Here are a series of questions that I was recently asked as part of a Casey Multifaith Network presentation for the local Star Newspaper, with the intention to create peace, understanding and harmony within the community.
I thought the answers may be of some benefit for practising Buddhists and Non-Buddhists alike.
Happy Vesak. May all beings be well and happy.
1) What is your name and where do you live?
Andrew Williams. I live at Phillip Island & Endeavour Hills.
2) What religion do you believe in and/or follow and what is your involvement?
Buddhism. I have studied & practised Buddhism since I was quite young. I have been teaching Buddhism since 1998, initially in the USA & now back home in Australia.
3) Does your religion have different groups within it?
4) What are the main groups?
The 3 major traditions within Buddhism are Theravada (School of the Elders), Mahayana (Great Vehicle) & Vajrayana (Diamond Vehicle).
5) Does your religion have any Holy Scriptures or Sacred writings?
Yes, known as the Tripitaka (3 collections). It includes the Vinaya or collection of the rules of conduct, relating predominantly to morality; The Sutra's or recorded discourses of the Buddha & his major disciples, relating predominantly to meditation; and the Abhidharma or Higher Knowledge, relating to wisdom, it includes investigation & analysis of Buddhist philosophy & psychology.
6) What do all people from your religion (whatever the group) have in common?
Have faith, trust & confidence in the Triple Gem. Namely, the Buddha, the Supremely Enlightened Teacher; the Dharma, the Teachings; and the Sangha, the supportive & harmonious spiritual community of Buddhist practitioners.
7) What are some of the differences between the different groups?
The differences are mainly cultural, although there are some differences in relation to the interpretation of the higher teachings & ultimate reality.
8) What is the most important foundational truths or teachings, that all members of your religion would say is the basis of the religion?
- To understand & practise the Four Noble Truths. 1) Suffering 2) Cause of Suffering 3) Cessation of Suffering & 4) The Path Leading to the Cessation of Suffering. Namely, Right understanding, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness & concentration. - To understand & practise the Four Immeasurable's of universal love, compassion, joy & equanimity. - Understand & belief in the Law of Karma (cause & effect) & rebirth. - Understand the Three Marks of Existence. That is that all conditioned phenomena, both mental & physical, are impermanent, have the nature of suffering & have no independent self identity. - Nirvana or Supreme Enlightenment is unconditioned & liberation from the cycle of unsatisfactory existence (samsara).
9) How important is it to obey the sacred texts? What happens if some parts say things that seem to disagree with other parts?
The Buddha said, in relation to our body, speech & mind, " Do no harm, do only good, purify your mind". Therefore it is very important to live by these guidelines. We should abstain from killing, stealing & sensual misconduct (body); slandering, lying, using harsh language & gossip (speech); and covetousness, harmful intentions & wrong views (mind). We should also develop love & compassion for all, practise meditation & develop insight into the nature of reality (wisdom).
10) What is your religion's belief about the future: the future of the world, and life after death?
The future is caused by our actions (karma) of body, speech & mind in the past & present. Both individually & collectively. We are continually reborn, according to the results of our karma, in samsara (cyclic existence), until we realise the ultimate truth of enlightenment.
Within a tree, there is a flower
Within a rock, there is a flame
Dedication for Most Venerable Thich Nhu Dien
on the ceremonial event of his 70th birthday, and 40 year-milestone for Vien Giac Temple to be established in Germany
Bhikhhu Thích Nguyên Tạng
Translated into English by: Dr Tâm Tịnh, Hoa Chí & Hoa Nghiêm
“Within a tree, there’s a flower, within a rock, there’s a flame” is the dharma taught by Zen Master Dao, recalled by Most Venerable Thich Nhu Dien during his dharmic teachings to which I had good fortune to attend in his dharma-propagating journey to the United States of America in 2006 when I acted as an assistant to him.
