Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Buddhist view of homosexuality


by (the late) Ven. Dr K Sri Dhammananda, Published on the Buddhist Channel, June 30, 2015

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- We can no longer pretend that this aspect of human behavior - homosexuality - is something shameful and if we ignore it long enough it will simply go away.
<< "There is nothing intrinsically wrong with sex. What is wrong is attachment and slavery to it, on believing that indulgence in sex can bring ultimate happiness.." -- Ven Dr K Sri Dhammananda (1919-2006)
To begin with, present day attitudes are largely influenced by the Tudor-Christian approach in the Bible which was blown out of proportion by the narrow mindedness of the Victorian era in 19th Century England.
In Asia, especially India and China, sex was never seen as something dirty only to be indulged in surreptitiously and only for the purposes of breeding. Stone sculptures on the Hindu temples of India amply testify to the fact that all kinds of sexual behavior (including masturbation) was an expression of KAMA, of sensual pleasure which could be indulged in within the limits of Dharma, which in this case meant virtue.
As human beings, we are equipped with bodies which crave for the pleasures of all kinds (not only sex) - for food, pleasant smells, sounds etc. If we deny these for being sinful, then we repress natural desires which are harmful. The being which is the victim of MAYA (ignorance) sees the body as real and craves to satisfy its longing for KAMA.
But as the being matures spiritually MAYA is replaced with VIDYA (knowledge) and PANNA (wisdom) . Therefore when the body is seen as an illusion, than the being naturally GROWS OUT of craving. Here, we see the superior being renounces sex through maturity just as a child stops playing with toys as he or she grows up.There is nothing intrinsically wrong with sex. What is wrong is attachment and slavery to it, on believing that indulgence in sex can bring ultimate happiness. This is the problem with the exploitation of sex by the mass entertainment industry today - extending the myth that sex can bring lasting happiness.
The third of the Five Precepts we recite in daily Buddhist practice is: undertake the training rule to refrain from sexual misconduct. First we note that there is no compulsion, no fear of punishment for infringement of any divine law, but when we recognize the danger of attachment to sex, we freely take the steps (training rule) to grow out of it, i.e. "I undertake".
Next we look at "sexual misconduct" - here we refer specifically to sexual misconduct, not all sexual behaviour. Sex is not prohibited to those who do not choose to be celibate. Undoubtedly, this rule only applies to those who are not monks or nuns. These latter have voluntarily taken it upon themselves to abstain from sex to better concentrate on their spiritual progress. By misconduct is meant behavior which harms the person who does the act or the other party.
This in a way means that if both parties are consenting adults, not under-aged, not “attached”- legally or otherwise to someone else, there is no harm done.
In Buddhism we do not consider any action "sinful" in the sense that we transgress a divine commandment. We act wrongly because of Ignorance and therefore we commit an Akusala Kamma (unskilful action) which delays or interferes with our spiritual progress. Because of our Ignorance about the real nature of things (in this case our body) we act in ways which are detrimental to us from a spiritual point of view.
Wisdom and Understanding will help us refrain from harmful actions, both mental and physical.
In this connection, Buddhism does not recognize that marriage is a divinely ordained institution which suddenly makes sex OK. Sex is a human activity which has nothing to do with heaven and hell. You will notice that sexual restraint is only ONE of the Five Precepts.
Killing is far more serious because you can hurt another being more viciously. Sex is caused by a craving just like craving for food, liquor, drugs, wealth, power, etc. Attachment to any of these constitutes Akusala Kamma. Buddhism discourages any of these forms of carving because it will tie us down more firmly to Samsara. Also indulgence in sex can lead to other evils.
One may see from this that Buddhism does not see Homosexuality as WRONG and HETROSEXUALITY as RIGHT. Both are sexual activity using the body, both are strong expressions of lust which increase desire for life and therefore trap us longer in Samsara. Whether two men or a couple fall in love, it arises out of the same human limitation that is, of not seeing the body as empty of any ultimate reality.
Buddhism does not condemn homosexuals in the same way as it does not condemn any wrong doing. We act through ignorance of the true nature of things, therefore we are only guilty of AKUSALA Kamma (unskilful action) . We have no right to condemn others.
Our duty is to help others see that they are acting out of ignorance, to show how real happiness can be gained. We have no right to condemn those who think or act differently from us especially when we ourselves are slaves of sensual pleasure in other forms. We know that when we point one finger at others, three fingers are pointing at us.
In summary, homosexuality like heterosexuality arises from Ignorance, and is certainly not "sinful" in a Christian sense. All forms of sex increase lust, craving, attachment to the body.
With wisdom we learn to grow out of these attachments. We do not condemn homosexuality as wrong and sinful, but we do not condone it either, simply because it, like other forms of sex, delays our deliverance from Samsara.

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

A most Profound and Wisely Ballanced Ontology:


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Buddha once explained existence as a chain of dependent emergence thus:
Some recluses and priests declare these excessively speculative views:
"Everything Exists"; which is the one extreme (Sarvastavadin Eternalism...).
Other recluses and priests declare a just as far fetched opposite extreme
view: "Everything does Not Exist" (Sunyatavadin Annihilationism...).
Avoiding both these extremes the Well-Gone-Beyond Buddha teaches
this Dhamma from the subtle, exquisite, and profound middle:
When this is present, that also exists.
When this emerges, that also arises.
When this is absent, that neither exists.
When this ceases, that also vanishes.
From ignorance arises mental construction.
From mental construction arises consciousness.
From consciousness arises naming-&-forming.
From name-&-form arises the six senses.
From the six senses arises contact.
From contact arises feeling.
From feeling arises craving.
From craving arises clinging.
From clinging arises becoming.
From becoming arises birth.
From birth arises ageing, decay, sickness and death.
From ageing, decay and death arises Suffering..
This is the origin of this entire mass of frustrating Pain...
When ignorance ceases, mental construction stops.
When mental construction ceases, consciousness stops.
When consciousness ceases, naming-&-forming stops.
When name-&-form ceases, the six senses stops.
When the six senses ceases, contact stops.
When contact ceases, feeling stops.
When feeling ceases, craving stops.
When craving ceases, clinging stops.
When clinging ceases, becoming stops.
When becoming ceases, birth stops.
When birth ceases, ageing, decay, and death stops... !
When ageing, decay and death ceases, then Suffering  stops!
This is the disappearance of this entire mass of frustrating Pain...
This - only this supremely stilled silence - is the deathless Nibbāna!


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Everything has a Cause: More on Co-Dependent Co-Arising (paticca-samuppāda):
http://What-Buddha-Said.net/drops/IV/Caused_by_What.htm
http://What-Buddha-Said.net/drops/Cohesive_Co-Origination.htm
http://What-Buddha-Said.net/drops/Collapsible_Co-Cessation.htm
http://What-Buddha-Said.net/drops/III/Causes_of_Emergence.htm

http://What-Buddha-Said.net/library/DPPN/wtb/n_r/paticca_samuppaada.htm
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Existence is dynamic thus:
 Neither a static substance out there, nor a mental illusion in here,
 But a chain of dependent states arising and ceasing momentarily...

 More on Buddhist Ontology: What exists and how does it exist?
 
http://What-Buddha-Said.net/drops/What_Exists.htm
 http://What-Buddha-Said.net/drops/Advanced_Right_View.htm
Everything has a Cause..
Have a nice and Noble day.
signature.pic
Friendship is the Greatest! Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]
http://What-Buddha-Said.net

