Tuesday, December 17, 2013

SUPER SOUL SUNDAY: Oprah and Jack Kornfield

Jack Kornfield was raised in a Jewish home with a father he says had an explosive, violent temper. During his childhood, Jack sought refuge in books about the mystical adventures of monks living in Tibet, and he eventually attended Dartmouth College, where he majored in Asian studies. Hear Jack recall how he went from an Ivy League institution to the Mekong River in Thailand, and learn why he calls his degree "only half an education."

 Turn Your Heart Toward 
What is Good

Best-selling author Jack Kornfield says Buddhist teachings begin with the idea that people are born whole and good, and that later, they can choose to turn back to their innate goodness. Watch Jack explain how to return to your original state of goodness, and hear Oprah name the one thing all humans want to experience. Plus, Jack shares the words from Nelson Mandela that still affect him today.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Dhamma Sharing by 
Bro. Billy Tan 
on how Buddhism as 
a Humanistic Religion 
differs from 
other Theistic Religion on 
22nd September 2013 at 
Mudita Buddhist Society, 

Buddhism is neither theistic, nor atheistic. 
In the beginning it is about the practice of humanistic ideals, 
 and cultivation of the human mind to 
the perfection of the human mind, 
ultimately to a supreme god-like state that is Nibbana, 
that transcends human and earthly limitations. 
Buddhism is in fact "Humanitheistic".
Sādhu! Sādhu! Sādhu!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Slideshow of "A Photographic Journey of the Dhammafarers"

Buddha's Lost Children

"A former soldier and Thai boxing champion leads viewers on an unforgettable journey as he travels into one of the poorest regions of Thailand in a bold attempt to build a brighter future for the impoverished children of the Golden Triangle. To the children whose villages have become infested by drug dealers and poisoned by poverty, Khru Bah is something of a folk hero. In addition to offering blessings to those whose futures seem especially bleak, Bah occasionally brings children back to the Golden Horse Temple in order to educate and train them in Buddhism. In this documentary, filmmaker Mark Verkerk focuses not only on Bah's remarkable contributions to the children of the Golden Triangle, but the transformation of the young students into novice monks as well."
~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi ~

~ Shin Yatomi ~

 In the borderlands of Thailand's Golden Triangle, a rugged region known for its drug smuggling and impoverished hill tribes, one man devotes himself to the welfare of the region's children. A former Thai boxer, turned Buddhist monk, Phra Khru Bah Neua Chai Kositto travels widely on horseback, fearlessly dispensing prayers and tough-love. With his Golden Horse Temple he's built an orphanage, school and clinic — a haven for the children of the region, who see him as a shaman, father figure and coach.

Thursday, September 5, 2013


The Only Way Out is In:
Jenny Philips on TEDxBoston

“Nobody felt safe; 
the prisoners weren’t safe, 
the staff weren’t safe...
A radical idea 
began to spread: 
maybe meditation 
could help.”

Psychotherapist Jenny Phillips describes how the tranquility of ancient Buddhist meditation at a maximum-security correctional facility helps prisoners emerge from a rigorous VIPASSANA program with a renewed self-image and a greater sense of personal responsibility.

Cultural anthropologist, writer and psychotherapist Jenny Phillips has been working in the field of mental health for more than 15 years. Much of her work has been with male prisoners, teaching inmates courses on emotional literacy and VIPASSANA meditation, an ancient meditation technique based on the teachings of Buddha. Her work has helped inmates—many serving multiple life sentences—transform their lives, face their pasts and become more peaceful, purposeful people.

In 2008, Jenny released the self-produced documentary The Dhamma Brothers, which followed 36 prisoners at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Alabama through a 10-day silent vipassana meditation course. Her book Letters from the Dhamma Brothers: Meditation Behind Bars is a collection of letters and interviews from inmates who took part in the meditation course. The book depicts prison life and the journey many of the prisoners took to better understanding the teachings of Buddha and achieving inner peace.

