Urban Dharma Newsletter... November 5, 2002
Buddhism - An Introduction
The Significance of Vesak ...Venerable Mahinda
2001 Buddhist Holidays (Includes Tibetan, Zen, Pure
Land & Theravada Dates)
Book Review: Buddhism:
Introducing the Buddhist Experience ...by
Donald W. Mitchell
Temple/Center of the Week: The
Community of Mindful Living
Buddhism - An Introduction
Terry Muck © 2002 Religion News Service®
recent years, the most visible Buddhist in America has been
a Tibetan exiled from his country by Chinese communists who
see his religio/political leadership of Tibet as the Dalai Lama
(the leader of all Tibetan Buddhists) a threat to their control.
The Dalai Lama's cause has appealed to many Americans who have
been attracted not only by the injustice of the situation but
the evident spirituality and charisma of the Dalai Lama himself.
He has personified a 100-year-old American fascination with
many different aspects of Buddhist teaching, particularly the
meditation practices that characterize most of the schools of
Buddhism. These practices, which go by names such as Zen, vipassana,
and insight, find a ready audience in stress-filled American
as a modern religion began with a sixth century B.C.E. Hindu
named Siddharta Gautama. Because of a religious experience Gautama
had at the age of 35, he came to be called the Buddha or the
Enlightened One. What the Buddha realized through this Enlightenment
was that neither the religion of the high-caste Hindus--a religion
of expensive ritual and privilege-- nor the religion of wandering
ascetics or sannyasin, who eschewed all luxury and privilege,
was in the end helpful for the spiritual quest. The Buddha discovered
a Middle Way between those two extremes and began to teach it.
Buddha was the son of a king, and of a family which most likely
were observant Hindus. The Buddha never really gave up basic
aspects of Hinduism--he retained, in fact, the basic metaphysical
underpinnings of the Hindu worldview, the samsara-dharma-karma
ethical engine that drives everyday existence (see our Backgrounder
on Hinduism). But he did question much of what he understood
to have grown up around that metaphysic--the brahminical sacrificial
system, caste, and the singular reliance on gods and goddesses.
He questioned whether these were really as determinative of
spiritual status and progress as taught by the religious elite
of his day. Instead, the Buddha advocated a more interior, personalized
approach to spiritual progress that demanded meditative discipline
and practice in order for spiritual achievement to take place.
achievement, he said, began not with acceptance of outside religious
authority residing in the Vedas or any other religious authority,
but with realizing the true condition of all human beings, a
condition he called suffering (dukkha). Everything about our
lives, he taught, is impermanent (anicca) and because of this
impermanence, even good things, such as good relationships and
wealth, are in the end suffering--because they don't last. The
only thing that lasts is to understand that we suffer because
we don't understand that all is suffering. The way to gain this
understanding is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, a lifestyle
characterized by morality, meditative practice, and deep wisdom.
This lifestyle is something we all must work to develop--no
god can bestow it on us, no teacher can ensure it. We must work
out our own spiritual development with faithfulness and energy,
using the insights of the Buddha's teaching (dharma).
Buddha's teaching struck a responsive chord in India and the
growing movement soon was exported to other Southeast Asian
countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma (where a Buddhist
school called Theravada predominates), to China and Korea where
Mahayana Buddhism thrives, to Japan where Zen and Pure Land
Buddhism dominate, and then back to Tibet, where Vajrayana Buddhism
developed. In more recent times Buddhism has become an established
feature in Europe and North America. In each of these locales
Buddhism has taken on a distinctive character by accommodating
itself to the indigenous culture, without giving up the distinctive
essence of what the Buddha taught.
Dalai Lama notwithstanding, Buddhism seems to thrive without
much of the theological and ecclesiological structure that characterizes
other world religions. The Buddha said the locus of religious
activity was not in philosophical nor religious-political systems
but in practice. He was not blind to the need for such systems
and structures. In fact, he developed an elaborate rule that
defined the Sangha or the community of Buddhist monks and nuns.
But the Buddha emphasized that the Sangha exists to facilitate
individual spiritual practice, not as an end in itself. In many
other religions, the reverse emphasis is true: the people of
God, the kingdom of God, is the goal, the end product. If nothing
else, Buddhism raises the question of the relationship between
individual spiritual practice and the larger religious community.
a culture where the separation of church and state is mandated
by law and where a century of secularization has increasingly
made religion more and more of a private rather than a public
affair, Buddhism's heavy emphasis on individual spiritual practice
finds an eager audience in North America.
Buddhists are vegetarians, although not all are. The Buddha
taught a strict doctrine of ahimsa or non-violence, which is
usually interpreted to include not killing animals. But eating
meat from animals killed by others is not strictly prohibited.
Still, because of ahimsa and because meditative and contemplative
states of mind are best fueled by fruits and vegetables, vegetarianism
is more the rule than the exception as it tends to be among
Buddhists tend to wear Western dress. Clothing is more a cultural
matter than a religious one, although because the heart of Buddhist
practice is meditation, loose fitting clothes are preferred.
If you are invited to a sitting mediation, for example, wear
something that will be comfortable for an hour of uninterrupted
Buddhist holidays are also culturally conditioned. The distinctively
Buddhist holidays, however, celebrate the central events of
the Buddha's life, his birth and death, but especially his Enlightenment.
The paradigmatic holiday is what Theravada Buddhists call Wesak,
usually held sometime during the first two weeks of May (since
it follows the lunar calendar the exact date varies). Wesak
celebrates the birth, Enlightenment, and death of the Buddha.
Other schools of Buddhism celebrate these three events at different
times of the year, sometimes separating the three events into
two or three holidays.
Buddhists call the basic worship service Uposatta and hold it
at the temple or monastery grounds on full and new moon days
at a minimum. The service includes the reverencing (not worshiping)
of the statue of the Buddha, the offering of gifts to the monks
in charge of the service, the chanting of suttas or teachings
of the Buddha, personal meditation, and listening to a homily
on some aspect of Buddhist teaching by the monk in charge. Different
schools of Buddhism give different weight to these different
elements and may not include them all. A Zen Buddhist sitting,
for example, emphasizes heavily the personal meditation aspect
and may or may not include a short teaching by the roshi or
primary life cycle event in the Buddhist religious tradition
is the funeral and the events surrounding death. Since reincarnation
is such an important feature of the religious life, It is important
to create the right atmosphere surrounding death to ensure the
best possible conditions for a favorable rebirth and to accept
death as a life stage rather than a disastrous life ending.
have been at the forefront of interreligious interaction. In
order to support their heavy emphasis on private meditative
practice, Buddhist thinkers have develop elaborate understandings
of human psychology and mental states. This emphasis has resonated
strongly with Western cultures which also lay heavy stress on
understanding individual existence. Although the traditional
answers given to questions surrounding individual consciousness
have differed greatly in the Eastern and Western traditions,
the fact that both are so central and that the questions, at
least, seem so similar, have made the Christian-Buddhist interreligious
dialogue a particularly interesting and rich one.
the most difficult teaching in most schools of Buddhism for
Westerners to understand is the teaching about no-self or anatta.
The Buddha taught that what we have come to understand as individual
selves is really just the happenstance coming together of various
mental states and physical matter. Thus, elaborate understandings
and analysis of human psychology are carried out in Buddhism
with the ultimate purpose of showing the impermanence of such
constructs. Western psychology, on the other hand, tends to
carry out its researches with at least an implicit goal of promoting
and enhancing selfhood. Thus, when the two religious traditions
are compared an irony of sorts flavors the discussions, with
both sides asking similar questions yet for very different purposes.
