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Buddhism and poetry in Japan during the Nara Period – Modern Tokyo Times

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Buddhism and poetry in Japan during the Nara Period

Lee Jay Walker

Modern Tokyo Times

Yamabe no Akahito belongs to the world of eighth-century Japan when Nara was the cradle of high culture in this nation. In truth, the jigsaw of his life is extremely difficult to piece together. Hence, his relationship with the devoutly Buddhist Emperor Shmu is of major importance.

Indeed, much of the poems that endure the passages of time are related to Shmu. This relates to Yamabe composing poems during the journeys of the Emperor. Therefore, one can imagine privilege, high culture, meeting people of influence, and visiting the holy places of Buddhism and Shintoism.

In a lovely poem by Yamabe, he gracefully writes:

When lily-seed dark Night has fallen, By the red-oak growing Along the clear rivers edge The plovers constantly call

By reading such words of simplicity but full of grace one can imagine the serene view that was bestowed on Yamabe during his travels. So images conjure the mind based on such lovely words and one can only imagine a blissful still night by the river.

In a past article, I comment, His fifty surviving exquisite poems written between 724-736 enabled this poet to become one of the Thirty-six Poetry Immortals. These poems were written in the Manyoshu an ancient anthology that contains his sublime work. Of the fifty poems, thirteen are choka (long poems) and the other thirty-seven are tanka (short poems).

The poem below, says more about the values of the time and how faith and nature naturally overlapped. Immediately, you can feel the past of Shintoism and the current trends of the impact of Buddhism. Therefore, the poem titled All-Knowing speaks more to the historical soul and sheds light on the mysterious properties of nature influenced by Shintoism.

All-knowing, My great lord: From the eternal palace, Wherein we serve, On the field of Sahiga, Looking back At the isles far offshore: Where on the fresh, clean shoreline With the blowing of the wind, Breakers roar And with the ebbing of the tide, They go cutting jewelled seaweed: From the age of gods An awesome, Jewelled mountain isle.

Turning to Emperor Shmu, his legacy is multiple in relation to Nara and encompassing the whole of Japan. This notably relates to the provincial temples system that entrenched Buddhism to a much greater degree. Shmu also commissioned the spring and autumnal equinox to be observed under the ohigan holiday. Also, after abdicating, Shmu became a holy Buddhist priest the first emperor to retire and take up Buddhist robes. Interestingly, Shmu is venerated in Nara at a memorial belonging to the Shinto faith. Therefore, the fusions of Buddhism and Shintoism in life followed equally in death. Lily-Seed by Yamabe no Akahito All-Knowing by Yamabe no Akahito



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Buddhism and poetry in Japan during the Nara Period - Modern Tokyo Times

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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The mysterious Irishman who was the first westerner ordained a Buddhist monk – The Irish Times

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Fri, Jan 3, 2020, 07:10 Updated: Fri, Jan 3, 2020, 09:45

U Dhammaloka dressed in the traditional attire of a Burmese monk in 1902. Photograph: The Buddhist Society

The first Irish people to set foot in what is now Argentina were two cabin boys from Galway, William and John, who were brothers but their surnames were not recorded. The pairsailed with Ferdinand Magellan during the first successful expedition to circumnavigation the world in 1520. Francis ONeill, a young emigrant who also served in such a capacity aboard a transatlantic sailing vessel would later go on to become chief of police in Chicago and a man who, more than any other, helped to preserve Irelands rich traditional music heritage. In the early 1870s another Irish-born cabin boy arrived on the shores of the eastern United States and began a remarkable journey that would take him across two continents and into the history books.

Likely a native of Booterstown in Co Dublin our mysterious emigrant appears to have gone by many names. At one time or another he referred to himself as Laurence Carroll, William Colvin or Lawrence ORourke alongside a number of other aliases. Once in the US he effectively became a migrant labourer and worked a series of odd jobs all across the country that eventually took him to the west coast. Having been effectively homeless for over a decade he often found himself an adversary of local lawmen and railway security alike, the latter because of his habit of sneaking aboard freight cars and riding the rails for free. Were told he also had a propensity for violence and a predilection for alcohol, and may have immersed himself in trade unionism, anarchism or another form of anti-establishment radicalism. By the early 1880s he was once again working at sea, this time aboard packet ships in the Pacific before staying behind in Yokohama in Japan, perhaps against his will.

From Japan he made his way to south-east Asia eventually arriving in the British-controlled region of the recently truncated Kingdom of Burma prior to its complete annexation by the British Empire in 1885. Having initially worked in Lower Burma as a tally clerk in the port of Rangoon (Yangon) he met many Burmese monks and began to take a keen interest in Theravada Buddhism, the dominant local religion in the region. He ended up living in the Tavoy monastery and soon decided to become a novice monk himself. After a five-year novitiate he was ordained a Bhikku or full monk, and adopted the name Dhammaloka. It is most likely that this ceremony took place prior to 1899, which would mean he may potentially hold the distinction of becoming the first westerner to become a Buddhist monk.

After a brief period teaching students and novices at the monastery he embarked on a speaking tour across the country and further afield visiting and founding schools and associations in Ceylon (Sri Lanka), Singapore, Siam (Thailand), Japan, Malaysia and even Australia. He soon began to speak out against the activities of Christian missionaries and denounced their attempts to undermine the Buddhist faith of the Burmese people. His speeches frequently rebuked British colonials for failing to respect the religious and societal norms of the locals and his criticisms of the work of the proselyting Baptists, Roman Catholics, Anglicans and others were often merely veiled attacks on imperialism itself. His campaigns should be viewed within the context of the wider pan-Asian Buddhist Revival primarily sparked by western colonialism and modernity taking place across the continent at the same time that he played a key role in.

