Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Buddhist concepts




Question : (Unedited)

Dear Justin
I would like to ask the following:
What is meant by
Wisdom
Mindful
Kalamasutta (not sure of spelling)
Sila samadi pana (not sure of spelling)
Anitra duka anata (not sure of spelling)
I am interested not so in the religion but more on its teachings, principles, morals etc ie how to be a better person and use in everyday lives. Where do I start?
I am residing in Malaysia, and my knowledge is shallow. As stated earlier, I am not a strong believer but I like to use its principles in everyday lives.
Thank you. Your reply is very much appreciated.
Regards
K K C




My comment:


Hi KKC,

Thank you for asking me.



"Wisdom" in the Buddhist context is the ability to see the world and our lives in the real perspective. What we assume about this life and the world are actually deceptions by external objects through our deluded sense organs. Since we see things in the wrong perspective, we react to them incorrectly, and the result is, we suffer mental and physical anguish.



"Mindful" in the Buddhist context is the ability to know the "present moment". Animals are not mindful and they react to instinct. Most of the time we are like animals reacting to instinct, thereby creating problems for ourselves and to others. To improve mindfulness, it takes effort through the practice of Buddhist meditation. The mind is tamed and then trained to listen to our command. It is not an easy task.



Kalama Sutta is one of the Buddha's discourses which encourages followers to analyze his teachings before accepting them as truth. The Buddha encouraged intelligent enquiry and open discussion

.

"Sila, Samadhi, Panna (pronounced as pan nya)" means morality, concentration, and wisdom. It embodies the complete teachings of the Buddha. To practise moral principles, purify the mind through meditation, and thereby gaining wisdom.



"Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta" the trilogy of existence, referred to as "impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, insubstantiality". The world is not permanent (ever changing), always not perfect, and it is its nature to be so, without any substance.

Buddhism is for everyday living and not some superstitious and esoteric rites and rituals to be followed blindly.

May I recommend that you read "What Buddhist Believe" by Ven. K Sri Dhammananda, my revered teacher from this site:
http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/whatbelieve.pdf

You can purchase the book from the Brickfields Temple (Mahavihara) in KL.
This book will give you answers to many of your questions.
Please come back if you need further clarifications.



Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blessed string


(Picture from Daily Buddhism)

Question (Unedited)
can you give me the address of a Buddhist monk to receive a good health blessed string? thanks s.


My comment:
Hi S,

Thank you for asking me, but you have not given your location. However www.buddhanet.net may lead you to the nearest temple.

I wonder why you want the blessed string. Actually the most blessed gift is to practise the Buddha's teachings. By practising his teachings, you will be protected. This is because his teachings stress on the reducing of all negative and hateful feelings, thoughts, and actions. When we reduce negative and hateful activities, we allow positive energies to rejuvenate our systems, thereby improving our health and happiness.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Have a nice day!




Question : (Unedited)


How do you forgive those who have hurt you so deep you can not even stand to look at them or think of them or talk about them with anyone?
I know that this anger and hate is causing me more pain and destruction of myself than my hating this person does to her. She will always be the kind of destructive person she is. I can't change her-how do I change me?
Thank You, J

Not really sure to tell you what my "belief" is. I have always tried to do the right things, taught my children to be decent, loving, caring, understanding. They are wonderful. Why is it so hard for me? I don't want to hate, I am sickened by the anger this person brings to my life. She is a relative so it is impossible to escape having her in my life. She does not care who she hurts or how. She is never sorry. Unfortunetly her daughter is the same way. I have tried to forgive her several times and we have started over without it lasting for long. They lie, steal, manipulate people and situations, always causing grief and destruction in my life and my marriage. This has been going on for 35 years. I ask them to stay away from my home and myself about 2 years ago. Even tho I have no contact with them, do not speak of them with other family members things are still uneven in my marriage and other family relationships. Forgiving them only sets me up for their next catastrophe. Any suggestions?





My comment:


Hi J,

Welcome to the real world. The more fortunate people do not have to experience the agony of family feuds, naughty and incorrigible children, unfilial siblings, squabbling parents, and a host of other family problems. I fully understand how you feel for I am still reeling over similar problems, perhaps more than yours.

Before we get too upset over these problems, we have to realize the true nature of life. As Buddhists we are reminded that this life and this world are by their very nature, unsatisfactory. We are here to act out our parts in life, the good and the bad. As Buddhists we attribute this as the results of our past kamma (actions). Many things we have the power to change and prevent. However, certain things and events are destined to happen. We can try our best to lead a skilful and peaceful life. Having done our best and troubles still haunt us, then we have to find solace in the teachings of the Buddha. This is the true nature of existence.

Now coming back to your comment:
" How do you forgive those who have hurt you so deep you can not even stand to look at them or think of them or talk about them with anyone?"
Actually you are experiencing the exact opposite of what you wrote. You still want to look at them, you still think of them, and you still talk about them! That's why you are feeling miserable. Just consider this: If you do not look at them, do not think of them, and do not talk about them; then you will not have any more problems with them! This is pure logic.

We have been deceived by our mind. Each time when I took my shower, the old scenario played itself over and over again, how they hurt me, how they deserted my mother, why my daughter could have become such..... After awhile I finished my shower and the mental self destructive stage-play stopped! We become victims to our problems which by themselves are already bad enough. To associate mentally with them is like the proverbial adding insult to injury. This is what the Buddha referred to as unskilful conduct, which causes misery.


Your next comment:
"I know that this anger and hate is causing me more pain and destruction of myself than my hating this person does to her. She will always be the kind of destructive person she is. I can't change her-how do I change me?"

You got the facts right! Then start with a bit of common sense. Since such behaviour is not to our benefit, we should make effort to reduce this bad habit. As for me, when such thoughts came by and at times when I was mindful, I would command my mind to stop the poisoning, stop the non-productive and destructive thoughts! I didn't have to forgive. Maybe I am not wise enough or magnanimous enough to forgive. But I can stop the destructive thoughts from haunting me. This is the difference.

Your next comment:
"This has been going on for 35 years. I ask them to stay away from my home and myself about 2 years ago. Even tho I have no contact with them, do not speak of them with other family members things are still uneven in my marriage and other family relationships."
If this person is no longer within sight, then I would assume this person would not be causing any problem now. Thirty-five years is a very long time. Perhaps you may want to try the method that I am practising.

Have peace in yourself, if not for others.
Have a nice day!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

You are better than me.




Question : (Unedited)
Hello Justinchoo,

I am an avid reader of expert Buddhism and my interest in Buddhism started quite recently. I think its great religion / philosphy. And the answers of Buddhism expert are always helpful.

Buddha taught that we should be compassionate and tolerent of other people. Hatred and violence are not solutions to any problem.

Today I was angry/livid at a situation at the beginning. I did have some violent thoughts (thinking of shouting or hitting the guilty one). After calming down (I dont know how I achieved it), I acted out of practicality and calmness.

Find a solution, instead of dwelling on blame.

Do I break a rule in Buddism when I become angry or livid? Not lasting angry or hatred, but angry at that moment?

