Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mid Autumn Festival at One Heart Children's Home, Xiamen

I had been working long hours in my new job in Beijing and was looking forward to the full week break in October for National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival combined. I was introduced to the One Heart Children's Home in July this year by Venerable Chuan Jue on a previous trip to Xiamen and I planned to spend the holiday week there this time. It was a wonderful experience. It showed me that people can have great compassion and spiritual wealth with very little material wealth and what incredible things that people with strong Buddhist faith can achieve.

One Heart Children's Home

I was picked up at the airport on October 1 by Wei Song and he brought me out to visit Venerable Guang Pu, the founder of the Children's Home and Venerable Chuan's teacher. She had just held a Dharma service at Zhunti Temple, presently under construction. The temple, located in the countryside outside of Xiamen, is another of Venerable Guang Pu's projects. The ox-driven carts and bamboo hats (cao mao) that were frequently seen on the trip to the temple were different for me. Also, the mix of locals, Buddhist friends, and venerables at the temple was lively and refreshing. However, from the discussions and activities around the temple it was clear that there were more similarities that differences with Hsi Lai Temple.

I arrived at the Children's Home in Autou and was welcomed by the very compassionate director, Huang Shuangchun. The kids were in the process of planting vegetables in the large vegetable patch in front of the dorm building. It was fun plowing, planting, and watering with the kids under the expert supervision of our Aunty. A batch of volunteers had also arrived that day to help supervise the kids for several days while some of the staff took some time off for the holiday. All the principles to run the Children's Home are from Buddhism, which is very practical, but there is no overt display of Buddhism at the temple, in order to make the Home more acceptable to the community at large, including the volunteers, who may be of any religion or no religion at all. One of the main principles of volunteering at One Heart is to give without expecting in return.

Xiamen July 4-5, 2009

The Children's Home has two locations: Aotuo and Dazhai. To allow the staff at Dazhai to take a break over the holiday and to have one big party for Mid-Autumn Festival all the younger kids from Dazhai came over to stay at Autuo on October 2 making a total of 60 children ranging from 5 years old to 17 years old. The charming kinds were led by their equally charming teacher, Xiao Li. I found out the the younger kids were equally as disciplined and well-behaved as older friends at Autuo. At mealtimes everybody sat silently not touching the food in front of them until the director led them in saying grace, which everyone had memorized and recited in a cute combination of younger and older voices. Grace is some non-demoninational words of thanks composed by Venerable Guang Pu. The kids are very thoughtful and thankful and far ahead of my own son, who needs to be bribed and cajoled into doing any small amount of housework. The director, Huang Shuangchun, is one of the main driving forces behind the positive life at the Children's Home. Her own childhood as an orphan and strong Buddhist faith have a lot to do with that.

That afternoon we went on a trip around the neighborhood to send the traditional moon cakes. Despite the very basic conditions at the Children's home, many of the neighbors lived in much poorer conditions. The neighbors appreciated the moon cakes and seeing the kids. I was surprised at the differences in the customs between the family houses that I was used to in Beijing and those in Xiamen. The entrance to every house had a large shrine where the lounge room should have been for the ancestors of the residents. Additionally, there were statues of Guanyin Bodhisattva or some folk dieties. Also common outside the houses were small local temples devoted to ancestors with similar combinations of Buddhist and folk figures.

October 3 was Mid-Autumn Festival and it takes a special form in Xiamen with the added fun of games of throwing dice where lots of prizes are given away. At this point the 60 kids really made some noise. On October 4 the party had slowed down to the point where we could have some English classes. For the next few days we settled into a pattern of English pronunciation in the morning and English singing in the afternoon. Many of the kids came from Tibet and Sichuan, the later after the 2008 earthquake, and have missed periods of education.

On October 8 the party was over. The younger kids went back to Dazhai and Weisong sent me back to Xiamen airport for my trip back to Beijing.

Alex Amies

Friday, September 4, 2009

August Meeting Notes and September Meeting

Aug 29, 2009 Meeting Notes

1. Welcome new comers: Mark, and Sacha!
2. Review of the agenda proposed by Ven. Juewei
3. Confirming the text of “Call for speakers” and “Reply slip,” thanks Julie for this!
4. Updates from Program Sub-com (Ven. Juwei): facilitators are ready, and we are waiting for the response from Keynote speaker; most facilitators will look for the speakers for us; to remind facilitator: the power of story and examples from speakers
5. Updates from Publicity Sub-com: examples of designed Call for speakers, logo and bump sticker (Nancy’s favorite); suggestion: some graphics to reply slip? A package folder for the participants? (Including bump sticker, proceedings, nametag, maps of UWest, etc). Thanks Nancy and Judy’s awesome job!
6. Mock trail of the “Compassion in Living Life” and breakout discussion.
7. Dinner

Important notes

- Hsilai Friends: we use this as ONE WORD from now on
- $10.00 will be charged for the conference for random participants (not included the invited participants )
- We only look for 4 speakers, not 6
- Panel 2 theme new wording: A Life of Compassion: from Birth to Death

Next meeting(details to follow)
- Date: Sep. 19, 2009

Aug. 29, 2009 meeting photos


Mt. Baldy World Peace Pilgrimage updates:

Two videos published in You Tube (check your face and our awesome chanting there!)



Also in Facebook by searching "world peace pilgrimage"

Thanks fro your participating and various support!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hurricane in Taiwan

The news on Fo Guang Rescue Teams were translated and sent to various major English news web by Ven. Miao Guang and her team. We can read all the progress of what they have done so far in the below links.


(Ven. Master instructing all Fo Guang Shan branches to provide various help.)

(Fo Guang Shan Mobile Clinics rush to provide aid to typhoon Morakot victims)

August 29, 2009 Meeting

1. Date: Aug. 29, 2009, Saturday
2. Venue: 1465 El Terraza, La Habra Heights, CA
3. Program:

3:30pm – 4:00pm: updates from Ven. Juewei
4:00pm – 4:45pm: break-out discussion

Theme: Compassion in Living Life (afterthoughts from movie [Departures] or from our monthly readings or personal experiences)

4:45pm – 5:30pm: sub-committee report and updates

5:30pm – 6:15pm: sharing & presentations

6:15pm: potluck dinner

Contact: hsilaifriends@gmail.com if you are interested in attending

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Photos from August Activities

From 09 Mt. Baldy Interfaith Walk

A great time has had by all at our August activities. Here are the photos:

Mount Baldy Interfaith Walk: http://picasaweb.google.com/hsilaifriends/09MtBaldyInterfaithWalk

August 9 Meeting: http://picasaweb.google.com/hsilaifriends/09AugMeeting

- alex

Food for Thought: Ten of Life’s Common Concerns

I missed last month's booklet, so here are the booklets for both July and August.

Booklet 7: When We Die
If I were to tell you that there is much suffering after death, you might be fearful of the pain you have to endure after death. In such a mindset, you would not be able to comprehend the true nature of death. If I were to tell you that life after death is serene and peaceful, you might misunderstand me and think that death is wonderful and is a means of liberation. Therefore, I can only say this: “Life is not necessarily joyous, and death is not necessarily miserable.”

Read more Link: http://www.blpusa.com/bies07.html

Booklet 8: Food for Thought: Ten of Life’s Common Concerns
How to Face Poverty and Wealth? How to Handle Gains and Losses? How to Repent and Eliminate Our Unwholesome Karma? How to Diminish Our Mental Afflictions? How to Handle the Demands of Life? How to Anchor Our Life? How to Let Go of Our Loved Ones? How to Share Wealth? How to Face Aging and Sickness? How to Transcend Birth and Death?

Read more Link: http://www.blpusa.com/bies08.html

Happy Reading

Friday, August 7, 2009

Interfaith World Peace Pilgrimage

Interfaith World Peace Pilgrimage to Mount Baldy – Sunday, August 9th

World Peace Pilgrimage

Fellow Caring Friends of Humanity!

Mark your calendars so you do not miss out on this historic spiritual event of paramount importance; for the following is an opportunity that has the Divine Promise to help our suffering world and all those groups and individuals working hard to help, and serve, and uplift.

Transportation: carpool from Hsi Lai Temple and UWest at 7:30am separately

On Sunday, August 9th, a World Peace Interfaith Pilgrimage to Majestic Mount Baldy, will take place in the gorgeous San Gabriel Mountains, just 50 miles east of Los Angeles.