He quickly attained celebrity status and his position as a white European who nevertheless actively resisted the colonial system meant he was uniquely positioned to communicate the plight of the Burmese people internationally, and even to challenge the proclamations of the missionaries themselves on theological grounds. The British administration grew frustrated with his efforts to undermine their authority and fearful that his vitriolic public speeches would enflame the large crowds who came to hear him speak and rouse them into open rebellion. He was charged with and found guilty of sedition in a celebrated trial and following a failed appeal against the sentence in early 1911 appears to have left the country, possibly moving to Bangkok.

This firebrand Irishman, who won the respect and admiration of the Burmese people, was widely forgotten in his native country for most of the 20th century. However thanks largely to the efforts of an international research network led by Dr Laurence Cox of Maynooth University, Dr Alicia Turner of York University in Toronto and Prof Brian Bocking of University College Cork we now know a great deal more about the enigmatic migr Dubliner.

This Extraordinary Emigrants article was written by Nathan Mannion, senior curator of EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum in Dublins Docklands, an interactive museum that tells the story of how the Irish shaped and influenced the world.

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:45 pm

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CHINA Sichuan, the government closes a network of Tibetan Buddhist centers – AsiaNews

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Beijing saysactivities carried out within the Bodhi Institute of Compassion and Wisdom are"illegal". For the Tibetan diaspora, the goal is to reduce the religious and moral influence of the founding monk, a disciple of the Larung Gar academy.

Beijing (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Beijing government has closed a network of Tibetan Buddhist centers in Sichuan. This was reported by the director of the centers, Khenpo Sodargye, founder of the Bodhi Institute of Compassion and Wisdom, with various offices in the Chinese province.

According to the authorities, "illegal activities" are carried out within the centers. NGO International Campaign for Tibet (Ict), broke the news claimingthe goal instead isto "limit the religious and moral influence" of the monk, a disciple of the famous Tibetan study center Larung Gar, who has been targeted by Beijing for several years.

The founder of the Institute declares that all prayer centers have been closed since 30 December. In his interview yesterday with Ict, a Washington-based association that defends the Tibetan cause, he stresses that "he will continue to love the nation as well as religion." Then he asked people to ignore any fundraising requests made on behalf of the Institute.

The Sodargye network is affiliated to the Larung Gar center (in Garze, western Sichuan). It is one of the most important Buddhist academies built in the 1980s thanks to the commitment of the monk Jigme Phuntsok, who attracted tens of thousands of faithful and monks around him to deepen their faith and study the sacred texts of Tibetan Buddhism.

Since 2004, the year of the founder's death, the center has been run by a group of authoritative monks, chosen democratically. Subsequently, since 2017, the Sichuan prefecture has entrusted the management to six Tibetans, all members of the Chinese Communist Party. The hill on which the academy stands was also targeted by the authorities: in 2016 an urban restructuring was ordered, which in fact destroyed many homes and chased away most of the residents.

According to Radio Free Asia, between 2017 and 2018 the Chinese authorities removed at least 4,820 monks and nuns, forcing them to return to their countries of origin, depriving them of the opportunity to deepen their religious formation. In addition, since 2001 they have destroyed about 7 thousand monastic residences. According to Ict, the expulsions and demolitions in Larung Gar and Yachen Gar, another Buddhist center in Sichuan, are part of "a political strategy in progress", aimed at controlling the influence and growth of "these important centers of study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism ".

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CHINA Sichuan, the government closes a network of Tibetan Buddhist centers - AsiaNews

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:44 pm

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After you have a panic attack on live TV, being 10 percent happier is a good start to a changed life – The Boston Globe

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His heart was beating as if it would burst through his chest. He had trouble breathing.

It felt like the world was ending, he said.

Harris grew up in Newton. His mother was a pathologist at Mass. General. His father was the chief of radiation oncology at the Brigham. Harriss first stop was a doctor, who concluded the panic attack was the result of his using cocaine and ecstasy, sporadic self-medication that began after spending several years covering war in the Middle East.

He had a disturbing realization. He liked the adrenaline rush he got from war reporting. He was using drugs to re-create it.

I knew I had to change things, he said.

By coincidence, Peter Jennings, his boss and mentor at ABC, put him on the faith and spirituality beat. Just by doing his job, he got interested in meditation.

A lifelong agnostic, he brought along a healthy sense of skepticism, wary of the gurus in flowing robes and New Age sloganeering.

One of his ABC colleagues, Felicia Biberica, recommended a book by Eckhart Tolle, a German-born spiritual author. At first, Harris dismissed it as hippy codswallop. But Tolle triggered something, if only the realization that we all have a voice in our head, a voice that often tells us to do the things we regret.

Harris interviewed Tolle, finding him correct, but not useful. He tells us how our minds work, but not what we can do about it.

Harriss wife, a physician, responded to that complaint by giving him a book by Mark Epstein, a psychiatrist who writes about the overlap of psychology and Buddhism.

The Buddha had something you can do: meditation, Harris said. I had two thoughts: I should start doing this, and its a good story.

