Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Buddhism in the news, May 2012

The following is something I would like to start doing regularly, and that is writing summaries of events centered around Buddhism that are happening around the world, along with news of prominent Buddhists and everyday laypeople. In addition to selecting interesting articles, I will also try to choose pieces that discuss pervasive human problems and how people are trying to solve them in the context of Buddhism. Buddhism is an ancient religion, but it is also very much alive and relevant today. By writing these posts, I hope to show how very true that is.  

The first few articles in this month's post are from February 2012 onwards, the rest having been written in May 2012. I am certain that I have probably not included all important events, but I think the articles below are a good sampling of current Buddhist happenings around the world. I welcome you to browse the linked articles below and read what interests you most. Enjoy!

1. 35 Hindu and Buddhist statues in Maldives destroyed by extremist group A story from February describing the destruction of priceless Buddhist and Hindu artifacts in a Maldives museum. The article is from The Buddhist Channel.

2. Mindful eating as food for thought A February article from the New York Times about mindful eating practices. The article is accompanied by a slide show.

3. South Korea: Ven. Pomnyun's work for the humanitarian crisis in North Korea An April New York Times article recounting how Ven. Pomnyun first came face to face with the suffering in North Korea, and what he is doing now to help alleviate it. This article also discusses the criticism the Venerable has encountered because of his activism.

4. Lama Lobtsul of the Palri Pema Od Ling Tibetan Buddhist Temple in Austin, TX An account of the duties of Tibetan Buddhist Lama Lobtsul at this temple that houses a rare statue of Guru Rinpoche. The article also gives an account of Lama Lobtsul's life as he was growing up, and how he would practice his faith in secret because of the political situation in China at the time. The article is from the New York Times.

5. South Korea: monks resign after poker scandal Monks behaving badly! Some Buddhist monks in South Korea were caught on video tape gambling, smoking, and drinking alcohol. There will no doubt be follow-ups to this article as the story unfolds.

6. Wesak celebrations in Kuantan, Malaysia This article about a Wesak celebration in Malaysia mentions the name of a blessed Venerable, Ven. Sik Ji Xing, whom I have had the pleasure to meet in person during my grad years at Purdue University. This article is from the Malaysian newspaper, The Star.

7. Stupa and Buddha statue discovered in Uppugundur, A.P., India A really interesting archeological find in Andhra Pradesh, India, the state where my husband is from. Article is from the Indian newspaper, The Hindu.

8. Dalai Lama alleges there is a Chinese plot to assassinate him The the Dalai Lama's account of an assassination plot devised by the Chinese government, and the reaction from Chinese officials. Article is from The Telegraph.

9. Dalai Lama receives $1.7 million from prestigious Templeton Prize, donates to charity An article from BBC detailing the fourteenth Dalai Lama's donation of the entire $1.7 million USD awarded by the Templeton Prize to Save the Children in India and the Minds and Life Institute.

10. Buddhist encyclopedia published in city of Elista, Kalmykia, Russia Article from the Indian newspaper, The Hindu about a Buddhist encyclopedia funded by the Indian Embassy in the Kalmykia region of Russia. It seems that numerous temples have been built in predominately Buddhist regions of Buryatia, Kalmykia, and Tuva. Tuva is also home to the largest Buddha statue in Russia. Who knew?!

11. Islamic design rules imposed on all buildings, including Kelantan Buddhist Association building in Kelantan, Malaysia Controversial building codes are imposed on every business and public organization in the northern state of Kelantan, Malaysia. This article is from the Indonesian newspaper, The Jakarta Post.

12. Opinion response to imposed rules on buildings in Kelantan, Malaysia Response to imposed building codes in the Malaysian newspaper 'The Star'

13. Sri Lankan Buddhist monk visits Mesa, Arizona Press release of Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Dhammagavesi's visit to the Arizona International Buddhist Meditation Center.

14. Video: Novice monks in Seoul, South Korea play soccer to celebrate the Buddha's birthday Endearing Reuters video of young South Korean novice monks playing soccer together during Wesak.

