From 1983 to 1985 when I was in Singapore engaged in the Buddhist studies project at the Curriculum Development Institute, I was invited by the Srilankaramaya Buddhist Temple and a number of Buddhist friends to deliver four series of lectures covering some of the major traditions of Buddhism.
The 'Going for Refuge' and taking the Precepts define a person as a practising Buddhist.
Going for Refuge gives a continual perspective on life by referring one's conduct and understanding to the qualities of Buddha (wisdom), Dhamma (truth) and Sangha (virtue). The Precepts are also for reflection and to define one's actions as a responsible human being.
The ultimate goal of Buddhism is the deathless condition of Nibbana, the sole reality. Hence, one who aspires to that state should renounce mundane pursuits and attachments, which are ephemeral, for the sake of that reality. But there are very few who are sufficiently mature to develop themselves to achieve that state in this very life. Thus the Buddha does not force the life of renunciation upon those who lack the spiritual capacity to embark upon the higher life.
Dukkha often translates as "suffering", but it also means the quality of unsatisfactoriness and uncertainty related to change. According to Buddhists all the conditional states of life are dukkha. The alleviation or elimination of dukkha or the path to freedom is a very personal path which may include western psychotherapies and or spiritual practices.
Anger seems to be an emotion that people have a lot of difficulty with, so I'd like to talk about how to deal specifically when such an emotion occurs. Say you're sitting and anger appears and you think, "Oh no - anger!" - that's resistance. But what about, "Oh, great, anger!"? Do you see the difference? We are usually very accepting of the moment when the bird sings, but with anger it is more difficult.
Brothers and Sisters, I would like to address the topic of spiritual values by defining two levels of spirituality.
To begin, let me say that as human beings our basic aim is to have a happy life; we all want to experience happiness.
"He who attends on the sick attends on me," declared the Buddha, exhorting his disciples on the importance of ministering to the sick. This famous statement was made by the Blessed One when he discovered a monk lying in his soiled robes, desperately ill with an acute attack of dysentery. With the help of Ananda, the Buddha washed and cleaned the sick monk in warm water.
Ideally, education is the principal tool of human growth, essential for transforming the unlettered child into a mature and responsible adult. Yet everywhere today, both in the developed world and the developing world, we can see that formal education is in serious trouble.
Buddhism teaches to, and expects from, its followers a certain level of ethical behaviour. The minimum that is required of the lay Buddhist is embodied in what is called the Five Precepts (panca sila), the third of which relates to sexual behaviour. Whether or not homosexuality, sexual behaviour between people of the same sex, would be breaking the third Precept is what I would like to examine here.
In his 1983 paper "The 'Suicide' Problem in the Paali Canon," Martin Wiltshire wrote: "The topic of suicide has been chosen not only for its intrinsic factual and historical interest but because it spotlights certain key issues in the field of Buddhist ethics and doctrine.