Thanks in advance

SS

My comment:

Hi SS,

Thank you for asking me.

You have done better than me! It is very easy to philosophize about compassion, patience, tolerance and kindness. But when we come face to face with realities it's a very different cup of tea, so to say. Different people have different thresholds of personality traits. Some are by nature very patient, while others are always hot tempered. I am of the opinion that a big percentage of our personality traits come from our past lives. It is very difficult to change our personality traits.

However, all is not lost. By following the teachings of the Buddha and meditation, one can improve one's character. The first battle is won once a person realizes his shortcomings and decides to overcome them. He will still continue to make the same mistakes but each time it happens, he realizes and takes step to check it. If it is too late, then he will feel remorse and will try again to do better come the next time. Over time, there sure will be an improvement. I am speaking from my own experience. And I still make the same stupid mistakes when I react without mindfulness.

When we make a mistake, we do not actually break any rule in Buddhism, for the Buddha did not impose any rule upon us. His warning was that if we break a universal rule, we open ourselves to problems and difficulties. As such we must cultivate good habits so that we can conduct our lives in a dignified and harmless manner. This is what we call skilful living.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Zombies don't think.




Question: (Unedited)

Dear Justinchoo,

I hope you will receive my email in the best of your health and spirits.

I am 29 years old. I started meditation for long time but I am not so much consistent. I may do for few days thn drop it and thn I can start it again after few days. The real question I wanna ask is that I like to think allot. I am always thinking or you can say imaging about my future life always. My mind is always busy like this. The good thing is that I always think positive and see good changes in life. But I want to ask you that is it a good practice to think always or imagine about future. I usually do it when alone or walking. Should I make my mind to not to think at all and must not imagine. I would like to have your guidance about it please

With best regards,

I K

My comment:
Hi I K,

Thank you for your concern. I'm in the pink of health.

It is natural to think. And you are very fortunate to have positive thoughts. That's the way to be. How can we be not thinking while awake? We will be zombies then! The Buddha's advice was to think wisely and mindfully. Buddhist meditation is to train the mind to do just that. We can vary the intensity of thinking. To be more spiritual I would say we need to regulate our thinking pattern. To live in the present moment, meaning, to be alert and mindful here and now; no stray thoughts. For example, recitation of "Buddho", to be aware of the present moment.

However, as lay persons we cannot just think in this pattern all the time. We have to plan our lives, do our jobs, and take care of our families. Strike a balance. Practise your meditation and improve your mindfulness, while at the same time think positive .

Tattoo




Question:(Unedited)
Hi,

I would like to know your thoughts on tattoo's. Im wanting to have the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" tattooed onto my body in Tibetan. What I would like to know is - would it bring bad karma, is it a very unbuddhist thing to do. I have been practicing buddhism for awhile and I wouldnt like to insalt the faith.

Kind Regards
L

My comment:
Hi L,

Thank you for asking me.

Why not spend more time to probe deeper into the pristine teachings of the Buddha? There is a very good web site where you can gather more info about the true teachings of the Buddha: www.buddhanet.net

The Buddha taught truth and peace. He showed us how to escape from this world of suffering. He encouraged us to reduce our greed, hatred and delusion, so that we can live in peace and happiness. He cultivated his mind through countless eons to attain full enlightenment. It is through right view and understanding that we can be wise to live a harmless and happy life. To tattoo or not, is not in the ambit of the Buddha's teachings.

The freedom of choice and decision are the hallmarks of Buddhism. You are free to use your wisdom to decide.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yes, stop reading Buddhism.



Question:(Unedited)

Hey, my name is L... 16 years old and from sweden, I've written to you before hope you don't get all fed up with me.

I tried Buddhism for some months, and by trying I mean, listening to Ajan Brahms Dhamma Talks, Reading Texts from www.buddhanet.net, meditating and being "buddhist like" in my daily life.
This is what I found out...

I got alot of happiness from it, being happy walking, being happy sitting simply being more happy in general.
Also I got nicer to my friends and I didn't get into arguments with them. I got so happy with life that I was content. unfortuentlly this is not a good thing in my case.

when I was content I started to stop caring so much about school and other important things.

The teachers said that next best grade is good and that I should be content with it, I was then I got one grade lower than that, and finally I got fail grade in math. this stuck me so hard that I was down til I understood that it was my fault, and when I understood that... man I got angry at myself, I have parents that support me a whole lot, I have friends, I have intelligence and still I can't succed in school.

Then I figured that buddhism don't give happiness for me in the end.
When I studied buddhism I learned so much about humans but that don't give me better grades do it? without grades I won't get any job and then I've pretty much failed my parents, they are so unbeliveable kind to me that I really want to become something big to make them proud.

One Important thing that I've learned about buddhists is that they are wise and know what to do in almost every situations, you people are wise.
So I want to ask you this and please be as serious in your answare as you can.

Do You Think I should stop reading buddhism?


My comment: Hi L,

Welcome back; yes I remember you. You have also contacted the other "expert".

"Do You Think I should stop reading buddhism?"
Answer: YES. If you are just reading Buddhism and neglecting your studies, YES, stop wasting your valuable time if you still do not get the Buddha's message. I think I have told you before that you have to strike a balance between spiritual life and worldly responsibilities. You are not acting responsibly in your studies, and you are misinterpreting the Buddha's teachings.


You cannot be happy if you neglect your worldly responsibilities. In your case, your main responsibility is to concentrate on your studies. Incorporate the Buddha's teachings into your worldly activities.


Be nice, be kind, be happy, but at the same time please concentrate on your studies. If you follow this advice, then you are a wise person, a real wise Buddhist, just like us!

Sorry to be so harsh on you. Be happy and study hard!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Getting sexcited.




Question: (Unedited)

Dear Sir:

Peace and health to you!

I am an 18-year-old Buddhist of the Theravada tradition who is seeking to incorporate the Dharma into more areas of his life. However, there is one that is currently more pressing than others.

I have a wonderful girlfriend of seven months whom I have deep respect and appreciation for. We have a balanced and healthy relationship. However, she has a significant zest for physicality: extended kissing, touching, making out, things of this sort -- never so far as any form of sexual contact, which we both agree we are too young for, but nevertheless quite intense at times. I have maintained a clear head throughout our time together and harbor no illusions: we will almost certainly break up at some point in the future, given the fact that our college choices are such that we will be in a long-distance relationship, quite apart from the fact that all phenomena are transitory and shouldn't be clung to. However, I often wonder if the physical aspects of our relationship are fostering undue craving and attachment in me. Could you please explain to me the Buddha's stance on such matters, with particular emphasis on what the Third Precept means in the lay Buddhist's life? I would be most grateful for any of your thoughts on this.

With metta,

My comment:

Hi,
Thank you for asking me.

First we must understand we are very sensual beings; especially at your age. It is very natural. The Buddha taught universal truth. The truth is that we are very sensual. The truth is that if we are unrestrained in our senses, we may fall victims to our senses; we become slaves to our senses; the greatest trap is the sexual trap. Most are unrestrained slaves of this sexual trap, behaving no less than animals, having sexual relationships with one and sundries. Beware AIDS!