15. NGO alleges Buddhist heritage sites in North India are in a state of neglect It seems that important Buddhist sites in the north Indian states of Bihar, Punjab, Rajastan, and Uttar Pradesh have been underfunded and otherwise mismanaged, and thus have fallen into disrepair. This article from The Hindu also mentions that Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment, needs attention as well.

16. Europe's biggest Buddhist temple to open near Paris UPI reports that this $20 million temple and cultural center will open on June 22nd at Bussey-Saint-Georges, and will have space for 1000 worshippers. The temple also includes 40 bedrooms for people on spiritual retreats, extra rooms for activities such as calligraphy, and a vegetarian restaurant. Oh, and a 16 foot, 8 ton statue of the Buddha, carved from white jade which originated from a mountain in Myanmar!

As always, please share your thoughts about whatever interested you most in the comments. Also please let me know if I missed something important this month by providing the title of the article. I will google it and include it here, with credit to you! :) Finally, if you are reading this at a later date, please inform me of any dead links, since some newspapers only post articles for a short time before archiving them. Thank you so much!

May all beings be happy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

It is indeed a beautiful Memorial Day here on the east coast, as people gather for family picnics, barbecues, and patriotic parades. But for some this day has a shadow cast over it, as they remember the loss of someone very dear to them. Someone who died defending our country, and defending the rights and privileges that we as Americans (and indeed human beings) hold dear- and often take for granted. 

So please spend a few moments today remembering those selfless enough to subject themselves to the harshness and peril of war, so that we could live our daily lives in peace.   

I recently came across a great blog called the Buddhist Military Sangha, which I think does a great service in revealing a sector of society that would otherwise be completely unknown and overlooked- Buddhists in the US military! The author of the blog, Shaku Yuinen, is also an ordained Buddhist priest, and serves as a chaplain in the US Navy. Among her interesting posts is an article about Thomas Dyer, who went from being a Southern Baptist pastor to the first Buddhist chaplain in the US Army! This post recounts Dyer's journey, from his discovery of Buddhism in 2003 through his 2010 Iraq deployment. He discusses his experience as a chaplain there, and his transformation from being viewed as an anomaly to a valued asset. For a very interesting read about Thomas Dyer's journey please click through to Shaku Yuinen's article here

I hope you enjoyed this post- please share your thoughts in the comments below. And have a great (and reverent) Memorial Day! 

May all beings be happy!  

Thanks for your kindness and wisdom!

Recently I posted about my recent struggles after finishing my degree in plant biology. I just wanted to mention that the outpouring of encouragement in response to that post was truly inspiring to me. I thank all my readers, especially those of you who took the time to bless me with your wisdom, advice, and encouragement. I feel truly honored.

Here is a picture I took with all of you in mind, to say thank you. It is a newly blossomed Magnolia flower, glowing with soft white light in the late afternoon sun. I hope you enjoy it. 

With Love and Metta,


As you can imagine, I am still dealing with feelings of uncertainty, and probably will for the foreseeable future. Soon I hope to organize and plan for a mini stay-at-home 'retreat', where I can perhaps quiet my mind through meditation, and practicing patience and self-awareness. I know in my heart that I need this time for reflection. Thanks for your support, and again for your great advice to slow down, let go, and bring myself back to the present moment. I think this mini-retreat, along with your wise advice and kind words, will be the beginning of the next new path in my life :) Thank you!  

May all beings be happy!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Struggling and lost . . . for now

These days I am struggling. 

There are so many things I want to do with my life, and since finishing my degree last month, I finally have the time (and freedom) to do them! 

Most of all I would like to . . .
Get a job teaching college students Plant Biology and Biology, strengthen my meditation practice, strengthen my body through fitness, and write about my questions and discoveries about the Dhamma here at BCB. I also would like to study Tamil, my husband's native language, so that I can communicate with and feel even more comfortable around his family members.