Monday, June 22, 2015

Exhibition on Indian Buddhist Art opens in Singapore


By Alice Chia, CNA, 18 Jun 2015

Titled "Treasures from Asia's Oldest Museum: Buddhist Art from the Indian Museum, Kolkata", the two-month-long exhibition features dramatic sculptures and paintings tracing scenes from the life of Buddha.
SINGAPORE -- More than 80 pieces of rare Buddhist art from the Indian subcontinent are on display at the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore. The exhibition, which features artworks from Asia's oldest museum in Kolkata, chronicles the evolution of Buddhist art from the 2nd century BC.
Titled "Treasures from Asia's Oldest Museum: Buddhist Art from the Indian Museum, Kolkata", the exhibition was opened on Thursday (Jun 18) by Singapore's Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong and India's Minister of State for Culture and Tourism (Independent Charge) Dr Mahesh Sharma.
On display are dramatic sculptures and paintings tracing scenes from the life of Buddha, and symbols used to represent Buddhist concepts. Highlights include a 1.2 metre tall sandstone standing Buddha dating to the 5th century; and a 10th century carving of Queen Maya giving birth to Buddha.
Experts say the 1.2-metre-tall statue of Buddha influenced images of the Buddha in other regions, such as China and Southeast Asia.
"There's a big Indian diaspora that lived in Singapore and also there is a large Buddhist community here, so we did feel that it was relevant to Singaporeans, and hope they would come and enjoy looking at Buddhist art from the Buddhist homeland," said Ms Theresa McCullough, the senior curator for South Asia at the museum. "And also the Indian Museum in Kolkata is the oldest museum in Asia, and it set the standard for the National Museum in Singapore and other museums that sprung up subsequently." The exhibition takes place in the 50th year of Singapore's independence, and celebrates the 50th year of diplomatic relations between India and Singapore. It is the result of a collaboration with the Kolkata museum and is sponsored by the Indian government.
However, an obelisk on display bears testimony to the fact that ties between the two countries go back much further than 50 years.
"This was erected in 1850, to commemorate the visit to Singapore by the Marquess Dalhousie, which is the British viceroy of India," said Mr Wong. "The occasion was significant and crucial in recognising Singapore's status as a port city, under British rule at that time through the government of India."
Both countries hope they will be able to inspire more people to learn about Buddhist art.
"We, in India, are working hard on this. To make it a part of the curriculums, to make our young generation visit our museums, the exhibitions, to learn the rich heritage and culture of not only our country but the world around," said Dr Sharma.
The exhibition runs until Aug 16.
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Thursday, June 11, 2015

Gently is


by Sylvia Bay, The Buddhist Channel, June 2, 2015



For one who seeks the meditative state,
Much work is needed to prepare the mind,
To break it out of bad habits,
To want, to own, to search and hunt.
Learn to have no expectations, no wants,
No going somewhere,
Or being someone.
No past, no future,
No mental constructs,
Let go of planning,
And rest in the breathing.

Maintaining focus,
Keep mind sharp and steady,
Know that there's watching,
Know arising, falling.
Know when it's leaning towards subtle straying.
Leash it gently,
Keep it in line.
Firmly but patiently,
Just watch roving mind.

A moment will come,
When the mind stops tugging.
And began to settle into a quiet abiding.
Note this moment:
Note the knowing.
It is the stillness of no one being.

The mind becomes soft.
The heart feels light.
A smile is formed.
Body delights.
A subtle vibration,
Perhaps gentle rocking.
Odd physical sensations,
Are just normal happenings.

Do not be attached
To anything that is seen.
Whatever that arises,
That surely must cease.

Each moment is conditioned,
Upon another before.
This is impermanence.
Just an eternal Law.

That which is ever changing,
Is innately unsatisfactory.
In essence there is nothing
Worth holding and grieving.

Wisdom is when
The mind let go
Of the belief in an I.
And hold not to things,
That it maintains are Mine.

Wisdom is when
It let go of views
That were once so dear,
Including that mind-made delusion
That is the Self.

When the mind is content,
And ask for nothing,
Being no one,
And going nowhere.
There lies the bliss
Of just being
Quietly knowing
Gently is.

Buddhist Philosophy Eric Fromm’s views


By Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge M.D., Lanka Daily News, May 30, 2015

