Thursday, October 8, 2015

Maharashtra government to prepare Buddhist draft law in a month

DNA India, 5 October 2015

New Delhi, India -- Hopes for the state enacting a separate Budhhist Law, which is pending for last 59 years, have been revived for the Budhhist community as the government has asked an experts' committee to submit its best possible final draft for the same in a month.
The Buddhist community is demanding separate laws for marriages and inheritance since the rituals are far different from existing provisions of Hindu marriage law.
Minister for social justice Rajkumar Badole after the meeting of the expert's committee said that while the committee would add to the existing draft prepared by the government, it would also seek public opinion as well as suggestions. He said that the Buddhist Law drafting committee has prepared a draft legislation. Also, various NGOs working in this field have prepared a draft too.
Badole said that since the committee has experts from NGOs as well as legal experts, it would prepare a final draft within a month that would pave way for enacting legislation which would facilitate Buddhist marriages and inheritance law in the state. He pointed out that this demand was being made since Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Father of Indian Constitution embraced Budhhism way back in 1956. He informed that the prevailing Hindu Marriage act can't be followed while performing a Budhhist wedding since the rituals are different. Badole said that the meeting of the committee was held on Thursday and was attended by minister of state Dilip Kamble, Bhadant Rahul Bodhi Mahathero, legislator Dr Milind Mane, former justice Anil Vaidya, advocate Dilip Kakade, Madhkar Kamble, Baban Kamble. Badole added that almost all members have agreed to include a few points in the existing draft for the separate act and the committee would finalise its draft in the next one month.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

2,000-yr-old stupa marks revival of India-China Buddhist links

Press Trust of India, September 20, 2015

Nangchen, China -- The restoration of the 2,000-year-old Ashoka Stupa in this quintessential Tibetan town by an Indian Buddhist monk marks a new beginning in the revival of Buddhism links between India and China.Hundreds of men and women accompanied by their children in best attires attended the ceremony, which locals say is the biggest such religious gathering in recent years just to have glimpse of the Stupa containing the relics of Buddha.

Buddhist monks said the credit to preserve the Stupa in this town located in China's Qinghai province adjacent to Tibet, through the invasions of Mongols and in recent decades, the Cultural Revolution headed by Mao Zedong goes to the local people.

The parts of the original Stupa were preserved by the people by making them into hundreds of small Stupas which were preserved in the new temple, a monk said. Over 300 tiny Stupas were displayed around the main Stupa of the temple.It was restored on September 15 signifying the revival of the Buddhist religious links between India and China in the Himalayan region strained by the departure of the Dalai Lama to India in 1959.

A massive gold-coloured statue of Buddha along with the Stupa and Ashoka Pillar was consecrated with Gyalwang Drukpa, the Himachal Pradesh-born Buddhist monk and the spiritual head of over 1,000 monasteries across Himalayas.

According to Buddhist records, Emperor Ashoka collected all parts of the body of Lord Buddha after his Nirvana, stored them in pagoda-shaped shrines before sending them to different parts of the world.

China is believed to have received 19 of them including the one in Nangchen but most of them have collapsed due to natural wear and tear as well as negligence.

Three more such Stupas were discovered in Chinese cities, Xian, Nanjing and near Ayuwang (Ashoka) Temple in Zhejiang Province. The Nangchen Stupa is the first to be discovered in Tibetan region. The fate of the rest of 15 Stupas sent by Ashoka to China is not known.

Buddhism Becoming Increasingly Popular Among City Youth

 By Jeevan Kumar Durgam

HYDERABAD : Buddhism, the globally-spread religion, is now slowly gaining popularity among the youth of Hyderabad. Young students and employees, especially those in the information technology sector, are showing greater interest in the teachings of the Buddha.
“I do not call Buddhism a religion. It is the greatest philosophy of life which helps us achieve enlightenment through Vipassana (meditation),” says Devendar, who works for a multinational company in the city. He is a frequent visitor to the two major Buddha Viharas in the city.
Many young employees like Devendar started practising Buddhism and became active members of Yuva Buddhist Group (YBG)of Hyderabad which was founded by a city youth, Rajesh Suthari, to promote Buddhism in the city. 
YBG organises various activities to reach out to the local youth and teach them Buddhism. Its members also guide those who want to learn more about Buddhism. Two major Buddhist temples in the city, Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust at Mahendra Hills and Siddhartha Buddha Vihara Trust at New Bowenpally, both in Secunderabad, are now the new weekend destinations for many young students and employees.
The monks there teach the basic tenets of Buddhism to visitors who are not only interested in learning about the religion but also want to convert themselves to Buddhism. Both the Viharas have been witnessing a consistent growth in the number of visitors for the past few years.
However, there are very few Telugu people among the followers. Though the YBG has many active Telugu members, their number is far less when it comes to the activities at Viharas. 
Citing the reason, Pragya Chouhan, a member of YBG, said, “Often their parents do not accept it. And some don’t understand the language of the monks here.” These factors are keeping them away from direct participation in our activities at Viharas, but they are very much interested in Buddha’s teachings despite their absence, she added.
Not surprisingly, a majority of the visitors to Viharas are from the north-eastern states and the western state of Maharashtra where Buddhism has a strong base. The Marathi population in the city, which is the hardcore follower of Ambedkarite Buddhism, is the major stakeholder in any activity at the two Viharas in Secunderabad.
Existing for more than two decades in the city, the Viharas are attracting even  foreign visitors. Many students from countries like Burma, Nepal and Thailand, who are based in the city, visit the Viharas frequently. 
“Meeting hundreds of Buddhists here is a great experience for me as I have not met a single person at my university who talked about Buddhism so far,” said Shoon Le, a student from Burma who is studying MSc (Computers) at Osmania University.
However, Buddhist monks are finding it difficult to promote the religion with the very few Bhantejis (monks) in the city.  Head monks like Bhikku Khemachara, chairman of Sidharth Buddha Vihara Trust, are always busy visiting various places across the country. “It will be better if there are more Bhantejis at Viharas,” said Sangeeta, a member of Yuva Buddhist Group.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Mindful Journalism and News Ethics in the Digital Era: A Buddhist Approach