Jenny has doctorate in anthropology from Boston University and is currently researching a book—along with her husband, journalist Frank Phillips—on author Ernest Hemingway's 22 years in Cuba. Jenny's grandfather, Maxwell Perkins, was a legendary book editor and close friend of Hemingway's.
Jenny Phillips on 
Oprah’s Soul Series

Friday, July 26, 2013

Meditation Found to Increase Brain Size

by William J. Cromie , Harvard News Office (February 2, 2006)
Adapted from news.harvard.edu
People who meditate 
grow bigger brains 
than those who don’t.

Researchers at Harvard, Yale, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found the first evidence that meditation can alter the physical structure of our brains. Brain scans they conducted reveal that experienced meditators boasted increased thickness in parts of the brain that deal with attention and processing sensory input.

In one area of gray matter, the thickening turns out to be more pronounced in older than in younger people. That’s intriguing because those sections of the human cortex, or thinking cap, normally get thinner as we age.

Sara Lazar (center) talks to research assistant Michael Treadway and 
technologist Shruthi Chakrapami about the results of experiments 
showing that meditation can increase brain size.
 “Our data suggest that meditation practice can promote cortical plasticity in adults in areas important for cognitive and emotional processing and well-being,” says Sara Lazar, leader of the study and a psychologist at Harvard Medical School. “These findings are consistent with other studies that demonstrated increased thickness of music areas in the brains of musicians, and visual and motor areas in the brains of jugglers. In other words, the structure of an adult brain can change in response to repeated practice.”

The researchers compared brain scans of 20 experienced meditators with those of 15 nonmeditators. Four of the former taught meditation or yoga, but they were not monks living in seclusion. The rest worked in careers such as law, health care, and journalism. All the participants were white. During scanning, the meditators meditated; the others just relaxed and thought about whatever they wanted.

Meditators did Buddhist “insight meditation,” which focuses on whatever is there, like noise or body sensations. It doesn’t involve “om,” other mantras, or chanting.

“The goal is to pay attention to sensory experience, rather than to your thoughts about the sensory experience,” Lazar explains. “For example, if you suddenly hear a noise, you just listen to it rather than thinking about it. If your leg falls asleep, you just notice the physical sensations. If nothing is there, you pay attention to your breathing.” Successful meditators get used to not thinking or elaborating things in their mind.

Study participants meditated an average of about 40 minutes a day. Some had been doing it for only a year, others for decades. Depth of the meditation was measured by the slowing of breathing rates. Those most deeply involved in the meditation showed the greatest changes in brain structure. “This strongly suggests,” Lazar concludes, “that the differences in brain structure were caused by the meditation, rather than that differences in brain thickness got them into meditation in the first place.”

Lazar took up meditation about 10 years ago and now practices insight meditation about three times a week. At first she was not sure it would work. 

But “I have definitely experienced 
beneficial changes,” she says. 
 “It reduces stress [and] increases 
my clarity of thought and 
my tolerance for staying focused 
in difficult situations.”

Controlling random thoughts

Insight meditation can be practiced anytime, anywhere. “People who do it quickly realize that much of what goes on in their heads involves random thoughts that often have little substance,” Lazar comments. “The goal is not so much to ‘empty’ your head, but to not get caught up in random thoughts that pop into consciousness.”

She uses this example: Facing an important deadline, people tend to worry about what will happen if they miss it, or if the end product will be good enough to suit the boss. You can drive yourself crazy with unproductive “what if” worry. “If, instead, you focus on the present moment, on what needs to be done and what is happening right now, then much of the feeling of stress goes away,” Lazar says. “Feelings become less obstructive and more motivational.”

The increased thickness of gray matter is not very much, 4 to 8 thousandths of an inch. “These increases are proportional to the time a person has been meditating during their lives,” Lazar notes. “This suggests that the thickness differences are acquired through extensive practice and not simply due to differences between meditators and nonmeditators.”

As small as they are, you can bet those differences are going to lead to lots more studies to find out just what is going on and how meditation might better be used to improve health and well-being, and even slow aging.

More basic questions 
need to be answered. 
What causes the 
increased thickness? 
Does meditation produce 
more connections 
between brain cells, 
or more blood vessels? 
How does increased 
brain thickness 
influence daily behavior? 
Does it promote increased 
communication between 
intellectual and emotional 
areas of the brain?

