Saturday, October 27, 2012

Is Buddhism A Religion?

Is Buddhism a religion?

Albert Einstein once said this of Buddhism, 

"The religion of the future 
will be a cosmic religion. 
It should transcend a personal God and 
avoid dogmas and theology.
 Covering both natural and spiritual, 
it should be based on 
a religious sense arising from 
the experience of all things, 
natural and spiritual 
and a meaningful unity. 
Buddhism answers this description. 
If there is any religion that 
would cope with modern scientific needs, 
it would be Buddhism."

But is Buddhism a religion? Buddhism may qualify as a religion, depending on ones point of view. If you define religion as "a system of worship or devotion to a deity," than no, it would not be a religion; however, if you define religion as "a system of spiritual beliefs, rituals, and morals," then Buddhism would be a religion.

There is no messiah, no prophet, and no deity in Buddhism. The basic premise of Buddhism is about a prince who lived a hedonistic life, then became enlightened and decided to live an ascetic life.

Since there is no deity, messiah or prophet in Buddhism, you can be a Christian and a Buddhist, Muslim and Buddhist or Jew and Buddhist. And there would be no conflict.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Misleading Teachings Deviate From The Right Path of Buddhism

Below is a 
Public Statement 
Young Buddhist 
Association of Malaysia

YBAM: Misleading Teachings Deviate 
From The Right Path of Buddhism

The Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia (YBAM) recently received a correspondence from the Buddhist Society of a branch campus of a university in Kelantan (located at north-east of Peninsular Malaysia), stating that members and other undergraduates are influenced by a Theravada monk, leading to transferrence of course of study, and strained relationship with the family members.

The monk started to approach the undergraduates of the said university since March this year. Activities were carried out without the acknowledgement of the Buddhist Society of the university. The monk even brought dozens of students to pay a visit to the temples in Thailand for few weeks. When the semester started in September, these students, of about 30 of them, contacted the faculty and their family about their intention of transferrence from Medical Discipline to other disciplines such as Nutrition or Sport Science. Some students could not concentrate in their study, and absent from the lectures to participate in the activities organised by the mentioned monk. Some students even have the intention to withdraw from the university. The university started to show concern on this incident following the request of transferrence of course from these students.

Most of the affected students are the future doctors, with some of them are graduating in next one or two years, and some of them are even the JPA scholarship holders. However, these students disregard the worries of the family members, as well as the implications of the RM250,000 compensation that the family is going to make following their irresponsible act, had a falling out with the family, and even threatened to run away from home or to terminate the family relationship.

This monk taught the students that 
the patients should not 
receive medication for their condition, 
as these sicknesses are 
the results of their Karma. 

If one receives treatment for the sickness, 
this will not eliminate the Karma, 
and he/she will continue to 
suffer in the future. 

This monk keep stressing about
the supernatural power, 
and telling students that 
he has the power to know the past, 
and to predict the future. 

He also used the so-called subconscious method to let students to see their pasts. These teachings led to the Medical students not willing to, and also dare not to face the patients and corpses. Some of them even felt the uneasiness and the horror after contacting or facing the patients and corpses. In addition, this monk also misled the students in the views of the relationship that led to the end of the relationship of a few couples.

YBAM also received some complaints that this monk used the same tactic to approach the Buddhist and youths in the Alor Setar, Kedah. He also has a centre for students’ gathering in the Klang Valley.

In the Buddha’s teaching, 
we see how the Buddha, as the leader, 
also concerned his disciples who are sick, 
and provided necessary medications. 

The Buddha taught how to integrate ourselves into the society and to benefit the society with our contributions. The Buddha did not teach us on the unconventional and bizarre ideas, which leads to the worries of our family and friends, or even broken relationships with them.

YBAM hence urge the Buddhist society in the varsities and the local Buddhist societies to pay extra care when dealing with the interactions between the venerables and the disciples, as to avoid the negative implications that might be caused to the students and disciples following such relationship. Together with other Buddhist organisations, YBAM is also trying with various approaches including the Immigrations, university and family members, not to worsen the development of the incident, and to prevent this monk to bring the students to Thailand in this October again.