Book review by Dr. Kalinga Seneviratne, The Buddhist Channel, Sept 8, 2015

Singapore -- Although we are in the information age, digitization and globalization have contributed to the pollution of information, particularly news, which has increasingly turned into  a commodity produced and sold for a profit.
Shelton A. Gunaratne, the lead editor and author of this volume, says the aim of the contributing authors was to encourage the emergence of a different breed of journalists “who could bring about amity and sanity in the world community.”Their objective is to lay the foundation for building a new genre of journalism, which they have chosen to call‘Mindful Journalism,’ with a heavy emphasis on principles and concepts contained in the Buddhist middle path (magga).
Thus the authors derived the idea of Mindful Journalism from the Buddha’s Four Noble Truths, with the main emphasis on the fourth truth delineating the three dimensions of the magga - wisdom and compassion (panna), morality and ethics (sila), and concentration and mindfulness (samadhi). The term mindfulness comesfrom‘Right Mindfulness’(samma sati), the second aspect of the samadhi dimension. Because Buddhist phenomenology has no divine origin or inspiration, it encourages mindful insight to seeing things the way they really are, it inspires open debate, discussion, investigation and practice. The authors argue that such inspirationis ideal for developing a new breed of journalist that will work for the public good rather than the commercial needs of the media owners.
The  ‘Four Noble Truths’ address as the first truth that life is suffering (dukkha), which leads to the second truth on the arising of suffering because of desire (tanha) and clinging(upadana) created by ignorance(avijja); the third truth asserts that cessation of suffering is possible by removing its causes, and the fourth truth spells out the path one should follow to cease suffering.The fourth truth is also known as the Noble Eight-fold Path or the Middle Path(magga) towards attaining the state of Nibbana.  The book contains much discussion (some of it may appear too philosophical to a journalist without a basic understanding of Eastern wisdom) about various aspects of the Buddhist phenomenology along with a sprinkling of Hindu and Daoist philosophy. The first three chapters explain and translate the essence of Buddhist teachings on suffering (dukkha), impermanence(anicca) and no-self (anatta) in relevance to the practice of modern journalismthat involves reporting of poverty, social change, economic fluctuations, etc.
Chapter 4 focuseshow a journalist assuming the role of kalyana-mitta (wise adviser) could play a significant role by developing his/her mind to analyse complex issues,  seeing these in the context of interdependent and interactive variables that are ever changing. It is these changing outcomes – anicca – that we call news events. Chapters 5 and 6 go further into the meaning and application of dependent origination (paticca samuppada) model system thinking, to show how journalists could focus on the close connection between nature and human beings, to enable them to understand problem solving to report on the changing nature of  developingnews events.
Chapters 7 to 9 look at the fourth Nobel Truth of the path to eradicating suffering with each path related to journalistic practice. They look especially at how journalists could produce copy that promotes amity and sanity.
Chapter 10 explores the wisdom(panna) aspects of the path from a journalism practitioner’s point of view with examples to show how the Buddhist teachings such as in the Five Precepts (panca sila) and Mindful (vipassana) Meditation concepts could be adopted to journalism practice.
In the concluding chapter the authors point out that one need not become a Buddhist to practice Mindful Journalism, and in fact, the Middle Path espoused in the book  “is a composite of the moral/ethical, mental development, and wisdom principles that none of the contemporary religions of the world could dispute.” They give three reasons for suggesting Buddhism as an appropriate template for a new moral compass for journalism. 
First is that Buddhism gives the tools for the individual to ascertain the “truth” through personal experience (observation and investigation)  rather than through an expert or divine intervention. The second is that in the Kalama Sutta the Buddha has espoused his followers to tackle doubts and uncertainties in their own mind by not listening to repetitive sayings or hanging on to tradition, but to go out explore the truth, ponder, experience it and then analyse it themselves and believe in it. Which is well suited to the practice of investigative journalism.  The third is that the eight-fold path provides a moral compass for the practice of journalism that encourages moral integrity.
Although critics would try to dismiss this book as “utopian,” the authors argue that it may be the time to de-Westernise journalism to enable the restoration of news as a social good rather than letting it plunge further into the realm of a profit-motivated commodity signifying greed and clinging, a major cause of unhappiness in the world.
Mindful Journalism and News Ethics in the Digital Era: A Buddhist ApproachEdited by Shelton A. Gunaratne, Mark Pearson and Sugath Senarath
Published by Routledge, 2015

How to communicate like a Buddhist — mindfully and without judgment

By Cynthia Kane, The Washington Post, September 2, 2015

San Francisco, CA (USA) -- There’s a lot that used to frustrate me about communicating. Well, if I’m honest, it was that I didn’t know how to do it. I knew how to speak and string words together, but no one ever sat me down and taught me the purpose of communication or how to effectively express myself so I was heard and how to listen so I could understand. A lot of times it seemed that because I knew how to talk, that automatically meant I should know how to communicate.
Let’s be honest, communicating effectively is hard to do, especially in heated situations. It’s difficult because rarely do we stop to pay attention to what we’re saying or the purpose of our communication.
What I’ve found to help guide me on my quest is the Buddhist practice of mindfulness, specifically mindful communication.
“Mindfulness means being present with what you are doing, while you are doing it, with a nonjudgmental attitude,” says Sarah McLean, director of McLean Meditation Institute in Sedona, Ariz. “Not only is mindfulness a formal practice of meditation, it can also be the way one is engaged in activity. It is real-time gentle, present-moment, nonjudgmental attention while walking, mindfully eating, mindfully showering, for example.”So how does this apply to communication? Mindful communication is the practice of bringing our attention to our words. It means we are aware of what we’re saying while we’re saying it. It is a practice of observation and not evaluation. It is paying attention to others on purpose with a moment-to-moment awareness. And because it’s a learned skill ,anyone can apply it to his or her life.
Some would say the goal of Buddhism is to reach enlightenment, an elimination of suffering, and mindfulness is a practice used to achieve this goal. “Most of our contemporary mindfulness practices originate from the Buddhist tradition, where the four foundations of mindfulness (of body, feeling, mind and objects of mind) are a basic practice,” says Susan Gillis Chapman,author of “The Five Keys To Mindful Communication.” “In particular, in Buddhism there are precepts for mindful speech that focus on refraining from causing harm,” she says. “In lay Buddhist communities, this is practiced by refraining from harsh speech, gossiping and from dishonesty, which includes being dishonest with ourselves.” To communicate mindfully then shows us that the purpose of our speech is to help others and ourselves suffer less.
How, then, can we start to apply mindfulness to our speech so our words are kind, honest and helpful? By paying attention to our words, releasing judgment, and being in the moment.
1. Pay Attention
We’ve all been in situations where we’ve said something or reacted in a way that later we regretted, whether it was during an argument or fueled by resentment or by letting our attempts at poking fun get out of hand. Not only do we feel bad for what we said or for slamming doors and walking away, but we also see the hurt we’ve caused someone else. It’s in the aftermath of these situations that we see how powerful our words and our actions can be. It’s then that we see how easily we use judgmental or accusatory language or react with a cold shoulder or roll of the eyes.
But if we start to pay attention to our words and reactions, then we can begin to change them. By being conscious, “We learn to identify and clearly articulate what we are concretely wanting in a given situation. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative,” writes Marshall B. Rosenberg in his book “Nonviolent Communication.” We often forget that at every moment we have the opportunity to choose how we express ourselves. We can choose to use words that encourage a sense of openness, safety and understanding or that create stress, make others and ourselves feel less than, or provoke anxiety.
Along with our words and reactions, it’s important we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings as well, especially in difficult conversations. “Paying attention helps us to not get hooked in a chain reaction that leads to mutual dissatisfaction,” says New York City- based psychotherapist Susan Solomon. “The body knows. We must take the time to acknowledge our bodily reactions, thoughts and feelings. Taking 10 seconds followed by a deep breath leads to communication based on understanding and compassion, not reactivity and disconnection.”
If we slow down the process of interacting, pausing now and again or taking a breath before speaking, we give ourselves more time to maintain awareness and promote painless conversations. If you notice yourself speaking quickly, getting caught up in a reaction, take a breath and slow down; you can always begin again.
2. Release Judgment
There’s a tendency when we start paying attention to judge others and ourselves. Phrases like, “I can’t believe I said that.” “What’s wrong with me?” Or passing thoughts like, “She has no idea how she sounds,” or “He thinks this is funny?” seem like harmless expressions, but there’s a lot of evaluating going on. If the point is to help others and ourselves suffer less, criticizing and judging only makes everyone hurt more.
The wonderful part about mindful communication, and the scariest, is it’s a judgment-free zone. “Mindfulness communication involves listening with a beginner’s mind — without judgment, without interruption, and with total receptivity,” says McLean. This means in conversation with others and ourselves, we’re committing to no longer seeing something as good or bad, right or wrong; we’re no longer seeing from a place of betterness or less than, but as an equal. “When we combine observation with evaluation, people are apt to hear criticism,” writes Rosenberg. “We need to clearly observe what we are seeing, hearing, or touching that is affecting our sense of well-being, without mixing in any evaluation.”
How do we do this? We stop gossiping about others and start reminding ourselves that our wants and needs are the same. “Find a shared goal, and you have both a good reason and a healthy climate for talking,” writes Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan and Al Switzler in “Crucial Conversations.” When we remind ourselves of our sameness, we learn to understand our differences. If we’re judging our own behavior, we need to let ourselves feel the feeling but not let it consume us. Getting stuck in any emotion forces us off equal footing. Suddenly we’re either horrible people and less than or we’re saintly and better than. Instead of getting stuck, note the thought and say, ‘I forgive you.’ Then gently let the thought go, and start again.
3. Be In The Moment
When we’re with someone, it’s possible we’re thinking of the meeting we just had, what needs to be done for tomorrow, our list of groceries to pick up. Or we’re waiting for the person to finish talking so we can or we’re too excited so we interrupt.
Our attention can drift, but what mindful communication encourages is to refocus. McLean says that “mindfulness cultivates the attention necessary for anyone to become aware of and redirect their thoughts, again and again back to what they are actually engaged in.” When we notice our attention is stuck in a story outside the conversation, that’s the moment we come back to the conversation at hand. Without judging ourselves for not paying attention, we let go of the story we’ve been lost in and come back to where we are.
By drifting and refocusing, we’re constantly coming back to the present moment again and again, keeping us tied to the conversation we’re in and aware of its needs.
There are many reasons why we choose not to be mindful: It takes discipline. It means listening and respecting another person’s reality of a situation even if we don’t agree. It means learning to accept others and ourselves as deserving of the same type of kindness and support. It means having to take responsibility for our words, actions, and reactions and their effects on others and ourselves.
But for all the energy it takes to cultivate a moment-to-moment focus and observe our words and actions without judgment, what mindful communication gives us is a guideline for communicating that is kind, honest, and helpful.
sourse:Buddhist channel

