Robert Thurman, president of Tibet House US, and Je Tsongkhapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University, has issued a new video statement about the Tibetan immolation phenomenon. In the video, Thurman states that while Tibetans are not urged to protest in this fashion, and should not be, their sacrifice of those who do should nonetheless be honored. He also shares an anecdote reflecting His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s wish that no one harbor anger hatred against the Chinese, and that rather compassion should be cultivated in all circumstances.
The Buddha once said, ‘When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good, when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good, when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good, when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.’ templenews.org B.E.2556, A.D.2013
Video: A Funeral Service for the late Mrs. Heang Kong, age 95, Rhode Island United States of America on Saturday the 12th Waxing Moon of Assayuja BE2556, October 27, AD2012 Year of the Dragon at the Carpenter Jenks Funeral Home and Crematory
Colombo, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka holds a unique place in the world, with the longest continuous history of Buddhism of any nation. Buddhism has been the major religion in the island since its official introduction in the 3rd century BC by Arahant Mahinda, the son of the Emperor Ashoka of India, and over 70% of the population is Buddhist.
The sangha (Order of Monks) has existed in a largely unbroken lineage since its introduction in the 3rd century, and Sri Lankan monks and lay people have played a prominent role in spreading Theravada Buddhism to Asia, the West and even Africa.
Buddhism is so integral to the national identity that it is explicitly included in the Sri Lankan Constitution. Article 9 states:
“The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).”
In October, 2010, an important piece of legislation known as the Animal Welfare Bill was introduced in Parliament as a Private Member’s Bill, the first of its kind since 1907. The Bill, which applies to all animals, provides extensive protections to ensure that practices in Sri Lanka are in keeping with the central tenet of non-harm to all animals enshrined in the First Precept. Among its provisions are:
A duty of care on the part of those in charge of animals to treat them humanely
Prevention of cruelty to animals
The establishment of a 16-member National Animal Welfare Authority to administer the legislation, develop policies, and strengthen and expand the existing enforcement mechanisms
The appointment of Animal Welfare Inspectors with police powers
Oversight of slaughtered animals
Oversight of animal experimentation with an emphasis on alternatives
Standards for transporting animals
The right of any person to bring a lawsuit on behalf of an animal
Increased penalties for violation of animal protection laws
Despite the urgency of the need for an Animal Welfare Law and its critical function of ensuring that Sri Lanka remains true to its Buddhist principles, thereby retaining its role as the pre-eminent Buddhist nation in the world, over two years have lapsed since the introduction of the Animal Welfare Bill in Parliament in October, 2010, with no sign of steps being taken toward its enactment.
Dharma Voices for Animals (DVA) believes that this legislation falls squarely within our mission of addressing animal suffering within the Buddhist community, and to help in this cause we will be presenting a petition to the President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa, and to other Government officials urging them, on behalf of animals, to help make this law a reality. As supporters of DVA, we ask you to join in this effort by adding your name to this important petition.
Dharma Voices for Animals is a non-profit organization based in the United States of America whose mission is to increase awareness of the suffering of animals within the Buddhist Dharma community. Among our worldwide membership are many well-known western Dharma teachers, Tibetan monk Geshe Thupten Phelgye, who served ten years in the Tibetan Parliament in Exile and considers his Holiness the Dalai Lama as his teacher, Lama Shri Sadhu Dharmavira, and the Venerable Thich Phuoc Tan, Vice President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists.
Sri Lanka is the home of Theravada Buddhism, with a rich Buddhist civilization that began more than two millennia ago. The cultural heritage of Sri Lanka is a shining example of the power and influence of the Buddha’s teachings. In keeping with these teachings, Sri Lanka is also heir to a rich and unique history with respect to animal rights and welfare, with historical rock inscriptions and ancient chronicles, e.g. Mahawamsa, providing evidence of the extensive state protection that has been historically granted to animals. The ethic of Ahimsa (non-violence towards other sentient beings), a cardinal tenet in Buddhism as well as Hinduism, has been a paradigm of public administration and justice throughout the country’s history, with the social and legal history of Sri Lanka providing numerous examples of the Buddhist attitude of compassion towards animals. These include a series of royal decrees completely banning the killing of animals throughout their kingdoms, the establishment of animal hospitals as early as 341 AD, and a widely followed historical taboo against the eating of animals. In short, it is fair to say that Sri Lanka has been the model of a country that puts into practice the central tenet of the First Precept – non-harm to all animals.
Despite this exemplary history, however, it has been over 100 years since Sri Lanka has enacted an animal rights and welfare law as a primary piece of legislation. The governing statute, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Ordinance, dates back to 1907, the British colonial period. This law is antiquated, and it completely fails to address the welfare of animals in modern society. Its limitations are particularly apparent when compared to animal welfare legislation of neighboring countries such as India and Bhutan or western countries such as England or Australia. For example, the maximum punishment it provides for the heinous crime of cruelty perpetrated on an animal in violation of its provisions is a fine of 100 Rupees – barely $1 U.S.
The inadequacy of existing legislation to safeguard the welfare of animals is strikingly inconsistent with Sri Lanka’s role as the pre-eminent Buddhist nation in the world. Moreover, it neglects a core principle codified in Article 9 of the Constitution, which states that “it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana.” Without a fundamental revision of its laws, Sri Lanka risks abandoning the legacy of an animal-friendly cultural heritage that dates back almost to the time of the Buddha and neglecting its responsibility explicitly mandated by the Constitution.
In an effort to rectify this situation and bring Sri Lanka’s laws regarding animals up to modern standards, in 2010 a Private Member’s Bill – based on the Animal Welfare Bill prepared by Sri Lanka’s Law Commission in 2006 – was presented to Parliament. Unfortunately, it has not been acted upon. Its passage in Parliament is critical for Sri Lanka to maintain its status as the leading Buddhist country in the world.
