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Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.

Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.

Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books.

Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations.

But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.
 

Buddha
Kalama Sutta


 

 BOOKS INDEX PAGE 2  

 

B2.01   The mechanics of Buddhism - This is an advanced book in English on some tenets in Buddhism...

B2.02   The Buddhist Times - 'Why a Buddhist Times?' asks the editorial of this monthly paper in its opening issue...

B2.03   Journal of Buddhist Studies - The Centre for Buddhist studies bringing out in print this first compilation of erudite, analytical articles...

B2.04   Basic Abhidharmaya - Ven Rerukane Chandawimala Thero

B2.05   Buddhism: its essence and some relevant approaches - Rajah Kuruppu’s latest publication a solace and balm to the mind.

B2.06   The legend of Bundala - Nanavira, attained sotapatti in 1959, and perhaps arahant at death.

B2.07   The ‘Findings of Gautama Buddha on the Fundamental Realities of Existence’

B2.08   Putting Buddhism to Work - A New Approach to Management and Business

B2.09   Buddhist Lanka through American eyes - The well-known poet and religious writer was born in France...

B2.10   The Buddha and the land on which he trod - Nibbana is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. It is a super-worldly state which...

B2.11   Vesak Lipi (No. 26) - Vesak Lipi consisting of an eclectic collection of work on Buddhism...

B2.12   Vesak Lipi The popular Buddhist publication has made its appearance for the 26th consecutive year...

B2.13   Evolution of Buddhism in Sri Lanka - A Fresh Dawn- Sri Lanka’s rich Buddhist Heritage...

B2.14   Righteousness personified - Anagarika Dharmapala: Global Buddhist Leader

B2.15   Vijja udapadi, Aloko udapadi - An Excerpt from the book, ‘Light of Asia’

B2.16   Excellent New Text on Historic "Atamasthanaya" Litigation

B2.17   What would the Buddha do? Practical Buddhism for modern times

B2.18   Jathaka Geetha Sangrahaya - Compendium of songs on Jathaka stories

B2.19   Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World

B2.20   Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

B2.21   One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps

B2.22   In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon

B2.23   The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations

B2.24   The Foundations of Buddhism (Opus book)

B2.25   Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom

B2.26   Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom

B2.27   Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children

B2.28   From Vedic Theology to Buddhist Psychology and other Buddhist Essays

B2.29   Divesting Buddhism of superstition - A commentary for the critical inquirer

B2.30   The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

 

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B2.01   The mechanics of Buddhism

Review by K.S.Sivakumaran

This hardcover 144 page book with an eight page English - Pali Glossary is an advanced book in English on some tenets in Buddhism. It is heavy for an average reader and those not familiar with the basic concepts of Buddhism might feel distanced because of the nature of the subject. However it is worth reading because it introduces to the uninitiated reader the universality of Buddhism, and its essence.

The book is divided into three parts: Volitional Activity, The Results of Volitional Activity and The Path to Nibbana.

The author clearly explains his purpose:

"The purpose of this work is to give a better understanding of the underlying principles upon which the Buddha's preachings are founded upon… It is the Abhidhamma that explains the workings of the Dhamma and makes it possible for one to understand the relevance of the practices engaged in as a Buddhist…"

We know that the Four Noble Truth is the foundation of Buddhism. What are they? The author explains: "The truth of suffering in existence, identifying the cause for this suffering, if the cause is eradicated suffering would cease and the way to eradicate…

The Noble Eightfold Path and the Buddhist practices work towards ending the cycle of rebirths."

The Chief Incumbent of Rajamaha Viharaya in Kelaniya Ven.Dr.K.Mahinda Sangharakkhtta in the Foreword to this book says that: The author analyses the concept of mind, mental factors, the different planes of consciousness and their states with reference to healthy and unhealthy attitudes towards human life". The author Tilak Marapana is an eminent lawyer in the country.

Author: Tilak Marapana
Publisher: Vijitha Yapa Publications

Contact: sivakumaranks@yahoo.com

 

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B2.02   Book Review : The Buddhist Times

'Why a Buddhist Times?' asks the editorial of this monthly paper in its opening issue in Vesak 2000 and now celebrates two years of its existence. In answer it says, '... these are not Buddhist times in Sri Lanka. This is an Abuddhassa kale, a non Buddhist era.

Non-Buddhist - both in practice and in the influence Buddhists wield in this country. Buddhist opinion is today swept aside. They are marginalised.'

A visitor to this country may not, on the face of it, agree with this opinion. For he can see as he enters the city of Colombo the veneration of Bo trees in the heart of a busy metropolis, numerous Buddhist temples, hear the sound of temple bells and drums and see occasionally a Buddhist monk or two mixing in the crowds lining the streets of Colombo. If he extends his visit for a month or two or more and dips into the Buddhist Times that comes out every month he may come to a different conclusion.

At first he may be puzzled as to how a country with such a large Buddhist population is considered by the many Buddhist intellectuals who write to it as a country where the majority is being slowly reduced to a minority. He may finally come to the conclusion that this is one of those countries in the democratic world that could easily find a place in Ripley's Believe it or Not series.

The truth is that the Buddhists feel they got a raw deal when some ambitious Kandyan leaders who were tricked into signing a convention, handing over Ceylon to the British, by a clause which promised to do everything for the welfare of Buddhism when all the time the British knew that the clause was only the bait which finally closed the deal.

It did not take long for the bad intentions of the British to overflow. It was three years after the signing of the Convention, during which time the Kandyan Chiefs who signed the Convention realized that perfidious Albion was up to its old tricks. That was what finally led to the revolt against the new rulers. The rebellion, when almost on the point of victory, collapsed. Governor Brownrig had saved his skin but he never forgot the shock of defeat that stared in his face for nearly a year.

The events that followed tightened the screws on the 'religion of Budu' which Brownrig had solemnly promised to honour and respect.

Strangely, this was the very strategy unthinkingly adopted by subsequent governments right up to independence and beyond. After independence, however, there was no tightening of the screws, but there was indifference and apathy towards Buddhism.

The first Prime Minister, himself a Buddhist, but educated in a mission school, distanced himself when some Buddhist monks officially met him and asked for safeguards for Buddhism, by saying that he was not going to add another precept to the five already there with a sixth - 'Aanduwa saranang gachchaami' After independence that seems to have become the guiding principle in all subsequent governments' relations with Buddhism, whether from the right or centre. In a way you couldn't blame our leaders.

For all of them were the products of English education. They came from schools where the heads were nearly all Christian missionaries. There was also the curriculum of studies as laid down by all governments. They were the very same subjects ordered for the benefit of the children of England.

And these were never directed towards the orient but always towards the occident. In that process nearly all of us acquired a euro-centred view of the world, which even our present day political leaders find hard to cast aside.

We got so addicted to this system of education that the largest number of students who sat for the Cambridge exams held in the British Empire was from Ceylon. But what did we gain from this? As a paper presented at the 11th Convention of Asian Historians by a Sri Lankan historian, Swarna Jayaweera, pointed out: "The education system that developed in the 19th century had no point of contact with indigenous traditions or institutions.

It was Western in conception and it was designed to meet colonial needs." What the missionaries, to whom the government entrusted the education of Ceylonese children, were planning at the beginning was something more than that. And one project was the setting up of a kind of Royal College for girls.

As the Principal of the Colombo Academy (Royal College) who was a clergyman pointed out, I do not think any considerable progress can be made in Christianising or civilising the natives of this country, until education has become general among those who are to be mothers of the next generation, or, to speak more accurately, until a generation shall have risen, whose mothers have been in general, educated Christian women.( Swarna Jayaweera - Colonial Education Policy and Gender Ideology)

As I see it what is before the Buddhist Times is not only the clearing up of the after effects of all this on the predominant culture of this country which has been pushed into the background during that long colonial night, but also to tackle the renewed efforts being made to carry out the original plan of the Principal of the Colombo Academy on a much larger and better organised scale - the proselytisation of the now weakened Buddhist ranks.

The Buddhist Times in its two years of existence has provided quite a lot of information both on Buddhism abroad and on Buddhist culture in Sri Lanka as well as alerting the people to the danger of a cultural majority being reduced to a cultural minority.

The people who are trying to Christianise Sri Lanka should really be concerned with putting their own house in order. With God, who has now been dethroned in their countries and Mammon installed instead, they should be trying to win back the flock that has strayed so that the churches, which are now empty in the West, can be filled once again. And leave the 'backward races' alone to find their own salvation.

To help them to get back to their homes what the authorities should do is not to worry over passing bills to prevent non-ethical conversions, but to withdraw the licences of those who have come here on false pretexts under business permits, as tourists etc.

That will put a stop to the non-ethical conversion problem faster than a bill, which, in any case, is bound to be bypassed as it happens invariably to all such legal instruments.

Among the contributors to this monthly are many distinguished academics, to pick them at random, among whom are Professor (Emeritus) Buddhadasa Hewavitharana, Dr. Lorna Devaraja, Professor Anuradha Seneviratna, Dr. Malini Dias, Professor Asanga Tillekaratne, Ven. Dr. Pathegama Gnanarama, Dr. Ananda W.P. Guruge and Haris de Silva, former National Archives Director. If I am not mistaken the Buddhist Times is the first of its kind to be published in the English language.

In the Sinhala language there may have been publications from time to time but the one that was most prominent and continuously published was Anagarika Dharmapala's Sinhala Bauddhaya, which tried to bring to the Sinhala people an awareness of the problems facing the Buddhists.

S.Pathiravitana

dailynews.lk/2004/07/02

 

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B2.03   Journal of Buddhist Studies Volume: 1
Published by the Centre for Buddhist Studies, Sri Lanka, in May 2003

Mallika Wanigasundara

The Centre for Buddhist studies deserves to be congratulated for bringing out in print this first compilation of erudite, analytical articles on Buddhism, in its various forms and schools of thought. A specialised journal dedicated to the publication of such studies has been a great need in this country. It would enable academics and scholars to publish their writings, publicising their thoughts and interpretations to readers here and aborad.

Thus this journal would be a vehicle for the conveying of Buddhist learning to a growing number of persons worldwide. These learned articles by eminent scholars of the Buddhist world would eventually become available in international libraries, preserved for posterity.

The volume contains nine essays on a variety of subjects of contemporary, relevance, by renowned scholars, eminently qualified in their respective fields. But there is a difference. Traditionally, Sri Lankan Buddhist publications are confined in their scope to the Theravada school alone. But this literary forum is thrown open not only to Theravada, but to Mahayana and Tantrayana as well. We would no doubt find in the essence of these, presentations the very universality of Buddhism.

Of contemporary relevance is the article titled 'Reappraisal of the position of women in Buddhism' by the eminent scholar Prof. Oliver Abeyanayake. This is a subject which draws much interest in the modern world.

Referring to the present day feminist movements for equality, he interprets the Buddhist stance by saying, 'Buddhism does not consider household peace, social welfare, and progress as achievements to be won through struggles based on gender, equality or equal responsibilities and obligations for both men and women'.

He asserts that social reality cannot be gauged on legal criteria, and goes on to add that these movements have further aggravated the position of women, thereby creating a bigger gap between men and women.

He refers to the vital significance of the Sigalovada sutta and to the fourfold composition of Buddhist society - bhikku, bhikkuni, upasaka and upasika. We then heave the two divisions puttujjana (ordinary men and women) and savaka, (instated disciple) which he points out as an attempt to show the equality between man and woman as not seen in any other religion. He goes onto say: Interpersonal relations should be developed and established only with the understanding that there is a reality which transcends all responsibilities and obligations.

Among the other contributors are Ven. Prof. K.L. Dhammajoti, Ven Chun Yi, Dr. Tochiichi Endo, Prof. N.A. Jayawickrema, Prof. Y. Karunadasa, Aloysius Pieris SJ, Dr. G. A. Somaratne and Prof. S. Weeratunge.

If present exponents of Buddhism make an attempt to look adequately beyond the text and try to interpret the message in contemporary idiom their readers would no doubt benefit immensely. It is gratifying that the editors of this volume are appreciative of this vital need.

In the contemporary world of neo-liberal globalisation moving fast towards a world order dominated fiercely by western materialist economic and social norms, a cynic might well ask whether the humanitarian teachings of the Buddha have a truly meaningful role to play.