BCE Life of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha
The first Buddhist council
The second Buddhist council
Reign of Asoka (and third Buddhist council, 250)
Conversion of Sri Lanka; missions to South Asia
ca. Beginnings of Mahayana
CE Buddhism enters Central Asia and China
Buddhism enters Korea
Buddhism enters Japan
ca. Buddhism enters Tibet
Fifth Buddhist council at Mandalay
Founding of World Fellowship of Buddhists
Sixth Buddhist council at Rangoon
The Significance of Vesak ...Venerable
significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and his universal
peace message to mankind.
we recall the Buddha and his Enlightenment, we are immediately
reminded of the unique and most profound knowledge and insight
which arose in him on the night of his Enlightenment. This coincided
with three important events which took place, corresponding
to the three watches or periods of the night.
the first watch of the night, when his mind was calm, clear
and purified, light arose in him, knowledge and insight arose.
He saw his previous lives, at first one, then two, three up
to five, then multiples of them .. . ten, twenty, thirty to
fifty. Then 100, 1000 and so on.... As he went on with his practice,
during the second watch of the night, he saw how beings die
and are reborn, depending on their Karma, how they disappear
and reappear from one form to another, from one plane of existence
to another. Then during the final watch of the night, he saw
the arising and cessation of all phenomena, mental and physical.
He saw how things arose dependent on causes and conditions.
This led him to perceive the arising and cessation of suffering
and all forms of unsatisfactoriness paving the way for the eradication
of all taints of cravings. With the complete cessation of craving,
his mind was completely liberated. He attained to Full Enlightenment.
The realisation dawned in him together with all psychic powers.
wisdom and light that flashed and radiated under the historic
Bodhi Tree at Buddha Gaya in the district of Bihar in Northern
India, more than 2500 years ago, is of great significance to
human destiny. It illuminated the way by which mankind could
cross, from a world of superstition, or hatred and fear, to
a new world of light, of true love and happiness.
heart of the Teachings of the Buddha is contained in the teachings
of the Four Noble Truths, namely,
Noble Truth of Dukkha or suffering
Origin or Cause of suffering
End or Cessation of suffering
Path which leads to the cessation of all sufferings
First Noble Truth is the Truth of Dukkha which has been
generally translated as 'suffering'. But the term Dukkha, which
represents the Buddha's view of life and the world, has a deeper
philosophical meaning. Birth, old age, sickness and death are
universal. All beings are subject to this unsatisfactoriness.
Separation from beloved ones and pleasant conditions, association
with unpleasant persons and conditions, and not getting what
one desires - these are also sources of suffering and unsatisfactoriness.
The Buddha summarises Dukkha in what is known as the Five Grasping
lies the deeper philosophical meaning of Dukkha for it encompasses
the whole state of being or existence.
life or the whole process of living is seen as a flux of energy
comprising of the Five aggregates, namely the Aggregate of Form
or the Physical process, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formation,
and Consciousness. These are usually classified as mental and
physical processes, which are constantly in a state of flux
we train our minds to observe the functioning of mental and
physical processes we will realise the true nature of our lives.
We will see how it is subject to change and unsatisfactoriness.
And as such, there is no real substance or entity or Self which
we can cling to as 'I', 'my' or 'mine'.
we become aware of the unsatisfactory nature of life, we would
naturally want to get out from such a state. It is at this point
that we begin to seriously question ourselves about the meaning
and purpose of life. This will lead us to seek the Truth with
regards to the true nature of existence and the knowledge to
the Buddhist point of view, therefore, the purpose of life is
to put an end to suffering and all other forms of unsatisfactoriness
- to realise peace and real happiness. Such is the significance
of the understanding and the realisation of the First Noble
Second Noble Truth explains the Origin or Cause of suffering.
Tanha or craving is the universal cause of suffering. It includes
not only desire for sensual pleasures, wealth and power, but
also attachment to ideas', views, opinions, concepts, and beliefs.
It is the lust for flesh, the lust for continued existence (or
eternalism) in the sensual realms of existence, as well as the
realms of form and the formless realms. And there is also the
lust and craving for non-existence (or nihilism). These are
all different Forms of selfishness, desiring things for oneself,
even at the expense of others.
realizing the true nature of one's Self, one clings to things
which are impermanent, changeable and perishable. The failure
to satisfy one's desires through these things; causes disappointment
is a powerful mental force present in all of us. It is the root
cause of our sufferings. It is this craving which binds us in
Samsara - the repeated cycle of birth and` death.