The third precept states that one should undertake to refrain from committing sexual misconduct. This has no direct bearing on whether couple should be legally married. Marriage is actually a social/legal obligation when a couple becomes man and wife. Sexual misconduct means having sexual excesses with one and sundry without a thought for genuine relationship. This behaviour is just like animal sexual instinct. Sexual misconduct will bring potential problems like unwanted children, abortion, adultery, and death from AIDS! If a couple is genuine in love and cares for each other, I would say that whatever they do in privacy is not sexual misconduct. However, I would be of the opinion that the couple should adhere to social norm, human dignity, and legal obligations, to get married if they want to live together.

The greatest gift in Buddhism is the freedom to choose and decide. When one understands the teachings of the Buddha, one has clear understanding of life and will be able to conduct one's life with wisdom.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What you believe is your business.






Question : (Unedited)

Being a christian i am interested in the buddhist view of Christ. What do buddhist's make of christ. was he a prophet, was he a man, do you guys even believe in prophets or prophecy, what do you believe?

i know that there are some religions which acknowledge christ and the work he did (i think hare krishna is one such religion).

My comment:
As Buddhists, we are not concerned with what others think of our teacher. Our main concern is to practise his teachings in order to have inner peace and happiness. Likewise, we are not concerned about what you choose to belief. As such, we need not have to comment about your belief and your Christ. You have the freedom to believe what you want. This is the respect we give to others for their beliefs.

We Buddhists actually do not believe in anything! The Buddha advised his followers not to believe in anything without investigation and analysis. In other words, we do not believe blindly. We "believe" in universal truths. The first is that all existences are transcient and not permanent...ever changing. Because of this continuous change taking place, there is no permanent perfection in existence. In other words, the whole existence is very imperfect and unsatisfactory. We "believe" that all existence is in the end without substance. Things come and go. Life is born, growth and old age follow, in the end life expires. This is the eternal truth of existence.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

All kinds of people in this imperfect world!




Question : (Unedited)
Hi,
Wisdom or transcendental intelligence is the sustaning principle of enlightenment.Without it,ignorance will have the chance to rise again.
My question is,
1)How can our wisdom be of permanent nature(as stated in Lankavatra Sutra,Chapter XII and countless more.).
~Personally,I just dont see how this is possible because:
1.)our memory is just undependable.eg.I understand some Math formula and after some time,I cant recall it anymore.If I can forget Math so easily,Why is Wisdom not forgettable like Math?

Thanks.

My comment:

Hi,

Thank you for asking me.

The sutra is from the Mahayana tradition. I follow the Theravada tradition. We can discuss the topic "wisdom" without referring to whatever text. You are right to say that we cannot have permanent wisdom. Whatever you may read, the Buddha advised us to analyze whether it is true or not. If not true or beneficial, then we don't have to follow. If we have permanent wisdom, it means we are enlightened. If we are not enlightened then we can try to be wiser by practising the teachings of the Buddha. The more we reduce our greed, hatred and delusion, the wiser we become. That's all.

Smile from justinchoo :-)

------------------------------------------------------

Follow-up question by this "very angry person".

Question:(Unedited)

Hi again,
You have not answered my question at all.I ask Why wisdom is not forgetable like Math formula?That's all.I do not need you to tell me how to acquire it and why it is needed etc.Futhermore ,What I wanted is reason and not just mere statement that wisdom is permanent.I ask this question eventhough many sutra state that wisdom is permanent.I dont even trust sutra's statement,what do you think about your mere statement.I just want to reclarify that what i wanted is reason not statement.
Futhermore,your answer is very unconsistent.At first,you say that wisdom is not permanent ,then you said wisdom is permanent.Without any reason you said all this thing.How am I to digest your words regardless of it's validity.
I deeply appreciated your help very much and I am sorry for my very direct style of language.I just state about my opinion.
Thanks

My comment:
Hi again,

I have tried my best to provide my comments. I said I agreed with your comment that we (normal worldlings) cannot have permanent wisdom because if we have permanent wisdom we will have attained enlightenment.

Please don't get upset with my comments. You can always ask others and find better answers. I don't claim to be perfect and I don't guarantee complete satisfaction. Have peace.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Never-ending question.






Question : (Unedited)

because aung s moe* said there are no buddha sensible to enjoy nibanna at death nibanna is only attained in this very present life , nibanna is said nothing is eternalise nor is annihilated because no self is present, i think your nirvana is some sort of eternal existence being merged with your buddha nature, by the way, is buddha nature present in theravada

(*Blogger's comment: Aung s Moe was one of the panel 0f volunteers answering Buddhist questions)


Hi J,

First, Nibbana is not a place where you go and enjoy. Actually the meaning of Nibbana is "no craving". When a person is completely rid of greed, hatred and delusion, there is nothing for him to "enjoy". As I have reiterated, you have to change your mindset and adopt a new paradigm in your perception of the universe and existence based on the Buddha's revelation. If we insist on maintaining our stereotyped and limited layman's knowledge of the world and our existence, we will never understand the concept of Nibbana. By the way, the Buddha warned that ordinary mortals like us would never fully understood Nibbana.

As I said Nibbana is unconditioned, meaning, it is nothing like this present state which is subject to impermanence, unsatisfatoriness and insubstantiality. A fully enlightened person will be in a state of Nibbanic bliss here and now, not having to wait for the end of life.

Your comment " I think your nirvana is some sort of eternal existence being merged with your buddha nature, by the way, is buddha nature present in theravada?"

My comment: It is not "my Nirvana", but my understanding of the Buddha's explanation of it. What is Buddha nature? If it means the potential of becoming a Buddha, then it is there in everyone of us. It's just like a seed waiting to sprout given the right conducive conditions.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Neither the same nor different.




Question (unedited):
what is nirvana really , what happens to the buddha after death is he annihilated or is it a form of eternal existence

what reborn of us if we have no soul


Hi J,

Thank you for asking me.

Unless a person has attained enlightenment, nirvana can only be a conjecture.

However, we can postulate what nirvana is not. Nirvana is not birth and death. It is not suffering. It is not temporary. It is not changing. It is not of this world. It is beyond our human intelligence to know exactly what it is. If it can be understood easily by mere mortals, then the Buddha did not have to spend countless life-time to attain it. Buddhism will be of little value if it is so simple. That is why it takes only the Buddha to discover the real truths.

To understand rebirth, we must first understand the Buddhist concept of mind and matter, which constitute this life. The body we can see and feel. The other aspect which is very important is "mind"; the essence of this mind is "consciousness". The body without this consciousness will be a dead body. It is this consciousness that gives life to the physical body.

The law of kamma operates throughout our existence. This consciousness is the storehouse of all our kammic actions....good and bad. When this body expires, it is this storehouse of consciousness that passes on and takes rebirth in another existence. However this storehouse of consciousness is not static but changes from moment to moment depending on our kammic energy. It is in a state of flux.