Harris read a lot. The books helped, but they also left him thinking he could make all the flowery language and emerging science more accessible, less intimidating to a much wider audience.

I spent five years writing a book, he said.

He got the title for it when another colleague, Chris Sebastian, expressed astonishment that he went on a meditation retreat in Barre, in central Massachusetts.

It makes me 10 percent happier, Harris told her.

Harriss 2014 book, 10% Happier, was a New York Times bestseller. He resisted a publishers suggestion to up the percentage in the title.

There are no silver bullets, he said, meaning you have to do the work, which for him was meditating up to two hours a day. Joseph Goldstein, the teacher who had the biggest impact on Harris, still lives at the Buddhist center in Barre.

Harris acknowledges that as a natural skeptic, he is the most unlikely meditation evangelist. But the science, and even his wife, tells him meditation can make him happier and, as he likes to put it, less of a jerk. Hes wary of calling himself a Buddhist.

I dont view Buddhism as a religion, he said. Theres an expression I like: Its not something to believe in, its something to do.

He created a free Ten Percent Happier podcast with ABC, which produced its 220th episode this week, and a paid subscription app that he runs himself with a staff that works out of a nondescript office in downtown Boston.

I wonder, would I keep going on retreats and practice and read if it wasnt my job? he says. My sense is I would. Its something Im deeply drawn to. Its useful that I get paid to do this. But at the end of the day, Im a storyteller and this is constantly fueling the content.

Kevin Cullen is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GlobeCullen.

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After you have a panic attack on live TV, being 10 percent happier is a good start to a changed life - The Boston Globe

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:44 pm

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Protection of Sinhala Buddhists will ensure religious freedom – PM – Ceylon Daily News

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DONATION OF TRIPITAKA TABS TO MAHA SANGHA: President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa donated Tablet PCs containing the Tripitaka to the Maha Sangha at the Vibhajjavada Dhamma Sangayana event held at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium on Saturday. Picture courtesy Presidents Media Division.

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said that religious freedom within the country will be ensured only if Sinhala Buddhists are protected.

A unitary state, safeguarding the Buddhists and Sinhalese are all combined together. When we go back in history, it is clearly visible that religious freedom within the country will be secure and strengthened only if the Sinhala Buddhists are protected.

The Sinhala Buddhists are capable of ensuring the freedom of other religions, the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister was speaking at an event held to donate Tripitaka and Atta Katha in digital format to 5,000 members of the Maha Sangha at the Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium last Saturday (4).

Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa further said that even though new technology is misused in several ways, the importance of technology is highlighted in meritorious acts like this.

In order to protect and nurture Buddhism , Labunoruwakanda Aranya Senasanaya under the guidance of Dharmacharya Ven. Mankadawala Sudassana Thera organized this event to donate Tripitaka Dhamma scripts, Atta Katha, Pali-Sinhala dictionaries in digital format to 5,000 monks.

It is not practicable to print huge number of books including Tripitaka Dhamma scripts and Atta Katha.But with the technology we can guarantee that every Buddhist monk possesses Tripitaka Dhamma scripts and Atta Katha, the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister further said that the Tripitakaya is an important part of the worlds intellectual heritage.

Eventhough the origins of Buddhism are not initiated from Sri Lanka,we are the protectors of Theravada Buddhism. New technology must be used for the propagation of Buddhism. Buddhists across the world should appreciate the efforts taken by the Labunoruwakanda Aranya Senasanaya for safeguarding Buddhism, he added.

The Prime Minister said that when considering the results of the last Presidential election it is clearly visible that any force that moves against Buddhism is rejected by the general public.

We also must think twice regarding the fate of Buddhism, if the forces that moved against the Sinhalese and Buddhists came into power. We must be strong after facing all these challenges. The Maha Sangha played the most pivotal role by helping to save the country, Prime Minister Rajapaksa said.

Prime Minister Rajapaksa also pledged his fullest support for the uplift of the Buddha Sasana and considered that donating tablets containing the Tripitaka, Atta Katha and Pali-Sinhala dictionaries is a great move to uplift the entire nation.

The Vibhajjavada Dhamma Sangayana organized the ceremony to donate Tripitaka Dhamma scripts to 5,000 monks for the continued sustenance of Buddhism.

The concluding ceremony of the event was held under the patronage of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

This Dhamma Sangayana was organized by Labunoruwa Aranya Senasana under the guidance of Dharmacharya Ven. Mankadawala Sudassana Thera of the Labunorukanda Aranya in Anuradhapura and Sasanadhipathi Shashrapathi Rajakeeya Panditha Ven. Kothmale Kumara Kassapa Thera.

The event included orations and an open discussion with the participation of members of the Maha Sangha to discuss ways and means of preserving the original teachings of the Buddha.

The meritorious act of presenting Tripitaka and Atta Katha in digital format to 5000 members of the clergy was also held.

The President and the Prime Minister presented Tripitaka tabs to Maha Sanga.

The 10-year Vibhajjavadee Plan for the uplift of Buddhism and the proposal to set up Theravada Dhamma Script Donation Fund to provide Tripitaka Dhamma texts to temples around the country free of charge were also presented to the President and the Prime Minister.

The Maha Sangha including the Maha Nayake Theras of the Tri-Nikayas and Anu Nayake Theras, former President Maithripala Sirisena, Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Ministers and MPs participated on this occasion.

