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.
There can be no success in getting happiness out of Lord Buddha’s Dharma until we understand and use ‘Sila’, which is a Pali-Sanskrit word meaning morality. The Five Precepts are often called ‘Pancasila’, which means ‘the Five Moralities’.
As a rule, these five moralities are recited after the Three Refuges, and are usually considered as a necessary part of the ceremony of becoming a Buddhist. Everyone who understands these rules knows it is good and wise to follow them all, but many persons have weak characters and do not make a real attempt to be guided by these Five Rules that all Buddhists must follow. They are:
The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth (Ājīvatthamaka Sīla) Dhamma Teachers Certificate
EN074 -__ Feb2010 5 8 Precepts Diacritials
Requirements and Ceremonies for the Five Precepts (Panca Sila),
The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth (Ajivatthamaka Sila),
Dhamma Teachers Certificate, issued by the Buddhist Group of Kendal
(Theravada) and Ketumati Buddhist Vihara at Wesak 2006).
Updated February 2010
Venerable Rewata Dhamma born in Myanmar [Burma], was head of the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara until his death in 2004. His book Maha Paritta: The Discourses of the Great Protection (With the Threefold Refuges, Precepts, Salutations to the Triple Gem, Dependent Origination and Metta Bhavana), gives the formula in Pali and English for requesting Ajivatthamaka Sila (The Eight Precepts with Right Livelihood as the Eighth). (pages 9-12)
Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Mahanayaka Thera Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru Agga Maha Pandita (1896-1998)
Venerable Balangoda Ananda Maitreya, born in Sri Lanka, attended the Sixth Buddhist Council held in Myanmar [Burma] (1954-56). In 1956, during the third session of the Council, he served as Chairman of the Convocation for a few weeks. The Council was convened by the Myanmar [Burmese] government to prepare an authorized re-edit and reprint of the entire Tipitaka (the Pali Canon) and its commentaries. Venerable Ananda Maitreya was appointed the Sri
The BEP Buddhist Embroidery Project was started by attendees of the London Buddhist Vihara (Monastery) in 1994. The BEP decided to teach embroidery to people who had not learnt it in childhood. The late Venerable Apparakke Jinaratana, a Theravada Buddhist Bhikkhu (monk), who lived in a cave in Sri Lanka, near a very poor village, was using very old newspapers (supplied by villagers) as tablecloths. The BEP decided to embroider tablecloths, wall hangings and sitting cloths for his use. Although items are given to one monk, they actually belong to the whole of the Bhikkhu Sangha [Order of Buddhist Monks] according to the Vinaya (Buddhist Monastic Discipline). In Asian villages, washing is done in streams and waterfalls, and hung to dry in the hot sun, so items do not last as long as they do in the west.
by Venerable Dr Balangoda Ananda Maitreya
Mahanayaka Thera Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru Aggamaha Pandita DLitt DLitt (1896-1998)
and Jacquetta Gomes Bodhicarini Upasika Jayasili.
Introducing Buddhism was originally published by The Buddhist Society London in 1988, to accompany The Buddhist Society’s Introducing Buddhism Course, on which Jacquetta Gomes was one of the teachers.
Introducing Buddhism has subsequently been published by Buddhist organisations in England, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Taiwan, and the USA. Introducing Buddhism is available on several websites including Access to Insight, CBE Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia and Google Books. Introducing Buddhism was launched by the BCC Buddhist Cultural Centre in Sri Lanka with 24 other books under the patronage of Venerable Dr K. Sri Dhammananda Chief Sangha Nayaka of Malaysia and Singapore, in December 1997.
As a child, my mother Enid often said to me, “There is no such thing as a silly question,” and then would add, “unless.” This latter word was left hanging, and I eventually realised that it was up to me to learn the depth of its meaning.
At the same time that Enid was planting seeds for reflection, my first spiritual teacher, Ven. Lama Senge Tashi, encouraged me to cultivate more skilful thoughts, speech and actions. Sometimes I would try to verbally assert “I” or “Me,” and Lama would respond with, “Who is speaking?” or “Who is asking?”
During the Covid-19 pandemic a dharma sister passed from this life. Her name was Robyn. Although she did not call herself a Buddhist, nevertheless, Robyn had a special connection with the deity Medicine Buddha.
Over the six years that I worked with her, in my role as a hospital chaplain, Robyn frequently asked me to chant the mantra of Medicine Buddha and guide her through the visualisation. During her many stays in hospital, this particular practice brought comfort to her while she was experiencing chronic pain, anxiety and fear of the unknown. The medications she took would sometimes cloud her memory, so I would guide her through the details of the visualisation and begin chanting:
Once, as I was about to hold a summer Dharma class on a beach, as the first students began to arrive for the session I picked up two rocks and carefully placed them, one on top of the other, on to a much larger rock base. Observing what I had just done, three students approached: a young married couple and their five year old son.
True Seeing (Ven. Shih Jingang) One day, while Little Pebble and his Master were walking through a garden, the old teacher stopped to look at a white rose in full bloom. He motioned for his young disciple to join him, and they both sat down near where the flower was growing.
‘Little Pebble,’ said the Master, ‘when you look at this object, tell me what you think about it.’
‘The flower is pretty,’ stated the boy. ‘I like it.’
‘’’Flower,” you say. “Pretty, like it,” you say,’ replied the Master, looking to see how his young disciple reacted. Then he added, ‘Mind creates names like flower, and thoughts of like and dislike, pretty and ugly. This mind is small and closed, but if you can see beyond it to the nature of mind, then all is vast like space, completely open to all things. In this state of awareness, there is neither a flower nor a non-flower. Understand?’
But the young disciple did not quite understand, so his Master continued, ‘Little one, come here each day,
Nguyện đem công đức này, trang nghiêm Phật Tịnh Độ, trên đền bốn ơn nặng, dưới cứu khổ ba đường, nếu có người thấy nghe, đều phát lòng Bồ Đề, hết một báo thân này, sinh qua cõi Cực Lạc.
May the Merit and virtue,accrued from this work, adorn the Buddhas pureland, Repay the four great kindnesses above, andrelieve the suffering of those on the three paths below, may those who see or hear of these efforts generates Bodhi Mind, spend their lives devoted to the Buddha Dharma, the Land of Ultimate Bliss.