Eleven years ago, I came to Taipei to take up a job at the National Palace Museum. At first I greatly enjoyed working among the beautiful artwork and having the chance to meet important people from all over the world. However , later, after becoming a Buddhist,I became more and more frustrated with my work and constantly asked myself what exactly was the point of what I was doing. I was spending all day showing people superficial objects, expending great personal effort, and yet I was only working for a small number of people at the top end of society, not contributing to the greater society in any way. After becoming a disciple of Buddhism, I felt I should be serving the greater public, or else go off to a remote place where I could work on my own special abilities.
At one point work was really not going so smoothly, but I thought to myself: My abilities lie in the English language, and what use is there for English in some out-of-the-way place? Where could I go to serve others, and what form should this service take? Slowly, my devotion and enthusiasm became buried inside under the forces of reality. At work it was still the same though; if the enthusiasm in my heart for working for others should make an untimely appearance, ignorance and apathy would quickly suppress it. At work I just did my best with no sense of expectation, to the point that it seemed like I was numb and helpless.
Three years ago I came to the Dharma Realm Buddhist Text Distribution Society, and although I merely read the Buddhist texts and prayed and did not actively seek an answer or solution, these very problems were gradually resolved. Now, I honestly can say that I am happy and contented and enjoy my life. As to the question of who is the greater public, the answer is that all the people you come across in the course of a day, whether they are people you know or not, are the public, and every person is a unique and important person. If we each try hard to refrain from fighting, being greedy, seeking, being selfish, pursuing our own beneficial ends, and lying, then society will gain one more good person who is able to imperceptibly affect the greater public. My work entails meeting visitors from all over the world; they are also the public. Long-term exhibitions on Buddhist sculpture and ritual objects give the opportunity and justification to introduce Buddhism to the public or to talk a little about Buddhist theories, thus at the same time earning myself a little merit—not a bad job at all!
When talking about Buddhism, I mention how the Buddha became a Buddha, the founding stories of Buddhism, the differences between Buddhism and Christianity, or perhaps how to appreciate the beauty of Buddhist sculpture. If I take guests to see the Tibetan ritual objects made of human bone, I mention the practice of sky burial and the idea of equality between man, and sometimes I touch on the double standard that exists in distinguishing between eating animal meat and the eating of human flesh.
The Venerable Master often emphasized how it is through education that we will save our nations and world. Learning does not stop with a school education but includes all interactions between state, society and man. Confucius stated that, "Among three people we each have something to teach the others." We are all the teachers of each other and we should not only respect and value our teachers, but also educate through the example of our own actions. We are fortunate to be involved in Buddhism; the Buddhist teachings are incomparable. We are yet more fortunate to have come to the Venerable Master's monastery. If we practice in person the six major tenets of Buddhism, we will then be true disciples of the Venerable Master. In this way most of the difficulties and doubts that we experience can be resolved. But how to convey the beauty of Buddhism to the greater public? Personally speaking, I do not think that Buddhists should verbally proselytize; instead, if we all go about our lives and work with enjoyment, I believe that this will set a good example for others, and so they, as a matter of course, will then come to appreciate the strong points of Buddhism.
In my workplace, a special kind of standard is used to evaluate Buddhists, especially those who practice vegetarianism. It is due to this that I keep a close watch over my actions, words and motives. In addition, it is for similar reasons that I have gradually become accustomed to being very natural, to not compete or fight with others, and to be open and sincere in my dealings with others. As a result, life just gets better and better. Not only has religion cleansed my spirit, but also at the same time it has allowed me to live my mundane life as if I were in the land of the immortals. Everyone, regardless of profession, will experience various frustrations and annoyances, be they large or small. To non-believers, life is passed amongst material things. Material things are those that can be exchanged for money, and they are things that can become rotten or bad. To religious believers, and Buddhists in particular, the days are perhaps passed with greater happiness because we know that life is really true, and so when we encounter difficulties, we can openly confront our motives for doing something and think back to the teachings of the Venerable Master, and in this way most problems can be resolved. And yes, yes, it really is like this!