To get answers, larger studies are planned at Massachusetts General Hospital, the Harvard-affiliated facility where Lazar is a research scientist and where these first studies were done. That work included only 20 meditators and their brains were scanned only once.

“The results were very encouraging,” Lazar remarks. “But further research needs to be done using a larger number of people and testing them multiple times. We also need to examine their brains both before and after learning to meditate. Our group is currently planning to do this. Eventually, such research should reveal more about the function of the thickening; that is, how it affects emotions and knowing in terms of both awareness and judgment.”

Slowing aging?

Since this type of meditation counteracts the natural thinning of the thinking surface of the brain, could it play a role in slowing – even reversing – aging? That could really be mind-boggling in the most positive sense.

Lazar is cautious in her answer. “Our data suggest that one small bit of brain appears to have a slower rate of cortical thinning, so meditation may help slow some aspects of cognitive aging,” she agrees. 

 “But it’s important to remember that 
monks and yogis suffer from 
the same ailments as the rest of us. 
They get old and die, too. 
However, they do claim to enjoy 
an increased capacity for 
attention and memory.”

Thursday, July 4, 2013



Venerable Jotinanda Bhikkhu is a Malaysian Theravada Buddhist monk who was ordained a Samanera in Malaysia in 2001 and later a Bhikkhu (full-fledged monk) in Myanmar in 2002. He first encountered the Dhamma and started practising vipassana meditation back in 1988. He is interested in Buddhist meditation, especially vipassana meditation, and also the study of the Dhamma, particularly where it deals with the practice of vipassana meditation. Since he took up the robe he had had the opportunity to learn and practise vipassana meditation under teachers both in Myanmar and Malaysia. Besides learning and developing the practical aspect of the Dhamma in retreats he spends most of his other time also exploring and investigation the rich ancient wisdom as recorded in the vast scriptural texts of the Theravada tradition to which he belongs. Occasionally he writes essays about the Dhamma, mostly about vipassana meditation or related topics, but occasionally also about his observation and comments on contemporary development in modern day Buddhist beliefs and practises. Some of these essays can be read on-line on his blog: anupassi.blogspot.com. In recent years he had also lead vipassana retreats on invitation from time to time in serveral meditation centres in Malaysia.

A Simple Practice to a Happier Balanced Brain

“TAKE A MOMENT to look around.
Where is the good in this moment?
Look inside and out.
What’s the good within you,
what’s the good outside of you?
The gifts of life are truly here;
we just need to come to our senses from
time to time to notice them.”
~ Mindfulness Meditations for the Anxious Traveler:
Quick Exercises to Calm Your Mind

A Simple Practice to
a Happier Balanced Brain

by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.
(An extract from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness)
The fact is our brains 
aren’t wired to be happy; 
they’re wired to keep us safe. 
That’s why left to its own devices 
the brain isn’t going to be aware of 
all the good that is around.

There are many writers, psychologists and mindfulness teachers who speak about the essence of our true nature being good, being happy, and being compassionate.

However, this only comes when we feel safe and secure.

Our brain is often times not in a state of feeling safe and secure and is more often on the lookout for what’s a potential danger around us. This is what’s been called the brain’s automatic negativity bias. In other words, we’re far more likely to pay attention to what’s not good than to what’s good. This is especially prevalent if you’ve ever struggled with anxiety, depression or any trauma.

But there’s good news:
The good news is that we also know what we practice and repeat in life starts to become automatic. In neuroscience lingo, that is the basis behind neuroplasticity – the ability to wire our brains with our attention and behaviors.

This can be a very simple practice as suggested above to just pause from time to time and ask yourself, “What is good right now?” or perhaps you can even ask yourself, “What do I love?”

At times the answers may come easy and at other times you may yourself reaching for something that’s good. There may be even times when you notice resistance to this practice, judgments around it or a sense of vulnerability arising in combination with the answers.

This is your brain’s way of guarding against vulnerability. In other words, if you feel good you’re at risk for a greater let down if something bad happens. Researcher Brene Brown calls this “Foreboding Joy” and it’s more common than we think. When you notice this resistance, remind yourself it’s okay to be aware of the good and see if you can refocus on it for a moment.

