|Sharing from EMD Members
The Joy of Seeing Master Sheng Yen
I first attended DDM this past November. Had it been years earlier, I may have had a chance to see Shifu speak, to be in his presence, to feel his peace.
Fortunately, there are many hours of recorded talks given by Master Sheng Yen for the Great Dharma Drum video series. A wide range of topics are discussed over hundreds of episodes and I find them extremely valuable.
There is some criticism for the dated production quality or inaccuracies of the English translation, but there is far more to gain by having access to these video recordings and Shifu himself.
John Crook tells a story in Encounters with Master Sheng Yen where Shifu called some monks over and said, “Listen to this. John is saying something. I don’t know what it is he’s saying because it’s in English, but I know he is right.” This shows intention outweighs language. In these instances, the energy expressed goes much deeper than what is spoken. When you don’t have to comprehend in order to understand, the translation barrier is transcended
Being a Westerner, I am grateful to simply listen to Master Sheng Yen. To be present and allow his words to reach me, to feel the rhythm of his speech and timbre of his voice. To see a complete commitment to the practice in his calm eyes.
For those like me, the Great Dharma Drum video series is a gift. A beautiful opportunity to sit with Shifu, to listen and receive the teaching through his words. This is the closest some of us will get to being there with Master Sheng Yen and to witnessing his pure embodiment of true Dharma.
What I Learned From Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel in EMD Book Study
EMD recently finished reading Master Sheng Yen’s Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel on the Four Noble Truths. I had the privilege to moderate the final day of discussion and asked the Sangha what they had learned from the study of this book over the past few months. My answer to this question is as follows.
One of my first days at the temple, Chang Ju Fashi gave me a stack of Shifu’s writings with Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel on top and said, “start with this one.” Before finding DDM, I studied on my own for 10 years. Spirituality has always been deeply personal to me. I enjoy exploring and investigating. Seeking the path. My goal was to gain understanding of different practices to see how they might apply in daily life.
I now realize my previous efforts lacked method. It was inquisitive and beneficial but needed grounding. Setting in Motion the Dharma Wheel has given me that foundation. The Four Noble Truths are brilliant, seemingly simple yet full of an incredible amount of knowledge and wisdom. The first two noble truths help us to understand suffering, impermanence, karma and no-self. The third and fourth noble truths show us how to be free from suffering with the Eightfold Noble Path as our guide.
The Eightfold Noble Path offers clear directions to align mind, body and speech using the precepts, wisdom and concentration. With right view as the root, the branches of right aspiration, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration promote a peaceful lifestyle and harmony within.
Whenever we find ourselves in conflict it is first necessary to calm the mind. From this place of stillness, we may examine the choices or behaviors that have brought this suffering. No matter the circumstance, understanding the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path are essential to growth and healing. By making these fundamentals of Buddhism the cornerstone of everyday life, all who practice them will find presence and peace.