Mount Baldy is a Holy Mountain and has been recognized as such by the local Gabrielino/Tungva Native Americans for generations. Since 1959, this mountain has also been considered Holy by Members of the non-profit spiritual organization, The Aetherius Society, who recognize this sacred mountain as having been charged with Cosmic energies. Each summer since 1959, we have been visiting the mountain to send out powerful waves of spiritual energy to the world for World Peace and Global Healing through the action of selfless prayer. Therefore this World Peace Pilgrimage has been organized in recognition of 50 years of these continued achievements. It is also an interfaith event that has been endorsed by the Parliament of the World’s Religions, the largest interfaith movement in the world, prior to their gathering in Melbourne, Australia in December, 2009. A representative from the Parliament of the World’s Religions will be making a presentation on the mountain following the pilgrimage.

The Pilgrimage promises to be a very joyous and memorable occasion with people from different cultures and origins collaborating not within any particular church, temple, synagogue or mosque but under the blue dome of Heaven upon a very unique Mountain surrounded by the natural beauty of the Mother Earth. All that’s now needed is YOU - your caring, compassionate heart and your passion and desire TO DO something that WILL make a difference for good in our world. And YOU CAN be a part of it!

We warmly invite you to join with us and to bring family members, friends and colleagues who you believe would like to participate.

Full details of the arrangements and logistics are contained on the website: www.mysticbaldy.org or else you may call (323) 465-9652 or (323) 467 HEAL (4325).

The Aetherius Society
6202 Afton Place
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Organizers - The World Peace Pilgrimage to Mount Baldy

Friday, June 12, 2009

Booklet 6: The Wheel of Rebirth

When we talk about rebirth, some people laugh at the idea. They consider such belief passe and obsolete in the technologically advanced 21th Century. Others may think that the question of rebirth belongs strictly in the arena of religion. After all, the issue of what happens after death seems remote from everyday living. The saying, “If I don’t even know about living, why ask about dying?” reflects how some people may feel. To them, the question of rebirth is not a pressing concern.

Indeed, in the ambience of this grand lecture hall, the subject of rebirth may not seem an appropriate lecture topic. If we were to discuss this question on a battlefield, where we are face to face with death, then we would be more earnest to approach and study this very important and serious question of death and rebirth.

Read more @ Link: http://www.blpusa.com/bies06.html

Please add your thoughts about the booklet in the comments area below the post.

Upcoming June 20th Event

We will be meeting on Saturday June 20, 2009 to discuss the upcoming Interfaith Conference.

Meeting 3:00-5:00 pm and potluck dinner 5:00-7:30 pm in Whittier (Los Angeles metropolitan area).

Please email hsilaifriends@gmail.com for meeting details if you would like to attend.

Photos from May Event

Click on the May meeting link to see the whole set:

From May Meeting

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Upcoming May 30 Meeting

We will be meeting on Saturday May 30, 2009 to discuss Frequently Asked Questions on Buddhism in Western Society. Email hsilaifriends@gmail.com for meeting details if you would like to attend.


Friday, May 8, 2009

Booklet 5: The Buddhist Perspective on Life and Destiny

Of all the issues that we have, we are most concerned with those that relate to us. Of all our concerns, the biggest one relates to our destiny. Each of us has a different opinion on the concept of destiny. Some people, when faced with hardship, complain bitterly about their ill fate. Others believe in destiny and that our circumstances, be they good or bad, are predetermined. Some people accept their difficult situations. Others are content with what they have; they are optimists and live carefree lives. Regardless of whether we find ourselves in a rut or on cloud nine, we should not be passive and simply accept our destiny. We should create our own destiny. When we talk about the Buddhist perspective on life and destiny, there are four areas to discuss.

Read more Link: http://www.blpusa.com/bies05.html

Please add your thoughts about the booklet in the comments area below the post.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trip to Tanzhe Temple

Hello from Beijing! In China the first and the fifteenth of the lunar month are peaks for burning incense and other activities at the temples. On my first Saturday here in Beijing it was the first day of the forth lunar month. I went on a trip to Tanzhe Temple on the western outskirts of Beijing.

More photos at Tanzhesi

Tanzhe Temple is one of the largest and oldest temples in Beijing. The temple was founded in 307 CE in the Western Jin dynasty. This is over six hundred years before Beijing became a major city, when the Liao dynasty set up their second capital in Beijing in 938.

Traveling on public transport outside of the center of Beijing is a fun experience although it took me about three hours to get to the temple using by a combination of bicycle, subway, and bus. You can see all walks of life here on the way to and at the temple from regular Beijing folk, locals from the countryside, and beggars and you can also see all kinds of transportation from BMW's, Japanese passenger cars, flat bed tricycles, to horse driven carts. One of my favorites are the locals selling incense, and other stuff by the side of the road. There is an especially dense concentration of this outside Tanzhe Temple. The diversity reminds me of the meaning of joining palms, of the six realms all coming together.

The temple is named after the Dragon Pool (Tan) and mulberry trees (zhe) in the grounds. Emperor Kangxi, who reigned 1661 to 1722 as the second emperor of the Qing dynasty, visited the temple and personally wrote the calligraphy for 《天王殿》(Hall of the Heavenly Kings) and and elsewhere in the Temple. The Hall of the Heavenly Kings is the first hall in a series along the central axis of the temple. Behind the Hall of the Heavenly Kings is the Hall of the Great Heroes 《大雄宝殿》, featuring the same name as the main hall at Hsi Lai Temple. The Pilu Chamber《毗卢阁》features the buddhas of the five directions (五方佛), which is similar the main hall at Foguang Nan Tian Temple in Australia. In the middle is Vairocana Buddha, in the east is Aksobhya Buddha, in the south is Ratnasambhava Buddha, in the west is Amitabha Buddha, and in the north is Amoghasiddhi Buddha.

In 1997 Tanzhe Temple was permitted to once again carry out religious activities.

More photos: picasaweb.google.com/alexamies/Tanzhesi#

Other information:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Buddhism FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions on Buddhism in Western Society

(Preliminary discussion list, collected by Jacky)


  1. Q. Who was the Buddha? Can anyone be a Buddha?

    A. Siddhartha Gautama, known later as "The Buddha" lived around 2,500 years ago. Buddhism teaches that he is the Buddha of our age, so we often call him "The Buddha". However, there are other Buddhas and, in fact, everyone has a Buddha nature and the potential to become a Buddha.

  2. Q. What is Dharma? I hear and read this word everywhere?

    The Dharma refers to the teachings of the Buddha

  3. Q. What is enlightenment? Where is Nirvana?


  4. Q. What is Samsara and how it works?

    Samsara is the cycle of birth and death and all the desires for all the trappings in between.

  5. Q. How does the mind go from one body to another? Have there ever been any scientists who believe in rebirth?

    A. There is some scientific evidence of rebirth although it is not accepted by scientists in general.

  6. Q. How do we know or prove that rebirth is true? Is there a soul from one body to another body if rebirth exists?

  7. Q. I don't understand 'No Self' in Buddhism?

    A. Non self is related to the concepts of the interconnectedness of everything and impermanance. There is no independent self that exists independent of everything else. The concept of non-self dismantles the ego. It is not a denial of relative existence.

  8. Q. Is karma the same as destiny, in the sense that everything that happens to you is predetermined?

    A. No. Buddhism teaches that events are determined by causes and conditions. So rather than destiny being predetermined our actions lead to results that also depend on conditions. The combination of causes, conditions, and results is called karma. There can be good and bad karma.

  9. Q. Was it selfish of the Buddha to abandon his wife and child in order to seek enlightenment?
  10. Q. What do the terms, wisdom and compassion mean in Buddhism?

    Practice, Ritual etc

  11. Q. What are the major approaches to Buddhism?

    A. The major approaches to practicing Buddhism are

    • Studying Buddhism through attending classes, reading sutras, books, and so on. The teachings of the Buddha are referred to as the Dharma and our goal is to understand them and apply them to our everyday lives.
    • Meditation and yoga
    • Chanting - this practices mindfulness and some people feel that they can communicate with the Buddha when chanting
    • Praying
    • Giving offerings and burning incense - these things have symbollic meanings

  12. Q. How do people become Buddhist, what is the process?

    A. The process for becoming a Buddhist is called the Triple Gem, which is taking refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. The Sangha is the Buddhist community.

  13. Q. Do Buddhists pray?

    A. Yes. Buddhists pray to the Buddha and Bodhisattvas to

    • to help all sentient beings
    • for spiritual cultivation
    • to inspire and develop compassion and positive thoughts to others
    • to solve personal problems

  14. Q. What is Buddhist meditation?

    A. Buddhist meditation helps focus the mind

  15. Q. Is the First Noble Truth right when it claims that "all existence is suffering," or is Buddhism overly-pessimistic in its assessment of the human condition? What sort of things are included in the scope of the term duḥkha?

