Archive for August, 2005




Buddhists should be vegetarians, shouldn’t they?

Not necessarily. The Buddha was not a vegetarian. He did not teach his disciples to be vegetarians and even today, there are many good Buddhists who are not vegetarians.

But if you eat meat you are indirectly responsible for the death of a creature. Isn’t that breaking the first precept?
It is true that when you eat meat, you are indirectly and partially responsible for killing a creature but the same is true when you eat vegetables. The farmer has to spray his crop with insecticides and poisons so that the vegetables arrive on your dinner plates without holes in them. And once again, animals have been killed to provide the leather for your belt or handbag, oil for the soap you use and a thousand other products as well. It is impossible to live without, in some way, being indirectly responsible for the death of some other beings, and this is just another example of the First Noble Truth, ordinary existence is suffering and unsatisfactory. When you take the First Precept, you try to avoid being directly responsible for killing beings.
Mahayana Buddhists don’t eat meat.
That is not correct. Mahayana Buddhism in China laid great stress on being vegetarian but both the monks and laymen/laywomen of the Mahayana tradition in Japan and Tibet usually eat meat.
But I still think that a Buddhist should be vegetarian.
If there was a person who was a very strict vegetarian but who was selfish, dishonest and mean, and another person who was not a vegetarian but who was thoughtful to others, honest, generous and kind, which of these two would be the better Buddhist?
The person who was honest and kind.
Because such a person obviously has a good heart.
Exactly. One who eats meat can have a pure heart just as one who does not eat meat can have an impure heart. In the Buddha’s teachings, the important thing is the quality of your heart, not the contents of your diet. Many Buddhists take great care never to eat meat but they are not concerned about being selfish, dishonest, cruel or jealous. They change their diet which is easy to do, while neglecting to change their hearts which is a difficult thing to do. So whether you are a vegetarian or not, remember that the purification of the mind is the most important thing in Buddhism.


 The skandhas (Sanskrit: Pali: Khandha; literally: "heap") are the five constituents or aggregates through which the functioning and experience of an individual, ego, or soul (possibly atman) is created according to Buddhist phenomenology. They are:
rupa, "form" or basic ignorance: the material body.
vedana, "sensation" or feeling: the experience of receiving raw information, including pleasure and pain, through the sense organs and the brain.
samjna, "perception" or "cognition": the forming of sensations into elemental patterns and concepts: indifference, passion, and aggression.
samskara, "mental formations", "volition", intellect, or concept: all types of mental habits, complex ideas, opinions, compulsions, and decisions. Saṃskāras are the source of karma.
vijnana, "consciousness" or "knowledge": dualistic awareness, which separates the world into self and other.
According to Chogyam Trungpa (1976), the five skandhas are "a set of Buddhist concepts which describe ego as a five-step process" and that "the whole development of the five skandhas…is an attempt on our part to shield ourselves from the truth of our insubstantiality," while "the practice of meditation is to see the transparency of this shield."
According to the Buddha, "the five aggregates of attachment (the basis for human personality) are suffering."
It should be noted that Buddhism describes only one physical skandha and four mental skandhas, which emphasises the importance of the mind.
All personal experiences are subject to these five aggregates, according to the buddhist view. There can be experiences where not all five skandhas are present; for instance, some stimulus from an object (form) in a sense organ (sensation) does not necessitate that this will generate a conscious experience.
The order of the skandhas is important, because it is considered that the latter skandhas are dependent on all the former ones. Thus, for a given experience, for the 5th skandha (consciousness) to be present, all the previous four need to be present. And for the 4th skandha (volition) to be present, all the previous three need to be present, and so on.

***The first and last (material organism and consciousness) of the aggregates are perhaps best thought of as the "stuff", or basis, of the individual, while the other three (sensation, ideation, and volition) are the internal transactions that occur between them. Matter is organized into a physical organism and animated by consciousness. These two combine to form the body-mind substrate of the personality. The other three aggregates are forms of activity that arises in the interactions between the body and mind.***



    Mu is a term in Zen that is used to describe "emptiness " or
"nothingness".  This is what a zen practitioner hopes to attain and
realize.  The universe is in a constant flux of change.  Nothing
ever remains unchanged. As long as we continue to desire we will
always be suffering. If one wishes not to suffer, desire must be
cut-off from one’s life.  Physically, all sentient being suffer
with birth, illness, old age, and death.  The whole body-mind
complex is in a state of suffering.  The third salient mark below
suggest that at the core there is a void.  If indeed we are
composed of the five skandhas we will find that within or behind
any of these elements no ego-entity will be found.  The fourth mark
suggest that we are mu.  Since everything depends on other factors
to exist, all is without a core or substantial reality.  The term
mu gives this explanation a name.

I. An individual is composed of five skandhas:
     D.volitional formations

II.The buddha taught that all phenomena are branded with four
salient marks:
     A.impermanence (anitaya)
     B.suffering (duhkha)
     D.emptiness (sunyata)

     Mu is like a circle of light one sees in a dark room.  To our
surprise, we learn that the circle was a reality brought about
because there was a little boy in the room twirling a stick of
burning incense in the dark room.  The circle was merely an
illusion created in the mind, phenomena is just this way. It
depends on certain set of causes and conditions to exist or seem to
exist.  We are no exception to these principles. "form is
emptiness"  What we find at the heart of all things is void.  Our
basic components are the same.  What makes me and you may be the
same but what you are and what I am is composed of different
conditions.  Each of us once again become responsible for our own

     Mu needs to be realized at every moment of our lives.  The
intellect will understand mu but it must be known that mu is
reality. The last step we can take after these realizations is to
realize that things are what they are.  This step is termed the
Middle Way (Jap: Chudo).  It is a complex realization brought about
through deep thought process.  It is described in the chapter as
thus: "truly non-existent but mysteriously existent." The Middle
Way teaches us to avoid extremes.  It brings practicality back into
the life of the practitioner.  The middle Way bring harmony back
into our lives.

       "Before a man studies Zen, a mountain is a mountain
      after he gets insights, a mountain is not a mountain
      When he really understands, a mountain is a mountain"

     Zen teaches that the source of all suffering stem from
desires.  It is interesting to think that Zen even preaches that
suffering can even arise when one even desires nothingness.  Non-
attachment to any of it is the ultimate.  To be attached to
nothingness can lead one to detachment.  Wisdom must encompass
compassion.  Action must be effortless the Tao Te Ching  says it
like this "He does nothing, but there is nothing he does not do."


5 precepts

The Five Precepts

1. Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.

2. Adinnadana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not given.

3. Kamesu micchacara veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from sexual misconduct.

4. Musavada veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami

I undertake the precept to refrain from incorrect speech.

5. Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami
I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.

The Heart of Prajna Paramita Sutra

Heart Sutra

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva
when practicing deeply the Prajna Paramita
perceives that all five skandhas are empty
and is saved from all suffering and distress.

form does not differ from emptiness,
emptiness does not differ from form.
That which is form is emptiness,
that which is emptiness form.

The same is true of feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

all dharmas are marked with emptiness;
they do not appear or disappear,
are not tainted or pure,
do not increase or decrease.

Therefore, in emptiness no form, no feelings,
perceptions, impulses, consciousness.

No eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind;
no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch,
no object of mind;
no realm of eyes
and so forth until no realm of mind consciousness.

No ignorance and also no extinction of it,
and so forth until no old age and death
and also no extinction of them.

No suffering, no origination,
no stopping, no path, no cognition,
also no attainment with nothing to attain.

The Bodhisattva depends on Prajna Paramita
and the mind is no hindrance;
without any hindrance no fears exist.
Far apart from every perverted view one dwells in Nirvana.

In the three worlds
all Buddhas depend on Prajna Paramita
and attain Anuttara Samyak Sambodhi.

Therefore know that Prajna Paramita
is the great transcendent mantra,
is the great bright mantra,
is the utmost mantra,
is the supreme mantra
which is able to relieve all suffering
and is true, not false.
So proclaim the Prajna Paramita mantra,
proclaim the mantra which says:

gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha
gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.




Prajna-paramita Hrdaya Sutram (Sanskrit Version)
Aryavalokitesvara ‘Bodhisatva. Gharnbhiram Prajna-Paramita Caryaym Caramano, 
Vyavalokiti Smaa Panca-skanda Asatta Sca Svabhaba Sunyam Pasyati Smaa 
Iha Sariputra, Rupam Sunyam Sunyata iva Rupam. 
Rupa Na. Vrtta Sunyata, ‘Sunyataya Na Vrtta Sa Rupam Yad Rupam-Sa-sunyata, Yad Sunyata Sa-rupam Evam Eva. Vedana, Samjna Sam-skara Vijnanam 
Iha Sariputra Sarva Dharma Sunyata-Laksana Anutpanna Aniruddha, Amala A-vimala, Anuna A-paripurna 
Tasmat Sariputra Sunyatayam Na Rupam, Na Vedana, Na Samjna, Na Samskara, Na Vihnanam. Na Caksu Srotra Ghrana Jihva Kaya Manasa, Na Rupam Sabda Gandha Rasa Sparstavya Dharma 
Na Cakso-dhatu Yavat Na Manovijnam-dhatu Na Avidya, Na Avidya Kasayo. Yavat Na Jara-maranam, Na Jara Marana Ksayo. Na Dukha Samudaya, Nirodha, Marga 
Na Jnana, Na Prapti, Na Abhi-samaya, Tasmat Na Prapti Tva Bodhisattvanam, Prajna-paramitam Asritya Viharatya Citta Avarana, Citta Avarana Na Shitva Na Trasto, Vi-paryasa Ati Kranta Nistha Nirvanam. 
Try-adhva Vyavasthita sarva, Buddha Prajna-paramitam A-sritya Anuttara-samyak-sambodhim Abhi-sambuddha. 
Tasmat Jnatavyam Prajna Paramita Maha-mantra, Maha-vidhya Mantra, Anuttara Mantra, Asama-samati Mantra. Sarva Dukha Pra-samana Satyam Amithyatva 
Prajna-paramita Mukha Mantra Tadyatha, Gate Gate Para-gate Para-samgate Bodhi Svaha 