Buddhism helps man to find an answer to the question of his existence, an answer which is essentially the same as that given in the Judeo-Christian tradition, and yet which does not contradict the rationality, realism, and independence which are modern man’s precious achievements. Paradoxically, Eastern religious thought turns out to be more congenial to Western rational thought than does Western religious thought itself’
– Erich Fromm
Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The social psychologist and humanistic philosopher, Eric Fromm was vastly influenced by Freud and Karl Heinrich Marx. He became a follower of Neoanalytic tradition. In later years, Fromm started reading Zen Buddhism in depth.  He saw Buddhism as a philosophical-anthropological system based on observation of facts and their rational explanation.
(Buddhism and the Mode of Having  vs. Being – Erick Fromm 1975). Fromm believed that Buddhism is a completely rational system which demands no intellectual sacrifice.
Fromm’s interest towards Buddhism was obvious. Among the Western scholars, Caroline A F Rhys Davids was one of the pioneers to conceptualize canonical Buddhist writings in terms of psychology. Professor William James was making some comparisons between the consciousness and thought process that was described in the Western Psychology and what the Buddha had taught two millenniums ago.  Many former members of the Freud’s Psychoanalytic society were reading Buddhist philosophy and making evaluations. By this time Carl Jung had highlighted the mind analysis in Buddhism. Therefore Fromm’s interest towards Buddhism was not an abrupt event.
In his 1950 work Psychoanalysis and Religion, Eric Fromm profoundly analyzed Buddhist Philosophy.  He made a distinction between the authoritarian and humanistic religions and interpreted Buddhism as an antiauthoritarian religion that provides for personal validation and growth.As Fromm viewed, in the Buddhist philosophy there is no surrender to a power transcending figure and as a virtue; obedience does not play a key role.  Buddhism is   centered around  man and his strength. Man must develop his power of reason in order to understand himself, his relationship to his fellow men and his position in the universe. Fromm further says that a humanistic religion like Buddhism is geared to achieve the greatest strength, not the greatest powerlessness; virtue is self-realization, not obedience.
Like Carl Rogers, Fromm believed man’s ability for self growth. He refused to believe the Freudian concept that explains man is geared by innate primary destructive forces of libido. Fromm realized that unlike in the Viennese Victorian society   sexual repression plays no major part in the Contemporary Society. Fromm once stated that in the modern society people mostly repress their true thoughts and feelings rather than the sexual urges. Buddhism and psychoanalysis
The psychoanalytical components in Buddhism have been emphasized by many scholars like Martin Wicramasinghe D. Lit, Laurence W. Christensen, etc. The Buddhist Jathaka stories from the Khuddaka Nikaya contain 550 stories and Rev Buddhaghosa, translated most of the Jathaka stories into Pali about 430 A.D.  In most of these Buddhist Jathaka stories a powerful psychoanalytical   fraction can be detected.
Eric Fromm saw a larger perimeter in psychoanalysis and did not limit it to neuroses. Fromm criticized Freud’s patriarchal attitude as limiting the development of psychoanalysis as a science (Maccoby 1994). Eric Fromm suggests that Zen Buddhism has a prolific influence on theory and technique of psychoanalysis.
“…[W]hat can be said with more certainty is that the knowledge of Zen, and a concern with it, can have a most fertile and clarifying influence on the theory and technique of psychoanalysis. Zen, different as it is in its method from psychoanalysis, can sharpen the focus, throw new light on the nature of insight, and heighten the sense of what it is to see, what it is to be creative, what it is to overcome the affective contaminations and false intellectualizations which are the necessary results of experience based on the subject-object split” (Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis-Eric Fromm
p. 140).
The psychoanalytical module in Buddhism is very much evident. Buddhism provides psychological methods of analyzing human experience and inquiring into the potential and hidden capacities of the human mind. According to Buddhism mind precedes its objects. They are mind-governed and mind-made. The verse 37 of the Dhammapada   explains the dynamics of human mind thus: The mind is capable of travelling vast distances – up or down, north or south, east or west – in any direction. It can travel to the past or the future.
Gerald Virtbauer of the University of Vienna makes comparisons between the Buddhism and the Western Psychology.
The first approach is to present and explore parts of Buddhist teachings as a psychology. As many teachers of different Buddhist traditions point out, Buddhism is not primarily a religion based on faith and worship, but a system, or an art to inquire into the human mind. (Buddhism as a Psychological System: Three Approaches-Gerald Virtbauer 2008)
Search for meaning
In 1959, Eric Fromm co authored an incomparable book titled Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis with D. T. Suzuki and Richard de Martino.  In this book Fromm postulates distinct relationship between the Western psychoanalyses and Zen Buddhism. Eric Fromm argued that the human being needs to find an answer to his existence and this urge to search for meaning differs human from other animals. In addition he highlights that   human has an inner dynamism that directed towards personal growth.  He viewed that living is a process that starts at birth and does not end at death. Fromm states that most of the people   die before they are fully born. The notion of fully born according to Fromm is becoming fully functional as a human being.
Eric Fromm in his book, Escape from Freedom asks series of questions that were originally based on Talmud.
1) If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
2) If I am for myself only, what am I?
3) If not now, when?
These types of questions were evident in the Buddhist Philosophy.  Once when the lord Buddha was delivering a sermon, a young girl showed up. Then the Buddha asked a series of questions from her.
1) Where do you come from?
She said I don’t know venerable sir, and then the Buddha asked
2) Where do you go?
She said I don’t know.
3) Do you know?
The girl replied – “Yes”
Finally the Buddha asked
4) Don’t you know?
She said ‘No’
It was an enigmatic type of answers, but the girl was referring to her previous existence when the Buddha asked where do you come from? She did not know from where she came to the present existence. When she was asked where do you go? She replied I don’t know, because she does not know   where she would go after her death. When the Buddha asked do you know? She said yes because she knew that she was a mortal, and she would certainly die one day. When she was asked don’t you know?  Her reply was no. Because,  she did not know when she would be dead.
The search for meaning has become the main theme of religion and philosophy.  The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of life or existence in general.
The Buddha explained that life is permeated with suffering caused by desire that suffering ceases when desire ceases.
Human suffering
The Buddhist Philosophy deeply explains the causes of human suffering and path for freedom. Therefore Buddhism is not based on pessimism. It is based on realistic principles. The mundane understanding of suffering is related to bearing of pain, inconvenience, and distress that connected with hopelessness. According to the Buddha the word suffering has a deep existential meaning. It is a universal explanation of the true human condition.
To explain suffering, the Buddha used the term ‘Dukkha’, which has a universal meaning. Many Western Psychologists misinterpreted the word ‘Dukkha’ (universal suffering), and they viewed it as an agonizing human condition. This was due to the mistranslation done by the French Philosopher Anatole France in the late Centaury. Anatole France translated the word ‘Dukkha’ into French as souffrance and then into English as suffering.  Ever since many Western scholars grasped the concept of ‘Dukkha’ incorrectly. Therefore many thought Dukkha symbolizes the dark side of human existence filled with pessimism and despair.
However Eric Fromm was able to grasp the deep philosophical notion of universal suffering or ‘Dukkha, and he saw human suffering in personal lives, in the society and in the civilization.
In 1960, Fromm wrote: “Psychoanalysis is a characteristic expression of Western man’s spiritual crisis, and an attempt to find a solution”(Fromm et al., 1960, p. 80). Although Freud stated that Psychoanalysis is a method of medical treatment for those who suffer from neurosis (Five Lectures delivered by 1909 by Dr. Sigmund Freud at the Clark University) Fromm did not want to limit psychoanalysis to the neurotic patients. Unlike Sigmund Freud, Fromm believed in experience rather than interpretation.
Fromm’s psychoanalytic technique was essentially different from Freud’s psychic archeology. Fromm attempted to create what he called a more ‘humanistic’ face-to-face encounter. He believed the analyst must understand the patient by empathy as well as intellect, with the heart as well as the head. (Maccoby 1994).
Freud assumed that hysterical patients suffer from reminiscences. Their symptoms are the remnants and the memory symbols of certain traumatic experiences. When Freud went into individual level, Fromm applied psychoanalytic theory to social and cultural problems.
Eric Fromm saw the human suffering in the individual level as well as within the society. He saw the collective suffering. Fromm was on the view that psychological problems often result when an individual feels isolated from society. Describing individual suffering Fromm wrote:
“The common suffering is the alienation from oneself, from one’s fellow man, and from nature; the awareness that life runs out of one’s hand like sand, and that one will die without having lived; that one lives in the midst of plenty and yet is joyless” (Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis- E. Fromm et al. pp. 85-86).
Fromm Further says that one of the worst forms of mental suffering is boredom, not knowing what to do with oneself and one’s life. Even if man had no monetary or any other reward, he would be eager to spend his energy in some meaningful way because he could not stand the boredom which inactivity produces.
Fromm saw extensive suffering in the society that was resulted from centuries old socio economic systems and loss of meaning. Fromm’s book The Sane Society looks in to the dilemmas caused by the industrialization. Many Psychologists believe that Fromm’s publication The Sane Society was a respond to Freud’s Civilization and its Discontents. In the Sane Society Fromm looked in to a new form of human suffering and man’s escape into over conformity and the danger of robotism in the modern industrial society.
In his book, Escape from Freedom, Fromm describes how freedom can be frightening and therefore, many people run from freedom. For average men freedom is not an emancipation it is a burden. Fromm further postulates that man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.
Know thyself
Eric Fromm strongly believed that ‘Know thyself’ is one of the fundamental commands that aim at human strength and happiness. Fromm’s notion ‘Know thyself’ was stated by the Buddha over 2,600 years ago. In the story of  Bhaddawaggiya, Princes reveals the importance of knowing thyself.
The Bhaddawaggiya Princes where looking for a woman who stole their valuable possessions. When they met the Buddha the princes asked, “Venerable Sir, did you see a woman? The Buddha answered, “What is more important whether look for a woman or to look for thy self? (means know thy self). The princes replied that more important is to know thy self.
Knowing thyself or achieving self realization   is one of the virtues of Buddhism. The young apprentice, Angulimala was ill-advised by his teacher and he became an addictive killer.  He killed nearly 999, men and collected the fingers of his victims.  When he saw the Buddha he thought that he could have his next victim. Angulimala ordered the Buddha to stop. The Buddha replied, “ I have already stopped therefore you should stop too.” The Buddha meant that he does not harm anyone and he was able to stop the cycle of Sansara or the continuous flow of birth, life , death and reincarnation. This phrase created a cognitive revolution in Angulimala.   Angulimala had a self-realization that led to a dramatic transformation his personality. He renounced violence.
Human freedom
The idea of freedom was unique to Fromm. He assumed that freedom is the central characteristic of human nature.  According to Fromm often people escape from freedom. He described three ways in which people escape from freedom:
1. Authoritarianism (either submitting power to others becoming passive and compliant or becoming an authority by applying structure to others)
2.  Destructiveness.
3.  Automaton conformity.
In his 1968 book, The Revolution of Hope, Fromm writes that man has to protect himself not only against the danger of losing his life but also against the danger of losing his mind.
Michael Maccoby in his 1994 article, The Two Voices of Erich Fromm: the Prophetic and the Analytic points out that Fromm’s model of the healthy individual who transcends and transforms society is the ‘productive character,’ the individuated person who loves and creates. Unlike his other character types – receptive, hoarding, exploitative and marketing – The productive character lacks clinical or historical grounding. It is a questionable ideal. (Maccoby 1994).
Eric Fromm believed that human is capable of determining his freedom. He saw Zen Buddhism as a way from bondage to freedom. In his own words Fromm explains:
“Zen Buddhism is the art of seeing into the nature of one’s being; it is a way from bondage to freedom; it liberates our natural energies; … and it impels us to express our faculty for happiness and love (p. 115).
Eric Fromm introduced five basic needs and the fifth need he called -A Frame of Orientation – The need for a stable and consistent way of perceiving the world and understanding its events. The Buddha explained that the virtuous man perceives the world and its events in realistic manner. He achieves self realization the highest plane in the human intellectual structure.
The Ven. Dr. Walpola Rahula explains this condition more gracefully in his book, What the Buddha Taught.
He who has realized Truth, Nirvana, is the happiest being in the world. He is free from all ‘complexes’ and obsessions, the worries and troubles that torment others. His mental health is perfect. He does not repent the past, nor does he brood over the future.  He lives fully in the present. Therefore he appreciates and enjoys things in the purest sense without self-projections. He is joyful, exultant, enjoying the pure life, his faculties pleased, free from anxiety, serene and peaceful.
Eric Fromm saw humanistic religion such as Buddhism could help people achieve self-fulfillment and understanding.  Fromm concluded that the Buddhism could see man realistically and objectively, having nobody but the ‘awakened’ ones to guide him, and being able to he guided because each man has within himself the capacity to awake and be enlightened.
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Mindfulness has lost its Buddhist roots, and it may not be doing you good


