So… a very warm welcome to this gathering. It is difficult to convince people, in this day and age, how material growth is not a sound and ultimate answer to all our endless failure[s], uncertainty, anxiety, which in turn leads to global destruction, terrorism, international conflict, domestic conflicts, and above all, conflict within oneself.
But nevertheless, there are pockets of people like ourselves… I guess, at the risk of being too proud, there are a few people who believe that [the] only answer, and the way to peace and harmony, and not just peace and harmony, but even seemingly mundane good life, management, leadership, raising children, building good communication and also a sound and healthy and non-harming growth, even on [the] material level — really depends so much on how much we utilize inner strength. Inner strength that no one can really, sort of, empower upon you, that we cannot download from somewhere, that we can only recognize this inner strength that we have it, inherently. And by doing so — generating, nurturing it, generating it, strengthening it and putting [it] into action — this is the only way that we can save ourselves, so to speak, and, in turn, save the rest of the world.
And there are definitely many different ways. But many of us we come to the conclusion that only through the Words of the Buddha, only through the guidance of Shakyamuni Buddha, specifically known as the Prince Siddhartha or Gautama, only his teachings and the way for generations for centuries, have provided peace and harmony.
So, it is quite a … what do you call it, um … quite amazing that the resounding practice is now something that we could do in this fashion. Like um, I believe that there is about 32 different nations right this very moment, all at the least motivating in the similar direction, and resounding the words of the Gautama the Buddha. And um, I’m sure this is going to bring a lot of benefit in many myriad ways.
So, before we begin, I would like to invite everyone to settle ourselves first. And when I say “settle,” I’m not talking about sort of sitting and making ourselves physically comfortable — that, of course — but I’m also talking about really preparing ourselves mentally, and the way to do that is really nothing exotic. I’m not suggesting any ritual, but simply sitting. And, no matter what occurs in our mind, be it negative thoughts, hideous thinking, be it positive thoughts, whatever it is, not to get carried away, not to be judgmental to oneself, completely like a baby looking at a fresco, completely in the manner of non-judgmental, let us for one minute, just sit.
Ok. Next, let us tune our motivation by first acknowledging that no matter what kind of problem we have in this worldly situation, ultimately none of these problems can be fixed because the compounded life, by nature, is dukkha, pain, anxiety, uncertain, dependent, and, therefore, unreliable. Only way to un-entangle, sort of, untangle ourselves, only way to undo ourselves from this knot of delusion, this entanglement, is through seeing the truth. And for this, let us tune our motivation: that for this reason we will resound the words of the Buddha.
Next, liberation is not only for the individual self. All the beings, in one way or another, are connected to us. All these sentient beings, they have sacrificed so much for us in many of our past lives, and these sentient beings need to also be liberated from their delusion and entanglement. Only way to do that is through listening to the words of the Buddha. So please, generate that motivation.
And now, thinking in several different ways, thinking that we are in the presence of the Shakyamuni Buddha, or [that] the text that you are reading is none other than the Shakyamuni Buddha himself… so, in this way, when you read, you are directly, without any interference, without any interpretation, you are directly getting in touch with the Shakyamuni Buddha himself. With this pure perception, let us now begin reading the Sutras.