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Buddhism – The only hope of Humanity

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The attention of the whole world is draw towards that great personage – the glorious Son of Inda – the Gautama Samma Sambuddha, who through forty-five years of his missionary work, taught and guided mankind in the right path to enlightenment, peace and security.
The devotees of Buddhism feel proud of their religion not so much because it has had a record service in the past as because of the glorious future it holds for mankind.  It is in the light of this that Buddhism is finding revival where it had experienced a subjugation through one cause or other, anda fresh sprouting in new countries.  There seems to be a keen desire from all parts of the world to learn the teachings of the Buddha.  It is spreading far and wide into every hook and corner.  It is really heartening to find this enthusiasm for Buddhism is the only hope of humanity that is now fast heading for chaos.
As we could see Society has reached a state of intellectual fanaticism.  Just as a pin has to be removed with the aid of a finer pin, this intellectual fanaticism has got to be stayed only with a more reasonable intellectual approach.  It is herein that the value of Buddhism is seen.  It is the best guide because its approach is always reasonable.
The great charm of Buddhism is that it leads you from where you are.  It is within the grasp of everybody to be taken as his capacity would permit.  It holds it great ideology within experience.  It is no mere theory to be speculated upon, to be hoped for and prayed for.  Buddhism is to be seen, studied, tested and experienced.
To the Buddha there is no inevitability of evil.  If evil is, it is because the mind of man is not sufficiently cultured to see the futility.  The moment the mind is made aware of the futility, the eradication is immediately effected.  Evil persists through ignorance.
(Extract from “Voice of Buddhism” Magazine, Vol. II no. 4 December 1974, KDN No. 7773, Published by Buddhist Missionary Society, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur 09 – 06, Malaysia.)
The attention of the whole world is draw towards that great personage – the glorious Son of Inda – the Gautama Samma Sambuddha, who through forty-five years of his missionary work, taught and guided mankind in the right path to enlightenment, peace and security.

The devotees of Buddhism feel proud of their religion not so much because it has had a record service in the past as because of the glorious future it holds for mankind.  It is in the light of this that Buddhism is finding revival where it had experienced a subjugation through one cause or other, anda fresh sprouting in new countries.  There seems to be a keen desire from all parts of the world to learn the teachings of the Buddha.  It is spreading far and wide into every hook and corner.  It is really heartening to find this enthusiasm for Buddhism is the only hope of humanity that is now fast heading for chaos.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 31 July 2013 13:06
 

Are Dreams True ?

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While the study of paranormal phenomena is relatively new to the West, in ancient civilizations like India and China, there was a great deal of interest in these matters. Modern science is limited in some ways because it has tended to concentrate only on the tangible aspects of natural phenomena. In Buddhism, while attempts are also made to study the physical nature of things, a great deal of attention is paid to the more abstract occurrences which cannot be described or quantified so easily. Buddhism stresses that much can be learned not by describing or labeling but by understanding the real nature of things, through INSIGHT. In the matter of dreams especially, a true understanding of this phenomenon can be obtained if we are willing to discard at least some of the methods of scientific investigation in vogue today and resort to the more traditional approaches employed by the thinkers and spiritualists of the past. The following is an extract from a book “Towards Light” by Phorn Ratnasuwan. An excerpt regarding psychokinesis from the same book appeared in the DEC. 1984 issue of Voice of Buddhism.

(ed).

 

