A selection of translated articles that Venerable Master Hsing Yun originally wrote for a special column in The Merit Times, Key to Living Well represents the launching of a new vehicle for transmitting the Dharma.
Arranged in an accessible style, this selection addresses moral, spiritual and social questions that are central to our day-to-day existence. Whether it is a matter of cherishing our good fortune with humility or cultivating tolerance for others, Venerable Master Hsing Yun imparts his wisdom in a pithy and unambiguous manner. Like a diagnosis that precisely identifies a malady and a prescription that effectively cures it, each chapter in Key to Living Well penetrates the core of problems we all encounter in life, while offering us effective solutions to overcome them.
Through maxims on ethics, mottoes for conduct, and injuctions against transgressions, Key to Living Well provides us direct access to the wisdom of the Dharma, equipping us with the means to handle all kinds of situations in life. As such, it serves as a useful manual for one conduct, because after all as Venerable Master Hsing Yun puts it, “Rivers need the proper channel to flow into the ocean. Our lives require maxims to tread on the right path.”
There are many books and seminars dedicated to giving instruction about how to plan and manage our daily lives. These approaches usually attempt to provide very basic practical suggestions for using time. In the present volume Venerable Master Hsing Yun shares lectures from past presentations as well as new thoughts on his insights about how to plan and live with all the pressures of modern life. He has an approach that is quite different from the many so-called “self help” materials. While it is important to learn certain tasks that save time and make us more efficient, Master Hsing Yun urges people to understand that it is more than rules and ploys that help with planning. The true strategy for dealing with life starts with the understanding that each person has regarding themselves, their situation, and the nature of thought and action. This understanding, from the Buddhist point of view, is necessary for successful change of old habit energy. Unless there are fundamental and insightful developments within our thinking and comprehension, we cannot expect to shift old patterns and permanently leave them behind us. It is this belief that leads Master Hsing Yun to prize learning and commitment to practice as well as to continual striving that leads to transformations of mind and thought.
This volume is filled with very detailed explanations about issues that occupy us from the moment we awake in the morning until the last conscious moment before sleep. The explanations help to frame the problems that are found at every level of activity, whether it is in private or public domains. Having clearly defined the experiences of living, Master Hsing Yun goes on to give concrete advice about how to focus one’s thought and avoid the confusion of a mind that is scattered among the many matters that complete for our attention. It is the Buddhist ideal of concentrated attention that can be a solution to all of us who live and work in the world of freeways, computer, telephones, radios, faxes, email, and encounters with other people. While the external environment can be chaotic and demanding, it is possible for individuals to practice concentration, which permits purposeful action. Mere rules and programming methods of dealing with problems can never solve the complex constantly changing situations in which we find ourselves. Every moment brings a new assault on our sensory domain, new unexpected matters sweep across our mental and physical horizons. Methods that are built on the assumption that there are a limited set of variables, fail miserably in a world that exhibits flux and flow of constant change. It is impossible to create a list of items that can be guaranteed t solve any potential problem in the future. Master Hsing Yun tells his audiences that only when one has created a mind that is flexible and concentrated can we hope to cope with the rush and force of every moment.
Achieving the state of being calm and composed in the face of any event can come from long and continued efforts of focused thought and exposure to the teachings of Buddhist sages. It is in this manner that the Buddhist community becomes an important part of life. Through the community, Buddhists receive support in the form of teaching and practice. One of the facets of Humanistic Buddhism is to take the principles of the teaching and apply them to the world around us. While there is need for inner development, concentrated thought, and calmness of spirit, the outer expression of the wisdom gained must find its place among others.
All of this, and more, is given in the elegant teaching style of the Master. He leads us from one perspective to another in understandable and challenging ways. For any individual who wants to have more control time, work, and obligations, this volume offers a deep and long-lasting solution.
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