FGS Insight 06

Page 1

OPENING WORDS

FEATURES

2 FGS INSIGHT
INSIGHT December 2022 | Volume 1, Issue 6
FGS
Year
True Value of Life
Ven. Master Hsing-Yun | 4 A Prayer for the New
Ven. Chueh Fan | 6 The
BODHI LIGHT TALES A Path to Faith | 23 Actions Speak Louder than Words
Chinese New Year; A time of Optimism and Gratitude | 10 Martyn Knowles, Sr. Copy Editor Love and Coexistence | 18 A photo essay retrospective of 2022 A Letter from the Editor | 21 Jennifer Zhong, Editor-in-Chief

DHARMA IN

DAILY LIVING

Buddha's Delight | 22 Follow this recipe to make vegetarian Lo Han Jai at home!

FGS TORONTO NEWS

2023-24 BLIA Toronto SubChapters’ Elections | 7 BLIA Toronto Chapter’s Electronic Voting System Leads Success of Completed Subchapters Committee Elections

Harmony Through Differences | 8 Peel District Interfaith Annual Conference at FGS Temple of Toronto

Community Crime Awareness Day | 9 Promoting Well-being and Social Harmony in the Community

Full of Gratitude and Sentiments | 12 Waterloo’s Golden Autumn BLIA 30th Anniversary Tea Party

Act to Treat, Not to Trick | 14 Practicing the Three Acts of Goodness in Toronto Buddha’s Light Children Halloween Celebration

Food for Thought | 17 3 Acts of Goodness Going Hand-in-Hand With the Food Drive

UPCOMING

DECMBER 2022 3
TEAM
Jennifer
Junior Editor
Managing Editor Michelle
Copy Editors Martyn Knowles (Sr) Gregg Astoorian, Bernard Teoh Section Editors Jada Chau, Novia Ng Photos and Illustrations Editors
Liu, Melissa
Yue
EVENTS EDITORIAL
Editor-in-Chief
Zhong
Brian Choi
Tan
Aiqing
Chong, Kiana

A Prayer for the New Year

Oh great compassionate Buddha!

A new year has finally come to the world again.

In the temples, the toll of bells, At the neighbors', the sound of fireworks, On the doors, the red New Year's scrolls, On the wall, anew calendar: Every thing suggests that All things change from old to new when a new year begins.

Oh great, compassionate Buddha!

At the beginning of the new year, I will look upon Everything in the past as A yesterday that has passed away, Everything in the future as A today that is newly born. I would like to express my wishes.

At the beginning of this new year, I wish for:

Harmony in the family and happiness at home; Contentment in life and good acts to help the world; Stability in emotions and dignity in character; The elimination of bad habits and advances in moral cultivation;

Determination in actions and compassion in relationships; Contentment in career and health in body and mind; Improvement in cultivation and increase in wisdom; Abundance in Buddhism and emancipation for all beings; Steadfastness in society and happiness in people; Peace on earth and universal rejoicing.

Oh great, compassionate Buddha!

In the new year please grant:

That every word I say may be compassionate, kind, and encouraging;

That everything I do may be acceptable to mostpeople and beneficial to the masses;

That every intention I have maybe a blessing to others and a transfer of merits to them;

That every action I take may be beneficial to the nation and of assistance to the world;

That I may be willing to contribute my own body and mind to society;

That l maybe willing to share everything I own with others.

I pray to you, Buddha, Please bless and support me with your compassion; Allow me to share in the suffering of others; Allow me to promote the well-being of society.

Oh great, compassiona te Buddha! Promoting Dharma is my domestic duty, Benefiting all living beings is my professional responsibility. I vow to support Buddhist institutions That cultivate potential;

I vow to disseminate Buddhist sutras and books That benefit the world and help people; I vow to participate in the acti vities of temples And spare no effort to practice Dharma; I vow to progress sincerely, With determination.

Oh great, compassionate Buddha! Please give me strength, Allow me to progress on the way to enlightenment wholeheartedly, Without idleness and without regret. Please give me faith; Allow me to surmount the barriers of delusion on the way to Buddhahood, And to benefit both self and others.