Imagine the electric current flowing through a wire. When a bulb is attached it lights up. After a period the bulb will become weak and will be blown out. When we replace it with another new bulb the light will be on again. These bulbs are like our bodies. The electrical current is like our consciousness. Although the new bulb is a different one, there is this continuation of the electrical current. They are neither exactly the same nor completely different, there is a continuity of personality or character.

The Buddha described this process in Pali as "Na ca so, na ca anno" ("ca" pronounce as "cha"; "anno"= pronounce as "un-your"), which means "neither the same nor different"! This is what the Buddha referred to as "no permanent soul".

Monday, November 30, 2009

Spam comments still active in my blogs!

The spam comments are still coming, despite the "moderation" mode that I've set a few weeks earlier.

Please bear with me while I put on the "word verification" mode as well.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Question, you are afraid to ask a monk.



Question : (Unedited )

hi justin me again. just wanted to know your thoughts on lust and
masturbation (bit of an icky subject i know but i had to ask)
thanks again j


My comment:
Hi J,

You are a very lucky person to get a chance to ask such "sensitive" question. Up till now I dare not ask my spiritual teachers for fear of embarrassing them or getting a "tick off".

The 3 questions we need to ask ourselves in all things are these:
1) does it hurt oneself?
2) does it hurt others?
3) is it beneficial to oneself?

If 1 & 2 are negative, then there is no harm done. As for 3; if 1 & 2 are negative, even if not beneficial, there is nothing wrong with it. Just plain common sense.


In Buddhism we are encouraged to use our human intelligence and common sense to analyze all things and come to conclusion with full confidence. We need not have to search the "holy text" to decide on everything. Give ourselves due authority to live as decent human beings who know what is right and wrong without the need to depend on others, or fear of some "powerful beings".


As humans, we are very sensual, especially regards to sex. It is our natural instinct, there is nothing wrong with it. But be careful not to allow this sexual craving to control our lives.


Be moderate, and remember, freedom must come with responsibilities.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Dispassion on life.




Question : (Unedited)

What is the difference between "craving not to live" (an opposite of craving to live) and "disppassion on life" (Nimbida)"


My comment:

I looked up the Pali-English dictionary, but could not find the word "nimbida".


"Craving not to live" to me sounds like "wanting to commit suicide".


"Dispassion on life" sounds like the understanding of the nature of the unsatisfactoriness of existence. That life in itself is nothing but a passing cloud. There is nothing in life, except birth, old age and death. There is nothing to be passionate about living.

Friday, November 27, 2009

A smile in a million!


A picture speaks a thousand words!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Origin of 5 aggregates.



Question (Unedited)
Plants and trees have life but no conciousness. Can the congregation of the 5 aggregates happen by chance? Where is the origin of each of the 5 aggregates?

My comment:
The origins of things cannot be understood by ordinary mortals who depend on the limited sense organs to comprehend things. Only the Buddha, who by the power of his omniscient mind is able to comprehend the origin and end of phenomena. The 5 aggregates are the phenomena of the natural order of things. They cannot happen by chance.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

You can help stop these barbaric and cruel killings.



There will be a Barbaric and Cruel mass murder of animals of all sorts today November 24 and tomorrow November 25. If you feel for these pitiful and defenceless animals, please read through and go to the site and send your messages to the Nepalese Authorities to stop this senseless, cruel and barbaric killings.

Please forward their message to as many of your contacts as possible. This time we may not be doing much, but with the international internet community actions the time will come that they stop these barbaric, senseless and cruel killings. We hope the next time around, all our actions will save millions of innocent and defenceless animals. Don't underestimate your individual actions; all added up will be millions!

I "copy and paste" this article from Humane Society International for your information and follow-up.


[Animal sacrifice is foreign to many in today’s day and age, but it still happens. One of the worst scenes of such slaughter in the world is the Gadhimai Jatra festival, held in the Bara district in the south of Nepal. Every five years, hundreds of thousands of animals are massacred in the name of a Hindu deity. During the last event, more than 200,000 animals were killed in just two days. This year, organizers are calling for nearly a half million animals to be slaughtered November 24 and 25.

The details of these so-called “festivities” are particularly horrific. There is no slaughterhouse or system in place for humane killing; instead, the animals are kept trapped in enclosures. The “panchhbali,” or five offerings, involves slicing the throats of five kinds of animals (buffalo, goats, pigs, roosters and rats) with a knife. This is not a quick death, but slow and agonizing for the victims. Buffalo, due to their size, suffer the most. Men swinging swords, often drunk, enter the corral and begin to hack away at the huge beasts. They target the hind legs first to bring the animals down and then proceed with a slow chopping at the neck, often requiring tens of cuts to actually kill the animal. The cruelty is unspeakable and the pain these creatures endure is unfathomable.


Take Action
Stop the massacre! Write to Nepalese leaders now to express your horror over the planned bloodshed.



In fact, more Indians attend this festival than do Nepalese; Bara is just over the border from India, where sacrificial slaughter has been banned in some states. Additionally, the only real beneficiaries of the event are the local business people, who pressure the villagers to offer excessive numbers of farm animals for the sacrifice. Reportedly, the businessmen can earn as much as $2 million from the sale of the carcasses and hides, while the community gains nothing. Superstition and pressure from organizers impede local action, though many people view the carnage as barbaric.

This horrendous cruelty somehow existed without much publicity until this year. Animal advocates and religious leaders both within Nepal and around the world have displayed outrage and disgust and are working together to pressure on the Nepalese government to put a stop to the mass animal sacrifice. HSI is joining in this effort by working with two of our local partners in Nepal, Kathmandu Animal Treatment Center and Animal Nepal and asking our supporters to write to Nepalese leaders to voice their concern.

Animal Nepal is organizing events in the capital ahead of the event and filing a case at the Supreme Court, as well as planning a symbolic ritual blessing in the hope that compassion will reign. HSI intends to keep the pressure on Nepalese leaders and help spread awareness of the horror of the event. Even “tradition” is no excuse for cruelty in a civilized society. As Mahatma Gandhi is credited with saying, “The greatness of a society and its moral progress can be judged by the way it treats its animals.”]

Please click HERE to go to the site for your compassionate action.

_________________________________________________________________

(Postscript)
Gyanendra's kin leads campaign against animal sacrifice

KATHMANDU: Five years ago, when he enjoyed unbridled power and was planning to stage an army-backed coup to become the head of the government,

Nepal’s king Gyanendra attended the festival of Hindu goddess Gadhimai in southern Nepal, throwing his weight, as the world’s Hindu emperor, behind an orgy of animal and bird sacrifices.

Today, with his crown abolished and Nepal declared a secular state, the former king’s kin is spearheading a passionate campaign to prevent animal sacrifices in the Terai temple.

“I stopped animal sacrifices at my parents’ house when I was eight,” says Pramada Shah nee Rana, whose grandfather Nir Shumsher Rana was a field marshall of the Nepal Army. “When I was married to Ashish Shah, King Gyanendra’s nephew, I realised animal sacrifices were deeply rooted in the family tradition. However, I have put an end to that too.”