Last Updated on Saturday, 13 July 2013 13:04
 

Answers to Your Questions - Part 2

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ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
- By Dr. Douglas Burns
Q. (1) Buddhists teach rebirth and yet say there is no soul.  If this is so, what is it that is reborn?
A.  Rebirth is the continuation of a process rather than the transfer of a substance.  If we light a match and with the match light a candle, the process of combustion in the match is carried over to the candle.  Is the flame in the candle the same flame or a different one than the one in the match?  We can say both yes it is, or no it is not.  Likewise the Buddha said that when one dies it is not quite correct to say that same person will live again nor is it correct to say that he will not live again.  The truth lies between these two extremes.
Or again we can illustrate the problem in this way: A four-year-old child grows up to become a 40-year-old adult.  Though by name it is the same person at either age, in essence the two are totally different personalities in both mind and body.  What is it that persists from the four-year-old to the 40-year-old?  Very little if anything.  Or what is it that persists from the fertilized ovum in the mother’s uterus to the child?  The younger being is a process which interacts with the world around it to eventually evolve into the other.
In similar manner when a person dies, the mental conditions set up by the terminating personality carry producing effects in a future personality.
Q. (2) Do Buddhists believe in ghosts, gods and other supernatural beings.
A.  In many cases, yes.  A belief in such beings is prevalent throughout Asia and is a result of ancient animistic beliefs which existed before Buddhism.  In many areas these beliefs have become so mingled with Buddhism that many Buddhists do not realize that they are not really a part of the religion.  In addition to this in the Buddhist scriptures are numerous references to gods or devas, so that literally one must say that Buddhism does acknowledge the existence of nonmaterial beings.  These gods are the same gods as in the pre-Buddhist Brahman religion.  Rather than attack and attempt to abolish the deeply-rooted belief in gods, the Buddha dethroned them.  He said they were not immortal, not necessarily superior to humans and subject to the same laws of cause and effect as we find in earthly life.  Thus they were of no concern to the problems of worldly existence, and nothing was to be gained by worshipping them.  Therefore while the Buddhist scriptures affirm the existence of such beings, these gods are regarded as unimportant and not in any way concerned with the practice of a Buddhist life.
Q. (3) Does not the teaching of loving-kindness and compassion conflict with the teaching of detached objectivity?
A.  As philosophical ideals, yes, they do conflict.  But Buddhism is primarily a system of practice rather than a philosophy.  The practice must be varied from person to person depending upon different personality types.  It also must be varied from time to time for any one person, depending upon one’s particular state of mind at a given moment.  For the human mind is constantly changing in thought and mood from hour to hour and moment to moment.  Thus there are times when the cultivation and practice of love or compassion are called for and other times when the practice of detachment and objectivity are indicated.
Q. (4) All religions teaches us to do good, love one another, refrain from evil, help the poor and not to hate.  Thus they all teach the same.  Is there really any important difference?
A.  To do good, to love one another, etc. are all matters of ethics.  And so far as ethical teachings are concerned, there is really little difference in them.  Thus a person who seeks in religion nothing more than an ethical code will find there is little to choose from between Buddhism, Christianity, humanism or Confucianism.
There is however one practical different in which Buddhism is unique.  While all religions say to love and not to hate.  Only Buddhism tells how to achieve this.  The Buddha explains that love and hate originate from psychological causes.  If we understand these causes, we can best know how to develop the one and overcome the other.  The Buddha then proceeds to explain in detail the practices by which this is to be done. If we can fully purify our minds this way, then our virtue and good behaviour becomes natural and spontaneous instead of forced, artificial or premeditated.
Q. (5) The Buddha was born in Hindu society and all his teachings, such as Karma, Nirvana and rebirth, are found in Hindu teachings.  There is really no essential difference between Buddhism and Hinduism.
A.  The Hindu Faith is an extremely complicated system which includes virtually every religious practice and belief known to man-from the most primitive and animistic to the most sophisticated and meta-physical.  Thus almost any statement that one may make about Indian religion can be both refuted and validated depending upon one’s source of data.  Many of the Buddha’s teachings which were previously unknown in Hinduism have since been taken into the Hindu faith and claimed for its own.
In actual practice, however, Hinduism has never successfully separated itself from Indian tradition and culture; the caste system serving as one example.  And thus it had never become a world religion as has Christianity, Buddhism or Islam.
To generalize about Hindu philosophy in its most common form (as seem in Vedanta and found in the Bhagavad-Gita) it is found to rest heavily upon metaphysics and mystical experiences.  It deals at great length with concepts such as Cosmic Consciousness, Pure Being, Ultimate Reality, The Absolute, Infinite Mind, etc., and it seeks salvation through deep meditation in which one stills the mind and then dives into the deepest layers of one’s consciousness to find that one’s soul is one with the Great Soul of the Universe.  Buddhism in contrast makes no use of such concepts.  Its primary concern is with individual states of mind as experienced in every day life-love, hate, fear, sorrow, memory, perception, sensation, thoughts.  Buddhism is experiential and psychological; Hinduism is meta-physical and mystical.
Q. (6) Is not the quest for Nirvana an attempt to destroy oneself?
A.  Nirvana is nothing only in that it is nothing.  It is not material and has no location in space and time.  Yet it is not an absolute zero or total nothingness.  It is non-existent to us in the way that colour is non-existent to a blind man.  Since colour is neither high nor low, big nor small, hot nor cold, sour nor sweet, sharp nor dull, high pitched nor low pitched, not coming, not going, etc. the blind man must conclude that it is nothing at all because it is none of the things he knows.  The thinking, feeling space and time self that is our personality ends after the attainment of Nirvana remains.
Q. (7) If there is no almighty God, who made the world?
A.  It is not a question of who, but of how?  Buddhism teaches that the universe is regulated by laws of cause and effect.  Every being, object and condition is the result of other objects and conditions which preceded it, and these in turn are caused by still earlier ones.  All phenomena, then, are determined by impersonal laws of cause and effect.  As in science, Buddhism regards the world as a product of millions of years of evolution, and some passages of the early Buddhist scriptures closely resemble the teachings of Darwin.
Q. (8) What is the ultimate beginning as taught in Buddhism.  Even if there is cause and effect, there must have been a first cause.
A.  There is no first cause in Buddhist teaching.  And there is no beginning or end of time.  The processes of cause and effect have been going in into the infinite past and will continue into the infinite future.  The Buddha taught that there have been countless world systems in existence before our own; in time our own world and sun will pass away.  New solar systems will continue to evolve and die out forever without end.
One may object to such a view by saying “I can’t imagine time that had no beginning”.  A good reply to this question is: “Try to imagine time that did.”  For began, there is then the question “What happened before that?”  The fact that it is impossible to imagine beginningless time only demonstrates the limitations of the human mind, not the limitation of time itself.
Q. (9) How can we really be sure of what the Buddha taught?  He lived 2500 lived 2500 years ago, and his teachings were not put into writing until 500 years after he lived.
A.  It is true that we cannot with any certainty be sure that a given passage of the Pali suttas in an actual and accurate quotation of the Buddha.  However historians are generally agreed that we know more about the actual philosophy of the Buddha than we do about the teachings of Jesus.  For the Buddha made a deliberate and systematic attempt to preserve and propagate his teachings by means of the monastic Order.  The teachings were classified, innumerated and set out in an orderly manner to facilitate both teaching and memorizing.  According to Theravada tradition, within a few months after the Buddha’s death a council was held at which time all of his major sermons and teachings were then made into recitations which were chanted over and over again.  Groups of monks were chosen to memorize and chant selected portions of the Doctrine.  It is the duty of each group to thoroughly memorize and repeatedly chant its assigned passages.  As the members aged, new monks were brought into these reciting bodies to carry on the teachings.  Different groups which were assigned to the same passages from time to time would meet to confer and cross-check their passages.  It is this feature which explains the repetitions and often verbose nature of the present-day Buddhist scriptures.  Five-hundred years after the Buddha when Buddhism was beginning to decline in India, it was felt that oral recitation was no longer a secure way to preserve the teachings, and so they were put into writing.
To be sure many of the sayings of the Buddha, as written in the Suttas, are not exact quotations of the actual dialogues.  Also many errors and intrusions of Indian mythology and superstition have occurred.  However, there is little doubt that we do know the actual message and fundamental principles of the Buddha’s teachings.  The existing Pali scriptures which contain the Buddha’s alleged teachings are several times larger than the Bible.  Yet there are remarkably few contradictions, and from beginning to end the major features are clearly and persistently repeated.  Most fundamental are the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path; suffering, impermanence and soullessness; dependent origination; the moral precepts; love, compassion, joy and equanimity; etc.
The Buddha instructed his disciples to teach in the local idiom and dialect of the persons they were speaking to.  And in time two major forms of Buddhism developed; one was Theravada Buddhism which preserved its teachings in the Pali language.  The other form called Mahayana used the closely related Sanskrit language.  Scholars generally agree that the Pali teachings are the older, but it is also believed that the Sanskrit writings developed independently and were not copied from the earlier Pali.  Thus it is significant that the earliest known Buddhist Sanskrit writings contain much of the same material found in the Pali, and for the most part the same fundamentals are found in both.  The fact that these two apparently independent sources of information contain essentially the same teachings gives further assurance that we do know what the Buddha taught.
But even the fact that we cannot have absolute certainty about the validity of all of the alleged sayings of the Buddha does not jeopardize the essential value of the teachings.  For the scriptures themselves say we need not believe in faith.  The Buddha said we should examine for ourselves; the Doctrine can be verified within the limitations of one’s own experience.  We are invited to come, to test and to see, and then believe only that which we find to be valid.  There is no concept of a sin of disbelief in Buddhism only errors in judgment, faulty knowledge and delusions.
(Extract from “Voice of Buddhism” Magazine, Vol. 6 no. 4, Vol. 7 no 1, 1970, KDN No. 4772, Published by Buddhist Missionary Society, Jalan Berhala, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.)
Q. (1) Buddhists teach rebirth and yet say there is no soul.  If this is so, what is it that is reborn?

