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Sheng Yen Shi Fu

This is a report on the Reading Group, June 22nd where a short discourse given by Ch’an Master Sheng Yen was viewed and then followed by a discussion of the topic.Below are notes from the video and then of the discussion.

How can Buddhism help us face predicaments or overcome obstacles and clear and ease our mind in order to obtain peace and happiness?

A life of suffering

From a Buddhist point of view, we are continually embroiled in predicaments from birth to death, yet while some of us realise this, others of us do not have this sense. Because we lack this realisation, therefore we do not accept and face problems as they arise.Consequently when dilemmas arise, we feel hopeless to cope with them.Every step of our lives is lived in the hope that no difficulties will be encountered, however we must always be prepared for the predicaments of life.

The correct attitude

The correct attitude toward problems is to view them as training. Just as a sailor who has navigated seas in storms is a better sailor than one who hasn’t, so it is that by facing the difficulties in life as they arise, we are training ourselves for the problems that will happen later in our lives.

Changing your way of thinking

The uncertainty of life is that the benefits of family, business and health are not constants and unforeseen disaster will strike at some point. When this happens, we won’t be able to cope unless we are prepared at all times to face predicaments.Unless we change our way of thinking about the ordinary problems in life, we will find the inevitable problems of life difficult to cope with.

The arduous path

The Buddhist path is not to walk the easy path but to take the more arduous Bodhisattva path. Taking the easy way will not develop the wisdom that we will need in life.Taking the more arduous path will train ourselves to be more resourceful, capable and strong so that when predicaments come we will not see them as problems.

The conclusion

We must always be mentally prepared for life’s predicaments. Through accepting and confronting life’s little problems, we train ourselves for the times when disasters come upon us.

The Discussion

Talking points during the discussion were why some people do not realise that their life is full of predicaments. They will not face this basic fact of everyone’s life but avoid problems when they arise and hope to escape them in future.When disaster comes, they are angry that they have been singled out for punishment or cannot cope with the stress of the situation. We talked about how avoiding problems leads to habitual views that in turn cause us to see situations and act upon them in the same unhealthy way.We discussed also how understanding fundamentally that encountering difficulties is the reality of our lives and that by tackling problems as they come along, we can cease to see them as problems, and we equip ourselves for the time when real tragedy strikes our lives.

What do you think?

For on-line readers, please watch the video yourselves and leave your comments and questions below. View the video using the following link: