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:

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 (

  • 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:

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