For the good of your brain and your life, give this simple practice a shot. Treat it like an experiment and see what you notice. Allow your experience to be your teacher.

As always, please share your thoughts, stories and questions below. Your interaction creates a living wisdom for us all to benefit from.

Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. is in private practice in West Los Angeles and co-author of A Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Workbook, Foreword by Jon Kabat-Zinn (New Harbinger, February 2010). He synthesizes the pearls of traditional psychotherapy with a progressive integration of mindfulness to achieve mental and emotional healing. He contends that we have the power to transform our traumas and habitual patterns that keep us stuck in perpetual stress, anxiety, depression, or addiction and step into greater freedom and peace. He offers practical strategies to calm our anxious minds, transform negative emotions and facilitate greater self acceptance, freedom and inner peace.

Dr. Goldstein, who comes from a family of psychologists, advocates that mental health comes from an approach that looks at all aspects of the self – physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual.

As a licensed Psychologist, he teaches mindfulness-based programs on his own and through InsightLA. He has spoken at the UCLA Semel Institute and Anxiety Disorder Clinic, the UCLA Mindfulness and Psychotherapy Conference headlining Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield, and Dr. Daniel Siegel, University of Washington, among others, and is the author of the popular Mindfulness and Psychotherapy blog on Psychcentral.com and Mentalhelp.net. He has been published in The Journal of Clinical Psychology and quoted in the New York Daily NewsReutersNPRUCLA Today, Beliefnet.com and The Week Magazine.

Monday, July 1, 2013



So many books have been written about happiness. So many speakers have talked about it. So many principles, ways and means, tips and strategies have been proffered.

I am a keen student of happiness and over the years I have come back to simple basic principles to be happy. One has to find out for oneself what these principles are and focus on them. For example, mine are as follows:

One has to focus on keeping the mind in a good state. Thus one has to be more aware of one’s state of mind. It’s like having a weathervane to monitor the direction of the wind. So here one has a ‘mindvane’ to monitor the state of mind. When the mind is going well, is happy, cheerful, steady, calm, peaceful, etc, that’s good, one has just to look on and let it continue to go happily that way. There is no need for any intervention.

However, if the mind is not in a good state, is unhappy, depressed, angry, grouchy, fearful, worried, anxious, tense, agitated, etc., then one’s mind-vane or mind-barometer immediately notices the unhappiness, heaviness, agitation, worry, anxiety, grief, hurt, anger, or whatever form of negativity or suffering is present in the mind.

So here the mental factor or quality of mindfulness is like the mind-vane or internal barometer. It enables one to notice what’s going on in the mind, especially if something is amiss. Mindfulness or awareness itself can help one to reduce the strength of the negative feeling. For example, just by being mindful of the anger or sadness in one’s mind can sometimes weaken or reduce that anger or sadness. This is because the awareness acts a bit like a brake or damper, for if one is not aware of the anger or sadness, chances are the anger will escalate or the sadness may persist and deepen.

Then, having become aware of the unhappy or negative state of mind, one can start to help oneself to loosen up, to let go of that negative or suffering state, to brighten or cheer oneself up, to move on, etc. How does one do that? Here again it depends very much on one’s attitude, how one looks at things, and how determined one is to let go of the negative, painful, or unwholesome mental state. 

One has to talk oneself in getting out of that state. One has to advise or counsel oneself. One has to be a friend to oneself. One can also investigate to see and understand the causes of one’s unhappiness or anger or whatever, and see how one can come to terms with it (with the situation or with somebody) and be at peace. Even if one can’t immediately snap out of an angry, worried, uneasy, or unhappy state and become cheerful and bubbly, one can at least try to bring in a certain modicum of calmness and equanimity.

One has to learn to come to terms with the situation, to things as they are, and to accept it. This does not mean though that one cannot do something pro-active to help improve or change a situation. But whether one can do something pro-active or remain passive, one still has to understand one’s choice of response and be at peace with it, meaning that one has to, in all circumstances, institute equanimity which is a calm and even frame of mind. 

