is the birthday of Sakyamuni Buddha. We are all inspired by
Buddha's beneficence and kindness to come together to celebrate his
birthday. May we sincerely express our happiness deep from our heart.
In today's birthday puja, let's speak about how to appreciate Buddha's
kindness. The purpose of Buddha being born in this 'Five Impurities'
world more than two thousand years ago was to liberate distressed
sentient beings like us. The Buddha is of great benevolence to us.
to the Buddha, a sentient being who aspires to persevere on
the path of Bodhisattva and accumulates unlimited pure merits for three
Great Asogi Kalpa periods, may go to a pure land and attain Buddhahood.
But in order to save the sentient beings, the Buddha had chosen to
attain enlightenment in this Five Impurities mundane world. In other
words, Buddha came to save and liberate us. Therefore, the Buddha's
presence in this world is of great significance to us. We should not
forget about his kindness.
the Buddha was diligently walking the path of Bodhisattva, he did
not only aspire to achieve Buddhahood for himself. He also had a very
deep concern for all the distressed sentient beings in this world. The
Buddha showed much compassion in his constant actions of helping
sentient beings. The world is like a dirty, stinking sewage tank and we
are almost drowning in it. No one but the Buddha was willing to come to
this suffering world to rescue us. Therefore, when Buddha was born in
this world more than two thousand years ago, he denounced the worldly
life, practiced diligently, attained enlightenment and then preached
his teachings. If there was no distressed sentient beings like us, he
wouldn't have needed to come into this suffering world, as he had
already freed himself from the cycle of birth and death and awakened to
the truth of all phenomena.
contributions of Buddha to us are profound and incomparable. As
Buddhists we should reinforce the concept of appreciating the Buddha.
Otherwise, if we do not understand the Buddha's sincerity, do not learn
his compassion, and do not pursue the vast merits of the great teaching
in Buddhism, we do not qualify as the Buddha's faithful disciples.
are the benefits of the birth of Buddha to this human world? What
are his ways to help all sentient beings?
The birth of Buddha has shone a light on sentient beings who live in
this world of darkness. Please do not think that the mighty sun and
these bright fluorescent lights are the mentioned brightness. The world
we are living in, is full of conflicts and injustices. There is fear
and darkness among people. It seems that the human world has lost the
light of truth which poses as the biggest defect in human nature. At a
glance, human actions seem to have ideals, plans and targets. But if we
look more carefully, these actions are thoughtless and out of our
control. Sentient beings in this world spend their whole life living in
ignorance and distress.
once said, "I am like a blind man before the emergence of the
Buddha." Even Sariputra, who was known as the wisest among Buddha's
disciples thought that he was as if blind before the emergence of the
Buddha, not to mention sentient beings like us. The emergence of the
Buddha brought, us the light of truth to this world, he showed us the
right way to liberate our sufferings. He is of great benevolence to us.
The birth of Buddha in this world has also brought us warmth. Warmth
comes together with light. For instance, when the sun rises, there is
light as well as warmth. The warmth in this world is manifested in the
love between spouses and siblings, the sincerity among relatives and
friends, and the dedication to one's community and country. However,
when the worldly love and friendship break up, they instantaneously
become enemies. This is the coldest and cruelest thing that can happen.
The radiance and compassionate blessing of the Buddha is the only one
that would never abandon any sentient beings.
the Buddha went to look around in a monks' quarters and saw a
sick monk. His clothes and bed were dirtied by his excrete. The Buddha
asked him, "Where are your companions?" "They have all gone!" He then
regretfully continued, "In the past when people fell sick, I never took
care of them. Now that I am ill, there is no one to take care of me."
The Buddha then consoled him, "Don't be sad. I'll look after you." So,
Buddha cleaned away the dirt and gave him medicine. Although others had
abandoned him, the Buddha still cared and protected him.
is another story of Ksudrapanthaka in the sutra. Ksudrapanthaka
was a very stupid person. He denounced the world together with his
brother and they lived together in a monastery. One day, his brother
kicked him out of the monastery. He stood outside the monastery and
cried pitifully. The Buddha approached him and asked him
sympathetically, "Ksudrapanthaka, why are you crying?" "My brother said
that I'm too stupid and won't be able to learn Dharma. He won't allow
me to become a monk any more." He cried more profusely upon finishing
his answer. The Buddha then told him, "Dharma is mine. Don't be afraid,
follow and learn from me." Although his brother had abandoned him
callously, the Buddha still took him back warmly, stayed with him, and
taught him Dharma patiently.
great spirit of not abandoning any sentient being can only be
performed with the Buddha's profound compassion. Hence, the Buddha's
compassion is the true warmth in this world.
The presence of Buddha in this world provides us with refuge and
gives us enormous strength. Once we take refuge in the Buddha, our mind
is strengthened. The Buddha imparts an unimaginable strength for us.