Now her animal rights organisation Animal Welfare Network Nepal has grouped with animal activists in Nepal, India, France and the UK to begin a public campaign against the Gadhimai Temple fair starting from Nov 24, when the temple authorities say at least 500,000 birds and beasts will be slaughtered. The fair is held every five years when Hindu devotees from Jndia and Nepal gather to slaughter birds and animals for two days.

“The government must take immediate action to address the grave health risks of the mass sacrifice including bird and swine flu, TB and food poisoning,” Shah said. “If such mass sacrifices are still allowed in Nepal in the 21st century, it will send out the message to the world that we are still a barbaric nation.”

In 2002, a year after he ascended the throne following the assassination of his elder brother King Birendra, King Gyanendra had visited India where animal rights activists protested against his offering panchabali – five sacrifices – at the Kamakshya temple in Assam

Shah, who was educated in Delhi’s Army Public School and studied in Mumbai’s Sophiya College for two years, says her inspiration is former Indian minister and animal rights campaigner Maneka Gandhi.

Gandhi has already written to Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal, urging him to prevent the wanton killings. “Many people in Nepal and the subcontinent are concerned about this sacrifice,” she wrote. “Your government has taken so many humane steps – banning the export of monkeys, for instance. Since you have introduced the Meat Act, which makes the humane killing of animals mandatory, these acts during the Gadhimai Festival would be illegal.”

Shah is hoping that Gandhi will come to Nepal since a visit by her would give greater momentum to the campaign. “We are not against the Hindu religion,” she said. “We are against its perversions. No religion says that animals have to be sacrificed to appease god.”

At home, the campaign against the mass animal killings has been boosted by Nepal’s Buddha Boy Ram Bahadur Bomjan taking up cudgels on its behalf. Bomjan, who stunned the world five years ago when he was reported to be meditating without taking food or water, is asking the temple management as well as pilgrims and the district administration not to spill innocent blood in the birthplace of the Buddha, the apostle of peace.

“The campaign is producing results,” said D B Bomjan, a prominent member of the Buddhist Tamang community to which the Buddha Boy belongs. “Three villagers have already handed over three buffalos to us, which were intended for sacrifice at the fair, saying they have had a change of heart.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

Hell Torturers.




Question : (Unedited)

Who are those beings that torture the sufferring beings in the hell? What/Who gave them the right and do they accumulate bad karma for doing the job?



My comment:
Frankly, I don't believe in this torturing business. I think it was the result of our little deluded mind that conjured up these fancy and terrible stories to scare evil doers and potential ones. (This is just my personal opinion.)


The Law of Kamma takes its due in the natural process of things. It does not need others to implement punishment.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mahabrahma.



Question : (Unedited)
Why is Mahabrahma also called the Creator God? Does he play a role in the beginning of a new world system? Do we and dewas basically look alike (ie. have a face with 2 eyes, 2 ears,1 nose and 1 mouth and 2 hands and 2 legs)? Is it true that in the beginning of a new world system, the brahmas decended to the earth surface and gradually evolved to become human beings?



My comment:
Mahabrahma is called the creator god only by the Hindus. Maha means great, and Brahma means god. The story goes that this Brahma was the first to descend to the lower realm and feeling lonely wished for companions. Later others also descended and the self-fufilling prophesy was created. This Brahma thought that he had great power in creating the others, while the others thought that this Brahma really created them; thus he became Maha Brahma!
The beginning of the world and life are described in the Brahmajala Sutta (the first sutta in the Digha Nikaya) and the Aganna Sutta (Vol 3 Digha Nikaya).

From the description of the planes of existence, devas are also sensual beings which I would assume that they are similar to us, except more refined.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Thought moment.






Questions : (Unedited)

1.Where do our unwholesome thoughts come from? Can it be influenced by an unseen being?


The "unseen being" is our "ignorant and deluded mind".

2. Can more than one stream of conciousness co-exist in one physical body? What can we do to prevent that from happenning to us?

"Stream" means "continuous flow". There can only be one continuous flow. It is just like electrical current. Our consciousness is in a continuous flux comprising a continuous flow of "thought moments". Each thought moment is referred to as a unit of the mind. Each unit of the mind has 7 major currents which cause the continuous flow of 17 waves. One cycle is one beat of the mind, just like the heart beat, but millions of times faster. It is so fast that we have been deceived to believe that we have permanent and unchanging souls.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Devas






Question (Unedited)
Can dewas interfere with our practice of dhamma? If so, how?


My comment:
Devas are those beings in higher realms than us. There are good and not so good devas. Those devas who are our "neighbours" can influence our worldly lives. Buddhists perform chanting and puja at the Bodhi trees for purpose of requesting worldly favours and protection from them. Before formal chanting, we always invite the devas to participate and listen and share our merits. This is the Buddhist way of seeking "spiritual" protection.

Mara




Hi Dhamma Learner,


Welcome back. Here it goes:


(1) Is Mara the most powerful dewa, the fact that he is the king of the highest dewa realm?
Mara is one of the 2 most powerful devas in the highest sensual realm. The righteous king is Vasavatti Deva, and the other is this Mara Devaputta.

(2) Why is Mara not supportive of those practising dhamma? (eg. in a story of Arahant Uppa Gupta, who existed 300 years after Buddha's passing away)

Mara was jealous of those who could attain jhana as they would be reborn higher than him. Mara has great power that he can enjoy objects created by others for him. The story goes that Upagotta had subdued Mara and he had promised not to disturb any follower of the Buddha ever again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hastening the death of an animal.






Question: (Unedited)

I had an experience yesterday that saddens me, and I needed to find a Buddhist to discuss this with. I live in Lincoln, Nebraska and there are no Buddhists here that I know of that I can discuss this with.

Yesterday, while working (I drive van to take individuals to a sheltered workshop and to their appointments all day) in the back of an alley I discovered a opposum that was dying, it was hunched and was missing its tail, and was clearly suffering and was obviously not going to live. I pitied the animal, but there was noone I could call for help.

I left the animal, and thought of it throughout the next two hours while I was picking up my individuals. When I dropped them off, I realized I had to do something to rid the animal of its suffering.

As I have no gun, nor any other weapon, I ran over the animal and killed it. I then placed the animal in a trash bag and put its body in a dumpster,as I thought it was a more humane and sanitary way of ridding of the body.

I felt sad all day yesterday over this event, and have talked to others who have assured me that I relieved the animal of great suffering.

I am not sure if I did the right thing, there was noone I could take it to relieve it suffering (I am, as usual, very broke and would not have had the money for euthanasia, if there was anyone I could bring the animal to).

Please let me know your thoughts on this, as I need to know if I did the right thing, or if there was another path I could have taken.

Thank you.


My comment:
Hi D,

Thank you for asking me.

