Thursday, 30 January 2014

NEW MOON – Thursday 30th January 2014

Slowing down the Momentum

Anyone who lives freed
from habits of clinging,
to past, present or future,
possessing nothing,
is a great being.

Dhammapada v. 421

The momentum of our inner story-telling can be intimidating. Or perhaps it’s movies that we have to endure: over and over again, rearranging fragments of memories, making movies with ‘me’ in the prominent role. Probably it is not that our personal history really warrants such attention, and surely we would stop the inner noise if we could. So what feeds this momentum? Judging, taking sides, accepting and rejecting. Once again we are reminded of the need for here-and-now, whole body-mind, judgement-free awareness, with particular emphasis on the latter. How do we free awareness from the compulsion of taking sides, of judging? We watch it. With a frame of reference established in the body, we gain a perspective on the habitual mental activity that we experience as judging, and we learn to not judge it. No judging the judging mind. If we stop judging the inner activity, the momentum could cease.

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Teacher Tells Buddhist Student, “You’re Stupid if You Don’t Believe in God.”

A public school in Louisiana allegedly advised a Buddhist family to change their beliefs if they didn’t want their child to face harassment from zealous teachers.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Louisiana on Wednesday filed a federal lawsuit against Negreet High School in Sabine Parish on behalf of two parents, Scott and Sharon Lane, and their son, “C.C.” The lawsuit claims the school has “a longstanding custom, policy, and practice of promoting and inculcating Christian beliefs,” including the teaching of creationism.

Sixth-grade (11-12 year olds) teacher Rita Roark has told her students that the universe was created by God about 6,000 years ago, and taught that both the Big Bang theory and evolution are false, according to the lawsuit. She told her students that “if evolution was real, it would still be happening: Apes would be turning into humans today.”

One test she gave to students asked: “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The correct answer was “Lord,” but C.C. wrote in something else. Roark responded by scolding the boy in front of the entire class.

When informed that C.C. was a Buddhist and therefore didn’t believe in God, Roark allegedly responded, “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.”

On another occasion, she allegedly described both Buddhism and Hinduism as “stupid.”
When the outraged parents confronted Sabine Parish Superintendent Sara Ebarb about the incidents, she allegedly told them “this is the Bible belt” and that they “shouldn’t be offended” to “see God here.” Ebarb advised that C.C. should either change his faith or be transferred to another District school where “there are more Asians.”

The parents, “hoping to save him from suffering additional psychological harm,” decided to transfer their son to another school, according to the lawsuit. The school is 25 miles away from their home.

“The treatment this child and his family have endured is not only disgraceful, it’s unconstitutional,” said Heather L. Weaver, senior staff attorney for the ACLU Program on Freedom of Religion and Belief.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Fat Figure NOT the Buddha

While watching the BBC program about Stephen Gough, "The Naked Rambler", his mother mentioned that his older brother was a Buddhist.

When I tried Googling to verify this I kept coming up with hits about the statues of two naked fat "Buddhas" climbing a building in Jinan, Shandong province, China.

Report after report kept refering to the figures as Buddhas.................................

The so called fat Buddha is NOT Siddhārtha Gautama, the historical Buddha. Instead The Fat Buddha is thought to be based on another historical figure, a Chinese Zen Buddhist monk named Qieci who lived over 1,000 years ago during the later Liang Dynasty. In China he became known as Budai, meaning cloth bag, named after the sack full of sweets for children that he always carried. In Japanese this is translated as Hotei. He was a benevolent man who dedicated his life to helping others, and is portrayed as a fat, bald man in monks clothing, with a large exposed belly, and either wearing or holding a necklace of beads. This necklace is a Mala, a Buddhist string of prayer beads.

He is usually identified with (or as an incarnation of) Maitreya, the future Buddha to come, so much
so that the Budai image is one of the main forms in which Maitreya is depicted in East Asia.

Fat Buddha statues are popular as a symbol of health, happiness, prosperity and good fortune.

These statues take a number of forms, and can convey different meanings depending on the symbolic meaning of the various objects he is holding.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Friday, 17 January 2014

World's Largest Buddhist Institute Catches Fire

You may remember our story "A Buddhist Shanty Town?" about Serthar Institute, also known as Larung Gar Buddhist Academy in the Larung Valley, Serthar County of Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in "China". Well it's in the news again as it is being reported that the remote Tibetan Buddhist institute, thought to be among the largest in the world, has been seriously damaged in a huge fire, reports said last Friday, the cause of the inferno remains a mystery.

