Question Everything

As seen in a previous post, via Tricycle Editors Blog, there has been some talk about HHDL’s comments on the Sea Shephards and their work to stop illegal whaling in the Antarctic by the Japanese. I just wanted to make a quick point, and say just how much I truly appreciate the Buddha’s teachings when it comes to questioning, or disagreeing with our elders or teachers.

The Buddha himself, quoted here from the Kalama Sutra, says we should doubt and question things…

It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability…

Not that we need permission to doubt or question things, but it’s nice to know that it is part of the overall teachings. That is one of the main things that drew me to this path. Without the ability to question, we are blindly following something just for the reason to say we are. Buddhism is more of a practice, something we do, not just for the sake of doing it.

Buddhism teaches us to seek our own enlightenment, to question what we know to make it work. It is believed, that within us all, we all have Buddha nature. We can all reach the same place, we just have to be committed to following it.

The key, and reason for this entry, is to question things. What your path is might be all well and good for YOU, but maybe it’s not something that will work for others and vice versa.

DVD Review: The Buddha

The Buddha
PBS Video/ A Film by David Grubin

I was very fortunate to have received a screener copy of The Buddha, a documentary that will airing April 7, 2010 at 8 p.m. EST on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings)

I am very excited that this documentary will be shown on a wide scope. In light of all the exposure Buddhism has received lately, ie. Tiger Woods, this documentary is necessary. I think it will shine a light on something most people have no understanding of, and some may be confused about.

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I Am Awake!

It is said that soon after his enlightenment the Buddha passed a man on the road who was struck by the Buddha’s extraordinary radiance and peaceful presence. The man stopped and asked,

“My friend, what are you? Are you a celestial being or a god?”

No,” said the Buddha.

“Well, then, are you some kind of magician or wizard?”

Again the Buddha answered, “No.”

“Are you a man?”


“Well, my friend, then what are you?”

The Buddha replied, “I am awake.”

Ajahn Brahm, Monk Under Fire

It seems that the monks from Wat Nong Pah Pong in Thailand want the Council of Elders as well as the Office of National Buddhism to force the western sangha to stop ordaining woman after monk Ajahn Brahm ordains 10 woman into the monastic order. So much for progress eh?

The great thing about being here in the West is that, I can honestly say, we will not listen. As Buddhism ages, moves across the globe and gains followers, silly old Buddhist “blue laws” like not allowing woman to ordain, will disappear.

It is believed that the first Buddhist nun was Prajapati, the Buddha’s aunt who raised him after his mother passing. She asked the Buddha about ordaining and her interest in doing so, he flat out refused her. Back in those days, during his life as a prince, he was taught that woman were inferior, and that minds couldn’t understand things the way men could. You can’t blame someone for conditioning, and he did eventually change his mind on the subject when he ordained the order of bhikunnis. But, although he started the order, there were still many rules a nun had to follow, more so than monks. There were 250 rules a monk was to follow and 348 for a nun, you can find them by reading the Vinaya-pitaka.

The most lenient of traditions is Tibetan Buddhism which has really broken the mold on ordaining woman in the 1980’s, thanks to the work of Karma Lekshe Tsomo and Tenzin Palmo. ¬†We now can learn from such great teachers as Ani Pema Chodron, Thubten Chodron, Robina Courtin and more.

Anyway, kudos to Ajahn Brahm for ordaining the woman he has so far and I wish him the best of luck going forward. It seems he may be in for quite a fight and possible smear campaign on his character as a Buddhist monk. There is no room for this kind of belief of inequality in todays age and he should be commended not ostracized.

Original article from the Bangkok post found here.

Kisagotami: A Lesson On Impermanence

Story found on web

Kisagotami, a young woman, was married to the only son of a rich man and they had a male child. The child died when he was two years old. Kisagotami had intense attachment for the child. She clasped the dead child to her bossom, refused to part with it, and went from house to house, to her friends and relatives, asking them to give some medicine to bring the child back to life.

A Buddhist monk said to her: “O good girl! I have no medicine. But go to Lord Buddha. He can surely give you a very good medicine. He is an ocean of mercy and love. The child will come back to life. Be not troubled”.

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What Is Vesak?

Ed. Note: I hope the article below helps… I have seen some search terms coming toward this blog in reference to “what is vesak” so I figured this would help those searching.

From Beliefnet

Vesak, or Visakha (pronounced way-sak), is a celebration that commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death, and his passing into nirvana. It is named for the month of May and is celebrated on the full moon, when the Buddha’s mother is said to have given birth to him in a garden in the Himalayan foothills while en route to her parents’ home. According to most Buddhist calendars, he would be 2,548 years old this month.

Vesak is the most important holiday in the Theravada Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia, though its observance varies from culture to culture. In the United States, it has become the occasion for a common celebration that unites different Buddhist traditions and schools, Asian and non-Asian, immigrant and convert, Theravadin and Mahayana (for different schools of Zen, which is a tradition of the Mahayana school of Buddhism, the Buddha’s birthday is celebrated according to a different calendar and falls on April 8; his enlightenment and death are also assigned to different days).

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Dalai Lama Postcard and My Son Colin

Sorry I haven’t blogged much, life has gotten in the way. I did want to share a story though from a few days ago.

I received a postcard in the mail announcing His Holiness’ appearance at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. It’s still still sitting on my desk, and yes I am excited to be able to say I’m going. But I digress… A few days ago my one year old son Colin grabbed the card and smiled with an added decent belly laugh as well when he looked at the picture of His Holiness on the card. Than the auspicious event happened… after the laughter he smiles again, looks at me and says “Buddha”.

I was a bit amazed as he is just starting to learn to talk and I have never said the word “Buddha” to him, yet he knew. I wasn’t the only one that heard it, my wife did as well. Anyway, I just wanted to share that, I thought it was something pretty cool. Hope you are all doing well!

The tales of ‘The Buddha’ have a calming effect

From The Boston Globe

A worn, comfy red armchair sits in the stage area of the Boston Center for the Arts Black Box Theatre, surrounded by a clutter of books about Buddhism and meditation. Behind this homey scene hang four panels covered neatly with pages that look like they could be from the collection of stories and teachings of the Buddha. Production designer Nikki Black has the panels run down to the floor and underneath the piles of books and the chair, creating the feeling that the audience and the performer are embraced by the Buddha’s stories and their simple wisdom.

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