Third Noble Truth points to the cessation of suffering.
Where there is no craving, there is no becoming, no rebirth.
Where there is no rebirth, there is no decay. no, old age, no
death, hence no suffering. That is how suffering is ended, once
and for all.
Fourth Noble Truth explains the Path or the Way which leads
to the cessation of suffering. It is called the Noble Eightfold
Noble Eightfold path avoids the extremes of self-indulgence
on one hand and self-torture on the other. It consists of Right
Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right
Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
path factors may be summarised into 3 stages of training, involving
morality, mental culture and wisdom.
or good conduct is the avoidance of evil or unwholesome actions
-- actions which are tainted by greed, hatred and delusion;
and the performance of the good or wholesome actions, - actions
which are free from greed, hatred and delusion, but motivated
by liberality, loving-kindness and wisdom.
function of good conduct or moral restraint is to free one's
mind from remorse (or guilty conscience). The mind that is free
from remorse (or guilt) is naturally calm and tranquil, and
ready for concentration with awareness.
concentrated and cultured mind is a contemplative and analytical
mind. It is capable of seeing cause and effect, and the true
nature of existence, thus paving the way for wisdom and insight.
in the Buddhist context, is the realisation of the fundamental
truths of life, basically the Four Noble Truths. The understanding
of the Four Noble Truths provide us with a proper sense of purpose
and direction in life. They form the basis of problem-solving.
message of the Buddha stands today as unaffected by time and
the expansion of knowledge as when they were first enunciated.
matter to what lengths increased scientific knowledge can extend
man's mental horizon, there is room for the acceptance and assimilation
for further discovery within -the framework of the teachings
of the Buddha.
teaching of the Buddha is open to all to see and judge for themselves.
The universality of the teachings of the Buddha has led one
of the world's greatest scientists, Albert Einstein to declare
that 'if there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific
needs, it would be Buddhism'
teaching of the Buddha became a great civilising force wherever
it went. It appeals to reason and freedom of thought, recognising
the dignity and potentiality of the human mind. It calls for
equality, fraternity and understanding, exhorting its followers
to avoid evil, to do good and to purify their minds.
the transient nature of life and all worldly phenomena, the
Buddha has advised us to work out our deliverance with heedfulness,
as 'heedfulness is the path to the deathless'.
clear and profound teachings on the cultivation of heedfulness
otherwise known as Satipatthana or the Four Foundations of Mindfulness,
is the path for the purification of beings - for the overcoming
of sorrows and lamentation, for the destruction of all mental
and physical sufferings, for the attainment of insight and knowledge
and for the realisation of Nibbana. This has been verified by
his disciples. It is therefore a path, a technique which may
be verified by all irrespective of caste, colour or creed.
2001 Buddhist Holidays (Includes
Tibetan, Zen, Pure Land & Theravada Dates)
1/3: Day for meditation on Tantric Buddha Deities Amitayus and
White Tara, who grant good health and long life. Buddhas and
Bodhisattvas are aspects of Adi-Buddha--the masculine and feminine,
transcendent and immanent, omniscient and omnipotent, primordial
and eternal Absolute. [a/k/a Medicine Buddha Day, Tara Puja]
1/6: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful of
the peace, joy, and beauty of the moment. Forms of Buddhism
include Theravada, Mahayana (Zen and Pure Land), and Tantra.
1/21: World Religions Day--Day to contemplate all religions
as different paths to the One Universal Deity of many names
1/24 to 1/27: Chinese and East Asian Lunar New Year (Year 4699--Year
of the Snake). [a/k/a Hsih Nien, Suhl, Tet]
2/3: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that
you, and all that is, are in the process of transformation.
2/19: Day the President ordered the internment of loyal Japanese
Americans during World War II (1942); day to mourn Asian victims
of internment and exclusion (past and present), make peace,
and celebrate empowerment of Asian Americans. [Executive Order
9066; signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt]
2/22: Sojong Day--Buddhist day of fasting, confession, and reparation
for harm done.
2/24 to 3/10: Losar/Tibetan Buddhist New Year (Year 2128) and
Monlam Chenmo/Great Prayer Festival--Commemorates miracles performed
by the Buddha; rituals, dances, and sculptures are made to drive
out evil spirits and to protect and benefit all sentient beings.
3/3: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that
you are connected to each and every sentient being that has
3/13: Mahayana Buddhist festival of Bodhisattva Tara/Kuan Yin/Kannon;
celebrates Her "birth." She declared women the spiritual
equals of men.
3/21: Day Japanese Buddhists mark the time of change by meditating
on the impermanence of death. [a/k/a Haru-no-Higan]
3/31: Vigil to mourn China's annexation of Tibet (1959) and
the killings, torture, and religious persecution of Tibetan
Buddhists. [Day the Dalai Lama fled into exile following the
Chinese invasion of Tibet]
4/2: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Deities Avalokitesvara
and Green Tara, consciousness and empowerment of Compassion.
Buddhists recognize the equality of all sentient beings. [a/k/a
4/7: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that
the joys and suffering of others are your joys and suffering.
5/3: National Day of Prayer--Day to pray for freedom of expression,
freedom of religion, and separation of church and state throughout
5/5: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that
everything you do, or fail to do, affects all sentient beings.
5/7 (Tib B 5/30 & 6/7): Wesak--Theravadin Buddhist festival
celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana of Buddha
Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BCE). Buddhists study sacred texts,
meditate, pray, chant mantras, and make devotional offerings
to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. [a/k/a Vesak, Vesakha Puja, Visakha
Puja, Saga Dawa Duchen, Budh Purnima, Buddha Jayanti]
5/18: Dakinis' Day--Day to unite will and power to manifest
positive social change and environmental healing. [a/k/a Mother
Tantra Puja, Tsog, Tsok]
6/2: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing
the interdependence of all things at all times.
6/4: Day to mourn the massacre of the peaceful, pro-democracy
protesters in China (1989).
6/7: Day for meditation on Pure Land Buddha Amitabha/Omito/
Amida, who provides a heavenly refuge and helps all attain salvation.
[a/k/a Amitabha Buddha Day]
7/2 to 7/9: Mahayana Buddhist festival of Tara/Kuan Yin/ Kannon,
Supreme Goddess of Nature and Perfect Buddha of many emanations;
celebrates Her vow to help all sentient beings. Buddhists daily
act on their vows to help all sentient beings.
7/5 (Tib B 7/24): Dhammachakka and Wassana--Theravadin Buddhist
celebration of the Buddha's first teaching and beginning of
a 3-month retreat for self-examination and peace-making. The
Buddha taught an 8-fold path to enlightenment--right views,
right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood,
right effort, right mindfulness, and right contemplation. [a/k/a
Esala & Vas, Ashala Dhamma & Vassa, Asalha Puja &
Varsa, Chokhor Duchen]
7/6: Birthday of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama; Tibetan
Buddhists believe he is a reincarnation of Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva
God of Compassion.
7/7: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that
alienation and hunger for possessions results from ignorance
7/13 to 7/16: Obon--Japanese Buddhist festival honoring departed
ancestors. [a/k/a Bon]
8/4: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that
desire for power over others results from ignorance of interdependence.
8/6: Day to mourn those harmed by the atomic bomb attacks on
Japan (1945); day to advocate for world-wide prohibition of
all weapons of mass destruction. [Hiroshima was bombed on 8/6/1945;
Nagasaki was bombed on 8/9/1945: over 270,000 civilians died
from the bombs and radiation.]
8/8: Vigil for democracy, justice, and respect for human rights
in Burma. [Day a pro-democracy demonstration opposing the authoritarian
military government was attacked by government troops (1988);
catalyst for the military crackdown.]