Ullambana (Ancestor Day)/7th Month Festival/Zhong Yuan Jie/Hungry Ghost Festival

Is celebrated throughout the Mahayana tradition from the first to the fifteenth days of the seventh lunar month. "Ullambana" means "to be saved from hanging upside down" in Sanskrit.

The observance of Ullambana is based on the story of Ven. Maudgalyayana and his mother. Ven. Maudgalyayana discovered through his meditative powers that his mother had been reborn in one of the realms of misery. Distressed over the tormented state of his mother, he approached the Buddha for help. The Buddha then advised Ven. Maudgalyayana to make offerings to the Sangha. The merit of making this offering would help to relieve the suffering not only of his mother, but that also of other beings in the realms of misery. It is said that as a result of Ven. Maudgalyayana’s offering, his mother was soon released from her unhappy state.

To the Buddhists, the seventh lunar month is a month of joy. This is because the fifteen day of the seventh month is the Buddha’s joyful day and the day of rejoice for monks. The origins of the Buddha’s joyful day can be found in the scriptures. When the Buddha was alive, His disciples meditated in the forests of India during the rainy season of summer. Three months later, on the fifteen day of the seventh month, they would emerge from the forests to celebrate the completion of their meditation and report their progress to the Buddha. Because the number of monks who attained Arhatship during that period was high, the Buddha was very happy.

Making offerings to the Buddha and monks on this day accumulates one’s blessings and relieves the suffering of one’s parents from seven lifetimes. This is also the significance of the Ullambana Festival thanksgiving ceremony held in monasteries and temples during the seventh lunar month.

The Chinese, however, believed that the gates of Hell are opened on the first day of the seventh lunar month and they will close on the last day of the seventh lunar month. The ghosts may visit the world between these days. Food offerings are made during this time to relieve the sufferings of these ghosts. On the fifteenth day, Ullambana or Ancestor Day, people visit cemeteries to make offerings to the departed ancestors. It is said that people who are not careful at night or down in luck are likely to meet ghosts and get into trouble as a result. Thus, many activities are taboo in the seventh month. These including leaving the house, having an operation, getting married, buying a house, moving house and having a baby. The 7th Month is indeed a scary month for the Chinese society.

Ullambana is also a Japanese Buddhist festival known as Obon, beginning on the thirteenth of July and lasting for three days, which celebrates the reunion of family ancestors with the living.

Many Theravadins from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand also observe this festival.


The Buddha is not a God

The Buddha is not a God. He is a Great Human Being.

Those who do not know the Buddha properly, consider Him a God.

The Buddha appeared among men solely to make people see their ignorance, lack of awareness, wrong views, fallacies, and wrong actions.

To judge from how Buddhism is practised by its adherent in some countries before long, Buddhism, will get transformed into a religious system that is totally different from what the Buddha intended.
Rites and rituals and stupas and shrines are not the essence of Buddhism. There, too, are necessary for the survival of a religion, just as the bark is necessary for the tree to exist. When religious structures and religious rites and rituals get eroded, the religion dies off. Therefore, they, too, are necessary. But, they are not the true essence of a religion. Religions are not there for the use of animals but exclusively for the use of man. If man does not follow religion, or else if man does not make use of the religion, if he does not lead his life in accordance with religion, the religion will get restricted to books and to external rites and rituals.
The only thing He expected was that they would tread the Noble Path He indicated. But, without following that Path, if they kept on worshipping Him from morning till night, not just one day, but a hundred years, one cannot realize Nibbana. If one must realize Nibbana one must invariably tread the Path He indicated. One can become a true Buddhist only if one followed the Noble Eight-fold Path He advocated.

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