26 February 2008

A Positive View Of Life

Sometimes, I'll feel so negative to my own life and the people around me. I believe most of us here will think the same too., am I right? However, I do believe that everything which had happened on me has its own reason.

Venerable Master Hsing Yun

One of my favorite ariticle from the Venerable Master Hsing Yun's book on his Prescription For The Heart (which I've just bought from his temple in Jenjarum few days ago) has discussed about this problem and I would like to share it with you here.

A Positive View Of Life

We all have different views on life. Some of us are optimistic and some pessimistic. The optimists think positively, while the pessimists think negatively of everything they encounter and see.

However, there is no absolute optimism or pessismism in the world. "what arises in the mind gives rise to all dharmas, and all dharmas cease when the mind ceases." There are of course external causes and conditions for optimism and pessimism. But most of the time, there are the product of our own creation.

Once, a king went junting and accidentally broke his finger. When he asked the minister beside him what should be done, the latter was optimistic and answered light-heartedly, "This is a good thing!" On hearing this, the king was furious. Accusing the minister for taking the joy in his suffering, the minister was imprisoned.

A year later, the kind went on another hunting trip and was captured by a band of natives. He was bound and put on the altar as an offering to the natives' deity. Just before the kind was about to be offered up, the high priest discovered that a finger was missing from his hand. Considered and incomplete offering, the kind was freed and his minister accompanying him was offered instead. The kind thought of the jailed minister who had remarked that his broken finger was a good omen and proceeded to set him free.

The king apologized to the minister for the one year wrongful imprisonment. However, the minister was still as optimistic as before and replied, "A year in jail was a good thing too. If I was not in jail, who would have accompanied your highness on that hunting trip and been offered up on the altar?"

Therefore, what is good is not necessarily all good. In the same way, what's bad is not necessarily bad. Buddhism teaches impermanence. Things can change for the better or for the worse. Pessimists worry about the last million dollars they have left while the optimists are happy for the last thousand dollars they still own.


When the renowned scholar Su Dongpo was removed to Hainan Island, he found the quite solitude of the island a world apart from his former days of glory in the capital. Upon reflection, Su realized that he was not the only one living on a lone island in the universe. Even the continent itself is just another island in the vast ocean. Just like an ant climbing on a leaf floating in a tank of water, the leaf becomes its island. As a result, he simply accepted the circumstances and was happy with his luck. Whenever Su tasted the local seafood, he was happy that he lived in Hainan. He even thought that if other ministers had come before he did. he would not be able to enjoy all the delicious food by himself.

In thinking positively, life becomes truly joyful. Buddhist monastics have only the cassock on their backs and a pair of grass shoes on their feet. They travel everywhere, like floating clouds. They are equally comfortable in the company of beggars or in the presence of kings and emperors. They are unfettered by anything, yet they own the dharma realms in their minds. How could they be lonely in coexisting with all sentient beings of the universe?

Therefore, there is no absolute joy or suffering in life. We just need to have a positive attitude, the spirit to strive on and the ability to think positively of what we encounter. Thus, we can turn suffering into joy, hardship into ease, and danger into safety. As Helen Keller once said, "In facing the sun, you will not see shadows." A positive view on life is indeed the sunshine in our hearts.

I hope this article will give you some ideas on why and how we should think positively. How we perceive things is depend on how we think. If you think you're fat, you're. If you think you're ugly, you're. Although it's about the Buddhism, the ideas are universal and can be shared among all of us. Have a nice day my friend.