Sunday Dharma Service

Sun, March 26 -
10:00am to 12:30pm

Various Interest Classes

Sat, March 25 -
9:00am to 8:00pm

Various Interest Classes

Sat, April 1 -
9:00am to 8:00pm

Buddha's Light Scouts

Sun, March 26 -
2:00pm to 4:00pm

Eng. Children Dharma Class

Sat, March 25 -
2:00pm to 4:00pm

Eng. Children Dharma Class

Sat, April 1 -
2:00pm to 4:00pm

Yoga Class

Wed, March 29 -
10:00am to 11:30am

Eng. Dharma Class

Sat, March 25 -
10:00am to 12:30pm

Eng. Dharma Class

Sat, April 1 -
10:00am to 12:30pm

Fo Guang Shan Temple Chinese School

Sun, March 26 -
9:30am to 11:45am

Bright Light Chanting Service

Tue, March 28 -
10:00am to 12:30pm

Eng. Meditation/ Dharma Class

Wed, March 29 -
7:00pm to 9:30pm

Frequently Asked Questions

Buddhists do not bow nor pray to a statue but to the Dharma that the statue represents. Dharma is the law of nature, and Buddhism is a way of life. What the Buddha taught is not just the law of nature but how we live by it. As a matter of fact, one of the principles in a discourse by the Buddha called the Three Reliances states that a Buddhist practitioner should rely on the Dharma and not on a person. The term “worship” is seldom used if not at all in Buddhism because it may cause confusion with its generic meaning by other faiths such as Christianity. Worship is a total submission to a master or a creator and Buddha is not our master nor a creator. He just our supreme and most respectable teacher, one who is fully enlightened. When we pray, we are praying to the Dharma, represented and taught by the Buddha.
 
When the Buddha attained full enlightenment under the Bodi Tree, he understood in completion why and how the links, normally known as the twelve links of Dependent Origination, influence and interact with each other in the circle of life and death. The reverse of the cycle will lead us back to purity, tranquility which is liberation and nirvana. Thereafter, the Buddha condensed his realisation and grouped his teachings of the Dependent Origination into the Four Noble Truths which he preached for the first time to his 5 disciples in Deer Park, the first sermon or the first turning of the Dharma Wheel. 
 
Vegetarianism carries three vital messages. The first one, in sequence of importance, is the respect for life. All life is equal, has the same right to live, to co-exist in this world. If one has no respect for life, being a vegetarian loses its significant meaning. The second one is to maintain a sustainable bio-eco-system for mother Earth and for our own survival. The human population is growing exponentially and the supply of meat requires an enormous amount of natural resources along with huge soil and water pollution as compared with vegetation. The third one is for health reasons which have proven to offer many benefits. Buddhists do not need to be vegetarians but they must respect life. All nuns and monks are vegetarians with few exceptions of some Tantric practitioners.
 
The typical ones that we all encounter at one point or another in life are birth, aging, ill, death, meeting with all that is unpleasant, deprived of all that is pleasant, unattainable desire, and strong attachment to the five aggregates which are physical, feeling, cogitation, volition and consciousness. They can also be grouped into internal, external, or suffering of the body and mind due to adversity, or the consequences due to change over time or the sadness caused by the vanishing of impermanent enjoyment.
 
We all suffer, feel pain and agony at certain point in time in our lives when confronted with adversity. When we reflect and look deep insight, we shall discover that they all have to do with desire, possession and attachment which are the extensions of the notion "I" and "mine". Undue desire, fuelled by the improper attachment to love, as trapped and sucked in by our previous experience in our mind, is, therefore, the one major element in life that causes pain and suffering.
 
Karma is the most important element that makes the world turn round. It is a conscious action or deed that leads to "causality" or cause and effect, a law of nature, a fundamental Buddhist doctrine. The force of such an action has to dissipate or neutralised when the right conditions surface or it will be stored in our deepest consciousness until the time is right for it to sprout up. Observe carefully and we shall find that there is no action in this universe that produces absolutely no consequence. It works like Newton's famous third law but it applies not just in the physical world but also in the mental realm.
 
In general, all monastic nuns and monks have to be abided by a set of pre-set precepts, 250 for monks and 348 for nuns. Besides, there are the six types of unity in a sangha that they have to observe which are aimed to attain harmony in their deed, speech, mind, discipline, view and work/reward. There are also the Bodhisattva precepts which consist of 10 significant ones and 48 less significant ones.
 
Buddhism is the law of nature, a way of life, and as such can be practised by all people, irrespective of their creeds, cultures and beliefs.  Besides sharing certain commonalities with other major faiths such as loving kindness, compassion, equality, equanimity, giving, Buddhism also teaches us to how to live a fulfilling and meaningful life, to understand life and death, and to be free from attachment and suffering. Of course, the very core Buddhist doctrines may not be compatible with other religions but one is free to choose one's preferred direction in that final transcendent state of cultivation. 
 