8/28: Opening of the Second World Parliament of Religions, attended
by members of all the world's religions (1993). A Global Ethic
was adopted that condemns hatred, aggression, oppression, and
environmental abuses committed in the name of religion.
9/1: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that
harm to the Earth and sentient beings results from ignorance
9/23: Day Japanese Buddhists mark the time of change by meditating
on the impermanence of life. [a/k/a Aki-no-Higan]
9/25: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Goddess Red
Tara, protector from evil and harm. [a/k/a Tara Puja Day]
10/5: Mahayana Buddhist festival of Bodhisattva Tara/Kuan Yin/
Kannon; celebrates Her attainment of Bodhisattvahood.
10/5: Bodhidharma Day--honors Zen Buddhist philosopher Bodhidharma,
who believed one could attain Buddhahood by realizing one's
own Buddha nature.
10/6: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that
fear and hatred of others results from ignorance of interconnectedness.
11/3: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing
and acting with compassion for the Earth and all creatures.
11/23: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Goddess Tara,
who guides the dead to a Pure Land where all will find salvation.
[a/k/a Tara Puja Day]
12/1: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing
and acting with compassion for the poor and oppressed.
12/10: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Deities Manjusri
and Prajna-Paramita, consciousness and empowerment of Wisdom.
Prajna-Paramita is considered Mother of All Buddhas.
is a religion founded in India by Buddha Siddhartha Gautama
(also called Shakyamuni), following his attainment of enlightenment
in 528 BCE. Beliefs, ritual practice, and holidays vary among
the various Buddhist denominations. The holy scripture of Theravada
Buddhism is the Pali Canon: Vinaya Pitaka (Book of Discipline),
Sutta Pitaka (Book of Buddha's Discourses), and Abhidhamma Pitaka
(Book of Higher Philosophy). The holy scripture of Mahayana
and Tantric Buddhism also include: the Heart Sutra, Wisdom Sutra,
the Lotus Sutra, and the Diamond Sutra. Buddhists take refuge
in the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Sangha
(Buddhist community). They believe in the Four Noble Truths,
and follow the Eightfold Path and the Five Precepts of morality.
Buddhists recognize that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas constitute
the ultimate Adi-Buddha.]
is no one Buddhist calendar. Zen Buddhist holidays (with roots
in Japan) are based on the Japanese ( Gregorian) calendar and
have fixed dates. Tibetan Tantric Buddhist holidays are based
on the unique Tibetan lunisolar calendar. The Tibetan New Year
begins just after, or a month following, the Chinese New Year.
Though some Tibetan Buddhist holidays occur annually, many occur
fortnightly or monthly. Pursuant to prevailing practice, Tibetan
Buddhist holidays are calculated based on Universal time. Chinese
Mahayana Buddhist holidays are based on the Chinese lunisolar
calendar. Theravada Buddhist holidays (with roots in Sri Lanka
and Thailand) are based on a Theravada lunisolar calendar.]
in brackets is not found in the printed calendar.]
to use and distribute these excerpts is granted for non-commercial
purposes, provided the following information is included:
MYSTIC'S WHEEL OF THE YEAR 2001
2000 Page Two, Inc.
Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience ...by
Donald W. Mitchell
Introducing the Buddhist Experience focuses on the depth
of Buddhist experience as expressed in the teachings and practices
of a wide array of its religious and philosophical traditions.
Taking a broad and inclusive approach, this unique work spans
over 2,500 years, featuring chapters on Buddhism's origins in
India; Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism; and Buddhism in Southeast
Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. It also includes an extensive
discussion of modern, socially engaged Buddhism and a concluding
chapter on the spread of Buddhism to the West. Mitchell provides
substantial selections of primary text material throughout that
illustrate a great variety of moral, psychological, meditative,
and spiritual Buddhist experiences.
Introducing the Buddhist Experience features twenty-two
boxed personal narratives provided by respected Buddhist leaders
and scholars from around the world, including His Holiness the
Dalai Lama, Dharma Master Sheng Yen, Dharma Master Cheng Yen,
Jeffrey Hopkins, Sulak Sivaraksa, Rita M. Gross, Chatsumarn
Kabilsingh, and Robert Aitken. These concise and intriguing
essays give students a glimpse into what the topics discussed
in the book actually mean in terms of human experience today.
Ideal for courses in Buddhism, Asian religions, and Asian philosophy,
Buddhism also incorporates helpful maps, numerous illustrations,
a glossary, and suggestions for further reading.
The Community of Mindful Living
of Mindful Living
Community of Mindful Living (CML) is guided by the *
Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings for Engaged Buddhism of the
Order of Interbeing--the Tiep Hien Order. Tiep means "being
in touch with" and "continuing." Hien means "realizing"
and "making it here and now." The Order of Interbeing
was formed by Thich Nhat Hanh in the mid-1960s, at a time when
the Vietnam War was escalating and the teachings of the Buddha
were desperately needed to combat the hatred, violence, and
divisiveness enveloping his country. From its inception and
in the present, the Order was comprised of all four membership
categories of the original Buddhist community-- monks, nuns,
laymen, and laywomen.
in Berkeley, California in 1983 and incorporated in 1990 in
California as a nonprofit religious organization (Church), CML
provides support for individuals and meditation groups (Sanghas)
worldwide who wish to practice in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition.
CML assists with the organization of retreats offered by Thich
Nhat Hanh and lay teachers in his tradition in the United States
and Canada. CML also develops programs of social engagement
in the United States to help create a culture of transformation
and awakening while also experimenting with skillful means by
cultivating a mindful workplace. In December, 1999, CML legally
became a "Doing Business As" (DBA) arm of the Unified
Buddhist Church. The Unified Buddhist Church was established
by Thich Nhat Hanh and others in Vietnam in the 1960's and in
the United States in 1997. It is the legally recognized governance
body for Plum Village in France; for Maple Forest Monastery
and Green Mountain Dharma Center in Vermont; and, since March,
1999, for the Community of Mindful Living, Parallax Press, and
Deer Park Monastery in California.
Mindfulness Bell, published by CML three times a year, is the
journal of the Order of Interbeing. Each issue includes a dharma
talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, articles by practitioners about their
practice, reports on socially engaged work in Vietnam and other
outreach projects, and a schedule of upcoming retreats and events.
Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings:
The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are
determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine,
theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings
are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop
our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to
fight, kill, or die for.
The Second Mindfulness Training: Nonattachment from Views
of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions,
we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to
present views. We shall learn and practice nonattachment from
views in order to be open to others' insights and experiences.
We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not
changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will
observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to
learn throughout our lives.
The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought
of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others,
we are committed not to force others, even our children, by
any means whatsoever - such as authority, threat, money, propaganda,
or indoctrination - to adopt our views. We will respect the
right of others to be different and to choose what to believe
and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism
and narrowness through practicing deeply and engaging in compassionate
The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering
that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help us develop
compassion and find ways out of suffering, we are determined
not to avoid or close our eyes before suffering. We are committed
to finding ways, including personal contact, images, and sounds,
to be with those who suffer, so we can understand their situation
deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion,
peace, and joy.
The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Simple, Healthy Living
that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and
compassion, and not in wealth or fame, we are determined not
to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual
pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry
and dying. We are committed to living simply and sharing our
time, energy, and material resources with those in need. We
will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs, or
any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective
body and consciousness.
The Sixth Mindfulness Training: Dealing with Anger
that anger blocks communication and creates suffering, we are
determined to take care of the energy of anger when it arises
and to recognize and transform the seeds of anger that lie deep
in our consciousness. When anger comes up, we are determined
not to do or say anything, but to practice mindful breathing
or mindful walking and acknowledge, embrace, and look deeply
into our anger. We will learn to look with the eyes of compassion
at ourselves and at those we think are the cause of our anger.