A.  Rebirth is the continuation of a process rather than the transfer of a substance.  If we light a match and with the match light a candle, the process of combustion in the match is carried over to the candle.  Is the flame in the candle the same flame or a different one than the one in the match?  We can say both yes it is, or no it is not.  Likewise the Buddha said that when one dies it is not quite correct to say that same person will live again nor is it correct to say that he will not live again.  The truth lies between these two extremes.

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 June 2013 13:54
 

Answers to Your Questions - Part 1

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ANSWERS TO YOUR QUESTIONS
- By Francis Story
Q. (1)  Is it right for antibiotics, serum to be prepared from living animals and treatments experimented on living animals?
A. The bad Kamma that is generated by these methods of investigating and treating disease, particularly by vivisection, is itself on of the causes of man’s increasing proneness to disease, and so a vicious cycle is set up.  Man will never succeed in conquering disease by torturing animals.  The proof of this lies in the fact that by mutation and adaptation nature produces new strains of micro-organisms which are impervious to the old treatments.  New variations of the diseases then make their appearance, and further experiments on animals are carried out, to find new remedies.  It has been questioned recently whether vaccination is really effective against smallpox.  This is strange indeed considering that vaccination has been used effectively for the past hundred years.  If there is any room at all for doubt in the matter it can only mean that something has changed.  If a new strain of the virus is beginning to appear, medial science is more or less back where it started so far as smallpox is concerned.  First the new strain will have to be isolated, then experiments will have to be made on more unfortunate animals to produce a new vaccine.  Man brings diseases on himself by weakening the natural resistance of his body, through unnatural and unwholesome living, through contaminated atmosphere, food de-natured and adulterated by chemical preservatives, and last but not least, through wrong thinking and acting – and then he subject animals to unspeakable torture in order to find remedies of his self-produced ailments.  Such a course can never be morally defensible; in the light of the law of Kamma it is seen to be self-destructive.
Q. (2) If Nibbana is the cessation of craving, it must be a contradiction to crave for it.  But isn’t wanting it, or hoping for it, a sort of craving?  Does Buddhism makes a distinction between that and all other kinds of craving?
A. No distinction of a functional kind can be made between one craving and another.  The desire for Nibbana is an aspiration – a higher form of craving – but it acts in the same way as any other desire when it furnishes the motive for action.  All effort is grounded in the wish to gain an objective, and if there were no wish for Nibbana there could be no striving for it.  There is no contradiction in the desire to end desire; for the moment Nibbana is attained, the desire for it ceases.  While the means of gaining the end are being practiced all the other craving which stand as hindrances are gradually eliminated, until there is only the one desire left.  The desire for Nibbana is therefore the last and highest desire.  And since no one goes on desiring what he has already got, it comes to an end the moment its objective is gained.  It is the one desire that is not self-regenerating.
Q. (3) What is the Buddhist criterion of right and wrong?
A. The teaching of the Buddha is “To abstain from all wrong doing; to develop all good; to purify one’s mind”.  And the basic distinction between what is good and what is bad is very simple in Buddhism.  All actions that have their roots in greed, hatred and delusion, that springs form selfishness and so foster the harmful delusion of self-hood, are demeritorious and bad.  All those which are rooted in disinterestedness, friendliness and wisdom are meritorious and good.  And this standard applies, irrespective of whether the deeds are of thought, word or physical act.  When we have learned to analyse our thoughts, contemplating them objectively and dispassionately, we become able to know, distinctly and without any shadow of doubt, when any of the three unwholesome factors, greed, hatred and delusion, are present and when they are not.  It is only by this intimate self-knowledge that we can develop a true instinct for what is right or wrong.
Q. (4) Is the Buddhist doctrine of ‘withdrawal from the world’ and renunciation compatible with social development and ‘team spirit’?
A.  If one were to withdraw from the world out of a spirit of misanthrophy as certain hermits have done and still do, certainly it would be a negative act, a repudiation of society and one’s responsibilities towards it.  But in a civilization given over to materialism and competitiveness it is good thing that some people should point the way to a simpler and healthier way of life, by renunciation.  A life that is not dominated by greed for possessions, for sense-gratification or for power over others.  It is these things that have brought our present civilization to the brink of destruction, without giving any real, lasting happiness to anyone in the process.  In Buddhism, renunciation of the world is a positive act, not a mere negation.  It leads to a life that is sane, balanced and integrated to the highest degree.  If people purify their lives, live in accordance with sound ethical principles, and exert themselves to get rid of selfishness and the aggressive instincts that arise from it, then social progress follows automatically.  All improvements in human life must come from within, as an organic growth of human consciousness, out of the developing sensitiveness and refinement of man’s nature.  It is useless trying to impose reforms of any kind from without, by laws and acts of government.  On the contrary, such legal enactments have force and validity only when they are an expression of the real character of the people.  The goodness of society is the goodness of the people.
Q. (5) It seems that most of the Buddha’s discourses, and his training in general, was given for the monks.  What exactly do the laity get out of Buddhism?
A. It is indeed a quite mistaken impression.  Some of the most important of the Buddha’s sermons were delivered to lay people – people of every walk of life, from kings to scavengers.  One of the best known of the sermons to householders is the Sigalovada Sutta, which gives comprehensive advice on the good life that is as true today as when it was first uttered.  And there are many others.  In addition to that, nearly all the suttas give some counsel which can be beneficially applied by both monks and laymen.  They have a universal relevance.  The Dhamma offers a code of living to everyone, the highest the best the world has ever know.  It is a path to happiness, both here and in future states, which everyone can follow.
Q. (6) Is there any differences between the Buddha’s teaching of love as compared with that of Christianity?
A.  There are very important differences.  Christianity says: “Love thine enemies, and those that despitefully use you”, and here there is a strong affinity with the teaching of the Buddha.  But Christian love is confined to God and human beings; it does not include the lower forms of life, which according to Christian belief are created for man’s use and pleasure.  Again Christianity does not call on its followers to love the Devil, or the damned souls in hell: but Buddhism excludes nobody.  The beings in the states of suffering are the greatest objects of compassion, and Buddhists are taught to share with them the merits of their good deeds, that their pains may be alleviated.  And another difference is that Buddhist Metta (love) is not an emotion which turn into anger or violence, into furious denunciations of sinners and threats of eternal punishment.  The love taught by Christiainity always has its reverse aspect-loving righteousness involves hating evil.  The injunction to “hate the sin but love the sinner” is really meaningless.  It is impossible because the sinner and his sin cannot be separated.  A man is his character, his personality, his actions.  The fallacy of this idea of hating the sin but loving the sinner is shown in the fact that the God himself does not love sinners.  If he did, he would not cast them into hell.  He loves the monly when they repent – that is, when they cease to be sinners.  Even God, it seems cannot separate a man and his deeds in such a way that he can save the man and send only his deeds to hell.
Q. (7) Doesn’t Buddhism regard man’s nature as a sort of dualism of good and evil?
A.  In man’s nature there are the lower instincts, summarized as Greed, Hatred, and Delusion, all three of which are brought into play in man’s character of an animal struggling for survival and seeking sensual satisfaction.  But man is potentially something greater than this.  He has higher aspiration, a higher scale of values and so these two aspects of his nature coke into play alternately.  Buddhism teaches us to eliminate the lower nature and systematically cultivate the higher.  By that means man can become greater than the gods.  He can become a god by purification.
BUDDHIST MENTAL THEPARY
In marked contrast to the hit and miss methods and expedience of Western psychiatry, Buddhist mental therapy aims at the total integration of the personality at a higher level.  Since craving in its various manifestations is the root cause of mental derangement, it is necessary to diminish and finally eradicate it.  It is here that Buddhism introduces an infallible remedy which Western psychotherapy has been unable to fit comfortably into its fields of theory-the field of ethical values.  The understanding of the facts of impermanence, of suffering which is the result of craving.
(Extract from “Voice of Buddhism” Magazine, Vol. 7 no. 2, 1970, KDN No. 4772, Published by Buddhist Missionary Society, Jalan Berhala, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.)
Q. (1)  Is it right for antibiotics, serum to be prepared from living animals and treatments experimented on living animals?

