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Nicole Tseng and Geoffrey Yang help people seeking happiness through their introduction to Buddhism course.
©THE GUARDIAN/Steve Clarke
CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Nicole Tseng felt like something was missing from her life.
She worked at a Wall Street firm where she rarely saw anyone crack a smile.
They’ve allowed me to drop a lot of weight off my shoulders. I think I’m a better person for it.
It was getting to her, and she wanted answers.
One day her parents persuaded her to attend one of their classes. During class she sat and wondered: “Why are they so happy?”
Now she is a Buddhist and with the help of her husband Geoffrey Yang, she’s organizing classes of her own to teach people the merits of Buddhism.
The classes are every week for six weeks on Wednesday and Thursday. They call it the Happy Course. It teaches the value of relationships, cultivating compassion and dealing with one’s problems effectively.
Yang talked about what separates Buddhism from other spiritual beliefs, noting it is about identifying suffering and eliminating it.
“It’s not a religion. It is a philosophy, an education.”
Buddhism can determine the real cost of a problem, said Yang.
“It has practical solutions.”
Since the monks started coming to the Island about eight years ago, the practical solutions of Buddhist philosophy have become more available to Islanders.
“Islanders have been kind and have been receiving them.”
Referring to Buddhism in his life, Yang said when he was growing up he was always taught to be a good person, but he still had questions.
“What is the definition of good?”
At age 30, his family encouraged him to explore the Buddhist philosophy.
“OK, why not,” he thought.
Each class offered something different, and he began to find meaning, he said.
“I do not blindly believe something. I look for reason.”
Tseng agrees. The wisdom is timeless, she said.
“It is for everyone.”
Laura Florian would agree as she has studied Buddhism for four years and works with the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS). She taught the first class, an introduction to Buddhism.
It began with one minute of pure silence and was then followed by a presentation as well as table discussions for participants to share their feelings.
Florian talked about the importance of kindness toward others. She also touched on the things that are often an obstacle to attaining happiness.
Summarize your successes, she said.
“We tend to summarize our failures.”
People look forward to when suffering disappears, but how is it possible to get there, she said.
“Bit by bit. It doesn’t happen overnight.”
Lessons like this have proven valuable to people like Michael Power. When Power first joined the group, he was nice most of the time, but he felt he needed improvement, he said.
“They’ve allowed me to drop a lot of weight off my shoulders. I think I’m a better person for it.”