For instance, after learning the Dharma, we can bravely perform tasks
which we once used to fail. The body and mind that are full of
suffering become happy after learning the Dharma.
who are away from home and have no one to look after them,
may feel afraid sometimes. But once they visualize the virtue and the
appearance of the Buddha, their fear will spontaneously be reduced.
This is analogous to soldiers who generate great power to defeat their
enemies once they see their flag standing tall at the battle field.
Those who learn Dharma have a bright future. Even to the moment of
death, they are still being protected and blessed by the Buddha. Under
conditions as such, what disappointment and horrifying sufferings will
kindness and compassion are the Buddha's special merit. He used
his profound loving kindness and compassion to save and protect all
sentient beings. This is the reason why we are still fervently
commemorating him, even though he departed this world more than two
thousand years ago. The Buddha always lives in our hearts. If the
Buddha didn't give us great beneficence, who would still hold this
great puja celebration for him today?
kindness and compassion are the Buddha's special merits. Loving
kindness is to provide happiness to all sentient beings, whereas
compassion is to alleviate suffering from all sentient beings. Although
loving kindness and compassion differ in certain degree, they are of
the same principle. It is said by some that, loving kindness and
compassion of the Buddha is the same as the humanity of Confucius and
the love of Jesus Christ. But there are in fact great differences in
the Buddha's love. These include:
The loving kindness and compassion of the Buddha's teachings are not
bounded by strata or class. Someone asked me, "Buddhism mentions that
people are suffering and are very pitiful. Does it mean that you will
be free from being pitiful once you learn Dharma?" As a matter of fact,
the distress that Buddhism mentions includes ourselves. We are all
immersed in deep worry and misery. So, how can we say that we are not
only the Buddha who has realized the truth and released
from the cycle of rebirth is the fortunate person full of perfect
merits. If a sentient being does not pursue wisdom and end one's
defilements, no one can say that oneself is not pitiful. The truth is
that all sentient beings in the cycle of birth and death always suffer
great sadness. These are the sentient beings who gain sympathy of the
Buddha, and he compassionately protects and helps them all the time.
we make an effort to cease our worries and gain wisdom, we can also
achieve the ultimate enlightenment and get rid of our worldly
sufferings. The Buddha treats all sentient beings equally, gives them
equal status, and equal help. Loving kindness and compassion are not
the god's privilege. Thus, we would not be pitiful forever. We should
sincerely accept Buddha's help and, at the same time, help other
sentient beings with a compassionate mind. Then, we can be free from
suffering, obtain happiness and possess the great loving kindness and
compassion as that of the Buddha.
The loving kindness and compassion of the Buddha are free from
partiality. In real life, it is not easy for a mother who has several
children to be impartial to all her children. But the Buddha treats all
sentient beings as one beloved child. He regards the elderly as his
parents, his cohorts as his siblings and the young as his children.
Human beings are close to their beloved but distant from those
interactions show great 'close' and 'distant' distinction. Buddha
shatters this close or distant concept and uses his profound compassion
and wisdom to liberate all sentient beings. The Buddha's teachings will
protect and bless even people who have committed hideous crimes.
Christianity, one benefits from the god if one believes in him.
Conversely, if one does not believe in the god, one is guilty of being
a non-believer, and will never ever get away from the hell. If this is
the case, if I believed in the god now, but my ancestors were not
Christians, does this mean that they would be in a hell forever? The
cruelty of hating people for disagreeing with them is hard to accept.
We should not accept this cruel and strict love.
Buddha never gave up any sentient beings. He helped and blessed
everyone. Even the sentient beings in the hell that he couldn't help at
the present moment, he helped them once they were reborn in the human
or heavenly realms. These sentient beings will eventually progress and
attain Buddhahood. Therefore, the ubiquitous compassion and impartial
spirit of saving of the Buddha's teachings cannot be compared to other
kinds of love.
The loving kindness and compassion of the Buddha is given with both
generosity and wisdom. Parents' love for their own children may
sometimes lose its rationality. They always think good of their
children. If they hear someone saying that their children are not good,
they become very unhappy. In contrast, the loving kindness and
compassion of the Buddha is full of rationality. His teachings have the
ability to save us compassionately. But, why do we still grieve and
suffer today? The door of Buddhism is wide open, but it is difficult
even for the Buddha to help those with unwholesome karma.
beings have their own past good and evil karma. When their
evil karma ripens, even the loving kindness and compassion of the
Buddha's teachings cannot save them. The Buddha hopes that all sentient
beings will stop doing evil and begin to do good. But sentient beings
choose to commit evil and do not believe in the Law of Cause and
Effect. How can the loving kindness and compassion of the Buddha save
them? If we do good deeds according to the Law of Cause and Effect, the
Buddha's principles would provide us with unimaginable protection and
there is a slight chance, the Buddha will help us through the cause
and effect of right action. Without our own right action, even the
profound and infinite power and compassion of the Buddha cannot save
us. The loving kindness and compassion of the Buddha's teachings to
sentient beings is not due to the faith of sentient beings towards the
Buddha. This principle is worthy of emphasis. If every action of
sentient beings is good, then naturally they will receive good results.
