Monday, February 27, 2012

Holy War in Buddhism

The War on Error 
by Bhikkhu Pesala

Like other religions, Buddhism also has a concept of holy war. Ignorant people use such ideas to justify physical violence, intimidation, denial of basic human rights, and the oppression of others. However, there is only one holy war that deserves the name, and that is the struggle to be waged by each individual to remove his or her own craving and ignorance. No other war, crusade, or campaign is worthy of the appellation “holy.”

Such battles with the external world do not lead to mental peace or to the cessation of defilements (nibbāna), but only to more suffering and greater ignorance. If you impose your views on others and deny them the right to hold different views, then you are not practising the Buddha’s teaching. Right views can be promoted by teaching Dhamma, by pointing out what is not Dhamma, and by allowing others the freedom to decide for themselves which is which. If they choose the wrong path, that is for their loss and harm, but it is not your responsibility.

Even the Buddhas 
can only show the way, 
those who claim to be 
his disciples must follow 
his instructions to reach the goal.

When the Dhamma is not properly practised, then the ignorant need to wage war in the name of protecting the religion, but actually all they are doing is protecting their own self-interest. This is not the way to preserve the Dhamma, but the way to destroy it. During wars, even if the nation is victorious, many lives are lost, much wealth is dissipated, many enemies are made, and the young men who return from war do so with both physical and mental scars. The way of the ideal Buddhist ruler — the Cakkavatti, or Wheel-turning monarch — is to conquer by means of generosity, friendliness, and by speaking the truth, not by the force of arms and threats of violence. Such a campaign, of course, would not be a war, but a diplomatic mission.

Read More Go To: Bhikkhu Pesala's blog

2012 © Bhikkhu Pesala

Save the World & Our Future

Saturday, February 18, 2012


The Art and Science of Buddhist Meditation

by Dr Gooi Chien Hoong

3rd MARCH 2012
8:00 Evening

A L L    A R E    W E L C O M E

Dr Gooi is a Clinical Psychologist and Buddhist teacher in Sydney who seeks to integrate western psychology with the practices of Buddhist meditation. He was previously involved in clinical research applying mindfulness practices in the treatment of Generalised Anxiety Disorder at The University of Sydney and also served as the Buddhist Chaplain at the University of New South Wales. He is the Director of Operations and a Trustee of the Sydney Buddhist Library and Meditation Centre, a Management Committee member for the Australian Association of Buddhist Counsellors and Psychotherapists and a regular guest speaker at various Buddhist groups. Dr Gooi is currently in private practice and has a role in research and program development at The University of Sydney Counselling and Psychological Services.

Monday, February 6, 2012



The core practice of early Buddhism is renunciation, that is, the letting go and cutting off of unwholesome states of mind so that we become liberated individuals. From the early texts, we know that there are two ways: renouncing as a monastic and practising meditation as a lay person.

True renunciation depends on the commitment of the monastic or the lay person to Dharma (Dhamma) training. Living as a monastic, truly keeping to the Vinaya, is like taking the high road to nirvana (nibbana). On the other hand, the laity would mostly take what might be said to be the good old country road, hilly and winding but a pleasant journey, much slower, but capable of reaching the same goal.

As a rule, those who take the monastic course should be serious meditators, those we are unlikely to chat with online, but have to meet personally for any use­ful spirit­ual training. Such monastic meditators are the dhyana-attainers. Attaining dhyana (jhana) means they have transcended the limits of the five physical senses and have tasted pure mental pleasure.

This is as if we have graduated with a PhD; so philo­sophy 101 is a breeze; or we have the very first mint issue of Action Comics #1 (1939), so we would not think much of the newsstand copies.

Even if we do not work for PhDs, we could still graduate as good teachers. Even if we do not collect all the first editions of books, we could still enjoy reading them. In fact, most of us could easily afford newstand comics, rather than collector’s editions. The Buddh­ist lay life, then, is a fun life, like playing football. Football is not merely kicking the ball about, but it is the football rules that make it fun. The Buddhist lay life is defined by the five precepts, which keep us on the human level, so that we can direct our ener­g­ies to mental cultivation or meditation. 

Meditation is here best understood as progressive renunciation. When we seriously make an effort to medi­tate, we are effectively getting into the state of a renunciant. The very first thing we do in meditation is to find a conducive place and sit as com­fort­ably as we can so that we can forget about our body after a while. This is a bodily renunciation.