Oh great, compassionate Buddha! A new spirit infuses the new year; Allow me to start everything anew! Oh great, compassionate Buddha! A new spirit infuses the new year; Allow me to start everything anew.

4 FGS INSIGHT
Venerable
DECMBER 2022 5

The True Value of Life

Aperson of excellence can shine and glow differently only when he or she is in the right place.

What is the true value of life?

The value of a man in this world is estimated according to the value he puts on himself. If we can put ourselves in a place where we can grow strong and inspire others, we will be amazed at what we can accomplish in our lives.

Life is about exceeding our limits. In Humble Table, Wise Fare, Venerable Master Hsing Yun said, “Setbacks are to grow stronger; Challenges are stepping stones to greatness.”

The value of life comes from within. A person's value is not determined by material possessions, titles, or social status. The key to knowing the value of our life is to examine our heart and our actions, to invest through serving, giving and benefiting all. Only then will our life be worthy.

Moreover, we can only get a meaningful answer to the value of life when we ask in the right place. Being a part of BLIA

allows us to begin a new life chapter. Fo Guang Shan and BLIA are both charities and non-profit organizations. We are all about benefitting the masses and bringing positive changes to ourselves and others. Participating in BLIA will undoubtedly add meaning and value to our lives.

For those who have been with us since the temple's establishment two or three decades ago, you must notice that outstanding achievement is usually born of breaking through challenges and unexpected setbacks. We could only grow and unlock our potential through conquering challenges. We wish to live life to the fullest by serving our community and the world around us. Do not wait until the end of your life, as there will be no time for regrets then.

6 FGS INSIGHT
Venerable Chueh Fan Abbess, Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto
“Life is about exceeding our limits ...the value of life comes from within"

2023-24 BLIA Toronto Sub-Chapters’ Elections

BLIA Toronto Chapter’s Electronic Voting System Leads Success of Completed Sub-chapters Committee Elections

The 2023-2024 Sub-chapter’ Committee Elections of the Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) Toronto chapter were held on November 5th, 6th, and 12th, at Markham Buddha Light’s Centre, Mississauga temple, and Waterloo Buddha Light’s Centre respectively. Nineteen Sub-chapters’ Committee members were elected. The Presidents and Vice Presidents of the Subchapters were also subsequently elected from the committee members.

The Secretariat of the BLIA Toronto Chapter conducted a briefing about this election. BLIA Toronto chapter comprises 22 Sub-chapters. The Presidents of three sub-chapters, the Radiance sub-chapter, the Toronto Downtown sub-chapter, and the YAD sub-chapter were appointed. There were only 19 sub-chapters participating in the elections. In addition to following the election

regulations of the BLIA World Headquarters and using the electronic voting system of the BLIA World Headquarters, the Election Committee and the Election IT groups were carefully established during the election process. The elections were held at separate locations and at different times for the convenience of the members. Posters about the candidates were posted in Buddha’s Light Centers of Markham and Waterloo, and Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto before the Elections. All candidates’ information, ballot IDs and election website QR codes were emailed to sub-chapter members.

Catherine Lam, Head of the Election Committee, expressed that the election went very smoothly. Large TV screens displaying the voting tally live for each sub-chapter. The election was open and fair. On the election day, all candidates were

required to be at the voting locations in-person to meet with their members.

In their inauguration speeches, the newly elected Presidents pledged to take responsibility and put their ability to the greatest extent for their sub-chapters' benefits. The re-elected presidents also expressed their determination to continue uniting their members, grow and present their collective creativity.

Venerable Chueh Fan, the Abbess of FGS Temple of Toronto, and Mabel Lam, President of BLIA Toronto Chapter, also gave speeches to encourage the newly elected and re-elected commitee members to work together to promote Buddha's Light Affairs. “It is for the future that we all believe in Buddha and practice Buddhism, therefore we must focus on passing down our faith,” said President Mabel. ◆

DECMBER 2022 7

Harmony Through Differences

Peel District Interfaith Annual Conference at FGS Temple of Toronto

Interfaith Council of Peel (ICP), held their 2022 Annual Members Meeting in FGS Temple of Toronto on November 16th. This hybrid meeting discussed current development trends of various religions and social phenomena after the epidemic. A total of 15 religious groups and associations attended. Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie expressed her affirmation of ICP's work through a video address.

