Insightful Sharing by Venerable Zusheng with Class 16Z051Y
On 3rd July 2017, we were very honoured to have Venerable Zusheng to care for our class. It was an arrangement initiated by Venerable Jing Yuan, who is concern over our Dharma learning progress. As there were two observers in our class, Venerable Zusheng decided to share Master Jih-Chang’s decorum as her topic for today, to further boost our confidence level in Master’s teaching.
The first story shared by Venerable Zusheng was about the Master and his 2 disciples attending a camp.
A layperson prepared a sumptuous breakfast for them the next morning. However, master commented that there were only 3 of them, yet he prepared so many dishes. The layperson then assured master that the leftover food can be stored in the fridge if they could not finish all. The master replied, “why didn't you ask us how much do we eat each day prior to your preparation? By bringing the dishes in and out of the fridge, the food will turn bad easily.”
Venerable Zusheng paused the story to ask how would we feel if we were the ones preparing the dishes, and what would be our response to the master’s question. Most of us felt wronged and misunderstood. Venerable Zusheng guided the class that the answer could be found in the Lamrim text. Through listening and contemplation (听闻轨理), we could overcome this feeling. This means, we should listen attentively to the master’s words of wisdom, and contemplate why he made certain remarks. Most importantly, what he wanted us to learn from it.
The next story was about a venerable leading in a group discussion.
The venerable was very tactful in leading an effective discussion. However, when it comes to more challenging topics, he found it tough to get the discussion jump-started. Hence, when it was time for a Q&A session with the master, the layperson was full of praises for the master after he heard the master’s answer to his question. Out of curiosity, the venerable asked the master how he felt when the layperson complimented him. The master responded that he was more concerned about sharing the Buddhist teachings, to free all sentient beings out of sufferings, so he was not at all bothered by any praises. Then he continued “I merely used slight wisdom and it led to such great happiness of the layperson, this inspires me to yearn for ultimate wisdom.”
Before sharing the third story, Venerable Zusheng asked if we prefer to be in the limelight or away from it.
For instance, consider that we are really talented in a certain area, but we have been allocated to do odd jobs such as washing the toilet, how would we feel? Most likely we will get upset for our talent was not recognized despite being far more capable than many others think. The Master’s response was that we have been lacking in merits, as a result, we ended up in such situation. We should not be disheartened and continue delving in such unhappy state, instead we should strive to build up positive thoughts by rejoicing in others kind deeds. This will help us in earning equivalent merits, which was what the master had been practicing all along. Having said that, rejoicing must also come sincerely from the heart, should not just gave lip service. By rejoicing and setting vows and aspiration, one day we will be able to attain good qualities just like others.
In terms of Lamrim class, Venerable Zusheng posed a question to us: “how do we differentiate or define virtuous and non-virtuous friends?”
For example, if you have a friend who knew that you need to attend Lamrim class every Monday evening, but on that particular day he arranged for a dinner to celebrate the 10th friendship anniversary with you. Is he a virtuous or non-virtuous friend? Most of us would think it’s the latter, but Venerable commented that there is no so-called definition to it actually. If you decided to skip class and hang out with him, then you could say he is a non-virtuous friend. However, if you contemplate on the disadvantages of skipping class and the advantages of attending classes, and eventually chose to attend class, he will then be your virtuous friend. Hence, it all depends on how you perceive and act on the matter.
The stories that Venerable Zusheng shared with us were enthralling and inspiring. Indeed, there is no right or wrong answer, the crux lies in our intention and approach towards the issue. Our class benefited a lot through Venerable’s sharing and look forward to having more of such sessions in near future!
Penned by: Lim Yan Ning, Chow Wei Yuan, Teo Yan Ru