The answer is that in all epochs of human history, the multitude (puttujjana) have always trodden the beaten path, whereas a handful of insightful individuals have stopped to question its validity. In the final analysis, it is this tiny minority of penetrative individuals who progressively lifted humanity up from its crude and raw beginnings.

The highly learned writings are for scholars and students of Buddhism and they range through many complexities in the teachings of the Buddha - such as Simulateous causality, Buddhist textual tradition, Theravada doctrine of momentariness, 'the cessation' and its interpretation, Doctrinal similarities in early Buddhist texts and the Mahabharata and Sabhava Dhamma or the real existence of phenomena.

The Centre for Buddhist Studies was founded by a band of dedicated Buddhist scholars. Its main mission is to promote the study of Buddhism in all its aspects and branches. The Centre's idea is to bring about closer understanding in its various forms among all sects and schools of Buddhist thought.

This annual publication intends to keep the torch of Buddhist learning alight by the presentation of writings of high academic quality by learned scholars.

It will give them an opportunity to express their views and interpretations. The Editor-in-Chief of this journal is Prof. Y. Karunadasa, with Prof Oliver Abeyanyake and Ven Prof K. L. Dhammajoti as Editors.

 

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B2.04   Basic Abhidharmaya - Ven. rerukane Chandawimala Thero

 

Information in this article is a translation from “ABIDARMAYE MULIKA KARUNU” by venerable Rerukane Chandawimala Mahathero who has gained a mass knowledge of Abhidamma as a Buddhist monk since the age of nine. Unique simple language used by the author helped many people understand a deep philosophy with less effort.

Since this book only available in Sinhalese language, it has become a barrier for world to gain this knowledge. Therefore our intension is to share this knowledge with this translation.


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B2.05   Buddhism: its essence and some relevant approaches

Nanda Pethiyagoda

I found Rajah Kuruppu’s latest publication a solace and balm to the mind. The greatest merit of the book is that what he writes is so practical and helpful to us in managing our everyday lives.

Buddhism: its essence and some relevant approaches is published by the Public Trustee Department for free distribution to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the Siam Maha Nikaya. As N. S. A. S. Seneviratne, Public Trustee, says in the Publisher’s Note: "our department had realised the need to print and distribute as a gift of the Dhamma an English publication that explains in simple language the teachings of the Buddha that would be comprehended easily by ordinary people."

Rajah Kuruppu notes in his Preface: "This publication is not a work of scholarship. Its objective is to present as simply and lucidly as possible and in a concise manner the essence of the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha."

Thus a happy confluence of a need and an objective has resulted in this book. It is a truly valuable Dhamma dane in which the teachings of the Buddha are very precisely explained in simple yet dignified style.

Contents

The best way of introducing the contents is to quote the author himself. He says in the Preface: "After an introduction to the four noble truths, the four truths and the eight factors of the noble path are explained with a chapter for each of them. Apart from these, the further exposition of the main features of the Dhamma include the three characteristics of life of Anicca, Dukkha end Anatta; vinnana or consiousnes, bhavana or mental culture, and development and rebirth. The publication also discusses the Buddhist approach to certain subjects, namely prayer and worship, pain, death, wealth, happiness, animals, leisure, nation building and what Buddhism is."

If that is not comprehensive, what is?

No sooner I got the book, I turned to the chapter on pain. "Pain is considered as bodily and mental suffering from a Buddhist standpoint." And then is a lucid, simply stated exposition of what pain is, (the child in the womb too is in considerable pain). The author then proceeds to give points on overcoming pain and the positive aspects of pain like it being a warning and a pointer to thinking of the unsatisfactoriness of life and the inevitability of aging and pain. The correct attitude to pain is explained which really and truly helps in coping with pain, of not overcoming it.

The chapter on death was my second reading. No, I am not morbid. On the contrary I pride myself on practicality and looking things in the face. Death is the one sure thing that follows birth. Rajah Kuruppu deals with death of loved ones and how to be prepared and how to cope; and one’s own death and how one should recognise its inevitability and unpredictability.

I found the two chapters extremely practical and useful. It is the same with the chapters on the more esoteric concepts.

Dr. Tudor Senanayake in his foreword to the books points out the comprehensiveness of the coverage of subjects, the presentation of a "holistic view of the quintessence of the Buddha’s teaching."

Style of presentation

As I mentioned earlier, the language used and style written in are simple. In addition, the words and sentences flow easily so that reading is smooth and soothing. Even almost incomprehensible concepts like Nibbana are explained by the author with authority, in simple language. Thus the explanations come through very effectively.

Often exponents of complex subjects/concepts become convoluted and abstruse. Not Rajah Kuruppu, by any means. The secret lies in the fact that he is basically very practical and this pragmatism comes through in straightforward writing. He is also sincere and wants to help people understand better the Buddha’s Dhamma. Thus the metta filled heart with the idea of giving, of helping, guides Rajah Kuruppu’s writing wrist and he writes so we understand and benefit.

The verse of the cover page carries the dictum; "The gift of the Dhamma excels all other gifts." Rajah Kuruppu has dedicated the book to his parents. The dedication and the quoted saying are both indicative of the author - grateful and concerned about others, both highly esteemed virtues. He has been a dedicated public servant for many decades and now spends every Saturday evening presiding over the Servants of the Buddha talks and presentations. Every third Sunday morning has Rajah Kuruppu steering adroitly the YMBA dhamma discussions at the YMBA, Borella.

All these are pointers to the nature of the author. He has now gifted people another great dhamma cane - a very readable and useful book on what the Buddha taught.


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B2.06   The legend of Bundala

Kingsley Heendeniya

Condensed from the ‘A Gist of Dhamma’ by the writer 

More than 50 years ago, I had the once-in-a-lifetime fortune to meet Harold Musson and Osbert Moore who came to Sri Lanka on an exploratory visit to study Buddhism. They had met in the British Secret Service during the World War when assigned to interrogate prisoners in Italy.

Harold born in 1920 at Aldershot graduating in 1940 with a First Class in Modern Languages from Cambridge and also studied Mathematics. Osbert, born in 1905 graduated from Oxford and was an Executive Director in the BBC Italian section of Bush House. In Italy, Harold came across a book on Buddhism written by Evola and published an English translation ‘The Doctrine of Awakening - A Study on Buddhist Ascesis’ (Luzac, London, 1951).

After the war, Harold, an only child and heir to Coal Mines in Wales returned to a bohemian life in London. Osbert went back to the BBC. One evening, they met in a pub and during a long discussion they found no meaning in their pursuits and in the trivialities of post-war life. It destined them to visit the Island Hermitage, be ordained by its German High Priest Nanathiloka - Harold as Nanavira and Osbert as Nanamoli - to live, strive, achieve and die in the wilds of Sri Lanka. This is their story.

I graduated as a doctor in 1958 and the following year volunteered to serve as Medical Officer of Health at Hambantota. Nanavira found the humidity of the Island Hermitage affecting his health and the company of others interfering. About two years before me, he came to Hambantota for its dry climate, and his search for solitude led him to the forest of Bundala, 13 miles further south. Bundala was then a remote hamlet with very poor people living in wattle and daub mud huts, subsisting on burn and slash cultivation and fishing. I am told it was an ancient village of the caste of washerwomen and men serving King Duttugemunu, around 1500 years ago.

From the main highway to Tissamaharama, a thin gravel road ran through the jungle to the village. Just past a culvert at a bend is a clearing of the scrub land and rolling sand where, after the rains, flamingos come every year to feed. And hidden in a crop of dense forest is a footpath leading to the dwelling house or kuti designed and built by Nanavira. As even now, all around was thick virgin forest with wild elephants, leopards, wild boar, monkeys, endemic and migrating birds feeding in the lagoons; and infested with poisonous snakes, the deadly Russel’s viper (polonga) and the cobra. The area is now the Bundala Forest Reserve.

The kuti had one room about 8 feet square entered along a 12 feet corridor built for walking meditation. It had a stone bed and as I remember, a table, chair and some books. Nanavira built a latrine and an earthen water storage structure. Nearby, if you walk through the jungle is the sea, stretching without land all the way to Antarctica. It is an idyllic place to practice the Dhamma as recommended by the Buddha. Whenever I visited him in the stillness and cool of evenings, the aroma of solitude and the soft rays of the setting sun would seep into me the meaning of tranquility. But seasonal droughts in July can be enervating and one day I met Nanavira bathing in the culvert, in a drying pool slaked with mud. Later, he was taken to Colombo to syringe the mud from his ears! Another time, he was treated for bursitis of both knees from unrelenting practice of anapanasati meditation. This is how an Englishman learned and practiced the Dhamma.

My visits were for not more than an hour, mainly to know if he wanted my mother to send him anything. (My mother Clara, was the founder and secretary of the Sasanadhara Kantha Samitiya or women’s society she built with other ladies to look after the needs of the monks of the Island Hermitage). One day, I saw him writing with a pencil stub less than one inch - and yet Nanavira wanted nothing except some medicine for his chronic bowel disorder, treated as for amoebiasis. Letters published after his death reveal a long correspondence with a doctor about ups and downs and its progress to become incurable. At the same time, he answered profound philosophical questions on Dhamma. As time went by, pain and frequent diarrhoea attacks interfered with concentration. The drugs prescribed produced poisonous effects. In a discourse to King Passanedi, the Buddha has described five conditions for striving, the second of which is ability for good digestion. In a letter to his doctor in December 1962 he said, ‘Although I wrote to you in my last letter that I was oscillating between the extremes of disrobing and suicide; a return to lay life would be pure weakness, and in any case I should be miserable". So, on July 5, 1965 he decided to put an end to his life.

But I am now getting ahead of my memories. Nanamoli had a fine sense of self-deprecating humour and enjoyed robust health. Among other work, he translated to English the Visuddhimagga of Buddhagosa and never left the island from the day of his ordination. After completing his magnum opus, he decided to go on a pilgrimage with the then High Priest of the Hermitage. The rules of the Vinaya do not permit, among other things, handling of money. My mother’s samithiya attended to all that. So, when my father put Nanamoli in the train at the Fort railway station, he asked "Sir, when are you returning?" Nanamoli, smiled and said "Bertie, how do you know I am returning?" He died of a heart attack on a desolate gravel road in the backwoods of Kurunegala, about 25 years after walking the lush carpets of the BBC. The body was taken by bullock cart to a hospital and later, after the inquest, for the funeral in Colombo. My mother sent me a telegram to inform Nanavira.

I went to Bundala in the afternoon around 3 O’clock. I parked the car near the culvert and walked through the jungle looking around for elephants. I met Nanavira at a small clearing in the footpath. He was dying his robe in the way prescribed by the Buddha. The first thing he said was "Kingsley, why are you coming at this time"? I was then in my late twenties and he a little older. We were like friends and stupidly, I beat around the bush. He interrupted, "Have you come to tell me that Nanamoli has died"? The casualness with which he said it hangs in my memory. When I explained he continued to dye the robes and wring them as if the news meant nothing. He said Nanamoli had written to him about the pilgrimage and left instructions to settle his affairs in the event of death. Nanamoli had a presentiment of death! I told Nanavira that I am unable to take him by car for the funeral in Colombo because I did not have leave. Can he travel by bus? Without the slightest hesitation, he got ready with his bowl slung over the shoulder and walked with me to the car.

In the distance we saw two wild elephants and he remarked: "Kingsley, the problem for human beings is boredom. Animals are never bored. Do not read the Suttas because you will then give up the lay life". He knew I had just got married. He had never made any attempt to teach me the Dhamma though he had detected a dormant reflexive nature in me. One evening, I was standing on the beach, alone. There was the horizon in the setting sun and the clear blue vault above, the sound of crashing waves and an ethereal emptiness. I felt utterly insignificant in the immensity of the universe and had an overpowering feeling that nothing in life mattered. I had told Nanavira about this strange glimpse of an insight.