Mahatma Gandhi’s famous statement is as valid today as it was when he said:
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
The signers of this petition are people from all over the world who are proud of Sri Lanka’s role in safeguarding the Dharma and hopeful that Sri Lanka will continue this tradition in all its aspects, including the fundamental teaching of non-harm to animals. Accordingly, we urge His Excellency Mr. Mahinda Rajapaksa and other Government officials of Sri Lanka to enact the Animal Welfare Bill without any further delay. Courtesy the Buddhist Channel
Nikini full moon day falling due one month after the commencement of “Wassana Kala“the rainy season: is of special significance for Buddhists due to a number of incidents that took place on this day.
Attainment of Arahatship by the Buddha’s chief attendant, Ananda
Attainment of Arahatship by the Buddha’s chief attendant, Ananda Maha Thera, commencement of the first Dhamma Sangayana, convocation to settle the Buddhist canon and “Pasu Vas” or the commencement of the “Vas” period by those who had not started the period of sojourn on the Esala full moon day are some of them. For Sri Lankans this day is further more significant because of the world famous Kandy Esala Perahera which normally ends on this day.
The rainy season in Dambadiva-India begins during the month of Esala (July – August). It is extremely cold in the snowy peaks of Himalayas and in the valleys where ascetics meditate under the shade of trees.
Due to cold weather and heavy rain it is not convenient for them to sit under trees and meditate. Even birds build sheltered nests to live in during this season with birdies. Some of them even migrate to other countries where there is less rain. Buddhist monks also sojourn with house holders during this season
The “Pali” word “Vas” means the rains “Viseema” means dwelling. Therefore “Vas Viseema” means to sojourn during the rainy season. “Vassana Kala” or the rainy season of three months begins on Esala full moon day. Commencing the “Vas” period from Esala full moon day is called “Purmikawa” or “Pera Vas”. However the bhikkhus who could not commence the Vas period on Esala Full Moon day are allowed to start observing Vas on the Nikini Full Moon day. This is called “Pasuvas”.
Buddhist monks commence “Vas” on Nikini full moon day in keeping with the enactment called “Santhaha Karanaya” The circumstances which led to the enactment of “Santhaha Karanaya” was the hardships caused to the bhikkhus due to rain.
After the establishment of Buddhasasana bhikkus engaged in the propagation of Dhamma and meditation during all four seasons, spring, summer, autumn and winter regardless of adverse weather conditions specially during the rainy season. People were concerned about the hardships caused to bhikkus and pains taken by them which the people thought was “Attakilamathanuyogaya – giving extreme pains to the body or physical exertion. Some people went even to the extent of criticizing the extreme pains taken by bhikkhus. These criticisms reached the ears of King Bimbisara.
On a day before the Nikini full moon day King Bimbisara requested the Buddha to sojourn for the rainy season from Nikini full moon poya day in his kingdom, at Rajagaha Nuwara. The Buddha accepted this invitation.
‘Pasuvas’ or the custom of commencing the ‘Vas’ period from Nikini full moon day came into being in that manner. Thus bhikkus sojourn in ‘wassawasa” place of residing in the rainy season starting from Esala full moon day or Nikini full moon day.
It was on the Nikini Full Moon day three months after The Buddha’s “parinibbana” that the first Dharma sangayana-convocation was held to settle the Buddhist canon.
The immediate cause for conducting the first Dhamma Sangayana was the behaviour of a monk named Subaddha after the parinibbana of the Buddha.
All the ordinary bhikkus who had not attained Arahatship excepting monk Subaddha lamented and mourned over the prinibbana of the Buddha. Buddha’s ”Agra Upasthayaka” chief attendant and “Dharma Bhandagarika” – the treasurer of Dhamma, Ananda Maha Thera was among those who lamented. Monk Subaddha who had become an ascetic during his old age not actually to practice acsetism but because he had no other way of living and requested the monks not to mourn but to be happy as thee was no one after Buddha to give them orders.
The Maha Sangha led by Maha Kashyapa Thera felt that the behaviour of ascetic Subaddha was an indication of probable problems among the members of the sangha community and on Esala Full Moon day two months after the parinibbana of Buddha to hold a convocation to settle the Buddhist canon. This is the first Dhamma Sangayanawa (Convocation).
It was conducted during a period of three months from the following Nikini Full Moon Poya day.
Even during the time of Buddha, problems arose among Bhikkhus such as the “Sangha Bedha” -division among bhikkhus – caused by Devadatte Thera and the differences among Dharmadhara bhikkhus (those versed in morals and “Vinayadhara” bhikkhus (those well versed in and observed the precepts of property of conduct) but the Buddha settled them amicably,”
Arahat Maha Kassapa Thera was a bhikku who spent most of the time in Himalayas as an ascetic. This he did presumably to avoid being mistaken by the people for Buddha as he was physically identical with the Thathagatha.
Maha Kassapa Thera was in the city of Pava at the time of Buddha’s parinibbana. As soon as he heard about the Maha Parinibbana he came to Kusinara with his followers. Maha Kassapa Thera consoled the ordinary monks who mourned the Parinabbana of the Gauthama Buddha and after the funeral of the “Thathagatha he made arrangements for the first Dhamma “Sangayana”.
By that time, Arahat Sariputta and Arahat Moggalana had attained parinibbana and the convocation was held under the patronage of Arahat Maha Kassapa. Five hundred Arahats participated in the convocation. Arahat Maha Kassapa Thera selected originally 499 participants and after attaining Arahtship by Ananda Maha Thera at night on previous day the vacancy was filled by him. The convocation was held at Rajagahanuwara in Magadha Rata. Presumably Arahat Maha Kassapa Thera was confident of Ananda Maha Thera’s attainment of Arahatship before the commencement of the first Dhamma Sangayana. It was because of this reason that a place was kept for him.
Ananda Maha Thera had gained eminence in eradiction and possessed a lot of knowledge in Dhamma and was second only to Buddha in preaching. Buddha appreciated him when he preached Dhamma to a group led by Mahanama Sakya king.