by Miguel Farias and Catherine Wikholm, The Conversation, June 5, 2015

London, UK -- Mindfulness as a psychological aid is very much in fashion. Recent reports on the latest finding suggested that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is as effective as anti-depressants in preventing the relapse of recurrent depression.
While the authors of the paper interpreted their results in a slightly less positive light, stating that (contrary to their hypothesis) mindfulness was no more effective than medication, the meaning inferred by many in the media was that mindfulness was superior to medication.
Mindfulness is a technique extracted from Buddhism where one tries to notice present thoughts, feeling and sensations without judgement. The aim is to create a state of “bare awareness”. What was once a tool for spiritual exploration has been turned into a panacea for the modern age — a cure-all for common human problems, from stress, to anxiety, to depression. By taking this “natural pill” every day, we open ourselves up to the potential for myriad benefits and no ill-effects, unlike synthetic pills, such as anti-depressants, whose potential for negative side-effects we are all aware of.
We don’t know how it works
Mindfulness has been sold to us and we are buying it. After all, thousands of studies suggest that it produces various kinds of measurable psycho-biological effects. However, despite what is commonly propagated, the idea that science has unequivocally shown how meditation can change us is a myth. After examining the literature from the last 45 years on the science of meditation, we realised with astonishment that we are no closer to finding out how meditation works or who benefits the most or the least from it.
The few available meta-analyses report moderate evidence that meditation affects us in various ways, such as reducing anxiety and increasing positive emotions. However, it is less clear how powerful and long-lasting these changes are — does it work better
than physical relaxation for example? Or than a placebo? The evidence on this is contradictory and inconclusive.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is an eight-week group therapy programme blending cognitive education with mindfulness techniques. It was designed specifically as a treatment to help prevent individuals who have experienced recurrent depression from further relapse. As well as weekly group sessions, participants are encouraged to engage in daily mindfulness meditation at home throughout the course. This mindfulness therapy is growing in popularity, with recent calls for it to be more widely available on the NHS.
Yet we still can’t be sure what the active ingredient is. Is it the meditation itself that causes the positive effects, or is it more to do with learning to step back and become aware of our thoughts and feelings in a supportive group environment? And why does it only work for some?
Side effects
Mindfulness is presented as a technique that will have lots of positive effects – and only positive effects. It is easy to see why this myth is so widespread. After all, sitting in silence, focusing on your breathing or being aware of the flow of thoughts and feelings would seem like a fairly innocuous activity with little potential for harm.
But considering that many of us rarely sit alone with our thoughts, it isn’t hard to see how this might lead to difficult thoughts and emotions rising to the surface for some people – which we may, or may not, be equipped to deal with. Yet the potential for emotional and psychological disturbance is rarely talked about by mindfulness researchers, the media, or mentioned in training courses.
And here we come to an important point. Buddhist meditation was designed not to make us happier, but to radically change our sense of self and perception of the world. Given this, it is perhaps not surprising that some will experience negative effects such as dissociation, anxiety and depression. However, like the small print on medication, these “side-effects” in some individuals are not what the creators of this pill are concerned with promoting.
For some, penicillin is life saving; for others, it induces a harmful reaction. Just because your friend or family member responds to a pill a certain way, does not mean you will respond in the same way. The same is also true with mindfulness: for some, it may be very effective or it may not work at all, for others, there may be harmful effects.
Mindfulness has been separated from its roots, stripped of its ethical and spiritual connotations, and sold to us as a therapeutic tool. While this may not deny its power as a technique to change our state of consciousness and with implications for mental health, it arguably limits its “naturalness”, as well as its potential – at least as originally intended.
Many Buddhists are critical of the use of mindfulness for purposes which are very different from the radical shift in perception they aim for — the realisation of “emptiness” and liberation from all attachments. Instead, as Giles Coren recently claimed, this technique has been turned into a McMindfulness which only reinforces one’s egocentric drives.
The idea that each of us is unique is a cornerstone of individual-based therapy. But with mindfulness-based approaches there is little space for one’s individuality, in part because it’s a group practice, but also because there has been no serious attempt to address how individuals react differently to this technique.
So if you go into it – as with taking any other kind of pill – keep your eyes open. Don’t consume mindfulness blindly.

Quantum Theory Proves That Consciousness Moves to Another Universe After Death


By Anna LeMind, The Buddhist Channel, June 8, 2015

San Francisco, CA (USA) -- A book titled “Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding the Nature of the Universe“, published in the USA, has stirred up the Internet because of the notion that life does not end when the body dies and can last forever. The author of this publication, scientist Robert Lanza, has no doubts that this may be possible.
<< Beyond time and space
Lanza is an expert in regenerative medicine and scientific director at Advanced Cell Technology Company. While he is known for his extensive research on stem cells, he was also famous for several successful experiments on cloning endangered animal species.
But not so long ago, the scientist turned his attention to physics, quantum mechanics and astrophysics. This explosive mixture has given birth to the new theory of biocentrism, which the professor has been preaching ever since. The theory implies that death simply does not exist. It is an illusion which arises in the minds of people. It exists because people identify themselves with their body.
They believe that the body is going to perish, sooner or later, thinking that their consciousness will disappear too. In fact, consciousness exists outside of constraints of time and space. It is able to be anywhere: in the human body and outside of it. That fits well with the basic postulates of quantum mechanics, according to which a certain particle can be present anywhere and an event can happen in several, sometimes countless, ways. Lanza believes that multiple universes can exist simultaneously. These universes contain multiple ways for possible scenarios to occur. In one universe, the body can be dead. And in another it continues to exist, absorbing consciousness which migrated to this universe. This means that a dead person, while traveling through the ‘tunnel’, ends up in a similar world he or she once inhabited, but this time alive. And so on, infinitely.
Multiple worlds
This hope-instilling but extremely controversial theory by Lanza has many unwitting supporters – not just ‘mere mortals’ who want to live forever, but also some well-known scientists. These are physicists and astrophysicists who tend to agree with the existence of parallel worlds and who suggest the possibility of multiple universes, known as the Multiverse theory.
Science fiction writer H.G. Wells was the first to come up with this concept, which was proposed in his story “The Door in the Wall” in 1895. 62 years after it was published, the idea was developed by Hugh Everett in his graduate thesis at the Princeton University. It basically states that at any given moment the universe divides into countless similar instances. And the next moment, these “newborn” universes split in a similar way.
You may be present in some of these worlds – you may be reading this article in one universe or watching TV in another. The triggering factor for these multiplying worlds is our actions, explained Everett. When we make certain choices, one universe instantly splits into two different versions of outcomes. In the 1980s, Andrei Linde, scientist from the Lebedev Physical Institute in Russia developed the theory of multiple universes. He is now a professor at Stanford University. Linde explained: “Space consists of many inflating spheres, which give rise to similar spheres, and those, in turn, produce spheres in even greater numbers, and so on to infinity. In the universe, they are spaced apart.
They are not aware of each other’s existence. But they represent parts of the same physical universe.” The fact that our universe is not alone is supported by data received from the Planck space telescope. Using the data, scientists created the most accurate map of the microwave background, the so-called cosmic microwave background radiation, which has remained since the inception of our universe.
They also found that the universe has a lot of anomalies represented by black holes and extensive gaps. Theoretical physicist Laura Mersini-Houghton from the North Carolina University argues that the anomalies of the microwave background exist due to the fact that our universe is influenced by other universes existing nearby. And holes and gaps are a direct result of attacks from neighboring universes. Soul quanta So, there is abundance of places or other universes where our soul could migrate after death, according to the theory of neo-biocentrism.
But does the soul exist? consciousness parallel universeProfessor Stuart Hameroff from the University of Arizona has no doubts about the existence of eternal soul. Last year, he announced that he has found evidence that consciousness does not perish after death. According to Hameroff, the human brain is the perfect quantum computer, and the soul, or consciousness, is simply information stored at the quantum level.
It can be transferred, following the death of the body; quantum information carried by consciousness merges with our universe and exists infinitely. In his turn, Lanza proves that the soul migrates to another universe. That is the main difference his theory has from the similar ones. Sir Roger Penrose, a well-known British physicist and expert in mathematics from Oxford, supports this theory and claims to have found traces of contact with other universes. Together, the scientists are developing a quantum theory to explain the phenomenon of consciousness.
They believe that they have found carriers of consciousness, the elements that accumulate information during life and “drain” consciousness somewhere else after death. These elements are located inside protein-based microtubules (neuronal microtubules), which previously have been attributed a simple role of reinforcement and transport channeling inside a living cell. Based on their structure, microtubules are best suited to function as carriers of quantum properties inside the brain. That is mainly because they are able to retain quantum states for a long time, meaning they can function as elements of a quantum computer.
Source: http://www.learning-mind.com/quantum-theory-proves-that-consciousness-moves-to-another-universe-after-death/

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Kerala mahabodhi mission celebrated Buddha poornima day on may 4th at Plakkad

