The Value of Faith
The Value of Faith
Speech at the World Economic Forum 2012 Summer Davos by Venerable Master Hsing Yun
English Translation: Ven. Miao Guang (FGS Dept. of Int’l Affairs)
Proofread by: Linda Tsui, Ven. Miao His, and Lou Ortega
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, It is a great honor for me to be here at the World Economic Forum 2012 Summer Davos, a meeting of new champions who play a decisive role in global economic trends. Today I would like to use this opportunity to speak about“The Value of Faith.”
The global financial crisis and European debt crisis that have swept the entire globe in recent years have caused a severe impact on the world’s economy. This has resulted in the worsening of conflicts inherent in the process of globalization, and already existent problems related to the unequal distribution of wealth and high unemployment rates have been exacerbated.
In time of global economic difficulties, our most urgent task is to establish a faith that arouses confidence and strength; by virtue of the universal value of faith, the possession of such. Since time Immemorial, as a result of confidence in values that are good and beautiful, humans have been able to improve their lives, take control of their future, and strive for greater social welfare.
Faith beautifies life. One who has faith is filled with confidence and strength, and sees a world that is harmonious. On the other hand, one who does not have faith cannot find spiritual solace, feels that life is meaningless, and sees the world as lacking in many ways. Thus, a happy life is a life with faith.
There are many faiths that we must establish in life. For example, we must have faith in the future outlook of our country; in the future of humanity; in a just society; and in the ability for religion to help us to transcend the world. Furthermore, not only should we have faith and trust in the thoughts, theories, and truths that are beneficial to humanity, we should also treat exemplary people and deeds that contribute to the wellbeing of humanity with respect.
Faith can purify our bodies and minds, as well as enhance our moral values and personal integrity. Our faith in exemplary deeds and people, moral values, cause and effect, compassion, and comradeship can serve as the guiding norm of our lives. Mutual faith towards our parents, friends, family, society, and ourselves leads to relationships that are harmonious.
Today, experts and scholars worldwide are devoting themselves to the study of economics. If we have faith in the economy and faith in our inner treasure, than we can excavate an inexhaustible fountainhead of compassion, wisdom, morality, integrity, safety, joy, ease, gratitude, and faith. These can serve as the eternally shining sun or the endless source of water that nourishes us and allows us to grow and improve; affording us with endless happiness and peace.
I would like to use the following four points to discuss the value of faith.
1.How much value is your inner treasure worth?
As mentioned before, each of us possesses infinite treasures within us: the energy of compassion, the power of wisdom, the potential of life, and the faith in oneself. Compassion and wisdom are the greatest virtue and wealth in life. When a person is in possession of compassion and wisdom, life becomes fulfilling and characterized by inner joy and peace. Thus, the treasures within us are more significant than the tangible material wealth of this world.
Regretfully, most people do not know how to make use of their inner treasures; they choose to only focus their precious energy on worrying about their future, their fate, and their money, but barely pay any attention of their bodies and minds. Actually, these three things: the human heart, fate, and money, are all interdependent under the law of cause and effect. A kind heart leads to a good life, while a good life leads to wealth. According to an ancient Chinese sage,“the greatly virtuous always attain their appropriate position, always receive their deserved fortune”Therefore, life’s wealth should be sought from within.
The value of life should not only be determined by money. A content mind, a healthy body, an open mind, a bright future, a happy life, a harmonious family, and mental agility are also part of life’s invaluable wealth. As long as we have a pure heart, these inner treasures will naturally be in our possession.
Outside of a pure heart, we must also know how to make resolves with this heart. Our heart is like a field or piece of land; after a field has been developed, we can construct buildings over it, or sow seeds which will reap future harvests. Likewise for our spiritual land, if we know how to cultivate this land, then we will be able to excavate our inner treasures and unleash the fountainhead of energy within our minds.