He was “Dhamma Bhandagarika” treasurer of Dhamma having heard all the discourses of the Buddha. He was also second only to Buddha in intelligence, good sense, prudence and circumspection. He had reached the apex in understanding and apprehension. In serving as “Agra Upasthayaka” – Buddha’s chief attendant, he did every thing possible for the safety and comfort of the Buddha.
When the furious elephant, Nalagiri came chasing after the Buddha, Ananda Maha Thera stood in between the Buddha and the elephant exhibiting his courageousness when he felt the need. He was second only to the Buddha in rationalism, prudence and wisdom. Yet for all such virtues and good qualities he had not attained Arahatship by the time of Buddha’s Parinibbana presumably due to his desire and ambition to tender aid to, minister and serve and wait upon the Buddha.
He had attained “Sowan” the first of the four paths to Nirvana having heard the Dhamma preached by Arahat Punnamattaniputta Thera a few days after entering the priesthood. Since he had not attained Arahatship he could not bear the pain of mind when he heard about Buddha’s decision to attain Parinibbana. He leant against the door post of the Viharaya and started crying.
Buddha summoned Ananda Maha Thera and consoled him reminding him about the transitory nature of all existing things from which even the “Thathagatha” cannot deviate. Buddha said that Ananda Maha Thera had accumulated enough merit to attain Arahatship before long and advised him to be courageous. Ananda Maha Thera made up his mind and did every thing what should have been done.
Three months after the Buddha’s Parinibbana and at night on the day preceding the day when the first Dhamma Sangayana was held Ananda Maha Thera attained Arahatship and was qualified to fill the vacancy kept for him by Maha Kasspa Thera. The vacancy was kept because Ananda Maha Thera was indispensable for the successful convocation of the Buddhist canon. He was the most knowledgeable person in the doctrine, being the Dharma Bhandagarika – the treasurer of the Dhamma and having listened to all the discourses of the Buddha.
The convocation went on for three months. Dhamma Pitaka and Vinaya Pitaka were classified into Digha Nikaya, Majima Nikaya, Sanyutha Nikaya, Anguttara Nikaya and Kuddaka Nikaya.
They were learnt by heart. The responsibility for each part was entrusted to leading participants of the convocation.
Arahat Ananda Thera and his followers were entrusted with the responsibility for Digha Nikaya. The followers of Arahat Sariputta Thera were entrusted with Majjima Nikaya. Sanyutta Nikaya was entrusted to Arahat Maha Kassapa Thera and his followers. Anguttara Nikaya was the responsibility of Arahat Anuruddha Thera and his followers. All the Theras were made responsible for the Kuddaka Nikaya. Vinaya Pitaka was entrusted to Arahat Upali Thera.
This convocation was known as “Pancha Sathika Sangikthi” as it was held with the participation of 500 Theras who had attained Arahatship. Courtesy blog.dzone.lk
The Cause of Progress tells the story of the lives of three Cambodians caught up in the country’s chaotic and often violent economic progress.
Dear Sir or Madam,
I am writing to you about my documentary project ‘The Cause of Progress.’ This is a film about the venerable Luon Sovath and his activity as a Human Rights Defender, the film is also about the brave women of Boeng Kak Lake and Borei Keila who are fighting for their land rights. You can find out much more about this film herehttp://www.indiegogo.com/The-Cause-of-Progress-Film/. We are currently trying to raise money to help complete the film. and we would like to know if you are interested in a news piece about the project or in sharing the trailer about the venerable Sovath http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzUg0ei5mbg. You can find out much more about the project and the venerable Sovath here http://blog.thecauseofprogress.com/.
វត្តគុហាគង្គា ហៅវត្តព្រះអង្គគុហ៍ ស្ថិតនៅក្នុងភូមិព្រែកសង្កែលិច ឃុំពាមកោះស្លា ស្រុកស្ទឹងត្រង់ ខេត្តកំពង់ចាម ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា
Wat Kuhea Kongkea a.k.a. Wat Preah Ang Kuh
Located in Prek Sangke Lech village, Peam Koh Slaa commune, Stung Trang district, Kampong Cham province, Cambodia.
The two would-be superpowers are using their Buddhist prestige to exert influence in Nepal, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.
New Delhi, India — As part of their growing competition for influence in Asia, China and India are using the Buddha as weapon: sponsoring conferences, financing religious sites, and displaying relics in countries where the religion is widely adhered to.
<< India donated a five-metre statue of the Buddha to the glittering Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, Myanmar [Reuters]
In December, India and Myanmar co-sponsored a three-day conference of Buddhist scholars at the Sitagu International Buddhist Academy in Yangon. India’s Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid joined Myanmar’s vice-president U Sai Mauk to inaugurate the conference, which brought together people from across southeast Asia.
“As the international community watches Myanmar with renewed interest, it is only apt that this important meeting of scholars – designed to provide us with a better understanding of the depth and global spread of Buddhist influences – is being organised in this golden land, Suvarnabhumi,” Khurshid said in his speech.
Khurshid also attended a ceremony to mark the unveiling of a five-metre statue of the Buddha in Yangon’s glittering Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar’s most revered Buddhist shrine. The statue had been announced by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during his visit to Myanmar in May.
Using the Buddha to culturally engage Myanmar makes sense, as nearly 90 percent of its people practice the religion. But India’s actions are also seen as a response to recent, similar Chinese moves.
In November 2011, China sent a Buddha tooth relic on a mobile display to several cities in Myanmar, including former capital Yangon and present capital Naypyidaw. This relic had been preserved in Beijing’s Lingguang Si Temple and it drew huge crowds of prayerful worshippers. The event was widely reported in Chinese media, and was followed by an agreement between the Lingguang Si Temple and Shwedagon Pagoda to promote religious ties between the two nations.
Myanmar is a growing focus of China-India competition. New Delhi is seeking to build roads, modernise ports and build dams to counter China’s already impressive array of infrastructure projects in the country.