At the beginning of this meeting, the Abbess of FGS Toronto, Venerable Chueh Fan, read out the Land Acknowledgement on behalf of all attendees. Many large Canadian events or meetings begin with this acknowledgement to recognize and show gratitude to the Indigenous peoples of this land. At the same time, this also awakens everyone

to be proactive about building respectful, harmonious relationships.

Ms. Debbie Robb, representing the Peel District Community Partnership Department, attended and commended ICP for its contribution to community development. Mayor Crombie also pointed out that religious beliefs and love are the key to a harmonious community and are the social values we need to maintain.

The delegates then held hybrid group discussions on the topics of "how to strengthen the recruitment of the younger generation to join various religious groups” and "how to strengthen school children's social interaction ability after the epidemic". At the offline discussion site, led by Christian pastor Joanne Hedge, co-chair of the meeting, representatives of Judaism, Christianity,

Bahá’í Faith, and Buddhism all expressed that, "It is a common problem that young people do not join religious groups; coupled with COVID-19 during the epidemic period, the way people interact with each other has changed, and the way of thinking and opinions has been deeply influenced by the media. People lack the patience and openness to understand the nature of people and things. Therefore, we must start from life and education, and pay attention to the psychological education and counseling of school children.”

Three conclusions were drawn from the online discussion: religions should strengthen mutual visits to enhance understanding, promote school visits to religious groups at all levels, and plan Interfaith Festivals to help young people understand religion. ◆

Community Crime Awareness Day

On Saturday, September 24th, the 2022 Community Crime Awareness Day (CCAD) took place in person at the Mississauga Celebration Square for the first time since 2019. Special guests include Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga; Hazel McCallion, former Mississauga mayor and representatives from the Peel Police Department and Fire Department. Venerable Chueh Fan, Abbess of FGS Temple of Toronto, and Mabel Lam, president of BLIA Toronto, were invited to attend the event as opening ceremony guests for the ribbon-cutting and lion dance event.

On this beautiful sunny day, crowds of the public attended. As always, CCAD included a series of multicultural performances. The police station and the fire department also demonstrated various tools and drills to advocate for community safety, policing priorities and to create a safe

environment for the community. Police representatives explained their standard daily duties and community security practices while interacting warmly with the crowd.

Immediately after the opening ceremony, the FGS Temple of Toronto’s Dragon and Lion Dance Team performed. The lively performance brought the atmosphere to a high point. Later, singing, dancing and instrumental performances performed by various organizations gained continuous applause. The large dolls, children play area, and other events filled the Square with excitement.

The BLIA Toronto booths were staffed by volunteers from the Mississauga No. 1, 2, 3, and 4 subchapters, and Daci No. 1, 2, and 3 subchapters. Handouts were distributed to the public to introduce and promote Humanistic Buddhism, including pocketbooks for

FGS Toronto Humanistic Buddhism College, child and youth classes and Chinese schools. Thus, a greater audience would be reached and form a connection with FGS Toronto while learning about the wisdom of Buddhism. BLIA Toronto specially introduced the "Buddha's Light Spiritual Care Group." Ever since the pandemic, the need for spiritual care in the community has increased rapidly and trained volunteers have provided spiritual care and support for individuals and families. Together, the volunteers demonstrated that Humanistic Buddhism promotes "what is taught by the Buddha, what is needed by humanity, what is pure, and what is virtuous and beautiful." BLIA members have helped purify society, served the community and cared for the spirituality of people. Where the Buddha's light shines, there is the Humanistic Pure Land. ◆

DECMBER 2022 9
Transl. by Christine Hsu Promoting Well-being and Social Harmony in the Community

Chinese New Year; A time of Optimism and Gratitude

Asa Chinese Buddhist Temple, Fo Guang Shan is centered around Buddhism expressed through the lens of Chinese culture. The grace and qualities of this culture do much to promote the wisdom and compassion of the Buddhist faith. While Chinese culture is a very deep and broad ocean of history and tradition, it is also accessible and welcoming to our local population.