A few decades age, an energy crisis hit the world, arousing fear in the hearts of the people. One after another, nations sent experts to explore the highest mountains and deepest oceans in search of new energy sources. However, regardless of how much energy there is out there, this supply is bound to be exhausted one day. It is only the energy that is within us that is infinite and boundless.
Faith is the greatest energy source within our minds. It is said, that“inside the gate of faith lies boundless treasures.”There treasures can only be grasped with the hands of faith. Faith is like the hand, the staff, the root, the ferry, the strength, and the wealth. Faith is the greatest fountainhead of energy, for it brings hope to our future, releases us from our troubles and worries, allows our bodies and minds to be settled, and affords something for our lives to depend upon. When we have faith, we are in possession of boundless treasures and an inexhaustible fountainhead of energy.
Therefore, while we scour all corners of the Earth for energy, we must ultimately seek the cause within ourselves. When we have faith in ourselves, and when we bring out the compassion, wisdom, diligence, patience, humility, gratitude, cherishing mind, and generosity that is within us, we all become energy specialists who discover the best in life. In this way, our lives are further enriched and balanced.
2.How much of the world do you own?
One of the unchanging secrets to success in economics is to“increase income and reduce expenditure.”Since life requires monetary wealth, each individual hopes to discover the way to riches.
Worldly wealth can be defined in narrow terms or in broad terms. It can be valuable or invaluable; tangible or intangible; physical or spiritual; individual or public; temporary or eternal; pure or tainted. As long as wealth is acquired through appropriate means that abide by right livelihood and right action, then this good and pure wealth, along with the wealth of wisdom, is desirable.
We do not necessarily have to own all the wealth that exists in this world. Knowing how to enjoy such wealth means more than actually owning it. One who knows how to enjoy wealth in place of owning wealth is spiritually wealthy.
Nature offers a lot of wealth that we can enjoy. For example, the sun shines upon the Earth and provides us with warmth and light. The sun is a public asset that belongs to all of us. In addition, the air is available for all of us to breathe, and the rain nourishes all living things. Nature shares its wealth selflessly, and it is available for all of us to enjoy. Additionally, the nourishment and resources of the moon, stars, mountains, rivers, flowers, grass, and trees are all selflessly offered to humanity.
Nature’s resources, services provided by people from all walks of life, as well as the support received from our family, are all wealth that we must cherish, be grateful for, and most importantly, share.
There is a place called Huaxi Village built by a man named Wu Renbao located in Jiangyin City of Jiangsu Province, China. It is known as the “No. 1 Village under the Sky”because Wu Renbao did not keep his wealth to himself. He wanted everyone in the village to also be wealthy, so he shared his resources and ensured that all the villagers grew and developed economically as one. This“No. 1 Village under the Sky”in China is now a famous tourist spot that attracts visitors from worldwide. From this, we can see that sharing wealth does not mean that anything has been taken away, but actually means that one can have so much more.
In order to share your wealth with others, you must first have a selfless mind: put others before oneself. Take the many successful businessmen, for instance, who know that wealth cannot be generated without their workers. They share their profits with their workers by giving out annual bonuses or awarding company shares. Such incentives have won the hearts of workers, leading them to treat the company as family and motivating them to work harder and become more dedicated. This mutual benefit increases the company’s efficiency and profit. Such are benefits of sharing.
The Chinese term for giving (she-de) consists of the characters,“give”and“gain.”Without giving, there can be no gain. By sharing our wealth with others, we make it even more significant. All the more, if we know how to share our lives with others, our lives will naturally become richer and more meaningful.
3.How much good affinities and dedications can you have?
If a country wants economic prosperity, then her cultural assets and moral values must be enhanced. Where there is poverty, there will be crime and unlawful acts. Low income and poverty should be attributed to an incomplete social system. Excessive unequal distribution of wealth is also caused by flaws in society. Thus, economic value does not lie in individual possessions, but in equal sharing of benefit amongst all. We must realize the importance of giving and developing good affinities.