India is trying to improve access to its remote northeastern region by modernising the Sittwe port in Myanmar’s troubled Rakhine state and dredging the Kaladan River that forms part of the border between Myanmar and India. Meanwhile, China is constructing a deep port at Kyaukpyu, also in Myanmar’s Rakhine state. It is also building an oil-gas pipeline from near the new port to China’s Yunnan Province to transport fuel from the Middle East, while avoiding the Malacca Straits between Malaysia and Indonesia, which Chinese strategists see as a choke point.
Diplomats say India can use its soft power in this jockeying for influence. “Buddhism in Asia is one of our greatest assets, a definite element in our soft power. And being home to the Dalai Lama, who is the acknowledged leader of a large section of the Buddhist community, gives us a major advantage,” said former Indian foreign secretary Krishnan Srinivasan.
Srinivasan said China now accepts Buddhism along with other religions, and is promoting its civilisational traditions abroad. “But it has a long way to go to match India,” he said, while conceding Beijing also “has far greater financial resources to deploy”.
China has projected its culture through the ever-increasing number of “Confucius centres” worldwide, but has lately turned to using Buddhism.
“This is not just a defensive move by Beijing to counter global criticisms of its policy in Tibet, where more and monks are self-immolating in protest against persecution,” international relations expert Sabyasachi Basu Roy Chaudhuri told Al Jazeera.
“It is also to play on religious and cultural feelings to connect to countries which are largely Buddhist. This is diplomatic pragmatism unexpected of a communist country but not unexpected of today’s China.”
Renovating Buddha’s birthplace
In Nepal, China is financing a $3bn project to develop Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, with a new airport, a connecting highway, hotels, convention centres, temples and a Buddhist university. In 2011, the Beijing-based Asia Pacific Exchange and Cooperation Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation to develop the project.
A few months after the China-financed Lumbini project was announced, India promptly organised a Global Buddhist Congregation through the Delhi-based Ashoka Mission. The congregation brought together top monks and nuns from across the world, and ended up endorsing the Dalai Lama, Beijing’s bete noire, as Buddhists’ global leader – emphasising India’s central role in preserving Buddhism’s ancient heritage.
The International Buddhist Confederation that emerged from this congregation, which envisaged a central role for the Dalai Lama, could act as a lever for India to counter China’s moves in the Buddhist world.
In fact, Beijing raised objections to the Dalai Lama’s participation in the Global Buddhist Congregation and was upset when Delhi refused to stop him from addressing its valedictory session. It angered Chinese officials enough that they delayed a round of border negotiations. The dialogue to settle the Sino-Indian border later resumed, but Beijing had made clear its displeasure.
Some see a long-term vision in the inception of the International Buddhist Confederation.
“This has been set up with much more strategic foresight than just a reaction to China’s action on Lumbini,” said China-watcher Binoda Mishra, head of the Calcutta-based Centre for Studies in International Relations and Development.
“It aims at nullifying Chinese future plans of securing the right to interfere in the selection of future Dalai Lamas, because Beijing wants to be the sole authority on the selection of [the] Dalai Lama in the future.”
Nepal is an important buffer between India and China, and New Delhi is as uncomfortable with Beijing’s growing influence there as in Myanmar.
In August, India took the “Kapilavastu Relics” to Sri Lanka, which had been preserved in the National Museum in New Delhi. The relics were taken around the island nation, drawing large number of Buddhists who prayed before them.
Growing Chinese influence in Sri Lanka is also worrying India.
Indian planners worry about a “strategic encirclement” by China, which has steadily improved relations with almost all of India’s neighbours: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar, a set some have called the Chinese “string of pearls”.
For its part, China is worried by India’s growing ties with countries such as Japan, Vietnam, Australia and others. Its strategists are concerned that the US is seeking to bring India together with these countries in order to contain China.
Beijing has asked New Delhi to back off from hydrocarbon exploration in the hotly disputed South China Sea.
With no end to the tension in site, Buddhism could well continue to be an important element of soft power that both India and China are likely to use in the years ahead to win hearts and minds across the vast continent.
But some wish the two Asian giants would work together rather than compete. “It would be good to see India and China act co-operatively to protect Asian religious heritage,” said former foreign secretary Srinivasan. “But that is still some way ahead for the future.” Courteys Al-Jazeera, 11 Jan 2013 by Subir Bhaumik
San Francisco, CA (USA) — According to thebuddhism.net news site, in an article dated January 10th, 2013, former US president Bill Clinton has hired his own personal Buddhist monk to teach him how to properly meditate.
Bill is learning to meditate and has reportedly turned to a vegan diet as well. All this change has apparently been influenced by his recent heart scare where in February 2004 when he was rushed to Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City because he started experiencing some awful chest pains.
At that time, he had to have two coronary stints put into his heart and a few months later, in September, he had to undergo quadruple bypass heart surgery. In 2010 he then had a clogged artery that the surgeons had to reopen which was his second heart operation in five years.
He says that learning meditation helps him to relax, which apparently stress is supposedly one of the biggest contributors to this heart condition. He travels a lot and his job is highly stressful, learning to meditate he learns to relax and says he is doing much better after his two life changing decisions.
He reportedly also has a favorite mantra that he loves to chant when things get hectic and says that is really does help him to relax and think more clearer. He used to eat a lot of fast food apparently according to the news reports, but now he has decided to give up all that and replace it with a lot of fruits and vegetables with the occasional fish! Outstanding I say, we need more govt. officials turning to healthy ways of life and Buddhist meditations to relax and maybe our country would start looking up.
As 2010 and 2011 taught us, Buddhist meditation and healthier diets are starting to make a trend with everyone. More and more people are seeing the benefits that come from a life of relaxing meditation and eating healthier and changing their lives.
