A report published in The Coloradoan.

A report published in Rockymountain Bullhorn.


Thursday, August 25, 2005

What is the sound of one hand clapping?


Author: Kelli Lackett; Coloradoan staff
Author: Fort Collins Coloradoan
Section: Life
Page: B10, B9
Index Terms: Religion
Estimated printed pages: 3
Article Text: Buddhist master helps answer life questions


The Zen Club at Colorado State University is tapping in to the roots of Zen by inviting a Chinese Buddhist master to lecture and lead guided meditation at the university.

Master Fo Xing Yang will lecture about Buddhist doctrines and Zen practice today and Monday and lead Zen-style meditation several nights during the next week.

Often associated with Japan, Zen Buddhism actually has its roots in China, where Buddhism was introduced from India in the 3rd century. The Buddhist tradition, which emphasizes practice over theory, is called Ch'an in China.

Yang is the 51st patriarch in the Esoteric School of Buddhism, which flourished in China during the T'ang Dynasty - from 618 A.D. to 906 A.D. - and continues in an unbroken lineage to Yang. The Esoteric School is closely related to Ch'an Buddhism.

Huanyu Qiao, a Chinese graduate student in the biology department at CSU and a former student of Yang's, suggested Yang visit the university when he learned that his teacher would be in the United States this summer.

¡°I'd like to introduce Chinese traditional culture and Buddhism (to Americans). I think American people can learn a lot (from Yang) about Buddhism and know how they can practice it through meditation.¡±

Yang will deliver one lecture about kong'ans, or koans, which are Zen riddles that, when fully internalized, are said to lead to realization of fundamental truths. A well-known example is ¡°What is the sound of one hand clapping?¡±

The second lecture will be about Buddhist doctrine and how to practice Zen through meditation.

Practicing Buddhist meditation helps remove from one's consciousness the seeds of bad karma - seeds sown through previous actions, Yang said through translator Kun Wang on Tuesday in Fort Collins as he prepared for the lectures. Clearing away bad karma determines in what form you will return in the next life, he said.

¡°According to Buddhism, people are not only going to live one life,¡± Yang said. ¡°We shouldn't be content with transitory things. ...What is important is to solve the problem of life and death.¡±
And the ultimate goal of meditation is an eternal one; with enlightenment, one can transcend the cycle of birth and rebirth, he said.

The seeds of bad karma veil one's true self, Yang said. Thus, Buddhist meditation also can lead to wisdom and true happiness, he said.

¡°Westerners seek after material and sensual pleasures. Such seeking is the origin of suffering. If you practice Zen, even if it's difficult, you experience the merging of oneness and wisdom and samadhi (concentration),¡± Yang said. ¡°No worldly pleasure can be compared to this type of happiness.¡±

Even if a person is not a firm believer in multiple lives or in ultimate wisdom, meditation can help develop clarity of mind and focus in all areas of life, Yang said.

¡°For a workman to do work well, he has to sharpen his tools. Having tools refers to his mind...Meditation can enhance one's wisdom and one's intelligence,¡± Yang said.

If you want to practice meditation, Yang advises against practicing completely on your own and suggests that you find an authentic and authoritative teacher.

¡°Some disguise themselves as teachers, and they have no power to instruct others,¡± he said.

Lectures and guided meditation by Chinese Buddhist master

Lecture I
Penetrating the Essence of Zen Through Koans
*When: 6 p.m. today
*Where: Lory Student Center, North Ballroom

Lecture II
Comprehension of Buddhist Doctrines and Actual Practice of Zen
*When: 6 p.m. Monday
*Where: Lory Student Center, East Ballroom

Sitting meditation
*When: 7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Sept. 1
*Where: In the garden level lounge in Lory North Apartments, 905 W. Laurel St.

Buddhist master Fo Xing Yang, of the Guang dong province in China, is visiting Colorado State University to deliver lectures about Zen koans (stories) and practicing Zen. He also will lead several meditation sessions.

Copyright (c) The Coloradoan. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.
Record Number: ftc2005082510168196




Invitation to Peace

Words of Wisdom from a Chinese Zen master

JOSH JOHNSON of Rocky Mountain Bullhorn

Maha Acarya Yang Fo Xing, a Zen master and the 51st Patriarch of the T¡¯ang Dynasty Esoteric School in China, is on a mission: to spread Buddhism around the globe.

On the surface, this smacks of straight-up proselytizing, which it may be. But his message is not dogmatic, not self-promoting, not warning of eternal flames to those who don¡¯t respond. Instead, he hopes to offer the world an opportunity to find peace, joy and enlightenment. He has visited universities in the U.S. and elsewhere, guiding students in meditation and lecturing on Buddhism.