Kerala mahabodhi mission celebrated  Buddha poornima day on may 4th at Plakkad town and Kakkyur Buddha temple Near Koduvayur (Palakkad dist).Dr Ajaysekher -a notable historian and Prof. of Kaladi University-Inaugurated the celebration.Dhamma mithra Arun bodh,Bro.Aniruddh raman took classes on varies subjects.Keralamahabodhi mission chairman N.Haridas bodh presided.Mission also conducted spiritual programme at Kakkayur Buddha Temple.
Dr.Ajaysekher Inagurated the Buddha poornima celebration

Buddha poornima celebration at Kakkayur Buddha temple

UPASAKAS at  Buddha temple -Kakkayur

DHAMMA MITHRA Arun Bodh

Mission honoring Dr.Ajaysekher

Mission released Buddhist Quotes in Malayalam
 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Buddhist Monk Spends Life Saving Rare Bamboo Species

Bernama, Apr 16, 2015

Hanoi, Vietnam -- Buddhist bikku (monk) Thich The Tuong has been working hard to turn his one hectare farm into a bamboo conservatory on the Son Tra Mountain, which is the home for over 110 bamboo species including the four considered on the verge of extinction in Viet Nam.
<< Buddhist bikku Thich The Tuong works at the bamboo conservation garden on Son Tra Mountain. VNS Photos Cong Thanh HA NOI (VNS-BERNAMA)
The garden, located on the Son Tra mountainside, eight kilometres from the city centre is open to all visitors, who wish to see bamboo conservation in a rural setting, along with a fishing pond and a stone installation.
"It has been a long and hard journey since I planted the first bamboo. I loved gardening since I left my native village of Vy Da to enter religious life at a small pagoda in Con Hen in Hue," said Tuong.
"I left the pagoda after my master died and found the Quan The Am Pagoda in Da Nang to continue my religious life."The garden was donated by a farmer in Son Tra after he became too tired to plant any trees. I worked the land and grew different bamboo species that I had collected from different provinces," he recalled.
"I have collected a third of the total 300 bamboo varieties in Viet Nam. Bamboo plantation has grown over the past decade, dotting the sloping hills of the Son Tra Mountain."
He said he had named the garden Son Tra Tinh Vien (Son Tra Tranquil garden).
A CONNECTION BETWEEN BAMBOO AND BUDDHISM
The 48-year-old monk said he had settled down in the area and started looking after thegarden as he wanted to continue with his religious work and preserve the bamboo gene at the same time. "I studied literature at HCM City's Social Sciences and Humanities College, so I found a connection among bamboo, literature and Buddhism," he explained.
"The Bamboo garden is my effort to preserve nature on the Son Tra Mountain, which has been recognised as a nature reserve. It would help protect the evergreen peninsula in the tourist city in the future," he said.
"Bamboo has inspired me to compose poems and literature, as well as lead a religious life. I have also created a tranquil corner in the garden for religious meditation," he said.
Four bamboo species feared on the verge of extinction are growing well in the garden.
THE MONK'S GARDEN A BAMBOO GENETIC POOL
Meanwhile, Le Thi Thoa, an ex-student of biology and environment at the Da Nang's Teachers' Training college, said the garden was literally a bamboo genetic pool.
"I spent two years working on a thesis on bamboo, and the garden was my approach for research. The monk assisted me considerably in my study of bamboo," Thoa said.
"It is a precious garden of bamboo genes in Viet Nam as bamboo forests on the upstream have been over-exploited or destroyed. Bamboo is rare in villages as the local people prefer to grow CASH crops or profitable plants," she said.
Thoa, who is a teacher at a junior secondary school in A Luoi District of Thua Thien-Hue, said she had proposed the idea of growing bamboo in environmentally polluted areas in Da Nang.
"I had read a document saying that bamboo reduces the content of dioxin in soil or air. Other plants cannot grow because of the chemical contaminating the air or land, but bamboo can develop well anywhere," she said.
The 25-year-old teacher said the development of more bamboo conservation centres would help protect valuable sources of flora and their genes in Viet Nam.
"Bamboo also plays a role in biodiversity, along with other plants. It is a source of food for animals in the forest. Bamboo can slow down heavy floods upstream and smooth downstream flows," said Nguyen Thi Tinh, a biologist from the Frankfurt Zoological Society of Germany.
"Land for bamboo in rural villages has been reserved for farming or urban development. So, the ever green plant has gradually disappeared," she said.
She said bamboo was also symbolic of the vitality and power of Vietnamese culture and its people.
BAMBOO IS VERSATILE
The monk said he had brought species from Japan, Thailand, India and Africa, whenever he visited these countries. "Bamboo can be grown as bonsai in a family garden or can be sold in the market. People just think bamboo is for construction of cottages, but it can be a source of craft in rural areas," he explained.
"Bamboo is also used as raw material for production of bamboo charcoal-based toothpaste or tooth brushes in China and Korea," he said.
The monk is worried that he will not be able to preserve the garden as the city plans to convert the farm into a tourist resort.
"I had proposed better alternatives for the bamboo conservatory, but the city's departments or agencies are yet to respond," he said.
"The directorate of the private Duy Tan University had asked me to move the garden to the university village as a field research project for students. However, I am still hesitant as I am waiting for a decision from the city authorities regarding the garden," he said.
"I will devote the garden to Da Nang as it could promote the city as a bamboo conservation centre in Viet Nam," he said.
The garden is a favourite photography spot for young people on the weekends, since it is still rare to find a precious bamboo genetic garden in the central region.

The largest Buddhist settlement in the world is in China


By Becky Pemberton, The Daily Mail, 19 April 2015

Inside the village where 40,000 monks and nuns are segregated and televisions are banned... but iPhones are allowed
Larung Gar, China -- Among the green rolling hills in the Larung Gar Valley in China, the last thing you would expect to see in the countryside are thousands of red wooden huts that have been built in a massive cluster.
<< Larung Gar Buddhist Academy is home to 40,000 monks and nuns, who travel to the settlement of Sertar to study Tibetan Buddhism
Despite its secluded location it is home to the Larung Gar Buddhist Academy, the world's largest Buddhist settlement.
A vibrant splash of red, this colourful settlement has sprung up in the 1980s and is now a haven for over 40,000 monks and nuns. 
The sprawling settlement, Sertar, sits on elevations of 12,500ft, and the religious devotees battle harsh climates to study at the remote dwelling.
The wooden huts are built so closely together, they look like a red sea spreading up the hilly terrain. Conditions are basic, with residents having to share communal toilets, and each unheated hut ranging from one to three rooms in size.
An isolated religious haven, Sertar is located around 370 miles from Chengdu, and those wishing to visit have to travel by coach for a gruelling 20 hours.
TVs are prohibited at the picturesque retreat, with monks and nuns flocking to benefit from the studies, prayers and lectures ran at the academy.
Photographer Wanson Luk journeyed to the secluded location from Chengdu on a 20-hour bumpy coach ride.
The 34-year-old Buddhist said the Larung Area has two small guest houses, but as these were occupied, he had to stay near the entrance.
He stayed two days at the Buddhist centre, taking part in ceremonies.
Luk said that the settlement welcomes everyone, and they maintain their life in the hills from donations and by small businesses like the guest house or small grocery store.
'I was most surprised about how people feel about death,' Luk said.
'I took part in the sky burial ceremony where there were hundreds or thousands of condors waiting quietly. There were 7 corpses on that day...one of them was a child.
'During the ceremony a monk will pray then the "sky burial master" will start cutting the corpses. When he is done, the condors will all fly to the corpses
'They believe the more the condors eat, the better it is and they will not eat bad people's body.'
One encounter which struck a chord for Luk was the meeting of a nun who was on her 'no speech day'.
When the photographer was asking how to get to the top of the hill for night shots she resorted to all forms of gestures to try to assist.
She ended up taking him around the whole monastery, showing him how to spin the prayer wheels and teaching him how to pray.
Although TVs are prohibited in the monastery, iPhones strangely are permitted, with her typing words to instruct him as they went.
Many of the Buddhists own second-hand iPhone 4s.
The incredible academy was established in 1980 in the uninhabited valley by Jigme Phuntsok, an influential lama of the Nyingma tradition.
Despite its remote situation, Larung Gar evolved from a handful of disciples to be the largest Buddhist settlement in the world.
It attracts a mix of students from ethnic Chinese students to pupils from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia, who attend separate classes taught in Mandarin, while larger classes are taught in Tibetan.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Kerala Mahabodhi Mission organised Dhamma class

Kerala mahabodhi mission Organised Dhamma class for students and upasakas at Dhamma bodhi hall Palakkad.Topic was 'What is Buddha Dhamma'.Brother Binoj Babu was the Faculty.