I brought him to Hambantota and lodged him at a small temple near my residence. The next day after a noon day meal my wife served, I took him to the town bus stand. It was about 1 PM. The bus to Colombo starts from Tissamaharama. It was packed when it arrived. Nanavira got in. I paid for his ticket. He stood in the gangway with his bowl slung over the shoulder holding the handrail - tall, imposing and indifferent. It occurred to me that here was a man who at one time could have bought the bus on the spot! I inquired if there was anyone willing pay for a taxi in Colombo to Vajiraramaya and I shall give the money. A man who was seated immediately got up, gave it to Nanavira and assured he will attend to everything. That was the last time I saw Nanavira. Shortly afterwards, I went on transfer to the North Central Province and we corresponded briefly. He had a peculiar way of folding letters into the envelope, as in origami. Unfortunately, I have not preserved any.

"Kingsley, the problem for human beings is boredom. Animals are never bored. Do not read the Suttas because you will then give up the lay life". He knew I had just got married.

A few years before, Nanavira’s mother flew to Sri Lanka to take her son home. His father had died and she was alone. My mother arranged for her to stay at the Mt. Lavinia Hotel. Nanavira met her at Vajiraramaya in Colombo. His pagan life as she thought, and the bizarre change devastated her in her only child. She recoiled to see him eating with his fingers from the begging bowl. Nanavira tried and failed to explain. He returned to his forest refuge. The mother flew back to London and died in two weeks.

I met Kate Burvill from the Tate Art Gallery (presently with Thames and Hudson) in a strange way in Colombo, in January 1999. She is a niece of Nanavira and had come on a holiday to Sri Lanka for the first time, combining it with a search for information about her uncle. She visited the Island Hermitage and the monks there referred her to me. She telephoned from the Galle Face Hotel and we met. The next day I took her to Bundala - to give her a feeling for the wilderness, the solitude, the ambience and peace where her uncle lived strived and entered the Path when Kate was only 3-years-old.

At the kuti, we met an English monk, a former telecommunication engineer, who gave her the library copy of ‘Clearing the Path’. He said there was a waiting list in Europe for the kuti. Later in the evening, though our driver protested about wild elephants on the road in the gathering night, I arranged for her to meet the mother of the village headman of Bundala. The old lady re-told the story of Nanavira. The headman, she said was a three-month baby in her womb when tragedy struck the village.

This is the way Nanavira died. One evening, I saw his skin inflamed with insect bites and gave him a vial of ethyl chloride spray used those days as a local anaesthetic. He used it and obtained another from my mother. By now his sickness had worsened. He had attempted suicide twice. This time was final. He constructed a facemask with polythene and through an ingenious self-closing tube made also from polythene, inhaled ethyl chloride vapor probably after his noonday meal. A man from the village came as usual to offer the evening dana of fluids at about 4pm. He tapped the door. There was no response. He then opened it and went into the room. Nanavira was ‘sleeping’ on his bed in the position adopted by the Buddha - the lion’s pose - with a polythene mask over the face. One hand was fallen with the empty ethyl chloride vial gently laid on the floor. Nanavira Thera was dead. He ran to the village and the news spread like fire. The whole village, including women and little children ran to the kuti.

The village headman’s mother gave a moving graphic account of the funeral arrangements - how she and other women gave their best saris to drape the pyre 8 feet high made by the villagers. Her daughters joined to say that even now Nanavira is not forgotten. Questions are set about his life at the regional Dhamma Sunday School competitions. My father attended the inquest. There was a sealed letter addressed to the coroner and no postmortem examination was done. The people of Bundala cremated their beloved Nanavira thera and interned his ashes by the kuti, beside his sanctuary by the sea.

The ashes of an American monk Nanasumana (Mike Schoen) who died from a bite of a polonga lie beside it now. He had met Ven. Nanavira in October 1963 and begun regular Dhamma study with him. In a letter to a friend dated October 9, 1964 Nanasumana wrote of Nanavira: " This is an old man of 60. He is in constant physical pain but he never shows it nor does the peace in his eyes ever change. We spend many hours talking - rather he speaks and I learn". Note that in 1964. Ven. Nanavira was only 44 years old. From this brief eyewitness account one can see the harsh physical effects of the bowel disorder. A friend in Yugoslavia sent me this information and a photograph of Nanavira taken at this time. I am shocked to see the gaunt, emaciated frame of a man who looked like the statue of the Buddha when I knew him. But I too can see the same haunting kindness in his eyes as when I knew him.

Serpents never harmed Nanavira. They would uncoil, move some distances and watch him pass. No wild elephant ever threatened him. They would visit the kuti every night, drink the water he leaves in a bucket, sometimes kicking it, and pull his towels and robes on the clothes line to tease him. But they never touched a tile. With one kick, they could demolish the kuti in a minute. So, it stands today - and yes, the elephants still keep vigil. Because of Kate I now know more about the kalyanamitra I had. The following year I met her at the Tate Gallery, and she presented me a brand new copy of ‘Clearing the Path’, the book by Nanavira Thera on Dhamma that has not been written for 2000 years, reviewed in London as the ‘most important book of the century’. He lives in the hearts of people who have no need to understand any of it. Nanavira, attained sotapatti in 1959, and perhaps arahant at death. He is the legend of Bundala.


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B2.07   The Buddha and fundamental realities of existence

The ‘Findings of Gautama Buddha on the Fundamental Realities of Existence’

Dr. Ernest Abeyratne

In the Part 1 of the book, it covers ‘Contribution to Knowledge of Natural Phenomena’ while in the Part 2, it gives the ‘Implications of Gautama Buddha’s Findings to Modern Life’. It is a personal interpretation of what Dr. Abeyratne has gathered from books, his Venerable teachers and from his practice of Vipassana meditation. Certainly it is fascinating to note the viewpoints he has put across.

Dr. Abeyratne explains the ‘Three Characteristics of Existence’ (Tilakkhana) the Impermanence (Anicca), Suffering (Dukkha) and Impersonality (Anatta); and two ‘Fundamental Laws of Nature’ namely the ‘Law of Moral Causation’ (Karma and Karma Vipaka) and the ‘Law of General Conditionality’ (Paticca Samuppada) or Re-birth along with the ‘Four Noble Truths’ in this book.

As implied by "Sabbe Sankhara Anicca" all formations in this world are impermanent and transient. Everything is subject to change. All formations whether they are mental or physical, they arise and pass away.

This is a universal characteristic of all existence.

As described by "Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha" all formations are subject to suffering, and it is a universal and an inherent characteristic of all lives in this sensual world.

As stated by "Sabbe Dhamma Anatta", all things are impersonal in this world irrespective of whether they are living forms or inanimate things. This concept of ‘Impersonality’ (Anatta) is a vital essence of Gautama Buddha’s teachings. Dr. Abeyratne explains that a human being who has discovered for himself the conditioned and autonomous functioning of the five groups of existence (Panca Skanda) knows the meaning of ‘Impersonality’ (Anatta), which could be described as ‘Soul-lessness’.

Of the two ‘Fundamental Laws of Nature’, the first is the Law of Moral Causation (Karma and Karma Vipaka) where for all the good and the bad Karmas which a person has done, it will have its natural and automatic Karmic results (Karma Vipaka). As stated in "Cetana Aham Bhikkhave Kammang Vadami" meaning ‘Dear Monks, Karma is essentially the volitional formations (Cetana)’, and these Karma forming thoughts of the previous life are the root cause for re-birth in the subsequent lives. Dr. Abeyratne describes this process of re-birth or ‘Dependent origination’ (Paticca Samuppada) very clearly and convincingly. I was delighted to read his simple explanation to it, and there by was able to understand the logic involved in this complex aspect of Buddha Dhamma. I have to mention here that I was searching in numerous books published on this subject for some vital information pertaining to this particular topic for quite some time, and was without much success.

Dr. Abeyratne has presented these aspects in a much easier and an understandable - manner. He explains the re-birth (Paticca Samuppada) as the consequence of ‘Cause and Effect’ (or the General Conditionality) operating within the framework of the Law of Moral Causation (Karma and Karma Vipaka). He describes that there are two inseparable components in the re-birth process namely the rebirth itself and the site at which the re-birth takes place. Dr. Abeyratne describes re-birth as a conditioned phenomena where the Karma forming clinging to desires being the root cause, and by having a stop to these Karmic formations, the re-birth process coming to a halt. The Karmic effects (Sankhara) from the previous life will be transmitted through the consciousness that arises at the conception of a new life, and it is the only connection between the two lives.

Dr. Abeyratne points out that there is no trans-migration, or re-incarnation of an unchanging soul moving from one life to another. Nothing substantial is transferred from this life to the other, except for the good and bad Karmic effects in the form of thought energy. This thought energy is the state of the mind or the nature of consciousness at the time of death, and it is the sum total of Karma generating thoughts and actions (Sankhara) during that life.

The Four Noble Truths arose out of Gautama Buddha’s discovery of ‘Impermanence’ (Anicca), ‘Suffering’ (Dukkha), ‘Impersonality’ (Anatta), the ‘Law of Moral Causation’ (Karma) and the ‘Law of General Conditionality’ or the ‘Dependent Origination (Paticca Samuppada). Dr. Abeyratne has illustrated the ‘Four Noble Truths’ as analogous to how a medical doctor would look for facts and symptoms of a disease, identify its causes, discover the cure, and prescribe the medicine to the patient. Here in this case, looking for facts and symptoms of ‘Suffering’ is the First Noble Truth. The cause for ‘Suffering’ has been identified as the ‘clinging to the desires’, which is the Second Noble Truth. The ‘Cessation of Suffering’ is the discovery of the cure, which is the Third Noble Truth. The way out of suffering is the Fourth Noble Truth where we have to follow the ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ which is the prescription to achieve the cure.

Dr. Abeyratne describes the ‘Right Understanding’ (Samma Ditti) of the ‘Noble Eightfold Path’ as the understanding of the ‘Three Fundamental Characteristics of Existence’ (Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta), and the two ‘Fundamental Laws of Nature’ (Karma and Palicca Samuppada) along with the ‘Four Noble Truths’.

In the Part 2 of this book, Dr. Abeyratne deals with the implications of Gautama Buddha’s findings for modern life. He emphasizes that the developments of modern life are derived from the belief in a self or an ego-entity, and consequently, in a belief that a permanent happiness can only be achieved through the enjoyment of sensual pleasure in all its forms. In this competitive modern world of today, a strong ego and an aggressive attitude are believed to be vital for success in any sphere of human activity. He explains that the astounding advances in science and technology have transformed the world making life more pleasurable, more comfortable and more efficient for people who could afford the modern luxuries and conveniences. But points out that they have no moral content and as such the modern man is at the bottom still being a deluded and sensual being ignorant of the deeper realities of existence.

The success in the modern world is judged by the ‘quality of life’ that person enjoys, and a wealthier person would enjoy the benefits of modern technology more and would sink deeper into the realm of sensual pleasures. All deluded human beings believe that the success of life is measured by the wealth, position and power that person holds, and these illusions are only generating greed, violence, ignorance and self-deceit.

Dr. Abeyratne points out that the success of the modern world and the success in the spiritual world are lying poles apart. While the modern-day scientists believe that the man is a personalized being with a self or an ego-entity, the Gautama Buddha’s findings say the world is an impersonal one and the man is an impersonal being emphasizing the concept of Impersonality (Anatta). Dr. Abeyratne writes "the Gautama Buddha saw the world as an endless flow of impersonal, conditioned, energy derived processes, forces and phenomena, governed by impersonal moral and physical laws." Dr. Abeyratne concludes by expressing hope that if scientific research can confirm the findings of Gautama Buddha and establish the impersonality of existence, it will open up an entirely new dimension in human thought and behaviour.

It is a very interesting and inspiring book. I consider it as an eye-opener to anyone who wants to study the core essence of Buddha Dhamma, which the Gautama Buddha revealed to the world at large some 2500 years ago.

I am very much indebted to Dr. Chris Panabokke for sending me a copy of this invaluable book.

May the late Dr. Ernest Abeyratne attain the Bliss of Nibbana!

Palitha Manchanayake
Hydrologist, Flood Warning Centre, Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology, Sydney, Australia


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B2.08   Putting Buddhism to Work : A New Approach to Management and Business

Improving business and management through Buddhism

Author: Shinichi Inoue
Publisher: Kodansha International Ltd. (Tokyo)
Year of publication: 1997

Buddhist Economics: The Emerging Middle Path between Capitalism and Socialism http://www.buddhanet.net/ budwork.htm

Shinichi Inoue, a former President of the Japanese Miyazaki Bank and reputed economist, has proposed a novel approach to economic management that goes beyond socialism and capitalism. He calls his proposed economics for the 21st century 'Buddhist Economics', a phrase first used in print by Dr. E.F. Schumacher in 1973 in his best-selling book "Small is Beautiful".

Based on the insight of the Buddha that spiritual liberation is attained by avoiding extremes, whether by indulgence in worldly pleasures or severe asceticism, and treading namely 'the Middle Way', Inoue recommends 'Buddhist Economics' as the ideal middle path between the competing models of capitalism and socialism. Both these systems, Inoue argues, have failed to contain the relentless destruction of the natural environment and the human community, thereby forcing leading executives and planners to search for new solutions for planetary problems.

Inoue draws on the best aspects of both capitalist and socialist economic systems, in his ' Buddhist Economics ' model. It supports the conventional forces of a free market and competition without destroying either nature or human society. His alternate vision of sustainable economics is meant to be more just and more ecologically sound.

Inspired by the fundamental Buddhist insight of the inter-connectedness existing among all living things, Inoue says that Buddhism, Economics and Ecology are all inter-related. He places a heavy emphasis on the concept of freedom as understood in Buddhism in contrast to the Western concept of 'freedom'. In the West 'freedom' revolves around the rights of the individual i.e. freedom to do what one wishes. In Buddhism, 'freedom' means freedom from personal desires or attachments.

In Inoue's view, a Buddhist approach to economics requires an understanding that economics and a moral and spiritual life are neither separate nor mutually exclusive. The 20th Century has been ravaged by a materialistic, self-centered consumerism. The next century needs to focus on the quality and spirituality of life itself. Buddhism, which advocates the 'Middle Path', serves as an important resource to pursue an alternative to the extremes of capitalism and socialism, or pure self-interest and utter self-negation.

The Essence of Buddhist Economics

Inoue identifies three key phrases that underlie his model of Buddhist Economics.

They are:

1) an economics that benefits oneself and others
2) an economics of tolerance and peace
3) an economics that can save the earth.
An Economics that benefits oneself and others

Adam Smith developed his theory of free enterprise based on the concept of self-benefit'. This led to people being more concerned with enriching themselves and disregarding the interests of others. At the international level, during Adam Smith's day, major colonial powers such as England, Netherlands, France, Portugal and Spain developed their economies from the resources taken from other poorer regions, without an adequate resulting benefit accruing to the colonies. In contrast, the earlier Buddhist societies such as India during the time of the Buddha or Japan during the time of Prince Shotuku (574-622 AD) existed with a radically different social approach. In Japanese society where the density of population was high, human relations were tightly interwoven, and Japanese people were encouraged to pay great attention to how other people thought or reacted.

In the Japanese world of business, earning the trust of others and entering into mutually beneficial transactions have always been given priority. Such conduct was the result of deep-seated Buddhist influence.

The Western obsession with 'self-benefit ' and indifference to the rights of non-European people has been well analysed by former Indian diplomat K.M. Panikkar in his ground breaking book 'Asia and Western Domination - A Survey of the Vasco De Gama Epoch of Asian History 1498-1945, published in 1953. Panikkar says that western colonial powers were reluctant to recognise that doctrines of international law applied outside Europe or that European nations had any moral obligations when dealing with Asian people.

For example, when Britain insisted on the opium trade against the laws of China in the 19th Century, there was a prohibition by law on opium smoking in England. In countries under direct British occupation eg. India, Ceylon and Burma, though there were equal rights established by law, there was considerable reservation in enforcing the law against Europeans. Maurice Collis, a British magistrate in Burma, gives a rare candid account in his book 'Trials in Burma' (1938) about the pressures brought upon him by the members of the Colonial Government and the British expatriate community, to be partial towards Europeans in his judgments. Panikkar avers that this doctrine of different rights (which made a mockery of the concept of the Rule of Law) persisted to the very end of western colonial domination and was a prime cause of Europe's ultimate failure in Asia.

An Economics of Tolerance and Peace

The Indian Emperor Asoka established the world's first welfare state in the third century BC upon embracing Buddhism. He renounced the idea of conquest by the sword. In contrast to the western concept of 'Rule of Law', Asoka embarked upon a 'policy of piety or rule of righteousness'. The basic assumption of this policy of piety was that the ruler who serves as a moral model would be more effective than one who rules purely by strict law enforcement.

The right method of governing is not only by legislation and law enforcement, but also by promoting the moral education of the people. Asoka began by issuing edicts concerning the ideas and practice of dharma, dealing with universal law and social order. Realizing that poverty eroded the social fabric, one of his first acts was to fund social welfare and other public projects.

Asoka's ideals involved promoting policies for the benefit of everyone in society, treating all his subjects as if they were his children and protecting religion. He built hospitals, animal welfare shelters and enforced a ban on owning slaves and killing. He gave recognition to animal rights in a number of his rock edicts and accepted state responsibility for the protection of animals.

Animal sacrifice was forbidden by law. An important aspect of Asoka's economics of peace was tolerance. In one of his rock edicts, Asoka calls for religious freedom and tolerance, and declares that by respecting someone else's religion, one brings credit to one's own religion. Inoue says that the idea of religious tolerance only emerged in the West in 1689 with the publication of John Locke's book 'A Letter Concerning Toleration'.

Inoue says that from a Buddhist perspective, politics can be summed up by the Sanskrit word 4 cakravartin ' (the wheel turner ), which means a king or political ruler who protects his people and the Buddhist teachings. Asoka was the prototype of this ruler whose political ideas were to inspire a countless number of other Asian Emperors and rulers. One enthusiastic follower of Asoka in Japan was Prince Shotuku. (574-622 AD).

An ardent believer in Buddhism, Shotukti drafted a 17 Article Constitution (the first Buddhist Constitution of Japan), which was promulgated in 604 AD. Shotuku appeals neither to 'self-evident truths' (as in the American Constitution ) nor to some divine right of kings as the basis of law. Instead he begins pragmatically by stating that if society is to work efficiently for the good of all, then people must restrain factionalism and learn to work together. A key feature of this Constitution is the emphasis placed on resolving differences by appeals to harmony and common good, using the procedure of consensus.

This approach is in marked contrast to the western view that factions can be controlled only legally by a balance of powers. Decision making by consensus is a significant characteristic of Japanese society. Every effort is made to ensure that minority dissident factions are not allowed to lose face.

The influence of Buddhism in Japan was such that in 792 AD Emperor Kammu (781-806 AD) despite constant threats from Korea, abolished the 100 year old national army, except for one regiment to guard the region near Korea. National security was maintained by sons of local clan leaders somewhat similar to the present day police.

Japan was effectively without an army until the emergence of the new warrior class before the Kamakura, Shogunate (1192-1333 AD). Tibet is another example of demilitarisation (in the 17th century). What is significant to note here is that long before the ideal of demilitarisation was espoused in western countries, ancient Buddhist countries had already implemented it. In Japan, beginning from the 9th century, the death penalty was abolished for nearly three and a half centuries.

An Economics to save the earth

Inoue is vehemently critical of the practice of industrial societies indulging in a policy of take-and-take from nature, despite economics being fundamentally about exchange or give-and-take. He identifies a passage in the Bible (Genesis 1: 27 - 28) as a possible root cause of the western attitude towards nature. This passage declares: "So God created man in his own image, in the image created he him, male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth".

Some have interpreted this passage literally, as one giving divine sanction to domination of the earth for the benefit of only human beings and disregarding the interests of both plants and other living creatures of this world. In contrast, Buddhist sacred texts are much more humble and always emphasise the need to live in harmony with nature and peacefully co-exist with other living creatures, as the ideal and noble way. In the Buddhist worldview, humans rather being masters of this earth, simply make up one tiny element in a vast cosmos. In the Buddhist Economics that Inoue proposes, the earth rather than human beings will be placed at the center of our world view.

History of Economics

Inoue examines the major ideas in the theories of prominent economists such as Adam Smith (1723-1790), David Ricardo (1772-1823), Karl, Marx (1818-1883), John Keynes (1883-1946) Joan Robinson (1903-1983) and the German Economists Friedrich von Hayek (1899-1992), Wilhelm Lopke (1899-1966) and Ludwig Erhard (1897-1977).

Inoue singles out Lopke's best-selling book' Civitas Humanas (Human Citizen) published in 1949 as laying the foundation for the new humanistic school of economics. Inoue uses the concept of 'social market economics' advocated by Ludwig Erhard in his 1957 book 'Woffistand fur Alles (Happiness for All) as the precedent for developing the new Buddhist Economics. Erhard called for the need to overcome the inherent tensions between the haves and have-nots in society, through such governmental policies as the banning of cartels, using government 'price valuation' to ensure fair pricing, rent control and supporting people with disabilities.

Senaka Weeraratna
Courtesy: BuddhaNet


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B2.09   Buddhist Lanka through American eyes

These extracts are culled from ‘Images of Sri Lanka through American Eyes’ by H.A.I. Goonetillake.

The well-known poet and religious writer was born in France in 1915 of an English father and an American mother. He was educated at Cambridge University, and did graduate work later in Columbia University, New York. He became a Catholic, and in 1941 a Trappist monk, entering the Abbey of Gethsemane in Kentucky. He was influenced by Blake as well as by St. Augustine and his writings are nearly all contemplations in various ways of the different stages of his religious experience. The best known are: The Waters of Silence (1950); Seeds of Contemplation (1949); The Ascent to Truth (1951); and No Man is an Island (1955). His spiritual autobiography The Seven-Storey Mountain (1948) published in England as Elected Silence, became a best-seller. Though eremitic in life-style, he did not close himself to contemporary events and secular processes, and he lifted his eyes to make studied comments on the life outside the monastic walls. This developing interest, sparked off by Zen Buddhism, in the relations between Christian and Buddhist mysticism led him to undertake his Asian pilgrimage in 1968, in the course of which he met with his tragic and accidental death in his hotel in Bangkok on December 10, 1968, soon after visiting Ceylon. His last entry in his Asian Journal is for December 8th, four days after he left Colombo.

This was Merton's first visit to the East, and his journal is a minute record of the people he encountered and his impressions of Asian cities and landscapes. The text is illustrated with his own photographs. He spent six days in Ceylon from 29th November 4th December 1968. His first two days at the Galle Face Hotel were empty of interest as he was compelled to observe the glazed and lack-lustre round of cosmopolitan life in the Mascarella Room and the Hotel Taprobane, where the bookshop became an oasis. His visit came alive in the train to Kandy on November 30th, and staying at the Queen's Hotel, he visited the Bishop of Kandy, the respected Buddhist hermitage, an ashram (Devasaranaram-aya in Ibbagamuwa), spent an enjoyable afternoon in the Kandy Museum, and had the time to say evening mass and preach the sermon in the Cathedral on Saturday, December 1st. He spends the next day driving to Dambulla and Polonnaruwa, and returned to Colombo by train on Tuesday (December 3rd), before flying on to Singapore. "Kandy Express" was an impromptu pseudo surrealist poem dashed off in his notebook during his train ride to and from Kandy, and the two extracts together convey in essence the impressions of the six days in Ceylon. He left Singapore on December 6th for Bangkok.

(From The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton (New York, 1973) pp.222-228, 230-236.)

"Polonnaruwa with its vast area under trees. Fences. Few people. No beggars. A dirt road. Lost. Then we find Gal Vihara and the other monastic complex stupas. Cells. Distant mountains, like Yucatan.

"The path dips down to Gal Vihara; a wide, quiet, hollow, surrounded with trees. A low outcrop of rock, with a cave cut into it, and beside the cave a big-seated Buddha on the left, a reclining Buddha on the right, and Ananda, I guess, standing by the head of the reclining Buddha. In the cave, another seated Buddha. The vicar general, shying away from 'paganism', hangs back and sits under a tree reading the guidebook. I am able to approach the Buddhas barefoot and undisturbed, my feet in wet grass, wet sand. Then the silence of the extraordinary faces. The great smiles. Huge and yet subtle. Filled with every possibility, questioning nothing, knowing everything, rejecting nothing, the peace not of emotional resignation but of Madhayamika, of sunyata, that has seen through every question without trying to discredit any one or anything - without refutation - without establishing some other argument. For the doctrinaire, the mind that needs well-established positions, such peace, such silence, can be frightening. I was knocked over with rush of relief and thankfulness at the obvious clarity of the figures, the clarity and fluditiy of shape and line, the design of the monumental bodies composed into the rock shape and landscape, figure, rock and tree. And the sweep of bare rock sloping away on the other side of the hollow, where you can go back and see different aspects of the figures.

"Looking at these figures I was suddenly, almost forcibly, jerked clean out of the habitual, half-tied vision of things, and an inner clearness, clarity, as if exploding from the rocks themselves, became evident and obvious. The queer evidence of the reclining figure, the smile, the sad smile of Ananda standing with arms folded (much more 'imperative' than Da Vinci's Mona Lisa because completely simple and straight forward). The thing about all this is that there is no puzzle, no problem, and really no 'mystery'. All problems are resolved and everything is clear, simple because what matters is clear. The rock, all matter, all life, is charged with dharmakaya… everything is emptiness and everything is compassion. I don't know when in my life I have ever had such a sense of beauty and spiritual validity running together in one aesthetic illumination. Surely, with Mahabalipuram and Polonnaruwa my Asian pilgrimage has come clear and purified it self. I mean, I know and have seen what I was obscurely looking for. I don't know what else remains but I have now seen and have pierced through the surface and have got beyond the shadow and the disguise. This is Asian in its purity, not covered over with garbage, Asian or European or American, and it is clear, pure complete. It says everything; it needs nothing. And because it needs nothing it can afford to be silent, unnoticed, undiscovered. It does not need to be discovered. It is we, Asians included, who need to discover it.

"The whole thing is very much a Zen garden, a span of bareness and openness and evidence, and the great figures, motionless, yet with the lines in full movement, waves of vesture and bodily form, a beautiful and holy vision. The rest of the 'city', the old place complex, I had no time for. We just drove around the roads and saw the ruined shapes, and started on the long drive home to Kandy."

 

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B2.10   The Buddha and the land on which he trod

Nandasena Mudiyanse Anura Manatunga
Head/Department of Archaeology, University of Kelaniya

 

The recent publication named ‘The Buddha and the land on which he trod’ contains 5 chapters and 19 plates. The first chapter is devoted to the main events in the life of the Buddha. The material has been chosen from the relevant Pali works and Classical Sinhala literature. The next chapter deals with (i) His teachings (ii) the three corner stones of Buddhist philosophy (iii) glimpses of Nibbana from Pali texts. The Buddha’s teachings (which run into several Nikayas) are a source of life time study but in this chapter, the author has attempted to summarise to the best of his ability, the fundamental teachings. The three corner stones of Buddhist philosophy i.e. anicca, dukkha, anatta (impermanence, unsatisfactoriness of existence and soul-lessness) are explained. It is well known that all the principles of Buddhist philosophy are based on these three corner stones.

Nibbana is the ultimate goal of Buddhism. It is a super-worldly state which has to be realised by self-effort. Just as the taste of honey cannot be explained to person who has never tasted it, Nibbana is state which has to be realised and attained. From certain passages in Pali literature, it may be possible to understand it and references and quotations have been made from such texts.

The Buddha’s person and personality can be understood from certain passages occurring in the four Nikayas and quotations are given in such a manner son as to make the reader understand or guess the nature of His personality. Pali as well as classical Sinhala literary works portray the Buddha as having an extremely pleasant appearance. A passage from Panca-raja-sutta of Samyutta Nikaya has been quoted in the following manner:

"The red lotus named Kokanada, when it blooms in the morning is sweet smelling. Similar is the Buddha whose virtues are sweet smelling. He has a shining physique".

Several interesting episodes from the Buddha’s life story are narrated in chapter 4. Quite thought provoking is the story of a Brahmin who came before the Buddha to display his skill in divulging the nature of a dead person’s re-birth by knocking at such a skull. When the Buddha gave him a skull (which happened to be one of an Arahat who had passed away) the Brahmin found his extraordinary skill a failure. The last chapter deals with notes on places of interest to pilgrims visiting Buddhist India. All the important places are dealt with in detail according to the chronological order of events of the life of the Buddha. I.e. Lumbini, Kapilavastu, Buddhagaya, Sarnath, Rajagaha, Vesali, Sravasti, Sankassa, Nalanda, Kusinara, Sanchi. The plates are also quite interesting. They have been chosen from archaeological material to be found in the museums. Some of the noteworthy ones are; Birth of the Bodhisattva at Lumbini; Bodhisattva being taken to school; The great Renuciation; Encounter with Mara; First sermon in the Deer Park; The Great Passing away. The back cover contains a picture of Buddha-gaya temple, which was originally built by Emperor Asoka and later enlarged by devout Buddhists. This publication which has been attractively bound, is certainly a valuable addition to a library.

Published by: S. Godage Bros.
 

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B2.11   Book Review - Vesak Lipi (No. 26)

Ananda Meegama

Upali Salgado has come out with the 26th issue of Vesak Lipi an annual that he has been publishing consisting of an eclectic collection of work on

Buddhism. Among others, there are excerpts from the sermons of the Buddha, short essays by learned professors, some by laymen in various fields, excerpts from the Jataka stories, some tales from the Buddha's wanderings and his meetings with people, pictures of sculptures and paintings, life stories of eminent exponents of the Dhamma in Sri Lanka and other short notes, which are of interest to the general readers.

This volume includes among others an article by the eminent scholar Prof K.N. Jayatilaka on Why Buddhism is a Religion, an article on Sanchi with photographs which is full of interesting information one of which is that the Mahavamsa refers to Sanchi as Chetiyagiri - the hill that is covered with chetiyas and stupas.

An article on Sparkling Gems of Buddhist Literature in India, refers to many works of which the general reader would like to know more, among them in Sanskrit, Asvagosa's Buddhacharita, and works of a poet from Kashmir Kappanabhyirdava. The article also mentions Buddhist Literature in Oriya, Telegu and Tamil and of the great Tamil Buddhist epic - Manimekalai and the lost Buddhist epic Kundalakesi of which only 19 stray stanzas remain.

There is also an article on the Sri Maha Bodhi by the Venerable Piyadassi Nayake Thera that brings to our attention the importance attached to trees and their preservation in the ancient world and in the Buddhist civilization that arose in Anuradhapura. The Ven. Piyadassi tells us of the important role played by women in the rise and spread of Buddhism and that Sinhala Bhikkunis sailed to far away China and assisted in establishing the Bhikkuni order in there in the 5th century.

There is also a little note By Offering a Katina Robe Merit Gained is Unshakable which refers to an annual event in every temple the "Vas Pinkama." Originating from the time of the Buddha this pinkama still observed religiously in Sri Lanka in every temple at the end of the "rains retreat."

The pinkama gives an opportunity for the Bhikkus and the Laity to interact in the process enabling the laity to care for the needs of the monks and the temple, including tending to sick monks, to attend to repairs etc. The pinkama ends with the offering of the Katina Robe which is not an ordinary robe but one specially prepared and dyed for the event.

After the Robe is offered to the Maha Sangha it is in turn offered by unanimous decision of the Sangha to the bhikku who during the Vas season observed his vows with a piety at the temple.

Vesak Lipi also has a short note on the brilliant lawyer H Sri Nissanka who with SWRD Bandaranaike formed the SLFP in 1951. At Sri Nissankka's residence Yamuna, a famous conference took place after the 1947 election when no party had a majority.

Several MP's opposed to the UNP attempted to cobble together a majority by bringing together several small parties and independents, which if it had succeeded would have stopped D S Senanayake and the UNP from forming the Government in 1947. However, D. S adroitly lured several independents to his fold forming a government that provided stability to the country in those formative years.

This famous house a landmark in Havelock Town was donated by Sri Nissanka's daughter to the Maha Sangha in memory of her father and is now a Buddhist temple - Sri Yamuna Saddaham Aramaya.

Vesak Lipi also has an article Concepts of Healing which brings together many ideas from the Buddhist texts on this subject including advice from the Buddha. Among them is his most practical and famous injunction - the need to guard against gluttony one of the greatest hindrances to a healthy life. The Buddhist tradition has always regarded healing as one of the most compassionate of deeds and there have been Buddhist monks over the centuries who have been expert physicians.

Upali has written on Ways of Gotama Buddha - The Perfect One, he relates many interesting incidents from the life of the Buddha, one relates to the Brahmin Wangisa who made his living by tapping human skulls to discover the facts pertaining to the rebirth of their owners. The Buddha to test him gave him a Arahant's skull and Vangisa was bewildered, for, a Arahant is not reborn.

These are just a handful of the gleanings from this delectable collection of odds and ends that will surely stimulate the reader to look a little more deeper into the subject: Upali publishes Vesak Lipi and gives it free to those who request it, he covers his costs through donations given by those who yearly subscribe to this annual.

I have chided him for not releasing the book to the general reader through bookshops for a small fee, for, several readers do not know of the existence of Vesak Lipi and are surely being deprived of a good book, however, Upali remains obstinately wedded to the idea - no sales.

From the surplus left after covering the costs of publishing the book Upali has been able to equip an entire ward in Kandy General Hospital reserved for kidney patients.

Vesak Lipi and its Editor have one much in the Buddhist tradition to bring understanding, wisdom and knowledge to readers. We must join in wishing him long life to continue this good work.

15 05 2011 - Sunday Island

 

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B2.12  Vesak Lipi – the much awaited seasonal publication

Vesak Lipi, the popular Buddhist publication has made its appearance for the 26th consecutive year. A most creditable achievement indeed. It’s a fine collection of articles providing ideal reading for Vesak, particularly when this year’s Vesak Poya is of special significance because of the Sambuddhatva Jayanthi commemorating the 2600th anniversary of the enlightenment of the Buddha.

Vesak Lipi is the sweat and toil of a single person – Upali Salgado who has a full plate throughout the year - collecting articles and photographs, writing to friends and well-wishers for funds, looking for advertisements, getting the copies printed, posting them to the contacts. And he has been doing it for the past two and a half decades.

In a fitting manner, this year’s issue begins with a historical introduction to Buddha Gaya – the site of Buddha’s enlightenment. In writing the article himself, Upali had done quite a bit of reference in tracing the history of Buddha Gaya.

The articles are written by well known personalities most of whom have been academics reputed for their knowledge in Buddhism. The much-respected Professor K N Jayatilaka discusses Why Buddhism is a religion. He points out that the word used for religion in Buddhism is brahma cariya which may be translated as ‘the ideal life’, but used with a very wide connotation to cover any way of life which anyone may consider to be the ideal as a consequence of his holding a certain set of beliefs about the nature and destiny of man in the universe.

In presenting some thoughts on the Buddha and His teachings, Professor Emeritus Y Karunadasa says that what is unique about the Buddha as a religious teacher is that he did not claim divinity. "He did not attribute his knowledge to a divine source or to some kind of transcendental reality. What the Buddha discovered through supreme human effort, he did not want to attribute to an external source. This means that Buddha took full responsibility for what he taught."

Dukkha of childhood is the subject of an article by Francis Story (Anagarika Sugathananda). Dr Susunaga Weerapperuma has handled a rather controversial topic – Why believe in God? Lionel Wijesiri writes on Tranquillity of the mind and Dr Mathu H Liyanage discusses Karma and its nature. Buddhist women in Buddha’s time is the title of an article by Dr Lorna Dewaraja and Chandra Gunasekera describes Kisagotami in a set of verses.

In a tribute to Professor Senerath Paranavitana, Upali sums up his contribution as a great archaeologist. Describing the contrast between him and other nationalists like Anagarika Dharmapala and Walisinghe Harischandra, Upali portrays Paranavitana as "one who moved with Englishmen, spoke their language fluently, sometimes even to be better than most of them but with no Welsh, Cockney English nor the upper class gentry’s English accent. For the benefit of his country he studied epigraphy and the science of archaeology from them. He wore the western dress, used an imported felt hat, and loved to smoke his cigar. They used to say that with every puff off that lighted cigar, his brain cells multiplied enabling him to read ancient inscriptions with ease!"