Friday, September 11, 2015

9 Ways to Stop Absorbing Other People’s Negative Emotions

Emotions such as fear, anger, frustration, and immobility are energies. And you can potentially ‘catch’ these energies from people without realizing it.
If you tend to be an emotional sponge, it’s vital to know how to avoid taking on an individual’s negative emotions, or even how to deflect the free-floating negativities in crowds.
stop absorbing negativity to you
Another twist is that chronic anxiety, depression, or stress can turn you into an emotional sponge by wearing down your defenses. Suddenly, you become hyper-attuned to others, especially suffering with similar pain. That’s how empathy works; we zero in on hot-button issues that are unresolved in ourselves.
From an energetic standpoint, negative emotions can originate from several sources: what you’re feeling may be your own; it may be someone else’s; or it may be a combination.
Here is how to tell the difference and strategically bolster your positive emotions so you don’t shoulder negativity that doesn’t belong to you.
Stop Absorbing Other People’s Emotions 
1. Identify whether you’re susceptible. The person most likely to be overwhelmed by negative energies surrounding you is an “empath“, someone who acts as an “emotional sponge”. Signs that you might be an empath include:
  •     People call you “hyper-sensitive”, “overly sensitive”, etc., and they don’t mean it as a            c     Compliment!
  •     You sense fear, anxiety, and stress from other people and drawthis into your body, resolving      them as your own physical pain and symptoms. It doesn’t have to be people you don’t know      or don’t like; you’re also impacted by friends, family, and colleagues.
  •     You quickly feel exhausted, drained, and unhappy in the presence of crowds.
  •     Noise, smells, and excessive talking can set off your nerves and anxiety.
  •     You need to be alone to recharge your energy.
  •     You’re less likely to intellectualize what you’re feeling. Your feelings are easily hurt.
  •     You’re naturally giving, generous, spiritually inclined, and a good listener.
  •     You tend to ensure that you’ve got an escape plan, so that you can get away fast, such as          bringing your own car to events, etc.
  •     The intimacy of close relationships can feel like suffocation or loss of your own self.
2. Seek the source. First, ask yourself whether the feeling is your own or someone else’s. It could be both. If the emotion such as fear or anger is yours, gently confront what’s causing it on your own or with professional help. If not, try to pinpoint the obvious generator.
  •     For instance, if you’ve just watched a comedy, yet you came home from the movie theater         feeling blue, you may have incorporated the depression of the people sitting beside you; in       close proximity, energy fields overlap.
  •     The same is true with going to a mall or a packed concert. If crowded places upset or                 overwhelm you, it may well be because you’re absorbing all the negative energy around you.
3. Distance yourself from the suspected source, where possible. Move at least twenty feet away; see if you feel relief. Don’t err on the side of not wanting to offend strangers. In a public place, don’t hesitate tochange seats if you feel a sense of depression imposing on you.
4. Center yourself by concentrating on your breath. Doing this connects you to your essence. For a few minutes, keep exhaling negativity, inhaling calm. This helps to ground yourself and purify fear or other difficult emotions. Visualize negativity as gray fog lifting from your body, and hope as golden light entering. This can yield quick results.
5. Flush out the harm. Negative emotions such as fear frequently lodge in your emotional center at the solar plexus (celiac plexus).
  •     Place your palm on your solar plexus as you keep sending loving-kindness to that area to         flush stress out.
  •     For longstanding depression or anxiety, use this method daily to strengthen this center. It’s      comforting and it builds a sense of safety and optimism as it becomes a ritual.
the solar chakra negativity and emotions

6. Shield yourself. A handy form of protection many people use, including healers with trying patients, involves visualizing an envelope of white light (or any color you feel imparts power) around your entire body. Think of it as a shield that blocks out negativity or physical discomfort but allows what’s positive to filter in.
7. Manage the emotional overload. You don’t need to be beholden to your ability to absorb other’s emotions; turn the curse into a gift by practicing strategies that can free you:
  •     Learn to recognize people who can bring you down. People who are particularly difficult for       emotional empaths include criticizer, the victim, the narcissist, and the controller. Judith             Orloff terms these people “emotional vampires“. When you know how to spot these                   behaviors, you can protect yourself against them, including removing yourself from their             presence, and telling yourself that “I respect the person you are within even though I don’t         like what you’re doing.”
  •     Eat a high protein meal before entering stressful situations such as being part of a crowd.         When in a crowd, find places of refuge, such as sitting on the edges, or standing apart.
  •     Ensure that you don’t have to rely on other people to get you out of difficult situations. Bring       your own car or know how to get home easily when needed. Have sufficient funds to be able     to make alternate arrangements if you start feeling overwhelmed.
  •     Set time limits. Knowing how much you can stand and obeying that limit is vital to ensure           your mental well-being. Also set kind but meaningful boundaries with others who overwhelm     you; don’t stand around listening to them talking for two hours when you can only cope with       half an hour.
  •     Have your own private place in a home shared with others. Ask others to respect your              downtime during which you can rejuvenate. This is especially important to prevent you from      taking on your partner’s feelings too much. A study, man cave, sewing room, reading nook,        etc., all offer your own space.
  •     Practice meditation and mindfulness.
8. Look for positive people and situations. Call a friend who sees the good in others. Spend time with a colleague who affirms the bright side of things. Listen to hopeful people. Hear the faith they have in themselves and others. Also relish hopeful words, songs, and art forms. Hope is contagious and it will lift your mood.
  •     Cultivate positive emotions that boost your inner strength. If you’re surrounded by peace and     love, you’ll flourish as strongly as negative emotions cause you to wilt. Respecting your own       needs through healthy self love will increase your ability to respect others.
  •     Learn to use compassion as a way to defend yourself against overwhelming emotions.               Compassion allows you to be empathetic to the plight of other people but also requires that       you are compassionate toward yourself. This means that you don’t need to feel guilty about       seeking respite from being overwhelmed; doing so ensures that you can be more engaged       with others in the long run, rather than less so. It also means that you keep yourself whole by     not immersing yourself in the world of negative people.
9. Create and maintain a haven for disengagement. Leave many paths open that lead to communing with the resonance of nature. Returning to your rightful home as a creature of nature switches off your victim mentality and recharges you energetically and spiritually.
  •     Keep a picture of a waterfall or a lush forest with you and look at it when overwhelmed.
  •     Step onto the quiet of a forest path or absorb the coolness of a gently babbling brook from         beneath a weeping willow.
  •     Maintain a your personal space of cozy retreat where you hook into your own personal               power and energy.
  •     Practise Yoga and breathing techniques. These draw upon emotional centering and provide     safe harbor in times of storm.
By Judith Orloff MD, in5d | Via:

Sukara Maddava – The last meal of Buddha

Sukara+Maddava_In the remote edges of the trails in Brindnagar, Dialek and Jumla, when the spring sun shone through the wooded edges, on the slopes of the Himalyan valley, in the midst of moist air, Dr Jayasinghe saw the locals tie their hogs on leashes and hunt for mushrooms. 

