Written by Ava (Phuong-Thao) Nguyen Dharma Name: Quang Thanh * Written in reference to materials presented in lecture by Dr. James Manseau Sauceda, professor at California State University, Long Beach
With the Jade Buddha now touring the world, many communities are now taking the time to reflect upon peace. However, such reflection requires us to systematically think about what peace means to each of us individually. How can we attain peace? Where can we find it? What are the steps to peace? The largest obstacle to peace is suffering - in particular the acknowledgement of suffering.
The Buddha called for disciples to be of service to revealing the amount of suffering that not only they are subject to, but that all people are subject to. At times, we are not given the true level of suffering in the world. For example, many people are not aware of the alarming amount of violence in cities like Los Angeles, where gang activity has taken the lives of 10,000 youth in the last few years. There are 90 active gangs in the city of Long Beach alone. Long Beach is also the 4th highest in poverty in the state. Did we, as a community, know this? When we ourselves are unaware and in denial of the suffering around us, there is no possible way to attain peace. Below is an excerpt from the Buddha's teachings about the progression to peace, called his "Chain of Conditions." Buddha’s Chain of Conditions: Heading Us Towards Peace
In nurturing our own ability to see suffering as it really is, we nurture the abandoning of denial - In nurturing the abandoning of denial, we nurture the opening of positive intervention - In nurturing the opening of positive interventions, we nurture our own empowerment- In nurturing our own empowerment, we nurture effective action plans for change - In nurturing effective action plans for change, we become freed from our sorrow, lamentation, pain, and despair.
The first element deals with nurturing our own ability to see suffering in others. This is the first and most crucial step to peace. We have to be able to see that our opponents are suffering as well. Once we are able to see that, we can look inwards and see that we share the same suffering. We become less dogmatic and are free to open our hearts to others, even those we once called our enemies. Many times, we see only our own suffering, which leads us to become angry and our hearts become cemented. We must nurture our ability to see the suffering of every human being. In the second element, the key to intervention is that it must be positive. Simply trying to stop a problem at its roots is not positive - followingits roots and understanding its growth is positive. In this way, you come to understand the sourceof another person's suffering.
The third and fourth elements are about the process of nurturing positive action. We have to take right action that pinpoints the source of the suffering of all parties. In this way, we are led to the final element, where our actions free us from our sufferings.
Just as The Buddha spoke of a Chain of Conditions leading to Peace, he also spoke of conditions that can lead to violence. Below is an excerpt. Buddha’s Chain of Conditions: Leading To Violence
In nurturing denial, we nurture resentment - In nurturing resentment, we nurture anger - In nurturing anger, we nurture violence - In nurturing violence, we nurture suffering - In nurturing suffering, we are not freed from our sorrow, lamentation, pain, and despair.
Like the elements of the chain of conditions leading towards peace, these chains of conditions issue a domino effect, one leading inevitably to the other. The first step, nurturing denial, stems from our own unwillingness to see that others are suffering in addition to ourselves. That step is the hardest to take, yet the most crucial.
Andy Le, a 10-year-old monk at the Ventura Buddhist Center,is believed to be on a spiritual path that will help bring peace to humanity in the 21st century.
“This is an amazing little boy,” said Venerable Thich Thong Hai, founder of the Ventura Buddhist Center. “We are very happy and honored he was born in this county. It’s a great blessing.”
Reincarnation is part of the Buddhist tradition, leading spiritual leaders to believe the boy’s birth in Oxnard is part of a greater plan, Hai said.
“In a previous life, he was a high ranking monk in Thailand,” he said. “That’s why his parents and the monks and nuns here are trying to help … keep him on the right track. That’s why we protect him.”
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
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.
The Covid-19 pandemic is the most serious disaster the world is facing. The pandemic has a negative impact on many aspects of human life. Although numerous reports and statistics emphasize economic damages, they seem to pay less attention to psychological injuries or problems caused by the pandemic. Whereas, in reality millions of people are living with stress, fear and despair because of Covid-19. According to a report by the United Nations:
People’s distress is understandable given the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives. During the Covid-19 emergency, people are afraid of infection, dying, and losing family members…. Not surprisingly, higher-than-usual levels of symptoms of depression and anxiety have been recorded in various countries. (2020, p. 7)
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,
One day, Little Pebble went to his teacher, and said, ‘Master, my friend’s dog Tiger died.’
The look on Little Pebble’s face told the old monk that he was troubled. ‘Little one, do you have any questions?’
‘Master, where did Tiger go?’
‘Where did you come from?’ asked the old monk.
‘From my mummy’s tummy.’
‘And where did Mummy come from?’
Little Pebble couldn’t think of an answer.
The Master regarded his young disciple for a moment, then said, ‘Remember, when you made shapes with mud and named them Mummy, Daddy, Master?’
“Calling forth the Great Compassion, we are one with our True Nature; that which is directly Buddha, also indirectly Buddha. Oneness with the Triple Treasure, endless, joyous, perfect being. Morning thought is Kuan-Shih-Yin, evening thought is Kuan-Shih-Yin. All present thoughts arise from Mind, no thought exists apart from Mind.”
These are the words of the Ten Verse Life-Prolonging Kuan-Yin Sutra. Who is reciting them?
A few blocks away, an old man is crying out for help and someone hears. He is a brother, sister, father, mother from a previous life. A phone is picked up and then there are footsteps running towards the sound, “Help me! Help...” Someone sees the old man sitting on the top step, near the front door of his house.
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.