From Tiger Woods to Steve Jobs (RIP) Buddhism is beginning to be seen in some very high places. It is true meditation has a lifetime of relaxation and peace as well as health with it. Everyone could benefit from the changes that Mr. Clinton has made, and good for him. Courtesty the Examiner, January 10, 2013 by Merlyn Seeley
Dharamsala, India — Sacrifice of life for Tibet. Under this scarlet red title, the giant poster displays photos of deceased Tibetans.
<< Dorjee Rinchen, 58, self-immolation in Labrang to protest of China’s occupation of Tibet – (Freetibet.org)
The poster was put up on a steep road in McLeod Ganj, a village on the slopes of Dharamsala, home of the Tibetan government in exile, in northern India. The street leads to the Tsuglakhang Buddhist temple, where exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, resides.
Their names are Lobsang Phuntsok, Tsewang Norbu, Sopa Rinpoche and Lobsang Jamyang. On the poster, their faces are encircled by flames, created with naïve yet gutsy computer effects. They are either monks wearing burgundy robes or youths in jeans. The date of their “sacrifice” is noted below their portraits. Since 2009, there have been 72 self-immolations, according to Tibetan website Phayul, which is based in Dharamsala. The large majority of the self-immolations happened in “Inner Tibet,” China’s western Qinghai province – an ethnically Tibetan region known as Amdo to the Tibetans.
During the Chinese Communist Party Congress that was held in November in Beijing, there were at least six new self-immolations.
Among the exiled Tibetans living in Dharamsala, this macabre chronicle is perceived with a mix of passion and pain. “It makes me sick, physically sick,” says Lobsang Yeshi, a monk from the temple of Kirti, in the Chinese Sichuan province. He fled Tibet 10 years ago, across Nepal and India, risking his life in the frozen passes of the Himalayas. His former monastery of Kirti was one of the epicenters of the tragedy. “The Chinese police beat up the crowds watching the immolations,” recalls his friend, Kanyag Tsering. Chinese authorities are so frustrated by the string of suicides that they are offering rewards for anyone willing to give out information on people who are planning to commit suicide by self-immolation. To no avail. Chinese state-run media is also doing its part by minimizing the political aspect of the suicides and giving them personal reasons.
Every single time, the “martyrs” leave a note explaining why they sacrificed their lives: They want “freedom for Tibet” and the “Dalai Lama’s return to Lhassa.” The Dailai Lama left the Chinese-ruled Tibetan capital for Dharamsala in 1959. That 72 Tibetans chose to set themselves alight to get their plea out to the world is interpreted by the Tibetan exiles in Dharamsala as the symbol of the profound crisis that is plaguing the Roof of the World, as Tibet is sometimes called.
“This is a desperate plea, which shows that the occupation and repression of Tibet by China is a failure,” says Lobsang Sangay, the new head of the Tibetan government in exile, who inherited the Dalai Lama’s status as political leader of the diaspora in 2011.
These acts are also seen as a way to raise public awareness about the Tibetan issue. “I believe these immolations are also addressed to Western governments, who are so busy doing business with China that they have forgotten about Tibet, and are legitimizing the Chinese system,” says Tenzin Tsundue. The Tibetan activist is famous for the red headband he wears to every anti-China demonstration in India.
What the sacred texts say
In Dharamsala, added to the suffering is the fact that suicide, which is a novel tool in the Tibetan struggle, betrays the sacred Buddhist principle of non-violence.
Chinese “Tibetologists” are only too happy to qualify these acts as being against the fundamental principles of Buddhism. This point of view is being relayed in Western countries as well, which profoundly irritates Dharamsala. “In the West, people are adhering to a clinical form Buddhism where almost everything is seen as violent,” says activist Tenzin Tsundue.
Dharamsala’s Tibetans tell the critics to read what the sacred texts of Buddhism have to say about suicide. In one story, for instance, Buddha gives up his body to feed a starving tigress and her four cubs.
It should be said that the Tibetan struggle hasn’t always been about extreme pacifism – as shown by the CIA-sponsored armed resistance against the Chinese occupation that started in the mid 1950s.
Karma Yeshi, a member of the Tibetan parliament in exile, is truly annoyed that Tibetans have to justify themselves: “What seems unethical to me is the people living in free countries who judge the act of committing suicide for Tibet.”
“It seems particularly unfair to analyze the act of suicide instead of analyzing the true message behind all this, which is that Tibetans are resisting oppression,” says Dorjee Tseden, head of Students for a Free Tibet India. Courtesy Le Monde/Worldcrunch, By Frédéric Bobin, Dec 7, 2013
Bihar, India — The spiritual leader of Tibet, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama inaugurated the three-day international Buddhist convention at Buddha Smriti Park in the heart of Patna on Saturday. Hundreds of delegates, mostly scholars of Buddhism and monks from across the world, were participated in the conference.
The 3-day International Buddhist conference held in at Buddha Smriti Park of Patna city on Saturday, January 5, in the presence of the spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Bihar – Shri Nitish Kumar and delegates from 17 countries.
Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee Chairperson, Bandana Preyashi welcomed His Holiness in the early afternoon at the gates of the Buddha Smriti Park and escorted him to the stage where the conference inaugural ceremonies held.
With the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by the spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chief Minister of Bihar state, with the chant of ‘Buddham Sharnam Gachchhami’ setting the tenor of the conclave for the three days.
Courtesy photo the Tibet Post International
His Holiness the Dalai Lama greeted the delegates, among them several senior and elderly monks from Buddhist countries such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Myanmar, India, Japan, Laos, Sri Lanka, Tibet, Thailand and Vietnam.
The Buddhist leader praised the Chief Minister’s enthusiasm not only for material development, but also for the inner values inherent in Bihar’s history and his efforts to transforming a former place of confinement into a symbol of liberation.
“We have now reached the twenty-first century. Time goes on naturally and no one can stop it.” he said, “We cannot change the past, but we can plan for the future. In terms of material and spiritual progress, science and technology have focused on material development, which is essential when so many remain materially deprived. However, along with material progress we also need to attend to our inner development,” said His Holiness.