The feature on Sanchi along with a number of photographs takes the reader back to the home of Arahants where Buddhist art bloomed.

There are many more articles for a serious student to digest.

A pictorial feature on Buddhist art portrays an interesting collection of eight Buddha images of the Buddha from different countries in colour. Sadamali’s Subjugation of Angulimala is a fine piece of art, also in colour.

‘Vesak Lipi’ is one of the few surviving publications which continue to make its appearance during Vesak. The regulars wait for it.

May Upali continue his bold venture as a service to Buddhism with the help of his regular supporters.

DCR

17 05 2011 - The Island

 

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B2.13 Evolution of Buddhism in Sri Lanka

In a picturesque reader- friendly book


Book facts: “A Fresh Dawn- Sri Lanka’s rich Buddhist Heritage” Text: D. C. Ranatunga. Photographs: Sarath Perera. Design & Layout: Somachandra Peiris. Published by the All-Ceylon Buddhist Congress.

Rviewed by Deepal Sooriyaarachchi.

When I was looking for a suitable gift to be given to an overseas friend of mine who was interested in the history and culture of Sri Lanka, I came across “A Fresh Dawn- Sri Lanka’s rich Buddhist Heritage", a high quality coffee table book published by the All-Ceylon Buddhist Congress for the 60th anniversary of the World Fellowship of Buddhists and to commemorate the 2600th Sambuddhatva Jayanthi in 2011.

The history of Sri Lanka and the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka is nothing but one. One cannot be considered without examining the other since both are intricately intertwined. Every aspect of this island has been influenced by Buddhism in some form or the other.

By using authoritative sources such as Mahavamsa , and History of Buddhism in Sri Lanka by Ven. Walpola Rahula Thera,' A Fresh Dawn' traces the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka from the visits of Buddha to the island up to the modern era.

Though it is a very well researched document that can stand the test of professional scrutiny, the presentation is so simple and elegant it can be read in one go unless you want to dwell on the beautiful collection of photographs.

It traces the visits of Buddha to the island with appropriate photographs of locations from the murals of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara. Then it goes on to describe how Arahat Mahinda brought the message of the Buddha and the subsequent renaissance of a civilization based on Buddhist values. Among the most important features of this civilization are the irrigation system and stone sculptures of unparalleled beauty. The book presents some of the masterpieces of Sri Lanka’s stone sculptures which are linked very much to Buddhist beliefs.

One of the most significant events of the history of Buddhism and the country is the documenting of the teachings of the Tathagata at Aluvihara, Matale. Since its introduction by Arahat Mahinda, Buddhism turned out to be the main, if not the only, religious practice of the people. The evolution of these practices is very well captured and presented in the book and it covers many temples and places of worship across the country with photographs that have captured the moods and actions of the people like frozen shots seen in the movies.

The Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha became the symbol of royalty in the country. It became the duty of the king to protect the Tooth Relic. The history of the Tooth Relic traces various ups and downs of the Sinhala kings over the ages. This too is very well presented along with an impressive presentation on the Kandy Temple of the Tooth and the Perahera using some rare paintings and photographs as well.

With colonization by the British, Buddhism in the country had to face unprecedented challenges such as forceful conversions, restrictions to practise the religion and to the teaching systems of the country. How Buddhists rose against these oppressions through debates such as 'Panadurawadaya' that brought about a revival of Buddhism. 'A Fresh Dawn' has captured salient events of this era and brought in the role of the World Fellowship of Buddhists.

Under the theme 'Sri Lanka creates global interest', the book has covered the pioneering Dhammadutha efforts of Ven. Narada and the like in the modern world and the emergence of Western Buddhist monks in the country who made an invaluable contribution to the propagation of the Dhamma.

This is one of the few publications that captures the role Western Buddhist monks played in the island.
In 164-pages, the reader is swiftly taken from the introduction of Buddhism and its evolution to date like a pilgrimage visiting the most important Buddhist sites in Sri Lanka.

This book I feel is 'a must' for anyone who wants to get a grasp of the inner core of the people of this country, their value systems and a brief history. The book is what it is not only by the simple reader-friendly text provided by veteran journalist D. C. Ranatunga but captivating photographs of Sarath Perera and the intricate layout by Somachandra Pieris.

'A Fresh Dawn' is certainly a collector's item and an ideal corporate gift during the Vesak season.


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B2.14    Righteousness personified

Title: Anagarika Dharmapala: Global Buddhist Leader
Edited: Tilak Kuruvitabandara and Chandana Tilakaratne

Like prince Siddhartha he renounced his home. Like King Ashoka he strove to spread the message of the Buddha, far and wide.

A true Sinhalese, he denounced all his brethren who imitated, and worshipped the colonizers. His one ambition in life was to restore the “place where prince Sakyasinghe gained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree”, back to the Buddhists.

He is Anagarika Dharmapala. Yes, you know him. But not quite. In the newly released collection of essays edited by Tilak Kuruvitabandara and Chandana Thilakaratne, titled Global Buddhist Leader, (Loka Bhaudda Nayakaya) Anagarika Dharmapala, you are bound to encounter several alluring aspects of his character which you may have missed, if only because the essays were first written years before you were born.

Thus Martin Wickremasinghe writes about listening to a speech of Anagarika Dharmapala, when he was a young man working as an assistant editor of the Dinamina. “There are many things that happen in this Buddhist country of ours. But not one single detail is published in our newspapers.

If, however, Siyadoris Appu stabbed Nonahami the news is spread all over the front page in bold letters”. Though Wickremasinghe disagrees on this point, throughout the rest of the essay he pays accolades to Anagarika Dharmapala for not mincing words when it comes to denouncing all those who worshiped the British with blind devotion as well as those who opposed the British with equally blind hatred.

Quoting a speech made by Anagarika Dharmapala where he states he cannot suffer watching the Sinhalese turn into a race of heathens, Wickremasinghe says these outspoken words mirrored a heart brimming with love for his race, his country, his religion.

Chandrasena Ranaweera, in his essay “Why did we not show enough gratitude to this global leader”, questions what became of Anagarika Dharmapala’s ancestral home; the Hewawitharana Walauwa. While other abodes of significance like the Maduwanwala Walauwa have been preserved Ranaweera asks why there is no trace of the house in which this legendary leader who inspired his countrymen to overthrow the shackles of the English has so completely vanished from where it was supposed to have stood on Aloe Avenue in Colombo 3.

From mystery to accolades. Anagarika Dharmapala seems to have unintentionally wooed the entire American press when he attended the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago, in September 18, 1893.

Here is how the “St. Lewis Observer” described him, “With black curly locks thrown from his broad brow, his clean, clear eyes fixed upon the audience, his long, brown fingers emphasizing the utterances of his vibrant voice he looked the very image of a propagandist, and one trembled to know that such a figure stood at the head of the movement to consolidate all the disciples of Buddha and to spread the light of Asia throughout the world”.

Ranaweera, in his essay, also quotes from the New York World; “Mr. Dharmapala was one of the most attractive among this parliament. Always dressed in immaculate white...with his pleasant countenance he resembled a statue of Jesus”.

In his own words, though, this “Jesus” had only two major wishes in his life, to protect the holy places in India frequented by the Lord Buddha and to spread his message to the four corners of the world.

“Buddha Gaya must be rescued from Un-Buddhist hands”, he wrote in a “message to Buddhist brethren all over the world. “For nearly thousand years Buddhism has been forgotten by the people of India, the Maha Bhodhi Society is not making the effort to disseminate the forgotten principles of the dhamma...” he ends the letter with the fond hope “May all beings be happy”.

Finally, may we too share with Arauwala Nandimitra the image of this global Buddhist leader, on a moonlit night, dressed in white, walking towards the Mulagandakuti Vihare in Isipathana,Benares. By the time we have read this slim, yet deeply insightful volume all we need to do is close our eyes to commune with this king of righteousness.

If, however, Siyadoris Appu stabbed Nonahami the news is spread all over the front page in bold letters”. Though Wickremasinghe disagrees on this point, throughout the rest of the essay he pays accolades to Anagarika Dharmapala for not mincing words when it comes to denouncing all those who worshiped the British with blind devotion as well as those who opposed the British with equally blind hatred. Quoting a speech made by Anagarika Dharmapala where he states he cannot suffer watching the Sinhalese turn into a race of heathens, Wickremasinghe says these outspoken words mirrored a heart brimming with love for his race, his country, his religion.

Chandrasena Ranaweera, in his essay “Why did we not show enough gratitude to this global leader”, questions what became of Anagarika Dharmapala’s ancestral home; the Hewawitharana Walauwa. While other abodes of significance like the Maduwanwala Walauwa have been preserved Ranaweera asks why there is no trace of the house in which this legendary leader who inspired his countrymen to overthrow the shackles of the English has so completely vanished from where it was supposed to have stood on Aloe Avenue in Colombo 3.

From mystery to accolades. Anagarika Dharmapala seems to have unintentionally wooed the entire American press when he attended the Parliament of World Religions in Chicago, in September 18, 1893. Here is how the “St. Lewis Observer” described him, “With black curly locks thrown from his broad brow, his clean, clear eyes fixed upon the audience, his long, brown fingers emphasizing the utterances of his vibrant voice he looked the very image of a propagandist, and one trembled to know that such a figure stood at the head of the movement to consolidate all the disciples of Buddha and to spread the light of Asia throughout the world”. Ranaweera, in his essay, also quotes from the New York World; “Mr. Dharmapala was one of the most attractive among this parliament. Always dressed in immaculate white...with his pleasant countenance he resembled a statue of Jesus”.

In his own words, though, this “Jesus” had only two major wishes in his life, to protect the holy places in India frequented by the Lord Buddha and to spread his message to the four corners of the world. “Buddha Gaya must be rescued from Un-Buddhist hands”, he wrote in a “message to Buddhist brethren all over the world. “For nearly thousand years Buddhism has been forgotten by the people of India, the Maha Bhodhi Society is not making the effort to disseminate the forgotten principles of the dhamma...” he ends the letter with the fond hope “May all beings be happy”.

Finally, may we too share with Arauwala Nandimitra the image of this global Buddhist leader, on a moonlit night, dressed in white, walking towards the Mulagandakuti Vihare in Isipathana,Benares. By the time we have read this slim, yet deeply insightful volume all we need to do is close our eyes to commune with this king of righteousness.

 

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B2.15   Vijja udapadi, Aloko udapadi

An Excerpt from the book, ‘Light of Asia’ by Sir Edwin Arnold

 

In the third watch,
The earth being still, the hellish legions fled,
A soft air breathing from the sinking moon,
Our Lord attained Sammă-sambuddh, he saw
By light which shines beyond our mortal ken
The line of all his lives in all the worlds,
Far back and farther back, and farthest yet,
Five hundred lives and fifty. Even as one,
At rest upon a mountain-summit, marks
His path wind up by precipice and crag -
Past thick-set woods shrunk to a patch; through bogs
Glittering false-green; down hollows where he toiled
Breathless; on dizzy ridges where his feet
Had well-nigh slipped; beyond the sunny lawns,
The cataract, and the cavern, and the pool,
Backward to those dim flats wherefrom he sprang
To reach the blue-thus Buddha did behold
Life’s upward steps long-linked, from levels low
Where breath is base, to higher slopes and higher
Whereon the ten great Virtues wait to lead

The climber skyward. Also, Buddha saw
How new life reaps what the old life did sow;
How where its march breaks off its march begins;
Holding the gain and answering for the loss;
And how in each life good begets more good,
Evil fresh evil; Death but casting up
Debit or credit, whereupon th’ account
In merits or demerits stamps itself
By sure arithmic-where no tittle drop 
— Certain and just, on some new-springing life;
Wherein are packed and scored past thoughts and deeds,
Strivings and triumphs, memories and marks
Of lives foregone:

And in the middle watch,
Our Lord attained Abhidjna -insight vast
Ranging beyond this sphere to spheres unnamed,
System on system, countless worlds and suns
Moving in splendid measures, band by band
Linked in division, one yet separate,
The silver islands of a sapphire sea
Shoreless, unfathomed, undiminished, stirred
With waves which roll in restless tides of change.
He saw those Lords of Light who hold their worlds

By bonds invisible, how they themselves
Circle obedient round mightier orbs
Which serve profounder splendours, star to star
Flashing the ceaseless radiance of life
From centres ever shifting unto cirques
Knowing no uttermost. These he beheld
With unsealed vision, and of all those worlds,
Cycle on epicycle, all their tale
Of Kalpas, Mahakalpas-terms of time
Which no man grasps, yea, though he knew to count
The drops in Gunga from her springs to the sea,
Measureless unto speech-whereby these wax
And wane; whereby each of this heavenly host
Fulfils its shining life, and darkling dies.
Sakwal by Sakwal, depths and heights he passed
Transported through the blue infinitudes,
Marking-behind all modes, above all spheres,
Beyond the burning impulse of each orb- 
That fixed decree at silent work which wills
Evolve the dark to light, the dead to life,
To fulness void, to form the yet unformed,
Good unto better, better unto best,
By wordless edict; having none to bid,
None to forbid; for this is past all gods
Immutable, unspeakable, supreme,

07 05 2012 - Daily Mirror

 

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B2.16   Excellent New Text on Historic "Atamasthanaya" Litigation

Book Review by Dr. Wickrema Weerasooria
 

Next to the Sri Dalada (The Sacred Tooth of the Buddha) which for recent centuries has remained in Kandy, the most respected place of worship for Sri Lankan Buddhists is the "Atamasthanaya" in Anuradhapura. Also, if you ask any lawyer involved in Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law, he or she will refer you to what is called the "Atamasthanaya case" as the most important case to study. In that context, Mr. Mahinda Ralapanawa, the well – known lawyer and academic should be congratulated for bringing out this excellent new text which throws many further insights into this famous law suit of 1977 – 1988 relating to the Atamasthanaya.