After sitting for some time, we might begin to feel some discomfort. Again here, we should simply ignore it if possible. Otherwise, try to observe with an open mind, “What is this pain?” We would notice that it is a process of rising and falling of feel­ing. If we do not let our negative mind to return and colour the pain, then this is a feeling renunciation.

Once we are physically comfortable, we go on to work with our thoughts as they arise. The usual way is to simply ignore them and keep our focus on the meditation object (say, the breath or lovingkindness). If thoughts do arise, it is best to simply let them come and let them go. Never follow them. If we can do this comfortably over time, then this a mental renunciation.

Another kind of renunciation is that directed to blissful feeling or an experi­ence of some men­tal brightness, often known as “the sign” (nimitta). This sort of feeling or experience, if it is truly blissful, should be silently enjoyed for as long as we like. When we feel some sense of familiarity with it, then it is time to let it go gently, so that a higher state would arise. This is a higher renunciation.

Finally, when we are fully free of bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings, we might go on to attain deep concentration, even dhyana (jhana). Then, whether we are monastic or lay, we have truly “renounced the world.” This is true renunciation.[1]

If we patiently bear the initial pains of starting meditation, the fruits will come in due course. Good medita­tion begins by a total acceptance of ourselves just as we are. Then we leave the past where it should be, and we do not cross the bridge of the future until we reach it. Good meditation empowers us to renounce the pains of the past — they are gone; it teaches us to renounce the future — it never comes. We have a good sense of what needs to be rightly done now. 

In our practice, we must gently keep bringing the mind back to the meditation-object, and constantly ex­tend the horizon of our loving­kind­ness. We are laying the foundations of emotional strength. We grow emotionally stronger by first identifying and overcoming our inner weaknesses, our negative emotions. Then we work on discovering our positive emotions, or inner resilience by recalling happy memo­ries and focussing on positive actions. We constantly remind ourselves that which­ever way our lives go, people change and they may not be always there for us, and that things, too, are not always what they seem to be. 

In other words, 
what we really are — 
the truth about ourselves — 
is not out there or in what we have
Our true being lies in what we really are
Just as the sun and its light are 
not two separate things, 
even so our life and love 
cannot be separated. 
Thinking makes it so. 
The examined life is 
the one that truly feels: 
we do not think happy, 
we feel happy. 
Happiness is a direct experience 
of true reality: 
it is to see our­selves as a word embracing 
other words on this page, 
completing what needs to be said here. 

As our inner happiness grows, 
we need less worldliness,
less religion:
we no more need any 
parent-figure or guru-figure, 
or any kind of pow­er-figure.
Our locus of control stays within us:
we become emotionally self-reliant,
without any need for the approval of others,
or any measuring ourselves against others.
Yet our happiness is capable of 
inspiring happiness in others.
We have a clear vision of  
our true self and liberation.[2]

Piya Tan ©2012

[1] This reflection is based on Piya Tan, Bhavana = SD 15.1:
[2] See SD 17.8c: (8.4) Downside of meditation (the danger of cults); (8.5) Who should not meditate. Link:

Wednesday, February 1, 2012



APRIL 1 TO 8, 2012

We are pleased to inform that our Inward Path resident meditation teacher Visu Teoh will be leading an intensive eight-day vipassana retreat at Peace House in Bukit Gambier from April 1 to 8.

Though tough and challenging, a vipassana retreat is great for pacifying and tranquilising the mind besides gaining insight into the ultimate nature of reality — the impermanence, suffering and not-self characteristics of existence taught us by the Buddha. It is very liberating and exhilarating to understand these truths on a deeper level during meditation. 

Participants will begin the day in a wonderful way — by spending an hour radiating metta (thoughts of lovingkindness) to all beings before they immerse themselves in the vipassana practice for the rest of the day.

If anybody is interested in attending the retreat, 
please contact Visu for further information — 
email visu@mind-at-peace-net or 
phone 0164112395.

Meanwhile Visu will continue as usual with his regular Thursday evening meditation session (8.00pm to 10.00pm — one hour sitting followed by an hour discussion) at Inward Path. This Thursday (Feb 2) he will begin to discuss the Buddha’s discourse on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness which he will continue on every Thursday till the end of the discourse.

We welcome those who are particularly interested in studying, reviewing or furthering their understanding of this important discourse of the Buddha on mindfulness (Pali: sati) which has been described as the direct way to the purification of the mind and the end of suffering.