Chan in daily life - Venerable Chang Wu

Saturday – October 20, 2007
Chan in daily life: led by Venerable Chang Wu Fashi

        The event began with a ten minute sitting meditation. We closed our eyes and relaxed our bodies. After coming out of the sitting, Fashi asked the audience, what is Chan? Not expecting any answers, she began to answer the question. Chan is the same as “Zen,” in Japanese, with which westerners are more familiar. There is a deeper meaning though. It is the realization through experience. It is to realize the inconceivable.

        To come back to the question of “What is happiness?” she gave an example of the love of chocolate. Eating chocolate may make one happy. But is that true happiness? She let us ponder for a moment, before telling us the answer. True happiness is not from eating the chocolate. Imagine eating chocolate everyday for one month. Would we still associate chocolate with happiness? No. We call that happy feeling from eating chocolate - pleasure, not happiness. They do not equate. Pleasure is happiness from the senses, not true happiness.

        So what is true happiness? Explaining in more detail, she said that happiness is about accepting ourselves. But how do we accept ourselves? Fashi goes on and tells us that we need to know our feelings. At this point, she asks the audience, “Do we know our feelings now, at this moment?” Some answers from the audience included the feelings of “confused”, “weird”, and “lost.” One audience asked the question, “Is the feeling a state of mind?” Fashi answered, “No.” Feelings are direct. Feelings are sensations, both physical and chemical. Once we know and accept it, the transformation begins; the transformation of knowing ourselves. In knowing ourselves, we will realize our faults. Then we will want to improve ourselves.

        When trying to improve ourselves, do not think of the past “you.” Do not have expectations of when you will achieve the improvements. Just know that you are improving. Be clear of what you are doing at the moment and have an open mind. Examples include preparing meals, doing laundry, or eating. Embrace the “thing” you are having contact with. Be aware of the process of the interaction with the “thing.”

        Fashi gave one last message. She said, “Peace has to be attained in oneself, before we can attain peace in others and the world.”

Chan in the age of globalization: led by Venerable Chang Wu Fashi

        This part of the event was a slide show presentation titled “A Peace Dialogue – From New York to Kenya.” The purpose was to show that the Dharma is not just for our lives, it is also for the world. She, along with other DDMBA Fashis, helped nurture young people from Sudan. These young people want to make a difference for their war-torn country, caused by hatreds between the North and South Sudanese.

        As I watched the slide show, I thought about our own minds. The Sudanese are looking for peace in their country. They want to be liberated from their suffering. Like the Sudanese, we too are looking for peace in our minds and to be liberated from our sufferings. At that moment, I began to understand what the Sudanese people had felt, but at a much smaller scale.

        Fashi told a story of a UCLA student who helped tutor a high school student on the subject of reading. Every week, the UCLA student would travel two hours by two buses, going into a bad neighborhood to tutor the high school student. Why would anyone risk their lives to do this?

        She told this story to emphasize that as we begin to know ourselves, and start to love ourselves, we will start to love others, and then we can start to love the world. We will start to develop great compassion within ourselves. With this great compassion, we are unlimited with our capabilities to help all sentient beings. There are no boundaries within us.