Then gradually from a state of calm and equanimity, and with further prodding and encouragement from oneself, i.e., from one’s own inner wisdom or wise mind, one may eventually (sooner or later) uplift one’s mind and feel much better again. Sometimes we have to be patient, we have to ride the tide, the negative state does not fall away so easily or so soon, one may have to sit it out…but with mindfulness and wise reflection one can contain it and eventually succeed in uplifting one’s mind. Sometimes this upliftment comes very fast and one finds oneself bouncing quickly back from some negativity which one has just fallen into. One finds oneself in a good state of mind again.

How can one reflect in such a way as to uplift one’s mind? There are so many ways to go about it. For example, one reminds oneself of impermanence – no matter how bad one feels, this, too, will pass. Everything passes and we’ll feel better again. Such is life – we feel good, we feel bad, we feel better, we feel worse and then we feel better again and it goes on like this, in cycles, all the time. But with practice and training we find that more and more of the time we are keeping our mind in a good state – peaceful, calm, steady, cheerful, happy – and when we fall into a negative state we find that we are able to spot it and get out of it sooner than later. We are able to bounce back from unhappiness, anger, worry, etc, and re-instate our former calm, peace and cheerfulness which becomes more and more our natural base state of mind.

An important attitude: One has to accept that life is not a bed of roses, that it is not always plain sailing. One has to accept that suffering will rear its familiar unwelcome head now and then. One has to accept the suffering that one may have to face in life. And one sees how one can deal with it wisely and stoically. As a saying goes, suffering is inevitable but being miserable is optional. Some suffering can be avoided and we avoid them. Some suffering can be alleviated by our response and we respond wisely and skilfully to contain and alleviate the suffering. A lot depends on our attitudes and wisdom. As we learn to live more wisely and skilfully we find that we can avoid a good amount of suffering and when we do have to face some suffering we find that we know how to respond in a wise and skillful way so we can contain and reduce that suffering and eventually we find we are feeling much better again – because we know how to let go, how to live lightly, skilfully, and wisely.

It is good to bear in mind that a lot of our suffering comes from our attachments, expectations, and an inability to let go and move on. When we can see this, see where we are stuck, and can let go and move on, we’ll suffer less and, consequently, we’ll live much more lightly and happily.


So it is important to keep a constant watch over the mind, to check our state of mind now and then, to be mindful of the thoughts, moods, feelings, emotions, perceptions, commentary, etc, that go on in our mind. We do this so as to understand our mind and learn how to manage it better. A well-managed mind is conducive to happiness, is the key to happiness. We also try to understand others’ minds so we can relate to them better, more skilfully, so we can have better, more harmonious and meaningful relationships, and hopefully, we can also be a positive influence on others and help bring out the best in them, just as we are trying to bring out the best in ourselves.


The Metta (lovingkindness) practice is a great practice. It is a very effective way of promoting goodwill, kindness and friendliness in our mind and heart towards others and, of course, also towards oneself. By repeating the metta mantra or phrases every now and then we are, in fact, filling our mind with a wholesome thought, keeping it in a good state, so that negative states cannot come in; they have no chance or opportunity to intrude. So keeping the metta phrases going automatically in our mind for as much of the time as possible throughout the day and night is a very clever and skilful strategy to keep the mind in a wholesome and healthy state. So please remember to keep going the metta way, keep repeating those phrases, keep wishing well for others and oneself.

May all beings be happy. May so and so be happy. May I be happy. May all beings be safe…peaceful…healthy….take care of themselves happily.

Then there are the other three brahma-viharas (sublime abidings) of compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity which also help keep the mind in a good state and which each has its own special quality and positive effect on the mind.


Then mindfulness itself. Mindful of the body and sensations, movements, getting up, sitting down, stretching out a hand to open a door, bending down to pick up something, stirring a cup of coffee, etc, etc. Being attentive to the body helps to bring one back to the present moment and cut down on stray and extraneous thoughts which have no benefit to the mind. However, thoughts of goodwill (metta), wise reflection, i.e., reflecting wisely on life, and necessary planning and thinking are fine. In other words, wholesome and necessary thoughts are okay but not unwholesome and negative ones.

So we are going between mindfulness of body and mind, metta, and wholesome thoughts. And, of course, all this will lead to wholesome speech and deeds. They are a natural consequence of our practice to shape and mould the mind.


