A Harmonious Society

The universe is governed by certain predestined factors. Any mismatches in the process will result in negative feedback and we have to accept the appropriate punishment.

The earth provides us with grains to nourish our body. We have been taught the ‘Five Moralities’ – benevolence, righteousness, etiquette, wisdom, and trust to fit in the society. Before our excessive demand for material possessions, Nature and Human was in harmony. President Hu Jintao’s call for harmonious society is a warning against our exploitation of the Nature.

Our excessive exploitation of natural resources will destroy the delicate balance of the Nature and lead to terrible catastrophes.

To achieve a harmonious relationship with Nature, we should lead a thrifty life. If we cultivate for self-sufficiency and not for commercial purposes, we learn for the sake of obtaining knowledge and not for making money; we do not need to spend so much effort yelling about protecting our environment.

There is a saying from the Buddhist scripture, Huayan Sutra that “Our heart serves as a fine painter who can paint the whole world”. Spare some time at night to review our life, our world, to see how we paint the world with our heart…

Master Sik Chi Wan

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The Sorrow of Departure

Autumn is always perceived as a season of depression and departure. Recently, a teenage boy called me talking about his heart-broken puppy love and complaining that nobody understands him.

We all hope to find true love and hold on to it. However, nothing lasts forever. Buddhism talks about the “Eight Sufferings” – birth, aging, being sick, dying, departure of our loved ones, dealing with our hated ones, failure to acquire what we want, and the suffering resulting from flourishing of the five skandhas (physical sensation and knowledge). We all need to learn from our earthly sufferings to be mature.

Through birth, we experience the joy of life. Through aging, we treasure life. Through sickness, we understand the importance of staying healthy. Through death, we know life is unpredictable. Through departure from our loved ones, we know how to cherish love. Through dealing with the hated ones, we learn how to forgive. Through unattainable longings, we learn to let go. Through sufferings originating from our attachments to physical sensation, we learn not to be controlled by our desire.

The best in our life can disappear in an instance. To lead a meaningful life, we should start with cherishing planet Earth. Autumn may seem a bit depressed; but we can see it in a different perspective. The vivid red leaves symbolise our life burning while the fallen leaves returning to earth represent the formation of new life. This is how Nature works…

Master Sik Chi Wan

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Scrubbing the Floor

The 28th day of December is the date for Year-End cleaning in Chinese tradition and scrubbing the floor is one of the essential cleaning procedures. Scrubbing the floor seems a simple and everyday task, so why am I mentioning it? Actually, there are lessons to be learnt behind this simple act. In the old days, people knelt down to scrub the floor; nowadays, we stand up and use a mop. From a historical point of view, this symbolises the evolution from a slavery society to a democratic society.

From the time of laborious scrubbing with water to using efficient bleach and chemicals nowadays, we have endured centuries of change. Some call it becoming more civilised, some call it becoming modernised; whatever we call it, we have unknowingly begun a war with germs, bacteria and viruses. I will leave you to ponder the cause of this warfare.

Master Shenxiu of Chan School from the Tang Dynasty mused: “The body is the bodhi tree, the mind is a bright mirror stand, at all times we must strive to polish it and not to let dust collect.” If we always keep our environment clean and tidy, we will not need to put in so much effort at the end of the year. We can apply less chemical detergents and reduce the damage to Mother Earth. It is for every body’s benefit to live peacefully with Mother Earth in a clean and tidy environment. Hope we all do our best to protect the environment in the coming year.

Master Sik Chi Wan

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Wei Lu – Gathering Around the Stove

In Northern China, everybody knows the meaning of “Wei Lu” or “Gathering Around the Stove”, a very important festivity at the end of the year. However, few people in the South know the meaning. “Wei Lu” is the New Year’s Eve celebration where the whole family sit together around the stove for a meal.

It is an old custom that as the year draws to an end, all family members who are studying, trading or traveling away from home must return and welcome the New Year together. The whole family gather around the stove eating, chatting and enjoying each other’s company. The elders will take this opportunity to instruct and teach, while the juniors will report on things which happened during the year and ask for advice. The juniors will also present monetary offerings to support the elders.

In the Xian Feng period of the Qing Dynasty, Mr. Wang Yong Bin wrote “Chatting Around the Stove”, a record of conversations with his family. When they are free, Wang’s family liked to sit together and talk about their lives and current affairs. The scenes are so charming and sentimental that the reader cannot help but admire the simple and worthy tradition. Like many of the customs and traditions which stem from the agricultural society of China, “Wei Lu” is one which we should take up and preserve. We should take time to think and talk about the preservation of agricultural environment and traditions, protection of our land and our culture for a greener and better tomorrow.

Master Sik Chi Wan

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Nurture Our Earth

The human mind is inherently immeasurable and immense, occupying the whole universe and space, generating limitless thoughts and ideas. The Earth can carry everything, embrace everything, give rise to everything and provide everything to all creatures. It is generous and forgiving, embracing the good and the bad. It treats everything and everybody with fairness, makes no complaint even when being maltreated. The kindness and merits of the Earth are beyond bounds. If our mind possesses the same quality as the Earth, harmony can be achieved among human and the Earth, human and the nature, and also among human beings.

However, as inhabitants of the Earth, what have we done for the Earth? Do we really love it? Have we done anything to protect it? It is quite obvious that we have done neither and even led to sufferings of the Earth.

Like all substance in the universe, the Earth has its cycle of birth, growth, decay and death; it is changing all the time. However, in our time living on it and with it, we should take great care of it, make good use of it and protect it. Then, we can live happily and peacefully on Earth in the present.

Master Sik Chi Wan

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