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Protection of Sinhala Buddhists will ensure religious freedom - PM - Ceylon Daily News

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January 7th, 2020 at 6:44 pm

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The Buddhas Words Open Up Ancient Worlds at the British Library – Tricycle

Posted: December 22, 2019 at 6:45 am

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A new exhibition draws on a massive collection of rare texts and early printed works to trace the dharma throughout the ages.

Buddhism has one of the richest textual traditions of any world religion. While many Buddhist teachings implore us to look beyond our language and concepts, the written word and awakening have been closely connected since the earliest days of the dharma.The British Library recently opened a major new exhibitionsimply called Buddhismthat explores this important relationship between textuality and spirituality with a collection that spans around 20 countries and 2,000 years.

We have designed the exhibit with everyone in mind, said lead curator Jana Igunma. We wanted to display the diversity of Buddhist art and, at the same time, show the strong continuity of the life of the Buddha and his teachings in scripture. Accompanying the librarys largest-ever display of Buddhist treasures will be a series of meditation classes and lectures on Buddhist art history, music, dance, ethics, the contributions of women, calligraphy, and more. The events program will conclude with a two-day international conference on translation, transmission, and the preservation of Buddhist texts and practices from February 78, 2020. Buddhism runs through February 23.

The exhibition begins by recounting the life of the Buddha and his past lives through scripture, sculpture, scroll paintings, and votive objects. From his enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree and first sermon at Deer Park to his passing away (mahaparinirvana) and the distribution of his relics, viewers will gain a fuller picture of how the Buddhas long career was artistically represented and understood within and outside the Buddhist world. We see the Buddhas miraculous birth at Lumbini Grove in a woodblock print from Eastern Tibet, his encounter with the four sights (Siddhartha Gautamas first inspiration to end suffering: an elderly man, a sick man, a deceased man, and an ascetic) in a hand-painted Chinese book, his renunciation of royal privilege and family life in a 7.6-meter-long Burmese accordion-style codex, and his temptation by the demon Mara is depicted in vivid colors in a Nepalese translation of the Lalitavistara Sutra.

Nearby is a 15th-century copy of the book Barlaam and Josaphat, a Christian romance inspired by the life of the Buddha, opened to a page with an engraving of Josaphat, the Christianized Prince Siddhartha (whose name is derived from the Sanskrit word for bodhisattva), giving up his worldly life. Printed in Germany around 1470, this story was the Middle Ages equivalent of a bestseller, and it saw many translations, including Arabic, Georgian, Hebrew, Slavic, and Ethiopic versions.

European encounters with Buddhism are not the main focus, but there are traces of British patronage and power throughout the exhibition. This is intentional, and part of a wider effort of British institutions to confront their colonial histories and explore alternative ways of exhibiting Asian objects, many of which were stolen or otherwise procured during the countrys imperial expansion.

A contemporary Thai-style thangka painting, for example, depicts traditional scenes from the Vessantara Jataka, one of the Buddhas birth tales in which he perfected generosity. Occupying the typical place for donors on the composition are William Shakespeare and English officialsa playful and somewhat satirical nod to the British Library, which commissioned the piece in 2019.

For many, the stories in these illuminated scriptures may raise the question of whether the Buddha was a historical or purely mythical figure. While interesting, this question is not the best way to approach the exhibit or the tradition itself, explained Vishvapani Blomfield, an author and Triratna Buddhist meditation teacher, during his inaugural lecture at the library on October 25. Instead, he argued, viewers should use their imagination to enter the mental world that these texts evoke and describe, so we can come closer to seeing them in their full context.

Some of the more remarkable texts invite us to stretch our imagination back to the early centuries CE. A collection of 2,000-year-old birch bark scroll fragments contain texts from the Tripitaka (the three baskets comprising the Theravada Buddhist canon) and are among the oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts in the world. It was discovered inside a clay water vessel in the historical region of Gandhara (located in modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan), which was a vibrant center of cultural exchange on the Silk Road that enabled Buddhism to spread from India to East Asia. Other fragments from the Buddhist canon in the exhibit date back to the 5th century. Written in Pyu script and hammered onto gold sheets, extracts from the Vinaya Pitaka, excavated in Burma in the late 1890s, spell out rules of discipline for Theravadan monastics.

The Hyakumant Dharani or One Million Pagoda Dharani, dating 764-770 CE. Courtesy British Library Board Illustrated palm leaf Pancharaksha, from 12th-century Nepal. Courtesy British Library Board

Another emphasis in the collection is how the spread of Buddhist ideas and value systems across Asia impacted the development of new writing and printing techniques. The Hyakumanto Dharani, or One Million Pagoda Dharani [a chant or incantation] commissioned in the late 760s under Japanese Empress Shotoku, is one of the oldest existing examples of printing in Japan (and in the world). Likewise, the illustrated palm leaf Pancharaksha, a ritual text on the Five Protectors from 12th-century Nepal, testifies to the printing technologies being developed in the medieval period. There is even a station where you can touch some of the materials commonly used in manuscript production, such as palm leaves, mulberry paper, and silk. Made from paper, wood, cloth, mother of pearl, ivory, or gold, the 120 illuminated texts are exceptionally varied, but the care put into each work binds them.

Other works, like the Jataka Tales from Southeast Asia, are filled with folk wisdom and lessons about virtuous qualities. The collection also contains rare copies of the Lotus Sutra found in caves near Dunhuang, China, and various translations of the Diamond Sutra from China, Tibet, and Koreakey Mahayana sutras that convey cornerstone philosophical tenets, including Buddhist teachings on non-attachment and emptiness.