A. The bad Kamma that is generated by these methods of investigating and treating disease, particularly by vivisection, is itself on of the causes of man’s increasing proneness to disease, and so a vicious cycle is set up.  Man will never succeed in conquering disease by torturing animals.  The proof of this lies in the fact that by mutation and adaptation nature produces new strains of micro-organisms which are impervious to the old treatments.  New variations of the diseases then make their appearance, and further experiments on animals are carried out, to find new remedies.  It has been questioned recently whether vaccination is really effective against smallpox.  This is strange indeed considering that vaccination has been used effectively for the past hundred years.  If there is any room at all for doubt in the matter it can only mean that something has changed.  If a new strain of the virus is beginning to appear, medial science is more or less back where it started so far as smallpox is concerned.  First the new strain will have to be isolated, then experiments will have to be made on more unfortunate animals to produce a new vaccine.  Man brings diseases on himself by weakening the natural resistance of his body, through unnatural and unwholesome living, through contaminated atmosphere, food de-natured and adulterated by chemical preservatives, and last but not least, through wrong thinking and acting – and then he subject animals to unspeakable torture in order to find remedies of his self-produced ailments.  Such a course can never be morally defensible; in the light of the law of Kamma it is seen to be self-destructive.

Last Updated on Saturday, 01 June 2013 13:54
 

Anatta - No - Self

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ANATTA-NO-SELF – BY V. R. DHIRAVAMSA
Anatta is the pali term for No-self.  This may seem a very dry subject to discuss, and in fact often frightens people, because normally they have a strong feeling of self.  Even at the time of the Buddha, people were afraid of his teaching of anatta.  Usually people have to feel they are somebody, otherwise they find it difficult to live.  Actually, any statement that there is no self goes to one extreme, and the statement that there is a self goes to the other extreme.  This first is an annihilist idea, and the second is eternalist in the sense that the self is regarded as a permanent entity.  Because Buddhism is the Middle Way, it teaches that the mind should not become attached to belief in either of these two extremes.  This is the way of balance.
But what can we say, if neither view can be held?  If I say either, I shall be an extremist, not a Buddhist, so what is the truth?  The fact is that there is conditionality in things as they are.  Everything comes to be because of certain conditions, and then ceases to be because of other conditions.  Nothing can be completely grasped and no-one can grasp it.  Things are as they are.
I do not want to go into the theory of anatta.  Most of us have read something on the subject in books written by learned Buddhist.  But what we talk about now should be something which relates to our actual experience, and based on putting the teaching into practice of life.  I feel it is a waste of time to merely learn the doctrine of anatta, or try to prove one or another view about the subject of self.  This type of intellectual Buddhism, which is little more than a display of knowledge to show scholastic status, does not help us in life.  We do not live according to what we know, so what is the point of gaining knowledge, accumulating information, continuing to speculate?  We must not waste our time.
We have to understand why the Buddha taught anatta.  Perhaps one reason was because it was such a central factor in his teaching of the truth that nothing can be permanent, nothing can be absolute.  It is a relative, conditioned world, in which everything is related and nothing can remain independent from other things.  Human beings cannot exist alone, without dependence upon something else.  If there is no relationship with the things in this world, there is no existence.  This is obvious to all of us.  It not only applies to actual existence, but to our affairs in life.  Everything is interconnected, so that one activity or event will automatically affect another.  The law of cause and effect governs the activity of everything.
When this is not understood, we seek permanence or the eternal, and if we care taught the doctrine of eternity we create an idea of this in our minds in terms of permanent time.  Thus we limit the truth to concepts within time and space.  But if we cease our thinking, time and space will disappear.  When we think of “now”, we call it the eternal now, thus qualifying it into endless time.  Similarly, the Buddhist goal of Nirvana is thought of as an eternal state.  This is because of our limited understanding, so we have to look at things carefully to see whether they can be permanent or absolute.
Something called “self” is sometimes thought to be an everlasting, unchanging entity, leaving the body and taking up another body, living many lives until it becomes completely purified.  The self is also regarded as the feeler of feelings, the experiencer of experiences, the thinker of thoughts, the perceiver of the perceived.  With our usual pattern of thought, we believe there are always two things: the seer and the seen, the thinker and the thought, in a subject-object relationship.  Our language implies a subject and an object.  But is language capable of expressing the truth, or is it only concerned with symbols of the truth?
When we say “I am the thinker”, what is the “I”?  The body?  The mind?  Or both?  I cannot say that “I am” means, but I have the feeling that the “I” as thinker, perceiver, observer, listener, talker, cannot be grasped.  Who is the thinker?  You may say “Buddha was a clear thinker”, but perhaps the Buddha never thought at all, yet because his teaching was clear and helpful he has been described as a great man, a great thinker.
When you meditate, you may think there is a meditator, doing meditation.  If this is so, the meditation is not properly done, because the self who is meditating is always in the way, creating problems, looking for results, hoping for experiences.  The ego is planning to be somebody, wanting to be recognized.
If we cannot really grasp the “I” who is the thinker, the meditator, why do we still hold on to it, but if you observe your behaviour you will find that it is largely concerned with the defence and support of the ego.  You also feel your self.  But if you look more attentively at the processes of feeling and thought, going more and more deeply into your observation, the image of self will disappear and there will be a great clarity of seeing, without a seer behind it.  This may be a frightening experience for those experiencing it for the first time.  “Me” is lost, and until insight has strengthened there will be a tendency to try to regain it because of the feeling of insecurity.  But in fact the “me” remain lost in order to rediscover what is real.
Who knows what the “real self” is?  If it can be defined, it is only an idea.  If it can be recognized, it is something known by us already.  The mind is expert at creating anything which maintains its own progress.  It cannot exist without satisfying itself and the ego, by grasping and trying to maintain what supports it.  But the real self is like no-self – free from grasping, and free from loss.  At a psychological level, identity may be essential, but if we try to live on a wholly psychological plane we shall deceive ourselves and remain in illusion, thinking it is the truth, and living very superficially.  It is the same with security.  We may feel security with certain factors in life, good friends, a safe position, firm beliefs, a well-protected ego.  But is such security valuable, or even desirable?  It can screen us from the true nature of life, and it builds up dependence.  We have no freedom, but are ruled by the ego and our psychological conditioning.  These operate in us all the time, and unless they are dissolved we cannot come to freedom.
Freedom from the idea of self is the first step leading to liberation, and in order to dissolve this idea one has to be fully aware of the process of “me”, “my” and “myself”.  They are the product of time, the residue of karma, and create the problems of living.  The conflicts of life arise from the “me”, which cannot live in the present fully but brings with it the past, because the “me” itself has been created by the past.  Anything “me” feels or thinks must be conditioned by the past, and its eyes are blurred or blind because it always has to see from angle of the past.  Its entire range of perception is therefore distorted by conditioning, and it can never see things anew.  This is why it can never see reality, or live in a fresh dimension.
You may take the view that because of past conditioning, what we have been determined what we are and there is no chance of freedom.  Do you accept that?  It may be said that there is no way out, and therefore it must be accepted.  But his finalist way of thinking is not the Buddhist way, which regards change as the only thing in life which is certain.  Everything fluctuates, and the power of awareness can change everything in the here and now.  It is true that we are conditioned by the past, but this is because the past is here now, operating in us in the present, and is therefore not distant and inaccessible.  It is operating at this moment in our feelings, thoughts and behaviour.  In order to have immediate access to the past, we have only to watch what is going on in the present.  Patterns of reaction are conditioned by past experience, and intensive observation in the present will therefore clarify not only what your pattern are, but also reveal their sources.  You will begin to understand your past existence as well as the present.
Everything is within you, and all that must be done is to look at it, to be constantly aware of yourself in all situations, and then you will have knowledge which is not based on other people’s experience and beliefs.  When observing yourself, it is of the greatest importance to be honest, otherwise the understanding will be clouded.  We try to avoid direct observation in many ways, and often by seeking knowledge from someone else.  It is silly nonsense to search for true knowledge by going outside ourselves to other people.  It is the typical behavior of the conditioned mind which is afraid to look at itself, afraid to discover the truth.  It is the activity of the “me”.  The “me” will only disappear if we practice action without having “me” as its centre.
