Volume 5  No 1

Readers' Write

Judge a tree by its fruits
By Lynnette Low

My interest in Buddhist teachings started when I chanced upon a tape in which a Buddhist practitioner shares about how with the help of his teacher, he learned to apply Buddhist teachings in his daily life, such as giving with a sincere heart. Among other things, he also speaks of the need to give thanks and to repent for wrong doings. Values such as these are very similar to what I have learnt as a Christian. For me, the best part is that Buddhism not only teaches me what to do, but more importantly, how. Often, it also explains why.

As a Christian, I was taught to "judge a tree by its fruits", i.e. if a tree produces good fruits, then it is a good tree. Naturally, the opposite is true too. I therefore use this principle to discern any "new" teachings that come my way. After my initial encounter with Buddhist teachings, I was convinced that everyone can benefit from learning and applying Buddhist teachings in their lives.

As such, my next question is, will this be in conflict with my faith as a Christian, or more specifically, a Catholic. I consulted my Priest and this is his advice, "You can learn Buddhist teachings. The Buddha is a Teacher and not a god. You can have more than one good teachers, if it helps you to be a better person, and a better Christian." I was both grateful and glad for his wise and enlightened answer.

It was also about this time that my mother handed me several issues of the "Jen Chen Buddhist Digest", which she had picked up at an exhibition. From there, I learned about the two types of Buddhists - those who pray to Buddha, and those who learn from Buddha. I was glad with this second encounter with Buddhism because I had wanted to learn from Buddha. It also does not conflict with my faith, but rather helps me to be a better person. I believe this is how everyone can truly benefit from Buddhist teachings.

Later, I chanced upon two books, "Buddhism as an Education" and "The Art of Living", both based on the teachings of Venerable Teacher Chin Kung. The author mentions that Buddhism was originally not a religion, but that it had been transformed into one in the last two hundred years. He teaches that Buddhism "is the pinnacle of the world's philosophy and that it provides the greatest enjoyment for mankind." According to the author, our goal in learning Buddhism is to "open up our wisdom" - by cultivating purity of mind. Since he keeps his mind and body pure and clean, he feels totally at ease. Through cultivation he experiences "the unsurpassable joy of being free from afflictions, delusions and wandering thoughts." He said that he feels like the happiest person in the world! And naturally he feels indebted to his teacher, a Professor Fang, for without him, he would not have learned Buddhism nor would he have such complete happiness derived from practicing Buddha's teachings. I therefore believe that Buddhist teachings are a wonderful well of wisdom which is beneficial to everyone who drinks from it ..... in a truly "universal" way!


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre