Wednesday, August 31, 2022

A Quote From A Revolutionary Who Despised the US System of Government...

 


Above all, always be capable of feeling deeply any injustice committed against anyone, anywhere in the world. This is the most beautiful quality in a revolutionary.

Che Guevara


In America today the signs of civil unrest are growing. Driven by ignorance and greed.


Corporations and politicians - lying  to folks and playing on the peoples fears to keep them in line.


In the wealthiest  of nations (the USA) people go hungry and many are unable to secure the medical treatments they need.


In a nation that claims to value freedom (the USA) more people rest in a prison cell than anywhere else on the planet. Why?


America is in need of an American Che Guevara. One who can actually unite us once again in a common effort to secure the blessings this land/nation has to offer to ALL of its inhabitants. Every last one of them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Buddhist Core Values and Perspectives...

 


Ran across the following while I was busy studying. It is, in my view a fair representation and summary of Buddhism's core values. You can consider it a quick reference or a reminder sheet. Especially if you're new to Buddhism.

I am running a partial repost of the article here, with full attribution and a hot link back to the original document.


THE BUDDHIST CORE VALUES AND PERSPECTIVES FOR PROTECTION CHALLENGES: FAITH AND PROTECTION 


                                    I. THE BACKGROUND OF BUDDHIS

Buddhism, like most of the great religions of the world, is divided into a number of different traditions. However, most traditions share a common set of fundamental beliefs. 

One central belief of Buddhism is often referred to as reincarnation -- the concept that people are reborn after dying. In fact, most individuals go through many cycles of birth, living, death and rebirth. A practicing Buddhist differentiates between the concepts of rebirth and reincarnation. 

In reincarnation, the individual may recur repeatedly. In rebirth, a person does not necessarily return to Earth as the same entity ever again. He compares it to a leaf growing on a tree. When the withering leaf falls off, a new leaf will eventually replace it. It is similar to the old leaf, but it is not identical to the original leaf. 

Buddhism is a philosophy of life expounded by Gautama Buddha ("Buddha" means "enlightened one"), who lived and taught in northern India in the 6th century B.C. The Buddha was not a god and the philosophy of Buddhism does not entail any theistic world view. The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering. 

The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are: 

        • The Three Universal Truths; 
        • The Four Noble Truths; and 
        • The Noble Eightfold Path

                                II. THE THREE UNIVERSAL TRUTHS 

            1. Nothing is lost in the universe 
            2. Everything Changes 
            3. The Law of Cause and Effect 

In Buddhism, the law of karma, says "for every event that occurs, there will follow another event whose existence was caused by the first, and this second event will be pleasant or unpleasant according as its cause was skillful or unskillful." Therefore, the law of Karma teaches that the responsibility for unskillful actions is borne by the person who commits them.

 After his enlightenment, the Buddha went to the Deer Park near the holy city of Benares and shared his new understanding with five holy men. They understood immediately and became his disciples. This marked the beginning of the Buddhist community. For the next forty-five years, the Buddha and his disciples went from place to place in India spreading the Dharma, his teachings. Their compassion knew no bounds; they helped everyone along the way, beggars, kings and slave girls. At night, they would sleep where they were; when hungry they would ask for a little food. Wherever the Buddha went, he won the hearts of the people because he dealt with their true feelings. He advised them not to accept his words on blind faith, but to decide for themselves whether his teachings are right or wrong, then follow them. He encouraged everyone to have compassion for each other and develop their own virtue: "You should do your own work, for I can teach only the way." Once, the Buddha and his disciple Ananda visited a monastery where a monk was suffering from a contagious disease. The poor man lay in a mess with no one looking after him. The Buddha himself washed the sick monk and placed him on a new bed. Afterwards, he admonished the other monks: "Monks, you have neither mother nor father to look after you. If you do not look after each other, who will look after you? Whoever serves the sick and suffering, serves me." After many such cycles, if a person releases their attachment to desire and the self, they can attain Nirvana. This is a state of liberation and freedom from suffering. 

                            The three trainings or practices 

These three consist of: 

    1. Sila: Virtue, good conduct, morality. This is based on two fundamental principles: The principle of         equality: that all living entities are equal. The principle of reciprocity: This is the "Golden Rule" in         Christianity - to do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you. It is found in all major                 religions. 

    2. Samadhi: Concentration, meditation, mental development. Developing one's mind is the path to             wisdom which, in turn, leads to personal freedom. Mental development also strengthens and                 controls our mind; this helps us maintain good conduct. 

    3. Prajna: Discernment, insight, wisdom, enlightenment. This is the real heart of Buddhism.                    Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm. 

The first two paths listed in the Eightfold Path, described below, refer to discernment; the last three belong to concentration; the middle three are related to virtue. 


III. THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS 

The Buddha's Four Noble Truths explore human suffering. They may be described (somewhat simplistically) as: 

1. Dukkha: Suffering exists: Life is suffering. Suffering is real and almost universal. Suffering has many causes: loss, sickness, pain, failure, and the impermanence of pleasure.
 
2. Samudaya: There is a cause of suffering. Suffering is due to attachment. It is the desire to have and control things. It can take many forms: craving of sensual pleasures; the desire for fame; the desire to avoid unpleasant sensations, like fear, anger or jealousy. 

3. Nirodha: There is an end to suffering. Attachment can be overcome. Suffering ceases with the final liberation of Nirvana (Nibbana). The mind experiences complete freedom, liberation and non attachment. It lets go of any desire or craving

4. Magga: In order to end 

You will find the complete article HERE

Monday, August 29, 2022

How to Access Mystical Dimensions...

 


Enhance Access to Mystical Dimensions...

 

How to Get Started with Spirituality...

 

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

His Holiness the Dalai Lama...

 

"This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness."

“With the ever growing impact of science on our lives, religion and spirituality have a greater role to play reminding us of our humanity. There is no contradiction between the two. Each gives us valuable insights into the other. Both science and the teachings of the Buddha tell us of the fundamental unity of all things. This understanding is crucial if we are to take positive and decisive action on the pressing global concern with the environment.”

-His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
The following short excerpt is taken from Lions Roar.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is one of the most beloved and recognized leaders of our time. He is the spiritual leader of Tibet, but his presence and impact is known worldwide as a statesman, spiritual teacher, and theologian. Also known by his given religious name, Tenzin Gyatso, he is the fourteenth person to be recognized as a Dalai Lama.

What is a Dalai Lama? As written on his office’s official website, “The Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of Avalokiteshvara or Chenrezig, the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron saint of Tibet. Bodhisattvas are believed to be enlightened beings who have postponed their own nirvana and chosen to take rebirth in order to serve humanity.”

The 85-year-old self-proclaimed “simple monk” has dedicated his life to the service of humanity, promoting a universal “religion of human kindness.” As a spokesman for the peaceful and compassionate resolution of conflict, he promotes love and compassion on a global scale, and urges all beings to create their own happiness.

Much more to read  BELOW the FOLD.

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

America's Democratic Republic In Grave Peril...

 We depart from our normal programming to run an excerpt from The New York Times Magazine. Given the political realities of today's right wing extremists in America, and the corresponding rise of the Trumpublican party with its totalitarian ideology, we think the article is spot on and needs to be freely disseminated however possible. The dangers are real as well as frightening.


A primary eve rally in Phoenix featuring onstage, from left, the former Trump official Richard Grenell, the gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, the state attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh and the U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters.

Credit...

Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times


Those who are ignorant of the past are destined to repeat it.

The ignorance of the Trumpublican party (Old GOP), with its drive to upend and destroy our democratic republic, will result in dire and grave consequences for the people of this land.

A land that threw off the yoke of Great Britain and instituted a government in which democracy and the rule of law (rather than the rule of one man or woman) became the law of the land.

Now, in 2022, a significantly large enough segment of our people have bought the BS espoused  by the narcissist Trump and his sycophants in the Trumpublican party to actually give them a shot at overturning our form of government and aligning it with  that of Trump's buddies, Putin and Kim Jong Un.

WAKE UP AMERICA! Time is running out. And once your rights are taken from you they will be gone, gone, gone.


R​​ose Sperry, a state committeewoman for Arizona’s G.O.P., answered immediately when I asked her to name the first Republican leader she admired. “I grew up during the time that Joe McCarthy was doing his talking,” Sperry, an energetic 81-year-old, said of the Wisconsin senator who in the 1950s infamously claimed Communists had infiltrated the federal government. “I was young, but I was listening. If he were here today, I would say, ‘Get him in there as president!’”

Sperry is part of a grass-roots movement that has pushed her state’s party far to the right in less than a decade. She had driven 37 miles the morning of July 16, from her home in the Northern Arizona town Cottonwood to the outskirts of Prescott, to attend the monthly meeting of a local conservative group called the Lions of Liberty, who, according to the group’s website, “are determined to correct the course of our country, which has been hijacked and undermined by global elites, communists, leftists, deep state bureaucrats and fake news.” That dismal view of America today was echoed by nearly every other conservative voter and group I encountered across the state over the past year.

Arizona has become a bellwether for the rest of the nation, and not just because of its new status as a swing state and the first of these to be called for Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election. It was and has continued to be the nexus of efforts by former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies to overturn the 2020 election results. At the same time, party figures from Trump down to Rose Sperry have sought to blacklist every Arizona G.O.P. official who maintained that the election was fairly won — from Gov. Doug Ducey to Rusty Bowers, speaker of the state’s House of Representatives. Such leaders have been condemned as RINOs, or Republicans in name only, today’s equivalent of the McCarthy era’s “fellow travelers.”

The aggressive takeover of the Arizona G.O.P. by its far-right wing was made manifest on primary night earlier this month, when a slate of Trump-endorsed candidates — the gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, the U.S. Senate candidate Blake Masters, the state attorney general candidate Abraham Hamadeh and the secretary of state candidate Mark Finchem — all prevailed. As a group, they maintain that the 2020 election was stolen, have promoted conspiracy theories about Covid and have vowed to protect Arizona’s schools from gender ideology, critical race theory and what McCarthyites denounced 70 years ago as “godless communism.” They have cast the 2022 election as not just history-defining but potentially civilization-ending. As Lake told a large crowd in downtown Phoenix the night before the primary: “It is not just a battle between Republicans and Democrats. This is a battle between freedom and tyranny, between authoritarianism and liberty and between good and evil.” A week later, in response to the F.B.I.’s executing a search warrant at Trump’s residence at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, Lake posted a statement on Twitter: “These tyrants will stop at nothing to silence the Patriots who are working hard to save America.” She added, “America — dark days lie ahead for us.” Far from offering an outlier’s view, Lake was articulating the dire stance shared by numerous other Republicans on the primary ballot and by the reactionary grass-roots activists who have swept them into power.

SKIP

In the weeks leading up to its Aug. 2 primary, and now as it turns toward the general election in November, Arizona has presented an American case study in how backlash to demographic and social change can cause a political party to turn on itself, even at its own electoral peril. “The fact that so much energy is being spent RINO-slaying and not beating Democrats is not a healthy place for our party to be in the long run,” one political consultant who works in multiple Western states including Arizona (and who requested anonymity to not alienate current and potential clients) observed fretfully.

When I recently spoke by phone with the state G.O.P.’s chairwoman, Kelli Ward, and shared this consultant’s concern, she offered a defiant laugh. “That’s the same argument that they’ve been making again and again and again, decade after decade,” Ward told me. “And they deliver us these spineless weaklings who cave in like rusty lawn chairs at the snap of a Democrat’s finger. I’m sick of it, and the people are sick of it.” A day after we spoke, Ward announced on Twitter that party officials had voted to censure yet another of their own: Bowers, the sitting House speaker, one of the few state Republican leaders who had remained steadfast in publicly saying that Trump lost Arizona fair and square, and had recently testified to the Jan. 6 House committee that vengeful opponents had driven a van through his neighborhood with a video screen calling him a pedophile. Bowers, Ward proclaimed in her tweet, “is no longer a Republican in good standing & we call on Republicans to replace him at the ballot box in the August primary.” (Bowers was defeated.)

But there is more at stake than the health of the Republican Party when its core activists, as well as a growing number of officials and those campaigning for governmental positions, openly espouse hostility not just to democratic principles but, increasingly, to the word “democracy” itself. It has long been a talking point on the right — from a chant at the 1964 Republican convention where Goldwater became the G.O.P. nominee to a set of tweets in 2020 by Senator Mike Lee of Utah — that the United States is a republic, not a democracy. The idea, embodied by the Electoral College’s primacy over the popular vote in presidential elections, is that the founders specifically rejected direct popular sovereignty in favor of a representative system in which the governing authorities are states and districts, not individual voters. But until very recently, democracy has been championed on the right: President George W. Bush, a subject of two books I’ve written, famously promoted democracy worldwide (albeit through military aggression that arguably undermined his cause). For that matter, in Trump’s speech at the rally on Jan. 6, he invoked the word “democracy” no fewer than four times, framing the attempt to overturn the 2020 election as a last-ditch effort to “save our democracy.”

Please continue reading BELOW the FOLD


UPDATE 2:05 PM

THE LINCOLN PROJECT STATEMENT ON LIZ CHENEY’S PRIMARY LOSS

 

August 16, 2022 — The Lincoln Project releases the following statement on the primary loss of Liz Cheney:

“Tonight, the nation marks the end of the Republican Party. What remains shares the name and branding of the traditional GOP, but is in fact an authoritarian nationalist cult dedicated only to Donald Trump.

“Liz Cheney stood up to the lawless, reckless attack on our nation led by Donald Trump and millions of Americans saw leadership that transcended ideological boundaries. For standing up to Donald Trump and working to hold accountable those responsible for his violent insurrection, Liz Cheney risked and lost her political career as a Republican.

“The Wyoming GOP, supported by millions of corporate dollars from Kevin McCarthy, nominated a reality-denying conspiracy theorist who promotes the “Big Lie” and bends a knee to Donald Trump.

“Liz Cheney showed America what a dedicated public servant driven by principle is like; it’s no wonder today’s GOP hates her. She remains an essential leader of the pro-democracy forces in the United States today and we encourage her to continue to engage in the fight to save our Republic and protect our democracy.

“The way she fought this race has only increased her stature among people setting aside their partisan differences to fight for democracy. We thank her for her service, and look forward to seeing her next chapter. America needs her and more people like her.”

The Lincoln Project is a leading pro-democracy organization in the United States — dedicated to the preservation, protection, and defense of democracy.

To learn more about The Lincoln Project, go to lincolnproject.us.



HT: Progressive Eruptions


See what the influence of a charlatan and narcissist like Trump can do to a former good American/republican?

 Especially when the overriding interest is to acquire ABSOLUTE power in a one party system and then to remain in power indefinitely.

It seems America is now growing idiots in great numbers. Including Senator Lindsey.

Buddhism for the global benefits and its challenges in modern times...

 


The following is an excerpt from International Conference for Cooperation among Buddhists in ASEAN Economic Community. It as many good points and while concerned primarily with Buddhism in Asian countries the information and insight is valuable for Buddhist in America as it strives to increase its sangha across North America.


                                                                 Synopsis 

The ultimate objective of Buddhism is the conquest of the afflictions of existence (dukkha) to attain perfect happiness in life, by following the noble path of the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha attributed a large part of the human suffering to the psychological roots of wickedness (akusalamula) in terms of greed (lobha), hatred (dosa) and delusion (moha). It is the eradication of these roots of unwholesome motivation that is sought as the goal of the Buddhist way of liberation in life (nibbāna). It is in light of this selfless universal goal of Buddhism that this paper attempts to explore the relevance and implications of Buddhist values as a solution to current issues of world conflicts, worsening moral decadency, “philosophy way of life”, the increasing poverty-induced crimes and violence in undeveloped countries, and its alleviation by considering viable alternatives. This paper also suggest recommendation of changes that may be necessarily needed within the Buddhist community, in attempt to reinforce unity as well as the necessity of adapting Buddhism to the needs of the modern societies particularly when Buddhism has just begun vigorously to make in-roads to the western civilizations in the very recent decades. Buddhism has transformed in scope and contents throughout the last two millennia through the changing needs of civilizations, and unless Buddhists can adapt to today’s complex situations through intelligent changes, the tenacity of lineage attachment and retentive stubbornness will not only fail to benefit more people but such steadfast refusal and folly may also precipitate its fate of eventual fall.

Introduction 

It is a common scene happened in today’s Buddhism particularly in places where Buddhism have been used for practising as a religion which centres largely on ceremonial prayers and rituals, revealing the fact that Buddhism is increasingly losing its appeal to the younger generations. It is not uncommon in many of the Buddhist temples in South-East Asia that we so often could only see old folk that turned out except at some special events. In an attempt to examine where Buddhism stands in this rapidly changing world, the beginning of this paper sets the pace of the need for possible changes from the Buddhist point of view, following our much sought-after approach, attitudes, and adaptation to today’s changing situations. The later part embraces the significance of unification within the Buddhist community, with a non-sectarian orientation and an understanding of a common ground for regular inter-faith dialogues, and collaborative efforts across ethnic and national boundaries for the benefits of humanity. It also touches on the additional skillsets required, scope of the voluntary service, level of quality, readiness and commitment, and also suggests service performance assessment of the members of the Sangha, in a concerted effort to redress against war and poverty-related problems, with a final aim for universal peace and harmony. Finally, from a global perspective, this paper continues at length to suggest that Buddhism is better to be viewed as a “philosophical way of life” which would only benefits more people in the different countries than to have Buddhism representing itself as a religion. Buddhism should largely takes on the advantage of the technological advances in internet and multimedia, most importantly without being seen as conceptually ethnic-based, and avoids a rigid tenacity for adhering with sectarian Buddhist practice. If in some instances, we have to go beyond our own lineage or even relinquish Buddhist dhamma so as another person can be liberated from his sufferings through our help with other preferred methods, we should conceive it as carrying out our act of ultimate dhamma of “selflessness”, which is fundamentally underlying in all Buddhist scriptures.

Applying the Buddhist values in modern terms 

There are many instances of what the Buddha said in the Pali canonical text such as the Dhammapada and the Jataka which emphasize on factors underlying the importance of social harmony and universal peace. Is the teachings of the Buddhism for the ultimate social wellbeing and universal harmony too idealistic according to what other critics have asserted? Are the Buddha’s admonitions that were addressed more than 2500 years ago is still applicable to the very sophisticated livelihood and complex situations that we have today? Certainly Buddhism in its humanistic approach is more applicable and needed in today’s world of widespread unrestrained, unethical moral decay of the individuals, who can resort to deceitful and unscrupulous means at all costs in order to achieve what they desire. As we have understood, Buddhism didn’t disappear with the fall of the Indian Buddhism from its motherland, but it has transmitted through thousands of past generations to many civilizations, and today has already stemmed its firm root in many western societies. 

Increasing numbers of people who have come into contact with Buddhism and its teachings, begin to understand that men are not created to quest after wealth and enjoy pleasures in one’s entire life, and that any beginning of a glorious moment or fortunes will sooner or later follow with its woeful and sad ending. The Buddha has thought us the notion of existence - impermanence (Anicca), unsatisfactoriness (Dukkha) and non-self (Anatta) - that all events occurred in our everyday life are simply illusive and temporary because its existence or result is dependent on other contrived factors and the conducive forces of the mother nature. Regardless of any race, living things or non-living things alike, the world exists in harmony only when the inter-relatedness and reciprocality of everything is recognized and respected. It is on this principle that almost all the Buddhist suttas directly or impliedly accentuate the precept of Buddhism that never would condone any fraudulent means to achieve a purpose, with disregard for humanism and social-harmony but which was designed only for individual gain or having recourse to killing of innocent lives in the name of religion. In many poorer parts of the world today where diseases, poverty and atrocities are prevalent, the Buddhist values teaching and its relevance that offer fundamental solutions is needed now more than ever. 

An important view that the Buddha had presented is that men’s craving and working hard for ourselves should remains as secondary, but the care for the safety and well-being of all humanity, materially and spiritually, should always take precedence over the concerns about individual rights and personal priorities in life. That’s the Buddha’s view in order for mankind of the diverging cultural differences to be able to co-exist with each other harmoniously and peacefully, and that every individual has a challenging role to play. Buddhism’s model for inter-social harmony and universal world peace can be realized but Buddhists all over the world must first begin to explore, study, accept and respect the equal rights of all the other religions (“comparative Buddhism”), as much as the need for discontinuing from criticizing on the diverging views within the different denominations of the Buddhist traditions, albeit facing deflected views of the heterodox Buddhists and religionists. Criticism by nature itself, is provocative and aggravating regardless of whatsoever intending reason. 

Every Buddhist has a duty and responsibility to educate themselves comprehensively on at least the core teachings of the Buddha and be well-versed to explain to others the Buddhist values and their benefits in modern terms or in the ordinary vernacular languages of the generally less-educated people. By doing this, the spirit of practicing Buddhism will gradually begin to influence members of the family, friends and eventually pervade to the communities, to the national level and across the world as a whole. Only through creating greater awareness of the Buddha’s teachings and educating everybody about the benefits of practicing Buddhist values, or in a sense how Buddhist values can supplement and strengthen the spiritual cultivation of the other religion practitioners, can we then be said of adding values in our roles as a Buddhist. Most importantly, Buddhists must refrain from distinguishing Buddhism as superior to the other religions, and thereby to set good example of ourselves to make the principles of Buddha’s teaching as the ultimate aim for global peace, to be universally accepted. It was a promising sign to see many of the Buddhists-Catholics and Buddhists-Christians dialogues that have taken place in recent times in North America and in Asia, focusing on complementarity of each other’s strength, with a common objective for social harmony and global peace. 

We must not forget that every major religions that have come into place has its own reasons and justification, and are the consequences of transforming through tens of centuries f changes, based upon the economical, political and cultural needs of civilizations. Buddhism similarly has no exception as we have seen in the different traditions and schools of Buddhist teachings that were formed as the outspread of Indian Buddhism attempted to adapt to the varying needs of different people and cultures over the course of history. The Buddha has never thought us that Buddhism is unique such that elements of the Buddhist values could not be found in other religion and practices. In so long as other religious practices that contain aspects of the Buddhist values such as the Four Noble Truths 1 (ill-being or duhkha, its cause, its end, and its cure), the Buddha in fact shared the same view that we must recognize the worth of those religions which in one way or another, shall conduce to the purifying of minds for both material and spiritual well-being of individuals. The ten Buddhist Perfections or Pāramitā 2 form a strong basis where a Buddhist practices earnestly and diligently in his life to attain perfection of the human virtues, integrating Buddhist teachings with all aspects of the mundane daily life to maintain a balanced spiritual life. It is through these virtues that Buddhists learn to put the concerns and needs of the others before our own.

Much more BELOW the FOLD

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

The Crises Facing the Buddhist World...

 



The Buddhist World lacks an effective mechanism to help save a Buddhist Nation in Danger

Colombo, Sri Lanka -- The crisis facing the Buddhist world is neither a decline in religious conviction nor an apprehension that truth underpinned by rational argument and new scientific discoveries will one day overtake and outstrip the core teachings of its founder which is a perennial fear bordering on despondency that characterizes several other competing religions, but the lack of an effective institutional mechanism that can lend support when a Buddhist institution, Buddhist community or even  a pre-dominant Buddhist nation is in danger.

We see the lack of substantial networks of support driving threatened Buddhist nations or Buddhist communities into a sense of despair and hopelessness at times of an emergency. Traditional Buddhist countries such as Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Laos are now under severe pressure to distance themselves from extending state patronage to Buddhism and erase their Buddhist country identity and embrace a secular identity with no such pressure being applied to countries in other parts of the world such as the Middle East or the Catholic belt of Europe.    

Despite a 2500 year old history that makes Buddhism one of the oldest religions in the world, a worldwide presence that makes it a global religion, and a way of life grounded in wisdom and compassion that attracts the envy of other civilizations, Buddhism still retains its biggest constraint i.e. lack of effective protections. It is a historical fact that Buddhism has lost more territory and space in Asia, its traditional homeland, in the last one thousand years than any other religion. It is also a hard fact that this process is on going with no sign of abatement and no effective measures developed to counter it.

Buddhism’s biggest appeal of being an eternally passive, non – confrontational, peace loving religion that lacks a central place to direct its affairs in the international arena unlike in the case of say the Vatican (sovereign state enjoying both temporal and spiritual power) or the World Council of Churches ( powerful and well – funded with influence reaching to four corners of the world) or the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation  (promoting Muslim solidarity in economic, social, and political affairs), has become Buddhism’s Achilles' heel. Its organizational bases are relatively powerless when compared to the aforesaid entities. For example, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) is the second largest inter-governmental organization after the United Nations which has a membership of 57 states spread over four continents. The Organization is the collective voice of the Muslim world and committed to safeguard and protect the interests of the Muslim world. It has its headquarters in Saudi Arabia.

Rising Challenges to Buddhism

The issue of rising challenges to Buddhism to the extent of undermining its very existence as the pre-dominant religion of a nation, hardly merits much attention in discussions of International Buddhist Organisations, International Buddhist Conferences, or among National Governments in countries with predominant Buddhist populations and corresponding state and constitutional obligations to protect and foster Buddhism.

Traditional Buddhist countries now find themselves force fed with ideas that are foreign to Asia, that had been given birth primarily in a Western setting and related to the interplay of dynamics of European societies but are nevertheless required to be uncritically accepted and transplanted in Asian societies without due consideration being given to the social tensions that would be generated in transplanting such ideas. To de-link state patronage to Buddhism is one such pressure brought on by various religious interests that during the heyday of colonialism enjoyed exclusive patronage from colonial rulers.  


The solidarity that countries in Buddhist Asia showed towards each other in the distant past i.e. pre - colonial era, has greatly evaporated or become non – existent. The sense of kinship of being fellow travelers in a spiritual journey overarched by Buddhist precepts and bonded by common religious beliefs and foundations no longer act as a reference point to summon or render assistance even between Buddhist peoples based in neighbouring countries at times of need.   

Recent events, for example, attacks on Buddhist Temples in Bangladesh or the crisis in Myanmar hardly drew concerted attention or action in other Buddhist countries in the form of assisting our co – religionists facing an existential plight. 

Areas of growing concern

1)    Religious conversions

Countries preserving Indian Civilizational religions e.g. Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism etc. are seen as soft and easy targets for manipulation and religious conversion of their people, and in turn replacement of centuries old traditional culture with new cultures subservient to foreign interests. The resulting change in religious demography brings pressure on the State to disassociate itself with Buddhist values that underpin the stability of the society, legal framework and moral direction of the country.

2)    Mass Media

The mainstream Mass Media in the English language in pre-dominant Buddhist countries which act as the window to the world hardly makes any contribution towards creating any Buddhist public opinion or provide a voice reflecting Buddhist concerns. Instead it acts as a group largely hostile to the creation of any such Buddhist opinion and thereby sacrificing the interests of the wider majority of the country’s people. One hardly reads newspaper editorials in support of a Buddhist cause. Instead Buddhists find themselves repeatedly fed with a regular and steady diet of lectures on ‘human rights’, ‘rule of law’ ‘democracy’ non – violence’ ‘peace and reconciliation’ despite no such intransigence on their part at a major level.

There appears to be a calculated move to place Buddhists, metaphorically speaking, in the ‘dock’, make Buddhists feel guilty of alleged crimes or misconduct and then extract more and more concessions totally out of proportion to what Buddhists enjoy as a religious minority in non – Buddhist countries.

3)    Status of Buddhism as an official religion

Reciprocity is the norm that governs diplomacy or grant of religious concessions. Buddhism hardly enjoys official status as a religion in Europe or in the Middle East. Freedom of religion is honoured in the breach when it comes to acceptance of Buddhism as an official religion in these parts of the world. In Europe only Russia and Austria recognize Buddhism as an official religion.

4)    Hidden Agenda of 'Secularism'

The proponents of secularism in Sri Lanka like in India are those clearly bent on repudiating the civilisational ethos of this country. Their main objective is to marginalize Buddhism from the public - political and social – life.  In the West we find that secularism had stood for rationalism, universalism and humanism. In Asia, secularism is being used as a smokescreen and a shield to push Indian civilizational religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism  away from the centre stage and replace them with religions and ideologies that were introduced much later in time to these lands. 

In pre-colonial Sri Lanka there was never any conflict between the State and organized religion. It is essentially a European phenomenon. What we are now faced with is an increasing challenge to an ancient, indigenous Buddhist civilisation which is gentle, accommodative and pacifist by later introduced religious cultures that have a track record of intolerance and violence and close association with colonialism and a self-declared objective of world conquest. They use the language of human rights and freedom of religion but their goals are very much political and predatory. They support the country’s adversaries in the international arena to engage in the game of finger – pointing, naming and shaming our leaders and people. It is also a battle for the moral conscience of Sri Lanka which our people and rulers have worked so hard relentlessly to keep over many centuries as an expression of our indigenous religious beliefs and outlook.

League of Buddhist Nations

During the last five hundred years or so, since the beginning of the western colonial era, the governance and steering of the world was very much in the hands of powerful western nations using their mono religio- cultural framework as terms of reference in policy making and implementation of policy. That era is now drawing to a close. Sino – Indic civilizations will take over from euro-centric civilizations. The question is not whether but when. The old world will give rise to a new world and revert to Asia its traditional leadership role of the world.

Buddhism is well - integrated and deep seated in both the Chinese and Indian cultures. To the Buddhists in Asia the challenge is to develop new structures and institutions that reflect current realities. It would be feasible for countries with pre-dominant Buddhist populations to consider developing closer ties with each other in the spheres of economic, cultural, and trade and investment. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) provides a role model for the Buddhist world to adopt and establish at summit level an equivalent body to give voice and make representations on behalf of the Buddhists.

Buddhist heritage countries such as China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, Taiwan, Cambodia, Laos, Bhutan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka among others should engage in increasing close cooperation in international affairs and regularly meet like the European Union or the OIC in the form of a League of Buddhist Nations. Sri Lanka as a traditional Buddhist country with the longest continuing Buddhist history in the world is eminently well qualified to take an initiative in this direction.

Buddhist Television Channel on par with BBC, CNN and Al - Jazeera

The Buddhist voice is relatively speaking largely unheard in the international arena. Buddhist nations which are embattled or threatened by more powerful vested interests have to rely on International news agencies or foreign Television Channels such as BBC, CNN or Al – Jazeera which have different policy objectives and are largely unsympathetic or sometimes even prejudiced towards the Buddhist cause, to air their position. This is an unsatisfactory situation. The time has come for the Buddhist world to seriously consider the inauguration of a Buddhist Television Channel on par with the aforesaid major TV Channels.


"Why Sadhguru Does Not Focus on Teaching Spirituality To The Poor & Hungry"...

 


Friday, August 12, 2022

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Turning the Wheel...

 


Turnings of the Dharma Wheel

Mahayana Buddhists speak of the Three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel. The first turning was the teaching of the Four Noble Truths by Shakyamuni Buddha, which was the beginning of Buddhism.

The Second Turning was the doctrine of sunyata, or emptiness, which is a cornerstone of Mahayana. This doctrine was expounded in the Prajnaparamita sutras, the earliest of which may date to the 1st century BCE. Nagarjuna (ca. 2nd century CE) fully developed this doctrine in his philosophy of Madhyamika.

The Third Turning was the Tathagatagarbha doctrine of Buddha Nature, which emerged in about the 3rd century CE. This is another cornerstone of Mahayana.

Yogacara, a philosophy that originally developed in a Sthavira school called Sarvastivada, was another milestone in Mahayana history. The founders of Yogacara originally were Sarvastivada scholars who lived in the 4th century CE and who came to embrace Mahayana. 

Sunyata, Buddha Nature and Yogacara are the chief doctrines that set Mahayana apart from Theravada. Other important milestones in the development of Mahayana include Shantideva's "Way of the Bodhisattva" (ca. 700 CE), which placed the bodhisattva vow at the center of Mahayana practice.

Over the years, Mahayana subdivided into more schools with divergent practices and doctrines. These spread from India to China and Tibet, then to Korea and Japan. Today Mahayana is the dominant form of Buddhism in those countries.


SOURCE