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Year Theme of Humility and Peace

Friends and family, sisters and brothers in the Dharma: Happy Lunar New Year! Dharma Drum Vancouver Centre was filled with peaceful chanting, family laughter, and the spirit of sharing during the weekend celebration of the Year of the Rooster on January 28th and 29th, 2017. This year’s theme was humility and peace.

Venerable Chang Wu gave a Dharma talk filled with wisdom and knowledge that helped me to understand the role of Buddhism in my life. She started by acknowledging the nature of suffering in our society, then shared a story about a monastic and a farmer, which illuminated the importance of caring for our own hearts in the same way as caring for a garden or a farm. Most of us celebrate each new year with passion and hope, seeing it as a new beginning and full of possibilities; however, our vexations and afflictions do not go away easily like the brief but snowy winter of December 2016. In other words, we do not gain spiritual maturity automatically with age. When the outer world becomes tougher, the need to build a more fruitful farm in our hearts increases. She said that our faith is like a seed, practice is like rain, wisdom is like a yoke, and repentance is like a carriage. Awareness to details is helpful and repentance brings clarity. To walk on the Bodhisattva path means to integrate all these elements together.

If we are compassionate but lacking in wisdom, we may crave for things that are beyond our abilities to achieve. Without wisdom, we may be unable to cope with overwhelming feelings, such as when we overwork ourselves beyond our limits, and we may despair when we fail or experience rejection.

As she ended her talk, Venerable Chang Wu shared a quote that inspired us to practice Buddhist teachings with patience and practicality: “do something local, however small.” This reminded me not only to build change one step at a time, but also to ground myself in reality rather than emotions. We grow from small to big, just like how a massive tree that is home to hundreds or thousands of living beings might start from a seed only the size of a marble. In the same way, local changes lead to global changes. Master Sheng Yen once wrote that for Buddhism to grow as a world religion, it must begin with local contexts; similarly, for us to reach the state of one-mind and selflessness, we must first recognize the nature of the self. Both Master Sheng Yen and Venerable Chang Wu’s words suggested a local-to-global direction and the idea of growing outwards from an inner, local point – in this case, oneself. The Flower Adornment Sutra also teaches that even a single, tiny mote of dust can contain one billion worlds, meaning the “big” is in the “small,” and we learn the same meaning when we understand that everything originates out of the Dharmakaya, the empty and unconditioned truth of reality.

After this drama talk, volunteering at DDVC this lunar new year became more meaningful to me. Every word and every action that I exchanged with others had ripple effect. Finding satisfaction and peace in doing so called small things is the process of obtaining selfless wisdom.

Shared by Boxiao Chen

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