Friday, April 10, 2015

13 Buddhist Antidotes to Anger


Source: http://www.peaceful-traveler.com/Buddhism/life/, April 2, 2015

Here is a summary of various approaches to anger. They obviously will be most efficient when used with a calm and concentrated mind, either during meditation or at the moment you realize that something needs to be done about your anger. Obviously, the problem during an actual difficult situation is to have a calm and concentrated mind – a regular meditation practice can be of great help then! One of the best ways to really make progress with understanding and changing the functioning of our own mind is to try out analytical meditation, combined with these clues.
ANTIDOTE 1 – Patience.
Patience is the main antidote to anger. As common wisdom says: just count to 100… During this time, any of the below methods can be effective. The most effective method will depend on the actual situation. Especially in our age of rush and intense change, patience may not be seen as a positive quality, but take a minute to think about it – impatience can easily give rise to a general feeling of anger.
ANTIDOTE 2 – Realisation of the Noble Truth of Suffering.
Once one understands that problems and frustration are a basic fact of life, it can reduce our impatience with our own unrealistic expectations. In other words: nothing is perfect, so don’t expect it. If I believe that things should be perfect, it is almost unavoidable to feel disappointed and hurt.
ANTIDOTE 3 – Understanding Karma.
As explained in the page on Karma, the real reason for our problems are our own actions, which are in turn caused by our own negative states of mind. If someone makes us angry, it can have a sobering effect if we dare to think that the real reasons for this situation are our own past actions, and the person is just a circumstance for our own karma ripening.
ANTIDOTE 4 – Changing or Accepting.
Basically, we can find ourselves in two types of unpleasant situations: ones we can change and ones we cannot change.
– If I can change the situation, I should do something about it instead of getting all worked-up and angry. Not acting in such a situation will cause frustration in the end.
– If I cannot change the situation, I will have to accept it. If I don’t, it will only lead to frustration and a negative and unpleasant state of mind, which will only make the situation worse.
For reasons unclear to me, Westerners (including myself) appear to have big problems with accepting unpleasant situations which we cannot change. Could this be a result of impatience (a form of anger) with imperfection (an unrealistic expectation)?
Do consider the wisdom in the following remarks:
“How does this effect my Buddhist practice?
It doesn’t.
These reported events are like an arrow shot at my heart but it lands at my feet.
I choose not to bend over, pick it up, and stab myself with it.”
ANTIDOTE 5 – Realistic Analysis.
For example: someone accuses me of something.
– If it is true, I apparently made a mistake, so I should listen and learn.
– If it is untrue, the other person makes a mistake. So what? Nobody is perfect. I also make mistakes, and it is all too easy to label the other as “enemy”, in which case a helpful discussion or forgiving becomes difficult.
It may also be worthwhile searching for the real underlying reason of the problem. Of special importance is to evaluate one’s own role in the situation: my own fears, insecurity, being very unfriendly, or not being blameless (like leaving home much too late for an appointment and blaming the 5 minute delay of the train).
ANTIDOTE 7 – Realisation of Emptiness.
See the page on Wisdom. To summarise it briefly, if one deeply realises the emptiness of inherent existence or interdependence of the other person, the situation and oneself, there is nothing to be angry about. The realisation of emptiness is therefore the ultimate means of ridding oneself of unrealistic negative emotions like anger.
ANTIDOTE 8 – Equanimity.
Equanimity means that one realises the basic equality of all sentient beings; others want happiness, just like I do. Others make mistakes just like I do. Others are confused, angry and attached, just like I often am. Is the other person happy in this situation, or just struggling like I am?
ANTIDOTE 9 – Openness
Be prepared to be open for the motivation of others to do what causes you problems. Talking it over and being prepared to listen can suddenly make a problem acceptable. Have you ever noticed the difference when a plane or train is delayed and nobody provides any reason for it? People very quickly become irritated and hostile. Then when the driver or pilot explains there is a technical defect or an accident, suddenly waiting becomes easier.
ANTIDOTE 10 – Relativity.
Ask yourself: is this situation is actually important enough to spoil your own and other people’s mood? Is this problem worth getting upset in a life where death can hit me at any moment?
ANTIDOTE 11 – Change Your Motivation.
In case a situation is really unacceptable, and another person needs to be convinced that something is to be done or changed, there is no need to become upset and angry. It is likely much more efficient if you show understanding and attempt to help the other understand the need for change. If one needs to appear angry for some reason to convince the other person of the seriousness of the situation, one can think like a parent acting wrathful to prevent the child from harming itself.
In general, to be really effective one needs to reflect on quite a number of aspects in one’s own mind like: forgiveness, peace of mind, fears, self-acceptance (no acceptance of others is really possible without self-acceptance), habits, prejudices etc. A list of aspects to start with is given in the page about the mind, under the 26 non-virtuous mental factors.
ANTIDOTE 12 – Watch Your Hands.
An interesting suggestion from Jon Kabat-Zinn, from ‘Wherever You Go, There You Are‘:
“All our hand postures are mudras in that they are associated with subtle or not-so-subtle energies. Take the energy of the fist, for instance. When we get angry, our hands tend to close into fists. Some people unknowingly practice this mudra a lot in their lives. It waters the seeds of anger and violence within you ever time you do it, and they respond by sprouting and growing stronger.
The next time you find yourself making fists out of anger, try to bring mindfulness to the inner attitude embodied in a fist. Feel the tension, the hatred, the anger, the aggression, and the fear which it contains. Then, in the midst of your anger, as an experiment, if the person you are angry at is present, try opening your fists and placing the palms together over your heart in the prayer position right in front of him. (Of course, he won’t have the slightest idea what you are doing.) Notice what happens to the anger and hurt as you hold this position for even a few moments.”
ANTIDOTE 13 – Meditation.
Last, but certainly not least, meditation can be the ultimate cure for completely eliminating anger from your mind. In the beginning, one can do analytical meditations (like this meditation on anger), but meditations on compassion, love and forgiving reduce anger as well. Ultimately, the realization of emptiness eradicates all delusions such as anger.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Buddhist economics: oxymoron or idea whose time has come?


By Kathleen Maclay, UC Berkeley

BERKELEY, CA (USA) -- University of California Berkeley economist Clair Brown acknowledges that “Buddhist economics” may seem like an oxymoron.
Nevertheless, she’s teaching a sophomore seminar on the topic this semester — the campus’s second such offering over the past year.
Professor Clair Brown asked herself, "How would Buddha teach Econ. 1?" (iStock photo)
Brown said she created the one-unit Buddhist Economics course after students in her Introductory Economics (Econ 1) class expressed frustration with the relentless Madison Avenue message that more is better, economic growth paves the path to a better life and “retail therapy” is a quick trip to nirvana.
Nicholas Austin, an economics major from Laguna Beach, Calif., and a student this spring in Brown’s Buddhist Economics class, said he was hungry for some fresh ideas about economics after seeing so many students in the field pursue finance careers and “moving money rather than creating a product that will help the world.”
What would Buddha do?
Brown said she mulled over her students’ unease in light of her experiences as an economics professor for more than 30 years and her research on poverty, the U.S. standard of living over time and today’s high-tech workers. Also taking into consideration her experience as a practicing Buddhist for the past six years, she asked herself, “How would Buddha teach Econ 1?”
The idea of Buddhist economics appears nowhere in standard economic textbooks, and Brown could find no such course offering in other top economics departments in the United States.
So she relied on recent innovative and broader approaches in economics, including models based on human development and freedom and the exploration of the psychological underpinnings of economic choices. She also looked at ecological models based on sustainability to develop her new course, which is being offered separately from Econ 1.
Brown also looked to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, a leader in sustainable development programs headed by economics professor Jeffrey Sachs. In a recent talk at Yale University — titled “Economics and happiness: Can the two reconnect?” — Sachs promoted a process for measuring economic success according to broad-based happiness, rather than the Gross Domestic Product.
‘Economics as if people mattered’
With that in mind, Brown assembled a more holistic undergraduate economics seminar that compares the basic neoclassical economics model to Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen’s view of an ideal economy as one that promotes individual freedoms and capabilities.
The term Buddhist economics first appeared in E.F. Schumacher’s 1966 essay, “Buddhist Economics,” which is required reading in Brown’s class and is a chapter in Schumacher’s 1973 book Small is Beautiful: Economics as If People Mattered. His writings are required reading in other UC Berkeley courses dealing with technology and poverty, and political economy.
The British economist said that applying Buddhist principles to the way an economy operates would produce an economy designed primarily to meet the needs of people. In accord with the Buddhist concept of “right livelihood,” Schumacher called for jobs that are valued for their psychological and spiritual values, as well as for what they produce.  He wrote that Buddhist economics also would bring sustainability into economics, while helping the neediest and encouraging citizens to be happy with enough, instead of more.
Don’t spend, be happy
 “In the traditional economic model, it makes sense to go shopping if you are feeling pain, because buying things makes you feel better,” Brown wrote in her class syllabus. “Yet, we know from experience that consuming more does not relieve pain. What if we lived in a society that did not put consumption at its center? What if we follow instead the Buddhist mandate to minimize suffering, and are driven by compassion rather than desire?”
notes
Her students are also learning about the Bhutan Gross National Happiness index that measures human wellbeing, and the United Nations’ World Happiness Report, which was influenced by Sen. And they’re being introduced to ecological economics by UC Berkeley agricultural economics professor – and Buddhist – Richard Norgaard.
Brown’s students spend a few minutes in each class session meditating. For several students, meditation is nothing new. Economics major Somin Park, who grew up in England in a Buddhist family, said the only difference from her other meditations has been the classroom setting. Classmate Nicholas Austin said he has practiced meditation since taking karate lessons as a child.
Right livelihood
As part of the course, students have been engaged in conversation with Tibetan Buddhist priest Anam Thubten Rinpoche, who explained Buddhism’s “Eightfold Path” that is based on right livelihood — or a way of making a living that does no harm to others, interdependence and connectedness, and inner contentment. True Buddhist economics, he told the students, recognizes everyone’s interconnectedness.
Rinpoche stressed living a life based on inner values and inner wealth and taking care of those who are suffering or in need. “Wealth is not only your material acquisition,” said Rinpoche,  suggesting rejection of modern society’s “grand delusion” in favor of a middle path based on faith, generosity, integrity, wisdom, conscience and contemplation.
Brown assured her students that Buddhist economics wouldn’t require a vow of poverty. “Buddha tried to live in poverty for seven years,” but “it didn’t work,” she said.