    A. Buddhism aims to overcome suffering. The term suffering in Sanskrit term duḥkha does not have an exact equivalent in English and we use the translation suffering as a best match. Duḥkha includes conditions where we are not satisfied with life, such as envy of other people, feelings of oppression, and so on.

  16. Q. What constitutes "being a Buddhist" in Western cultures?

    A. Being a Buddhist means following the teachings of the Buddha, starting with the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Noble Path.

  17. Q. Why does the monastic sangha require such a rigorous behavioral code? Why shave your hair, be celibate and put on robes to become a monk or nun?

    A. The monastic code helps in detaching from one's self, being mindful, serving as a reminder of monastic commitment, respect for Buddhism and for one's self, and encouraging energy and full commitment.

  18. Q. Why do the Buddhist nuns seem to occupy a lower postion then the monks in the Buddhist sangha?

    A. This belief is mistaken. Men and women are equal in Buddhism. The Buddhas own words confirm this.

  19. Q. Who is the jolly-looking fellow with the big belly in Chinese temple?

    A. Maitreya, the future Buddha.

  20. Q. Isn't the Dalai Lama the Buddhist Pope?

    A. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists.

  21. Q. I am a beginner and want to find out more on Buddhism/meditation - what to do?

    A. Come to Buddhism classes at Hsi Lai Temple or another temple near your area.

  22. Q. How can we be compassionate to our enemies?

    A. Consider your ememies' viewpoints. Consider causes and effects of regarding your enemies positively versus negatively. Maybe your own past behavior is the reason for your enemies' positions. Maybe your enemies position will shift if you regard them positively.

  23. Q. Buddhists should be vegetarians, shouldn’t they? Why some Buddhists practice that?

    A. No killing is one of the Five Precepts. The Five Precepts are an additional commitment taken by some Buddhists after taking refuge in the Triple Gem. A vegetarian diet is healthy, good for the environment, and develops compassion towards animals. However, not all Buddhists interpret the precept for no killing as including the need for a vegetarian diet.

  24. Q. Why is it that you don't often hear of charitable work being done by Buddhists?

    A. Buddhists do much charitable work. Charity is a fundamental concept in Buddhism. However, when Buddhists do charitable work the do not expect anything in return.

  25. Q. Why are there so many different types of Buddhism?

    A. Buddhism has spread over many different cultures and geographies. It is an adaptable religion that respect the validity of other religious traditions and viewpoints.

  26. Q. Isn’t it selfish to say that we are best able to help others after we have helped ourselves?

    A. Without wisdom and culvation we cannot truly help others.

  27. Q. What is Loving Kindness Meditation?

    A. Visualize yourself, then your close family, then the people that you do not know, then the whole world

  28. Q. But if we stop wanting altogether, we would never achieve anything?

    A. Because of impermanance desires are not substantial and do not achieve anything.

  29. Q. Does Buddhism teach about magic and fortune telling?

    A. No.


  30. Q. What is Buddhist idea of God/god?

    A. Buddhism does not have the concept of God in the Christian sense. There are many gods but they do not play a central role in Buddhism. One of the six realmsis a realm of gods. In Buddhism we are responsible for our future ourselves depending on the karma we accumulate rather depending on a God to judge us.

  31. Q. What is Buddhist view on “evil”?

    A. The three poisons, greed, anger, and ignorance result in bad karma. Phenomonen are not right or wrong in theselves. How you respond to a situation determines the outcome. People cannot be condemned forever but can go to a hell for a time as the result of their actions. We each have good seeds and bad seeds in our conciousness and what we become depends on what which we cultivate.

  32. Q. What is Buddhist view on “heaven and hell?”

    A. A state of mind and also one of the six realms. Bodhisattvas make a vow to save all sentient beings. They are not limited by time and space. Heaven and Hell are not permanent and people do not stay in either permanently.

  33. Q. Is the ignorance in Buddhism similar to “sin” in Christianity?

    A. There is no concept of being judged and condemned for sins in Buddhism. There are causes, conditions, and results (karma). Ignorance can lead to mistakes, and although the mistakes may not be able to be undone,ignorance can be overcome.

  34. Q. Do people have a soul, and if so, what is it like? If not, what is it that makes you who you are, and how d o you remain the same person if—as science tells us—the material basis of your being changes continuously? If your memories changed, would you be someone else?

    A. In Buddhism there are seeds from our past lives but there is nothing that is permanent.

  35. Q. Can Buddhist moral teachings have any force if Buddhism does not believe in a divine lawgiver? Are there any universal moral values or is morality determined primarily by local culture?
  36. Q. Isn't Pure Land Buddhism just Buddhist Christianity? This Amitabha Buddha and his Pure Land sounds a lot like Jesus and Heaven to me.
  37. Q. Is there free will in Buddhism?
  38. Q. Is bowing to Buddha idolatry? If the Buddha is not a god, then why do people worship him?
  39. Q. Are Buddhists Atheists?

    A. No. Buddhists respect and believe in the validity of other religions.

  40. Q. Is Mara in Buddhism is the same as devil in Christianity?
  41. Q. You certainly think highly of Buddhism. I suppose you think your religion is right and all the others are wrong.
  42. Buddhist perspective to current issues

    Q. What does Buddhism say about Abortion?

    A. Whatever decision is made --- to have the child or to have an abortion --- there will be karmic consequences for all involved. Although it is often up to the mother to decide, the father and everyone else involved in the decision must realize that all deal with the consequences.

    Buddhists emphasize that it is best to avoid the situation if possible and also warn against sexual misconduct but in the end, all actions have consequences.

  43. Q. What is Buddhist view on “evolution” or “creation”?

    A. Generally, Buddhists believe in scientific facts and support the general scientific view of evolution.

    Buddhists also believe that creation is on ongoing process that does not rely on a God figure. The process is based on causes and conditions.

    This is one of the key issues that separates Buddhism from other religions.

  44. Q. What is the Buddhist stance on environmental issues?

    A. From the earliest times, Buddhists have attempted to protect the environment. There are many stories about monks and nuns attempting to preserve the environment.

    Buddhists, like most other religions, build physical structures so ordinary people can get an idea of what a spiritual community looks like and also to give a glimpse of what a heaven or Pure Land might be like. Although the building of a temple may disrupt the environment, it is considered by most Buddhists to be for the greater good of all people since it provides a place for spiritual insight and development.

  45. Q. What is Buddhism's position about someone being lesbian, gay or bisexual?


  46. Q. Is Buddhism more or less environmentally friendly? Which aspects of Buddhist teachings might make it appear in harmony with contemporary ecological attitudes?

    A. It is not the sexual label that interests Buddhists about sentient beings. It is the actions done by these people that matters. Buddhists show little concern about identifications such as homosexual, heterosexual and bisexual.

    But Buddhists do warn all people to avoid “sexual misconduct.”

  47. Q. According to Buddhism, when does life begin? If Buddhism is opposed to abortion, how is it that so many performed in Thailand?
  48. Q. Does Buddhism help alleviate stress, anxiety, loneliness, and other problems of modern life?
  49. Q. If Buddhism is so good why are some Buddhist countries poor?
  50. Q. Is Buddhism scientific?
  51. Q. I have heard that meditation is widely used today by psychiatrists and psychologists. Is this true?

    Additional Questions

  52. Q. What is a Bodhisattva?
  53. Q. What is spiritual cultivation?
  54. Q. What are the different kinds of Buddhism?


Guruge, Ananda W. P. 2005. Buddhist answers to current issues: studies in socially engaged humanistic Buddhism. Bloomington, Ind: AuthorHouse. p. 252-258.

Three Attempts to Unravel Universal Buddhism

Three attempts have been made in 1891,1945 and 1997 by two eminent Buddhist scholars of the West and two inter-sectarian organizations (i.e., Henry Steel Olcott of U.S.A and Christmas Humphreys of U.K., and the American Buddhist Congress and Southern California Sangha Council of USA) to get a consensus of different Buddhist schools on the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism. The fourteen points of Olcott, the twelve principles of Humphreys and the ten points of the Buddhist Sangha Council Convention on Buddhism Across Cultures serve as a convenient as well as authentic means of summarizing the teachings of Buddhism as are current today. They, above all, emphasize the doctrinal unity of Buddhism, which defies the diversity in rites and ritual, modes of meditation and worship, and scriptures. These have been approved by representative or individual Buddhist leaders and dignitaries of practically all Buddhist countries though not in a formal or istitutional setting.