But how can this be done?  First of all, leave the “me” alone.  You may see that the “me” is the centre of all your thoughts, emotions and perceptions.  O.K., it doesn’t matter – let the “me” do what it wants to do, but notice what it is doing.  Deal with it gently and fairly, without aggression or violence.  Do not try to destroy it believing it to be “bad”, because this merely creates another problem, another area of rejection.  We have enough problems of violence without adding another.
If we leave the “me” alone we can then watch it in this activities – thoughts, perceptions, feelings.  If we can see these process as they are, and how they arise and disappear, we hall be able to understand the whole structure of the “me” through its activities.  In this way you will achieve understanding and centre of the “me” you will find automatically disappears without any effort on your part to destroy it.  This is because the “me” has no real centre, and depths but first have to go through all levels of the superficial, taking each process as it appears, using a simple approach of direct attention.
The method is simple, but this does not mean that the “me” is easy to dissolve.  We do not give up just because it is difficult.  Instead, we look at the difficulties as they arise, and see why they are there.  In this work, we do not look towards a goal, or a destination, but at the problem here, in front of us.  When we become aware of difficulty, is it in fact a feeling of difficulty that we are experiencing?  You already know that feeling is an activity of the “me”, and you will find that if you continue to look at feelings of difficulty they will disappear.
We should not overlook what is in front of us.  Usually our attention is directed to something “over there”, or in the past or future, but this can be dangerous to us, and it is not easy to drop the habit.  We have to watch what is happening now.  If you say “the me always interferes with my life”, the “my” indicates that it is the life of the ego.  When you say “my life” you are limiting yourself, and trying to act from the centre of the “me” again.  Life is life, not mine or yours.  It is a moving reality, and has to flow without obstruction.  If is like water moving along in a river, which sometimes gets stuck, or hindered by an obstacle in its way.  It will be seen to churn, or “struggle” because its nature is to flow.  In fact it is not struggling, but its disturbance is a result of its need for movement.  The force of life is the same, and when its flow is obstructed by the accumulation of mental contents, suffering must arises.
It is suffering which can therefore awaken us to the fact that something is preventing the flow of life, and only by looking into the suffering, and the processes of “me” which cause suffering, shall we be able to learn the lesson of life.  If we are not aware of the suffering that is there, we shall never gain in wisdom, or have compassion for others.  Awareness of suffering will show us the process of suffering, and we shall realize that there is no sufferer.  Looking at this objectively will weaken the hold of the “me” and lessen the image of a sufferer.  Unless we can look at suffering objectively, without holding on to the idea of an entity who is suffering, it becomes very difficult to see what is happening.  This is because “the sufferer” is creating more obstacles.
One can feel very painful suffering, often appearing to be in the “heart”, which seems too intolerable to look at and which has to be repressed again and again.  Many people start an avoidance pattern during childhood, when their parents teach them to ignore situations.  Children are often discouraged from talking about what they think, or expressing what they feel, until they gradually lose their original awareness.  It they were encouraged to look at everything that was happening, in a simple, direct way, they would have less tendency to develop unconscious fears and fantasies.
When turning away from the realities of life one is planting misery and illusion.  The attempt to avoid the facts, to close the mind to actual feelings and thoughts, creates weakness and psychological problems.  It is not the way to train oneself for life, or for death.  In one of the Buddhia’s discourses on the development of the senses, we learn that certain people at the time of the Buddha were trying to develop their senses by closing their eyes, mouth, ears, and nose, ignoring everything that was going on in the world.  But the Buddha said that this only makes their senses dull; without exercising the senses, they atrophy, and cannot perceive what is actually there.
The Buddha’s teaching was the opposite: be alert, and aware of what is going on, receiving all the impressions of life without trying to block them.  When all perceptions occur receptively with awareness, everything will be taken care of.  When awareness is the doorkeeper, at the gate of the senses, perceiving will have clarity and tranquility, without dullness or heaviness.  There will then be no self-deception, delusion or hallucination.
Whatever we are working out, awareness should be present, and this especially applies to the investigation of the “self”.  The Buddha gave this important advice: “Be a lamp unto yourself.  Let the truth be your refuge, and nothing else.”  He completely denied the existence of any self outside the body and mind, and told his followers to be a light unto themselves.  You are your own light and protection – don’t look for this externally, or it becomes an avoidance or defensive activity.
In Buddhism there is the injunction to take refuge in the Three Gems: the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha – but they are really within us.  If we put our trust in our image or idea of the Buddha, we shall be wasting our time.  If we look for the Dhamma in scriptures or preachers, we shall never understand the Way.  If we believe the Sangha is the external form, the monastic community, we shall not know what it truly means.  Also, taking refuge does not mean the search for security through bolstering the ego – it means the discovery of what protection really is.  We can gradually find that we are the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.  How?  By following the Buddha’s teaching of cultivation of awareness, of all physical and mental processes.  The whole universe is the object of our awareness.  Do not give importance to the object – the essential thing is the awareness of whatever is there.  It can be developed with any object, whether pleasant or unpleasant.  If an object is painful to us, we have to continue to look at it; this is wisdom in action.  All negative emotions, such as bitterness, resentment, envy, jealousy and fear, have to be observed as well as pleasurable or positive emotions.  Also, we have to go through “the Death” in life.
Thus the Buddha gave us the means for dissolving the idea of self.  But this will not be achieved unless we attain to the First Stage on the path to enlightenment.  At that moment we enter the Stream of Nirvana, when freedom from the idea of self is obtained.  The only way to become such a “Stream-winner” is through awareness and insight.  How can we practice this awareness?  By starting with our daily activities, from ourselves.  If we think in terms of a technique, we shall tend to stay with the idea of awareness, without entering the practice.  We should go direct to awareness, not be afraid of doing something incorrectly.  We are usually afraid of not doing the right thing, and cling to the idea that everything must be quite clear before we start.  This type of perfectionism paralyses the natural flow of awareness and prevents us from doing anything.  All this is the activity of the “me”.
Instead, try to attend to everything without judging your own abilities or criticizing the weakness of your awareness.  If you feel that you are failing, be aware of that feeling.  Give your attention without hesitation to all that your experience, and do not waste time on regrets or disappointment if you do not succeed.  Persistent application of your attention, even if it fluctuates, will gradually create greater sensitivity in you, and you will become aware more quickly of your distractions.  As soon as you observe you have lost awareness, do not dwell on it, or complain, or become frustrated.  Just return immediately to your work, because such feelings of disappointment are yet another distraction created by the self, carrying you away from what you are doing.
So whatever comes, just know it as it is.  Do nothing else.  In this way the “me” is not able to persuade us to take its path, and we become more and more objective in our observation and thought.  As we gradually gain freedom, the self has less and less place in our life, yet at the same time we see the self’s process with greater clarity.  We see the two aspects of truth: conventional and ultimate.  Conventionally speaking, there is “me” and I accept this.  However I do not cling to it, or work from its centre.  I recognize it because I perceive it.  But on the ultimate level, I know there is no “me”.  Because we live on different levels, there is no conflict.  I conform to conventional conditions, for the sake of living and communicating; yet on another level I am free, being myself without having to be tied to the “me”.  Then I am in contact with my whole being, instead of the fragmented “me”.  The whole being is not a being, it just being – complete being without an entity.
(Extract from “Voice of Buddhism” Magazine, Vol. 11 no. 2 & 3 June/Sept 1974, KDN No. 7773, Published by Buddhist Missionary Society, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur 09-06, Malaysia.)
Anatta is the pali term for No-self.  This may seem a very dry subject to discuss, and in fact often frightens people, because normally they have a strong feeling of self.  Even at the time of the Buddha, people were afraid of his teaching of anatta.  Usually people have to feel they are somebody, otherwise they find it difficult to live.  Actually, any statement that there is no self goes to one extreme, and the statement that there is a self goes to the other extreme.  This first is an annihilist idea, and the second is eternalist in the sense that the self is regarded as a permanent entity.  Because Buddhism is the Middle Way, it teaches that the mind should not become attached to belief in either of these two extremes.  This is the way of balance.
Last Updated on Friday, 17 May 2013 12:00
 