There is no direct evidence proving reincarnation beyond doubt but there are lots of indirect ones. If everything, as we can see, is believed to recycle without gaining or losing its intrinsic quality or energy, then the force of life can be logically postulated to obey the same law. There is a book "Life Before Life", written by Jim Tucker, a psychiatrist at U of Virginia, which documents his 40 years scientific research and investigation of children's pervious lives and memories. These are case studies pointing to support reincarnation.  At a certain point or place in time, we may experience a sudden moment of "déjà vu" which is actually a glimpse of our past records stored in our deepest consciousness.
 
The five Buddhas represent the five corners of the universe in space and time. Starting from the east (far left) is Aksobhya Buddha - humility, unmoved by anger; the south (second left) is Ratnasambhava Buddha - equanimity, values and merits; the centre is Vairocana Buddha (the Dharma name for Shakyamuni Buddha) - Dharma preaching, our teacher; the west (second right) is Amitabha - purity and longevity; the north (far right) is Amoghasiddhi Buddha - accomplishment by wisdom. These five Buddhas also stand for the systemic transformation of consciousnesses into perfect wisdom as described in Yogacara. We must, however, bear in mind that all Buddhas are equal and their differentiations are only for our benefit and because of our deluded mind.
 
Buddhas are fully enlightened and have entered nirvana while Bodhisattvas are practising Buddhas who are very close to full enlightenment.  According to some Mahayana scriptures, it is also believed that Bodhisattvas are deliberately retaining a little karmic force in their consciousness so that they will reincarnate back into the human world to carry out their infinite compassionate deeds in liberating people or they are actually Buddhas but manifest themselves to us in this saha world as Bodhisattvas only.
 
A bit different than most other religions, faith is not the only important element in practicing Buddhism. It encourages and appeals to questioning, reasoning rationale and the clearance of doubts. The recommended process, in sequence, starts with learning, contemplation, practice and affirmation which builds unshaken faith. This process is repeated again and again resulting in a transcendent spiral of spirituality and purification. Faith also brings vow and vow brings more practice.
 
Shortly after the death of the Buddha, sectarisation began splitting first into 2 major groups, the conservative in the north and the liberal in the south. Over time, each of them again broke into smaller subgroups, which later either merged or became extinct. What remain today are the 2 major branches, the Theravada which spread along the southern route in Asia and the Mahayana in the north. Their differences may be in the rituals, ways of practice, and chanting but they embrace the same core values and teachings of the Buddha. Some Buddhists and scholars stress that the final quality of enlightenment of these two branches is not the same in quality but such later interpretation is divisive and false as enlightenment is enlightenment and there is no difference in the foundation of nor the state of attainment and enlightenment.
 
The Buddha was born about 2,500 years ago in the foothills of the Himalayas, in a small Kingdom Kapilavastu, north of India then. It is now Nepal. His teachings is identified as Buddhism. After his death (nirvana), over time and due to the influences of cultures, the discoveries of more sutras (the Buddha's discourses), the various expansions of his ideology, Buddhism split into two major groups, the Mahayana vehicle spreading along the northern route, the Theravada along the south and the Vajrayana centered in Tibet . Currently, eight different schools are present with the prominent sects such as the Ch'an (Zen), Pureland, Tiantai and Yogacara etc.
 
Faith is important in all religions but in Buddhism, the basic steps to start with, in sequence, are learning, contemplation, practice and affirmation. We should contemplate and understand well what has been learnt, then put it to use in our daily life and the result is affirmation, faith that takes root and can hardly be shaken. The process is then repeated again and again until enlightenment.
 
All good religions share the wholesome values such as loving kindness, compassion, empathy, good deeds and equality etc. Buddhism, however, advocates that wisdom is vital in attaining enlightenment, not just faith. Other differences are dependent origination rather than creationism; self-purification and liberation from within  rather than by any exterior power or super-being; existence is a perpetual cycle like a circle  rather than a straight line with a beginning and an end; and that our future is solely in our own hands because of causality (cause and effect - karma) rather than monitored and bestowed by a super being.
 
A God-creator or a super being that designs, guides and manipulates this universe is not a Buddhist belief. The Buddha taught that there are multi-universes or multi-worlds and that all phenomena, including life, evolve and come to being when the right conditions surface and dissipate when such conditions subside. These events are inter-dependent and inter-reactive, a perpetual cycle with no beginning or end. The question of a creator, therefore, is a non-question in Buddhism. Creationism, however, stops asking "who then creates God"?
 
