Born in Malaysia, MASTER JI RU was ordained as a Theravada monk

in 1980. He later studied Chinese Buddhism and ordained in that tradition under the great Buddhist Master, Venerable Zhu Mo in 1986.


Currently he is Abbot of the Mid-America Buddhist Association in Augusta, Missouri, and its sister temple in Chicago, the International Buddhism Friendship





Buddhism is a way of living based on a personal

choice to follow the teachings of the Buddha.


By following the Buddha’s teachings we learn to

avoid actions of body, speech, and mind that result

in negative results and behaviors, both for ourselves

and for those around us. This allows us to live in

peace and harmony. In addition, by modeling

Right View and Right Actions, we create a Pureland

in the here and now--through compassion and






One view of Buddhism is to divide it into two

beneficial orientations: a self-development orientation

and an altruistic orientation.


A Self-Development Orientation


In one’s daily life there are eight benefits derived

from a self-development practice: (1) simplicity of

living, (2) contentment, (3) renunciation, (4) effort,

(5) mindfulness, (6) concentration, (7) wisdom, and

(8) liberation.


Living in simplicity means reducing stimulation to the

senses and the complex of relationships that result from that stimulation. Living in simplicity means living

a life of lessened desire. Living in simplicity means

having simple, straightforward and honest familial,

sexual, and social relationships.


Contentment is the result of simple living. Without

contentment, without the ability to achieve lives

of simplicity, we encourage rather than abate our

suffering and the suffering of others.


Therefore, we should avoid misstepping, and avoid

prejudices, unwholesome habits, and harmful

behaviors. This is renunciation, and it requires

ever-present effort, from moment to moment, in

order for the renunciation to be successful. With

the benefit of this effort, renunciation is possible,

generating lives of simplicity and contentment.


Stated another way, it is Right Effort and Right

Understanding that lead us on the Path to

Buddhahood, and lead us forward in our practice of

the Buddha’s teachings. We are expected to examine

our personal experiences and the lessons of daily life.

Everyday experiences will naturally indicate what is

to be avoided, what is to be renounced.


Right Mindfulness is a special teaching and practice

of Buddhism that leads to the development of

increasingly beneficial lives. The cornerstone of

Buddhist morality teaches one to continuously

and progressively move from bad to good, from

unwholesome to wholesome, from unrighteous to



Mindfulness, in the Buddhist sense of the word,

is self-awareness of the mind and body, and of the

mind and body’s reaction to external things--self-awareness of one’s feelings, of one’s likes and dislikes,

and of one’s state of mind. This self-awareness is

designed to lead to the attainment of a morally

correct and simpler life.


With mindfulness, positive behaviors result in a

peaceful mind, and that mind-state is independent

from the body-state. Mindfulness, leads to Right

Concentration, that is, being able to be single pointed

in our everyday life, not just when one is on

the meditation cushion. It is the most beneficial way

to practice. Ultimately, mindfulness is at the heart

of the Eightfold Noble Path, which provides the

method to gain the wisdom needed for liberation.


These eight elements of the self-development

orientation lead to a mature and pure practice and

a more peaceful life. This benefits them, of course,

by allowing them to live more and more peaceful

lives. By reducing attachments, these benefits

ultimately lessen stress and anxiety, dissatisfaction

and suffering, and produce immeasurable benefit

for others.


An Altruistic Orientation of Benefit


In the altruistic orientation, the orientation in

which a Buddhist’s goal is to be selflessly caring and

to act unconditionally for the benefit of society and

of all beings, even at their own expense, there are

four key teachings. Understanding these is what

keeps a Buddhist on the right track.




Impermanence: Knowing that everything

is impermanent, even that we ourselves are

impermanent, reduces craving. Seeing that there is

no permanent self (no-self or egolessness) provides

the tools we need to minimize and ultimately

stop the reaction of clinging. Non-clinging/no-attachment

is like a duster which can clean away the

affliction that results from attachment to external

things. In the Buddhist view, this reorients one to a

clearer, simpler, calmer life.


Compassion and Wisdom Compassion is the

shield, wisdom the armor that are necessary to

ensure that we act in the positive and wholesome

ways that are of benefit to themselves and to all

sentient beings.


Karma Understanding karma (The Law of Cause

and Effect) and the interdependent relationship

between what we do with body, speech and

mind, with the results of those actions, and the

interdependent relationship between physical,

external phenomena and the mind, encourages

the cultivation of morally upright and disciplined




These four states of mind allow one

to remain harmonious and peaceful,

regardless of circumstances or



Loving-kindness is selfless love, the

unconditional desire for others to be happy.

(The opposite is meanness.)


In Buddhist practice, loving-kindness

is offered freely and

without any expectation for

personal reward or benefit. This

kind of offering can be sensed by

others as positive and wholesome.


It is especially important to

offer loving-kindness in times of

personal hardship and poverty, in

times of societal distress, and in

times of human-caused or natural

catastrophes. Buddhism teaches

one to be particularly alert to being

unreservedly kind; it teaches one to

make the giving of loving-kindness

a practical, omnipresent habit.

Always being kind is not only one

of the most effective teachings for


the benefit of others, but it also

produces calm and peace in those

who practice it.


Compassion is the empathetic

feeling that urges us into action to

benefit others and ultimately to end

suffering. (The opposite is pity.)

Being compassionate is an

outpouring of our own internal

happiness, a happiness that we

find increasing in ourselves the

more we practice the Buddha’s

teachings, the more we practice

kindness and compassion.


Sympathetic Joy


Loving-kindness and compassion

lead to a feeling of sympathetic joy--

to finding joy within when we see the

success, prosperity, and happiness of

others (The opposite is jealousy.).


Sympathetic joy is an infinitely

wide mood, a state utterly removed

from suffering. It is a joy that is

not concerned with any personal

profit or loss; it is a joy utterly

devoid of ill-will toward others. It

is an unconditional joy for others,

completely free of any dualistic

preconceptions or judgments.


Equanimity is the tranquil state that

comes from greeting each moment,

each situation, with an open heart

and mind, neither hindered by

preconceptions nor overpowered by

the delusions of everyday life (The

opposite is anxiety and stress.)


As long as we practice giving generously and

selflessly of the Four Immeasurables, as long as

we are inclined to continuous and ever-increasing

good behaviors, as long as our giving is heartfelt

and pure, altruistic and non-judgmental, it benefits

us as well as others. It produces the blessings of

a peaceful and progressively less stressful life, the

trust and dependability of living a morally upright

life, and the happiness that derives from the courage

and confidence of a solid practice.




Because the aim of Buddhism is to relieve one’s

stress and distress, one’s worries and anxieties, one’s

grief, pain, and suffering, our practice starts with

giving—mindful, wholehearted, selfless giving. To

practice in this way, we learn to rid ourselves of

vanity, conceit, and deluded views. In this way we

are able to truly be of benefit to mankind and to



The two beneficial orientations are based on a

universal morality, based on self-awareness, and

committed to peace and non-violence in the

understanding of a mutually interdependent coexistence.


As a karmic result of this practice, as a result of

walking the Eight-fold Noble Path with altruism

as our aspiration and intention, and as a result of

maintaining the Four Immeasurables, we benefit all

beings, including ourselves.



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