A Way of Life For All Time

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The Buddha lived at a time when the economy of India was such that the rich were getting richer and the poor, poorer.  There was a conspicuous contrast between the luxury and wasteful extravagance of the leisurely classes and the utter abject poverty and squalor of the peasant and worker, who in fact did all the spade work to keep the granaries of their masters full to the brim.  In Benares, in particular, this contrast was most evident.  The ingenious craftmen who produced the gorgeous textiles, which dazzled the eyes of the word, were themselves clad in rags which were of the coarsest texture not unlike the dusty gravel roads thy have to traverse to bring wares to town and part with them for a trifle to crafty middlemen.  It was the lot of the Buddha, who was in search of a solution to this problem of poverty, disease and misery, to move about in this environment and discover the causes which contributed to these conditions.  It was this first hand knowledge of life outside the charmed circle of the high society of his time which helped him to understand and appreciate the many human problems which beset him from time to time.
Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2013 14:11
 

A Plea for the Revival of Informal Buddhist Education

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A PLEA FOR THE REVIVAL OF INFORMAL BUDDHIST EDUCATION – By Ananda W.P. Guruge
Former Ambassador Extraordinary
And Plenipotentiary of Sri Lanka in France and Permanent Delegate to Unesco.
This article reflects the view of the author on the necessity for providing an informal system of Buddhist education to children.  This is especially of great interest to us in Malaysia where no formal teaching of the Buddhist religion is provided for in the school system.  For that reason, the home and the temple are undoubtedly the most suitable centres for the Buddhist community to equip with the necessary facilities for informal Buddhist education to their children.
Ed.
A popular Sunday television show which claims an audience of thirty million in France figures children of five and six years of age.  In one of the recent programmes, two girls wore pendants with engravings of Virgin Mary.  The producer of the show, who has a knack of putting children at ease, interviews them for a few minutes before they sing.  The pendants prompted him to base his questions on Virgin Mary.  Both girls knew that she was the mother of Jesus Christ.  But they knew little of Christ.  To the question on how Christ died, they replied that he was killed in war.  That is what they heard in Church, both kids asserted and hardly a gasp or any other reaction was heard from the thousand in the audience.  Only an hour ago, when in a quiz a participant failed to name the bride of a French comedian, the very same audience gasped in disbelief and laughed at her ignorance.
More than the little kids’ answers, the reaction of the audience led me to reflect on what our own attitude to religious knowledge would be in traditionally Buddhist countries in Asia.  I wonder how many six-year olds in these countries would know the name of the parents of Prince Siddhartha or say where he was born or how and where he died.  How many would have some basic knowledge of the Buddha’s teachings”  At what age do our children become conscious of the personality of the founder of the Faith?  What do they learn first at the foundations of their inherited Faith?  Do all children have access to early religious education?
My fairly substantial sojourns in several of these countries persuade me to say “Hardly anyone” and add in respect of at least Myanmar and Sri Lanka “other than in rare cases where a strong sense of piety and commitment exists in the family”.  But if a kid were to give a wrong answer – one that is palpably incredible – what would the reaction of an adult audience be?  In other words, how very pronounced is the general apathy as regards religious knowledge and how great is the resulting ignorance?
With no in-depth search for answers to these questions, one could hazard a quick response: the overall attitude to religious knowledge in Buddhist Asia has rapidly deteriorated in recent times and one should not be surprised if more and more who claim to profess Buddhism actually know very little of the life and the teachings of the Buddha.  To many, Buddhism is only one aspect of the sum total of their numerous beliefs which include many superstitions.  To many others, Buddhism means only a set of rites and rituals and external symbols only have a meaning.
But what is really surprising is that this growing mass ignorance co-exists with spectacular activities initiated by the intelligentsia in the very same countries to make Buddhism better known in non-Buddhist circles.  On an average, more and better publications are produced for foreign consumption in international languages than in national languages and nine out of ten Bhikkhus with qualifications in higher education opt for Dhammaduta work abroad in preference to national educational services.  It is paradoxical that a greater degree of priority is assigned by us to taking the knowledge and practice of Buddhism to foreign lands than to improving religious education at the national level.  How could such a situation have arisen?  How did this gap between the Buddhist intelligentsia and the masses originate?
First and foremost, there exists an incredibly high sense of complacence in Buddhist countries.  This complacence is based on an assumption that the traditional system of diffusing religious knowledge persists undisturbed and it is adequate and more than satisfactory.  This assumption is particularly strengthened by the conviction that the traditional system has succeeded in preserving Buddhism in these countries for thousands of years.  If it has worked so well so long, it should work now and in the future too, we seem to think.  But how justified is this thought and the resulting complacence?  We have not paused to ask the crucial question: Is that system alive?
It cannot be denied that Buddhists have inherited one of the oldest and most effective system of formal and informal religious education.  The history of the Buddhist education is replete with unmatched achievements starting with the Buddha’s own methodological innovations whose efficacy and relevance baffle modern educators.  The Sangha, as a well-established, supremely motivated and ever-renewing learning society, has preserved knowledge and added new insights through research and reflection, study and instruction.  The institutional infrastructure has been equally wellfounded and its capacity to produce intellectual leaders has been amply proved.  The formal system of Buddhist education continues to be as efficient despite vicissitudes of history and challenges of new knowledge and attitudes.  That every Buddhist country in Asia has developed such a tradition of formal religious education is evident.  There is no country in Buddhist Asia which has not preserved or developed functionally effective institutions for this purpose.
Even as recent political and economic problems in traditionally Buddhist countries forced thousands of bhikkhus and lamas to migrate to the wide world, they took with them these systems.  Thus, outside Asia, in Europe, Australia, North America and elsewhere, Chinese, Tibetan, Vietnamese as well as Theravada Buddhist educational institutions have not only come into being but they perform with a baffling degree of success.  In fact, this is the greatest strength of Buddhism.  It has in this traditional educational system an unparalleled capacity to renew itself irrespective of where it goes.  The struggle which goes on in the Kampuchean camps on the Thai border to restore the tradition of Sangha education is indicative of the capacity.  Amidst unbelievable hardships, a group of dedicated persons – nationals as well as foreigners – have begun serious operations to mobilize all available resources to ensure that a well-trained and motivated Sangha is ready to take over its traditional mission once peace returns.  They have already begun to mobilize resources, develop curricula and learning materials and look for facilities to train their future teachers.