Giving and developing good affinities are the most beautiful acts in this world. Affinities must first be developed before enlightenment can be attained. Since we depend on many causes and conditions in order to survive in this world, we must ensure that that our connections with others are positive and friendly.
The key to developing good affinities is giving. Giving comes from a mind that sees oneness and coexistence between the self and others. When I share my wealth with others, I will gain the benefit of having broadly developed good affinities. On the surface, giving may look like you are giving something away, but in essence, you are actually gaining something. When you give to others, you are also giving something to yourself, and this makes you the wisest wealthy person in the world.
Giving is like drawing water from a deep well. The more water you are willing to offer to others, the deeper the well goes, and the richer the water resource. Thus, we must not focus solely on gold and silver as the main way of giving; even more valuable than gold and silver are gifts of comfort and warmth. We cannot spend our lives merely looking at what others have. Rather, we must learn and know to first develop good affinities and be our own benefactors.
Since the value of giving lies in the sincere mind of the giver, the act of giving is not a right that belongs solely to the rich. Transfer the small into the big; transfer the less into the more; transfer the phenomenal into principle; and transfer cause into effect. Even if it is something small, as long as we are sincere, the resulting merit can be great and many.
To transfer means to give, and giving serves an economic value. In the Fo Guang Shan Order, I advocate“The Four Givings,”which are: give others faith, give others joy, give others hope, and give others convenience. These have become the working mottoes of our team. Our monastic community even abides by the rule of“harmony of gains,”which means no one is to keep the offerings from devotees to themselves. Instead, these are pooled together under the monastery for general distribution. Through an equal distribution of wealth, the community lives an economic life based on equal benefits. Thus, at Fo Guang Shan, wealth is not accumulated under any individual but under the community as a whole. In this way, the entire community develops as a whole.
If the idea of“harmony of gains”is applied in society, then the rich can help the poor, and the powerful can help the weak. Under the conditions where there are no economic monopolies, conflict between capital and labor, and extreme disparity between the rich and the poor, and given that everyone gets what they deserve, then we will naturally have a fair and wealthy society that is owned and enjoyed by the people.
4.How much harmony and joy of Ch’an can you share?
Guan Zhong (c. 720-645 BCE), a famous minister of the Spring and Autumn Period of China, once said,“A full warehouse indicates the level of propriety; while good clothes and rich food indicates the level of honor and disgrace.”Economic propriety is the only way to building a society that, although rich, loves the rules of propriety.
Nonetheless, as we look at society today, the excessive pursuit of material pleasures has turned humans into slaves of materialism, which does not offer true happiness. For example, the use of credit cards is popular around the world. People spend big and pay by installments. The result is that they become indebted and spend their days busy paying their credit card bills. Where is the happiness in this?
Households of today spend their days putting food on the table and making ends meet. They are so busy that they no longer have time to take a good look at themselves. Therefore, the only way to happiness is liberation from material needs that can be an endless pit of desire. Instead of an endless pursuit of sensual pleasures, we should pursue a free and easy spirit, and search for the joy of Ch’an that can be derived from spiritual practice. We must not engage solely in the pursuit of personal happiness; rather, we must uphold a heart that“places the worries and joys of the entire world before one’s own,”and strive for happiness and peace for all of humanity.
Within this world, we live life on various levels. In terms of daily living that the highest level of life is“to keep our material life simple, to enhance our spiritual life, to enrich our artistic life, and to deepen our faith.”
Everyone can certainly enjoy individual harmony that is achieved through peace; interpersonal harmony that is achieved through respect; family harmony that is achieved through deference; social harmony that is achieved through cooperation; and world harmony that is achieved through peace.
In closing, the five harmonies listed above are the ideals of society. Only through harmony can wealth be acquired. However, once wealth has been acquired, social harmony must then be promoted. Harmony is what gives everything meaning and value. The Chinese government is known for actively promoting a“Harmonious Society.”This, in my opinion, is surely the only way to building a society of wealth and propriety.