Thursday Dharma Talk by Venerable Wei Wu

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By Hong Yew Chye

On the fifth day of the lunar new year, Venerable Wei Wu delivered his Chinese New Year Dharma sharing entitled “ 莫明其妙 (“mo ming qing miao)”,which means “do not, is not, can not understand or is not clear”. This phrase is a modification of the more popular phrase “ 莫名其妙 ,” meaning baffling or unaccountable, after replacing the second word 名 with 明 of similar pronunciation. The implication of the phrase may at first appear baffling, but after explanation by Shifu it became clear and meaningful. Shifu explained that it is the inability to understand and apply the subtlety or the efficacy (for want of a better English word) of the Dharma that we are always finding ourselves in an unsatisfactory state of existence.

Shifu also disclosed that in accordance with Chinese Buddhist tradition, the 1 st day of the 1 st lunar month is earmarked for the veneration of Bodhisattva Maitreya, who is destined to be the next Buddha. There is hope for the Maitreya Bodhisattva to come on every 1 st day of the lunar year. The Sanskrit name Maitreya is derived from the word “maitri” meaning loving kindness. “Maitri” is one of the four sublime attitudes. The others are “karuna” (compassion), “mudita” (sympathetic joy) and “upeksa” (equanimity). In Mahayana Buddhism, “maitri” denotes the Bodhisattva's aspiration to give happiness to all sentient beings, and “karuna” denotes the Bodhisattva's aspiration to relieve the sufferings of all sentient. The Four Immeasurables is also known as the Brahmavihara in the Theravadian's rendition and maitri also stands for metta bhavana (cultivation of metta).

Bodhisattva Maitreya is believed to have existed in China as a real monk over 1000 years ago. He is also known as Pu-tai and is caricatured today as the laughing Buddha with his potbelly stomach, which is a symbol of happiness, luck and bounty. The appearance thus has the ability to cheer up anyone from a bad day.

With reference to “mo ming qing miao”, Shifu then related a very popular catch phrase “bo huat tor ” ( 無法度 ), popularly used by the Hokkiens in Penang to mean the inability to resolve a problem or can't be helped. Literally, “bo huat tor” means that someone is beyond deliverance or liberation. When one has given up hope and resigned himself/herself to “bo huat tor”, he/she has virtually surrendered himself/herself to the erroneous conception of ‘fate'. This attitude, from a Buddhist point of view, is called wrong view. When we have the Dharma, then we can help (deliver) sentient being. When we have “maitri” then we can help sentient being overcome by hatred. Similarly, when we have “karuna”, we can help sentient being overcome by suffering. When we have Sila, Samadhi and Prajna, then we can help (deliver) sentient being get out of Samsara.

Buddhism offers 84000 dharmic paths to liberate all sentient beings in the Saha world. It is because one is “mo ming qing miao” or lacking the wisdom to find the path that one has become the victim of “bo huat tor”. Now that the subtle meaning of the Dharma is understood, one is no longer “mo ming qing miao” and “wu huat tor liao” (there is help or deliverance). Shifu advised everyone to start by observing the Panca Sila (Five Precepts) and the Ten Moral Precepts.

Before winding up Shifu announced his expectations of everyone:

1. Raise the level of Religious Faith
2. Practice the Panca Sila (Five Precepts) and 10 Moral Precepts
3. Improve interpersonal relationship by developing appreciation of other's positive qualities and develop mutual gratitude (“leong tua, hock tua” meaning with greater compassion comes greater spirituality)
4. Improve on Service Oriented attitude and Work Efficiency by developing empathy

Shifu solemnly wished all would be wiser from the sharing and be diligent in the practice of the Dharma in the daily activities.