“Whoever, monks,
would attend to me,
he should tend the sick”  

The full passage, found in that section of Vinaya-pitaka called the Mahavagga, chapter 8, verse 26 Kucchivikara-vatthu, relates to the story of the Lord Buddha coming across a fellow monk who was suffering dysentery. With the help of Venerable Ananda, the Lord Buddha cleaned and settled the sick monk. Shortly afterwards, the Lord Buddha addressed the Sangha:  

 “Monks, you have not a mother,
 you have not a father 
who might tend you.  
If you, monks, 
do not tend one another, 
then who is there to tend you?
Whoever, monks, would tend me,
he should tend the sick.” 
(From the Pali Text Society’s translation,  
Book of the Discipline, Vol 4 p 432) 

This famous statement was made by the Blessed One when he discovered a monk lying in his soiled robes, desperately ill with an acute attack of dysentery. With the help of Ananda, the Buddha washed and cleaned the sick monk in warm water. On this occasion he reminded the monks that they have neither parents nor relatives to look after them, so they must look after one another. If the teacher is ill, it is the bounden duty of the pupil to look after him, and if the pupil is ill it is the teacher's duty to look after the sick pupil. If a teacher or a pupil is not available it is the responsibility of the community to look after the sick (Vin.i,301ff.).

On another occasion the Buddha discovered a monk whose body was covered with sores, his robe sticking to the body with pus oozing from the sores. Unable to look after him, his fellow monks had abandoned him. On discovering this monk, the Buddha boiled water and washed the monk with his own hands, then cleaned and dried his robes. When the monk felt comforted the Buddha preached to him and he became an Arahant, soon after which he passed away (DhpA.i,319). Thus the Buddha not only advocated the importance of looking after the sick, he also set a noble example by himself ministering to those who were so ill that they were even considered repulsive by others.

The Buddha has enumerated the qualities that should be present in a good nurse. He should be competent to administer the medicine, he should know what is agreeable to the patient and what is not. He should keep away what is disagreeable and give only what is agreeable to the patient. He should be benevolent and kind-hearted, he should perform his duties out of a sense of service and not just for the sake of remuneration (mettacitto gilanam upatthati no amisantaro). He should not feel repulsion towards saliva, phlegm, urine, stools, sores, etc. He should be capable of exhorting and stimulating the patient with noble ideas, with Dhamma talk (A.iii,144).

Adapted from 
 Ministering to the Sick and the Terminally Ill
by Lily de Silva
Buddhist Publication Society
Bodhi Leaves BL 132
Copyright © 1994 Lily de Silva

Friday, October 19, 2012

Living In The Moment

 Living In The Moment 
   by Jason Mraz

   If this life is one act
Why do we lay all these traps?
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days

Making up all kinds of ways
To worry about all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go of what I know I don't know

And I know I'll only do this by
Living in the moment
Living our life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home
Living in the moment

I'm letting myself off the hook for things I've done

I let my past go past
And now I'm having more fun
I'm letting go of the thoughts
That do not make me strong
And I believe this way can be the same for everyone

And if I fall asleep

I know you'll be the one who'll always remind me
To live in the moment
To live my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home

I can't walk through life facing backwards

I have tried
I tried more than once to just make sure
And I was denied the future I'd been searching for
But I spun around and hurt no more
By living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home

I'm living in the moment

I'm living my life
Just taking it easy
With peace in my mind
Got peace in my heart
Got peace in my soul
Oh, wherever I'm going, I'm already home

I'm living in the moment

I'm living my life
Oh, easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
Peace in my heart
Peace in my soul
Wherever I'm going, I'm already home
I'm living in the moment
Do not dwell in the past, 
do not dream of the future, 
concentrate the mind on 
the present moment.
~The Buddha

“Life can be found only 
in the present moment. 
The past is gone, 
the future is not yet here, 
and if we do not go back to 
ourselves in the present moment, 
we cannot be in touch with life.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, October 11, 2012

How to Meditate in a Moment

Author of One-Moment Meditation
now available in eight languages, 
Martin Boroson combines a background in 
psychology, business and Zen practice to 
help individuals and organizations experience 
the benefits of meditation quickly.

When researching and writing my book, 
One-Moment Meditation, 
I thought long and hard about whether 
the first exercise should be 
a ten-minute meditation or 
a five-minute meditation or 
a one-minute meditation.
I thought even more about 
the difference between a minute and a moment. 
And there is indeed a big difference.

Ultimately, I decided that the first exercise 
should be an exercise that 
takes one minute.
I call this the Basic Minute. 
I chose to one minute because 
“one” suggests simplicity and wholeness. 
I also chose one minute because 
a minute is short enough so 
that everybody has one. 

In other words, if I had started with 
a 10-minute meditation or 
5-minute meditation or 
even a 2-minute meditation, 
some people might think 
they were too busy for it. 
Seriously, many people do not think 
they have five minutes to spare.  
But everybody has time for a 1-minute meditation. 
So there are no excuses.