Despite the exhibitions heavy focus on text, Buddhism is not all about doctrine. It has flourished over the millennia through the living practices of its devotees, and the final section of the gallery contextualizes this idea. Copying the words of the Buddha was and still is considered a highly meritorious act. Memorizing, chanting, and listening to the recitation of sutras remains a significant part of ritual life for monastic and lay communities worldwide. The library further encourages an experiential understanding of the displayed works through an accompanying soundscape, an ambient blend of birdsong, flowing water, and gongs.

Just before leaving, viewers will pass three short films by Hong Kong-based visual artist Stanley Wong that bring to life a popular passage from the Heart Sutra, one of the many sutras found in a body of literature known as the Prajnaparamita, or Perfection of Wisdom. With a calligraphy brush and wet ink, the artist paints the words form is emptiness, emptiness is form in large Chinese characters on paved ground. Once etched, the inscription quickly fades away.

The same principle can be applied to the words of the Buddha. Scripture from antiquity to the present may be preserved in libraries and museums, but, as the Buddhism exhibition makes clear through its collection, the enduring resonance of the Buddhas teachings comes from the way they are rewritten into peoples lives in each and every era.

Buddhism is on display at the British Library through February 23, 2020. Tickets for the exhibition and events program can be purchased here:

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The Buddhas Words Open Up Ancient Worlds at the British Library - Tricycle

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December 22nd, 2019 at 6:45 am

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Buddhist Drug and Alcohol Rehab – Addiction Center

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As is the case with all religions, practitioners of Buddhism sometimes suffer from addiction to drugs and alcohol. If this happens, experts agree that the best way to achieve and maintain long-term sobriety is to attend a treatment program where patients receive professional help and support. Luckily, there are many Buddhist drug and alcohol rehab options available, along with many other non-Buddhist programs that offer quality care and dedicated support to Buddhists seeking recovery.

Buddhism is a religion that promotes themes such as karma, reincarnation, compassion, and non-attachment.

Buddhism contain several principles that can help condition someone to abstain or reduce dependency on harmful chemicals. Like the 12 Steps, Buddhisms spiritual concepts can help teach someone about deeper values and accountability. In understanding how cravings and attachment work in a Buddhist context, individuals can apply these principles to substance use disorders and consider this in addition to detox and medications in treatment. Two collections of doctrines used to reduce suffering include the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path.

The term dukkha represents suffering that is inevitable in humankind. To exist is to suffer, and it cannot be avoided.

We cause our suffering by craving and failing to be accountable. Oftentimes, we can blame others before taking accountability for our shortcomings and cravings. The Buddha believes the root of suffering is purely mental and clinging to things that hurt us.

Ending cravings starts with letting go of the things we are attached to. This can include unhealthy or healthy relationshipsand unhealthy substances, modes of thoughts, or habits. We can change our beliefs and the way we react to external events. Understanding that life is temporary can encourage us to release things which cause suffering.

One way to escape suffering and gain enlightenment is through the Eightfold Path. This is a set of principles which encourage a Buddhist lifestyle that can produce peace, balance, and self-control. The Eightfold Path, sometimes called The Noble Eightfold Path is as follows:

Attachment can manifest in trauma, self-destructive habits, or negative lifestyle practices. Buddhist non-attachment encourages peace of mind and self-preservation. Factoring the idea of non-attachment in alcohol or drugs with the awareness that meditation can bring peace is a powerful step in attaining positive change. Buddhism also mirrors spiritual themes in 12-Step programs such as embracing a higher power and taking control of ones life. Life can range from relationships, to the relationship with ones self and ones habits. For example, Step 1 of the 12 Steps admits to powerlessness. Understanding one is powerless can signal the suffering those battling withdrawals and cravings for harmful substances experience.

Taking inventory of ones thoughts, words and actions bear a similarity to mindfulness. This is the act of practicing self-awareness and observing thoughts, usually in a meditative state, and allowing them to pass without attachment or judgement. Once individuals seeking recovery in treatment facilities gain exposure to such ideas, undergo traditional treatment methods, and meditate, true change can begin.

Fighting addiction brings several discouraging and difficult symptoms; shame, guilt, and a loss of control are a few common side effects. Thankfully, there are facilities available to assist you in overcoming substance abuse problems with themes of meditation, mindfulness, and faith-based 12-Step programs. Take charge of your future, and contact a dedicated treatment professional today.

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Buddhist Drug and Alcohol Rehab - Addiction Center

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December 22nd, 2019 at 6:45 am

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What Is Buddhism & 6 Meditations To Find Your Zen – YourTango

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Buddhism is a religion that has been practiced for more than 2,500 years starting in northeast India, with over 450 million followers worldwide.

Buddhism is the act of people studying how to be patient and find complete zen. It focuses on the follower's spiritual development while showing true intuition in life.

Followers practice Buddhism through meditation to find their inner zen. Finding one's zen means being fully attentive to the world around you while maintaining a complete state of calm. This is the crux of zen meditation and the art of mindfulness.

Meditation is when an individual is focusing on a singular thought or idea and removing distractions of the mind.

RELATED: The Meditation You NEED To Be Doing Regularly, Based On Your Zodiac Sign

Some meditations are guided by an outsider. Some people enter a meditative state by focusing on their breathing. Doing meditation helps people be calmer and emotionally stable.