But Buddhist education was not restricted to the Sangha.  The monastery had been a centre of learning for the laity as well.  The bhikkhu had been a teacher to the community and he contributed to the spread of literacy.  To the more motivated members of the laity, the whole system was open to acquire knowledge of language and literature, religion and philosophy.  It is not by accident that there are in the history of Buddhism in Asia so many lay scholars whose contribution to philosophy and literature has not been second to that of the Sangha.  But the more important aspect of Buddhist education had been its informal system which again is unique in many respects.  Instructing the laity through every conceivable modality had been the hall mark of Buddhism.
The Buddhists appear to have been the earliest to realize the value of visual aid to diffuse knowledge.  With sculpture and painting depicting the inspiring and colourful life of the Buddha, the numerous episodes from Jatakas with apt moral messages and memorable incidents from Buddhist history, the temple has been a veritable resource centre for the entire community.  Very early its Buddhist art, the technique of representing a few related incidents in “shorthand” (as some art critics describe it) enabled the temple wall to be used for a mnemonic purpose.  The picture provided clues for a guide of preacher to elaborate the story or enabled the viewer to recall details of the episode so represented from what he had learnt in sermons.  A regular guided tour of the temple painting and sculptures has remained the most effective way of teaching the very young the essentials of Buddhism.
The development of internal modalities of teaching and learning received a further impetus from the absence of congregational worship in Buddhism.  A Buddhist goes to a temple when he or she wants and remains as long as possible.  This informality permits not only interaction with the bhikkhus but also among themselves.  The social contact thus engendered has also been educationally very fruitful.
The regular sermons in the temples as well as in homes, as certain domestic rites necessitated, have been equally efficacious.  They were also occasions for both social contact and entertainment.  With several dramatic elements lightly introduced into them, sermons in a variety of forms did provide an element of entertainment.  The more popular preachers had always been consummate story-tellers.  Buddhist literature is full of stories which are as entertaining as are edifying.  They illustrate the importance of virtue while, at the same time, helping us to understand the foibles and failings as well as lofty ideals of humanity.  When distractions of modern mass media had not yet invaded Buddhist societies, the collective reading of these stories in both verse and prose had been a popular pastime.
The net result of such active informal modalities of education had been that the essentials of Buddhism were learned effortlessly.  Even an illiterate mother – illiterate in that she could neither read nor write – was not ignorant and the children began to share her knowledge and understanding of Buddhism from a very tender age.  When an Asian Buddhist claims that Buddhism was imbibed by him or her with the milk of the mother, the statement is literally true.  Thence began the life-long learning of the noble teachings of the Buddha.
The question to be asked now is paramount: Does this traditional system exist today and if so, does it work?  To say that it had collapsed in Buddhist Asia with very little to take its place is no exaggeration.  In industrially more advanced countries, the situation is worse than in others.  All over, there is still some vestige of the system in remote areas while, with urbanization, the temple – community contact and relations become weaker and educationally ineffective.  Some countries have realized the dangers of losing the great asset of informal Buddhist education for the laity and have taken remedial measures.  The lost temple schools are being revived in the form of Sunday schools.  Buddhism has become a school subject and progressively facilities are provided for its study in Colleges and Universities – but, necessarily, as a subject in which a prescribed level of proficiency has to be time-tested informal system of Buddhist education remains grave and chances for improvement are bleak.
The biggest problem is that the inculcation of Buddhist knowledge, principles and ethical values, which, until recent times, has been a full-time activity of the home, the temple and the community is now guided by a time-table of life in which religion gets only a limited time slot.  There is no total immersion in religious knowledge and experience.  The affective function of Buddhist education is subued by cognitive objectives.  Some even argue that religion should not be allowed to suffuse life in its entirety.  I have listened to arguments of eminent educators in favour of relegating religion to a ‘safe little corner’ in one’s life so as to save one’s self from the dreaded complications of ‘suppression, repression and depression!’  My answer to them has always been to invite them to examine Buddhism in its entirety and say how much of their arguments would apply to the teachings of the Buddha.  I have had surprising responses.  But many see my point that the values of critical examination, independence of thought, altruistic moral conduct and freedom from dogma make Buddhism a model of the best intellectual preparation for life.
The need to revive the informal system of Buddhist education is vital throughout Buddhist Asia.  We cannot afford to be complacent because our complacence stems from misplaced confidence in a system which we have long neglected under modernizing influences in economy, science and technology and mass media.  We would soon have audiences of thousands who would remain hardly moved or perturbed when a child gives a wrong answer to a simple question on the life and teachings of the Buddha.  The home, the temple and the community have to be aided in restoring the educational role they played as regards teaching the young the exalted principles of Buddha Dhamma.  Modern media have to be pressed to complement and supplement this effort.  The knowledge of the life and teachings of the Buddha has to be rediffused in our own communities with as much or greater enthusiasm and devotion than in non-Buddhist circles.  The latter, too, must be done because the world intelligentsia yearns for Buddhism much more now than ever before.  But if our own people lose their precious heritage, we would hardly have anything to share with humanity.  With the revival of informal modalities of mass education in Buddhism, the motto most aptly has to be ‘Charity begins at home’.
(Extract from “Voice of Buddhism” Magazine, Vol. 29 no. 1, June 1991, Published by Buddhist Missionary Society, 123, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  ISSN 0042/2094-1991)
This article reflects the view of the author on the necessity for providing an informal system of Buddhist education to children.  This is especially of great interest to us in Malaysia where no formal teaching of the Buddhist religion is provided for in the school system.  For that reason, the home and the temple are undoubtedly the most suitable centres for the Buddhist community to equip with the necessary facilities for informal Buddhist education to their children.
Ed.