“Thinking only of material development makes us insensitive to the problems of others. It gives rise to greed and deceit, which in many places is the reality today. Scientists and thinkers are concluding that one of the main causes of trouble in society is a lack of love and compassion. Therefore, one of our tasks is to raise awareness of the importance of compassion and pay more attention to promoting it. Although this is traditionally one of religion’s responsibilities, this is a responsibility we all have to shoulder as individuals. In the context of this conference, he said, we need to examine what contribution Buddhism can make to this.
“Since our religious traditions share a common goal, it is important that we encourage greater understanding and respect among them. I often express my admiration for the way different religious traditions, both indigenous and from abroad, have flourished side by side for centuries in this country. Inter-religious harmony has become an Indian cultural tradition that serves as an example to the rest of the world.”
The Nobel peace laureate also expressed satisfaction at the Chief Minister’s intention to make the Pataliputra Karuna Stupa a centre of learning. He pointed out that the Tripitaka, the three collections of Buddhist scriptures can be viewed as dealing with Buddhist science, philosophy and spiritual practice. While the spiritual practice sections are a matter for Buddhists, the science and philosophy, such as the explanation of impermanence and momentary change, may be of interest to anyone.
The Buddhist explanation of conventional and ultimate truth is evidence of a scientific approach to reality that can benefit all humanity, His Holiness told the crowd. “The creation of this stupa should not be seen as an opportunity to propagate Buddhism as such. We are not trying to convert others to Buddhism. But when a centre of learning has been established here, Buddhist science and philosophy can be among the subjects for academic study.”
In his keynote speech that lasted 30 minutes, Kumar said that Bihar was not only the land of over 11 crore Biharis but also belonged to millions of Buddhists spread across the world.
Bowing to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to seek his blessings, the Chief Minister said that when the Tibetan leader had come to Bihar previously, he had sought his blessings to give him strength to lead Bihar into prosperity. To this, Kumar said, His Holiness the Dalai Lama responded by saying that when Bihar already had the blessings of Buddha, there was no reason why Bihar would remain backward.
Appealing tp the visitors from 17 nations to help Bihar develop the proposed Buddhist circuit and also contribute in the rebuilding of Bihar, the Chief Minister said that the teachings of Lord Buddha were as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago and people would do themselves a favor by adopting the morals in the Buddhist faith.
Kumar said that the government would soon build a stupa in Vaishali, the ancient seat of the Lichchavis where Buddha delivered his last sermon before his death in 483 B.C. Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi and Art and Culture Minister Sukhda Pandey were among others who also spoke on the opening day of the convention.
The Buddhist Conclave highlighted the relevance of Buddhism in today’s age more than 2,000 years after the ancient Indian King Ashoka took it upon himself to spread the message of Lord Buddha. During the conference inaugural ceremonies, Ven Tenzin Priyadarshi, Convener of the Conference outlined the three main aims of the meeting:
1. To create a society of ideal persons striving for moral and spiritual perfection; 2. To create a vehicle through which knowledge, wisdom and understanding of how to live a good life could be spread through society from generation to generation; 3. To create a democratically governed society of well-disciplined members.
The convention is being organised by the committee in collaboration with the state art and culture department. The 22-acre Buddha Smriti Park in the heart of Patna was also inaugurated by His Holiness in 2010, chosen as the venue of the convention, since its Karuna stupa enshrines the holy relics of Lord Buddha, brought from Sri Lanka, Japan, Mayanmar, South Korea, Thailand and Tibet. Courtesy the Tibet Post International, 7 January 2013 by Yeshe Choesang
PATNA, India — The Dalai Lama will inaugurate a three-day International Buddhist Samagam (convention) here on January 5. The convention is expected to attract over 1500 delegates from various countries. It will be held at the Buddha Smriti Park in Patna which was inaugurated by the Nobel laureate in 2010 to mark the 2550 thMahaparinirvana of Buddha.
The delegates and Buddhist monks from China, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Japan and other countries will attend the convention which will conclude on January 7. They will deliberate on various aspects of the life and teachings of Buddha. Chief minister Nitish Kumar who on Sunday visited the park to see the preparations said, “A message of peace and harmony will be sent to the world from here.”
The convention is being organised by the Bodh Gaya Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee in collaboration with the state art and culture department.
The Dalai Lama will also install a statue of Buddha in the park between the two sacred plants of the Mahabodhi tree, one brought from Bodh Gaya and another from Anuradhapuram in Sri Lanka. Both the saplings had been planted by the Tibetan spiritual leader.
On January 4, the Dalai Lama will unveil a Buddha statue installed between the two sacred saplings of Bodhi tree, one brought from Bodh Gaya and another from Anuradhapuram in Sri Lanka. Both the saplings had been planted by the Lama while inaugurating the park in 2010. Nitish said the Dalai Lama will also go to CM’s residence 1, Anne Marg same day and sat there for prayers. This sapling was brought from Bodh Gaya and had been planted by the Buddhist monks.
The park also has a stupa which was named as Patliputra Karuna Stupa by the Dalai Lama where relics brought from six countries have been preserved. The believers come to meditate in this stupa and the government has planned to open a museum there to impart the visitors’ basic information about the Buddha and Buddhism. by Faizan Ahmad, TNN Dec 30, 2012
The Buddha said that it is the responsibility and duty of the community to look after the sick
Colombo, Sri Lanka — The Buddha encouraged his disciples to look after the sick. The Blessed One made this famous statement “He who attends the sick attends me,” when he discovered a desperately ill monk with an acute attack of dysentery, lying in his grubby robes. On this occasion the Buddha with the help of Ananda Thera washed and cleaned the sick monk with warm water. He said that it is the responsibility and duty of the community to look after the sick.
<< ‘He who tends to the sick tends to me’ – The Buddha
On many instances the Buddha tended to severely sick people and setting an example. Once when a monk was discovered with sores all over his body with pus oozing out from the sores, and abandoned by fellow monks, the Buddha boiled water and washed the monk with his own hands and cleaned and dried the robes. After listening to the Buddha’s sermon the monk attained Arhanthood and soon passed away.
