The Venerable Master Hsing Yun is the Taiwanese founder of Fo Guang Shan, an order dedicated to the promotion of Humanistic Buddhism. In this cogent work, he spins out teachings on the spiritual practice of affinity or what we in the West call interdependence. Thich Nhat Hanh means the same thing when he talks about inter-being.
Hsing Yun is convinced that our relationships with others and with the environment give us plenty of opportunities to bring affinity to life. In a chapter on community, he discusses the four great all-embracing virtues: giving, speaking with kind words, conducting oneself for the benefit of others, and adapting oneself to others. He gives plenty of concrete examples of the kindness that lies behind these virtues. Hsing Yun then examines friendship and love as avenues of affinity.
One of the best chapters is on the Buddhist tradition of protecting the environment. The author includes twelve guidelines for this practice:
"Speak quietly do not disturb others.
Keep the ground clean do not litter.
Keep the air clean do not smoke or pollute.
Respect oneself and others do not commit violent acts.
Be polite do not intrude upon others.
Smile do not face others with an angry expression.
Speak kindly do not utter abusive words.
Follow the rules do not seek exemptions or privileges.
Be mindful of your actions do not act unethically.
Consume consciously do not waste.
Be grounded do not live aimlessly.
Practice kindness do not create malice."
Throughout the book, Hsing Yun includes sayings from sages such as the following one by Wang Yangming, a famous Confucian scholar of the Ming Dynasty: "To catch the bandit in the hills is easy; to arrest the thief in ourselves is tough." There are also several memorable teaching stories on compassion and enlightenment.