These hogs, like dogs have a very strong sense of smell and detects the mushrooms that are beneath the soil digging through with the aid of their snout and their hind legs. The mushrooms harvested with the assistance of pigs were called “Sukara Maddava” in the early Kahrostrian and Magda Pali languages, which literally meant “dug by pigs” .These mushrooms have a very high medicinal value compared to any other vegetable known to mankind. 
It is a fitting act by Chunda Karmara Putta to have offered this variety of mushrooms to the ailing Buddha who was 80 years of age, with the intent of giving some solace to a prevailing health condition he was suffering from. 
Sukara Maddawa” could be interpreted as tender pork. But it could also have a different meaning as food that pig loves, known as “truffle,” a kind of mushroom that grows underground that pigs are drawn to by its fragrance and would dig up with its snout to eat. 
It has been scientifically discovered that truffle makes pheromone, an androgen-analog substance, with its fragrant smell, attracting pigs to hunt for it and luring it with the sex hormone to dig with its snout for food, and spread its spore around in the process. In fact, pigs have been trained for truffle hunting. The only problem is that those mushroom hunters have to compete with the pigs for the truffles which could be eaten instantaneously by the pigs whenever it was found.


Friday, September 4, 2015


Kerala Mahabodhi mission Organised Sravanolsavam @Kerala state

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Amaravati all set to be Mahayana Buddhist centre

by Y. Mallikarjun, The Hindu, Aug 13, 2015

AP planning to attract tourists from China, Japan and Thailand

Andhra Pradesh, India --
The ancient town of Amaravati, which forms part of the upcoming capital region of the State, will be promoted as a cradle of Mahayana Buddhism to attract international tourists, particularly those from China, Japan, Thailand and other Asian countries.
<< The giant Dhyana Buddha complex at Amaravati.— Photo: T. Vijaya Kumar

Acharya Nagarjuna, known as the second Buddha, was the founder of Madhyamika school of Mahayana Buddhism, one of the two main branches of Buddhism. With the Urban Development Ministry already declaring the ancient Amaravati as one of the 12 Heritage Cities in the country under HRIDAY scheme, the Andhra Pradesh government is focussing on developing a major Mahayana Buddhist tourism circuit encompassing Amaravati and Nagarjuna Konda.
Generally tourists visiting Buddhist circuit go to Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Lumbini and Kushi Nagar.

“We want to market Amaravati and Nagarjuna Konda as part of the Buddhist circuit,” a top official told The Hindu .Following Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s tour to China, a team from Chinese Buddhist Association visited Nagarjuna Konda. The Buddhist Association had assured to contribute its mite in the promotion of Nagarjuna Konda and other Buddhist sites among Chinese tourists and it was equally interested in investing in the tourism projects here.

The official said the State government was planning to establish an exclusive stall in Bodh Gaya to disseminate information on the importance of Amaravati, Nagarjuna Konda and other Buddhist sites in Andhra Pradesh. He said Buddhist-related festivals were being organised every year between October and March at Bodh Gaya where Buddhist Monasteries from different countries have been established. “We also want to tie-up with those monasteries,” the official said and setting up of Monasteries Boulevard in the new capital region was a major step in this direction.

Various projects have been planned to develop ancient Amaravati town under HRIDAY scheme and also under PRASAD scheme of the Union Ministry of Tourism by spending about Rs. 90 crore.

Millionaire businessman gives up his possessions to become a Buddhist monk in China after living in isolation for two years

By Sara Malm, MailOnline, 10 August 2015

Guangdong, China -- A Chinese millionaire has given up his fortune and all material possessions in order to become a Buddhist monk. Liu Jingchong, a businessman from Guangdong Province, moved into the mountains to live in total isolation after an epiphany in 2012 made him desire a 'minimalist life'.
<< New life: Millionaire Liu Jingchong, 39,  moved into the mountains to live in total isolation after an epiphany in 2012 made him desire a 'minimalist life'
Two years later, he met a monk and decided to join a temple in east China, and instead of making millions he now works in a communal kitchen.

Mr Liu, 39, swapped big city life - and millions in annual income - for a life without material possessions on Zhongnan Mountain in north-western Shaanxi Province in December 2012.

He said a sudden epiphany had made him realise that people will never stop pursuing bigger houses, better jobs, and more expensive cars if they continue to live in metropolises, failing to focus on their 'inner' life.
He spent two years in total isolation, living in a shed made of straw and spending most of his days meditating, reading, and practising calligraphy.

Mr Liu said of his time in the mountains: 'The living conditions were bad. My bed was made of bricks and there was no electricity during the snowy winter.'
He continued: 'But I didn't feel cold there. Maybe it was because I liked the life there and focused just on what I liked.'

He grew his own vegetables in the mountains and only left his hermit lifestyle to buy rice, flour, and oil.

After meeting a monk, Mr Liu followed him to Baochan Temple in the county of Hanshan, in East China's Anhui Province to take a tonsure - the shaving of a Buddhist monk's head. He has been at the temple for three months now and, instead of managing millions, works as a cook in the communal kitchen.
sourse:Buddhist channel

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Monks, critical thinking and how Theravada Buddhism would benefit the world

by Kooi F. Lim, The Buddhist Channel, Aug 6, 2015

Bangkok, Thailand -- The Buddhist Channel catches up with the manager of the International Association of Buddhist Universities (IABU), Dr. Dion Peoples. The following are his views on saddha (faith, or as he prefers - confidence) vs critical thinking, Asian monks' knowledge in general of the Buddha Dhamma and how Theravada Buddhism would benefit the world.
This is the first of a two part interview. Tomorrow, we will publish Dr People's views on support for the ordination of women as Theravada Bhikkhunis.
Thank you Dr. Peoples for agreeing to this interview. To start off, please tell us when and how did you get in touch with Buddhism.
I first came into contact with Buddhism through Chinese Kung Fu movies, when I was a young boy, perhaps around age 7-8 (1980?).  I remember seeing the Shaw Brothers' Kung Fu movies, in particular the ones featuring Shaolin monks.  I remember seeing the Abbot of the Shaolin Temple (in the movie), and reading the subtitles of the movie, and thinking that the wisdom that he was saying was very profound. 
I was attracted to the wisdom-tradition, and always wondered to be a disciple of a wise master.  Years later, and not coming into contact with Buddhism, the Dalai Lama would win the Nobel Peace Prize.  I joined the US Air Force in January of 1992, and when I arrived at my first duty-station in Germany, I would go to the bookshop sometimes to purchase some books.  Since he was so famous, the only Buddhism books in the shop were those by him.  I bought them, and read them, but felt these texts were not genuine Buddhist texts. 
A few years later, the internet became more widely available, and I did research into Buddhism and Buddhist texts, and discovered Theravada Buddhism.  After attending a Diamond Way Buddhist center in Saarbrucken, Germany on a few occasions, I learned that I was not a Vajrayana Buddhist, but a Theravada Buddhist, and dedicated my life then, to the Theravada Buddhist tradition.  In 1999, or early 2000, I officially converted to Theravada Buddhism - and took the necessary steps to change my identification-card, and dog-tags while in the United States Air Force, while stationed in Germany.   I became a fully-ordained Theravada Buddhist monk, in the Dhammayutika-Nikaya tradition of Thailand, at Wat Patumwanaram in 2002. 
After many deep conversations with my master, who recently died (he had two PhD's from India), we decided that I should disrobe to continue my higher-education in Buddhist Studies.  So after living in a cave, by myself, in a provincial area) for a few months, I disrobed and finish my BA degree in the USA. 
I returned to Thailand in April of 2004, to earn my MA & PhD, with Thai Studies and Buddhist Studies as my higher academic degrees, respectfully.  I have dedicated my life to the pursuit of Buddhist wisdom, since an early age.
Your views on Asian monks in general: about their adherence to the faith (saddha) vs critical thinking.
I don't want to make any racial-stereotypes, and must clarify that I can only speak about either Thai-monks that I have encountered, or those international students from around Southeast Asia that I formerly taught.  So, I have a limited perspective, so whatever I say will not be entirely conclusive. 
"There are monks who possess faith in Buddhism, but are ignorant (of) the texts - and when ... something (is mentioned) about the texts, it challenges their paradigms" - Dr Peoples  >>
I'm around only monks who are either working or studying at the largest Buddhist monastic university in Thailand, and maybe the world: Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU).  Many monks, despite their nationality, possess faith in Buddhism, but I think this is dangerous.  I disbelieve in the concept of faith.  I know what it means, but I think faith is akin to ignorance; rather, when translating "saddha", I use the word: confidence. 
When I was alone in my cave-temple in rural Thailand, I did a lot of walking meditation.  Rather than resisting the training I was given from my master back in Bangkok, I decided to embrace his methods, and trained earnestly or diligently in his methods, and I became successful with samatha-samadhi.  Therefore, I possess confidence in the Buddha's training system and his Buddhadhamma because I have experienced the truth of his teachings, as momentary as those moments existed, before fading away. 
I endorse confidence in Buddhism.  I cannot endorse faith.  I know people believe in Buddhism, but if they can confirm - which has practical implications - then faith (ignorance) is transformed, and confidence is gained.   This is one aspect of my teachings. 
As far as critical-thinking is concerned, I have written a few textbooks on this, but need a publisher, to get these ideas out to the greater Buddhist public, beyond just posting the documents on my website. 
Monks have the basic knowledge of the doctrine, but most of the monks have not read the entire Tipitaka: either in their own language, or in Pali (not really necessary, in my opinion), or in English.  They do not possess an all-encompassing view of the Buddhadhamma. 
For instance and for a fact, I've read 100% of what is available in English.  This means I have not read the Nidana or the Yamaka - but there are texts or articles that introduce the contents - nevertheless, I possess all of the available texts, and teach these texts. 
I encounter monks who possess faith in Buddhism, but are ignorant to the texts - and when I mention something about the texts, it challenges their paradigms, and they have complained to the department that I am teaching unfamiliar ideas and may possess the wrong views.
Enough ignorant students have taken up their frustrations, despite my citations, and made their protests clear - so through mutual consent, I no longer teach to students who do not want to learn.  If someone wants to learn Buddhism at a higher level, either for their MA, or PhD, I will willingly become their advisor, but my reputation for advanced thinking and higher expectations is unattractive to the general population of students struggling to get through the academic-curriculum in a language that is not their own. 
Currently, I am not teaching at MCU, despite teaching there for the first seven years of the program.  I challenge their faith, and try to encourage how Buddhism has practical applications - but it must be known, before I continue, that my courses that I taught were: World Religions, Sociology, Ecology, Professional Development, History of Buddhism, Abhidhamma, Selected Texts in Buddhist Scriptures, and Research/Literature in Thai Buddhism - so these classes offered very little in terms of critical thinking.