About the "Atamasthanaya" as a place of Buddhist Worship

The term "Atamasthanaya" in Anuradhapura is the aggregate name for the eight principal places of worship there, the holiest of which is the Sri Maha Bodhiya referred to as the Bomaluwa. The original term was Atamahas – thanaya (Eight Historic Places) which word by passage of time become contracted to Atamasthanaya. These eight places of worship in respect of which there is one Chief Priest called the Atamasthanadipathi are as follows:

(i) Sri Maha Bodhiya or Bomaluwa – This was the place where the present sacred Bo-tree brought to Sri Lanka by Bhikkuni Sanghamitta, was planted. The Bo-tree was brought 16 years after the visit of Arahat Mahinda and was accepted by King Devanampiyatissa.

(ii) Thuparamaya built by King Devanampiyatissa (247 – 207 B.C) was the first dagoba built in Anuradhapura after the introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka.

(iii) Lowamahapaya – A storeyed building constructed by King Dutugemunu. (101 – 77 B.C.).

(iv) Ruwanweliseya – This Dagoba was, at that time, the world’s biggest Dagoba, constructed by King Dutugemunu (101-77 B.C.).

(v) Mirisawetiya – A Dagoba and an Aramaya constructed by King Dutugemunu (101-77 B.C.). It is recorded in history that during the Anuradhapura period at least 500 monks resided in this Aramaya.

(vi) Abhayagiriya – A Dagoba constructed by King Gajabahu in the year (114 A.D).

(vii) Jethawanarama – A Dagoba constructed by King Mahasena (276 A.D.).

(viii) Lankarama Dagoba built by King Walagambahu (Vattagamini – Abhaya) – First Century B.C.

The Chief Priest of this group of eight temples is called and known as the Atamasthanadipathi (also referred to as the Anunayake of the Atamasthana) who is customarily resident at the Bomaluwa Vihare, which being the site of the Scared Bo Tree, constituted the principal temple of the group. The Atamasthanadipathi has the right of appointing the Adipathis to the other seven connected Vihares.

The Atamasthanaya Litigation

This famous litigation arose in this way. In November 1977, Sri Sumana Revata Nayake Thero who had functioned from 1944 for over 33 years as the Atamasthanadipathi died. His tenure in that post was second only to that of his predecessor (Ratnapala Thero) who had officiated in that capacity for over 40 years. On Revata Thero’s demise, regrettably, there resulted a hotly contested dispute as to which of two priests should succeed him as the Chief Priest. The contest, which was first fought out in the District Court of Anuradhapura, then went to the Court of Appeal and from there, there was a further appeal to the Supreme Court. Because of the importance of the Atamasthanaya as a sacred place of Buddhist worship, the Chief Justice at that time, Justice S. Sharvananda, set up a Divisional Court namely a Bench of five judges, to hear and finally decide the appeal. The five judges were (i) Chief Justice Sharvananda (ii) Justice Athukorale (iii) Justice L.H. De Alwis (iv) Justice O.S.M. Seneviratne and (v) Justice H.A.G. De Silva.

The basic contest was between Rev. Galkiriyagama Soratha (the plaintiff) against Rev. Pallegama Gnanarathana (the defendant). Rev. Soratha said that he was the senior pupil of the late Chief Priest Revata Nayake Thero and therefore, on his demise, he succeeded to that office under the well-known rule of succession called Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa whereby the senior pupil succeeds his tutor. Rev. Gnanarathana (who was also a pupil of Revata Nayake Thero but junior to Rev. Soratha) argued that the Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa rule did not apply to the Atamasthanaya but the succession to it was by nomination by the Head of the Nuwarawewa family and election by the Atamasthana Committee.

Judicial Proceedings in Three Courts

At the trial, which took place in the District Court of Anuradhapura, the District Judge held in favour of the defendant (Rev. Gnanarathana). On an appeal by Rev. Soratha, the Court of Appeal, in a judgment which was not reported in the official law reports set aside the findings of the District Judge and held in favour of the plaintiff (Rev. Soratha). In other words, the Court of Appeal took the view that the succession to the office of Atamasthanadipathi was governed by the rule of Sisyanu Sisya Paramparawa and under that Rule, Rev. Sobitha was the rightful successor.

From that decision of the Court of Appeal, the defendant appealed to the Supreme Court. There were over twenty days of arguments before the five-judge bench of the Supreme Court. Leading President’s Counsel appeared on both sides. Both teams of senior lawyers were also ably assisted by teams of good juniors. All these names appear in the law report. The Supreme Court delivered its judgment on 2 February 1988. Two judgments were delivered, one by Justice Athukorale (with whom Chief Justice Sharvananda and Justices L.H. de Alwis, O.S.M. Seneviratne and H.A.G. de Silva agreed). The other separate judgment was by Justice O.S.M. Seneviratne (with whom Justice H.A.G. de Silva agreed). Both judgments were in favour of the defendant – appellant (Rev. Gnanarathana) and the Supreme Court held that Rev. Gnanarathana (and not Rev. Sobitha) was the successor to the Atamasthanadipathiship of Anuradhapura. It also held that the succession to this important office was not governed by the traditional rule of Sisyana Sisya Paramparawa but by election by Head of the Nuwarawewa Family and the Atamasthana Committee. It is noteworthy that this litigation, from the time that the action was first filed in the District Court of Anuradhapura on January 31, 1978, to the delivery of the judgment by the Supreme Court on February 2, 1988 took over 10 years.

In my own text on Buddhist Ecclesiastical Law which was published last year, I devoted a separate chapter of nearly forty pages to outline the above litigation and its importance to our law. There, I had noted with regret that two very important documents were not available for any research namely the judgment of the District Court of Anuradhapura and the judgment of our Court of Appeal which reversed the trial court’s decision but which was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court.

Now, we are indeed grateful that Mr. Mahinda Ralapanawa has filled that important gap and supplied us with the missing links. Mr. Ralapanawa’s publication in Sinhalese entitled "Atamasthanaye Anunayake Dhanantharaya" (Office of Anunayake of Atamasthanaya) was launched recently at the Auditorium of the National Library and Documentation Centre at Torrington Avenue, Colombo. The launch was presided over by Rev. Niyangoda Vijithasiuri Anunayake Thero of the Malwatte Chapter.

Also present at this launch was the current Atamasthanadipathi, the Rev. (Dr.) Pallegama Sirinivasa Anunayake Thero who became the successor to that office on the death of Rev. Pallegama Gnanarathana who won the famous litigation referred to above.

Mr. Mahinda Ralapanawa’s new text is important for several reasons. Firstly, it supplies the missing links or the missing documents to the Atamasthanaya litigation. It supplies the decision of our Court of Appeal delivered on May 11, 1987 which was later set aside and invalidated by the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeal decision was by two Judges namely, Justice Dias Bandaranaike and Justice Dheeraratne. Justice Bandaranaike had written the judgment and Justice Dheeraratne had agreed with it and had not written a separate judgment. As mentioned earlier the Court of Appeal had disagreed with the District Judge of Anuradhapura.

The second important document uncovered and published by Mr. Ralapanawa is the judgment of the District Court of Anuradhapura in this case which is numbered as case No. 9259. The District Judge who heard the case and wrote the judgment was Justice E.P. Ratwatte. That judgment had been pronounced in open Court by his successor Justice L.M. Jayaratne on July 28, 1979.

Now that both these judgments have been found and authenticated and published together with the Supreme Court judgment in one text, we can say that all the relevant documents of the famous Atamasthanaya litigation is complete.

Another important factor is that Mr. Ralapanawa’s text of 250 pages is in Sinhalese. All the three judgments of this case, the District Court judgment, the Court of Appeal judgment, and the Supreme Court judgment were all delivered in English. Now they are all available to the reading public of Sri Lanka in Sinhala. We are all aware that books published in the English language have little circulation. However, it is not so with books in Sinhalese and I am told that already over 700 copies of Mr. Ralapanawabook has been sold and a new reprint is planned.

Mahinda Ralapanawa’s book contains other exemplary features. It shows how the British Civil Servants zealously protected and preserved documentation and reports relating to famous Buddhist institutions and temples. There was no political interference in that period and interestingly the Anuradhapura district where the Bo-Maluwa was situated came under the jurisdiction of the Government Agent of Jaffna. It was these records maintained and preserved by the British administration of that period that proved that the Chief Priest in charge of the Atamasthanaya was elected by a special nomination of the head of the Nuwarawewa Family and a Committee of Rate Mahattayas (known as the Atamasthana Committee) from the time of King Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe.

Interestingly, Mr. Mahinda Ralapanawa also, has a connection to this method of selection because one of his ancestors (of the Ralapanawa heritage) was a Rata Mahattaya and a member of the Atamasthana Committee.

The 1988, Supreme Court judgment in the Atamasthanaya case also records the painstaking manner in which one of the five Judges of the Supreme Court bench - namely, Mr. Justice O.S.M. Seneviratne – had researched the origins and history of the Bo-Maluwa and the seven other historic places before he finalized his judgment. It is on record that Justice O.S.M. Seneviratne – an experienced Judge, had spent several days at our National Archives at Torrington Avenue, going through old archival materials and Government Agents’ reports and diaries on the Atamasthanaya.

Let me conclude this short book review by once again congratulating Mr. Mahinda Ralapanawa for finding the time to find these invaluable documents because they now complete the saga of the historic litigation relating to the Atamasthanaya of Anuradhapura which will be a boon to our future historians and lawyers.

08 07 2012 - Sunday Island

 

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B2.17   What would the Buddha do? Practical Buddhism for modern times

 

The Bodhi Tree Grows in L.A.: Tales of a Buddhist Monk in America (Shambhala, 2008) by Bhante Walpola Piyananda is a testimony to the simplicity and therefore applicability of Buddhist teachings. In twenty short, easily digestible chapters, Bhante (a Pali word that can be translated as "Venerable" or also "teacher") Piyananda, the founder-president and abbot of Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, a temple on Crenshaw Boulevard, interacts with and advises members of his community. As a Theravadan Buddhist monk he is a representative of the oldest of the three Buddhist traditions, which is practiced mainly in Sri Lanka (where he is from originally), Thailand, Burma, Laos, and Cambodia. This tradition uses texts in Pali, a language that coexisted with Sanskrit in the Buddha's time. He refers to these texts throughout the book as he helps people in need with problems including anger, gambling addiction, jealousy, racism, dead pets, and the interpretation of monastic rules. What shines through in all these stories is not only his compassion but also his deep knowledge of the Buddha's history and thought as well as an ability to always find concepts, teaching stories, or practices appropriate to a given situation.