The institute was founded in 1980 in an uninhabited valley and has since grown to become one of the world's most important centres of Tibetan Buddhism, with an estimated population of 10,000 monks, nuns and students living in small wooden homes on the hillsides surrounding the complex.

Its founder, Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, who died in 2004, was known for keeping a strict focus on Buddhism rather than politics at the institute. He maintained a close relationship with both Chinese authorities and the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader and Nobel peace laureate who Beijing condemns as a separatist.

But the Buddhist academy's survival was threatened in 2001 when armed police forced hundreds of nuns and monks to leave the site, destroying more than 1,000 homes to prevent them returning. Police demanded that nuns sign documents denouncing the Dalai Lama and pledging not to return, according to overseas campaign groups, and Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok was detained for a year after the incident.

In early 2012, Serthar was rocked by violence when police fired tear gas and began shooting into a crowd of hundreds of peaceful Tibetan protesters, exile groups said. China's official Xinhua news agency said that the incident, in which one person was killed, was triggered when "rioters" attacked police with knives, bottles of petrol and guns.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

FULL MOON – Wednesday 15th January 2014


Do not show false humility.
Stand firmly in relation to your goal.
Practice, well-observed,
leads to contentment
both now and in the future.

Dhammapada 168

Contentment might arise because we don’t actually want anything. But it is also possible for our hearts to remain contented even when we do want things. For that to be true however we must want with wisdom. Wanting is a movement in mind that, if we are honest, we experience as a sort of discontentment. As long as we feel like it is ‘me’ that is wanting, then it is ‘me’ that feels discontented. And usually this same ‘me’ is driven to do something to dispel the uncomfortable feeling. When there is wisdom we cease seeking identity in the activity of mind and sense the stillness behind movement. This is the wisdom that can free us from feeling driven.

With Metta,
Bhikkhu Munindo

Durutu Poya day is the full-moon of January. This holy day celebrates the mythical first visit of the Buddha to Sri Lanka. According to the legend the Buddha visited the very place, where the present magnificent Mahiyangana Stupa was built to enshrine the Buddha's hair relics and his collar bone.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Buddhism, State by State

I recently came across this fascinating map of the largest religions in America after christianity, depicted state by state. As you can see Buddhism predominates in Western states while Islam is on the increase in the East of the country.

What particularly interested me about the article from American Buddhist, which contained the map, was the range of statistics backing it up. "Data on Buddhism is sparse, with a general “Buddhism” question only added to the census in 2000, but no data on actual adherents, and a breakdown into Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana not put in until the 2010 census".

The point is made that the number of “visible practising Buddhists,” is sure to be far lower than those who would self-ascribe as Buddhist. To this I would, from personal experience, add that there are a large number of those who meditate in a Buddhist context and broadly adhere to the Buddha's teachings but who would not describe themselves as definitely Buddhist. Speaking for myself, it was only after practising for some time that I "came out as a Buddhist".

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A Happy 2014, 2556, 2557, 1435, etc. etc. etc.

A safe, happy and peaceful new year to all our readers. Believe it or not not everyone counts the years from when Jesus of Nazareth was thought to have been born. It always used to be that in western countries the date was suffixed with A.D. or Anno Domini meaning "in the year of our Lord". Obviously in these politically correct times that had to be changed to something apparently more inclusive, so now we have C.E. or "common era". In a world connected by the needs of modern commerce a "common" standard is useful and with the legacy of European, and thus Christian, colonisation of much of that world that standard is the Christian calendar.

There are a lot of alternative calendars around, for Muslims the current Islamic Year is 1435 A.H. anno Hegirae (in the year of the Hijra) and started on the 3rd of November 2013 (in the evening).

For Buddhists there are a number of different calendars but the most common gives the year as 2556 B.E. or Buddhist Era dated from the Buddha's death which according to various traditions was either the first full moon of May, April or June. Also the year is different according to the school of Buddhism being alternately 2140, 2556, 2557 or 2070.

According to the Jewish calendar it's 5774! The Bahá'í calendar makes it 170 but they also call it B.E. and it ends on the 20th 0f March. The Year consists of 19 Months of 19 days so goes out of sync quite quickly.