Thursday, July 31, 2014

Buddhism in Uganda

A while back I was curious to see whether there is a Buddhist following in Africa. My search led me to the Uganda Buddhist Centre, located near the capital of Kampala. UBC was founded in 2005 by Ven. Buddharakkhita, a monk who has been ordained in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Being the first and only Buddhist center in Uganda, there are many reasons why UBC is special, but another is that the nun at the center and Uganda's first Buddhist, Dhammakami, is the mother of Buddharakkhita, ordained by the Venerable himself.

I hope you enjoy listening to the Venerable's life story and spiritual journey. The last video is a slide show recounting Ven. Buddharakkhita's experience as a monk living in a tent and teaching Dharma from a mobile temple, and the series of events that led to the building of the UBC in 2007.

May all beings be happy!





Saturday, March 29, 2014

10 things that surprised me most about Buddhism

After first encountering basic Buddhist concepts and then learning more and more about them, I often found myself surprised, even awed, by what I learned. I don't know if it the Western 'pop-culture' view or my own Judeo-Christian background were the sources of my initial views of Buddhism, but the more I learned, the more I realized how much my initial impressions of Buddhist ideology differed greatly from the actual teachings and culture. I also remember some of my fellow Buddhists (who grew up in Southeast Asia, and had been born into a Buddhist culture) being surprised when they learned that I did not initially know some of these things about Buddhism (especially numbers 9 and 10), but were understanding about my lack of knowledge once I told them where I was coming from.

Here is my 'top ten' list of the things that surprised me most about Buddhism, from the mundane (and perhaps even silly) to the profound:

1. Many Buddhists are not vegetarians.
2. To be Buddhist, one doesn't have to renounce all one's material belongings (or shave your head!).
3. Buddhists are not necessarily pacifists.
4. Many Buddhists do not meditate regularly- in lotus position no less!
5. 'Fat Buddha' is different from Shakyamuni (i.e. the historical) Buddha.
6. Buddhism has a tradition, even a foundation, of questioning and challenging beliefs.
7. Buddhism and science can harmoniously coexist.
8. Buddhism is not possessive, anyone can incorporate Buddhist principles into their life without 'becoming' Buddhist. 
9. Buddha was not a god, but a mortal human being who suffered as we do. The difference was that he found the way to end this suffering.
10. Buddhism is 'equal opportunity'. Every being in the universe has Buddha-nature, or the potential to become a Buddha. 

If you are a 'new' Buddhist like me, were you surprised by any of these characteristics of Buddhism? Do you have any to add? I would love to hear your thoughts!

*****
May all beings be happy!

Friday, March 28, 2014

In need of renewal

Maybe it's the fact that I am tired, stressed, that I have a sinus infection, or that I have been really worried about a loved one recently- but I feel old.

In years, I know I'm not, but my body, my mind, my soul all just feel really, really tired.

But I am over denying this feeling and trying to push through it. I decided today that I need to go on a journey of renewal, and to be gentle but firm in my resolution to return to my stronger, more vital self.

I have become more adjusted to the fact that life is hard- and that it isn't going to get any easier. But I also know that just because life is hard does not mean that it has to be filled with sorrow and dread. 

Regardless, I need my faith and loved ones more than ever, and hope that I can spend more of my waking hours in mindfulness, grateful for the opportunities I have been given.

I also wish that others will find the peace that I wish for myself.

*****
May all beings be happy!