One of the highlights of the Chinese calendar is Chinese New Year which is based on

the lunar calendar and occurs at the first new moon in January. This is a time of celebration and reunion. Typically, families will gather for a reunion meal on the Chinese New Year eve which this year is January 22nd in 2023. It is also customary to clean your house thoroughly to not just prepare for guests but to ritually get your house in order to start the new year with a fresh start. It is also common for decorations in red paper to adorn your home adorned with a message of good luck and fortune to come.

10 FGS INSIGHT

In some cases, fireworks are lit to celebrate the upcoming year. At this time donations and gifts are given, most often cash inside red envelopes. Common names in English for this celebration are "Chinese New Year", "Lunar New Year", "New Year Festival", and "Spring Festival".

The history of the Chinese New Year is said to date back to the 14th century BCE. One story describes how a monster named Nian (translated as “Year”) attacked villagers at the dawn of each year. In an effort to scare off this monster, villagers used fireworks and the colour red was widely displayed. The use of dragon displays in celebrations reflect the dragon’s properties of power and good fortune and so the parading of a dragon figure is often included in the New Year celebrations. These same items are seen in many New Year celebrations today. When visiting the Toronto FGS temple around New Years you will see many of these items in both decorations and events displayed with care and joy.

In Cantonese, the main language of southern China and Hong Kong, the New Year greeting is "Gong Hei Fat Choy" (恭喜發財), which means "wishing you prosperity." In Mandarin, people say "Xin Nian Kuai Le" (新年快乐), which simply means "Happy New Year".

One of the popular aspects of the new year is the transition from one Chinese Zodiac sign to another with 2023 being the Year of the Rabbit beginning on January 22, 2023. This zodiac system forms a rotating 12 year cycle of various zodiac signs giving certain characteristics to being born in that year. The Rabbit is a symbol of hope and longevity and it is said that those born under this sign are gentle and approachable. The Rabbit is considered tender, gentle and lovely and these characteristics are certainly worthy of inspiration for all of us to be compassionate and careful with our thoughts, words and actions in this new year.

This is a busy time of preparations at our temple both in ceremony and decoration, many volunteers spend uncounted hours in making our temple a perfect host for this celebration. Chinese New Year is also a time when we have many guests and this is especially welcome in

light of the Covid 19 restrictions that affected the last two New Years celebrations. Although virtual ceremonies and Dharma services were held in the last two years, nothing can replace being together to enjoy the transition into the new year.

While this is a time of celebration and joy, there also is another dimension of Buddhist practice. There are several transformational opportunities at this celebration of New Years: Practitioners are asked to reflect on the tradition of cleaning your house by also cleansing your mind and reflecting on the past year. Through this reflection, we can understand what efforts could be made to improve yourself and the conditions that you promote in your life. Renunciation is the practice of knowing what practices to put down and which ones to put down. There is no point to only just feel bad about mistakes nor missed opportunities of the past year. It is better to meditate and learn through wisdom of what intentions for the new year should be taken to heart to avoid future mistakes and missed opportunities.

We are asked not to just give presents or donations in red envelopes but to consider that the best gift you can give is a better version of yourself to this new year for all those you come into relationship with. As Ernest Hemingway said: “There is nothing noble about being superior to your fellow man, true nobility is being superior to your former self”.

We are tasked with not just decorating our home and temple but to decorate our minds with loving kindness, compassion, Joy in the happiness of others and equanimity of all beings.

While we enjoy this great celebration and look forward to good fortune this year, generate a renewed faith and confidence in what we can give others, guided by generosity and kindness. We encourage you to join our celebration this year at Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto and please visit our website at FGS.ca for further details. We would love to see you there! ◆

DECMBER 2022 11

Full of Gratitude and Sentiments

Waterloo’s Golden Autumn BLIA 30th Anniversary Tea Party

On October 7th, the temperature dropped sharply and cold dew was forming in Toronto. BLIA volunteers in Waterloo held the "Golden Autumn Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) 30th Anniversary Tea Party", to share the global achievements of the BLIA in the past 30 years with the community.