Has Vipassana reached the end of the road?


by Christopher Titmuss, Dharma Inquiry, Sept 2, 2014

A Personal Reflection after 30 years
San Francisco, CA (USA) -- I have had the privilege of teaching Vipassana (Insight) Meditation for 30 years in the West, as well as for 32 years in Bodh Gaya and eight years in Sarnath, India. My first retreat in the West was in northern New South Wales, Australia, organised in the summer of 1976 by a 21 year-old woman named Sue from Northern Rivers who is now Subhana, a fellow Dharma teacher, much loved and respected in the Dharma world.
I’ve long since lost count of the number of Vipassana retreats that I’ve offered, probably somewhere between 500 – 750 ranging from one month to one day. However it is many years since I have described myself as a Vipassana teacher, preferring the much broader term, Dharma teacher. The word Vipassana has become too closely identified with certain methods and techniques, and is thus far removed from its original meaning, namely insight – bearing no connection whatsoever for the Buddha with a meditation technique. That doesn’t disqualify Vipassana as a healthy and challenging practice. There is no telling how many individuals have entered a course or retreat, residential or non-residential, East or West, but the number certainly runs at least into hundreds of thousands or a million or two in the last three decades or so.
A Vipassana retreat continues to be a powerful catalyst in people’s lives, a major stepping stone into the depths of meditation and a transformative experience. People have arrived for a weekend retreat on a Friday evening and left on Sunday afternoon with a different sense of themselves, of the here and now, of life, and of what matters. Vipassana changes lives significantly and sometimes dramatically, and is a powerful resource to dissolve so-called personal problems, open the heart and find clarity of mind. A growing number with regular guidance from a teacher, have also entered into the discipline of a personal retreat with its emphasis on silence and solitude lasting from weeks to a year or more. This is another powerful resource for depths of insight.
But has Vipassana reached the end of the road? Are the teachings and practices on an Insight Meditation retreat exploring the fulfilment of all profound aspirations?
The background to all Vipassana practices relies heavily and appropriately on a discourse of the Buddha called the Satipatthana Sutta, the Discourse on the Applications of Mindfulness, namely body, feelings, states of mind and the Dharma. It is the tenth discourse of the 152 in the Middle Length Discourses. Different Vipassana methods are based on various interpretations of this discourse. Despite the claims to purity of technique, reliance on Theravada commentarial interpretation, or strict following of the breadth and depth of the discourse, every Vipassana teacher has his or her own distinctive flavour even if that teacher has had the same teacher(s).
Teachers use the form of a retreat (or course) to enable dharma students to learn to use the powerful resource of Vipassana to cultivate an authentic depth of calm (samatha) and insight (vipassana) into impermanence, unsatisfactoriness and the impersonal characteristics of existence. The practice is powerful because it emphasises moment to moment attention, that is direct observation of immediate experience.
There is a general principle in the Buddhist tradition of Vipassana that such a Dharma training involves three primary areas of life –
  1. Observing and upholding five precepts.
  2. The practice of mindfulness and formal meditation, especially sitting and walking. Some teachers also include standing and reclining meditation.
  3. Wisdom. In this context, it generally means seeing things clearly, free from projection and obsessive attitudes, with calm and insight into heart, mind and body.
Vipassana meditation includes developing the capacity to sit still, stay steady with the breath, observe the arising and passing of pleasure and pain in the body with equanimity, let go of troublesome meditation states, dissolve the arising of any ego, develop the power of meditative concentration to go to subtle levels of the inner life and abide with a choiceless awareness with all phenomena.
While Vipassana and mindfulness meditations are valuable practices in themselves, it is the task of teachers to show new practitioners outside of retreats as well as within them – without fear of being misunderstood – the breadth and depth of Dharma teachings, ethics and practices. Without this wider context, meditation may be applied with aims that are seriously in contradiction with the Dharma; for example some years ago a senior officer in the US army approached a Vipassana teacher about teaching soldiers to handle pain when unable to move in a battle, and businesses want to use the practices so staff can develop single pointed concentration to improve efficiency and productivity, and Vipassana practice was offered – without the breadth and depth of the Path - as the culmination of dynamic or movement meditations, such as the late Osho directed in Poona, India.
I remember Jon Kabat-Zinn, a seasoned meditator with various Vipassana teachers and founder of the internationally respected MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction programme) coming to my room for a one to one interview in 1979 during a retreat with me at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, USA. He reported his sudden flash of insight and vision on the retreat to bring mindfulness and insight meditation practices to the lives of people in pain. It was inspiring to listen to him and I could only offer Jon full encouragement. He returned home from that retreat determined to actualise the Dharma for the deep welfare of others without diluting the teachings. He still remains committed to that vision.
The teaching of mindfulness meditation, such as MBSR programmes, to alleviate stress, ill-health and pain is an important application of the Dharma; however it would be a great pity if such mindfulness practice had the same fate as yoga which in the West has often been reduced to a system of healthy physical exercises, extricated from its context as a profound spiritual discipline addressing the whole person.
It would be equally a great pity if Vipassana meditation became another kind of psychotherapy. I remember several years ago writing to Spirit Rock Meditation Centre in Marin County near San Francisco, where perhaps 30% or more are therapists on a retreat, to ask the centre to add a brief footnote to the description of my retreat. I wrote for the footnote: “Please do not bring your inner child. There is no adult supervision on this retreat.” To its credit, Spirit Rock published the footnote.
Calm and insight (samatha and vipassana) are offered in the Buddha’s teachings as a feature of the Way to liberation, not as THE way. Some secular teachers treat mindfulness and daily meditation as an aid to living a well-adjusted life but a well-adjusted life is far from the end of the road. Again, such an attitude effectively takes Vipassana meditation out of its wider vision of total liberation.
Certainly the Truth of things, the Dharma of life, is hard enough to comprehend as it is, as the Buddha said on frequent occasions. Teachers show no service to the Dharma by clinging to a narrow view about the supremacy of Vipassana, nor by inflating the importance of mindfulness and meditation over the immensity of the challenge of the Way, as can be seen by reading and reflecting on all the subtle and deep communications from the Buddha on each link of the Noble Eightfold Path or 12 links of Dependent Arising.
These are teachings to ensure that we bring our life on this earth to complete fulfilment. Sitting on top of a cushion and walking slowly up and down to contemplate our existence is a fine and profound exploration into ‘self’ and ‘non-self’ but what is going on with the rest of our lives?
Diet, exercise, use of resources, moderation in living, livelihood, money, relationships, contact with nature, intentions, place of effort, solitude, Dharma reading, writing, contact with the sangha, contact with realised teachers, insights into truth, dependent arising, non-duality, emptiness and living an awakened life deserve our total attention and interest.
No teacher, no one tradition, no school, no satsang, no therapy can possibly address all these issues and many others. We live in times when it is important that the Dharma investigates daily realities, rather than putting so much effort into the preservation of the religious past or feeding identification with the doer or the non-doer.
I recall being grateful in 1982 that our trustees in South Devon, UK agreed to my suggestion to call our new centre Gaia House (it means Living Earth, a metaphor for our inter-dependent existence) and is pronounced the same as (Bodh) Gaya, the area of the Buddha’s enlightenment. We also worked carefully on our vision statement as part of the process to become a charitable trust – a vision statement that excluded the promotion of Buddhism, in order to keep our Dharma centre free from identification with the religion of Buddhism.