Fundamental Buddhist Beliefs -- A common platform upon which all Buddhists can agree (Olcott, 1891):

  1. Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, forbearance and brotherly love to all men, without distinction; and an unswerving kindness towards the members of the animal kingdom.
  2. The universe was evolved, not created; and it functions according to law, not according to the caprice of any god.
  3. The truths upon which Buddhism is founded are natural. They have, we believe, been taught in successive kalpas, or world-periods, by certain illuminated beings called BUDDHAS: the name BUDDHA meaning 'enlightened'.
  4. The fourth teacher in the present Kalpa was Sakya Muni or GAUTAMA BUDDHA who was born in a royal family of India about 2,000 years ago. He is a historical personage and his name was Siddhartha Gautama.
  5. Sakya Muni taught that ignorance produces desire, unsatisfied desire is the cause of rebirth, and rebirth the cause of sorrow. To get rid of sorrow, therefore, it is necessary to escape rebirth; to escape rebirth, it is necessary to extinguish desire; and to extinguish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance.
  6. Ignorance fosters the belief that rebirth is a necessary thing. When ignorance is destroyed, the worthlessness of every such rebirth, considered as an end in itself, is perceived, as well as the paramount need of adopting a course of life by which the necessity for such repeated rebirths can be abolished. Ignorance also begets the illusive and illogical idea that there is only one existence for man, and the other illusion that this one life is followed by states of unchangeable pleasure or torment.
  7. The dispersion of all this ignorance can be attained by the persevering practice of an all-embracing altruism in conduct, development of intelligence, wisdom in thought, and destruction of desire for the lower personal pleasures.
  8. The desire to live being the cause of rebirth, when that is extinguished, rebirths cease, and the perfected individual attains by meditation that highest state of peace called Nirvana.
  9. Sakya Muni taught that ignorance can be dispelled and sorrow removed by the knowledge of the four Noble Truths, viz.
    • The miseries of existence;
    • The cause productive of misery, which is the desire, ever renewed, of satisfying oneself without ever being able to secure that end;
    • The destruction of that desire or the estranging of oneself from it;
    • The means of obtaining this destruction of desire. The means which he pointed out is called the Noble Eightfold Path; viz., Right Belief; Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Means of Livelihood, Right Exertion, Right Remembrance, Right Meditation.
  10. Right Meditation leads to spiritual enlightenment, or the development of that Buddha-like faculty which is latent in every man.
  11. The essence of Buddhism, as summed up by the Tathagata (Buddha) himself, is; "To cease from all sin, To get virtue."
  12. The universe is subject to a natural causation known as 'Karma'. The merits and demerits of a being in past existences determine his condition in the present one. Each man, therefore, has prepared the causes of the effects which he now experiences.
  13. The obstacles to the attainment of good Karma may be removed by the observance of the following precepts, which are embraced in the moral code of Buddhism; viz., (1) Kill not; (2) Steal not; (3) Indulge in no forbidden sexual pleasure; (4) Lie not; (5) Take no intoxicating or stupefying drug or liquor. Five other precepts which need not be here enumerated should be observed by bhikkhus and all those who would attain, more quickly than the average layman, the release from misery and rebirth.
  14. Buddhism discourages superstitious credulity. GAUTAMA BUDDHA taught it to be the duty of a parent to have his child educated in science and literature. He also taught that no one should believe what is spoken by any sage, written in any book or affirmed by tradition, unless it accords with reason.

Twelve Principles of Buddhism (Christmas Humphreys, 1945)

  1. Self-salvation is for any man the immediate task. If a man lay wounded by a poisoned arrow he would not delay extraction by demanding details of the man who shot it, or the length and make of the arrow. There will be time for ever-increasing understanding of the Teaching during treading of the Way. Meanwhile, begin now by seeing life as it is, learning always by direct and personal experience. The first fact of existence is the law of change or impermanence. All that exists, from a mole to a mountain, from a thought to an empire, passes through the same cycle of existence i.e., birth, growth, decay and death. Life alone is continuous, ever seeking self-expression in new form. 'Life is a bridge; therefore, build no house on it.' Life is a process of flow, and he who clings to any form, however splendid, will suffer by resisting the flow.
  2. The law of change applies equally to 'soul'. There is no principle in an individual, which is immortal and unchanging. Only the 'Namelessness', the ultimate Reality, is beyond change, and all forms of life, including man, are manifestations of this Reality. No one owns the life which flows in him any more than the electric light bulb owns the current which gives it light.
  3. The universe is the expression of law. All effects have causes and man's soul or character is the sum total of his previous thought and acts. Karma, meaning action-reaction, governs all existence, and man is the sole creator of his circumstances and his reaction to them, his future condition, and his final destiny. By right thought and action he can gradually purify his inner nature and so by self-realization attain in time liberation from rebirth. The process covers great periods of time, involving life after life on earth, but ultimately every form of life will reach Enlightenment.
  4. Life is one and indivisible, though its ever changing forms are innumerable and perishable. There is, in truth, no death, though every form must die. From an understanding of life's unity arises compassion, sense of identity with the life in other forms. Compassion is described as 'the law of law -- eternal harmony,' and he who breaks this harmony of life will suffer accordingly and delay his own Enlightenment.
  5. Life being one, the interests of the part should be those of the whole. In his ignorance man thinks he can successfully strive for his own interests, and this wrongly directed energy to selfishness produces suffering. He learns from his suffering to reduce and finally eliminate its cause. The Buddha taught four Noble Truths: (a) the omnipresence of suffering; (b) its cause, wrongly directed desire; (c) its cure, the removal of the causes; and (d) the Noble Eightfold Path of self-development which leads to the end of suffering.
  6. The Eightfold Path consists in Right (or Perfect) Views or preliminary understanding, Right Aims or Motives, Right Speech, Right Acts, Right Livelihood, Right Efforts, Right Concentration or mind-development, and, finally, Right Samadhi, leading to full Enlightenment. As Buddhism is a way of living, not merely a theory of life, the treading of this Path is essential to self-deliverance. 'Cease to do evil, learn to do good, cleanse your own heart; this is the teaching of the Buddhas.' [Note: Sammasati is now translated by most scholars as Right Mindfulness and Sammasamadhi as Right Concentration. The other elements of the Noble Eightfold Path are also translated differently by scholars. But the need for fixed terminology has yet to be recognized. – Ananda Guruge]
  7. Reality is indescribable, and a God with attributes is not the final Reality. But the Buddha, a human being, became the All-Enlightened One, and all other forms of life contain the potentiality of Enlightenment, and the purpose of the life is the attainment of Enlightenment. This State of Consciousness, Nirvana, the extinction of the limitations of self-hood, is attainable on earth. All men and all other forms of life contain the potentiality of Enlightenment and the process, therefore, consists in becoming what you are. 'Look within; thou art Buddha.'
  8. From potential to actual Enlightenment there lies the Middle Way, the Eightfold Path 'from desire to peace', a process of self-development between the 'opposites' avoiding all extremes. The Buddha trod this way to the end, and the only faith required in Buddhism is the reasonable belief that where a Guide has trodden it is worth our while to tread. The way must be trodden by the whole man, not merely the best of him, and heart and mind must be developed equally. The Buddha was the All-Compassionate as well as the All-Enlightened One.
  9. Buddhism lays great stress on the need of inward concentration and meditation, which leads in time to the development of the inner spiritual faculties. The subjective life is as important as the daily round, and periods of quietude for inner activity are essential for a balanced life. The Buddhist should at all times be 'mindful and self-possessed,’ refraining from mental and emotional attachment to 'the passing show.' This increasingly watchful attitude to circumstances, which he knows to be his own creation, helps him to keep his reaction to it always under control.
  10. The Buddha said; 'Work out your own salvation with diligence.' Buddhism knows no authority for truth save the intuition of the individual, and that is authority for himself alone. Each man suffers the consequences of his own acts, and learns thereby while helping his fellow men to the same deliverance; nor will prayer to the Buddha or to any God prevent an effect from following its cause. Buddhist monks are teachers and exemplars, and in no sense intermediates between Reality and the individual. The utmost tolerance is practiced towards all other religions and philosophies, for no man has the right to interfere in his neighbour's journey to the Goal.
  11. Buddhism is neither pessimistic nor 'escapist', nor does it deny the existence of god nor soul, though it places its own meaning on these terms. It is, on the contrary, a system of thought, a religion, a spiritual science and a way of life, which is reasonable, practical and all-embracing. For over two thousand years it has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one-third of mankind. It appeals to the West because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, ethics and art, and points to man alone as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny. [Note: Christmas Humphreys apparently did not see any contradiction between this and his other statements in paras 3, 4 and 8 – Ananda Guruge]