While lecturing at Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University , did you encourage your students to think critically? Any examples? What was their response?
When I was teaching at MCU, and teaching my course on Research/Literature in Thai Buddhism and the class on Selected Topics in Buddhist Scriptures, I had one exercise for the final assignment.  For BA-students, I would pick a random number from the Dhammapada, a different number for each student - and the assignment was to run that verse through the analytical tools provided in the Nettippakaranam.  The Nettippakaranam has the sixteen-haras.  Each hara allows for a different perspective of the Dhammapada verse. 
Therefore, each student would have a different verse, which would not allow for copying assignments.  Each student had to work individually.  For the MA students, I selected a key-term, a famous Buddhist vocabulary term, and they had to scrutinize the term through the sixteen-haras. 
This was my assignment, to encourage the students to think critically.  While the BA students performed it with satisfaction (some better than others), the MA students protested, and proclaimed it was too hard, or different from the pre-existing curriculum that they were expecting to plagiarize. 
My assignments were new or novel, and after teaching that MA course - it was decided that the students were not proficient enough in English to study with me.  I am willing to assist any student willing to learn, but then no students were demanding my supervision! 
I've written two books on Buddhist critical thinking skills, and most recently combined all of this research into a new book that I've entitled: Buddhist Analytical Methodology, but I need a publisher. Inside, I clearly detail the analytical/critical thinking skills that the Buddhist tradition possesses and sanctions.  Buddhists seem more keen to scrutinize something through Western-psychology or Greek-philosophy, and can say nothing beyond the Kalama Sutta for Buddhism, but there is much much more to work with.

What is your current role in IABU? Please share with us some key research which have inspired you.
I am the Manager of the International Association of Buddhist Universities.  Every Buddhist university in the world or every program of Buddhist Studies or a related program is eligible to be a member of our association.
"Our Buddhist tradition is great and should play a greater role in universal affairs."
- Dr Dion Peoples  >>
Currently we have nearly 90 universities in the association, but many are unable to communicate with us, or have personnel who have transferred away from the universities, and our contact has diminished.  We are not legally able to collect membership fees, but do have an account for donations - but donations from universities are basically not forthcoming.  Many universities struggle financially. 
There is no key-research that inspires me, in terms of my duties for the IABU, rather, I am inspired through my love and appreciation for Buddhism, and the confidence that I possess, knowing that our Buddhist tradition is great and should play a greater role in universal affairs. 
If, at all, I am inspired by research which could have inspired me, it would be the work of Karl Marx.  While I was studying Buddhism and Socialism, I came into contact with the writings of the former Prime Minister of Myanmar, U Nu.  U Nu has inspired me greatly, through his utterance: Karl Marx taught only a fraction of a portion of dust, compared to what the Buddha taught. 
This made me reassess Buddhism, after my period as a Marxist, and I discovered that a great textbook for Buddhist Studies is the Sangiti Sutta of the Digha-Nikaya.  My PhD dissertation is on the utilization and application of the Sangiti Sutta.  I've freely contributed my expansion of the Sangiti Sutta to a website, Sutta Central, as well as made it generally available in my first book, published by my university, as Chanting the Sangiti Sutta, which merges my MA thesis on morning and evening monastic chanting, with the Sangiti Sutta for the sake of Buddhist Education. 
Now, with this as the root of my academic-career: Buddhist Education - or how to educate Buddhists to become better and wiser Buddhists, I moved into the realm of teaching Buddhist analytical methodology. 
My peers in Buddhist academia inspire me.  Many of my inspirations write for our annual UNDV conference that I organize through the IABU.  I crave to read and learn the wisdom of my peers. 

You seem to read western philosophy as much as the Suttas. How has this blend help you to understand Buddhism better?
As I just mentioned, I am a student of the writings of Karl Marx, and by extension, the Marxist tradition.  In fact, I left the United States Air Force, because I was a Buddhist-Socialist.  I advocate for Buddhist-Socialism, and am currently working on writing a text on improving Buddhist Socialism. 
I know it is not a popular idea in our capitalistic-globalized society, but my earnestness for compassion in action should not be so categorically rejected by social-antagonists.  I read Marx, yes; but currently I am fascinated by the writings and speeches of Slavoj Zizek. 
I have written a piece on his interpretation of Buddhism, as an attempt to introduce Buddhists to his writings - this piece can be found online.  I know Marxism is unpopular in some circles, so my radicalism has significantly decreased, but I am very much interested in Jurgen Habermas, Derrida, Ricoeur, Haile Selassie I, and basically just anything that I determine that has profound wisdom, deep enough to influence my perspectives. 
Yes, I am careful.  I try to read through Karl Popper, Whitehead, Spinoza, William James, Durkheim, Max Weber, and textbooks on Astronomy, Sociology, Economics, and so forth, but time is limited, and sometimes words just merge into other words, and I have to stop reading.  I read too much. 
Additionally, I read the Noble Qur'an and the Hadiths of the Prophet Muhammad, became aware of the great example of Malcolm X, and follow the lectures of the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (Nation of Islam).  I know Islam to a good degree.  Now, all of this material assists in my understanding of Buddhism, or Theravada Buddhism, because I learn that discipline, or social-discipline is important. 
I learn that people should follow some laws, and that these laws should be sanctioned by society.  I am bearing witness to the race-crimes in the United States, and I know that America is not based on Buddhist principles, but these unjustified-killings are tragic and painful to witness.  Intelligence and compassion is what Buddhism encourages, and if we behave and think better, our lives can improve. 
I think, as a scholar, I have not written my most profound work yet, so I am still struggling to reveal my most profound utterances or magnum-opus - but I do learn what is Buddhist and what is not Buddhist. 
If I read only Buddhism, I would not be able to translate the ideas across genres.  This leads into my career as the Manager of the IABU, and my organization of the annual United Nations Day of Vesak academic-conference, because I am trained in alternative wisdom-systems. 
I believe that my work enrichens Buddhism and Buddhist Studies.  I continue to read and reread the Tipitaka, and continue to find new things that I may have overlooked or did not focus on previously because of the filtering needed to compose an article pertaining to some strategic theme. 

