Dharma Q+A with Venerable Chang Wu

Dharma Q/A with Venerable Chang Wu

        The night began with a question from a member of the audience asking, “What is suffering?” Chang Wu Fashi proceeds by asking back to the audience, “What do you think is suffering?” Someone from the audience mentions “marriage” as suffering. The audience laughs, signifying acknowledgement. Another student said “work”, because having to deal with the boss can create suffering. Yet another said his “glasses.” Wearing eye glasses makes him depend on them. This dependence creates suffering for him. Chang Wu Fashi first states the normality of suffering, since we are human – suffering exists.

        Fashi proceeds to give scenarios of situations where we would be uncomfortable. Then, she asks the audience how to deal with them. One audience member said he would face it. He gave an example of a cramp in his leg. He said that if he just faces the cramp, just notices it, the suffering of the cramp will soon subside. Fashi elaborated on this idea. She boils the solution of ending suffering into three steps. First, she told us, we have to face it. Face any uncomfortable situation by focusing our attention on our breath. Notice the inhale and exhale of the breath. The second step was to accept it, by using our smiles. While still noticing our breaths, we should add a smile. She mentions that the smile, scientifically, triggers some kind of beneficial chemical reaction in the brain. She calls this a form of “wonder drug.” The third, and last step, was to let the situation go, by relaxing the body. Start the relaxation from the top of our heads down to the bottom of our toes.

        To allow us to further remember these techniques, Fashi asked for the lights to be turn down. She then began to introduce a simple sitting meditation process to allow us to practice these newly learned techniques. After thirty minutes of sitting, practicing the three steps, most of the audience felt the environment and their minds being quieter, calmer, sharper, and more aware. One audience member, who had been practicing meditation for some time, gave a different perspective on the purpose of the meditation. He said that every situation was like a picture, and in using meditation, we are better able to see it as such. By seeing every situation as a picture, we see that it is outside of us. If it is outside, then it has nothing to do with us. By letting go of the picture (or situation), we are indirectly letting go of the cause of our suffering.

        One last thing Fashi taught was when we wake up every morning, we should look into the mirror and smile. Learning how to smile is a way to learn to know and love ourselves. Loving ourselves, we will create a love for others. Having love for others, we will start to love the world.