5th International Dharma-Dhamma Conference




"The goods of this world -- health, power and social status -- should always be used for the benefit of other sentient beings, never selfishly and never for harm,” explained World Peace Association Secretary-General Sattva Zhang. Tying together philosophical musings with her political convictions, Zhang pointed a finger at the human tendencies she views as responsible for human misery—both internal and external.


"Motivated by greed or anger or desire, people grow too attached to this ephemeral world, while steering away from enlightenment," she said. "In search of power, some are willing to hurt even the people closest and dearest to them. In chasing love, people are willing to sacrifice their equilibrium, risking heartache and mental instability."





Recalling her first encounters with Dharma, Zhang posed the questions that inspired her ever since:


"In 2001 I was in a temple retreat. There, for the very first time, I found myself pondering about the truth of the universe and life. Full of doubt, I asked myself the most inextricable questions," she told the audience. "What's to be expected after the flame of life is extinguished? Where do we go after nothing remains of our body but dust? What remains of us after our consciousness is blown out?"


These questions led Zhang to doubt the value of corporeal attachments—which lead to pain and conflict —and to seek a way to help humanity outgrow them.


"Through meditation, we let our minds be at peace and experience the placid bliss of mindfulness," she said, noting that in this way we find our true purpose. "We were put on this earth so we can each do our best for the benefit of our family, friends, neighbors -- for the benefit of all sentient beings." The conference, which took place at Nalanda University in Rajgir, was organized in association with The India Foundation to encourage discussion of the spiritual traditions of the Dharma-Dhamma and its applicability to today's world.





Here is the full transcript of her speech:


Distinguished leaders of government, professors, ladies, gentlemen, and dear friends,

Good morning!


First of all, I would like to thank the organizers of this event for giving me this opportunity. The subject of this conference is excellent and embodies great wisdom. May it prove an illuminating guide to our lives in the present world.


In 2001 I was in a temple retreat. There, for the very first time, I found myself pondering about the truth of the Universe and Life. Full of doubt, I asked myself the most inextricable questions: What's to be expected after the flame of life is extinguished? Where do we go after nothing remains of our body but dust? What remains of us after our consciousness is blown out?


But just as the sky can't keep the clouds in place


Or a pond can't hold on to the moon's reflection


Just like a mirror can't truly posses the image it reflects


So the world can't forever hold on to the traces of a man.


The attachments we make throughout our lives: Money, fame, power, family, love, friendships -- we can't carry any of them with us to our next life. We come to this world alone and leave alone, empty handed. Nothing in this corporeal world -- not even our very bodies -- will accompany us beyond this lifetime.


And yet people pay so much attention to the mundane. Motivated by greed or anger or desire, they grow too attached to this ephemeral world, while steering away from enlightenment. In search of money, some work excruciatingly hard and neglect their health.

In search of power, some are willing to hurt even the people closest and dearest to them. In chasing love, people are willing to sacrifice their equilibrium, risking heartache and mental instability.


Unfortunately, they don’t fully appreciate that Time will eventually consume everything, like fire blazing through a field of dry grass, leaving nothing behind.


Everything in this world, including our body, can be used, but not owned. Nothing belongs to us. Only when we meditate -- in the placid tranquility of a forest -- can we see the true moving causes of the past, present and future. And only thus can we fathom how to truly improve our existence, as we comprehend the nature of living.


Humans may possibly be the most intelligent animal on this earth. And yet the truth is that all humans -- whether they lived a life of plenty or of shame, whether of joy or of wretchedness -- are bound by Nature's law of cause and effect. Everything is conditional. All life is temporary, its physical meaning illusory.


That is why Chinese sages have taught us to honor the living philosophy of the Buddha; by letting his teachings of morality and fidelity penetrate into our minds, we can be inspired to live a life of virtue.


Looking back at more then 5,000 years of Indian history, one finds how the ancient traces of great empires that once bore witness to heroic stories are now reduced to nothing but tourist attractions and sites of national pilgrimage.


Through meditation, we can let go of these troubling thoughts, and let our minds be at peace and experience the placid bliss of mindfulness. Thus we comprehend that our body is just an object, a tool to carry us through this world. Our Alaya is like a guest from a far away place. For a brief time, it stays in our body just as we stay in a hotel.


The way we perceive the Ganges river doesn't change throughout our lifetime. It looks the same to us whether we're 3 or 80 years old. But our bodies clearly do change: they're quite different at 3 than they are 80. What is it that remains constant, then? What is it that is permanent? What is it that keeps changing? In reincarnation, we are born into this world from the different corners of the Universe, an unchanging soul in a changing body. The former is eternal, the latter decays, undergoing birth, aging, illness and death.


We were put on this earth so we can each do our best for the benefit of our family, friends, neighbors -- for the benefit of all sentient beings. But our bodies confuse us, leading us astray in ephemeral, otiose pursuits. We waste our precious lives, while never experiencing true happiness. Moreover, those who only pursue wealth, fame and power end up hurting their surroundings, feeding their own desires at the expense of the happiness of others.

But Nature's Law won't stand for it. These people might be able to take advantage of others for their selfish reasons for a short while. But in the long term, they will suffer devastating humility.


The goods of this world -- health, power and social status -- should always be used for the benefit of other sentient beings, never selfishly and never for harm.


I pay my highest respect to RSS India. To my knowledge, all members in this exalted organization have been pursuing incredible goals. They devote their lives to the happiness of all Indians. This kind of altruistic commitment is increasingly rare in today’s world.


The truth of the Universe is vast and profound, but the "Mind" can unite multitudes, like thousands of streams all flowing into the same ocean, or thousands of trains riding towards the same destination.


The supreme Dharma can only be contemplated, but never explicated in language. Even with the ink of sea water and the pens of Mountain Meru, it’s impossible to completely explain the meaning of even one word of Dharma.


Our Alaya consciousness floats in the cycle of Samsara; our mind is polluted. And so the search for truth through meditation has become an important calling for many. Only this way can we renounce this material world, letting go of the dreads of birth and death. Only this way can we become the true owners of our lives. If we mistake the body for the true Self, and seek only to satisfy its desires, we will find ourselves addicted to good food and beautiful clothes, to status and to luxury; we would be hopeless. These attachments are the cause of our various confusions, pains, and obstacles to true peace, leading only to a life of unhappiness. the suffering will carry past this single life, onto many future incarnations.


A real practitioner often resides his mind in Samadhi. He will not get attached to anything or anyone in this world. His life's goal is to benefit others. Whether gliding through higher planes or dwelling down here on earth, the mind of the practitioner will see no difference. In this mindset, he will not feel Samsara, his mind will not grow attachments and will see no distinction between high and low, stillness and motion, life and death. This is the true Nirvana, it is the Dao of the Universe.


Finally the ultimate purpose of all three -- yoga, ancient Buddhism and Brahmanism -- is to help us to find the truth of life, its first cause, its origin. They will all lead us to a wonderful life full of happiness. Let’s all pledge together to become a human being benefiting others, serving others. Only then can we live a truly perfect life.


Thank you so much for your time!


Best wishes to this conference, have great success!

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