Dealing with the Commercialization of Buddhism

From:Voice of Longquan     Author:Voice of Longquan     Time:2017-11-17 15:39:36
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It’s not that Buddhism is being commercialized. Instead it is the materialism of the modern world that has influenced Buddhism. This is actually a battle between two forces. If the impact of Buddhism is weak, it will be influenced by commercialization; if the impact of Buddhism is strong, it can bring harmony, tranquility and refreshment to the world. Thus, Buddhists must practice with reverence so as to stay on the right path, and work collectively in order to build up more strength, so that society can benefit from the positive influence of Buddhism.

Q: Master, what kind of information should we pay attention to? Nowadays, the internet is filled with gossip and pornographic pictures in order to attract traffic. If one is not careful, it is easy to get trapped. There are businesses that stimulate sensual desires in order to promote sales. There is not much we can do about this business model. Does this mean that we should avoid news and media so as to obtain inner peace?

A: Monks live a highly disciplined life with clear rules on where they cannot go, what they cannot do, and when certain things are not allowed. There is also a saying in Confucianism: “Do not look, listen, speak or move if it is not proper to do so”. These are lessons of wisdom that help us maintain our well-being. Nowadays, many people no longer pay attention to these lessons. They indulge themselves in affliction in the name of “freedom.” The external environment often stimulates our desires, disturbing our inner peace. What we get is superficial happiness that does not last and which leaves us further from true happiness. Those who are wise know how to protect themselves so as to live a healthy and disciplined life, abstaining from wandering both physically and intellectually. It is important to seek virtuous teachers and fellow  practitioners and to practice according to the Dharma.


Q: Master, my father was recently hospitalized with hematencephalon. He has never been serious about his own well-being. Although my mother does her best to take care of him, he often picks fights with her. This is so stressful for mom that she cannot sleep well. I worry about mom and cannot help resenting dad for what he has done. My dad is the one who caused his own illness. Why should anyone else suffer because of his non-virtuous karma? Why should she suffer? This is troubling me and I don’t know how to deal with it. Please help!


A: Whether on purpose or not, affliction and karma between people are mutually influential. When one loses one’s temper and does wrong, people around will get hurt. The fact is that this is true for everyone. Our thoughts, words and behavior all have an effect on us and others, as well as on the present and future. Therefore, there is a huge net of karmic force between people. We are all connected and influenced by one another. Those who are closest to you will experience the most direct and intense influence; those who are furthest away will experience the least direct and intense influence.  Consequently, those who have been influenced will react and release new karmic force, creating an interconnected endless cycle. Like it or not, we live in the midst of all this. Given that we influence others without meaning to, while feeling a variety of emotions, how can we possibly be at ease? Your father is causing pain to family members because he himself has a great deal of affliction. Resenting him will not help, because you are both trapped in this network of affliction and karma. The reason why we practice Buddhism is to build up the strength to break free from this network so that we can exert an influence for goodness and purity, and help those around us. 

Q: Master, do you agree that Buddhism is becoming more and more commercialized?

A: It’s not that Buddhism is being commercialized. Instead it is the materialism of the modern world that has influenced Buddhism. This is actually a battle between two forces. If the impact of Buddhism is weak, it will be influenced by commercialization; if the impact of Buddhism is strong, it can bring harmony, tranquility and refreshment to the world. Thus, Buddhists must practice with reverence so as to stay on the right path, and work collectively in order to build up more strength, so that society can benefit from the positive influence of Buddhism.


Q: Master, I find that I am easily jealous of others, especially those around me. I know this isn’t good, but I cannot help it.  I don’t want life to treat them too well, yet I don’t want them to suffer either. How do I deal with such jealousy?  Please help! Thank you so much!

A: When we are jealous of others, we focus on unfounded comparisons such as: “why don’t I have the things he has?” or “why does he have what I don’t?” Why do we think like this? Why should others be the same as you? Is there anything that is supposed to be yours? What we have is only the result of our individual karma. Wisdom means seeing our karma and ourselves as they are. Any differentiation, comparison and jealousy are nothing but afflictions which cloud our minds.

Editor:Bella Liu
Tags:commercialization of Buddhism, a huge net of karmic force

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