Smartphone Overuse, Youth Suicide and Buddhism as a Healing Source,
Youth suicide is disturbingly rising. Ashley Welch, in her article “What’s behind the rise in youth suicides?” (2017), gave some insights into the trend. The author mentioned potential causes for this trauma and notably pointed to “the correlation between the rising popularity of smartphones and increased rates of suicide and depression among young people” (para. 17). Although Welch did not offer a clear reason for the correlation, this point raises an awareness of an irony. We, as readers, may wonder, “How can such a wonderful entertaining device cause that terrible thing?” In this paper, I will discuss the roots of this pain, and then suggest Buddhism as a healing source.
Why Aren't We Teaching You Mindfulness?
AnneMarie Rossi, Founder and CEO of BeMindful
Harvard conducted a research study and they tracked more than 1,000 people from birth until age 32 looking for what made someone successful. What common characteristic or trait was seen in a successful individual? It wasn't their race, what language they spoke, what neighborhood they grow up in, or how much money their parents had. It wasn't how well they did on standardized tests or even their IQ. It was self-control; those who were successful, who had good careers, financial stability, loving relationships, and physical health. Those who were successful, were the ones who could focus, pay attention, and regulate their emotions.
The Buddhist community is extremely upset by the inappropriate and disrespectful use of the image of Buddha, The Buddhist community is extremely upset by the inappropriate and disrespectful use of the image of Buddha, in a display at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) entitled the 'Eternity-Buddha in Nirvana, the Dying Gaul, Farnese Hercules, Night, Day, Sartyr and Bacchante, Funerary Genius, Achilles, Persian Soldier Fighting, Dancing Faun, Crouching Aphrodite, Narcisse Couché, Othryades the Spartan Dying, the Fall of Icarus, A River, Milo of Croton'. It can also be seen at: https://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/explore/collection/work/131149/
Although this display has been in place for some months, we have only just been made aware of its' existence. We are not usually outspoken, but this display desecrates the image of Buddha by placing images of these mythical images on him and in doing so, showing no apparent regard or respect for Him.
Prior to sharing some thoughts on the question, 'According to 2010 statistics, the number of Buddhists around the world is consistently increasing by approximately 5% to 10% per annum. What do you think are the main causes for this increase?', I should mention that I'm often 'open-mindedly skeptical' about such surveys, and the statistics gathered during such surveys. For where does the information come from and how is the information gathered, and for what purpose, and so on and so forth.
To give the briefest conclusion that I can think of to the question- 'Do you think that sectarian diversity affects the stability of Buddhism as a whole?', I would have to say, 'Yes' and 'No'.
My intention here is not to give a definitive answer, but to give readers 'food for thought', to enable each of us to be responsible and maintain pure intentions, to think for ourselves and develop genuine wisdom and compassion.
In the spirit of the Dharma, rather than dwelling on any possible problems, we should mainly focus on solutions to any such problems. With the hope of maintaining the integrity and purity of Buddhism in this world.
Come and join us for this multicultural celebration of the
Buddha’s Birth Enlightenment and Passing
Its a Free Event - All Welcome
Vesak Procession & Commemoration in the City of Melbourne.
10am - 3.30pm, Saturday 27 May
Come along to celebrate one of the most important days in the Buddhist Calendar and together commemorate the Buddha’s universal peace message for the world.
UNIVERSAL LOVE OF THE BUDDHA
Written by Andrew. J. Williams
Produced and performed by Andrew. J. Williams and Roger. J. McLachlan
Recorded by Roger. J. McLachlan
1. UNIVERSAL LOVE reprise (Williams)
2. DEAL OF GOLD (Williams)
3. GOLDEN GENEROSITY (Williams/McLachlan)
4. PROMISE (Williams)
5. UNIVERSAL LOVE reprise (Williams)
6. ONE PEOPLE (Williams)
7. PERFECT PLACE (Williams)
8. REVERENCE (Williams)
9. CELESTIAL BALLET (Williams) 10. OBSTACLES & FEARS (Williams/McLachlan)
11. THE SOLUTION (Williams)
12. LIBERATION (Williams)
13. UNIVERSAL LOVE (Williams)
14. MERIT DEDICATION (Williams)