Your thoughts on Thai Buddhism and how it can help enrich Buddhism worldwide.
I've basically lived in Thailand since the beginning of 2002 (leaving in 2003, and returning in April of 2004).  I've been around the monastic-tradition, either as a bhikkhu or as a professor for bhikkhus (and the occasional bhikkhuni).  I am well aware that in the Western World, the monastic tradition is not too popular, but the immigrant communities strive to maintain their foreign traditions within the United States, for example.
"Buddhism is a come-and-see tradition, and this is the beauty of its simplicity and complexity.  It is for mature people who are ready to undertake the precepts and live with morality." - Dr Dion Peoples  >>
In 2003-2004, I attended Wat Buddha-Oregon, in Turner, Oregon (near Salem), so I could be referring to this localized experience.  In the USA, monks are afraid to leave the temple, or because of their cultural restrictions, do not leave the temple.  Buddhism's missionary-attempts fail. 
The come-and-see attitude doesn't work around people who do not know, and often if these converted-houses, performing as a temple, usually cannot handle large crowds.  Buddhism is not something like a mega-church.  Buddhism does not perform in this way, and nor should it perform in this way. 
Buddhism is a come-and-see tradition, and this is the beauty of its simplicity and complexity.  It is for mature people who are ready to undertake the precepts and live with morality.   A problem with Americans is that they are unable to get on their knees and genuinely bow or prostrate before a Buddha-image in all humbleness, as being before the greatest teacher for humanity and our collective civilizations. 
I endorse the full Buddhist Sangha, the fourfold assembly of Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, and the laity (men and women).  A table with three legs is unstable.  Knowing that, but progressing, Thai Buddhists should continue to stress the importance of monasticism. 
Confidently, I proclaim that monasticism will ease global homelessness and poverty.  Some people, if they knew of or are able to come into close-contact with Buddhist monasticism, could alleviate their impoverished condition and do great work for society.  However, many Americans (and Europeans by extension), and Africans (for the lack of resources with the tradition) are unwilling or are ignorant to the benefits of monasticism. 
Sensual over-indulgence and material acquisition is harming global civilization.  In this sense, Buddhism challenges the capitalistic status-quo and serves a revolutionary function in this regard.  Buddhism would be the social utopia that many seek.  In contrast, the might of the government advocates for submission to law, to disarmament, to taking care of self and others - many dictates of our governments are pronouncements similar to Buddhism, but because the governments are improperly motivated, we see this as a violation of our human rights.  We would then have to take up the question of what rights do we genuinely want to express and possess?
Buddhism would genuinely improve our societies, but even within Thailand, rates of alcoholism are high and sexual misconduct pervades - life here in Thailand seems to run against the Buddhist precepts.  To this, I confirm: Buddhism is a renunciation-tradition, a monastic tradition, and it is not for the governance of a free-society.  I formerly taught at a Thai high-school, which neighbored a major brewery, and our own Buddhist university, MCU, also is neighbored by a brewery.
Buddhism advocates for rejecting the intake of intoxicants but the general population ranks highly, globally, for rates of consumption of alcohol.  In one study, Thailand ranked as high as #5 in the world for rates of consumption. 
Buddhists may proclaim to refrain from consuming intoxicants in front of the monk at the temple, but then go home and drink beer or something else with alcohol.  I would like to reclarify the question.  It may not be Thai-Buddhism that would benefit the world, because the Burmese, Cambodian, Lao, Sinhalese, and Bangladeshi-Buddhists have a great tradition as well, but greater respect for the textual tradition of Theravada Buddhism would benefit the world. 
The Dhamma has great teachings, the Jatakas have nice stories, the Abhidhamma has great psychology, and the Vinaya has great social-regulations. 
Our governments could rewrite laws and constitutions, and implement some basic ideas, as we move our civilizations forward through the crises that we are facing - but globally, too many people are attached to their traditions, which were once fine, but are growing more and more obsolete.
Dr. Dion Peoples is the Manager of the International Association of Buddhist Universities, and the General Editor and Conference Organizer for the United Nations Day of Vesak Academic Conference, since 2007.  He additionally serves as an advisor for the Alliance for Bhikkhunis' magazine, Present.  He is also an academic-advisor (curriculum designer) for the Hispanic Institute for Buddhist Studies (IEBH), and for Buddhist Studies programs for ASEAN.  He has written books on the Sangiti Sutta, and on Buddhist Critical Thinking Skills.  He has been working with Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University since 2007.  His collection of writings, Buddhist and others, can be found online, on his website-page.  He also publishes the Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Universities (JIABU), and the Santisuksa Journal for Peace Studies, through MCU's Peace Studies Program.  He can be freely contacted on his Facebook page, or the Facebook page for the IABU Secretariat. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Australia’s second-largest religion is being ‘ignored’

by Jackson Stiles, The News Daily, Jul 6, 2015

This faith is larger than Islam, Judaism and Hinduism, yet receives far less attention from governments and the media.
Sydney, Australia -- Australia’s half-a-million Buddhists are largely ignored, its adherents have claimed.
When a Liberal frontbencher used Asian conservatism to argue against same-sex unions on the weekend, one of its leaders was given a rare chance to join the national debate.
Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils president Kim Hollow refuted Agricultural Minister Barnaby Joyce’s claim that south-east Asians would view the legalisation of gay marriage as ‘decadent’.
On most other social issues, Buddhists are ignored, he told The New Daily.
“Population-wise, we are bigger than the Islamic community, but the Islamic community is always talked about,” he said.
“Nobody ever talks to Buddhists about anything much, but we do have a point of view.”
Buddhism is the nation’s second-largest religion, and formerly its fastest growing. (It has been superseded in that regard by its parent, Hinduism).
Its founder, the Buddha, was a Hindu prince thought to have lived some 2400 years ago in Nepal or India.
At the last census in 2011, there were 528,977 Buddhists, outnumbering Muslims (476,291), Hindus (275,534) and Jews (97,300).
By percentage, Australians are predominantly Christian (61 per cent of the population), followed by adherents of no religion (22 per cent), Buddhist (2.5 per cent), Islamic (2.2), Hindu (1.3) and Jewish (0.5).
Mr Hollows is unsure why his religion receives far less interest and coverage, although he suspects it is because of prevailing stereotypes.
“There is generally a view about Buddhists that we don’t really want to comment on stuff and that we just do our own thing,” he said.
“It’s absolutely not true.
“It’s only been of recent times that we’ve tried to build up our profile because we do have a point of view on most social issues and we like the opportunity to get those across to people.”
There are three main branches of the religion: Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana.
All three of these strains believe in reincarnation and teach methods of ‘liberation’ from the suffering of physical existence.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Dalai Lama is only the head of Tibetan Buddhism (a meld of Mahayana and Vajrayana) and not the religion’s global leader.
Buddhism’s earliest contact with Australia could have been before white settlement via Indonesian traders, at least one historian has claimed.
The single largest influx was Vietnamese refugees in the 1980s.
Despite this, the federal government has often failed to include Buddhists in inter-faith gatherings, Mr Hollow claimed. This is changing.
“The federal government is now very conscious about including us in the faith community, whereas in the past, unless we found out about it and stuck our hand up and said, ‘What about us?’, we were ignored.”
These days, adherents come primarily from south-eastern countries such as Japan, Taiwan, China, Indonesia and Korea. There are also migrants from Western countries as well as local converts.
Ironically, this week’s media coverage came via a public forum that, Mr Hollow claimed, is often closed to Buddhists – the public broadcasters.
“The ABC continues to ignore the Buddhist community, in the main,” he said.
“We’ve written to shows like Insight and Q&A asking for Buddhist representation [to no avail].”
Bhante Sujato, a prominent Australian monk, confirmed to The New Daily that the Buddhist community is often “overlooked”, both by the media and the government.
His theory – squeaky wheels get the oil. “Buddhists are just not that squeaky.”
The community also does not invest heavily in state or national representation, nor does it receive many government grants, the monk said.
And Australia’s national debate is poorer for it, he said.
“I think that there is a severe lack of wisdom and compassion in our public life,” he said.
“Too often the politicians seem to appeal to the lowest of our urges, and we need voices to call us out to what is more meaningful.
“These qualities can be found in the Buddhist tradition, although obviously not only there.”

