New Delhi, India — On March 19, an unusual event happened in Delhi. The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama met with a delegation of Sri Lankan Theros (senior monks), to discuss about Vinaya, the Buddhist monastic discipline. It is a rather rare occurrence, as the followers of the Buddha rarely ‘exchange’ their views on their respective interpretations of the Buddha’s words.
The Dalai Lama told his Sri Lankan colleagues:
“We are all followers of the same Buddha. At a time when scientific minded people are expressing some doubts about religion, many of them are expressing an interest in aspects of the Buddha’s teachings.”
The Tibetan leader added:
“To think of yourself as different from them, as someone special, is to create distance and a barrier between yourself and others, which can lead to isolation and loneliness.”
Unfortunately this is what has happened between the different Buddhist schools over the years (or perhaps centuries). The Sri Lankan monks who attended the meet, were the heads of the three principal traditions of Sri Lanka: the Ramanya, Shiyam and Amarapura Nikayas; the President of the Mahabodhi Society was also present. The spokesman of the Sri Lankans later explained their presence in Delhi:
“We discussed the Vinaya all day. We compared the Theravada and Mulasarvastivada traditions, which are the Vinaya traditions of Sri Lanka and Tibet respectively, and found no significant differences between them.”
During their meeting with the Dalai Lama, the Theros expressed the unanimous wish to see him in Sri Lanka soon.
This religious happening has however some strong political connotation and it is a direct outcome of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Sri Lanka.
In Colombo, Mr. Modi affirmed:
“Sri Lanka is where Buddhism has truly flourished.”
Later, he paid a visit to Sri Lanka’s ancient capital Anuradhapura and offered prayers at the sacred Mahabodhi tree. It was a strong gesture, especially as he was accompanied by the Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena. Both spent 30 minutes at the Mahabodhi tree temple and performed some special Buddhist rituals.
Already during his official visit to Japan, the Prime Minister had reminded his hosts:
“Buddhism from India has inspired Japan for over a millennium.”
This is important at a time when China tries hard to take the leadership of the Buddhism movement in Asia.
On October 27, 2014, The Buddhist Channel, a global news platform which provides news on Buddhism, reported ‘China lays claims to Leadership of the Buddhist World’.
“Hundreds of the world’s Buddhists gathered at an ancient temple in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province to open the World Fellowship of Buddhists’ 27th general conference. Congregating around a relic said to contain one of the Buddha’s finger bones at the Famen Temple in Baoji City, more than 600 representatives from 30 nations and regions were in attendance.”
When it is convenient, Communist China believes in the Buddha (and in the reincarnation of Buddhist masters); already in 1957, on the occasion of the 2500th anniversary of Gautam Siddharth’s birth, Zhou Enlai, the Chinese Premier (and hardcore Communist), brought ‘back to India’ some relics of the Great Monk.
Dr Kalinga Seneviratne, who, in October, attended the WFB in Shaanxi on behalf of the German Dharmadutta Society delegation from Sri Lanka, praised China:
“Though not officially acknowledged, China is today home to between 200-300 million Buddhists thus making it the country with the world’s largest Buddhist population. The restored grand Buddhist temples in Baoji and in close by Xian, and the impressive Buddhist cultural display at the opening ceremony of the WFB meeting if is anything to go by, it indicates that Chinese Buddhism has undergone a remarkable revival.”
Beijing always finds sycophants to support its claims and eulogise China’s ‘correct’ attitude.
The highlight of the conference was the speech of the Chinese-selected Panchen Lama, Gyalsten Norbu who urged Buddhists worldwide to jointly strive for deepened exchange and cooperation and work together to boost environmental protection and safeguard world peace. Norbu told the international gathering:
“Buddhism has already integrated into the Chinese culture and it is recognised by the Chinese government. For over thousand years Tibetan Buddhism has become the precious gem of the Chinese nation.”
Of course, there is another side to the coin: while Buddhism is promoted for ‘political reasons’ outside China, it is banned for entire sections of the society inside the country.
One can understand: 200 or 300 million ‘official’ Buddhists could be very subversive for the regime. Today, the membership of the Communist party is a small percentage of these figures, how could Buddha be more popular than Karl Marx in the Middle Kingdom?
Till the recent meet between the Sri Lankan monks and the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan Buddhist tradition (known as the Nalanda tradition) has had very few contacts with the Theravada School or Hinayana, which is prevalent in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand or Laos. It is quite regrettable.
For political reasons (Beijing’s pressure), the Dalai Lama has never been able to visit Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar or even Bangladesh where a tiny Buddhist minority lives.
Sri Lanka’s Modi initiative is most welcome; the time has indeed come for Dharamsala to create a South Asian Bureau for Buddhists Affairs to facilitate a Buddhist Union. A delegation of respected (Tibetan or Indian) Buddhist figures should at the earliest visit the South Asian capitals and start establishing contacts with local Buddhists.