This statement is misleading if not incorrect, especially for beginning practitioners. The declaration that all concepts are wrong concepts is by itself an idea, a concept and if it is right, it then form a contradictory paradox in itself, an endless vicious circle. It may be more appropriate in saying that "all concepts are non-concepts" but then this stage of realisation is only for the very advanced practitioners to contemplate. Beginners should follow the basic Buddhist teachings which are fundamental doctrines and vital concepts to be good. Don't forget that without the basic concepts, we can neither read nor talk, let alone to understand or to practice.
 
Emptiness is translated from a Sanskrit word "sunyata" and Chinese "空". It actually means everything in this universe is empty of a fixed, unyielding, self-controlling nature. In other word, all matters and phenomena, physical and mental are always in a transient flux, like a running river without stopping for a moment, intertwined, interconnected and interdependent. This is a law of nature and is best represented by Einstein's equation E=MC2 which states that formless energy and matter are transmutable.
 
A faithful Buddhist practitioner goes through many small and big enlightenments in his/her life time, gaining momentum of purification, clarity and wisdom each time, until the ultimate enlightenment is attained. Nirvana generally refers to the ultimate enlightenment but in reality, one can also experience nirvana and liberation in life. It is just the state of a transcendent mind that counts.
 
Buddha never claimed to be a god, a son of a god, or a messenger of a god.  Buddha was born as a person and became enlightened as a person with a purified mind.  He set an example for us to develop ourselves following the path to enlightenment.  He reminded us that we too can become enlightened, setting and extending to all directions to deliver the infinite numbers of sentient beings.
 
Venerable Master Hsing Yun
 
  • Serve as a spiritual and cultural center
  • Propagate “Humanistic Buddhism”
  • Foster and Promote Inter-religious dialogue
  • Building a bridge between the East and the West
Fo Guang Shan originated in Taiwan.  We are an international organization with about 200 temples worldwide.
 
Humanistic Buddhism encourages us to integrate Buddha’s teachings into our daily lives, for the benefits of all sentient beings, through kindness, compassion, joyfulness and equanimity. We need to take an active role and join others in the improvement of our present world via education, participation in charitable events and though cultivating (Buddhist practices in our daily lives) ourselves.
 
Humanistic Buddhism has six fundamental characteristics.
  1. Humanism
  2. Emphasis on daily life
  3. Altruism
  4. Joyfulness
  5. Timeliness
  6. Universality
Objectives of Humanistic Buddhism:
  • To propagate Buddhist teachings through cultural activities
  • To foster talent through education
  • To benefit society through charitable programs
  • To purify human hearts and minds through Buddhist practice
The morning bell awakens people from their delusive dreams.  The evening drum rolls the sounds of the Dharma, the teachings of Buddha.  The morning bell and evening drum serve to awaken the people, remind them to practice diligently and warn them not to become lazy.  They help to awakening the deluded and confused sentient beings.
 
The rosary serves as a counting tool and becomes a symbol of being and practicing Buddhists. It is usually used during chanting and reciting sutras.
 
By saying the Buddha’s name we seek to eradicate our illusory thoughts, purify our minds, and help us return to our originally undefiled and unattached true nature.
 
First of all, we must realize that impermanence and pessimism are two different subjects, just like permanence does not mean optimism.  By understanding impermanence, we will not insist on life’s events happening exactly our way.  We are able to appreciate our lives and will try to build good affinity with others.
 
Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit word with two parts.  Bodhi means enlightenment, wisdom and the way.  Sattva means sentient being.  Bodhisattvas are motivated by great compassion towards all sentient beings and are committed to liberating all beings from suffering. Concurrently, Bodhisattvas develop themselves spiritually to reach enlightenment through practices such as giving, following precepts, endurance, diligence, meditation, and wisdom.  They may be regarded as Buddhas in training.
 
Arhats represent beings who are followers of Buddhism who have eradicated all defilement and have reached the level of enlightenment to be beyond the samsara process of rebirth.  They are considered worthy of receiving offerings from people and celestial beings.  However, they have not yet reached the full enlightenment worthy of to become a Buddha.
 
The wheel, a weapon, originated from the fighting vessels in ancient India was used in battles that led to victory.  In Buddhism, the three meanings of the wheel, crushing, perpetual movement and completeness, like a circle, are used to represent the significance of Buddha teaching the Dharma.  The Dharma is the all encompassing and perfect teaching which destroys worries and defilements of all sentient beings.  It is perpetually moving without interruption.
 