However, I remain undisciplined. I also feel very tired. I think my body and mind might be trying to recover from the stress of the past year. I discussed this with my husband, and he said I can't be recovering forever. I reminded him that it's only been a month. He smiled as he remembered that and agreed. 

He also told me that he worries. He wants me to be independent, both financially and as an individual. I am touched by his sincerity and confidence in me. He is not threatened by my independent nature and free spirit. 

But I still feel lost. For the past six years there has been so much pressure, so many expectations that now I don't know what to do. I have accomplished something great, yet I was so focused on reaching my goal that anything beyond that appeared to me as a blurry apparition. And it remains so. 

I want to take action, to take the bull by the horns, but feel almost like a ghost, not able to grasp anything. The weeks fly by, and I accomplish little. Trying to tap into whatever intuitive wisdom is within my reach, I feel the answer somehow lies in backing off, letting go, being present -- and being patient.  

Nonetheless, it still feels all mixed up, and I haven't the slightest idea how to proceed- or even begin.  

I know that in the future I will look back at this post and smile at my worries, showing once again that as long as one takes mindful action, things usually turn out for the best.  

But for now I just don't know how to get there. 

If you have any advice to me about this situation, please share with me in the comments. I always look forward to insight and wisdom from others, and would very much appreciate it!

May all beings be happy! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

A weekend stroll

This weekend my husband had some work to do in the lab, so I went with him and wandered about outside in the brilliant sunshine. I took some pictures along the way, and wanted to share them with you. 


A cluster of 'Crown vetch', or Securigera varia, flowers

A red clover, or Trifolium pratense inflorescence, with top blooms illuminated by sunshine. Recently, I lamented to myself that although I have taken many pictures of flowers, I have rarely taken the opportunity to photograph other creatures on my long walks. That changed this weekend, when it seemed there were all kinds of insect and arachnid activities afoot! For instance, check out the awaiting predator in the lower right corner of this seemingly innocent red clover!   

Coming across a bunch of withered asters (genus Erigeron, perhaps?), I was startled and amazed by the sight of a well-camouflaged spider making a meal of what had been an unsuspecting bee or wasp. Although the feeding spider didn't seem to mind having his (or her?) mealtime photographed, I kept my distance!  

Another aster flower with the inhabitants involved in the continuing of life, a stark contrast to the previous picture. 

At last, I will switch from all the arthropod drama by showing you a daisy (Bellis perennis?), brilliantly lit by the afternoon sun.   

I hope you enjoyed these pictures, and that you have a great week! Entomologists and arachnologists, if you know the names of the species in the above photos, please let me know- I will credit you for the information! :) For a useful resource identifying many common North American wildflowers, please click here.  

May all beings be happy (even though we know that some beings do get eaten by spiders)!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Avoiding fake Buddha quotes

Yesterday I wrote a detailed post about an abundance of fake Buddha quotations that have been perpetuated for some time now, mostly via the internet. After the initial shock of discovering these beloved but false quotations on BodhiPaksa's blog Bodhi Tree Swaying, I decided to list ways to prevent myself from falsely quoting the Buddha in the future. Some of the suggestions below I read about on Bodhi Tree Swaying; others I thought of myself. (This was originally part of the post linked above, but I thought that it was best to discuss the prevention of perpetuating misattributed quotations in a separate post. Plus, because I believe they are more effective, I also prefer writing shorter blog posts. :) Enjoy!

My list summarizing how I can avoid misquoting the Buddha:

Quote scriptures (i.e. original sources). This first idea was offered by someone who had commented on one of Bodhipaksa's posts. If a quote from the Buddha is needed, they advised that it is best to go back to the scriptures, since they can be properly cited. On another point, I have also read that citing scriptures (rather than Buddha himself) is especially important because many sutras include sayings and wisdom from people other than the Buddha. The voice in some texts may not always be clear, so again,  I think it is best to cite the text/sutra itself. 