With the strong support of the Modi Sarkar, it should not be impossible.
In this perspective, it was refreshing that New Delhi took the initiative to host a dialogue between Theravada Theros and Tibetan/Himalayan monks of Nalanda tradition on some aspects of the Vinaya. It was a first exchange since decades.
The Vinaya dialogue was organised by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC). It was a long way since November 2011, when before the Global Buddhist Congregation (GBC), organised by the Ashoka Mission in New Delhi (with an attendance of some 900 monks and nuns from over 40 countries), Beijing objected to the presence of the Dalai Lama in one of the functions. After China threatened to call off the 15th round of the border talks between the Special Representatives, the then Indian government backed out: both the Prime Minister and President were suddenly too ‘busy’.
Interestingly, the Sri Lankan and ‘Nalanda’ delegations informally met over tea at the residence of Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, a native of Arunachal Pradesh. The most respected Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, a former prime minister of the Central Tibetan Organisation was present for the occasion.
This current dialogue should definitely be extended to other Buddhist countries of the region.
And there is no reason why a country which treats its religious minorities so badly, should take the leadership of the Buddhist movement in Asia. The problem is that Beijing has a lot of money to invest in ‘soft’ diplomacy and many are tempted.
Tail End: It is regrettable that Amartya Sen could not understand that it was one of roles of the Nalanda University to organise such fruitful dialogues. Courtesy the Buddhist Channel, by Claude Arpi, Niti Central, March 23, 2015
In Buddhism one of the ‘Three Characteristics’ is No-Self (the other two are impermanence and suffering which are closely associated with this). This refers to the illusion of reality having a permanent and separate self.
There is this notion that there is a permanent “I” or “me,” which is a separate entity that can be found. The obvious assumption of we are our body sounds good until we look at it and say “this is my body,” which implies at that moment that whatever owns the body wasn’t the body. The observer and the observed; duality denies our body being what we are. It is also in a state of impermanence, and at a sensate level it is made up of energy flickering at a similar rate to reality.
Perhaps thoughts are the “I.” They may seem more like the true “me” than the body does. But they come and go and are changing constantly too, as well as the majority of them not being under our control at all. They too aren’t something solid enough to assume they are the “I.” The ego is a process of identification with reality (physical and mental phenomena), not a thing in and of itself; it is like a bad habit. Not being a thing, it cannot be destroyed as some people say, but by understanding our bare experience, our mind, the process of identification can stop.
There is also something frequently called the “watcher” or “observer,” which is observing all of these phenomena. Strangely, the watcher can’t be found either, as it seems to sometimes be our eyes, sometimes not; sometimes it’s images in our head; sometimes it seems to be our body and sometimes it’s watching the body. It seems odd that this watcher to which all of this is being perceived by, which seems separate from reality and which seems in control of “us” is constantly changing and completely unfindable.
One of the biggest clues in solving this mystery is that if we are observing it, then by definition it isn’t us. Reality is made up entirely of sensations, and to begin to unravel this mystery is to begin to awaken. Reality with a sense of a separate watcher is a delusion. So who or what is it that awakens?
In short, it’s all of this transience that awakens! Here’s an explanation, keep in mind this is an attempt at summarising something quite complicated.
No-Self teachings directly counter the sense that there is a separate watcher, and that this watcher is “us” that is in control, observing reality or subject to the tribulations of the world. These teachings stop the process of mentally creating the illusion of a separate self from sensations that are inherently non-dual and utterly transient.
There are physical phenomena (everything we perceive with our senses) and mental phenomena (thoughts, feelings, emotions). These are just phenomena, and all phenomena aren’t a permanent, separate self as they are completely impermanent and are intimately interdependent. These phenomena arise and pass as we venture through reality, i.e. the sound of a bird singing comes into existence and then dissipates.
There is also awareness of these phenomena, but awareness is not a thing or localised in a particular place, so to even say “there is awareness” is already a large problem, as it implies separateness and existence of it where none can be found. Awareness is permanent and unchanging, and it is said that all things arise from it, and all things return to it. It could be called God, Nirvana, The Tao, Allah, the present moment, the Buddha nature or just awareness.
While phenomena are in flux from their arising to their passing, there is awareness of them. Thus, awareness is not these phenomena, as it is not a thing, nor is it separate from these objects, as there would be no experience if this were so.
True-Self teachings point out that we actually are all these phenomena, rather than them being seen as observed. As phenomena are observed, they can’t possibly be the observer. Thus, the observer, which is awareness, cannot possibly be a phenomenon and thus is not localised and therefore doesn’t exist. Duality implies something on both sides: an observer and an observed. However, there is no phenomenal observer, so duality doesn’t hold up under careful investigation. When the illusion of duality permanently collapses in awakening, in direct experience, all that is left is these phenomena, which is the True Self.