Ten-point Convention on Buddhism Across ultures (Havanpola Ratanasara, Ananda W.P. Guruge, Karuna Dharma, Henry Shinn and Jack Bath, 1997)

  1. We recognize Sakyamuni Gautama Buddha as the historical source for the transmission of Buddha Dharma of our time and venerate him for his compassionate service to humanity.
  2. We recognize the multiplicity of the Buddhas of the past, the present and the future, as well as Pacceka (pratyeka) Buddhas, Arahants and Bodhisattvas.
  3. We take refuge in the Triple Gem consisting of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha.
  4. We aspire to the fruits of enlightenment and liberation from dukkha (suffering) for ourselves and others in a spirit of compassion to all beings.
  5. We hold, as central to the spirit and goals of Buddhism:
    • The Four Noble Truths: Suffering (dukkha), cause of suffering (samudaya), cessation of Suffering (nirodha) and the Path to the cessation of suffering (dukkhanirodhagaminipatipada)
    • The three signata: impermenence (anicca or anitya); suffering or unsatisfactoriness (dukkha or duhkha); and non-self or insubstantiality (anatta or anatman);
    • The Noble Eightfold Path (Ariya Atthangika Magga) consisting of Right Thought, Right Motive, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration;
    • Twelve Links of Dependent Origination (Paticcasamuppada or pratiyasamutpada);
    • The three stages of Buddhist development: ethical conduct (sila or shila), one-pointed mental concentration (samadhi), and wisdom (panna or prajna); and
    • The four sublime or immeasurable states: loving kindness (metta or maitri), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita) and equanimity (upekkha or upeksa);
  6. We accept our moral responsibility for the results of what we think, say or do, and subscribe to the principles of karma and its outcome (vipaka).
  7. We share a commitment to make every effort to conform to the ethical ideals of Buddhism of avoiding all unwholesome action, doing wholesome actios and keeping the mind pure by:
    • Abstaining from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, harsh speech, idle talk, slander, stupefying intoxicants, covetousness, anger and malice, and deluded thoughts;
    • Practising caring with loving kindness, generosity, contentment, truthfulness, kind speech, meaningful talk, harmonious speech, temperance, and generous, compassionate and clear thoughts;
    • Eradicating the root causes of unskillful action: greed (lobha), hatred (dosa or dvesa), and delusion (moha).
    • We recognize the potentiality of every being to attain enlightenment from the cycle of birth and death (samsara) in Nibbana (Nirvana) and we accept the validity and effectiveness of different paths leading to final emancipation.
    • We realize that the conventional expressions of truth and reality are manifold; and, in the light of Sakyamuni Buddha’s own guidelines for an openminded and tolerant quest for the Ultimate Truth, recognize the importance of deferring to inter-traditional differences and practice of the Buddha Dharma.
    • We uphold our commitment to tolerance, compassion and mutual understanding within and among our diverse traditions, as well as between us and the religious and secular communities outside our traditions and, in order to foster a collective effort towards global, harmonious spiritual development, undertake
      • To study and appreciate one another’s teachings, religious and social practices and cultural heritage;
      • To avoid imposing our beliefs through coercion, manipulation or force, and
      • To utilize every opportunity for dialogue and cooperation.

Selected bibliography (http://www.geocities.com/candacevan/lbes_faq.html?200923)

  • Chödrön, Pema. The Wisdom of No Escape: And the Path of Loving-Kindness (Boston, MA: Shambhala). © 1991. ISBN: 1-57062-872-6.
  • Chödrön, Pema. When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times (Boston, MA: Shambhala) © 1997. ISBN: 1-57062-160-8.
  • Khema, Ayya. Being Nobody, Going Nowhere (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications) © 1987. ISBN: 0-86171-052-5.
  • Salzberg, Sharon. Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness (Boston, MA: Shambhala) © 1995. ISBN: 1-57062-903-X.
  • Salzberg, Sharon. A Heart as Wide as the World: Stories on the Path of Lovingkindness (Boston, MA: Shambhala) © 1997. ISBN: 1-57062-428-3.
  • Boorstein, Sylvia. It's Easier Than You Think: The Buddhist Way to Happiness (San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco) © 1997. ISBN: 0-06251-294-3.
  • Boorstein, Sylvia. Pay Attention, for Goodness' Sake: The Buddhist Path of Kindness (Ballantine Books) © 2003. ISBN: 0-34544-811-1.
  • Boucher, Sandy. Opening the Lotus: A Woman's Guide to Buddhism (Boston, MA: Beacon Press) © 1998. ISBN: 0-80707-309-1.
  • Boucher, Sandy. Discovering Kwan Yin, Buddhist Goddess of Compassion (Boston, MA: Beacon Press) © 1999. ISBN: 0-80701-340-4.
  • Friedman, Lenore, ed. On Being Bodies: Buddhist Women on the Paradox of Embodiment (Boston, MA: Shambhala) © 1997. ISBN: 1-57062-324-4.
  • Aitken, Robert. Taking the Path of Zen (North Point Press) © 1985. ISBN: 0-86547-080-4.
  • Aitken, Robert. Encouraging Words : Zen Buddhist Teachings for Western Students (Pantheon Books) © 1994. ISBN: 0-67975-652-3.
  • Gunaratana, Venerable Henepola. Mindfulness in Plain English (Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications) © 1991. ISBN: 0-86171-064-9. The text is also available online.
  • Nhat Hanh, Thich. The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation (Boston, MA: Beacon Press) © 1976. ISBN: 0-8070-1239-4.
  • Nhat Hanh, Thich. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation (New York: Broadway Books) © 1998. ISBN: 0-7679-0369-2.
  • Rahula, Walpola. What the Buddha Taught (New York, NY: Grove Press) © 1974. ISBN: 0-8021-3031-3.
  • Nhat Hanh, Thich. Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Steps of the Buddha. (Parallax Press) © 1991. ISBN: 0-93807-726-0.
  • Maitreya, Ananda, translator. Rose Kramer, editor. The Dhammapada (Parallax Press) © 1995. ISBN: 0-93807-787-2.
  • Titmuss, Christopher. An Awakened Life (Boston, MA: Shambhala) © 2000. ISBN: 1-57062-564-6.
  • Levine, Stephen. A Gradual Awakening (New York, NY: Anchor Books) © 1979. ISBN: 0-38526-218-3.
  • Richmond, Lewis. Work as a Spiritual Practice (New York, NY: Broadway Books) © 1999. ISBN: 0-76790-233-5.

Recommended Reading


  • Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness
  • In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon
  • Mindfulness in Plain English
  • Mindfulness with Breathing: A Manual for Serious Beginners
  • Pure and Simple: The Extraordinary Teachings of a Thai Buddhist Laywoman
  • The Buddha
  • What the Buddha Taught
  • When the Iron Eagle Flies: Buddhism for the West

Further Study

  • Being Dharma: The Essence of the Buddha's Teachings
  • Lovingkindness
  • The Four Foundations of Mindfulness
  • The Heart of Buddhist Meditation
  • The Life of the Buddha: Acording to the Pali Canon
  • The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha: A New Translation of the Majjhima Nikaya
  • The Way to Peace and Happiness

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Photos from April meeting

I uploaded a couple of photos from our April meeting to discuss Buddhism FAQ's at Julie and Nancy's house.

Album is here: April Meeting

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Booklet 4: The Great Buddha

Some of you may think that the Buddha is an almighty immortal with all kinds of powers, who can come and go without a trace. If you think this is the Buddha I am going to share with you, you will be disappointed. You may think that the Buddha is full of loving-kindness, and will grant you whatever you ask for in your prayers. This is not the case, either. I believe most people prefer the Buddha that sits cross-legged on the altar — serene, peaceful, quiet, and still. If the Buddha spoke and instructed us now, “Don’t do this,” or “That’s not the case,” we might not like the Buddha as much. Perhaps because the Buddha is not critical of us, does not reproach us or argue with us, we are drawn to him. We willingly pay respect and prostrate to him.

