The Buddhist Views of Life and Death

The Buddhist Views of Life and Death

Dharma Talk by Venerable Chueh Fa


On Oct 11, FGS Temple of Toronto and BLIA Toronto Mississauga subchapter 1 jointly organized an online dharma talk: The Buddhist Views of Life and Death. The speaker Venerable Chueh Fa is the Superintendent of Chung Mei Buddhist Temple in Houston. 250 people attended the event through Zoom and YouTube Live.


The Abbess of FGS Temple of Toronto Venerable Chueh Fan began the event by expressing her gratitude to Venerable Chueh Fa.  Venerable Chueh Fa was first appointed to serve at the Hsi Lai Temple in Los Angeles back in 1992.  After that, she served at the FGS temples in Austin and Houston. She also served at the Buddhist Memorial Columbarium for seven years, where she gained invaluable insight into the issues of life and death.


Venerable Chueh Fa complemented her speech with pictures, stories, and short films. She started with these words to remind her audience: “While one is breathing, all is possible, but once annica (impermanence) hits, everything stops.” Throughout the presentation, Venerable Chueh Fa asked the audience thought provoking questions such as “what’s the difference between life and death?”  “If life is Spring and hope and death is fallen leaves, does it mean that death is an ending?” Her key messages are that, from a Buddhist perspective, life and death is not linear because we do not just live once. The idea of rebirth is filled with positivity and hope. The concept of death is like replacing your old car with a new one or moving to a new home. These analogies help us form a right view on life and death. Equipped with this right view, we are able to plan for this life as it will have a direct effect on our future lives.


After watching a meaningful short film, Venerable Cheuh Fa shared this profound message with the audience: “All that exists is impermanent. Wealth does not last. Those who come together shall part one day, and even the healthiest person will die.”  While everyone wishes their lives to be smooth sailing and pleasant all the time, they do not understand that good or bad, happy or tragic are two sides of the same coin. They are what we perceive and our perceptions will determine how we face our daily challenges. Since humans are born out of causes and conditions, our lives will cease when those conditions fail to exist. Death is a natural phenomenon of life just like Spring and Autumn and the passage of time. Even if we can’t view death with equanimity, there is no way to change the fact that death is inevitable. However, through our Buddhist faith and practice, we can accumulate merits to help us create a better life in the future.


During the talk, the audiences gave responses and asked questions on the online chat platform, which shows that they were very much interested in this topic.