The images of Buddha symbolize his extraordinary qualities and teachings.  Seeing these images helps us to get in touch with our own Buddha nature. Buddha nature-the true, the spiritual essence of all things, exists everywhere.  Most of us are so preoccupied with everyday matters that we rarely, if ever, give it much thought.  The serene, compassionate face and composed posture of the Buddha image remind us of the spiritual side of life.  It can ignite a spark of peace and insight within us.  It is what they stand for that counts, not their physical apperance.
 
We bow to express respect and appreciation for both the Buddha, our most compassionate teacher, and the Buddha nature within ourselves and others. Bowing is also a way to transcend pride and selfishness.
 
The lotus blossoms grow out of, but not independent of the mire.  We should never distant ourselves from the sufferings and ignore the world in the name of practice.  Just as lotus blossoms grow in the heat of the summer, we need to turn the bothersome troubles and defilement of our lives into opportunities to further our practice and cultivation.  It also signifies the purity of our inner Buddha nature and righteousness as the blossoms come out from the dirty mud and do not branch out.
 
It is an ancient symbol found in several different cultures.  In ancient Babylonian, it was used to depict the Sun’s movement.  It is also found in ancient India. In Buddhism it signifies purity, wisdom and propitiousness.  The symbol should not be confused with the Nazi symbol, which is reversely tilted.  It is one of the thirty-two marks of Buddha.  It is the result of Buddha’s eons of practice.  It is a sign of propitiousness, purity and completeness.  We are reminded of Buddha’s infinite wisdom and compassion when we see this symbol.  The turning motion represents Buddha’s great power perpetually moving, manifesting and extending to all directions to deliver the infinite sentient beings.
 
When we chant we concentrate on Buddha’s teachings repeatitively, we also may gain wisdom through the meanings of the words.  By being compassionate, we remember both our loved ones and all other beings.  We then readily transfer our merits to all Dharma Realms.  Chanting done with the utmost sincerity is certainly beneficial for others and ourselves.
 
The Sanskrit word “Virya “means fortitude, or pure and unadulterated progress in cultivating the good and eliminating the evil.  One is considered to practice diligently if one maintains concentration, and with persistent work with the right view ,right understanding, and the right knowledge, he/she will eventually lead to attaining the enlightenment of Buddha hood.
 
To show compassion toward the animals that otherwise would have lost their lives for human consumption.  A Buddhist strives to have compassion for all beings any time of the day.  If all of us can stop killing of any kind, our world can be peaceful.
 
Buddhists usually fold their palms before eating while silently offering the meal to Buddha, dharma, Sangha, and all the living beings in all the Dharma realms.  One needs to remember other beings when one is eating the food.  One may silently wish all sentient beings to achieve full accomplishment and to fulfill Buddha's Dharma practice.  The dining hall in a Chinese monastery is usually referred to as “The Hall of Five Contemplations” because people are reminded to contemplate the following five aspects when they eat:
 
  1. To count the amount of merit and appraise the source
  2. To assess one’s own virtues, whether perfect or deficient to deserve the bestowal
  3. To guard one’s mind against faults, greed in particular
  4. To receive this food in order to accomplish spiritual work
  5. To receive this food as medicine for this weakening body
The hand gestures are referred to as madras used to express different symbolic meanings such as delivering the suffering, promoting fearlessness, wisdom, etc.  In Tibetan Buddhism, different madras are also employed as a part of spiritual cultivation.
 
The essence of Buddhism is the law of cause and effect.  We pray to Buddha for Inspiration and Guidance not miracles and salvation.  Buddha cannot save us; we must liberate ourselves from our problems and confusion.  However by opening our hearts to Buddha and his teachings, our inner strength and confidence will be reinforced to assist us in our work.
 
Folding palms is a graceful posture and a dignified way of greeting, which originated in ancient India.  By bringing ten fingers together; we symbolically make all ten Dharma realms become one.
 
Reminded of the Buddha nature within every being, whether mundane or extraordinary.  We need to adapt a respectful outlook in practicing Buddha’s teaching and concurrently delivering others and ourselves.  Furthermore, folding palms helps us concentrate our minds while praying and allows our hearts to be opened to Buddha’s pure. enlightened energy.
 
The center doorway of the temple is reserved for the one who presides over the service.
 
Monastics need to renounce all the mundane desires and longing, in order to more readily achieve purity, be free from delusions, remove hindrances and enter the way of practice.  Once they shave their hair they can easily be distinguished from those who have not joined the Sangha.
 
The custom of burning incense marks is unique to Chinese Buddhism.  It did not exist in primitive Buddhism and also has not been practiced in other countries.  When Buddhism reached China monastics were held in high regard by society and the nation. During the T’ang dynasty, the imperial court ordered that incense mark burning was to be incorporated in the precept ceremony in order to prevent people from impersonating Monastics and as an affirmation of their faith.