First, I am assuming that you are a Buddhist, or one who is interested in Buddhism. Otherwise what I am going to comment will be a lost cause. Before discussing the unfortunate episode that you had encountered, let us review what the Buddha had expounded in the 4 Noble Truths. These truths form the basis of our understanding of the true nature of this existence. Having understood these truths one will bear with life's injustices, miseries, and sorrows. If we were to fly above the world and look down, we will witness a never-ending cycle of horrific scenario of millions of lives suffering in miseries. This has been going on since time immemorial, and will continue forever, so long as there is life in existence. This is the very nature of existence. This is the 1st Noble Truth of Suffering. Please remember that the very nature of existence is suffering. Let me give you 2 examples. The very nature of a hospital is to heal sick people. So if you go to a hospital, don't expect to see healthy patients. If they are healthy, they won't be there in the first place. We send criminals to jail. The very nature of a jail is to contain criminals. If they are not criminals, they won't be there. This world is for life to act out its kamma. It is the very nature of this world that those born are destined to suffer. If we have no kammic effect to settle, we would not have been born into this world to suffer.

Now coming back to your episode, it is just a minute enactment of what suffering is all about. Right at this very moment, millions of lives suffer in miseries for no apparent reasons, due to no fault of theirs. What we are witnessing is just a small scene of a never-ending play on the world stage. What had happened before, we do not realize. This is the work of the universal law of kamma. It may sound cruel and insensitive to hold this view, but this is the TRUTH, the first Noble Truth which the Buddha revealed. That's why I assume that you are a Buddhist or at least one who is interested in Buddhism in order to understand this explanation.

Having understood this 1st Noble Truth, instead of wallowing in the quagmire of miseries, we project our pity in the form of compassion for the other less fortunate. Having understood the cause of sorrows and miseries, we get down to help in whatever way we can. There is actually no remedy for all the sufferings in this world because (please remember) it is its very nature. Just like the hospital and the jail. The doctors can do just that much, that's all. The counsellors working in the jail can do just that much, that's all. You can do just that much to help, that's all. This is what Buddhism is all about....seeing the very real nature of things and be wise enough to behave ourselves and live a harmless life.

As for putting down the poor suffering animal, it is just being peculiar in Western society. Do you shoot a suffering human who has no chance of survival, just to put him out of his miseries? If one understands the law of kamma, one will avoid killing, for whatever reason. It is very difficult for a non-Buddhist to understand this concept of not terminating life.

May you have peace. This world is like this. There is actually nothing much that we can do, except to live a harmless life and to share the Buddha's teachings with those who care to listen.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to control anger?




Question : (Unedited)
First I would like to say thank you for taking the time to answer questions I recently started reading the teachings of buddhism. I was raised in a Christian home but was made to go to church as a child. Now that I'm older I have questioned some things that were taught to me. I'm struggling with anger and low self-esteem and I would really like to know what I can do to help with this. If there is any advice that you could provide, I would really appreciate it And thank you for taking the time.-K-


My comment:

Hi K,

Thank you for asking me. And welcome to the journey of inner peace and happiness. Please take your time to know more about Buddhism. The "mother" of all Buddhist web sites is www.buddhanet.net which will link you to the vast network of Buddhist sites.

Coming back to your "problems", please be aware that all of us have anger and low self-esteem one time or another. This is "normal" human nature and shortcomings. What we can do is to acknowledge our shortcomings. We may also like to find out the cause(s) of our problems; most of these causes have roots from our childhood years influenced by the family environment, and society as a whole. As Buddhists we also attribute part of our character and personality to our past kamma.

I used to read lots of self-improvement books for inspiration and improving self-esteem. I found that the advices given are very similar to Buddhism. Universal truths have no boundary.

The main emphasis is one training of our mind to be positive. In order to improve our character, or rather, reduce our negative emotions, we have first to acknowledge the problems as real and at the same time to make effort to reduce them. Just by realization of our problems is already 50% of our problems solved. Each time your problem arises, note it; and you will find that the problem will become less frequent. Once you note it, you stop the negative process from continuing. It is a life-time process because our bad habits and negative tendencies are very deeply ingrained in our mind. It takes great effort to achieve positive results. The Buddhist concept of this method is what we call being mindful of each moment. We do not allow the mind to wander and wallow in negative and unhealthy thoughts.

Hope this helps.

Smile from justinchoo :-)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Let go of things that are passed.





Question : (Unedited)
hello justinchoo,
I have recently gone through a very painful breakup. I feel as
though I keep clinging to my ex, and the memories --and it is
causing me great suffering and dukka. Is there anything you can
reccomend to help stop clinging and grasping, as I know they
are the root of suffering.



My comment:
Hi Anonymous,

Thank you for asking me.

It's easy to say that I'm sorry to know of your problems. But that doesn't solve problems. First, we have to face reality squarely. Everybody has problems, one time or the other. So you are not alone. Secondly, time is the "mother" of all healers.

The method is to "let go" of the recurring thoughts of the hurts and justifications of what had already happened. Everytime when the same thoughts surface (and this surely will go on, no ends) you are just to say this to your mind "LET GO". This effectively means; you cut off the current of negative and disturbing thoughts, each time they surface, not allowing them time to overwhelm your thought pattern. In this way, you do not dwell on these thoughts any more than they appeared. In time, without your conscious knowledge, you will be free again.

In a more conventional approach, of course, the "shrinkers" will recommend, you go for a holiday, play more games, take a walk, indulge in social activities, talk to someone, and do anything that can take your mind away from your problems; and in time to come, you will be back to normal. Well, do all these!

In a more "Buddhistic" way, the approach is to acknowledge that this world is wrought with problems and unfortunately we are part of this vicious cycle of human events. Having acknowledged that, we accept what had already happened, and get on with life. As a consolation, we can spend more time chanting the Buddha's discourses, and also calm our mind through Buddhist meditation.

Well, problems are nothing new; so solutions are also nothing new. You have the freedom to choose. To let go, or to be haunted by recurring thoughts of sorrow which in your case are passed and gone.

Have peace, from justinchoo.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Sharing the Dhamma



Question: (Unedited)
Q1 ) Can one who is reborn in ghost realm / deva realm recall his previous lives ?

Q2)In this life i practise Buddhism seriously but have not reached to the point to become arahant or enlightened .In my next time , if i reborn in the human or deva realm , will i have 100% opportunity to continue to practise Buddhism because i don't want to practise other religion except Buddhism .

Thank

My comment:
Hi ,
Q1) If we were to use our present knowledge and experience in this existence, I would say there is a possibility. We know some people have this uncanny ability to remember past lives. Apart from that, I really don't know.

Q2) If we interprete the workings of the law of kamma, we would realize that certain kamma will produce certain results. If we want to associate with the Dhamma in our future lives, we have to practise the Dhamma seriously; and also spread the Dhamma. Remember, the highest merits are those actions relating to the dispensation of the Dhamma. You would also know that to be born in the deva realm means to "enjoy" a peaceful and happy existence as the fruits of good kamma. It is in the human realm that one has a greater chance to practise the Dhamma.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The signs of brain-washing.



Question: (Unedited)
Wow thank u for ur answers.
the reason i am asking is because i have always been interested in bhuddism
(ever since i was 16, ten years now) and still am. I have always struggled to
accept and grasp the concept of God! I still have trouble accepting it!