Wise reflection: Reflecting on life, on how suffering arises, how it can be averted, how happiness arises, how a happy mind can be aroused and maintained. Reflection on the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha. Acceptance of the truth of suffering and trying to make the most out of our life, make a beautiful garland out of it. Reflecting that there is no self apart from the five aggregates (of body/material form, feeling, perception, mental formations and consciousness). Understanding the nature of the five aggregates and trying to make wholesome aggregates out of them. And remembering the Buddha’s advice not to regard these aggregates as a fixed permanent self but see them as something conditioned and impermanent, something conditioned by craving and ignorance, and see how we can gradually weaken this craving and ignorance, attain perfect peace and contentment, and make an end of suffering.


Living a value-oriented life (rather than a material-oriented one) is extremely important because we feel happy when we are living according to our values of lovingkindness, compassion, understanding, generosity, honesty, integrity, patience, tolerance, perseverance, etc. We measure our self worth by these values and not by how well we are doing materially, how much money we have in the bank, what our social status in life is, etc.

Although we are not perfect we are happy that we are focusing on these values and measuring our self-worth by them. In other words, don't feel bad if you feel you are not perfect enough. Sometimes we tend to be too hard on ourselves. The important thing is that we are trying and there are times when we are very good even if we can't be all that good all the time. We are a work-in-progress. We are still under training. And though we may not be perfect there are parts of us which are excellent. We are actually pretty good.


Doing positive affirmations is also very helpful. We compose positive phrases and repeat them to ourselves. By repetition we remind ourselves to cultivate the positive and happiness-producing attitudes and weaken the negative and suffering-causing ones.


Living in the present moment helps. Sometimes we refuse to think too much or at all. Just take it one moment at a time or one day at a time and have faith and trust that if we continue to live by our cherished core values, somehow things will turn out fine, for we are, no matter what, always learning, growing, developing and becoming wiser and happier persons.

Finding time to meditate daily or regularly is important. It helps to pacify, calm, refresh, strengthen, and uplift one's mind.


Smile. Practise smiling. Smile a lot. Make it a habit to greet others with a smile. Smile to yourself, too, when you are alone. If you can give a smile to others why can’t you give one to yourself? Smiling causes the brain to release endorphins – a feel-good chemical. It is a simple and effective way of lightening up yourself, making yourself feel better. It is also a statement of your intention and determination to keep your mind in a pleasant and cheerful state, to not let it be cowed or discouraged by the adversities you encounter in life.


To recap – focus on understanding the mind, shaping, moulding, and liberating it from suffering-causing attitudes and instituting happiness-producing ones. Make a list of all the skilful and positive attitudes you can adopt and keep strengthening these attitudes.

Living is an art. It is very interesting and challenging – how to manage the mind and keep it happy and peaceful. The important thing is to keep trying and not to give up. At times when we are not feeling so good, it’s okay, it’s understandable that we can’t be so upbeat all the time; accept that too, and see how we can gently and skilfully nudge ourselves back into a good frame of mind.

Actually as we practise more and more, we find that ours is a happy life. We create lots of happiness in our life because of all the positive and wise attitudes we bring to it. Even sufferings are turned into blessings – they become like manure which gives bloom to the beautiful and fragrant roses of our life.

Happy practice!


For more information and discussion on meditation and everyday life practice, Visu may be contacted at visu@mind-at-peace.net.



Visu Teoh was born on the island of Penang in Malaysia in 1953. He was a newspaper journalist for 12 years before he became a Buddhist monk (Visuddhacara) for 17 years. He disrobed in 2003. He is married to Barbara, who is German. Presently he and his wife spend about six months in Penang and six months in Europe. Visu has led metta and vipassana retreats in Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, Hong Kong, China, Sri Lanka, Italy, France, Ireland, Czech Republic, Netherlands, and Germany.

Visu had trained as a monk and meditator under several teachers – his main teacher being Sayadaw U Pandita, formerly head of the Mahasi Meditation Centre in Burma and now abbot of Panditarama; and other senior teachers being Sayadaw U Lakkhana, Sayadaw U Jatila, and Ven Sujiva (of Malaysia). He has been practising meditation since 1982 starting in Penang and later spending three years at the Mahasi Meditation Centre in Rangoon, Burma. He returned to Penang in 1991 and continued with his practice of meditation and study of the Theravadin Buddhist Pali text. He spent long periods in meditation including three years of solitary practice up a hill in Penang in the late nineties.

