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Volume 7 no 4

From the Editor

Fetching upstream water to the people downstream

While I was putting the final touches to this issue, it dawned on me that the teachings of the Buddha are like spring water that has flowed far and wide from its source. As the river flows down stream from its source, it gathers momentum and cuts water ways, big and small, across different lands and cultures. Along the way, it picks up dirt, sediments, debris and pollutants. What is the source like? In all likelihood, people would be surprised at the difference between the original and downstream water. I decided to search the internet for some “evidence” to my point. I found the perfect example, the Hwang He or Yellow River in China. The two photographs, one showing its source in the snow-clad Bayankala Mountains at the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the other showing the river as it flows through the land, speak for themselves. The difference is vast indeed.

The water downstream is not the same as the water upstream because the downstream water has picked up a little more “foreign matters”. Going upstream, the water gets purer. It is purest at its source, of course.

Like a river, Buddhism is also susceptible to be adulterated by local beliefs, legends, traditions, ignorance and superstitions as the teachings spread far and wide through time and distance. Fortunately, there are Bodhisattvas and teachers like Venerable Shen-Kai who tirelessly and selflessly promote the authentic teachings of the Buddha. They guide people to the river and show them how to advance upstream to the original, pure and soothing water. When I think of the compassion, determination and perseverance of these teachers to bring the authentic Buddhism to the people, it is as if they are fetching the pure water from the source to the people downstream. If one has the good fortune to encounter such learned teachers, I think one should recognise them and seize the opportunity to learn from them quickly.

But we have to put in our effort and commitment to advance upstream and to free ourselves from illusions and from the grip of attachment to forms or images for it is stated in the Diamond Sutra:

1. “He who sees me (Buddha) in forms or seeks me in sounds is on a heterodox path and cannot see the Tathagata (Buddha).”

2. “All forms are but illusions, in seeing that all forms are illusory, one sees the Tathagata.”

Otherwise, we risk not knowing and not understanding the authentic Buddhism. And, of course, we will never know about enlightenment, wisdom, true happiness and true bliss.

Be with Buddha.


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre