Venerable Pannyavaro is an Australian Buddhist monk who has devoted his life to the meditational aspects of the Buddha's teachings.
During his meditation training, he practiced under several meditation masters in Sri Lanka and Burma, including Venerable Sayadaw U Janaka of Chanmyay Meditation Centre, Rangoon, who is the foremost disciple of the renowned Burmese meditation master, the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw.
Pannyavaro was involved in the beginnings of a number of the very early Buddhist communities in Australia. He later went to Thailand and received higher ordination at Wat Borvornivet in Bangkok under Venerable Phra Nyanasamvarva, the Sangha Raja of Thailand.
Since 1974, he has from time to time studied and practised Vipassana meditation in most of the major Theravada Buddhist countries, including long periods of intensive practise with teachers at the Mahasi Sayadaw centres in Burma.
In the year 563B.C. on the border of modern day Nepal and India, a son was born to a chieftain of the Sakya clan. His name was Siddhartha Gotama and at the age of thirty-five, he attained, after six years of struggle and through his own insight, full enlightenment or Buddhahood. The term 'Buddha' is not a name of a god or an incarnation of a god, despite later Hindu claims to the contrary, but is a title for one who has realised through good conduct, mental cultivation, and wisdom the cause of life's vicissitudes and the way to overcome them. Buddhism is perhaps. unique amongst the world's religions in that it does not place reliance for salvation on some external power, such as a god or even a Buddha, but places the responsibility for life's frustrations squarely on the individual. The Buddha said:
The Pope, who managed to get the United Nations "International Year for Tolerance" off to a good start with the launch of his book, 'Crossing the Threshold of Hope' - Johnathan Cape, London, has demonstrated his abysmal ignorance and lack of understanding of Buddhism. Although he, with reservations, expresses guarded approval of Judaism, Hinduism and Islam, he considers Buddhism beyond the pale. He trots out the usual cliches about Buddhism being "negative" and pessimistic. What really worries him is the appeal Buddhism has to the 'Western' mind, especially to Catholics who see in Buddhist meditation techniques something that has been lost from the contemplative tradition of early Christianity. He provides no logical arguments against Buddhism but resorts to dogma to prove his point.
Buddhism is one of Australia’s fastest growing religions, having increased by 79% in the years 1996 to 2001, then numbering some 357,814 people, being 1.9% of the population. According to the 2001 Commonwealth Census, the majority of Buddhist live in New South Wales and Victoria. The largest concentration of Buddhists in Australia is in the Fairfield Local Government Area where 21.2% of the population registered as Buddhists.