Many people use meditation to help with anxiety, stress, improve mental health, be more self-aware, helps be more of a kind person, and research has shown it can help lower blood pressure.

Zen is feeling relaxed and is very mindful of decisions because they think in a very calm manner, which is why Buddhists practice zen it via meditation.

There are many ways to meditate such as, concentration meditation, which is when the individual focuses on a single thought while repeating a certain phrase and staring at the flame of your candle.

RELATED: 5 Of The Best Meditation Apps For Instant Stress Relief (That You Can Keep In Your Back Pocket)

Mindful meditation is my personal favorite, as it is perfect for someone like me who has a wandering mind.

Mindful meditation allows the practitioner to be fully present. The practice of mindful meditation helps quiet thoughts in order to become fully zen.

RELATED: What Happened When I Tried Guided Meditation For Anxiety In A Room Full Of Strangers

Here are a couple of meditations to help you out and calm your soul!

Breathe and focus on one thought.

During the loving-kindness meditation, you are putting positive energy towards another person and you focus on other people, this helps one feel at ease and let go of our unhappiness.

Zen meditation is the most known form of meditation because you are sitting upright and just breathing.

A sound bath uses sounds like gongs, instruments, and bowls to put someone in a calm state.

You don't have to be Buddhist to do yoga. Many people do yoga in order to be in a serene state.

A guided meditation can be any audio recording letting your mind focus on a certain story, putting you in a peaceful mindset.

RELATED: Stop Stressing Out & Do These 31 Things To Find Instant Relaxation Instead!

Danielle Vickers is a writer who covers astrology, pop culture and relationship topics.

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What Is Buddhism & 6 Meditations To Find Your Zen - YourTango

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December 22nd, 2019 at 6:45 am

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The Gross National Happiness of Bhutan – Geographical

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In the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, traditional Buddhist culture has helped shape government policies on the environment and the search for human happiness. Should we all follow suit?

Its my fathers house, but I look after it while hes away. Hes been gone a long time now.

As she spoke, Mrs Chozams hands were awhirl with cotton threads and the slowly growing kira (traditional wraparound clothing of Bhutanese women) that she was weaving on a traditional loom. Pausing from her work, she waved a hand vaguely towards to the north: Hes meditating in one of the caves about four hours walk further up that mountain.

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In the direction she pointed, the mountain slope rose sharply upwards from the river valley. A few stone houses with brightly painted wooden window frames clung to the lower parts of the hillside. Yellowing heads of maize drying in the weak sun hung from roof beams and around each house were a couple of small, roughly terraced fields. Up above the last house though, nature reasserted herself. Forests of rhododendrons the size of oak trees and covered in fiery red and purple flowers mixed with straight-backed conifers. All were festooned in Spanish moss like a million tangled fishermens beards. All the way up the valley there was nothing but trees until, eventually, they died away among the empty scree slopes below distant snow peaks. It seemed like a pristine Himalayan environment. Mrs Chozam glanced pensively towards the mountains. He wont come back home now until he dies.

The Phobjikha Valley in central Bhutan. Rare black-necked cranes overwinter on the valley floor and local people hold a festival to celebrate their arrival each year


Landlocked and sandwiched between India and China, the tiny (its about the same size as Switzerland) Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom of Bhutan treads a fine balance both politically and socially. Until the 1950s, the country was sealed to the outside world and was one of the least developed countries on Earth. At the time the average life expectancy was just 33 years old, there were only two doctors in the entire country and the GNP per person was a mere $51. There was no electricity. No telephones. No postal service. No roads. No cars. Things have changed since then.

It shouldnt have been at all surprising to hear that Mrs Chozams father was going to remain meditating in a remote cave until his death. Long periods of solitary meditation are common in Bhutan. Id already met a number of people whod recently emerged from meditation. But these werent casual, an-hour-or-so-before-breakfast meditators. Almost all of them commit to spending a solid three years, three months, three weeks and three days (3,333 being an auspicious number here) confined to a cave on a forested mountain slope. During this period they can have no contact whatsoever with the outside world.

A few days earlier Id met a monk whod recently re-emerged after just such a period of meditation. The thing that shocked me the most when I returned to the monastery were the telephones, he said. Yes people had them before I went to the caves, but now all the younger monks do is stare at their phones and play games on them!

But why do it? And how do the families of those left behind feel when people go off to meditate? Mrs Chozam answered that for me: My father is now 62. He went off to the caves for three years, came back for a few months and then went back to the caves. Hes been gone nine years now. Of course I felt sad when he went. We all did. Its like youre mourning the death of someone. But at the same time we are all proud. He is not meditating for himself. He is meditating for the happiness and peace of all sentient beings. People who go off to meditate do it for the good of all the people and all creatures on Earth. Its a thing of great pride for a family when someone devotes part of their life to this. One day I too will go and meditate, but not yet. Someone has to make dinner for the children!

A young monk of the Nyingma (Red Hat) tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. This is the predominate school of Buddhism in Bhutan


When the country first creaked open its doors, peeked out at the rest of the world and contemplated how to catch up, it looked to its own culture and strong Buddhist faith for answers. The result was an emphasis not on GDP (though thats increased hugely, as has life expectancy and almost all other barometers of development), but on the health and happiness of the country and all the creatures that live within its diminutive borders. It was like the entire government was following the path set by Mrs Chozams father. The government called it Gross National Happiness (GNH), striking a balance, it says, between material and mental well-being.

