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.
Buddhism has taken firm roots in Australia during the last few decades, due in part to people migrating to Australia from various Buddhist cultures and their 2nd generation, who either moved here as children or were born here. It is also due in part to the genuine interest in these precious teachings and way of life shown by Australian's of all backgrounds. Some of whom have deep virtuous roots from practising the Dhamma in previous lives and others who are totally new to the Dhamma, having a strong attraction to the peace, harmony and understanding that results from the Buddhist practises of morality, meditation and wisdom. Therefore it is essential that the Dhamma be taught in the English language, using terminology and expression that can be clearly understood.
Shakyamuni Buddha appeared on the stage of this world with four great noble tasks to perform, namely to open up the treasury of truth, to indicate its meaning, to cause men to apprehend it, and to lead them to it,(1) which can be achieved by the penetrative power of Buddha’s wisdom or vision, i.e., Buddha a, Buddha nature.
Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American Buddhist monk from New York City. Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1944, he obtained a BA in philosophy from Brooklyn College (1966) and a PhD in philosophy from Claremont Graduate School (1972).
The ASA annual conference brings together Buddhist monastics of all traditions living in, or visiting Australia, for fellowship, dialogue and to address the issues facing Buddhism in Australia. The ASA has in previous years, and is still working with the Department of Immigration & Border Security to assist those monastic’s seeking Permanent Residency Visas through representations to the Federal Government. Where appropriate, the ASA has and continues to consult with state Buddhist Councils and Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC) for a solution to these ongoing issues. The ASA has arranged monastic education forums such as the 2010 Vinaya Conference, and represents the Australian Sangha community at various International Conferences, as well as consultations with various State & Federal Government agencies.
Wake Up – Young Adults for a Healthy and Compassionate Society, is a world-wide network of young people practicing the living art of mindfulness. We share a determination to live in an awakened way, taking a 21st Century version of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings as our path and guiding light.
The Wake Up network has grown out of Plum Village meditation center in SW France, under the guidance of Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Plum Village has been offering retreats to young people for over two decades, and the Wake Up movement was formally launched in Summer 2008.
The first two steps in the process of becoming a lay disciple of the Buddha are the going for refuge (sarana gamana) and the undertaking of the five precepts (pañca-sila samadana). By the former step a person makes the commitment to accept the Triple Gem — the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha — as the guiding ideals of his life, by the latter he expresses his determination to bring his actions into harmony with these ideals through right conduct. The following two tracts were written for the purpose of giving a clear and concise explanation of these two steps. Though they are intended principally for those who have newly embraced the Buddha's teaching they will probably be found useful as well by long-term traditional Buddhists wanting to understand the meaning of practices with which they are already familiar and also by those who want to know what becoming a Buddhist involves.