Read scriptures. When first starting out on the Buddhist path, it is common for people just learning about Buddhism to read books about Buddhism, often written by prominent 'Western' Buddhists. As Bodhipaksa emphasizes, there is nothing wrong with these works, because most provide elegant explanations of some deep concepts. Indeed, these types of books benefitted me greatly when I first discovered the Buddhist Path and wanted to learn more about basic Buddhism, and I would encourage others to read them too. However, Bodhipaksa also states that there should be some discernment between reading scripture and books about Buddhism. So I will do my best to continue to read and learn the scriptures as well!

Google Books. One suggestion given to me directly by Bodhipaksa was to search for books with the quotation on Google Books in order to see if there is another source other than 'the Buddha'. I have noticed that due to copyright, Google books often do not have all material available, but can provide some helpful information.

Don't trust the internet alone! The internet is often a great source of information, but it is also difficult to find out if something is heavily misattributed, and the source of the error. As Bodhipaksa points out, a lot of the 'quotation' websites actually plagiarize one another, thus perpetuating false quotations rather than correcting them. Multiple sources other than the internet are therefore a good thing! 

Reputable translation. Some translations of sutras and texts have been determined better than others, because the they are well-cited and may even be peer-reviewed. From now I will check to see if the book or article is written by someone who is an expert in their field, and not someone trying to make a quick buck based on their own version of texts modified for popular appeal.  

Does it sound right? I look for words that don't seem to belong- like modern buzzwords people use today to make themselves sound smart (i.e. diversity, sustainability). Of course the thing that helps most in this is reading scriptures, mentioned above.  

If all else fails, quote the living. To altogether avoid the problem of mistranslated/misquoted historical figures and texts, quote people who are still alive. Misquotations from contemporary public figures are more likely to be corrected by agents/advocates, or by the person themselves. However, I would still be cautious. 

Can you think of any additional ways to verify the source of quotations? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

May all beings be happy!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Beware: Fake Buddha Quotations

It has recently come to my attention that a number of widely-used Buddha quotes circulating around the internet are fake. Most of the quotations are things that have actually been said by someone, but have somehow been falsely attributed to the Buddha. Some are modern paraphrases of things the Buddha said as others explain the context of particular Buddhist scriptures. Others have just simply been made up.

Of course, I cannot take credit for this discovery. Since his first post about fake Buddha quotes in 2009, Bodhipaksa at Bodhi Tree Swaying has become (perhaps an unintended) authority on quotations falsely attributed to the Buddha. So far, he has written almost 30 posts about erroneous Buddha quotations from around the internet, discovered by himself, close friends, and his blog followers. Usually, he explains why the quotation is false, and cites where it actually came (or may have come) from. However, some 'fake' quotations he leaves unexplained, and are therefore not mentioned in this post.

The following are examples of fake Buddha quotations pointed out by Bodhipaksa, which I have linked to appropriate posts on his blog. I think you will find that these are prominent quotations, and like me, may have even considered them your favorite 'Buddha quotations'! Here they are: 

"You cannot travel the Path until you become the Path itself." The original source of this quotation is listed in the comments of this linked post

finally (and ironically):

As I mentioned before, there are quite a few more, which you should feel free to look up.

Of course, it doesn't help that these false quotations are constantly perpetuated on the internet, especially through facebook and twitter. Bodhipaksa also states that many of these false Buddha quotations have even made it into published books. How could this happen? Why are writers not doing their research? 

The prevalence of fake Buddha quotations was initially quite shocking to me, as I am sure it is embarrassing to authors who have used these quotations in their writings. As for (inadvertently) perpetuating the fake Buddha quotes on twitter, I am among the guilty. Although I avoided 'Buddha' quotes that seemed too 'touchy-feel-y' or 'new age-y', I did so because I felt that the language didn't sound right, not because I thought the quotations were complete forgeries. My mistake!  

Although discovering these fake Buddha quotes was initially disturbing to me, I would like to emphasize that I think Bodhipaksa is doing a great service. His blog posts have brought this issue to light, and because of that we can all be more aware and questioning of the origins of Buddha quotations, and be careful in how we attribute them. I for one was humbled by this revelation, and have resolved to be more discerning in the future, just as I would be while reading a peer-reviewed scientific paper in Plant Biology. I have therefore done my best to remove false quotations from ByChanceBuddhism, but if you see one, please let me know!      

