FGS Toronto Humanistic Buddhism Talk Series: A Dharma Gathering

March 4, 2023

The first talk series on Humanistic Buddhism was grandly held on the afternoon of March 4th, 2023, at Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Temple of Toronto. The seminar was based on the writings of Venerable Master Hsing Yun titled, “Hear Me Out: Messages from a Humble Monk”.  Although there was a severe snowstorm that made it difficult to travel in from various places, more than 60 people came from all directions to FGS of Toronto to listen to the Venerables share the profoundly impressive Dharma words from chapters in this book.

The moderator of the seminar, Venerable Miao Mu, the Superintendent of FGS Temple of Toronto, explained and expounded in her opening remarks the reasons why Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the founder of Fo Guang Shan wrote " Hear Me Out: Messages from a Humble Monk ". She explained that the writing and messages in the book are based on the protection of Buddhism in responds to the doubts, questions, and confusions of the world. Venerable Master said, “originally I only wanted to write two or three topics, but under hospitality, I wrote a total of 40 topics”. From this, we can understand that the Venerable Master taught and guided sentient beings with directions and methods to solve their sufferings.

In the first session of the seminar, Venerable Miao Mu asked the Venerables to share the most inspiring and useful chapters of " Hear Me Out: Messages from a Humble Monk ". Venerable Man Long chose " Paving My Way to International Status".  It shows the early difficulties of establishing Fo Guang Shan.  Venerable Miao Tsun and Venerable Ru Xing shared chapters entitled "My Attitude Towards Money" and "How Much Money Did I Spend", echoing and explaining the Venerable Master's views on money and his attitude towards handling it. The Venerable Master does not accumulate money in his own name. All the manuscript fees and royalties from the Venerable Master's published books are also donated to Fo Guang Shan. The donations received from "One-stroke Calligraphy" are all handled by charitable trust foundations. Fo Guang Shan places emphasis on cultural education. Fo Guang Shan’s education system, cultural undertakings, and charitable institutions cannot be detailed. In addition to the cost of building Temples in various places, the total cost is more than 100 billion dollars. Fo Guang Shan only transmit the Dharma, but not wealth.  Individuals do not accumulate personal property, and everything are used for Fo Guang Shan.

Venerable Ru An shared "Where does my joy and optimism come from?”, at the beginning, she pointed out that the Venerable Master said that “to learn from the Buddha is to turn defilement into bodhi and pain into happiness” and “The real practice of Humanistic Buddhism lies in daily walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, and in the relationship between people and me”.   “Born in sorrow, grow in difficulty, live in joy " is the portrayal of the Venerable Master's life.

In the second session of the conference, Venerable Miao Mu asked the Venerables to share the many examples mentioned in " Hear Me Out: Messages from a Humble Monk " and share how the Venerable Master faced difficulties with a positive and optimistic attitude to benefit and deliver sentient being beings.  It was difficult to create Fo Guang Shan, and the Venerable Master insisted on the belief of " I am the future of Buddhism", "Never go back on our promises", and "Where there is Dharma, there is a way."  You can also see the Venerable Master requirements for himself from "Befriending Sickness" and "Post-illness One-stroke Calligraphy " are the inspirational mottos for Buddha's Light disciples to continue their future practices.

Venerable Miao Mu concluded that today everyone who came to the seminar in the wind and snow, have done meaningful things together.  When we meet with the Dharma characteristic, it is a “co-cultivation”; If we can practice “The Three Acts of Goodness" in our daily lives and plant “morality, meditative concentration, wisdom” deeply in our hearts, we can know how to practice in the face of five desires and six dusts.  If we have the character of the assembly, follow conditions while remaining unmoved and learn from them, we can turn defilement into bodhi, and then surpass ourselves and spread happiness.

The 2023 Opening Ceremony of FGS Toronto Humanistic Buddhism Courses was held after the " FGS Toronto Humanistic Buddhism Talk Series ".  The courses of the three campuses of Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto, Markham Buddha’ Light Centre and Waterloo Buddha’ Light Centre were presented. Teachers of Buddhism classes and interest classes were awarded letters of appointment.  Venerable Ru An from the social education group explained the point counting and rewarding methods of promoting the "Practice the Buddha's Way Passport" this year.  She hopes that everyone will cherish the learning causes and conditions and the dedication of life energy, the ability to study together, set goals, and work hard; to complete them. Venerable Miao Mu encouraged everyone to pay equal attention to understanding and practice, the Power of Vow; not to retreat from our vows, to learn from the Buddha and Practice the Buddha's Way.

The first talk series on Humanistic Buddhism was grandly held on the afternoon of March 4th, 2023, at Fo Guang Shan (FGS) Temple of Toronto, 60 people attended the event.
From Left to Right: Venerable Miao Mu, Venerable Man Long, Venerable Miao Tsun, Venerable Ru Xing, Venerable Ru An
Venerable Run An receiving the Certificate of Appointment
A class instructor receives the Certificate of Appointment