Their good nature will grow. Although they may not believe in the
Buddha, the Buddha will still protect and bless them. Eventually, they
will be attracted to the Buddha and take refuge in him. If this is not
the case, it would be a violation of the Law of Cause and Effect. Even
though the compassion and the aspiration of the Buddha's teachings to
help is great, the karma of sentient beings is greater. Realizing this,
we should understand that the compassion and aspiration of the Buddha
is full of rationality.
are many people who do not understand Dharma correctly. When they
fall sick and cannot endure the suffering of illness, they feel that it
is useless to learn Dharma. This indicates that they do not have the
right understanding of Dharma.
example, there was a businessman who used various speculative and
illegal means to swindle money out of somebody else. In the end, he
failed and broke the laws. Under this circumstance, how could Buddha
save him? Therefore, the Buddha's teachings protect and save all
sentient beings by not violating the worldly Law of Cause and Effect.
This shows rationality in loving kindness and compassion. In addition,
The practice of loving kindness and compassion of the Buddha is
complemented by rationality. Not only that it does not contradict the
worldly Law of Cause and Effect, it also fully resembles the truth of
the supramundane world as in the Buddha's state of mind. Therefore, the
loving kindness and compassion of the Buddha's teachings is balanced in
both compassion and wisdom. He is able to be compassionate yet knows
the truth. He has wisdom, yet is able to protect and save all sentient
religions in this world only talk about faith and belief. They are
sentimentally inclined and tend to neglect reasoning. Those Theravadins
who live in seclusion emphasize rationality, but lack the compassionate
mind of saving others. The Buddha combined sentiment and rationality
into one, and was not partial to either. This shows the equality of
compassion and wisdom and the peak of ultimate realization. This is the
most respectable part of Buddhist loving kindness and compassion.
The loving kindness and compassion of the Buddha's teachings
provides us with thorough and complete help. To treat an illness in
this world, one may treat the cause of the illness or provide
symptomatic treatment, i.e. to treat the head when there is headache or
to treat the leg when there is leg pain. The latter may give temporary
relief but it won't be able to eradicate the cause of the illness
there are two ways of alleviating human suffering in this
Circumstantial help: for example, when we meet a poor person who
does not have food and clothing, we can offer them food and clothing.
Fundamental help: that is, to find out the reasons for their
poverty. If the poverty is due to a lack of skills of making a living,
then we could teach them the skills. If their poverty is due to annual
floods, perhaps we could find ways to dredge the rivers. Only then
could they be free from the suffering of their poverty.
situations apply to the Dharma. The circumstantial help
emphasizes giving (dana) etc., whereas the fundamental help stresses
the importance of self effort. Our suffering can be solved by our own
efforts. Therefore, a true practitioner of the Dharma will ultimately
be free from suffering. If we don't practise diligently under the
guidance of the Buddha but only think of getting protection and help
from the Buddha and the Bodhisattvas, we will never get the fundamental
help and will be in the cycle of suffering forever.
beings usually see things superficially and do not see the
important part within. Once there was a person who invited a friend to
his house. The guest went into his kitchen and saw the chimney leaning
towards the eaves. He then showed his concern by telling the host, "The
chimney is too close to the eaves, it will catch fire easily. It is
better to shape the chimney into a curve." At that time, the host
didn't listen to the guest. Not long after that, the house
unfortunately caught fire and part of the property was burned. The host
was very sad about the fire but he also appreciated those people who
had come to help extinguish the fire. However, he forgot about the
guest who had advised him to shape the chimney into a curve. Some
Buddhists believe in the Buddha and ask for his help and protection but
neglect the fundamental ways of help taught by him and do not practise
properly. This is the same as the ignorant host whose house caught on
learning of Dharma emphasises fulfilment of the teachings. It is
only when we follow and practise the Dharma that we gain the endowment
from the Buddha. Then all our difficulties will be solved perfectly. If
one continues to do evil deeds, or is reluctant to follow the teachings
of the Buddha, even though the Buddha is compassionately saving and
protecting all sentient beings, he will not be able to assist us.
we follow the teachings of the Buddha, we are also accepting his
help. Indeed, we are deeply indebted to the kindness of the Buddha. I
hope everyone who came to celebrate his birthday today would not forget
the beneficence and kindness of the Buddha!