased parents often come to my mind. May I chant the names of Buddhas to replace my remembrance of them? Will I forget them completely some day?
We will never forget our parents’ love and care. Place them in your mind and transform their love into your unique personality. Carry the love from your parents with you to complete your life.
My living place is small without any partition. My family is sleeping when I chant sutras. Is it disrespectful?
You persist on chanting sutras despite limited space at home, your sincerity and efforts are highly remarkable. Your respect and prudence do transcend room and space. Be at ease and concentrate on your hard work, no worries.
For all the merits that I gather through vegetarianism and chanting, I dedicate them to my father who has just passed away. Can I really do this without any expectation? Is this normal how I felt as my teacher said that it is impossible not to have any expectations.
Your teacher was correct. We all have expectations. Becoming a vegetarian and dedicating all merits to your father are skillful deeds
of showing filial love. Do it with your genuine sincerity and without