Finally, I want to mention that although being discovered as fakes can cause them to lose their luster, there is nothing intrinsically bad about the above quotations. I for one believe that if they give peace to someone and help them in their spiritual journey, they still have merit. It is just important that they be properly attributed, so that in the future sayings categorized as 'Buddha quotes' remain true to and do not distort the core teachings of Buddhism.

What did you think about this post? Did its contents surprise you? Please share with me your reaction, as I am anxious to discuss this issue. In the very least, I hope this discussion will help others avoid the mistakes I have made! Also, if you would like to discuss how to avoid fake Buddha quotations, please see my next post

May all beings be happy!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Buddhist's thoughts on Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day! I hope that all the lovely mothers out there are having a wonderful day. Many celebrate Mother's Day with cards, flowers, gifts, and taking their mother to her favorite restaurant, making this holiday a time of great celebration . . . and some well-deserved relaxation!  

But for most of us, our mothers mean much more to us than all the above can possibly express. 

Once this day is over, Mother's Day the holiday will come again next year. But whether our mothers are here or no longer with us, I feel that every day of our lives should also be Mother's Day. If it weren't for our parents, and especially our mothers, none of us would be here (or have survived our foolishness, from the toddler years on up!). 

Therefore, I wanted to express my thanks and share thoughts about the importance of our parents, from a Buddhist perspective. The following is a short excerpt from the "Sutra about the Deep Kindness of Parents and the Difficulty of Repaying it"*, also known as the Filial Piety Sutra*, in which the Buddha instructs Ananda and attending monks of the kindnesses of a mother. 

The Sutra states:
"There are ten types of kindnesses bestowed by the mother on the child.

1. The kindness of providing protection and care while the child is in the womb.
2. The kindness of bearing suffering during the birth.
3. The kindness of forgetting all the pain once the child has been born.
4. The kindness of eating the bitter herself and saving the sweet for the child.
5. The kindness of moving the child to a dry place and lying in the wet herself.
6. The kindness of suckling the child at her breast and nourishing and bringing up the child.
7. The kindness of washing away the unclean.
8. The kindness of always thinking of the child when it has travelled far.
9. The kindness of deep care and devotion.
10. The kindness of ultimate pity and sympathy."

The sutra elaborates on these kindnesses, and also how the heedlessness of children hurts their parents. Ananda and the monks are deeply moved by what the Buddha tells them, and in considering the hardships faced by parents, are brought to weeping. They ask what they can possibly do to repay their parents for their kind deeds, and the Buddha tells them to recite the sutra, hold the precept of pure eating, cultivate blessings, and repent offenses on their behalf. 

In many ways, reading this sutra made me feel both awe and sadness. I may have felt the same way Ananda did, remembering the many great kindnesses of my parents, and also thinking about how I must have troubled them in so many ways. I am amazed that neither of them have seemed to mind, and even laugh about my past heedless behavior (perhaps after a few years had passed, of course :). 

So again, to all the moms out there- Have a very Happy Mother's Day- today and every day!   

And to my Mom: A lotus for you, representing the beauty of yourself, and all the wonderful things you have done for me.  

To my Mom and Dad: Mama und Papa, Ich liebe euch sehr, und hoffe das ihr beide wissen wie viel das ist!

The image above was taken by me in 2009 at the lotus ponds in the Chicago Botanic Gardens, located in Glencoe, IL.

Enjoy- May all beings be happy!

* I have read that this sutra may not actually recount events during the Buddha's lifetime, but is instead a 7th century Chinese Buddhist answer to Confucian criticism that Buddhism places monastic life over filial piety. However, not much additional information is available. If anyone knows the historical context of this sutra I would be happy to learn more (I had wondered why in this text the Buddha asked the monks to 'print' the sutra, since sutras during the Buddha's time were transmitted orally).

As always, I look forward to your comments, and would love to hear about your Mother's Day celebrations and memories. Happy Mother's Day!      

