Compassion: the Basic Teaching of Buddhism
There is no doubt that Buddhism is an education, with each thought to give rise to compassion and promote peace. Master Chin Kung teaches people to increase their tolerance, to broaden their minds to be compassionate towards all living beings, not only family and friends but also strangers and enemies, animals, plants and all inanimate objects. This boundless loving-kindness and compassion are the very heart of practitioners’ belief, understanding and practice. It is the driving force based on the understanding that we all share the same root and are all one entity.
The Buddha explained the Law of Cause and Effect, that our every thought, word and action has a consequence. Our current situation and everything that happens to us, arise from the causes that we planted in our past lives. Understanding this will ensure that we will treat others with kindness and sincerity, knowing that our current thoughts, speech and actions are the causes of our future consequences. Therefore, we will value all the affinities we meet daily.
There is an old saying in Buddhism “For two people to be able to take the same bus on the same day, they need to have developed affinities over many past lives”. With our friends and family members, we must have developed affinities for thousands of years to be able to be so close in this lifetime. This proverb explains the truth to guide us to give no thought to personal gain or loss and not to be concerned over trivialities. All people and beings have been our past parents and are future Buddhas. Understanding this, we will interact with people gently and joyfully, for we have known and loved them in previous lives. It is a rare opportunity to encounter them again. We need to value it and not spend our time worrying over small matters. They simply are not important.
When we accomplish this level of knowledge, we will be able to cut off our selfishness and attain the level of “All is one, one is all”. This is the primary step toward compassion and is what the Buddha taught us to do. There are three basic steps for us to take to develop compassion for others. First, we can give of our own wealth or our labor to help others through their difficult times. Second, we can introduce the Buddha’s teachings to others and help them to gain the benefits from Buddhism. Third and last, we can explain to them why they are currently suffering and how they can transcend this suffering and thus create happy lives. This is how we develop true compassion. This is what Master Chin Kung has exemplified for many years, to benefit all sentient beings and to set an example for all of us.
Forty Years of Teaching: the Compassion to Benefit Sentient Beings.
For forty years, Master Chin Kung has been propagating the Buddha’s teachings, encouraging others to face life with a positive attitude and to greet the future with confidence and hope. Virtually every successful person has faced obstacles and adversities that few others know about.
Nowadays, people just see his success and achievements. Very few know the loneliness and hardships he endured in the early years of his practice by following the road less taken. He firmly believed that the basic responsibility of monks and nuns is to pass on the proper teachings of the Buddha and not just to conduct religious rites and ceremonies. He was often misunderstood and slandered. It was the time to temper himself, to see through to the true reality, to let go of all attachments and to attain the great freedom of understanding and awakening.
Today, we only see that Master is welcomed with flowers, applause and support wherever he goes. Audiences await his arrival with anticipation, sincerity and respect as he approaches the stage to give his lecture. Who would know that behind the composed smile and calm appearance lies the heavy burden of responsibility, the weight of consideration for sentient beings as he exerts himself to propagate the Buddha’s teachings. Master Chin Kung is unceasingly aware of the suffering of sentient beings and preoccupied with thoughts of how to help them to transcend the cycle of birth and death. He feels great sorrow for the state of the universe and empathizes with the sufferings of all beings.
It was after he moved to Taipei that due to a change of circumstances, he was at a loss and unsure of where to go next. It was at this critical time that he was kindly invited by Ms. Yin Han and her husband to live in their home. In order to continue with his propagation of Buddhism and with Mr. Bing-Nan Lee’s approval, he accepted their generous offer and lived with them for seventeen years. This decision resulted in gossip and the ensuing censure from the majority of people.
It is most admirable that not only did Ms. Yin Han tolerate the rumors without complaint but became even more attentive and considerate in her care for Master and more dedicated in her support of Buddhism. This dedication was not directed toward Master personally but stemmed from her realization and understanding of the importance of the Buddha’s teachings. From this understanding arose her sincere respect for Buddhism, her support for talented Dharma masters and her heartfelt sense of responsibility for the welfare of other people.
Her primary purpose was to protect the proper teachings and ensure their continuation for future generations. “Everybody has the responsibility to do this, if I do not, who will?” She used every possible means to find places for Master to lecture. She borrowed or rented space, regardless of size, then cajoled and encouraged everyone she could to come and listen to the talks. Under thirty years of her dedication and support, Master was able to devote all his efforts and time to propagating Buddhism around the world.
Master Chin Kung says that like a seedling, he was selected by Mr. Dong-Mei Fang, planted by Living Buddha Master Zhang Jia, cultivated by Mr. Bing-Nan Lee and cared for by Mrs. Yin Han. Having fulfilled her role in assisting Master to attain achievement, Ms. Yin Han was escorted by Buddha Amitabha to the Western Pure Land on March 5, 1997. From her example, we have witnessed the inconceivable merits and benefits accrued from protecting and supporting the proper teachings. This in turn greatly builds our confidence in our belief, understanding and practice, and re-enforces our conviction.
Many people meet, listen to Master and agree that he is a very good lecturer and then simply continue with their daily lives. It takes someone who has sincerely practiced over infinite lifetimes and developed the profound wisdom to truly recognize a person with great potential, to do all that is necessary to help, support and nurture that person in the face of great adversity.
There is good in this world, there is evil. The good supports the true teachings; the evil tries to destroy them. Ms. Yin Han, who fought against injustice all her life, remembered and recognized that goodness when she saw it and was able to overcome overwhelming odds. For this, Master Chin Kung will forever remember her kindness and that of all those who made his achievements possible. To repay that kindness, he earnestly exhorts others to follow, to hold on tight, to not let go and to do everything possible to be born into the Western Pure Land to become a Buddha in one lifetime.