At 3 pm, nearly 100 people gathered. The Abbess of FGS Temple of Toronto, Venerable Chueh Fan was present to give a speech. She explained in depth the history of Waterloo Water Drop Teahouse, and the Buddha’s Light Center (BLC). Looking back to the beginning of 1998, the devotees had invited FGS Toronto Venerables to Waterloo to spread the Dharma. In January 2003, Waterloo Water Drop Teahouse was officially opened. In 2012, BLC Waterloo was officially opened to provide the community with meditation instruction, Dharma services and spiritual care. During the pandemic, FGS Toronto established the Buddha’s Light Spiritual Care Group in 2020, and trained more than 10 volunteers. The future plans of Water Drop Teahouse will focus on culture and art, while Waterloo

BLC is actively oriented towards supporting the mental and spiritual health of people with Buddhist teachings for these modern times. Recently, educational activities were held at the center such as painting and calligraphy, combining art, spirituality, and life cultivation.

Ms. Bardish Chagger, Member of Parliament for Waterloo attended and affirmed that the BLIA has become increasingly important in the past two difficult years, contributing to the stability of the community. Mr. Vrbanovic, the Mayor of Kitchener, pointed out that diversity is a focus in today's world and thanked the BLIA for its respect and promotion of multiculturalism. Ms. Romy Yee (Board of Directors, KW Multicultural Center) expressed her hope

that the BLIA continues to work and benefit in reaching a greater audience in the community.

After the speakers, volunteers from the receptionist group guided the guests to the "BLIA Worldwide Photo Exhibition" to view the 30-year history of Dharma propagation. Ms. Andrea Binkle, Executive Director of Lisaard and Innisfree Hospice, praised the hard work of BLIA both globally and in the local community whilst also commending BLIA members and volunteers for their commitment and participation over the last 30 years. Attendees recognized the BLIA and its subchapters with branches spreading over five continents, setting a 30-year milestone for this association. ◆

12 FGS INSIGHT

Act to Treat, Not to trick

Practicing the Three Acts of Goodness in Toronto Buddha’s Light Children Halloween Celebration

Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Temple of Toronto Chinese School and Buddha’s Light Children Dharma Class Mississauga and Markham jointly hosted a children’s Halloween event on October 30th. The theme of the event was “Practice the Three Acts of Goodness; Do not play tricks!” The intention was to teach students to practice the Three Acts of Goodness and not to play tricks on people thereby inspiring the truth, goodness, and beauty of human nature. On this day, 51 children dressed

in their favourite costumes and gathered in the Five Contemplations Hall. They paraded through the Buddha’s Light Bookstore, Water Drop Teahouse, Library, and Main Shrine to ask for candies.

Through a well-prepared Chinese course for Halloween and the arrangement of festival activities, the teachers of the Chinese school made the children feel the joy of a western festival. This also strengthened their ability to talk about Halloween in Chinese. The

teachers led the students to learn various Chinese words and phrases related to Halloween and used the tune of a children’s song to teach them how to say “Happy Halloween” and “Trick-or-Treat” in Chinese. Students were very interested in learning and also made Halloween crafts together.

After the kids in the Buddha’s Light children dharma class sang “Ode to the Triple Gem”, the teacher used an animated film and the life story to

explain to the students the spirit of “giving” and the importance of developing the habit of “sharing”. The students learned how to use the impartial and joyful mind to deal with people and explained in their own words what they viewed as “generosity”. And then, the students started to design their paper candy bags with creativity and talent. All bags were well decorated. Each finished bag exhibited a clever and unique idea from an individual student. The decorations included spiders with multiple eyes, jack-olanterns, candy corn, and beautiful artwork.

Little girls dressed up as multi-coloured unicorns, purple witches, and green peacocks. Little boys dressed up as Super Mario, Wu Kong, and police. Their appearances brought all the colours of the rainbow to the Temple and filled the room with joy and vitality. The

children lined up in the Five Contemplations Hall according to their class and then they quietly proceeded to the kitchen, Buddha’s Light Bookstore, and Water Drop Teahouse to ask for candies. The temple volunteers from each stop enthusiastically distributed candies to the children. When the children were receiving candies, they politely gave auspicious greetings and sincerely said thank you to Dharma Sisters. Their faces beamed with joy and they could not wait to share the joy of harvest with their fellow young friends.