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Connecting with intuitive wisdom

One of the major ways I use information is to learn about myself and the world around me. What do I think about  ____ ? Why are things the way they are? Have others realized this? What do they think? I have realized that I often browse the internet for answers if I have a question about life. I also read books and talk to people. 

But recently something has changed in me. I am still a seeker of knowledge, but not necessarily always outside myself. This was apparent yesterday when I saw a post from Leo Babauta's ZenHabits blog pop up in my reader feed. It was titled 'How to Live Well'. In the past I would have jumped to click on, read, and absorb the article, but this time I paused. I remembered myself as a third grader thrusting my hand into the air as if to say, 'Pick me, I know- I know the answer!' But unlike the simple bravado of my eight-year-old self, I felt that I had some idea of what Leo's article would say because I have learned enough to figure (most of them) out on my own. 

"Okay", I said to myself, "Let's first see what I think about living a good life." I grabbed a pen and paper and scribbled down my thoughts.

To live well:
Enjoy every day
Live simply: simplify possessions, simplify schedules
Experience things
Be in the present moment
Be happy and grateful
Learn new things
Share what you learn with others

Then I read the article. In his concise yet illuminating manner, Leo describes the eight things he thinks are key to living well. And you know what? Although we used different words, my scribbled responses mirrored most of his advice. There were only two things that I did not explicitly express, and those were 1) Be driven by joy, not fear, and 2) Forget about productivity and numbers. Also pretty good ideas, in my opinion. 

This little exercise taught me that in addition to learning from the thoughts and life experiences of others, it is also important to remember that most people, including myself, also hold a great deal of intuitive knowledge and wisdom. Looking back, I remember the times in my life when I have unwarrantedly questioned myself. Yet when the answer was revealed, I realized I knew all along. Sometimes this inner wisdom can be difficult to tap into, so we must all be patient with ourselves. 

I have decided that whenever I have a question about life, I should take it as an opportunity to pause and reflect. Before seeking 'outside' knowledge, I should first look deeply to determine if I am already in touch with the answers present in myself. Then when I seek the wisdom of others I can also develop the humility and gratefulness that comes from learning from others' experiences- and also the appreciation that other people's thoughts may differ from my own. 

What do you think? Do you agree with the content of this post? What are times you use your own intuitive wisdom? When do you seek the wisdom of others? I welcome your comments. Also, for more insight into this post and additional discussion, please read 'How to Live Well' at Zenhabits (and maybe make your own list first :). 

May all beings be happy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The beauty of new green leaves

On a recent walk I composed a Haiku poem to express what I was seeing and feeling at the time. I hope you enjoy this springtime poem, along with the photos I took to accompany it.


Light through brand new leaves
shines green into the forest,
providing true calm.

Brand new leaves of Larch trees, genus Larix 

Looking up into a beautiful, assorted canopy of green. 

A small path through a stand of 'Bottlebrush Buckeyes', Aesculus parviflora 

To read more Haiku poems, please check out these lovely examples from my good friend Lon at Present Winds.

May all beings be happy!

Blog Maintenance

Hello everyone, this post is to let you know of changes that I have made to ByChanceBuddhism, which mostly involve general blog maintenance.

I have recently: 
Connected with Technorati to verify my authorship of BCB.
Added the Google + button.
Changed my 'favicon' to a small purple lotus flower (instead of the Blogger 'B').
Rearranged some of the buttons on the sidebar.
Have begun using Google Ads (Don't worry, I will make sure that ads are not obnoxious or detract from the aesthetics or content of BCB)

Thank you for bearing with me.

May all beings be happy!


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Happy Vesak!

