Dong Hung Buddhist Temple
Tuesday Evening Discussion Group
April 28, 2014
Guest Speaker: Venerable Thich Dong Nhat
Discussion opened with the story about the Buddha finding peace and happiness by ridding of material possessions/wealth. “That is not where it is at” for any of us.
Question: Collective Karma
Answer: It is complicated. Within a family, there is individual and family karma, for example. Think beyond cause and effect to conditions. Discussion turned to national karma (US and Vietnam as examples) and racial (white and blacks in the U.S. for examples). Forget the past, look at merit in the now. Forget the idea that we “owe” others. We must forgive ourselves based on interdependence. Remember “co-arising”, not “owing”. We are co-creators, even with plants. As students of the Buddha we open our hearts to the suffering of others.
Question: Is it easier to stay on the path for a monk or a lay person?
Answer: In theory it is easier. In reality it’s hard for monks, too. There is more internal work. Lay people can vow to be reborn into a life where you will be in monastic life early on.
Question: Is it common in Asia for people to leave their families for a monastic life?
Answer: Buddha appeared to people the world over based on their difficulties, either physical or spiritual. In marriage we help our family. In monastic life, we can help the world.
Question: How much difficulty/suffering do we face before withdrawing from it?
Answer: This requires self-knowledge. Are we happy? If we don’t really know how to love and can’t learn in our situation, that can kill us. If you don’t understand someone, if someone can’t listen, don’t marry that person. Happiness needs feeding or it will die.
Question: How do we stop bad behavior for those I have hurt?
Answer: This question shows dedication to the path. Follow the Noble Eight Fold Path and those you have hurt will benefit even if you don’t see them again. When you believe this, it will happen and bring happiness to you and others, by way of beneficial energy now and in the future. That is the doorway to unlock the karma. Don’t worry too much. Make the vow to follow the Eight Fold Path in life from now on. We will not regret it later.