21 October 2021
Last week, it was my honour to attend a series of lectures called "Survival, Life, and Fate". For the event, the school supervisor Venerable Sik Hin-Hung invited some guest speakers with rich life experience to the school to share their life stories. The guest of this lecture was Venerable Chang Lin. He had a face-to-face meeting with the school supervisor and classmates in the school theatre to share how to "live a good life". Venerable Chang Lin was a well-known professional photographer in Hong Kong before he became a monk. He had been engaged in professional photography for more than 50 years. In 2009, he put aside his worldly fame and profit and became a monk. Now he often leads meditation activities in an easy-to-understand way that integrates the art of life hoping to help more people live a comfortable life.
At the beginning of the lecture, Venerable Chang Lin asked: “Do you know the difference between ‘survival’ and ‘life’?” The students naturally explained the basic needs of human beings. Then the Venerable asked: “So, what is the difference between ‘life’ and ‘fate’?” The students hesitated for a while, and they said that it was the most appropriate to distinguish between the two by the meaning of life. If living is meaningful, it can be regarded as ‘life’, otherwise it is ‘fate’. This answer seemed to be recognized by the Venerable. Then the Venerable asked, “How do we know if we are living ‘life’ or ‘fate’?” This question really embarrassed the students. Seeing their reactions, Venerable Chang Lin started from ‘awareness’, talking about its importance. He believes that ‘awareness’ is a kind of inner quality of ‘knowing clearly’ that can keep our hearts and minds clear at all times. When we look at all things in the world, we are often affected by external factors; like being covered with a thin veil, we can only observe things vaguely, but fail to see their essence. If we can ‘be aware’ of things more, we will not be easily affected by the environment and emotions, and when you let go of your attachments, you can see the essence of things right now. Venerable Chang Lin shared his life experience with these students and hoped that these students would learn something.
Strict Masters and Skilful Disciples
In the first year of Venerable Chang Lin's design course after graduating from middle school, a teacher often scolded him, making him feel like he was doing something wrong. He was so angry that he wanted to teach the teacher a lesson. Later, he simply went out and did anything he wanted in class, and no longer expected the teacher's approval or appreciation. Unexpectedly, at the end of the semester, the teacher said to him, “Do you think I have always picked on you? Then, do you remember Teacher Zhang? He knew that you were admitted and asked me to take care of you.” Chang Lin at the time was so moved that he almost cried because the teacher actually took a year to get rid of his obsession. This is because if people studying design fail to liberate themselves, they will easily be limited in their creativity and thinking. Venerable Chang Lin was later ‘aware’ of the teacher who scolded him just to free him from attachments, play as he pleases, and cultivate his mindset of exploring, in order to achieve his own accomplishments on stage. The reason for this is very simple; that is, if we judge things from the surface or intuition of the event alone, we can easily be affected by our own emotions and fail to clearly understand the nature of things. We are often prone to make wrong decisions or blame the wrong good people. Later, a student also shared his personal experience at present, saying that he had hated a teacher, but later found that things were not what he saw, so he was no longer clinging to him, and he dispelled the idea of resenting the teacher and learned to cherish the people and things around.
Eventually, the school supervisor shared with everyone the importance of making good relationships in the lecture. He urged students to offer help and care to others when they need it. While dealing with others, we remembered that we should not only think about problems from our own subjective point of view. From the perspective of the other parties, we should think about the difficulties of others so as to build good relationships and help ourselves and others.
This lecture benefited us a lot. For the time being, we will only record a few examples, hoping that we will have the opportunity to share more with you in the future.
Mr. So Ka Leung