There are four official pillars to GNH:

Sustainable and Equitable Socio-Economic Development Good Governance Preservation and Promotion of Culture Environmental Conservation

While most governments around the world protect the environment because it provides us with the essentials of life water, food and energy the official policy of Bhutans GNH is to protect the environment, according to the Centre for Gross National Happiness, because the environment is believed to contribute to aesthetic and other stimulus that can be directly healing to people who enjoy vivid colours and light, untainted breeze and silence in natures sound.

In many ways Bhutans environmental ethos evolved from the Buddhist concept of a sacred landscape. Buddhists believe that the forests, rivers and mountains should be left as nature intended. Such is this sense of the sacrosanct environment that Bhutans highest mountains remain unclimbed. Nor will they ever be summited. Mountaineering (but not trekking) has been illegal in Bhutan since 2003 for the express reason of preserving the sanctity of the summits where the gods reside.

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Young monks peer through a window at Punakha dzong, one of the most important religious centres in Bhutan

That concept of a sacred landscape means that in Bhutan a tree is more than just a tree. Its a symbol of long life, compassion and beauty. Needless to say, the Bhutanese love trees. In 2015, the country managed to plant 50,000 new trees in just one hour (breaking the world record in the process) and when the young, and much adored, king and queens first baby was born in 2016, the country celebrated by planting tens of thousands of trees.

But more importantly, because of the GNH policy and Buddhisms non-harm to all living beings attitude, this is a place that values its forests. By law, at least 60 per cent of the country must retain its natural forest cover for future generations, but right now an impressive 71 per cent of the country is forested (and its not like the remaining 29 per cent is urban or agricultural land. Large parts of upland Bhutan are above the tree line and are pristine alpine wilderness).

In terms of environmental protection Bhutan is way ahead of most Asian nations most nations of the world in fact. In 1999, long before it became fashionable, Bhutan became one of the first countries to partially (and now totally) ban plastic bags; its aiming to have 100 per cent organic farming in the coming few years, and, most impressively, its the planets only carbon negative country (although as development and the demand for cars increases this will become harder to maintain and so Bhutan is aiming to remain at the very least carbon neutral).

By 2030 the country also aims to be totally waste neutral. Almost half (47.3 per cent) of Bhutans surface area is classified (and thus protected) as national parks and sanctuaries. This makes it the fourth best protected country in the world. These parks are efficiently maintained and there are stiff laws in place for poaching or logging in such zones.

In May 2019, a UN report stated that one million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction and that nature across the world is declining at speeds never previously seen. The reasons? Our need for ever more food and energy. The report went on to state that these trends could be halted but that it would take a transformative change in every aspect of how humanity interacts with the natural world. One of the ways the report suggested that things could change is for the world to move away from the limited paradigm of economic growth, i.e. to stop using GDP as a key measure of economic wealth and instead move to a system that measures the quality of human life and our long-term effects on the environment. That sounds a lot like Bhutans Gross National Happiness scale.

Masked dancers at one of Bhutans tsechus. These religious festivals are renowned for the elaborate costumes and masked dances


A week or two after my meeting with Mrs Chozam I was walking across the hills that ring the glorious Phobjikha Valley in central Bhutan. At the crest of one hill colourful bundles of prayer flags fluttered in the breeze. My guide pointed into a cluster of trees on the opposite hillside. There are mediation caves among those trees, he informed me.

Just then a distinct, raspy squawk echoed across the skies above us. A flock of black-necked cranes circled once, twice and then a third time before landing in the marshes below the large Gangtey Monastery. My guide smiled. The cranes are back, he said with a degree of pleasure. Every autumn they come from Tibet. They always circle the monastery three times. Theyre doing a Kora (religious circumambulation). The people here will be happy. Theyll hold a festival in a few weeks time to welcome the cranes back to the valley.

In a 2016 TED Talk, the then prime minister of Bhutan, Tshering Tobhay, ended with a challenge to the global community: I invite you to help me, to carry this dream beyond our borders to all those who care about our planets future. After all, were here to dream together, to work together, to fight climate change together, to protect our planet together. Because the reality is we are in it together.

Meditating for the benefit of all life on Earth, protecting the natural world just for the inherent pleasure it can bring to us, and holding festivals to welcome migrating birds. As the cranes settled down to feed I couldnt help but think that this little-known nation has much to teach the world.

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The Gross National Happiness of Bhutan - Geographical

Written by admin

December 22nd, 2019 at 6:45 am

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

Sri Lankan authorities delay on whether to prosecute award-winning writer Shakthika Sathkumara – World Socialist Web Site

Posted: December 16, 2019 at 5:42 am

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Sri Lankan authorities delay on whether to prosecute award-winning writer Shakthika Sathkumara By Vimukthi Vidarshana 16 December 2019

Sri Lankan police told the Polgahawela magistrates court last week that they are yet to receive the attorney generals decision on whether to prosecute Shakthika Sathkumara. The acclaimed writer was arrested on April 1 and illegally held in remand for 130 days for allegedly defaming Buddhism.

Released in August on strict bail conditions, Sathkumara is accused of violating Section 291B of the Penal Code and Section 3 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights Act (ICCPR) No. 56 of 2007. According to legal procedures, the author should have been released on bail by the Polgahawela magistrate as soon as the case had been filed.

