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.
This year, at the summer retreat, Vien Tu and Minh Hanh, the two novice monks, took turns to prepare the congee offering each evening. Many Buddhists were curious to know why the congee was offered but not the cooked rice or others. This article is writing about the congee services to the spirits.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary the word ‘chant’ is both a noun and a verb, also (now Scottish) chaunt, compared with the late 17th Century, old and modern French verb, ‘with chant’ which is derived from the Latin, ‘cantum’.
My dear friends, suppose someone is holding a pebble and throws it in the air and the pebble begins to fall down into a river. After the pebble touches the surface of the water, it allows itself to sink slowly into the river. It will reach the bed of the river without any effort. Once the pebble is at the bottom of the river, it continues to rest. It allows the water to pass by.
We all know what happens when a fire goes out. The flames die down and the fire is gone for good. So when we first learn that the name for the goal of Buddhist practice, nibbana (nirvana), literally means the extinguishing of a fire, it's hard to imagine a deadlier image for a spiritual goal: utter annihilation.
This script was written and edited by: John D. Hughes, Arrisha Burling, Frank Carter, Leanne Eames, Jocelyn Hughes, Lisa Nelson, Julie O’Donnell, Nick Prescott, Pennie White and Lenore Hamilton. Consider a water tank as a model of understanding. When the water in the tank gets too low, you get sick and eventually die. For you to stay alive, the tank must be consistently replenished with water.
When we do walking meditation, the point is not to get somewhere, but rather to practice, using walking as the object of our attention. Even when we do have to get somewhere and must drive to do so, there is an opportunity for practice. Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen master and poet, has written a number of gathas, or brief verses, for enhancing our mindfulness during everyday activities, even driving a car.
The word Buddhism is derived from Buddha, meaning the Enlightened One or the Awakened One. Buddha is not a proper name, but a generic term or appellative, referring to a founder of a religion, one who has attained supreme enlightenment and who is regarded as superior to all other beings, human or divine, by virtue of his knowledge of the Truth (Dhamma).
Lama Thubten Yeshe gave this teaching during a five-day meditation course he conducted at Dromana, near Melbourne, Australia, in March, 1975. Edited by Nicholas Ribush. This teaching appears in the November/December 1997 issue of Mandala Magazine.
“When we take refuge in the Buddha, we mean the qualities of the Buddha that are inherent within us. We are taking refuge in our own intrinsic enlightenment.” Many people these days are reading books about Buddhism, practicing Buddhist meditation, and applying Buddhist principles in their work and personal lives.
We will illustrate the priorities of a Buddha Dhamma practitioner in contrast to the norms of the four common forms of Australian culture towards family life. There is no pure one culture but rather high-bred mixtures in a range from total denial of any family responsibility or obligation to obsessive clinging to the family unit as the one and only refuge that matters.
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.