The Buddha expounded the real qualities that should be present in a caregiver – competence to dispense the medicine, be thorough of what is agreeable and disagreeable to the patient and refraining from giving what is disagreeable. A caregiver should also be compassionate, kind and should not be repulsed by saliva, phlegm, urine, stools or sores. The caregiver should be able to stimulate the patients with good bedside manner.
When one is severely sick apart from providing proper food and medicine, it is important to take care of the mental conditions as well. As such kindness of doctors and nurses is as important as effective medicine to a speedy recovery. Thus kind words and acts are helpful in bringing in hopes and comfort to a helpless patient. Metta and Karuna are sublime emotions (brahamavihara).
Sickness is a period where one faces the realities of life and the fear of death is naturally greater when a person is sick than when one is feeling well. Diverting one’s attention to Dhamma is the best remedy of calming the fear and caregivers are expected to help patients to turn to spiritualism.The Buddha describes three types of patients in Anguttara Nikaya – those who do not recover whether they do get or do not get the proper medical attention and care; those who recover irrespective of whether or not they get medical attention and care and those who recover only with suitable medical treatment and care. However, as long as a patient is alive, everything possible should be done with best medical treatment available and suitable food and care for his or her recovery. In other Suttas too the Buddha has explained that illness is inevitable in life. In such instances people do whatever possible to restore good health. Though it is not incorrect to do so in such crisis those attempts should not disagree with the conscience of a person. Death might occur in spite of those attempts where one has to accept it with self-control and rational mind as a result of kamma.
The Buddha has showered the sick with great compassion and understanding. In the Dhammapada it is explained that health is the best benefit (Aarogya Parama Labha) and the Buddha has laid several minor disciplinary rules to adapt to the requirements of sick monks.The Buddha has used great will power and self-control when he fell ill. The Buddha when he fell ill last had courage to walk from Pava to Kusinara with Ananda Thera, while resting in a number of places. One spiritually developed should be capable of maintaining good mental health proportionate to his spiritual development.
Recitation of the enlightenment factors (Bojjhanga) is useful in healing physical ailments. When Mahakassapa and Mahamoggalllana were sick, the Buddha recited the enlightenment factors and they had regained good health. It is reported in Bojjhanga Samyutta that when the Buddha was ill, he requested Cunda to recite the enlightenment factors and Buddha regained good health.
When monk Girimananda was ill, the Buddha informed Ananda Thera that he might recover if a discourse on ten perceptions (Dasa sanna) is delivered to him. The ten perceptions are on the impermanence, egoless ness, impurity of the body, evil consequences (of bodily existence), elimination (of sensual pleasures), detachment, cessation, disenchantment with the entire world, and impermanence of all component things and mindfulness of breathing. Ananda Thera learnt the discourse from the Buddha and repeated it for Girimananda Thera and it was stated that he recovered as well.
The Buddha recommended that a monk should not loose his energy and determination for spiritual progress even when he is ill. When one is sick it might deteriorate, but before that happens, care should be taken to advance spirituality as much as possible. In the process of recovery too one should not be careless, because chances of relapse might reduce the chances of gaining higher spiritual attainments.
Joy and satisfaction
When one is reminded of the spiritual qualities that he has already acquired, it helps to create great joy in the mind. Such joy helps to the point it can even alter body chemistry in a positive and healthy manner. It is mentioned in Papancasudani that a monk had been bitten by a snake while he was listening to Dhamma. However, he ignored the snakebite and continued to listen and the venom spread and the pain had become acute. He had then reflected on the purity of his Sila from the time of his higher ordination. A great joy and satisfaction had arisen within him at that moment. The psychological change had acted as anti-venom and he was immediately cured.
It is mentioned in Papancasudani that a monk had been bitten by a snake while he was listening to Dhamma. However, he ignored the snakebite and continued to listen and the venom spread and the pain had become acute. He had then reflected on the purity of his Sila from the time of his higher ordination. A great joy and satisfaction had arisen within him at that moment. The psychological change had acted as anti-venom and he was immediately cured.
It is clear from this incident that health promoting factors become activated in the body through the secretion of health restoring hormones, when one dwells on his or her own spiritual qualities at times of serious illness. The Pali Canon describes elaborately on counseling the terminally ill. Talking about death to a terminally ill patient is not avoided as an obnoxious topic. Instead the reality of death is accepted to enable the patient to face the situation with confidence and tranquility.
Once Mahanama, the Sakyan inquired from the Buddha as to how a wise layman should advise another wise layman who is terminally ill. It is explained in Sotapattisamyutta that the Buddha delivered a whole discourse; firstly the wise layman should comfort a wise layman who is terminally ill with the four assurances; “be comforted friend, you have unshakable confidence in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, that the Buddha is fully enlightened, the Dhamma is well proclaimed and the Sangha is well disciplined. You have also cultivated perfect virtuous conduct which is helpful to concentration.
As one comforts the patient with these four assurances, he should ask the sick whether he has any longing for his parents. If they do, it should be pointed out that death will certainly come whether he has longing for his parents or not – therefore, it is better to give up the longing. Likewise he should be asked whether he has longing for other relatives and then pleasures of the senses. He should be convinced that divine pleasures are superior to human pleasures. He should be diverted to the Brahma world. If one may establish his mind on the cessation of the rebirth personality, then the Buddha says there is no difference between him and the monk who is liberated.
An interesting episode of the death of a spiritually advanced learned lay disciple is explained in Cittasamyutta. Citta the householder was an Anagamin. When he fell critically ill, a group of sylvan deities invited Citta to set his mind on becoming a universal monarch or Cakkavattiraia. However, he refused this invitation saying that too is impermanent. While lying on his death-bed amidst his relatives who had assembled round him, he reiterated the importance of cultivating faith on the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and on the importance of charity. He then passed away.