Venerable Chueh Fan, the Abbess of FGS Temple of Toronto, encouraged the students to choose one of the candies they had just received with joy and give it to uncles, aunties and grandmas who participated in the Dharma service.

Venerable Chueh Fan wanted to let kids understand that they will gain

more from their sharing. In addition, Markham Buddha’s Light Children Dharma Class celebrated Halloween in advance on October 29th. The students dressed up as cartoon characters, batman, and firefighters. The teachers and volunteers also dressed up in their costumes joining the Halloween atmosphere. All kids were divided into three groups, carried their own candy bags they designed and went to the service desk, library, Water Drop Teahouse, and offices. At each stop, they had to say a secret code like “Do Good Deeds, Go! Go! Go!”, “Speak Good Words, Nice! Nice! Nice!”, “Think Good Thoughts, Yes! Yes! Yes!”, and “Auspicious Greetings” to pass through.◆

DECMBER 2022 15

Thinkgood thoughts, say good words and do good deeds. When reflecting on the past two weeks of 6th Meadowvale Venture Company's annual food drive, I am proud to say that I have seen countless examples of these 3 Acts of Goodness from our members and the FGS community throughout this successful event.

When it comes to these events that our Venture company holds, a great deal of planning goes into the occasion. For the food drive, we discussed and set the dates, created the poster, contacted the Mississauga food bank, discussed with the temple, did promotions and more.

The food drive was held over two weeks from November 19th to the 27th with Ventures being there on both weekends. Although the first weekend was very cold, Venture members followed the Venture Motto “Challenge” and persevered through the frigid November weather, already filling 2 boxes to the top and later on figuring out ways to store the excess amounts of food that would not fit in any of the big boxes. Day by day, people would come to give food and on the last day of the food drive, all five boxes were full as well as an additional six smaller boxes, amounting to 1722 pounds of food in total which is equivalent to $5527.62 worth of food. Incredible results! Many also gave cash donations which amounted to over $300. These boxes were filled with foods like pasta, rice, canned vegetables and beans, pasta sauce, cereal, peanut butter and much more.

Scouting and Buddhism have taught us that compassion for everyone is crucial. In a world where hundreds of thousands of people rely on food banks each day (which has only worsened

Food for Thought

due to the COVID-19 Pandemic), food banks like the Mississauga Food Bank need our help more than ever. This is why the 3 Acts of Goodness goes hand-in-hand with the food drive.

We are grateful to all of those who brought donations and those who put in the planning and work in organizing the food drive event this year. Lastly, all the good words that were shared from the “thank you’s” to words of teamwork and collaboration to all the positive feedback we got back. We were all reminded of not only the Scout Promise, to do our best to help people in need but also the Temple community to think about the ways that we can positively contribute to our society. No act of kindness is too small when it comes to the fight against hunger, it all adds up when you work with a team. These efforts never go to waste as each year’s turnout always goes above and beyond. Thank you to all of our Venture company members and volunteers Darren Chen, Marcel Kartolo, Kiana Yue and Brandon Ngo as well as our leaders Ivan, Cathy, Mai, Jackson and Tony who we could not do this event without! Further, thank you so much for supporting The Mississauga Food Bank with your food drive, this will help a lot of hungry neighbours across Mississauga. ◆

DECMBER 2022 17
Love and Coexistence: A 2022 Retrospective May 07: 2022 FGS Five Precepts and Triple Gem Refuge Ceremony May 15: BLIA 30th Photo Exhibition Grand Opening Photo credit: FGS Toronto

July 12: Finding Flow in Nature: Meditation, Art & Community at Waterloo BLC

June 18 & July 16: First and Final VEGRUN

Letter from the Editor

I'ma dreamer and an explorer. I spent my childhood buried in books and my adulthood trying to explore them. I'm the kind of person who puts everything into her calendar and tries to keep a bullet journal documenting her day, although I never seem to be able to achieve that effortless elegance I see online. In short, I'm the kind of person who believes that planning is the difference between a dream and reality.