Unfortunately, because we start with a minute, 
some people refer to this whole meditation 
training technique as “One Minute Meditation.”  
This is upsetting to me because the minute is 
really just the starting point. 
The minute is like a moment with handles on it.
 A minute meditation helps you carve out some time
-- in a nice formal way --
and that's a good place to get started."

Martin Boroson is emerging as an inventive new voice in the next generation of meditation teachers.

Author of One-Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go, now published in eight languages, he has taught his radical new take on meditation in leadership seminars, hospitals, public workshops, and the media, as well as in busy urban train stations, a farmyard, and a cabaret.
In April 2010, for National Stress Awareness Month, Marty presented a thirty-day series on called “Transform Stress in 30-Days with One-Moment Meditation.”  
For the Federation of Organic Milk Groups, Marty revised and presented the “Take-a-Mooment™” radio campaign, consisting of interviews for nineteen BBC stations in which Marty got the radio hosts (and their audiences) to moo with him for stress relief.
In Ireland, Marty created “The National Moment of Stillness,” in which thousands of people stopped driving and stopped working to experience thirty seconds of total silence together, live on national radio. Said the host, Derek Mooney, on the following day, “The whole nation was enthralled.”
Marty has delivered training in meditation as a leadership skill at numerous conferences, and recently delivered training in One-Moment Meditation® to physicians at Kaiser Permanente, and to faculty and staff of the UC Davis Medical Center. As a faculty member of the Institute for Management Studies, he created the seminar Becoming a Next-Generation Leader. He consults to organizations on the applications of a meditative mind to leadership, decision-making, peak performance, and innovation.
Marty is an accredited member of the European Association of Psychotherapy, President of the Association for Holotropic Breathwork™ International, and a certified facilitator of Laughter Yoga.

Born and raised in New York, Marty had a first career as a teenage political activist and, at sixteen, became a Legislative Aide to the New York State Assembly. He then studied philosophy at Yale, and earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management. Finding the quantitative, linear techniques of business useful but limited, he then set out to learn other ways of knowing. He trained in transpersonal psychology, founded a theatre company in Ireland, and began formal study of Zen. He now brings together these diverse persepctives in his training and consulting to organizations.
He is also the author of Becoming Me, a modern creation story praised by scientists, psychologists, and leaders of many faiths. Now an animated short film, Becoming Me is being used in secular and religious schools to teach interfaith understanding, philosophy for children, and environmental awareness. Said Erwin Laszlo, Science Advisor to the Director General of UNESCO, “Becoming Me undoubtedly captures the emerging spirit of the 21st century.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ANATTA (No-Self)

The Ego Tunnel

by Prof. Dr. Thomas Metzinger 


Brain, bodily awareness, and the emergence of a conscious self: these entities and their relations are explored by German philosopher and cognitive scientist Metzinger. Extensively working with neuroscientists he has come to the conclusion that, in fact, there is no such thing as a "self" — that a "self" is simply the content of a model created by our brain — part of a virtual reality we create for ourselves.He will share his thoughts on consciousness and the self and talk about the concept of the Ego-Tunnel.    

Pro. Dr. Thomas Metzinger (*1958 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany) is currently Professor of Theoretical Philosophy at the Johannes Gutenberg‐Universität Mainz and an Adjunct Fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Study. In 2009 he returned from a prestigious one‐year Fellowship at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Berlin Institute for Advanced Study), is past president of the German Cognitive Science Society and currently president of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness. His focus of research lies in analytical philosophy of mind, philosophy of science and philosophical aspects of the neuro- and cognitive sciences as well as connections between ethics, philosophy of mind and anthropology. He has edited and published extensively in German and English, e.g. one major scientific monograph developing a comprehensive, interdisciplinary theory about consciousness, the phenomenal self, and the first‐person perspective (“Being No One – The Self‐Model Theory of Subjectivity”, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2003). In 2009, he published a popular book, which addresses a wider audience and also discusses the ethical, cultural and social consequences of consciousness research (“The Ego Tunnel – The Science of the Mind and the Myth of the Self”, New York: Basic Books)  

Out-Of-Body Experiences

C N N  

A Swedish researcher has figured out how to create a virtual feeling where you can see how others see you.  
"The concept of an individual swapping his or her body with that of another person has captured the imagination of writers and artists for decades. Although this topic has not been the subject of investigation in science, it exemplifies the fundamental question of why we have an ongoing experience of being located inside our bodies. Here we report a perceptual illusion of body-swapping that addresses directly this issue. Manipulation of the visual perspective, in combination with the receipt of correlated multisensory information from the body was sufficient to trigger the illusion that another person's body or an artificial body was one's own. This effect was so strong that people could experience being in another person's body when facing their own body and shaking hands with it. Our results are of fundamental importance because they identify the perceptual processes that produce the feeling of ownership of one's body..."
More info: 

All materials used for nonprofit purposes only. 
Sources:  Karolinska Institutet  CNN Paramount Home Entertainment PloS ONE  

Rubber Hand Experience Video,
Test Your Brain 

National Geographic Channel  
MORE ...