As for what u say about the buddhist teaching of investigating all things and
not just blindly following, i agree with this. it is also fair to say that i have
been guilty of such a thing more than once in my life.

having found myself in difficult circumstances in my life on more than one
occasion i found myself running to all kinds of religion including hare
krishna, buddha and finally settling on christianity. i decided to give it a shot
for two years and now that two years are up i have decided that i am still
interested in buddhist philosophy.

however i must admit that my church have presented me with some awsome
teachings which have helped me clean my act up greatly in life and have also
presented reasonable and strong argument for the existence of god and
christ and the power and relevance of the bible.

however i have also seen far to much in the behaviour, doctrines and
teachings of christians themselves which has left me with the impression that
christianity works on a basis of fear and is very right wing.

i would perhaps even go so far as to call it an ignorant and arrogant religion
with little or no respect for any other religion. (this is at least the impresson
given to me by my church which is perhaps more fiery than other churches
and more provocative.

it was because this church seemed so different from other churches that i
thought i would give it a shot, only two years down the line to have felt
exploited, abused, used and a little brain washed.

however it taght me sexual abstinence as well as other life changing and
affirming wisdom.

at the back of my mind there was always the thought that, being a christian,
this church was kind of p[reparing me for my transition into buddhism.

at the moment i have started incorporating some buddhist belief systems into
my christian ones. i have started trying to meditate in any way i might know
how. perhaps u could give me some pointers and practical tips on how a
young noovice might practice buddhism.

i have learned many lessons in life so far. the latest just seem to be a repeat
of past lessons with some new ones thrown in.

its funny how u seem to believe that u've got life pegged and feel that ur
street wise and wise to life and can cope and see through things and not let
any one walk all over u and con u only to find that ur completely wrong. i
hope that i have finally learned my lessons and can move on and learn more.
or do we just keep learning?

thank u for your time justin. plz stay in touch with me as i continue on my
spiritual quest in life. its nice having a real buddhist to talk to.


My comments:
Hi Js,

Welcome back. It is very rewarding spiritually knowing that my effort to share is appreciated and beneficial.

Let me make some comments on your experiences. By the way thanks for sharing.

(On "running to all kinds of religions")
They are always preying on people under vulnerable situations, like certain crisis in life. They will shower you with warmth and companionship and pray to no end for you; and wallah our your problems solved. It's a miracle they said. I said its a con game. They have been using these tactics throughout the world, especially in Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Africa. The more converts means more money in their coffers. I call them ETs ....Evangilical Terrorists. Once they get hold of the head of the family, the rest will follow like blind sheep. It is a very sorry state of affairs.


(On "on the basis of fear")
When you sell something that has no use, the only tactic is to condemn the competitors' products. They put fear on you because that is the only way to prevent you from using your thinking mind. If you are allowed to think and analyze, they will lose you.


(On "with no respect for other religions")
How can they allow you to respect the other religions. If you do, they will lose you. It is a great conspiracy throughout the history of Christianity. Ironically, the very people that they had hookwinked into their religion, are defending them. Why? Because they had been brainwashed. It is a pitiful scenario; and in the name of freedom to practise religion, this conspiracy is upheld through time.

(On "meditation")
The skill in meditation is to relax and observe; not to fight for anything or to be perfect in any thing. The object of meditation is to tame the wandering mind so that we can train it to "listen" to us, instead of we taking orders from it. We want to be masters of our minds, and not their slaves. With a tamed and trained mind, a person can conduct his life with wisdom and will experience inner peace and happiness, without any foolish desires and hindrances. A simple method is to concentrate on our breathing. Breathing out and breathing in, while at the same time concentrating on the sensation felt at the tip of the nostril. Try to bring back your awareness to this point when your mind wanders, which sure will. In this way you will experience calm and inner peace. Please remember to surf www.buddhanet.net if you are really interested in Buddhism.

(On "exploited, abused, used, and a little brain-wash")
You are the very few exceptions who can "fight" against their incessant brainwashing over 2 long years.


CONGRATULATIONS! Truth alone triumphs!


Have peace.


Please come back if you need to communicate.


Intelligent Design?



Question:(Unedited)

I'm doing a paper for school about Intelligent Design and part of my research is to ask different religions what they think about evolution. I wanted to ask

What do buddhists believe about evolution?
If you had a child that asked you how old the universe was, how would you respond?

Thanks

My comment:

Hi,

Thank you for asking me.

What is "Intelligent Design" in the first place? Buddhists do not "believe" in anything. The Buddha advised his followers not to believe in anything without investigation and analyzes. In other words, we do not believe blindly, just because some "gurus", "saints", "holy books" or anyone for that matter said so. The Buddha's explanation of the universe 2500 years ago can be verified by modern scientific knowledge today. Please remember when the Buddha explained during his time, modern science did not yet exist. His knowledge was based on his supreme cultivation of his mind power; being able to penetrate into the "unknown" through the power of his mind; not by using the limited 5 sense faculties.

His first explanation of the universe was that it was ever-changing and not permanent. The universe is in perpetual motion and perpetual change. Nothing in this world is static and permanent. The universe is also subject to this evolution. There are 4 stages in the evolution of the universe. The state of formation, the state of evolution, the state of degeneration, and the state of destruction. Following the state of destruction, the state of formation begins again. Thus goes the cycle of creation, evolution, degeneration and destruction. This goes on ad infinitum.

The beginning and end of this process cannot be known, as there is no beginning and no end. This is the natural phenomenon of existence. The vastness of the universe has no limit, and the number of universes cannot be known. Science today has proven the Buddha's explanation of the universe.

"If you had a child that asked you how old the universe was, how would you respond?"
If you mean "child" as a very young person, then my answer would be "very very old".
If he is an intelligent adult, then based on the Buddha's explanation and modern science, he will realize that the question is very naive.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Common sense : best religion




Question: (Unedited)
Have a few questions on Dhamma that I hope u can help
to provide some answer.

(1)I heard in a dhama talk that after Meteiya Buddha's sasanna, the world will likely end in fire that will burn and destroy many planes of existance, from hell up to a few Brahma realms. Where will those beings be reborn to? Another world system? Is it common for rebirths to occur in another worldsystem?

(2)I spoke with a buddhist friend who told me that Jesus
could be considered a bodhisatta? is it possible?

(3)While intending to perform dana, I sometimes have
doubts that arise in my mind on the authenticity/effectiveness of the donee. Is this doubt
part of the 5 hinderences or prudence? Where shall we
draw the line? Eg. when donating to a charitable
organisation, do I need to check the effectiveness of
the organisation before donating to ensure that the
money will be well spent and that the collecting agent
does not take a big cut?

Thanks

dhamma learner

My comment:

Hi Dhamma Learner,

Thank you for asking me. I know who you are. Welcome.

1)After the appearance of Maiteya Buddha, this world system will come to an end. The process is a very, very long one. Beings that cannot attain to the Jhannic realms will be wiped out. Where do they go? I would say their rebirths would be in other world systems. Rebirths are said to take place usually at "close proximity", i.e. around familiar grounds.