A popular Sunday television show which claims an audience of thirty million in France figures children of five and six years of age.  In one of the recent programmes, two girls wore pendants with engravings of Virgin Mary.  The producer of the show, who has a knack of putting children at ease, interviews them for a few minutes before they sing.  The pendants prompted him to base his questions on Virgin Mary.  Both girls knew that she was the mother of Jesus Christ.  But they knew little of Christ.  To the question on how Christ died, they replied that he was killed in war.  That is what they heard in Church, both kids asserted and hardly a gasp or any other reaction was heard from the thousand in the audience.  Only an hour ago, when in a quiz a participant failed to name the bride of a French comedian, the very same audience gasped in disbelief and laughed at her ignorance.

Last Updated on Monday, 06 May 2013 13:42
 

The Endless Samsara

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Again and again they sow the seed; Again and again the sky-king rains.
Again and again the farmers plow the fields; Again and again the land produces grain.
Again and again the beggars come and beg; Again and again generous donors give.
Again and again many gifts are given, Again and again the donors reach the heavens.
Again and again the dairymen milk the herds; Again and again the lamb goes to its mother.
Again and again we weary and we toil; Again and again the heedless come to birth.
Again and again comes birth, and dying follows; Again and again we carried to the grave.
Only by gaining the Path for not-returning, Is a person of wisdom not again and again reborn.

(S. VII : 2.2)
Extract from “Voice of Buddhism” Magazine, Vol. 29 no. 1, June 1991, Published by Buddhist Missionary Society, 123, Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. ISSN 0042/2094-1991
Last Updated on Monday, 06 May 2013 09:47
 
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