The Ego Illusion is   
the Strongest Prison!  

by Bhikkhu Samahita 

The Blessed Buddha once said:
'I am' is an illusion. 'This I am' is an illusion. 'I shall be' is an illusion. 'I shall not become this or that' is an illusion. 'I shall be of form' is an illusion. 'I shall become formless' is an illusion. 'I shall become endowed with perception' is an illusion. 'I shall become without any perception' is an illusion. 'I shall become neither with nor without perception' is an illusion. Illusion is torture, a mind cancer, and a t horn in the future. If, however, all illusion is overcome, one is called a stilled one, a sage. And the stilled one, the sage, is reborn no more, grows old no more, nor accumulates any future deaths. Why not? That craving, through which he could be reborn, is all eliminated! If he is not reborn, how can he ever grow old? If he never grows old, how can he ever die? If one never dies again, how ever to be in panic? If neither in panic, nor urge, how can one ever be haunted by craving?

Friday, October 5, 2012

Can Meditation Make You More Empathic?



According to a study announced yesterday, a meditation program that focuses on compassion (KARUNA) was found to boost a person’s ability to read the facial expressions of others as well as activate regions in the brain that help us be more empathic.

“It’s an intriguing result, suggesting that a behavioral intervention could enhance a key aspect of empathy,” says lead author Jennifer Mascaro of Emory University in the US state of Georgia. 

“Previous research has shown that 
both children and adults 
who are better at reading 
the emotional expressions of others 
have better relationships.” 

Lobsang Tenzin Negi

The meditation program is called Cognitively-Based Compassion Training, or CBCT, and was developed at Emory by study co-author Lobsang Tenzin Negi, director of the Emory-Tibet Partnership. Derived from Tibetan Buddhist practices, the program (which is secular) includes elements of concentration and non-judgmental awareness of thoughts and feelings, similar to the much-talked-about mindfulness meditation. Yet according to the university, the CBCT also focuses on training people to analyze and reinterpret their relationships with others.

“The idea is that the feelings we have about people can be trained in optimal ways,” Negi says. 

CBCT aims to condition one’s mind 
to recognize how we are all inter-dependent, 
and that everybody desires to be happy
and free from suffering at a deep level.”

In the study, 13 subjects with no prior meditation experience were randomized to CBCT meditation, where they completed regular weekly training sessions and at-home practice for eight weeks. Eight subjects in the control group didn’t meditate but attended health discussion classes that covered the topics of stress and wellbeing.

All participants received MRI brain scans while completing a version of a facial expression test called the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET), which consists of black-and-white photographs that feature only the eyes of people making various expressions. Subjects were asked to interpret what the person in the photograph is thinking or feeling. These tests were performed before and after the meditation training.

According to the findings, those in the meditation group improved their RMET scores by an average of 4.6 per cent, while the control group showed no increase. The meditators, in comparison to the control group, “also had significant increases in neural activity in areas of the brain important for empathy, including the inferior frontal gyrus and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex.”

“These findings raise the intriguing possibility 
that CBCT may have enhanced 
empathic abilities by increasing activity 
in parts of the brain that are of central 
importance for our ability to recognize 
the emotional states of others,” 
 says senior author Charles Raison. 

— AFP/Relaxnews


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Stop Brutal Oppression!



Why This Is Important

There has been a recent upsurge in violence and violent acts towards Buddhist Communities and Temples in Bangladesh. Already 25 Buddhist temples and several villages have been attacked.

The attacks are being carried out by a minority Islamic Fundamentalists and is causing fear and terror within the Buddhist communities of Bangladesh.

This must stop NOW.

With your help we can tell the Bangladeshi Government that these actions are totally unacceptable and they need to do whatever they can stop these atrocities.



Monday, October 1, 2012

Forms of Love

Dhamma Talks by
Ajahn Brahm
@ Buddhist Society,
Western Australia