There’s a great little Buddhist poem by Kalu Rinpoche that sums all this up:
We live in illusion and the appearance of things.
There is a reality, we are that reality.
When you understand this, you will see “you” are nothing.
And, being nothing, you are everything.
By AshishWK Mar 15, 2015
Bills Could Allow Fraud, Manipulation of Elections
<<Laws like these limiting freedom of expression, association, and assembly will make it likely that any future Cambodian election is undemocratic. It’s hardly surprising that the CPP proposed these provisions, but the CNRP shares the blame for agreeing to criminalize and censor speech and limit the public’s right to hold campaign rallies, Brad Adams, Asia director>>
New York – Cambodia’s draft election laws violate basic human rights and democratic norms and should be substantially revised before being presented to the National Assembly for a vote, Human Rights Watch said today. The ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) proposed rights-violating provisions on the staging of elections and the National Election Committee (NEC), which were agreed to by the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP). The National Assembly is scheduled to begin discussion of the bills on March 19, 2015.
“Laws like these limiting freedom of expression, association, and assembly will make it likely that any future Cambodian election is undemocratic,” said Brad Adams, Asia director. “It’s hardly surprising that the CPP proposed these provisions, but the CNRP shares the blame for agreeing to criminalize and censor speech and limit the public’s right to hold campaign rallies.”
The draft laws threaten human rights and will restrict the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly during election campaigns by:
•Criminalizing activists through vague legal provisions prohibiting “insults”;
•Shortening the campaign and procession periods;
•Allowing security force members to act in a partisan and intimidating manner;
•Allowing the disqualification of parties on trivial, trumped-up, or misrepresented grounds, including by punishing entire parties for offenses by individual members;
•Preventing parties from using political boycotts to protest election fraud and other irregularities;
•Allowing political control of NEC operations through back-door administrative means; and
•Using the pretext of having dual citizenship to exclude a particular person from committee membership.
The proposed laws were drafted without public consultation by the two parties rather than through transparent discussions with the participation of civil society and the general public.
Article 84 of the draft election law uses vague language to limit the role of nongovernmental organizations in election monitoring and other election-related activities by criminalizing undefined “insults,” including standard political speech. The article could also easily be interpreted to determine that Cambodian election monitoring groups violate the requirement of neutrality by criticizing the actions of the CPP, army, police, gendarmerie, courts, or other CPP-controlled institutions that act in a biased manner or commit election-related or other violations.
“Given the CPP’s long history of using the courts to target critics, this law could be used against organizations that conduct a poll that says the opposition is leading, criticize the CPP’s election activities in the media, or make public criticism of the government,” said Adams. “Article 84 needs to be removed or the new election law will be a tool for repression instead of democracy.”
The draft law also limits the number of public processions during the 21-day campaign period to four per political party. This requirement is an unreasonable limitation on the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.
“Campaign marches are one of the most basic elements of a democratic election,” Adams said. “If the two largest parties want to limit their marches, that’s their choice, but they shouldn’t be able to restrict the free speech rights of other parties and their members.”
The draft laws fail to establish a genuinely independent NEC capable of preventing election fraud and otherwise ensuring free and fair elections. The CPP has stated that it should be able to control the appointment process of NEC members through its majority in the standing committee of the National Assembly, that its appointee should be the chair of the NEC, and that the secretary-general of the NEC should remain a CPP appointee. The draft NEC law empowers the government to adopt regulations (sub-decrees) for the conduct of elections, thereby giving it the ability to go around NEC authority when necessary.
The CNRP has stated that it expects the proposed laws to neutralize the political control of the CPP over the electoral machinery so that future elections will be free and fair. It has claimed that the appointment of one independent NEC member will block the NEC from acting in a partisan manner in favor of the CPP. However, these laws provide no mechanism to ensure the appointment of an independent person to the NEC. The CNRP said that under a new NEC, voter rolls will no longer be susceptible to widespread fraud because of the use of biometrics, but this is not established in the law.
“Nothing in the draft laws will prevent the CPP from manipulating the electoral machinery in the next election any less than during the fundamentally flawed 2013 election,” Adams said. “The CNRP claims to be committed to internationally recognized human rights standards, yet it is backing laws that allow the ruling party to continue to disenfranchise large numbers of voters, allow fake votes, and distort election results.” March 16, 2015. Courtesy HRW
Letter of the Khmer Kampuchea Krom Community (KKC) to the Prime Minister of the French Republic
Lettre de la Communauté Khmer Kampuchea Krom (KKC) au Premier Ministre de la République Française
Mr. Thach Setha and Mr. Sean Pengse inspecting map firstly cartographed (drawn) by the French explorers that researched and collected from A.N.O.M. or National Archives of French Overseas Territories by KKC & KYAD delegation in February B.E.2558 A.D.2015 in Aix-En-Provence, France.
Posted on: March 4, 2015 9:59 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