If the attorney general decides to indict Sathkumara, he will be prosecuted at the Kurunegala High Court and, if found guilty of the bogus defamation charge, could be sentenced to ten years jail. The next hearing in the Polgahawela magistrates court will be on May 19 next year when the attorney generals decision will be announced.

Questions are being raised about the attorney generals impartiality, given that he has been listed to appear for R.D.M.Syril, the officer in charge of Polgahawela police. Syril is a respondent in a fundamental rights case filed by Sathkumara over his arbitrary arrest and the violation of his freedom of expression and other constitutional rights.

Sathkumara was arrested following a complaint by a Buddhist monk, who is affiliated with a right-wing extremist organisation, over Ardha (Half), a short story by the author published on his Facebook page.

The monk claimed that the story, which included a reference to homosexuality among Buddhist monks, insulted Buddhism and Buddha. Extreme-right Buddhists are acutely sensitive to any exposure of the pseudo-sacred pretences of the religious establishment.

In his objections to Sathkumaras story, which were filed belatedly on August 15, Polgahawela police chief R.D.M. Syril did not present any substantive evidence to justify Sathkumaras arrest. One of the documents submitted by the policea statement from the inspector of police on April 1reveals that the police arrested the writer and brought him before the court on the request of the Buddhist monk.

Counter-objections filed by Sathkumara in a fundamental rights case argue that Polgahawela police organised protests in support of extremist Buddhist monks in order to bring pressure not to grant bail for the author. A hearing on Sathkumaras fundamental rights case, which was last heard on September 30, has been postponed until July 28 next year.

The Sri Lankan police are closely linked to the religious establishment and notorious for promoting the extreme-right Buddhist organisations, and have directly and indirectly backed racist assaults on minority communities. Recent communalist attacks included mob violence against Muslim-owned shops and houses in the Minuwangoda area on May 13 following the Easter Sunday bombings this year by a local ISIS-inspired terrorist group.

On October 24, Sathkumara was assigned to work at the Irrigation Department by the Director of Combined Services. However, in a blatant violation of the authors democratic rights, this was overruled by a senior official who is reported to have said that someone who wrote a book against Buddhist monks is not fit for this department.

On December 2, Sathkumara was reappointed as a development officer at the Maspotha Divisional Secretariat but on the condition that he may have to face a disciplinary inquiry into his authorship of the short story. The civil administration, however, has no legal mandate to conduct such disciplinary inquiries into this non-service related matter.

The state witchhunt of Sathkumara has been condemened by prominent Sri Lankan artists and international figures, including most recently a letter of support by Sahidul Alam, a renowned photojournalist.

Alam was arrested by Bangladesh police in August last year for condemning violent police attacks on students and for voicing his concerns on the al-Jazeera network. He was later released following local and international protests. Alams letter to Sathkumara is part of a campaign being organised by PEN International, which defends writers internationally from all forms of government repression.

Sathkumara responded to Alam with the following reply:

The repression I am facing is not limited to this country alone ... We are being driven to a magical world of after-life beyond the objective world, to hide the real causes of the social catastrophe of the crisis-ridden capitalist system. To meet this end, religion and the religious establishment has been a critical tool for the bourgeois ruling class. They have used religion as a weapon to defend their predatory system.

In countries like ours, even the Constitution has given religion the foremost place. This is a legal weapon used by the ruling class to divide the oppressed masses along racial and religious lines and defend capitalist rule. The ruling class is consciously cultivating lies, social and cultural backwardness and reaction against the masses. So, the attacks on journalist Julian Assange, who is being hunted due to his exposure of the crimes of US imperialism, and on yourself and myself are essentially political.

State attacks on artists and journalists have been stepped up following Sathkumaras persecution. On the eve of the recent presidential election, film director and playwright Malaka Devapriya was questioned by the Criminal Investigation Department over alleged violations of the ICCPR Act.

On November 25, following his appointment as Sri Lankan prime minister, Mahinda Rajapakse referred to Article 9 of the constitution, which gives the formost place to Buddhism, and declared, We will take legal action against those who defame Buddhism or any other religion.

Mahinda Rajapakse is also Sri Lankas minister of Buddha Sasana, which exists to protect and guarantee the dominance of Buddhism and the Buddhist religious establishment in Sri Lanka.

The judicial verdicts on the fraudulent defamation allegations against Sathkumara and Devapriya are being made in an increasingly communalist atmosphere. Sri Lankas ruling elite is whipping up religious divisions to counter the development of unified strike action and mass demonstrations of workers, youth and the rural poor against government austerity policies and attacks on democratic rights.

The Action Committee for the Defence of Freedom of Art and Expression, which was organised by the Socialist Equality Party (SEP), has issued statements and launched a Solidarity Petition campaign in defence of Sathkumara and Devapriya. Its defence of democratic rights is an integral part of the SEPs political struggle for the independent mobilisation of the working class for a workers and peasants government based on a socialist and internationalist program.

2019 has been a year of mass social upheaval. We need you to help the WSWS and ICFI make 2020 the year of international socialist revival. We must expand our work and our influence in the international working class. If you agree, donate today. Thank you.

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Sri Lankan authorities delay on whether to prosecute award-winning writer Shakthika Sathkumara - World Socialist Web Site

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December 16th, 2019 at 5:42 am

Posted in Buddhist Concepts

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