One thing I didn't plan for was FGS Insight. Just under a year ago, Venerable Ruan asked me if I would be interested in heading a new English newsletter for the FGS Temple of Toronto. I was more than a little wary and overwhelmed; what do I know about building a newsletter from scratch? The first issue was a learning experience. I spent hours communicating with the temple, copy-editing and formatting articles, and ran closer to the deadline than I'd like to admit. I am forever grateful to the FGS Temple of Toronto for their support - especially Venerable Ruan for answering my late-night messages.

Looking back at 2022, I am so proud of what the FGS Insight team has accomplished. From our first skeletal team, we have grown to a team of over 10 people, not including our wonderful contributers and translators. Over the course of the year, we have published six issues, and have not missed our deadline even once. As an all-volunteer team, I am so grateful to everyone for their commitment and hard work.

Thank you to our copy-editors who work tirelessly to ensure the articles fit our standards and improve readability. Thank you to our section editors who comb through articles and pick the most engaging ones for each issue. Thank you to our design team who are some of the most talented and creative artists I know. And of course, thank you to Venerable Ruan, our monastic advisor. Although you were not credited in the table of contents, this newsletter would not have been possible without you.

Finally, I'd like to thank our wonderful readers for supporting this endeavor. Like any piece of written work, a newsletter is nothing without its readers. I hope you enjoyed this journey with us and I look forward to 2023!

DECMBER 2022 21

~ Buddha's Delight ~ (Vegetarian Lo Han Jai)

Ingredients

• 2 tablespoons canola oil

• 3 slices fresh ginger

• 3 tablespoons red fermented bean curd (hong fu ru)

• 3 cloves garlic (sliced)

• 1 medium leek (cut into 2 inch pieces)

• 5 dried shiitake mushrooms (soaked in warm water and sliced)

• ¼ cup dried wood ears (soaked in warm water; yields about 1 cup)

• ¼ cup dried lily flowers (soaked in warm water with the tips cut off)

• 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine

• 3 cups Napa cabbage (cut into 2-inch pieces)

1 cup fried tofu puffs 2 sticks dried bean threads (soaked in warm water and cut into 2-inch pieces)

• 1 teaspoon sesame oil

• 2 tablespoons soy sauce

• 2 teaspoons sugar

• 1 cup water or vegetable stock

• 1 small bundle mung bean noodles (soaked in warm water, drained and cut into shorter pieces with kitchen shears)

Instructions

Prep Time: 1 hr

Cook Time: 15 mins

Total Time: 1 hr 15 mins

1. Heat your wok over medium-high heat, and add the oil and ginger. Let the ginger caramelize for about 30 seconds without letting it burn. Add the red fermented bean curd and break it up with your spatula. Add the garlic, the white portions of the leeks (reserve to green portion for later), mushrooms, wood ears, and lily flowers. Stir fry for 1 minute. Add the Shaoxing wine and stir fry for another minute.

2. Next, add the napa cabbage, fried tofu, and bean threads, and crank up the heat as high as it will go. Stir-fry for 2 minutes. Add the remaining green portion of the leeks, sesame oil, soy sauce, sugar and water or vegetable stock. Stir everything together, cover the wok, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Uncover the wok and turn the heat back up to high. Add the mung bean noodles, which should soak up most of the liquid. Keep stirring until most of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a large bowl and serve with steamed rice!

R. James Stock

22 FGS INSIGHT
Buddha's Delight (Vegetarian Lo Han Jai) by The Woks of Life. Recipe URL: https://thewoksoflife.com/buddhas-delight-lo-han-jai/

Bodhi Light Tales Podcast

Stories to Inspire, Mindfulness, and Spirituality

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

Once, after the Sangha had lunch, one of the Buddha’s disciples rose from his seat and said with joined palms, “Buddha, I am honored to say that you are the greatest teacher in history.” When the Buddha heard this, he did not respond but simply sat in silence, without showing any sign of acknowledgment.

