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Blog » Dharma Friends » Thoughts about studying Buddhism » What I’ve Learned from Buddhism

What I’ve Learned from Buddhism2013-01-10


Written by Wang Tien during 2005 Respecting Elders Day
English Translation By Peter Wu


Buddha taught that we should repay four types of kindness. Before studying Buddhism, I only knew how to repay my parents’ kindness. I never thought of repaying the kindness of living beings, of my country, and of the Triple Jewel.

Let’s first talk about repaying the kindness of living beings. In the past, I thought that clothing, food, housing, transportation, schooling, doctor visits, and so forth were all provided financially by my parents. It had nothing to do with the kindness of society. I had no idea that farmers, laborers, teachers, doctors, and so forth are all part of our society. Money is only one way to exchange for their labor. This is only a superficial aspect. The real essence is actually to serve each other toward a higher quality of living. There isn’t one person who is capable of doing everything. For me, I rely on the service of various people in society. Therefore, I am certainly indebted to them. Once I have the mindset of repaying this kindness, then in every place and time, I wish to serve all living beings. Compared to how I thought in the past, I’ve completely changed.

Next is repaying the kindness of our country. In the past, I only knew that when the country is in danger, every citizen has the responsibility to protect. I never thought to repay the country’s kindness. After studying Buddhism, I realize that if there were no government working hard for us, we wouldn’t have a peaceful and happy life. That’s why we should repay our country’s kindness. How should we accomplish this? Follow our leaders and obey our laws.

Last is to repay the kindness of the Triple Jewel, which is the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The teachings of the Buddha surpass that of our parents many times over. Although our parents wholeheartedly teach us, they are nevertheless regular people. Their knowledge is limited. Buddhism and Confucianism are similar. In the past, I didn’t know that Confucius, who was a rare sage in China, was the founder of Confucianism. His teaching is able to give peace to the country and harmony to the people. He was born 2500 years ago. We still commemorate and praise him. After studying Buddhism, I realize even though Confucianism is good, it only extends to the end of our present life. Buddha not only knows about our present life, he thoroughly sees into all of our past and future lives. He not only teaches humans. He also teaches animals, demons, ghosts, and beings in hell. No matter how you look at it, Buddhism is the most penetrating and complete education.

Dharma, second of the Triple Jewel, is all that was spoken by the Buddha in the sutra treasury. When I first started studying Buddhism, there were a lot I didn’t understand and many words I didn’t recognize. After listening to the sutra lectures, I was finally able to understand.

Sangha, last of the Triple Jewel, is the left home people, who are also called monks or Dharma masters. In the past, I didn’t know that it was the Sangha that kept the sutra alive. The ones who upheld the Dharma were the Sangha. The ones who gave lectures and propagated the Dharma were also the Sangha. Without them, how would we have come to understand or encounter Buddha and the Buddhadharma. Even more touching is how respectful and caring the Dharma masters are toward us. Such as today, they invited so many elders to spend a joyous Elders day. They prepare the most delicious meal, desserts, and interesting programs, just to make us happy. It’s not only today that they celebrate in this way, but they do so every year. They put forth a lot of effort and money. Maybe some of the elders today do not know but the Dharma masters eat very plain food and only eat one meal a day. Why do the Dharma masters treat us so nicely? In the eyes of the Dharma masters, everyone is a future Buddha. The way they respect the Buddha is the same way they respect us. This is very touching. Therefore, we must repay the kindness of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, the Triple Jewel, even more. The best way to repay the Triple Jewel is by diligently studying Buddhism, using the Buddha’s teaching as the guideline to live in this world, treat people, and handle matters.

Look at all the volunteers. They’re so warm and caring, even more so than our own children. Why? It’s because the volunteers are all devoted Buddhist disciples. They diligently study the Buddha’s teaching. Not only do they care about us, elderly, they are, like the Dharma masters, mindful of our needs at all times. They voluntarily deepen our knowledge and practice of Buddhism. In my view, they are all Good Knowing Advisors.

Lastly, let me wish all the elders, “Happy Elders Day!” Please take this happiness home with you. May you always be happy whenever you think of today!