Vipassana teachers need to take stock and beware of any watering down of teachings and the use of such meaningless terms as ‘Western Buddhism’. For example, I’ve heard it said by certain Vipassana teachers that there is nothing wrong with desire, nothing wrong with being open to desire, as long as we are not attached to results. Such statements reject the Buddha’s teachings that:
  • dependent on contact arises feelings,
  • dependent on feelings arises desire,
  • dependent on desire arises attachment
  • dependent on attachment arises what becomes in the present and future, with all the ‘mass of suffering’ associated with this process.
There are many hard truths in the Buddha’s teachings that are uncomfortable for consumers who do not really want the Dharma to disturb their lifestyle. More and more Western Dharma centres have become middle class spiritual hotels with accompanying pressure to market Dharma centres as centres for Buddhism.
It would be lovely to report that the challenges in the Vipassana world end here.
I would suggest that the Vipassana world has other problems that need attention but get neglected. These include:
  • a growing belief that Vipassana is another kind of therapy
  • a narrow view that morality is confined to the five precepts
  • a view on ethics akin to institutional religion where blame, self-righteousness and moralizing ignore understanding of the human condition,
  • belief in meditation, meditation, meditation
  • belief in striving
  • belief that the path of Vipassana meditation leads to enlightenment without attention to the whole of life
  • getting stuck in the same method and technique and going over the same old ground in the mind
  • inability to cope with the wide variety of emotions
  • need to explore openly the energies and place of sexuality in the Sangha
  • rigidity of view and an inability to lighten up
  • rigidness and dryness of the practice,
  • students of one major Vipassana tradition (U Ba Khin tradition) are not permitted to meditate with other Vipassana teacher, other Vipassana students or practices to preserve the ‘purity of the technique’.
Despite the above concerns, the Insight Meditation tradition continues to provide a depth of practice second to none. Vipassana teacher meetings are not exactly a thrill a minute, with a collective hesitancy to say anything remotely politically incorrect. Believe me, this poor wallah is speaking from years of first hand experience at such meetings.
After 30 years as a small servant of the Dharma, I find it a pity to write some aspects of this personal report to Dharma students. Please don’t imagine for a single moment that this response to the state of Vipassana shows disillusionment with the practice. Far from it. Vipassana is a tradition of seeing clearly. It is powerful. It is effective. It is transformative. There is no fluffing around for the dedicated Vipassana meditator. While making allowances for generalised statements, we surely have the capacity to offer an honest reflection of the Dharma and the world of Vipassana. Criticism is nothing to do with getting on the high throne and preaching; on the contrary, a sincere critique of that which is close to our hearts contributes to upholding what is of value and discerning questionable areas.
All of the above pales into insignificance when the question is asked: Has Vipassana reached the end of the road? Yes, it is a double edged question.
  • Can Vipassana practice with its dependency on form and technique reveal the Emptiness of form and technique?
  • Can the construction of the method reveal the Unconstructed?
  • Can the perception that more sitting is the answer be an expression of the Buddha’s warning about grabbing the poisonous snake by the tail?
  • Is there a sense, either conscious or unconscious, among dedicated Vipassana students that there is something limited about their practice?
  • Does Vipassana meditation feed the notion of identification with the doer in the form of continual effort and striving?
  • Does Vipassana meditation feed the notion of the non-doer in the form of a suppressed state of mind masked as equanimity?
  • Does Vipassana meditation reinforce the notion there is a doer, something to be done and something to be gained for the doer?
  • Does the Vipassana meditator settle for a radiant awareness as the end of the road?
  • Where is the resolution of the duality that faces all serious meditators, namely the experience of being in a silent retreat and going back into the so-called ‘real world’? A 30 minute talk on the closing morning of a retreat is clearly not resolving this duality.
Are these concerns being addressed? Some senior Vipassana (Insight Meditation) teachers enter into other teachings and practices such as various forms of psychotherapy, Advaita, Dzogchen, Ridhwan or Zen for varying lengths of time. It would appear that these teachers also find that Vipassana is not completely fulfilling – something they share with a number of senior students. It is not that these other approaches are ultimately any more fulfilling. Yet something is amiss. All these teachers and students share the same dualistic plight:
  • those who feed the notion of the doer and those who feed the notion of the non-doer,
  • those who feed the notion of the self (with a capital S or small self) and those who feed the notion of no-self,
  • those who work on aspects of the personality and those who don’t
  • those who attach to form and those who attach to the formless
If Vipassana has not reached the end of the road, that unshakeable and fulfilling liberation, then where is the end of the path? It is vital that Vipassana teachers speak much more about the end of the Way, as well as the Way. Such teachers need to draw on their experiences, their understanding and insights into freedom of being, liberation from “I” and “my” and the awakening that is close at hand. Students feel inspired to explore deeply when they know that their teachers have the confidence to talk about the Supreme Goal of practice.
Authentic glimpses, as much as profound realisations, are important to share. The Buddha said that the raindrop, the pond and the great lake all share the same taste – the taste of water. Although ordained Buddhist teachers must show great restraint about speaking from personal experience about the ultimate truth, non-ordained teachers can share their ‘personal’ realisations at the deepest level. At one Vipassana teachers meeting, the great majority of teachers reported they had tasted ‘Nirvana.’
The end of the road reveals the dissolution of the construction of the duality of the doer and non-doer, the story around the retreat and going back into daily life. The resolution is not about being in the now and not about not being in the now, nothing to do with the doer or the non-doer, the self or no-self. It’s that simple. The constructions of emotions, mind and personality are small waves in the Ocean.
MAY LIBERATION SHINE THROUGH ALL EVENTS
SOURSE:Buddhist channel

The Sacred Relic of the tooth of Buddha

According to Sri Lankan legends, when the Buddha mahä Parinibbhäna  BC 543, his body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre at Kusinagara in India and his left canine tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre by Arahat Khema. Khema then gave it to King Brahmadatte for veneration. It became a royal possession in Brahmadatte's country and was kept in the city of Dantapuri (present day Puri in Odisha).
A belief grew that whoever possessed the Sacred Tooth Relic had a divine right to rule that land. Wars were fought to take possession of the relic. 800 years after the Buddha's Parinibbhäna, in the 4th century CE, the tooth came into the possession of King Guhaseeva of Kalinga, which roughly corresponds to the present day state of Odisha.
Kalinga had become Buddhist and begun to worship the Sacred Tooth relic. This caused discontent among some of the citizens, who went to King Paandu and said that King Guhaseeva had stopped believing in god and that he had started to worship a tooth. King Paandu decided to destroy the relic, and ordered it to be brought to the city. It is said that, as the tooth arrived at the city, a miracle occurred, and King Paandu converted to Buddhism.
When King Ksheeradara heard of this, he went with his army to attack Paandu in the city of Palalus. The invaders were defeated before reaching the city, and King Ksheeradara died. A prince from the city of Udeni who had become a Buddhist came to worship the sacred tooth. King Guhaseeva was pleased with him, and let him marry his daughter. The prince was known as Dantha and the princess as Hemamala. When his sons heard that King Ksheeradara had died in the war, they raised a large army to attack King Guhaseeva and destroy the relic. They entered the city, but King Guhaseeva secretly sent away Dantha and Hemamala with the relic.

Buddha's Tooth story in Malayalam .Sourse: Mathru bhoomi daily on 29th March-2015