Another disciple rose from his seat and continued, “Yes, I agree! There is no better teacher in the whole world than you, Buddha.”

Stoic yet stern, the Buddha asked them, “Have you had the honor of meeting all the greatest teachers of this world?”

The two disciples looked at each other, shook their heads, and said, “No, we haven’t.”

“How about all the great teachers of the past and those yet to be reborn in the future, have you met and learned from them?”

Now embarrassed, both disciples muttered softly, “No, we haven't.”

“Well then, when you state that you believe I am the greatest amongst all teachers, past, present, and future, is that not a meaningless statement? You can neither support nor prove the truth of what you have just declared.”

“We simply wished to praise you, to tell you we believe your teachings to be beyond compare, that none can match you,” the disciples tried to explain.

The Buddha looked right at both of them and replied, “If you believe that my teachings are of benefit to you and others, by all means, please uphold and practice them. Such purity and truth of thought, compassion, and practice from you are infinitely more pleasing to me than empty praise or meaningless compliments.” He then turned to Ananda and asked, “If you wished to buy gold, would you pay for it without first examining and checking its authenticity?”

“No, of course, I wouldn’t simply hand over payment without first inspecting the gold!” Ananda exclaimed. The Buddha continued, “And why would you not do so?”

“What if the gold I wished to purchase was fake? Or there was less of it than we agreed? Doing so would be foolish, as I would simply lose my money and not get what I paid for,” Ananda replied.

The Buddha nodded and said, “Yes, verification is important. You must never think anything I say or do is true simply because I say it is. All of you must always practice wisdom and presence of mind to confirm for yourselves whether my teachings are

DECMBER 2022 23

true and relevant to you. If your experiences and wisdom validate them, then continue to practice them. I have never wished for you to follow my teachings simply out of reverence or respect. Since the dawn of humankind, there have been many great teachers, each teaching with different methods for different people. We must never criticize the beliefs or teachings of others without first understanding and validating them. Doing so will only reveal to others our arrogance and ignorance. Whether they are the greatest teachers or not should not concern you. Your only concern is to free yourself from suffering to attain happiness, as well as help others do the same.”

After listening to the Buddha, the two disciples joined their palms and said together, “Yes, Buddha. We shall always first validate for ourselves the truth of your teachings before practicing them. We shall always remember to treat people and circumstances with respect and open minds.”

This story highlights the importance of always first checking everything we hear, see, touch, smell, think, and do through our experiences and wisdom. This story reflects the Buddha’s advice to the Kalamas, an ancient people of India, akin to us modern-day people in that they found themselves in a world full of diverse teachings. The Kalamas sought the Buddha’s wisdom as all the different teachers of their time each claimed their teachings to be supreme or the Truth. How, they asked the Buddha, were they to know who was telling the truth and those that were not? The Buddha told them never to accept anything as true out of authority; because it is written down; out of reverence for a teacher; out of rumors; or because it may sound reasonable. The Buddha encouraged them and us to use our own minds, compassion, and wisdom to decide. We can see and experience for ourselves that when greed and anger are present, what surely follows is suffering, pain, and trouble. We also see that when greed and anger are absent, what follows are happiness and peace. This is a simple evaluation we can all do by ourselves. The Buddha’s teachings will only be of benefit to us and others, changing our lives, if we realize and validate them through our own experience and wisdom. Only after such evaluation and validation can we truly say

we are progressing on the path to enlightenment.

Our world today has grown ever smaller through all manners and means of communication. Information can be exchanged worldwide instantly. People can access all kinds of knowledge from every direction and corner of the globe. However, through this global digital evolution, it has also sadly become ever more difficult to know true from false and right from wrong.

The Buddha taught us the principle of the Noble Eightfold Path, where right understanding is the source, reminding us to never blindly believe anything we hear from anyone. Let us all learn to pause, think, consider, investigate, and decide for ourselves with common sense, wisdom, and prudence what is true or false, right or wrong.

Just as Venerable Master Hsing Yun says, “Only through action, can we accomplish our goals.

Only through contemplation and practice, can we reach nirvana.”

24 FGS INSIGHT