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What is OMAK and Why OMAK?

OMAK is an acronym that stands for “Observe Merit and Appreciate Kindness”. Everybody has all sorts of qualities, temperaments, or characteristics. Among those, some are considered as merits (or good qualities) and some are faults (or shortcomings). While interacting with others, our tendency of focusing on one category over the other dominates our pleasant or unpleasant perception, which then defines our relationship with other people.

Welcome to OMAK
Welcome to OMAK (Photo credit: Mr. J. Stephen Conn’s Flickr)

What we truly are….
Unfortunately, when dealing with other people, most of us tend to focus on others’ faults. This will thus create an unpleasant perception toward others and will gradually ruin our relationship with them.

How OMAK helps us?
The practice of OMAK is to change our wrong tendency. Instead of focusing on others’ faults, we try to look for their good qualities and their kindness to us. Once you have become conditioned to this, you may still notice some faults in other people, however, this will not bother you much because you are more focused on their good qualities and kindness.

OMAK brings happiness. We get the benefits! (photo credit: BWYA class)

For instance, even though we may have many faults, however, we do not get much annoyed by ourselves as long as we have at least one good quality that can match up to others’ good qualities. To those who have many good qualities but only one fault, we tend to focus on their one fault, and thus cannot let go of it and cannot forgive them for that. Furthermore, when we interact with them, our minds are dominated by the negative feelings. That is because our mind helps magnify that tiny fault. On the other hand, when we observe ourselves, our minds also magnify our own good quality, however tiny that is. Therefore, we can all see that it is solely due to the powerful effect of familiarization which makes the object (of being observed) project certain characteristics onto our minds.
The motive for us to practice OMAK is that when we practice OMAK on others, they may not get the benefits, but we will certainly get the benefits.  On the other hand, if we look for faults in others and then complain, they may not suffer, but we will certainly suffer.

Our tendency of observing others’ faults is deeply rooted, sometimes, it will still come back to haunt us from time to time, and we will seemingly feel our OMAK goes in vain. However, if we persevere and continue on practicing on OMAK, our habitual patterns can be gradually changed. That is when we can reap the profits of happiness from the seeds that we have been planting. This is how the practice of OMAK can greatly improve our relationship with friends and families.

Why Study Groups?

Why are we having study groups?

Teaching excerpt from Late Master Ven. Jih-Chang (translated from its original in Chinese)

A monk hosting a study group.
A monk hosting a study group.

There are deep meanings behind the implementation of Lamrim study groups.

1) Have you ever had the following experience such that when you read the text alone, the contents are indeed very intriguing; however, the imprints on our minds are seemingly blurry, and not deep enough. If we talk it over with friends, and even share our views in a class, the truth can better be seen through the debates. Eventually, the context will be thoroughly understood and memorized steadfastly.

2) Another experience that we may all have experienced – even though we would like to engage in Buddhist practice, we are usually tied up by worldly matters or friends. Our motivation for Buddhist practice will die down eventually, and furthermore, we may never move forward. On the contrary, if we ever join a study group, when seeing others in the circles practicing Buddhism so diligently and having strong aspiration, how could we possibly be slack and undisciplined? This is the protection a group offers us.

3) Finally, if one has faith towards the concept of causality – karma, one should realize that the reason there is an opportunity to practice Buddhism in this lifetime is the fruition of the virtuous deeds that one has committed in the previous lives. On the other hand, when we practice hard, we are committing good causes/karma for having further opportunities of practicing in the future lifetime. Most importantly, as long as we practice hard both qualitatively and quantitatively (according to what Buddha tells us), we will certainly be supported by Lord Buddha and Bodhisattvas so that in our learning path we can accumulate favorable conditions and purify obscurations in this life, and be reborn into a Buddhist society in the next life time.

Moral education is a mode of delivery


Moral education is a mode of delivery.

Take love and care for example.  How does that work?

Deliver it!  Delivering the love and care in your heart (mind) is the essence of education on love and care.

If there exists no love and care in mind, and you pretend there is; in my opinion, that still cannot touch one’s heart.