Read more link: http://www.blpusa.com/bies04.html

Please read the booklet and share your comments in the blog using the link below.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hsi Lai Temple on CNN

CNN came to Hsi Lai Temple and did a short feature for CNN Headline News. Venerable Miao Hsi featured in an interview. Link


Friday, March 20, 2009

Photos from Meeting at Church of Good Shepherd

I have uploaded the photos from the interfaith meeting on March 9th at the Church of Good Shepherd

Album: Interfaith meeting on March 9th

- Alex

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Booklet 3: The Essence of Buddhism

Essence means truth and also refers to the fundamental Dharma. Sometimes we say the doctrine of the Three Dharma Seals (also known as the Three Characteristics of Existence) is the essence of Buddhism, or that Dependent Origination is the essence of Buddhism. Other times we say that it is emptiness (sunyata) or the Four Noble Truths. What, then, is the essence of Buddhism? Actually, all of these concepts are the fundamental truths of Buddhism.

This is our study topic for March. Please read details at http://www.blpusa.com/bies03.html (go to the download for free link) and post your comments below.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Photos from Interfaith Meeting on March 4th

The photos from our Interfaith Meeting on March 4th at Arcadia Congregational United Church of Christ are now uploaded to Picasso. At this meeting we each described a particular object of practice.

Complete Album: Interfaith meeting on March 4th

- Alex

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Booklet 2: The Fundamental Concepts of Humanistic Buddhism

We know that the founder of Buddhism, Sakyamuni Buddha, is the Buddha of our world. He was born into this world; he cultivated his spiritual development, attained enlightenment, and shared with others the deep truths he had realized in this world. The human world was emphasized in everything he did. Why did the Buddha not achieve Buddhahood in one of the other five realms? Why did he not attain enlightenment in one of the other ten dharma worlds? Why did he, instead, attain complete awakening as a human being? Taking this question one step further, why did the Buddha not attain enlightenment in a past or future [kalpa]? Why did he choose our saha world and our present [kalpa]? There can only be one reason: the Buddha wanted the teachings of Buddhism to be relevant to the human world. The Buddhism that the Buddha gave us is humanistic, and Humanistic Buddhism is the integrating of our spiritual practice into all aspects of our daily lives. Humanistic Buddhism has the following six characteristics.

This is our Hsi Lai Friends Study Group topic for this month. Please study the booklet at the Buddha's Light Publishing link below. Add your comments to the blog.

Read more link: http://www.blpusa.com/bies02.html

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Great Oak Bodhisattva

Hidden in Temecula, Southern California is a wonderful secret: an old oak tree over 1,500 years of age, probably the oldest and largest known coastal live oak tree in the world. Nestled in the Pechanga Indian reservation, this oak tree is anything but a decrepit tree. From the outside, one cannot distinguish its magnificence. However, upon entering “its world,” one cannot fail to be enraptured by its size, serenity, and magnanimity. What we see above ground is only the tip of an iceberg. It stands majestically at more than 96 feet high, with a massive trunk nearly 20 feet in circumference. Much more is hidden from view underground.

From Thai Temple and Indian Reservation

To me, this oak tree is like a bodhisattva teaching us a lesson in Karma. This bodhisattva offers shelter, protection, happiness, and memories to those who have had the fortune to encounter it. In its quiet but powerful demeanor, this bodhisattva has demonstrated the power of karma over time, space, weather, and human designs. Master Hsing Yun spoke about the several principles of “karma” in “The Unique Characteristics of Buddhism.” He mentioned that karma is self-created i.e. it is not created by divine power: this oak tree is testimonial to the fact that it has withstood the tests of time and weather. Karma also means equal opportunity: this oak tree has made the best use of its existence, against all odds. Karma gives us hope and a bright future: this great oak bodhisattva reminds us that our future is in our hands. Karma means good begets good, and bad begets bad: certainly, this oak tree bears witness to the sowing of conditions through time. Karma is neutral, it is up to our mind to interpret and apply it towards positive goals.

Nature embodies the Dharma – animals, plants, and worlds are gently speaking to us. May we all celebrate the success of the Great Oak bodhisattva, and dance in the world of the Dharma.

Read about the oak tree at the Pechanga Reservation web site: www.pechanga-nsn.gov.

By Venerable Jue Wei

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Notes on the Meeting about the March Activities

Wildomar, CA, Feb. 7, 2009, 1:15pm

After lunch, we took 15 minutes break to explore the surroundings of the Ratanapannya Meditation Center. Then we had a short meeting was proceeded to discuss the coming activities in March.

1. Alex, Eddie, Ven. Chuan Jue, and Wan Jia continued the brainstorming to enhance the blog. Everybody appreciated their contrition to construct the blog. Suggestion was made to make the display to be more appealing to read, for instance, shortening the display length of the web page by making a summary version that is expandable to a complete verion.

2. Thanks Wan Jia for having posting our monthly reading materials in the blog. The reading article for March: The Unique Characteristics of Buddhism (www.blpusa.com/download/bies01.pdf)

3. A preliminary participants list has been generated for two activities led by Ven. Jue Wei in March, the participants as follows, please let us(either Jacky or Ven. Jue Wei) know if you want to join this event:

Interfaith meeting on March 4th(Wed.), 7pm at Arcadia Congregational United Church of Christ (2607 S. Santa Anita Ave. Aracadia, CA 91006)

The theme is “Interfaith series on Art and Artifacts in Worship.” A vegetarian dinner will be provided at 6pm.

Ritual objects will be brought by these people:
- Ven. Jue Wei — hand bell
- Ven. Chuan Jue — Avalokiteśvara statue
- Ven. Jue Ji — Wooden fish
- Alex — beans
- Nathan — Tibetan gong
- Eddie — Singing bowl
- Wan Jia — Buddhist stupa
- Jacky — meditation chime

Each person will have a few minutes presentation about the object they bring. Since we have enough object and presenters already, those of you also want to attend this event will not need to bring certain objects anymore.

Interfaith meeting on March 9th (Mon.) at 7pm at Church of Good Shepherd (400 W Duarte Road Arcadia, CA 91007)

Venerable Jue Wei will be speaking on the topic: “Hsi Lai Temple – The Dharma Coming to West” to the American Association of University Women.

People are willing to go (the participants probably will join the presentation of the powerpoints about Hsi Lai Temple and its mission/accomplishment). Please let Jacky know if you want to participant in presenting at this event.

Other notes about the talk by Ven. Sompoch Sripund in Ratanapannya Meditation Center, the talk by Ven. Jue Wei in Ratanapannya Meditation Center about “Meditation from Humanistic Buddhist Perspective,” and notes on the exclusive visit to Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians can be view on this blog

Friday, February 27, 2009

Meditation from the Humanistic Buddhist Perspective

Notes on January 2009 Activity

A talk By Ven. Jue Wei in the Ratanapannya Meditation Center, Wildomar, CA, Feb. 7, 2009, 11:00am

After expressing our sincere appreciation to Venerable Sompoch and his center’s reception of our visit, Venerable Jue Wei shared her view about meditation from Chinese Buddhist and humanistic Buddhist perspectives.

Venerable Jue Wei stressed that

(1) Mediation can help us to deal with the problems we are facing in the present moment;
(2) The most prominent problem exists in our mind: the mind processes external sensory data through our sense organs and consciousness, then mind develops desires contribute the suffering we are experiencing;

So mediation’s purpose is to train our mind to change its habit-finding satisfaction inside, but not from external world. As for mediation methods, Venerable Jue Wei pointed out, cited from a prominent text in Chinese practice, the Diamond Sutra, that we should not allow our sense organs to be cheated by those things from outside.

There are four powers brought by meditation:

- To perceive the world better, to solve problems better;
- It leads to happiness, and joy;
- It makes us at ease;
- It enhances the contemplation.

By sharing her own experiences of mediation, although humbly claiming that she was only a novice in mediation, Venerable Jue Wei thought that Pure Land was our choice, and Chan was our daily life. We should therefore pursuit our spiritual practice life after life. Venerable Jue Wei further illustrated this idea by telling the story of the “Bodhisattva in negative conditions” to encourage everyone in the audience.

A Visit to the Pechanga Reservation

Notes on January 2009 Activity

A Visit to Pechanga Reservation (Luiseño Indians)
Feb. 7, 2009, 2:20pm-5:40pm

Through a friendship of and kindly arranged by Venerable Sompoch, we were received at the Perchanga Indian reservation in Temecula Valley.

For more than 10,000 years, the Pechanga have been living in that place we now call Temecula. For detailed about the reservation, see its official website: www.pechanga-nsn.gov/page?pageId=1.