He is the author of several books including “Curbing Anger Spreading Love”; “Drinking Tea Living Life: Applying Mindfulness in Everyday Life and Critical Times”; “Loving and Dying”; “Hello with love and other Meditations”; and “Metta Meditation and Positive Attitudes”.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Paying Homage to our Great Buddha

There is a big argument going on saying that Buddha never said to pay homage to his images.

True! A Buddha does not have such a low character or is full of defilements to ask others to pay reverence to his images.

Though Buddha has never said to revere his images, he accepted homage with compassion because he knew that devotees acquired merit by doing so.

One day, attaining the ‘Great Compassionate Attainment’, our Gautama Buddha looked at the world to see who needed his help that day and saw a feeble old woman from the ‘Rodi’ clan about to die and reborn in hell. Our Gautama Buddha went and stopped in front of her without saying a word. Seeing the silent intention of the Buddha, Arahanth Moggallana asked the old woman to pay reverence to the Buddha. She worshiped Buddha with joy and Buddha proceeded in his journey without saying a word. The old woman died that day and went to heaven instead of hell because of the merit she acquired by paying homage to our Great Buddha.

Once Arahanth Sariputhra said,   “Gods & human beings pay homage to the unrivaled, peerless Buddhas. But the Great Buddhas do not attach themselves to those venerations.
It is a characteristic of all Buddhas.”

There is a custom regarding the honoring of the deceased nobles in the humane society. Erecting mausoleums, statues, monuments and offering flowers and wreaths, incense, and venerating them is that custom. People do this to show their gratitude and respect to the late Greats. No noble person asks others to venerate them.

The first thing Buddha taught this world was gratitude. That was why he stood looking at the ‘Asathu Bo Tree’, which gave him shelter, for one whole week just after attaining Enlightenment. He showed it not by words, but by action.

By paying homage to our Great Buddha we too show our gratitude to that great person who showed us the path to Eternal Bliss (Nirvana) and in turn acquire merit because he is unequal in virtue & compassion; because he is the supreme human being.

According to the provenance of the “Kalinga Bodhi’ jathaka story, when Reverend Ananda asked our Great Buddha regarding the sacred objects of worship / shrines on behalf of our Great Buddha which devotees can revere in the absence of him, (at the coaxing of Baron ‘Anathapindika’), our Great Buddha said that there are three types of sacred objects of worship / shrines (Chethiyas).

1)      Bodily objects of worship (Sharirika Chethiyas) which means the relics left after cremating a Buddha.
2)      Consumable objects of worship (Paribhogika Chethiyas) which means the sacred objects used by our Great Buddha like his robes, alms bowl, belt,……..etc and the sacred Bo Tree under which he attained Enlightenment.
3)      Monumental objects of worship (Uddeshika Chethiyas) which means images, statues and relic-less dagabos built on behalf of our Great Buddha.

These three ‘Chethiyas’ are stated in the commentary of the ‘Nidhikanda Sutta’ as follows:

“The tri sacred objects of worship / shrines (Chethiyas) are Bodily objects of worship (Sharirika Chethiyas), Consumable objects of worship (Paribhogika Chethiyas) and Monumental objects of worship (Uddeshika Chethiyas). The sacred Bo Tree is the Consumable object of worship (Paribhogika Chethiya); the Buddha statues are the Monumental objects of worship (Uddeshika Chethiyas) and the dagabos built enshrining relics of our Great Buddha is the Bodily objects of worship (Sharirika Chethiyas).”

But, one must understand that it is not essential to have an object of worship/ shrine to pay homage to our Great Buddha. What one needs is only devotion & great reverence for our Gauthama Buddha.

Paying homage to our Great Buddha gives us merits. These merits help us to achieve the final bliss “Nirvana”. Therefore, it is acceptable to pay homage to our Great Buddha.

 (From TheBuddhism.net, dated January 16, 2013)