Normally when people reach an advanced age, they either step back from their working lives to strengthen and enjoy family ties, or they give up on life and listlessly wait for life to end. However, Master Chin Kung, now in his seventies, is energetically continuing his life-long work of taking on the responsibility of helping sentient beings awaken and transcend the cycle of birth and death. Master has spent a lifetime excelling as a role model for all.
In November of 1998, Master had a severe cold and was advised to rest. He prepared earlier than usual to give his talk and waited for the attendants to arrive to escort him into the lecture hall. During this time, he continued with his regular schedule of daily morning talks and two-hour lectures. Regardless of swollen eyes and bouts of severe coughing, Master gave the talks in his usual moving and uplifting manner. During the longer lectures when the coughing became worse, he continued to radiate a cheerful appearance. All were deeply moved and a respectful hush fell over the audience. Since then, his students have been loath to ask to be excused due to illness and have endeavored even more to emulate Master Chin Kung.
Monetary and Material Donations to Help Disaster Victims
In July of 1998, the eyes of people around the world were riveted to the coverage on the massive floods of the Changjiang, Songhuajiang and Nen rivers.Thousands of citizens and military personnel working together, stood shoulder to shoulder in chest-deep water using their bodies to form human walls in the attempt to save disaster victims and their property from the hundred-year flood. Master Chin Kung was consumed with worry as he learned more and more of the plight of the victims because he felt their suffering was his. If the people in China, with all their differences, could unite in the face of this great adversity, how could he, being Chinese himself, not help as well?
In mid-August, Master Chin Kung, Mr. Bock-Guan Lee, the Singapore Buddhist Lodge and the Amitabha Buddhist Society sponsored drives to raise money for the flooded disaster areas in China. In just a few weeks, donations of S$150,000 had been received. The donations were given to the Chinese Embassy of Singapore, which immediately arranged for the funds to be distributed to the flood victims. However, donations continued to be received and in a matter of weeks another S$500,000 had been received.
The funds were donated over the following weeks by Master Chin Kung and Mr. Lee. The Ambassador Plenipotentiary, Mrs. Bao-Liu Chen and the First Secretary, Mr. An-Hai Peng, as well as staff members of the Chinese Embassy personally visited the Singapore Buddhist Lodge to accept the donation. The First Secretary also visited the Amitabha Buddhist Society to extend appreciation on behalf of the Ambassador and of the flood victims.
Then in October, Master received further information that the almost decimated areas were now entering the severe winter season and the victims who had lost homes, clothing, everything in the flood, now could not even receive winter clothing due to shortages. So, Master again appealed to the public to practice compassion and giving and to help the victims surmount the seemingly endless privations. With this urgent appeal funds were quickly raised to make a hundred thousand sets of winter clothes.
Master wisely entrusted Ms. Yu-Jing Cui, a Chinese businessperson, who owned a heavy-duty equipment-manufacturing factory, to assume responsibility for the production and distribution of the clothing. Not only did Ms. Cui perform her almost impossible work admirably but also she had the great generosity to donate $100 Chinese yuan and a sack of flour to virtually every disaster victim she met with. Master Chin Kung felt deeply gratified when he heard that some of the victims most pressing needs had been met. These compassionate actions of Master Chin Kung not only solved some of the material needs of the victims but also inspired their hope to rebuild all that they had lost.
Rebuilding Schools and Instilling Hope in the Disaster Area
The flooding of the Songhuajiang and Nen rivers had submerged vast areas of farmland and crops, many houses and schools had been greatly damaged and others completely destroyed. Master Chin Kung felt that the Chinese government had done a great deal to help the two hundred million people who were affected by the floods. As to the rebuilding of the schools, he would do his best to help in any way he could. He knows that schools are the ideal place to instill hope and are the cradle of knowledge for modern civilization and social development. While some of the rebuilding could wait, that of the schools could not. Thus, the work to rebuild primary and high schools was of the utmost importance to Master.
Under his personal guidance, the project for donating funds for ten Compassionate Light High Schools and twenty Filial Piety-Honesty Primary Schools has been proceeding rapidly. Soon, due to his infinite compassion, we will see the newly built schools open, one by one, in the vast land of northeast China.
Long-Term Assistance for Master Chin Kung Native Country, China
Master Chin Kung’s assistance to China began in 1980 and usually took the form of monetary donations, books, dictionaries, etc. From 1989 to 1995, Master donated eight hundred sets of the Great Buddhist Canon to way places, Buddhist colleges and Buddhist societies for laypeople. In 1991, east China suffered a severe flood. Master did his best to help and under his inspiration, the Hwa Dzan Buddhist Library and the Corporate Body of the Buddha Educational Foundation donated US$ 250,000 to help the victims. In 1992, The Buddhist Culture Educational Foundation of China was established and Master donated US$ 40,000 to them.
In 1993, Master sponsored Nanjing Jinling Publishing Place and the Shanghai Buddhist Bookstore to print and freely distribute ten thousand sets of the Buddhist Terminology Dictionary to all the Buddhist colleges throughout China. In the same year, he also donated thirty-three of the five hundred volume sets of the Essence of Complete Library in Four Divisions, to Bejing Library, Shanghai Library and to some of the universities in China.
In 1994, he donated S$ 60,000 to help underwrite a project to set up libraries in thousands of villages in China. In 1997, Master visited his hometown, which he had left fifty years before. He sent one hundred 586 computers to Lujiang High School. In the following year, he donated $600,000 Chinese yuan to the newly established library at Lujiang High School.