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Explore hidden Buddhist caves around Mumbai

by Abhishek Rawat, Hindustan Times, Jul 25, 2015

Mumbai, India -- Two women flank a man; one of them is playfully trying to pull a sash off the man’s waist. This scene, sculpted in the 1st century BC at the Kondane caves near Karjat, is among the architectural marvels you can find in Maharashtra’s collection of little-known Buddhist caves.
<< This set of 16 Buddhist caves, excavated in the 1st century BC, are known for intricate sculptures on the façade, especially of common men and women. (Photo: Sandesh Lad)
These caves are called lenis, derived from lavanya, the Marathi word for beauty. “Their architecture is deeply influenced by the state’s climate. For instance, they have verandahs to keep out the torrential Sahyadri rains, which make them different from lenis found elsewhere in India,” says Yojana Bhagat, coordinator of the department of Pali, University of Mumbai.In the monsoon, you can trek through lush greens and cascading waterfalls to explore the rock-cut caves, created between the 1st century BC and 6th century AD. “Back then, Maharashtra was an important juncture on the coastal trade route,” says Kamini Gogri, coordinator of the arts and aesthetics course at the University of Mumbai. “These exquisite structures were built to house Buddhist monks and serve as guest houses for traders.”
Made during the rule of the Satavahanas, Vakatakas and Kshatrapas dynasties, these caves, with sculptures and paintings of Buddha and scenes from everyday life, also house those of Hindu deities. “Most kings from these dynasties were followers of Hinduism,” says historian and filmmaker Benoy Behl. “These caves are one of our greatest heritage assets.”
Pitalkhora Caves
The inscriptions found on these 14 caves date back to 250 BC to 3rd century AD. “The chaitya griha here or the monk’s rooms are the crowning glory of Indian Buddhist architecture,” says Behl. “Also, you find the first examples here of the popular motif of elephants holding up temples.”
“From the early phase of Buddhism, these caves have beautiful sculptures of Yakshas, and house a painting of Buddha,” says Bhagat.Getting there: Take the overnight train, bus or an hour-long flight to Aurangabad; from here, the caves are about 40 minutes away by road.
Kondane Caves
This set of 16 Buddhist caves, excavated in the 1st century BC, are known for intricate sculptures on the façade, especially of common men and women. These are indicative of a free, equal society, says Behl.
Aside from having interesting architecture, the caves are hidden under a grand waterfall, and you could get the chance to spot unusual birds here, and sometimes, deer stroll by too.
“It’s an easy, hour-long trek to the caves, one that even kids can take,” says Sandesh Lal, 36, an eco-tourism professional.
Getting there: Drive or take a train to Karjat station, and then drive about 30 minutes to Kondivadi village, the start point of the trek.
Panhalekaji Caves
These 29 rock-cut caves are situated on the river Kotjai, in Dapoli. Nestled inside a forest, these are a combination of Hindu and Buddhist caves, believed to be 1,000 years old. Kotjai river is also home to some crocodiles. “It is the only leni from Vajrayana, the last sect of Buddhism. The stupas are placed outside, rather than inside, which is very rare,” says Bhagat.
Getting there: The caves are 25 km from Dapoli, towards Dabhol. It should take about five hours by road from Mumbai.
Gandharpale Caves
On a hill near Mahad-Konkan, across the Mumbai-Goa highway, this cluster of 30 Buddhist caves rest by the banks of Savitri-Gandhari rivers.
One of the most interesting carvings of the cave, excavated in 150AD to 300 AD, is of people giving donation to the monks. A sculpture shows a farmer handing over his farm to the group of monks who ran the place. “Moreover, these also have inscriptions in the rare Brahmi script,” says Bhagat.
Stone steps take you to the top of the hill, a 15-minute climb to the viharas. “In the monsoons, the hillock is wrapped in a green blanket, adorned with rivulets,” adds Saurabh Thakekar, 27, director of travel company Mumbai Travellers.
Getting there: Drive to Gandharpale village, which is on the NH17 or the Mumbai-Goa road, about six hours from Mumbai.

The Buddhist way of life in the Northeast

by Jayashree Narayanan, DHNS, July 28, 2015

New Delhi, India -- What many know of Buddhism is Siddhartha Gautam and his awakening under a peepal tree. ‘BUDDHISM – A Living Religion in the North East of India’, a documentary directed by Bappa Ray tries to delve deep with interesting insights into Buddhism being practised in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
The documentary filmed over a year traces the origins of Gautam Buddha and the Mahayana branch of Buddhism. As a world religion, based on the teachings of Buddha or the ‘Awakened One’, in modern times, two major branches of Buddhism exist -- the Theravada in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia, and the Mahayana throughout the Himalayas and East Asia.
From Ladakh and Himachal in the west to Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim in the east, in small villages scattered throughout the areas bordering Tibet, are communities which have adopted the Buddhist way of life.
Ray tells Metrolife, “Buddhism spread from Ladakh to Sikkim, bordering Tibet in the remote areas.” The film follows the narrative tradition of story telling where the voiceovers lead the 60 minutes of the film. From the 7th century, Buddhism underwent radical changes, and new forms appeared which were called Mahayana and Vajrayana and Tantra.
The film shows the discipline combined yoga practice with highly complex ritualism, mixed with magic, and includes the worship of a large number of divinities. It also traces Padmasambhava, ‘the great master of tantra’, who introduced Tibetians to Buddhism’s Tantric form. His journey from Tibet to northeast India forms an interesting part of the film revealing Padmasambhava as more powerful to the Buddha and incarnated to transfer an esoteric doctrine called ‘Pemagatha’.
While Sikkim showcases the daily lives of the worshippers and the rich cultural heritage that still remains nascent, the artistic pagodas, symmetries, stupas, arts, crafts of the Buddhist tribe of Arunachal Pradesh have been captured in the second half of the film.The film looks at the influence of Buddhism as a ‘Living Religion’, on the socio-cultural heritage. “Mainland India many times fails to look at northeast but they are close to nature, understand beauty and have a strong cultural heritage,” says Ray.
sourse:Buddhist channel

China to expand 1,943-year-old Buddhist temple

by Jagriti Kumari, One India, July 27, 2015

Beijing, China -- China is all set to expand country's oldest Buddhist temple in Henan Province in the country, media reported.
A site-cleansing ceremony was recently held in Baima Temple in Luoyang city in Henan Province, the local religious affairs authority said, The Global Times reported.
A new Hall of Ten Thousand Buddhas, designed in Han Dynasty style and with a floor space of 13,891 square meters, will be added to the ancient temple.
The 1,943-year-old Baima Temple, also known as the White Horse Temple.
It was the first Buddhist temple in China and is considered "the cradle of Chinese Buddhism. The temple went through two major expansions by Empress Wu in 685 AD and by Emperor Shizong of Ming Dynasty in 1555 AD.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why a Buddhist Monk Doesn't Need an App to Meditate and Why You Do

by Dragos Bratasanu, The Huffington Post, July 17, 2015

A few years ago I traveled to Nepal to hike in the Himalayas, learn a bit more about myself and about the world from the Buddhist spiritual teachers.

For over seven years I have went back and forth across the bridge between science and spirituality. I have studied both, trying to understand why we try to separate them, why we need to follow one path or the other. I never could quite understand why a scientist cannot spend time in meditation or pray and why a person on the spiritual path can't actually think?
"Why a scientist cannot spend time in meditation
and why a spiritual person can't think." -- Dr Dragos

As the night embraced the highest peaks in the world, I walked through the gates of a beautiful Buddhist monastery. Pale yellow lights shimmered from the classrooms where students were still learning their most sacred ancient texts. Only the crackled sound of me turning the prayer wheels a couple of times, my footsteps in the garden and the bark of a stray dog in the distance created rhythm through the stillness of the night. Suddenly I felt somebody pulling my jacket and as I turned around, a small Buddhist kid with a big smile and sparkling happy eyes asked me laughing: "Do you have candy?"
Four words you need to make your dreams come true:
"Do you have candy?"