The Bullhorn caught up with the master while he was here lecturing at Colorado State and spoke with him through his translator, Wang Kun, a professor at the South China Normal University. Despite a body frail with age, Master Yang let out hearty laughs through much of the interview and exhibited an inner strength.

Rocky Mountain Bullhorn: So, how have you found Fort Collins?
Master Yang: It¡¯s a very nice town. It¡¯s very beautiful.

RMB: How does it differ from where you live?
MY: The air here is fresher than the air in Guangzhou where I¡¯m from, and also it¡¯s more tranquil here; it¡¯s more peaceful here.

RMB: How many years have you been studying Zen?
MY: Dozens of years, dozens of years, since Master was a teen. Master Yang is 78 years old now, so 60 years have passed since he started to practice Zen.

RMB: What brought you to Zen?
MY: Because [I] felt that human life is impermanent, impermanent. ¡­It is full of all kinds of sufferings and vexations. Through Zen practice, one¡¯s inner heart can be brought to a state of tranquility and peacefulness, because Zen actually means the process of calming down one¡¯s distracted mind and reaching a state of absorptive concentration. And also Zen practice can turn the impermanent to the permanent.

RMB: What is the most important thing you feel Americans can learn from your teachings?
MY: Through Zen practice, Americans can get rid of their vexations, and Zen practice can enhance their wisdom and the power of concentration. As for Americans, they¡¯ve made great contributions to the material civilization of mankind. And through Zen practice they can promote the spiritual civilization of mankind as well.

And because Zen explores the inner mystery of people¡¯s hearts, and Zen practice can purify people¡¯s hearts, it can make people refrain from doing all kinds of evil and engage themselves in all kinds of good deeds. It helps with the stability of a country/nation and promotes the world peace.

RMB: Master Yang, you advise against practicing Zen alone and instead suggest seeking a teacher. Why is that?
MY: First of all, the practice of Buddhism needs to have a person who is able to obtain the Buddha¡¯s energy and transfer it on the practitioners. Otherwise, no matter how hard the practitioner practices, he can only get superficial effects. And the hope of obtaining to a high stage will be rather slim.

And on another side, according to the Buddha, Buddha Shakyamuni, who is the founder of Buddhism, he predicted in one of his sutras that it is now the age called dharma-ending age. It means that the sentient beings lack merits and virtues.

The evil beings will disguise themselves as Buddhist masters and they¡¯ll mingle into Buddhist practice. So, if you practice with such kind of people, you will be misled by them. Practicing with them will not only bring harm to yourself, it wouldn¡¯t benefit you at all.

RMB: How do you tell the good people from those you just described?
MY: If you would like to tell the difference between authentic¡ªor what we call orthodox¡ªteachers from evil teachers, you have to have the ability to judge the weakness and strong points of other people.

As for authentic teachers, they have the heart of purity, the heart of utmost sincerity, the heart of diligent practice and the heart of repaying kindness. They want to save the world with the greatest compassion and loving kindness.

As for evil teachers, they will always get themselves very much attached to fame and gain, and they would like to get respect and material things from other people, and they would always like to speak highly of themselves, and they would like to debase other people.

RMB: What does Master Yang consider to be his greatest challenge?
MY:[Laughs.] Good question. Due to various kinds of reasons, it¡¯s really difficult for the master to answer the question directly. He mentioned the so-called ¡°Great Cultural Revolution.¡±

RMB: What do you think that our world leaders need?
MY: Actually, in this modern world, terrorists have been threatening people¡¯s lives. To solve this problem, [the leaders] resort to weapons, they resort to force if necessary.

Actually, the key point lies in purifying people¡¯s hearts, in transforming people¡¯s hearts. If the leaders of the world know this and if they can propagate the doctrine of the law of cause and effect, the doctrine of reincarnation according to one¡¯s karma, this would greatly help them refrain from evils and the preaching of good deeds.

According to Buddhism, one does not only live this life. He will reincarnate according to deeds done.¡­Naturally, that can help with the peace in the world. And the reason why some people would engage themselves in doing evil things is that they don¡¯t believe in the doctrine that one¡¯s life does not end here. As they think that they only live one life, they will keep themselves busy after seeking material things and sensual pleasures.

So, if the people of the world believe in the law of cause and effect and believe in the law of reincarnation according to karma, naturally they will engage themselves in doing all kinds of good deeds. Then world peace can be achieved.


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