Our visit begun with the escorting by the tribe ranger to the former tribe leader, Vincent’s house. The huge wholly-wood-assembled guest house was a surprise to us. Vincent said that the guest house was also used like a community center to the locals. We saw some people coming and bringing drums made of animal skins and other instruments to prepare for a gathering there.

After a looking at the surroundings of the guest house, holding either a warm cup of coffee or tea, we listened to Vincent’s talkative and humorous personality. We quizzed him with a friendly Q&A session that was filled with laughing, information, and satisfied of curiosity.

We were not able to go to the village due to the muddy road after the rain earlier that day. However, we were led by Vincent to visit the preservation site and one of the oldest oak trees in the country.

Everybody was trilled to see the giant oak tree: www.pechanga-nsn.gov/page?pageId=12. “It was just a tree among many other trees we played underneath when I was a child,” Vincent said.

Just a few hundreds meters away, there was the preserved site, which included a pond, huts made of the skin of redwood and vine plants, symbol-carved rocks, and an underground assembly hall. For us, these things had only can been seen in movies. Everybody was excited. We were happy to know that part of site has been converted to places to educate their younger generations about their own culture.

On the way back to Vincent’s house we had some more adventure on the slippery mud road. Some of us had to get out of the car and push the vehicles forward because we were stuck in the mud! Thanks to the Buddha, the heavy rain on the way back to city we caught cleaned everything!

That marked a perfect end of our marvelous January outing.

A Talk by Venerable Sompoch Sripund

Notes on January 2009 Activity

A talk By Ven. Sompoch Sripund
in Ratanapannya Meditation Center, Wildomar, California, Feb. 7, 2009, 10:00am

After a group Pali chant welcome led by the senior monks at the center, Ven. Sompoch delivered a thirty minute talk about meditation.

“Although the method is quite easy, many people are still afraid of sitting down quietly and 'do nothing' on a mat.” Ven. Sompoch began his talk with this humorous observation.

He mentioned that there are four foundations of meditation in the Thai tradition, which are based on the description in the Pali canon. These foundations are the fourfold contemplation to be practiced after one has completed the exercise of tranquilizing one's mind: (1) contemplating one's body as defiled; (2) contemplating one's feelings as painful; (3) contemplating one's mind as constantly changing and (4) contemplating things in general as devoid of inherent existence.

He said the purpose of mediation is to have the direct experiences of the Four Noble Truths. Through meditation, suffering could be moved completely or at least “can be lowered.”

But the practice is hard, “our mind tends to be move around in meditation ... we need to train our mind,” he said.

The first foundation is meditation on the breath. “We have breath, but we never use it in this way.”

A well-trained mind becomes sharp, clear and stable. “We use our mind to know and see the cause of suffering,” the Venerable said, “then we uproot the root.”

A beginner can start to meditate around 20 or 30 minutes, and make it longer as our concentration develops.

Participants then meditated 30 minutes after the talk. Venerable Jue Wei gave a talk on meditation from “humanistic Buddhist perceptive.”

After some more beautiful chanting we had a potluck lunch with the monks there. Everybody enjoyed the fresh after-rain air and sunshine in the suburban mountain city.

Venerable Sompoch then brought us to a local Indian reservation site. We were warmly welcomed and guided by the retired tribe leader, Vincent. Everybody begun another wonderful experience of the native Indian ten thousand year’s culture in the valley.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

About Hsi Lai Friends

Hsi Lai Friends is a study group for people interested in Buddhism and the activities at Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, California. The group, although founded independently, has been guided since its creation by monastics affiliated with the temple.

The group is diverse in many ways. It includes lay people and monastics, students and professionals, U.S. citizens and foreign nationals. All are united by a common interest — the study of Buddhism and its application to daily life.

Hsi Lai Friends was created in 2004 by graduate students from Hsi Lai Buddhist College as a way to discuss and practice Buddhism among friends. Today, the journey continues and expands as members explore the Buddha's Dharma with activities that include reading key portions of sutras, learning more about other Buddhist traditions, and meeting with non-Buddhist groups for discussions and various activities.

Humanistic Buddhism, as practiced at Hsi Lai Temple and promoted by its monastic order Fo Guang Shan, urges people to become engaged in social activities that improve the lives of all human beings. With this spiritual goal in mind, members of Hsi Lai Friends continue to reach out to all citizens of Southern California in an attempt to promote understanding, to increase compassion, and to seek new friends.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Photos from Ratanapanya Meditation Center and Pechanga Indian Reservation

We had a great time at the Ratanapanya Meditation Center
and the Pechanga Indian Reservation in Temecular. I posted photos at


and Jacky posted photos at


-- Alex

Thursday, February 5, 2009

February 7 Outing to Ratanapannya Meditation Center and Temecula Indian Reservation

Here is the confirmed schedule for our Feb. 7 outing, we have two major activities that day (highlighted). Please be aware of that it will be a day-long trip. We probably will leave there around 4pm. Therefore, those who want to come back earlier you certainly can do so, but you may need to drive by yourself.

Details as follows:

* 8:00 am, (those who want to carpool with us) leave UWest (in front of General Service Office) to

Ratanapannya Meditation Center (Thai vipasyana meditation Temple)
34550 Orange Street, Wildomar, CA 92595 contact tel 951-245-1399, my cell 626-548-0495.

* 10:00am, talk by the abbot of the Temple, Ven. Sompoch Sripundh, about vipasyana meditation;
* 10:30am, talk by Ven. Jue Wei (Hsi Lai Temple), about "meditation from humanistic Buddhist perspective";
* 11:00am, group meditation sit;
* 11:30am, lunch;
* 12:00pm, discussion/walking mediation/site-seeing etc;
* 1:00pm: group meeting to discuss our upcoming events, blog etc;
* 1:45pm, leave temple to Temecula Indian Reservation, a local reservation site (kindly invited by the former tribe leader, native Indian Vincent, this site is not for public but will be specially open for us, please check the attched file to see the photos);
* around 4pm, leave Wildomar back to school.

Please be advised to bring some food to share since we are going to have a potluck lunch in the Temple.

Photos from previous visits to the Ratanapannya Meditation Center and Temecula Indian Reservation.

Photos from Hsi Lai Temple

There has been a number of great events at Hsi Lai Temple, including Chinese New Year and the Offering Ceremony to the Buddhas and Celestial Beings.

Here is a photo of (left to right) Alex, Elaine ,Jacky, and Bill at the tea shop after the Offering Ceremony to the Buddhas and Celestial Beings.

For more of Jacky's photos go to picasaweb.google.com/liuyunchang.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Meeting with Sierra Club International Community Section
Jan 31, 2009

The Los Angeles Chapter, International Community Section reaches out to new comers from abroad in the Los Angeles with a variety of activities, such as hiking and car camping, familiarizes them with the Sierra Club, and encourages communication of ideas. I met the committee at a committee meeting and asked them for ideas on how Hsi Lai Temple can help the community. I briefly introduced the temple and the brainstorming session that we did in the Hsi Lai College Study Group. Many people present were familiar with Hsi Lai Temple both from official International Community Section outings to the temple and from individual trips.

1. Have you considered engaging the community at Hsi Lai Temple for being engaged in activities sponsored by the Sierra Club?

The International Community Section is very interested in connecting with the community at Hsi Lai Temple.

Members of the Temple are always welcome to International Community Section events. These are advertised on the web site (http://angeles.sierraclub.org/ics/). We can also send flyers to the Temple for outings. Most International Community Section events are weekend car camps. To participate in a car camp tents, sleeping bags, etc are needed.

2. How can Hsi Lai Temple help the environment, the Sierra Club, and the International Community Section?

Members from the Temple can participate in animal preservation and conservation activities sponsored by the Sierra Club. There is a huge number of activities and limitless possibilities.

3. What can we do as follow up steps?

Follow up with the chairman on activities. The International Community Section is also interested in another trip to the temple. Let them know the opening hours of the dining hall and my contact email for further comments.

I was invited to present to the San Fernando Valley Section meeting on Feb 17, 7 pm. Check the LA Chapter schedule for details of the group and meeting.
Upcoming events

Dear friends in the Dharma:

We believe that you all have had a great break and we wish you have fruitful new year!

With some member's great effort, I am pleased to announce after the suspension in January, now we are going to resume our monthly activities:

1) On. Feb. 7(Sat.), we are going to visit

Ratanapannya Meditation Center (Thai Temple)
34550 Orange Street
Wildomar, CA 92595

We are planning to arrive there at 10:00am, followed by a talk about Thai vipassana meditation by the abbot Ven. Sompoch Sripundh there and "Humanistic perspective on meditation" by Ven. Jue Wei, then we are going to have a group meditation sit (may be 30 minutes), then we will have potluck lunch (probably around 11:30am, just be aware of that Theravada monastic don't cook by themselves, their food is not vegetarian and they need to have lunch before 12pm due to the Vinaya regulations, so we need to bring our own food).