An unscrupulous tax collector, Brahmin Dhananjani exploited both the king and the public. Once Arhant Sariputta met him and exhorted him on the evil consequences of an unrighteous life. When he was seriously ill, Arhant Sariputta was called upon to his bedside. Dhanjani said that he was having an unbearable headache. Arhant Sariputta engaged Dhananjani’s attention from lower to higher realms of existence as far as the Brahma world. Then the Arhant explained the path leading to the attainment of the Brahma world through the full development of the brahmaviharas – loving kindness, compassion, unselfish joy and equanimity to spread all over the quarters.
At the end of the discourse Dhananjani requested the Arhant Sariputta to convey his respect to the Buddha. Soon after Dhananjani passed away and was born in the Brahma world. This sutra explains that even a person who had been leading unscrupulous life could be guided to a better rebirth by counseling during the crucial period just prior to death. But it is doubtful whether every evil doer could be thus guided towards rebirth in a happy realm. Perhaps the good qualities of Dhananjani outweighed his evil deeds that helped to lead him to be reborn in a happy state through counsel offered by a noble Arhant at the hour of death.
An important feature of the discourse of Arhant Sariputta was that he started from the lowest state of existence and proceeded upwards as far as Brahma world. He would have started from hell because Dhananjani had deteriorated to that state. Arhant Sariputta would have helped Dhananjani to reminisce his good deeds in the past to draw his attention to a relevant discourse a few days prior to his illness. Dhananjani would have been benefited through the last minute counseling by bringing back the spiritual potential hidden in him.
This is somewhat similar to the episode of young Mattakundali who was greatly pleased and generated much faith when Buddha appeared at his deathbed and was reborn in a celestial realm. In the Sotapattisamyutta it is explained how great fear of death and nervousness arise in a person who has had no faith in the noble qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and led an immoral life, at the threshold of his or her death. But a person who has deep steady faith in the noble qualities of the Triple Gem and has had led a pure life, such fear do not arise when face with death. It is the guilty conscience which causes much anguish at the moment of death. When one is in fear and anxiety at this crucial moment, rebirth must take place in a sphere that is proportionate and matching to that.
The Buddha has said that a person who has cultivated moral virtues and led a righteous life need not give thought to fears. The Exalted One said; “If a pot of ghee is broken after being flooded in water, the potsherds will sink to the riverbed, but the ghee will rise to the surface. Similarly, the body will disintegrate, but the cultured mind will rise up like the ghee.”
In Sankharuppatti, Kukkurayatika and Tevijja Suttas it is explained that rebirth usually depends on the thoughts that occur during a lifetime. If one contemplates on thoughts and qualities that are suitable for an animal, as given in the Kukkuraytika Sutta, then it is likely that one will be reborn among those animals that have similar characteristics. Those who have cultivated sublime emotions such as universal love and compassion have good chances of being reborn among the Brahmas.
Therefore, preparation for death really has to be done while living. Having faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and cultivation of moral habits is indeed a prerequisite for attaining higher rebirth. Though becoming deficient in virtue is a hindrance at the hour of death to reach a higher level, the Buddhist custom is to invite a monk to the bedside of a terminally ill patient with the hope that the chanting of certain protective Suttas will help the patient to develop faith and elevate his thoughts to a higher plane of spirituality.
A question may arise as to how spiritual guidance could be effective if the terminally ill patient is unconscious. The doctors and onlookers might conclude that the patient is unconscious because he does not respond to his surroundings. The five faculties may have become partly or completely defunct, but nobody can be certain whether or not his mental faculty is active. It is quite likely that the mental faculty is most active at this crucial hour. This is the time one has the most violent mental struggle yearning for life with the firm habitual resistance and protest against death. Our imaginations that yearn for life are greatest when the fear of death is greater. If one has strong spiritual growth, he may face the inevitability of death with relative calm, contentment and satisfaction. A person’s rebirth corresponds with his spiritual potential and this is called kamma.
When we visit a terminally ill patient, our normal attitude is to feel sad, but according to Buddhism it is wrong to have negative thoughts at such moments. If we radiate thoughts of metta, loving kindness to him, it would be helpful to the terminally ill patient as the dying person’s mind maybe working at this crucial hour. It is possible that the person’s mind will be sensitive and receptive to the spiritual thought waves of those around him. If negative thought waves are generated by grief and lamentation, then the dying person maybe adversely affected. But if gentle thoughts of love and kindness are extended, such thoughts may serve as a subtle mental balm that relieves distress and anxiety at the moment of death.
by Manjari Peiris, The Nation, 30 December 2012
Posted on: January 2, 2013 10:00 pm
MEDITATION DOCUMENTARY 2016
BUDDHIST MEDITATION CENTER
Videos and Photos of Vipassana classes at our Peace Meditation Center - Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam in Leverett, Massachusetts, USA
A Dhamma Talk on Vipassana and mindfulness meditation by Vipassana Gossalaya Jotannano Hong Keo, Vipassana Buddhist Master during a 10-Day Meditation & Vipassana Retreats at the Buddhist Meditation Center, Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam on the 11th Waxing Moon – 7th Waning Moon of Jeṭṭha B.E.2560 equivalent to June 15 – 26, A.D.2016 in Leverett, Massachusetts, U.S.A. in 2016.
ក្រុងសាវត្ថី Sāvatthī or Śrāvastī
Vipassana chanting by Meditation Master Ketodhammo Som Bunthoeun. Footages from 2016 Vipassana classes at the Buddhist Meditation Center – Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam in Leverett, Massachusetts, USA.
SAMDECH CHUON NATH
Khmer literature and Dhamma talk by His Holiness Jotannano Chuon Nath, the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia Buddhism. His Holiness was born on March 11, 1883; passed away on September 25, 1969
MAHA GHOSANANDA SERVICES
Extraordinary Funeral and Memorial Services for His Holiness Samdech Dr. Maha Ghosananda