2)It is always a sensitive issue when we try to "judge" or form opinions on other religions' personalities. In the first place, do we believe in them? If negative, then we should not form any opinion about them.

3)We have to use our common sense and human intelligence to assess the situation. Of course if we know that not much is to be received by the end user, then we should refrain from being a party to this exercise. In the final analysis, we need to use our wisdom and fair judgement to decide; and not just blindly following the crowd. There are so many genuine and deserving organizations that we can donate to. Seek them out and do the needful.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Want to be toad?





Question:(Unedited)

Hello there:

I am a Therevada Buddhist and a high school senior who will graduate this June. My parents are separated; I live with my father and sister. I have been a Buddhist for almost a year now and have been 'out of the closet' to my nominally Christian father and sister since Christmas, with great acceptance and love. Being accepted by them has been one of my most fortifying experiences yet on my path. As my final year of high school draws to a close, with college coming in the fall, I find myself wishing to be able to share this aspect of my life with the rest of my family, seeing as though I am crossing into young adulthood and have no need to apologize for or conceal my way of life.

This had been a subject of considerable inner debate. I feel that my mother would have trouble accepting me for what I am, along with both my grandmothers and some of my other relations. My mother professes the Christian faith but never goes to church and is Catholic only in name; still, on the few occasions that we have discussed spirituality, she seemed suspicious and mistrusting of belief systems other than the one of her birth. Both sides of my family grew up around Christianity and all hold to it to one extent or another: my one grandmother is the most extreme case, a daily mass attendee whose house is a shrine to Jesus and who would have a (literal) heart attack if she discovered that I was Buddhist.

I have no wish at all to alienate my family, or to appear in rebellion to them. I love and respect them all, and respect their choice of religion. At the same time, I wish I felt comfortable enough to share with them what has been the most transformative and healing choice of my life. Yet I do wish to share it with them, and very much so: fear of what they will say, think, and do is all that hems me in, but it is enough. I was wondering if you have ever encountered a situation like this in your personal life, or would be able to offer some advice on what the best course of action would be. Thanks so much, and metta to you!

T


My comment:
Hi T,

The world is changing and "getting smaller". Communications are instant. Information is at a click of a button. Those who still wants to live inside a well like a toad will suffer the fate of the toad. In religion, many are very wary of losing "members" to other faiths. Some resort to violence in order to prevent their "members" from changing faiths. Most have been indoctrinated since they were born, leaving them ignorant to other ideas with no room for tolerance of others' faiths. They have "closed mind". Bearing in mind this scenario, I hope you will be able to tread with care when talking "spirituality" with your loved ones who have not a clue of what Buddhism is all about.

There is no hurry to announce to them of your chosen faith. Take your time, let your actions speak for you. If you conduct wisely by keeping the 5 precepts, and show kindness and compassion to all, the loving message of the Buddha will permeate through your family members. When they are ready and receptive, then you talk. In the meantime get on with your life as a Buddhist and share your experiences with your friends.

Broke a Buddha image.



Question: (Unedited)


i have a buddha statue and one day i broke the hand off by accedent but i glued it back on, will me breaking the hand off make my karma bad or be negitive?


My comment:
Hi,
Buddha images are actually crafted by humans out of clay, metal, wood, or what have you. Being creative people, we create Buddha images so that we can pay reverence or respect to our great Teacher. As Buddhists, we never pray to Buddha images, for they are nothing but artful representation of the Teacher. It is his teachings that bring benefit to us when we follow and practise them.

As Buddha images embody the purity and omniscience of the Buddha, they carry with them the aura of the Dhamma (the teachings of the Buddha). We feel a sense of confidence and protection in the presence of Buddha images. Evil and negative spirits will stay clear from these Buddha images.

You will not be creating any bad or negative kamma, please be assured.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Perfection in meditation?




Question: (Unedited)
Hi, how does one fight the need to be perfect in meditation?


My comment:
Hi,

Thank you for asking me.

In the first place, what is perfection in meditation? If there is no answer to it, then there is no problem. There is nothing to fight for, as there is NO need to be perfect.

The skill in meditation is to relax and observe; not to fight for anything or to be perfect in any thing. The object of meditation is to tame the wandering mind so that we can train it to "listen" to us, instead of we taking orders from it. We want to be masters of our minds, and not their slaves.

With a tamed and trained mind, a person can conduct his life with wisdom and will experience inner peace and happiness, without any foolish desires and hindrances.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dream on.




Question: (Unedited)


1. Is it okay for Buddhists to dream and have fantasies?

2. Who is more supreme? Buddha or the Universal Karmic Law?

Thanks a lot.


My comment:


Hi L,

Thank you for asking me.

1. Is it okay for Buddhists to dream and have fantasies?
Do you have a choice? It is very normal to have dreams. As for fantasies, it is one's choice whether to have realistic and wholesome fantasies or just wasting time building castle in the air.


2. Who is more supreme? Buddha or the Universal Karmic Law?
The Buddha was the supreme teacher in that he found truth and peace, and realized final liberation from suffering. The Buddha expounded the existence of the universal law of kamma which rules supreme in the conduct of life.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Is hell eternal?



Question:(Unedited)

In Dhammapada 10:140, it says that the unwise can fall into Hell. What is the outline on Buddhist Hell? When / what does one do to no longer qualify for rebirth? Is Hell eternal in Buddhism? Thank you.


My comment:

Hi,

Thank you for asking me.

The Buddha revealed that in the vast universe, there were numerous spheres where beings existed. In our own universe, there exists 31 planes where beings occupy. Two of these are the human sphere and the animal sphere. These two are discerned by us through our senses especially the eyes. However, there the other spheres where we cannot see because they do not exist in 3 dimensional form. It may be 4th or more dimension, beyond our sense faculties to know, let alone see. The Buddhist concepts of kamma and rebirth only can explain this cosmology of the 31 planes of existence.

The Buddhist perspective of life is that this "being" consists of the physical body and the mind. The existence of this being is the result of the energy of the mind taking existence in this physical body. The nature of life-form that this mind energy affixes to, will depend on the nature of the accumulated "kammic" store-house which the being had generated throughout its numerous life existences. If the kammic storehouse has a greater portion of evil and unwholesome kammic energy, this mental energy will seek a rebirth in the appropriate existence such that the evil and unwholesome energies will actualize in that life, causing agony and suffering for the being. In this sense, you can consider that evil mental energies will seek out conditions that favour such existence. The result will be rebirth in the hell plane. There is no such thing as Buddhist hell. Hell is hell.

There are 8 hells in the hell plane. The worst is called the Avicci Hell. The lowest of hells and the highest of heavens may have unimaginable long life span; but ultimately it will also end. Life in hells and heavens is not permanent, not eternal. Once the effective kammic energy is depleted, the being will expire and be reborn in another sphere.

So long as we have the 3 roots of greed, hatred and delusion, we will be reborn again and again....the cycle of birth and death will grind on until we can eliminate completely these 3 roots. Then we will be pure energies with no more attachment to the conditions of existence...no more rebirth...Nibbana.
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