After lunch, we are going to have short walk (or walking meditation) around the Temple, then we will sit down to discuss out future plans, maintaining the blog, mailing list, and out-reach ideas etc.

We will leave the temple after that(say 2pm).

2) On March 4th(Wed.)

Ven. Jue Wei will be speaking at the Arcadia Interfaith at 7pm.

Vegetarian dinner is provided at 6pm (we suggest we make some modest contributions if we intend to eat.)

The address is
Arcadia Congregational United Church of Christ
2607 So. Santa Anita Ave.
Aracadia, CA

Those who intend to join in this event should bring a ritual object or
object of art to share with the audience.

3) On March 9th (Mon.)

Ven. Jue Wei will be speaking at the Church of Good Shepherd to the American Association of University Women at 7pm. The address is 400 W. Duarte Road, Arcadia, CA 91007 . We can arrange to be there by 6:30pm for snacks, and then proceed to dinner after the discussion.

Also, we will let you know the details when this event is coming near.
Hsi Lai Temple
2009 English Buddhism Class
Core Teaching of Buddhism – Ven. Jue Qian
(Every Sunday 10.30am to 12pm)

Table of Contents

1.Buddhist Etiquettes

Who is Buddha?
Introduction of Buddha’s past lifes and this life

Four Noble Truth
- Suffering, Cause of Suffering, End of Suffering and Path Lead to End of Suffering
Noble Eightfold Path
Three Dharma Seal
- Impermanence, Non-Self, Ultimate Enlightenment
The Law of Cause and Condition

Who is Sangha?
The Practice of Sangha
Origin of Sangha Order
Evolution of Sangha Order
- Lesser Vehicle (Theravada), Great Vehicle (Mahayana), and others

Who is Bodhisattva?
Origin of Bodhisattva
Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple
English Buddhism Class Schedule

Meditation: 9:20 – 10:20 am (Advanced)
2:00 – 3:00 pm (Beginners)
Ven. Miao Hsin & Ven. Hui Xuan
(Meditation Hall will be open from 9:00 am)

10:30 am – 12:00 noon
Classes (I & II) on Buddhist Teachings
Assembly Hall (second room right corridor)
I.Core Teachings of Buddhism
Meeting Room (first room right corridor)
II.Chan Mind: the Art of Living

(A fee of $10.00 required for every semester
of either meditation or teachings)

(BLIA Hsi Lai Subchapter Monthly Meeting
First Sunday of the month at 1:30 pm in Meeting Room)

2009 – Session I

January 11 – Special Dharma Lecture: – Dr. Joshua Capitanio: Prajnaparamita Literature in Chinese Buddhism (Meeting Room)
(Saturday, January 10 – 9:30 am Prayer for World Peace Ceremony
4:30 pm Neighborhood Party)

18 – Classes: I. Core Teachings of Buddhism –
Ven. Jue Qian (Assembly Hall)
II. Chan Mind: the Art of Living – Ven. Jue Ji
(Meeting Room)

(Two-week break for Chinese New Year)

February 8 - Classes: I. Core Teachings of Buddhism –
Ven. Jue Qian (Assembly Hall)
II. Sutra Study – Ven. Jue Ji (Meeting Room)
15- Classes: I. Core Teachings of Buddhism –
Ven. Jue Qian (Assembly Hall)
II. Chan Mind: the Art of Living – Ven. Jue Ji
(Meeting Room)

22- Classes: I. Core Teachings of Buddhism –
Ven. Jue Qian (Assembly Hall)
II. Chan Mind: the Art of Living – Ven. Jue Ji
(Meeting Room)

March 1 – Classes: I. Core Teachings of Buddhism –
Ven. Jue Qian (Assembly Hall)
II. Chan Mind: the Art of Living – Ven. Jue Ji
(Meeting Room)

9 – Classes: I. Core Teachings of Buddhism –
Ven. Jue Qian (Assembly Hall)
II. Chan Mind: the Art of Living – Ven. Jue Ji
(Meeting Room)

15 – Classes: I. Core Teachings of Buddhism –
Ven. Jue Qian (Assembly Hall)
II. Chan Mind: the Art of Living – Ven. Jue Ji
(Meeting Room)

22 –Classes: I. Core Teachings of Buddhism –
Ven. Jue Qian (Assembly Hall)
II. Chan Mind: the Art of Living – Ven. Jue Ji
(Meeting Room)

29 – Dialogue with the Abbot on Humanistic Buddhism –
Abbot Venerable Hui Chi (Meeting Room)

Fo Guang Shan Hsi Lai Temple
3456 S Glenmark Drive
Hacienda Heights, CA 91745
Tel: (626) 961-9697 (107)
Fax: (626) 369-1944
Website: www.hsilai.org
Email: info@hsilai.org

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Booklet 1: The Unique Characteristics of Buddhism

Every religion has a doctrine and basic philosophy. Buddhism is a religion: it too has a comprehensive doctrine and profound philosophy. Within the Buddhist doctrine and philosophy, there are aspects of the teachings that differ from other religions. These aspects are the unique characteristics of Buddhism.
What are the unique characteristics of Buddhism?

Read more at www.blpusa.com/bies01.html.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

2009 Dharma Day Celebration — Feb. 15 and 22
Buddhist Studies Conference


Theme: Self-Reflection on the Learning of Buddhist Teachings
(Each presentation should emphasize personal experiences through contemplations and applications of the Buddha’s teachings.)

Time Limit: 12 minutes per presentation

  1. All presentations will be made first on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009, and evaluated by 2-3 monastic judges. The top ones will be selected to be presented again on Sunday, Feb. 22, 2009.
  2. All presenters need to submit a 1-page, double-spaced abstract on Feb. 15th. The BLIA-LA Chapter will publish these abstracts in their bi-monthly magazine to showcase the event.
  3. To register, please complete a registration form and fax the completed form to the BLIA-LA office at 626-923-5146. The deadline for registration is Feb. 1, 2009.
  4. A laptop computer and a LCD projector will be provided for presenters.

Date/Time: Sunday, February 15, 2009, 1:30 pm – 4:00 pm
Sunday, February 22, 2009, 9:30 am – 12:00 pm

Place: Hsi Lai Temple
3456 S. Glenmark Dr., Hacienda Heights, CA 91745

Sponsor: BLIA-LA Chapter


Meeting Minutes from Jan 8, 2009 at Hsi Lai Temple

Thank you to all who have made time to brainstorm on what we are going to do for 2009.

It was a very fruitful session.

In summary, please allow me to share with everyone the outcome of our meeting.

We agreed that we will now start to bring Humanistic Buddhism and Chinese Buddhism/culture into the community.

Perhaps the first thing we should do is to get to know and to find out the needs of the community.

Activities that we may plan for include starting a blog site, speaking engagements, working with other societies, and organizing events.

We have also agreed that we will not engage in any political or commercial undertakings.

In terms of speaking arrangements, we can work with interfaith groups, vegetarian restaurants, public libraries, and college campuses.

In terms of working with other societies, we spoke about Sierra Club and other interfaith associations.

We may also “expose” ourselves by taking public transportation, or organizing “Taste of China” booths.

Even a group of monastics and laity (with some uniform attire) cleaning the beach may be a photo and speaking opportunity.

As you can tell, there was no dearth of ideas and enthusiasm in terms of what we can do.

The next step is to start a blog site – Alex Amies has kindly volunteered his service.

I understand that there are some Fo Guang Shan guidelines – can Venerable Jue Huang please assist to enlighten us?

Bill Cunningham has volunteered to help with writing up some publicity materials for our group.

We have also lined up a schedule of responsible parties for the upcoming months:

February: Jacky (visit Sri Lankan temple – meditation practice and discussion/exchange)

March: Jue Wei (participate in interfaith session)

April: Jue Ji (outing to Arizona)

May: Alex

June: Bill

July: Chuan Jue

August: Wanjia

If you can volunteer to organize something for the months of September ~ December, please let Jacky or me know.

I believe that we are on to something meaningful and enterprising …

do keep the first Friday evening or Saturday day of each month reserved for us!

Please find attached an application form for presentation of your experience and practice of the Dharma.

What an opportuned start to our outreach program! I look forward to your participation.

With Metta,

Jue Wei