The Seventh Mindfulness Training: Dwelling Happily in the Present
that life is available only in the present moment and that it
is possible to live happily in the here and now, we are committed
to training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life.
We will try not to lose ourselves in dispersion or be carried
away by regrets about the past, worries about the future, or
craving, anger, or jealousy in the present. We will practice
mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present
moment. We are determined to learn the art of mindful living
by touching the wondrous, refreshing, and healing elements that
are inside and around us, and by nourishing seeds of joy, peace,
love, and understanding in ourselves, thus facilitating the
work of transformation and healing in our consciousness.
The Eighth Mindfulness Training: Community and Communication
that lack of communication always brings separation and suffering,
we are committed to training ourselves in the practice of compassionate
listening and loving speech. We will learn to listen deeply
without judging or reacting and refrain from uttering words
that can create discord or cause the community to break. We
will make every effort to keep communications open and to reconcile
and resolve all conflicts, however small.
The Ninth Mindfulness Training: Truthful and Loving Speech
that words can create suffering or happiness, we are committed
to learning to speak truthfully and constructively, using only
words that inspire hope and confidence. We are determined not
to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or
to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division
or hatred. We will not spread news that we do not know to be
certain nor criticize or condemn things of which we are not
sure. We will do our best to speak out about situations of injustice,
even when doing so may threaten our safety.
The Tenth Mindfulness Training: Protecting the Sangha
that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practice of understanding
and compassion, we are determined not to use the Buddhist community
for personal gain or profit or transform our community into
a political instrument. A spiritual community should, however,
take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should
strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan
The Eleventh Mindfulness Training: Right Livelihood
that great violence and injustice have been done to our environment
and society, we are committed not to live with a vocation that
is harmful to humans and nature. We will do our best to select
a livelihood that helps realize our ideal of understanding and
compassion. Aware of global economic, political and social realities,
we will behave responsibly as consumers and as citizens, not
supporting companies that deprive others of their chance to
The Twelfth Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life
that much suffering is caused by war and conflict, we are determined
to cultivate nonviolence, understanding, and compassion in our
daily lives, to promote peace education, mindful mediation,
and reconciliation within families, communities, nations, and
in the world. We are determined not to kill and not to let others
kill. We will diligently practice deep looking with our Sangha
to discover better ways to protect life and prevent war.
The Thirteenth Mindfulness Training: Generosity
of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing,
and oppression, we are committed to cultivating loving kindness
and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals,
plants, and minerals. We will practice generosity by sharing
our time, energy, and material resources with those who are
in need. We are determined not to steal and not to possess anything
that should belong to others. We will respect the property of
others, but will try to prevent others from profiting from human
suffering or the suffering of other beings.
The Fourteenth Mindfulness Training: Right Conduct
lay members): Aware that sexual relations motivated by craving
cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness but will create more
suffering, frustration, and isolation, we are determined not
to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding,
love, and a long-term commitment. In sexual relations, we must
be aware of future suffering that may be caused. We know that
to preserve the happiness of ourselves and others, we must respect
the rights and commitments of ourselves and others. We will
do everything in our power to protect children from sexual abuse
and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual
misconduct. We will treat our bodies with respect and preserve
our vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization
of our bodhisattva ideal. We will be fully aware of the responsibility
of bringing new lives into the world, and will meditate on the
world into which we are bringing new beings.
monastic members): Aware that the aspiration of a monk or
a nun can only be realized when he or she wholly leaves behind
the bonds of worldly love, we are committed to practicing chastity
and to helping others protect themselves. We are aware that
loneliness and suffering cannot be alleviated by the coming
together of two bodies in a sexual relationship, but by the
practice of true understanding and compassion. We know that
a sexual relationship will destroy our life as a monk or a nun,
will prevent us from realizing our ideal of serving living beings,
and will harm others. We are determined not to suppress or mistreat
our body or to look upon our body as only an instrument, but
to learn to handle our body with respect. We are determined
to preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the
realization of our bodhisattva ideal.
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