As it brings me great joy to share what I have, I gave him all my chocolate bars that I bought to help me resist the long hikes in the mountains. He ate all the chocolates really fast and I soon realized that "do you have candy" were the only English words he knew. He took my hand and walked me to the abbey of the monastery without saying another word.
The abbey was a wonderful man in his fifties now, with a most obvious trait: he was always laughing and smiling. When he was just 5 years old he ran away from Tibet to escape the Chinese oppression. Leaving his family behind, he fled across the mountains and took refuge in a Buddhist monastery in Nepal. He became a monk. In spite of all his hardships, he was now intensely happy.
How do you do it? I asked him. How do you stay so happy?
He begun his answer with a delicious laughter: "You know, in the western world you have everything you need to have a happy life. You have access to an abundance of information online, you have freedom, you have bookstores to learn anything you want, you can afford to buy anything you need. You even have apps for meditations!
I don't know what those are because I just sit down and meditate."
"What in the world is an app for meditation? I just sit down and do it." -- Buddhist monk
"You know what the problem really is? You fill your head with so much information but you never put it into practice. You never take action. You never do it. You study meditation, you learn techniques, you take courses, you read books, you go to classes but you never do it on the long run. And it's driving you crazy. It's that simple."
"Stop thinking and start doing!" -- Dr. Robert Richards, Co-Founder Singularity University
It's never the extraordinary people who do the extraordinary. It's the ordinary people like you and me who decide to stand up and take the journey. Because they complete the journey, ordinary people become extraordinary. What do you need to do today that you know you have to do and don't do it? Is it to go to the gym and exercise? It is to eat healthy? Is it to find the courage to tell your manager that he's wrong? Is it to take bold leadership of your life and stand up for who you really are?

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Dharmarajika – a Buddhist monastery in Bangladesh, feeds fasting Muslims over Ramadan

AFP, July 7, 2015

DHAKA, Bangladesh -- A Buddhist monastery in Bangladesh is serving food to hundreds of poor Muslims during Ramadan, in a rare example of social harmony between the religions in the South Asian nation.
Dharmarajika, in the capital Dhaka, has become a hit on social media since it started distributing daily food packs for Muslims who break their fast during Iftar.
“Buddhism taught us that serving humanity is the ultimate religion. We are feeding poor Muslims who cannot afford to buy proper meals to break their fast,” Suddhananda Mahathero, the head monk of the monastery, told AFP.
When AFP visited on Monday evening, more than 300 Muslims were waiting at the gate of the monastery in Dhaka’s Basabo neighbourhood to receive some Iftar delicacies.
“I can eat some good food served with love and care,” said 70-year-old Amena Khatun, who added that she had walked several kilometres to get there.As a young monk distributed tickets to hungry Muslims, police were on hand to ensure the process remained orderly.
“This is such a wonderful example of religious harmony: showing respect and affection to the fasting neighbours without thinking of the difference of religions,” said policeman Asad Uzzaman.
Muslims make up around 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s 160 million population, with a tiny community of Buddhists residing mostly in the country’s southeastern districts bordering Myanmar.
In September 2012, tens of thousands of Muslims vandalised and torched nearly a dozen Buddhist temples in the south of the country following allegations that a Buddhist man had desecrated the Holy Quran.
Many Muslims took to social media to thank the Dharmarajika monastery for their food distribution, posting photos on Facebook of the yellow-clad monks handing out supplies. Others praised the monks on Twitter.
“I really appreciate the initiative and thank them,” Nur Hossain, a banker, told AFP.
The monastery was established in 1949 and is home to more than 700 orphans who study at a free school it runs.


First annual Wisdom and Mindfulness retreats for westerners in Myanmar

by Alan Clements, The Buddhist Channel, July 14, 2015

Yangon, Myanmar -- Myanmar’s renowned Mahasi Meditation Center will launch a first-ever Western yogi meditation training for lay-teachers, first-time and experienced meditators.

First annual Wisdom and Mindfulness retreats for westerners in Myanmar, January 3-17, 2016 and January 24-February 7, 2016
Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha-Yangon (MSY), in partnership with the Buddha Sasana Foundation-USA/Canada (BSF), is hosting two rare meditation retreats (January 3-17, 2016 and January 24-February 7) specifically for Westerners interested in training in the techniques and foundations of insight meditation at the Center that launched the global mass lay meditation movement.
For nearly seventy years the Center has maintained a continuous 24-hour schedule of meditation for as many as 500 yogis at a time. The life-transforming training and practice
has impacted the lives of millions of meditators both in Myanmar and worldwide who have practiced in the tradition of the late Mahasi Sayadaw.
The techniques have been adapted to a variety of settings in the West - medical, educational,  correctional,  psychotherapeutic, business, and personal growth and spiritual development, in addition to the integrated approach to Buddhist philosophy and enlightenment. In South and Southeast Asia, the Mahasi method of insight meditation has influenced the face of Buddhist practice regionally.
Since 1962, the Mahasi Center has been closed to the world (other than in rare circumstances for a handful of practitioners). With Myanmar’s recent democratic opening,
the Center is poised for the first time to accept foreigner lay meditation teachers and passionate practitioners interested in training in the systematic mindfulness techniques of
Buddhist insight meditation, that is currently sweeping the world. (TIME: The Mindfulness Revolution).
Rooted in the long monastic tradition of an integrated ethical, scholarly and meditation based approach to pedagogy and outcomes, MSY has embarked on an unprecedented undertaking: a long-term training center for Western lay teachers taught in the medium of the English language. The 2016 Retreats mark the first annual meditation events and the
start of a new era in Buddhist training and practice.
The first yearly Mahasi Commemorative Gathering will follow the launch of the two Special Retreats on February 7 from one to five pm. The event commemorates the life and work of
the late Mahasi Sayadaw with lectures and commentaries offered on the extraordinary life and impact of the Mahasi’s systematization of insight meditation practice.
The retreats are open to all yogis by application on the The Wisdom of Mindfulness website but space is limited to 50 yogis in total. The retreats offer practical insights into the heart of Buddhist insight meditation and the emancipatory teachings of the Buddha.
The Retreats will be guided by the Center's abbot, Sayadaw U Jatila and the meditation teachers at Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha. Cultural and retreat assistance will be provided by Mr.
Alan Clements (former monk at the Center). Dr. Ingrid Jordt (former nun at the Center) and Dr. Jeannine Davies (long-time practitioner in the Mahasi tradition). Participating yogis may
come to the Retreat Assistants (kappiyas) with any questions regarding cultural translation of the monastic environment, help explaining protocol, interview style, technique questions,
and other general help.
If you go:
First Annual

Retreat 1: Sunday January 3-17, 2016 (25 spaces)
This retreat, reserved for beginning and experienced meditators, will be taught in the Theravada Buddhist tradition using the Satipatthana Vipassana mindfulness method of insight meditation as instructed by the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw. The teachings emphasize developing sustained mindfulness throughout the day. (i.e., awareness of mental and physical phenomena as they arise moment to moment, in all activities, when sitting, walking, standing, bending, bathing, eating, lying down to rest, waking up etc.)
Retreat 2: Sunday January 24 – Feb 7, 2016 (25 spaces)
Reserved for lay meditation teachers and guides who would like to receive comprehensive training in the systematic Mahasi pedagogy. This retreat offers a special opportunity for teachers in the West to deepen their practice and to gain a more systematic knowledge of insight meditation. Guidance will be offered in the pedagogical foundations and skillful means required to guide practice and decipher the meditator’s report of vipassana experience in order to facilitate their role as a noble friend and guide/mentor.
First International Mahasi Commemorative Gathering: Feb 7th 1:00- 5:00 pm.
The Gathering to be held at the Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha Yangon, commemorates the life and works of the late Ven Mahasi Sayadaw and the history of the Mahasi teachings in Burma and throughout the world.
Further details and online application at:
Alan Clements is author, dharma guide and a former Buddhist monk residing in Burma.