For many in south Asia, today is one of the days celebrated as Vesak, a prominent holiday in the Buddhist festival calender. Vesak (or Wesak) commemorates three events, the Birth, Enlightenment (nirvana) and Passing Away (Parinivana) of the Buddha. Also known as "Buddha's Birthday", Vesak is named for the Pali and/or Sanskrit word for the fourth month in the lunar calendar. Because this festival is based on the occurrence of the full moon, the date of Vesak changes from year to year, but is usually held in April or May. For at full list of Vesak days since 2001, a useful chart has been posted within the Wikipedia article about Vesak. In 2012, Vesak is celebrated on May 5th in Sri Lanka, May 6th in India, and June 4th in Thailand. Taiwan and Hong Kong (China) have already celebrated Vesak, which was on April 28th, 2012. 

Common activities during Vesak include community service, meditation on the Noble Eightfold Path, making offerings of incense and alms, and paying homage to the Buddha. In many places, people also listen as monks chant sutras and give dharma talks. Various Vesak traditions have also arisen between different countries and regions, with a rich cultural diversity resulting from this joyous celebration. In Japan and South Korea, scented water or tea is poured over a statue of the baby Buddha, as a symbol of purification and reaffirming one's resolve in living a noble and pure life. In Indonesia, festivities during Vesak include lighting paper lanterns and letting them float up into the night sky. For a great slideshow featuring various festivities during Vesak, please click here. The slideshow is from the Huffington Post, and shows some beautiful images of this year's Vesak and Vesaks past in Singapore, Taiwan, and Sri Lanka, with a special focus on Indonesia and South Korea. I hope you enjoy the images as much as I did.    

So Happy Vesak, Everyone! May the joys and wisdom of the Dharma be renewed in you as you travel along the Path!

May all beings be happy!

Update: I was recently informed by a kind reader that a dear Venerable I have met in the past, Ven. Sik Ji Xing, led the chanting and blessings at a Vesak celebration in Kuantan, Malaysia. Please read about it in this article from The Star Online.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

One of my favorite Buddha stories

The following story about the Buddha is so short, it could almost be categorized as a quotation. But it is one of my favorite stories, and so I wanted to share it with you. Enjoy!

Soon after the Buddha's enlightenment, a young Brahman traveling down the road came upon the Buddha. Impressed by his radiance and peaceful presence, the young man stopped and spoke to the Buddha. 

He asked the Buddha, "Are you a god?"
"No", answered the Buddha.
"Are you a saint?"
"No", Buddha replied.
"Then are you a teacher?" the Brahman persisted.
"No,  I am not a teacher."
"Then what are you?!" asked the young Brahman, exasperated. 

"I am awake", Buddha replied. 

I hope you enjoyed that. There are several versions of this story, this one is abbreviated and uses English words. The original story is from the Dona Sutta, which can be found here.

Early into my studies of Buddhism, I was surprised to learn that 'Buddha' is not a name, but a title. It is derived from the Sanskrit root Budh, to 'know' or 'wake', and means 'one who is awake'. For more information about the derivation of Budh, and other Sanskrit root verbs and grammar, please click here.  

May all beings be happy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Kindness and compassion: favorite quotations

Having recently written about compassion and how it is linked to our great human potential, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes about kindness and compassion. I hope you enjoy this collection, please feel free to post some of your favorite quotations in the comments. I very much look forward to reading them!

"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle." ~ Plato

"Our task must be to free ourselves . . . by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty." ~ Albert Einstein 

"As you grow older you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others" ~ Audrey Hepburn 

"Until he extends the circle of his compassion to all living things, man will not himself find peace." ~ Albert Schweitzer

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." ~ Aesop

"No one has ever become poor by giving." ~ Ann Frank, from Diary of Ann Frank

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion." ~ Dalai Lama XIV

"One man practicing kindness in the wilderness is worth all the temples this world pulls." ~ Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums

"Kindness is the language that the deaf can hear and the blind can see." ~ Mark Twain

"Only the development of compassion and understanding of others can bring of the tranquility and happiness we all seek." ~ Dalai Lama XIV

"Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love." ~ Lao Tzu

"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive." ~ Dalai Lama XIV

"Compassion is the basis of morality." ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

"I have just three things to teach, simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures." ~ Lao Tzu

"Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for kindness." ~ Seneca

May all beings be happy!