In the first story, for example, a man whose supervisor has been tormenting him and passing him up for promotion (a situation with which all too many of us can probably identify) wants to buy a gun but is convinced by a friend to first see Bhante Piyananda. He first reminds the man of the Eight Worldly Conditions, four pairs of desirable and undesirable conditions that every human being must face: gain and loss; fame and infamy; praise and blame; and happiness (sukha) and unhappiness (dukkha). The good news (and the bad news as well) is that none of these conditions is permanent. Bhante Piyananda then goes on, citing the  Maharahulavada Sutta: "Tom, the Buddha taught us, 'We have to be like the five elements—earth, water, fire, wind, and space. The earth does not get upset by the various things thrown upon it. Nor does water get upset by the various things that it is used to wash. Nor fire, which burns things clean and dirty without complaint. Nor air which blows on clean and dirty things equally. Nor space, which is not established anywhere. We need to develop our minds so that like these elements, things that arise that are either agreeable or disagreeable do not invade our minds and remain there. If we conduct ourselves like these five elements, we, too, can remain calm and peaceful, not bothered by whatever happens.'" He also advises Tom to practice as an antidote to his anger Metta (loving-kindness), in which one extends that emotion first to oneself, then to beloved people in one's life, then to neutral people, then to difficult people, and eventually to all sentient beings. In the end, Tom doesn't buy the gun, things get better with the supervisor, and he eventually gets promoted.

In another story, Bhante Piyananda's temple gets involved in fundraising efforts for victims of the 2004 Tsunami that most affected Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Here some mistaken and limiting views about karma come into play. It is suggested that the disaster occurred because of bad karma accrued by the people. One leader in the group suggests that by helping the fishermen, who kill things for a living, the temple members will themselves accrue bad karma. After a moving talk on the spaciousness and generosity of compassion Bhante Piyananda tries to correct the man's narrow view of Karma by putting it in the context of the Buddha's discourse on the five laws (niyama) that govern all things. The first is utu niyama, the law of energy, which governs changes in the body and things like climate. The second is bija niyama, the law of germs and seeds, which states that each one produces a different kind of plant or animal. Importantly, this law also states that there is only one kind of human seed, meaning that all are the same despite differences in race, class, gender, and so forth. The third law is kamma niyama, which states that whatever one does, good or bad, one reaps the consequences. The fourth is dhamma niyama, the law of nature. This governs all of physical manifestation and includes things like the earth's plates moving and causing tsunamis. The fifth is citta niyama, the law of mind that governs manifestation and says, in effect, "we create our world with our thinking." As Bhante Piyananda explains, "Kamma (the Pali word) is only one of the five laws in play at all times, each one exerting its influence as it may. Therefore, we must realize that our life experiences are not only due to the law of kamma." The conversation leaves the objector more knowledgeable about the complexity of these interacting laws and more sympathetic to the Tsunami victims.

In a final example, a woman's treasured pet--a dog named Buster--is hit by a car and killed. In an initial visit to her home, Bhante Piyananda cites the Buddha in the Salla Sutta: " Here in this world life is not predictable nor is it certain. Here, life is short with difficulties and suffering. Being born one then dies, without exception,..." A ceremony for the animal is held at the temple, but she is so bereaved that she cannot place the picture of the dog on the altar, instead clutching it with all her might as she cries. At this point Bhante Piyananda tells the story of Kisa Gotami, a woman whose firstborn child died and who could not accept it, running from house to house with the dead baby searching for medicine to revive it. She is eventually directed to the Buddha and, laying the baby at his feet, begs him to work a miracle and revive it. The Buddha speaks to her with love and compassion, telling her he will do that on the condition that she bring him some mustard seeds from a house in which there has not been death. Of course, she is not able to carry out this task since, as she eventually comes to understand, every household experiences death. As Bhante Piyananda concludes. "Death does leave a scar that cannot be erased when we are very close to the departed one. I'm not telling you to forget Buster, but you must get on with your life. Keep the happy memories of your pet, but also remember that nothing in physical form is forever." She is then able to place the picture on the altar and the memorial service goes on.

Other subjects of the book include the Taliban's destruction of the huge Buddha statues in Bamiyan, alcoholism, marriage ceremonies, meditation, spiritual friendship, and reincarnation, among others. These are real, contemporary issues viewed within both the context of modern, multicultural Los Angeles and the context of Buddhist tradition. Bhante Piyananda's love and concern for the people he counsels is as evident as his love of his spiritual tradition, making that tradition a contemporary, living thing and a relevant resource in the lives of many Angelenos. Bhante Piyananda's teaching in this book is filled with humility, grace, and wisdom that can be of benefit to all.
 

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B2.18   Jathaka Geetha Sangrahaya - Compendium of songs on Jathaka stories

D.V.J. Harischandra, Vijitha Yapa Publications

Dr. D.V.J. Harischandra needs no introduction to the Sri Lankans. He is a well-acclaimed psychiatrist by profession for well-nigh five decades who has rendered yeoman services to the nation.His first book entitled Psychology Aspects of the Buddhist Jathaka Stories published in 2000 was an analytical study that penetrates into the inner aspects of the Buddhist Jathatha Stories – almost synonymous with the Sri Lankan Buddhists – hitherto no one has delved into. His book was well accepted by a wide array of readership. This book won the then State Literary Award.

“No one has delved with such a consummate insight on the workings of the human mind,” wrote the translator of the Russian novel Fyodor Dostoyeveky’s Crime and Punishement (Raduga edition) Julius Ketzer on the said novelist. Harischandra with his rare uncanny whirlwind romance in psychiatry and in classical Hindi music has left an indelible imprint by releasing an audio CD which contains twenty songs “with such a consummate insight on the workings of the human mind”.

For all these songs, he has written the lyrics culled from the Jathaka Stories for 20 enchanting Hindi tunes of well-known Hindi musicians. Eleven of them belong to celebrated Noushad Ali’s immortal hits. The book with the audio CD spans 122 pages in which each Jathaka story is provided with a captivating color painting portraying the Jathaka story drawn by the art teacher of Mahanama College, Nimal Dharmasiri. The cover of the audio CD and the book adorned with a magnificent scene from the Ummagga Jathakaya is an excellent work executed by an artist who deserves more recognition and hails even from Ambalangoda Nishan Jayalath Wijerathna more known for his pandal drawings for Buddhist celebrations.

The audio CD accompanied by a book is the first to a series of such audio CD’s in the future. Releasing of the audio CD with a book of lyrics on the Jathaka stories is a novel concept to the Sri Lankan Buddhists. Songs based on Jathaka stories were known to Sri Lankan Buddhists mostly through Vesak and Poson pandals. This audio CD and the book of lyrics entitled Jathaka Geetha Sangrahaya will undoubtedly be a solace to the people of all walks of life in our country.

The most remarkable feature of the audio CD is the presentation of host of amateur unprofessional singers to the limelight. The only shortcoming that I see which should be corrected in a future edition is some of the psychiatric Sinhalese terms used in the preface without giving the Sinhalese meaning or the English term at least in brackets. Clueless laymen cannot understand such medical jargon or terminology. It was Alexander Pope who wrote: “One science shall one genius fit, so vast is art and so narrow is human wit”. Harischandra is an exception to the Pope’s said words.

Dr. Harischandra introduces a splendid audio CD with a book entitled the Jathaka Geetha Sangrahaya – a compendium of songs on Buddhist Jathaka stories and it is indeed a panacea for all illnesses, physical and mental alike. It is a prescription sine qua non for mens sana in corpore sano – healthy mind in healthy body. All Sri Lankan Buddhists would treasure it and listen to Harischandra’s mellifluous words on the Jathaka stories that have regaled them from their childhood with irresistible sense of nostalgic memories.

11 11 2012 - The Nation

 

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B2.19   Awakening the Buddha Within: Tibetan Wisdom for the Western World

Lama Surya Das

Lama Surya Das, the most highly trained American lama in the Tibetan tradition, presents the definitive book on Western Buddhism for the modern-day spiritual seeker.

The radical and compelling message of Buddhism tells us that each of us has the wisdom, awareness, love, and power of the Buddha within; yet most of us are too often like sleeping Buddhas.  In Awakening the Buddha Within, Surya Das shows how we can awaken to who we really are in order to lead a more compassionate, enlightened, and balanced life.  It illuminates the guidelines and key principles embodied in the noble Eight-Fold Path and the traditional Three Enlightenment Trainings common to all schools of Buddhism:

Wisdom Training: Developing clear vision, insight, and inner understanding -- seeing reality and ourselves as we really are.
Ethics Training: Cultivating virtue, self-discipline, and compassion in what we say and do.
Meditation Training: Practicing mindfulness, concentration, and awareness of the present moment.

With lively stories, meditations, and spiritual practices, Awakening the Buddha Within is an invaluable text for the novice and experienced student of Buddhism alike.

Amazon.com Review
If you dropped the Buddha into a modern metropolis, would he come off sounding like a 16th-century morality play or more like a drive-time disc jockey? Lama Surya Das doesn't spin platters for a living, but he does have a hip delivery that belies his years of sheltered training in Buddhist monasteries. In Awakening the Buddha Within, he borrows a time-tested bestseller format for a 2,500-year-old tradition that comes off as anything but ancient. With the "Five T's of Concentration," the question of "need or greed," and the story of the monk who bares his backside to prove a point, Surya Das invokes a path of wisdom that is as accessible and down-to-earth as a worn pair of loafers. It's not an easy path--it demands thought, effort, and discipline. But Surya Das is there for you, lighting the way to wisdom training, coaxing you into ethics training, and laying out step by step the path of meditation training. And if that's not enough to get you to live in the now, consider these words of the enlightened lama: "You must be present to win." - Brian Bruya

Review
"A warm, accessible, deep, brilliantly written exploration and adventure along the Buddhist path." - Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D.

"[T]his is a great achievement and I feel deeply grateful for it."
--Thich Nhat Hanh, author of Living Buddha, Living Christ

"This open-hearted offering of the Buddha's teachings ranges from fundamentals to magic. It is a wonderful gift." 
--Sharon Salzberg, author of Loving Kindness

"Wise and wonderful, gentle and profound. . . . This is surely one of the finest spiritual manuals meant for a larger public and it succeeds brilliantly."
--Ken Wilbur, author of A Brief History of Everything

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B2.20   Buddhism Without Beliefs: A Contemporary Guide to Awakening

Stephen Batchelor

 

In this simple but important volume, Stephen Batchelor reminds us that the Buddha was not a mystic who claimed privileged, esoteric knowledge of the universe, but a man who challenged us to understand the nature of anguish, let go of its origins, and bring into being a way of life that is available to us all. What the Buddha taught, says Batchelor, is not something to believe in but something to do - and as he explains clearly and compellingly, it is a practice that we can engage in, regardless of our background or beliefs, as we live every day on the path to awakening.


Amazon.com Review
As in all the major religions, there is a wisdom behind the theology of Buddhism that informs the believer in daily life. Stephen Batchelor would argue that the difference with Buddhism is that the wisdom is in fact independent of the theology and is not informative to believers only, but to everyone. In Buddhism Without Beliefs Batchelor lays out the major tenets of Buddhist wisdom, commenting on their relevance to modern life. The Buddha said that seekers must find the Truth for themselves, and Batchelor offers this book as a roadmap. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


Review
"Batchelor...suggests that Buddhism jettison reincarnation and karma, thereby making possible what he calls an 'existential, therapeutic and liberating agnosticism."—Time magazine

"Buddhism Without Beliefs is the kind of finely written primer about the concepts of Buddhism that even a heathen like me can appreciate and understand. For the non-Buddhist, or the aspiring Buddhist, it will be of much assistance. Filled with compassion, lucidly written, this is a book that explains much about an ancient, ever-living philosophy that has much to offer the stunned searchers of truth in our chaotic age of modernity."—Oscar Hijuelos, author of Mr. Ives' Christmas and The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

"Radiant in its clarity, Buddhism Without Beliefs reminds us not just of Buddhism's true nature, but of our own as well. Freeing us from the notion of Buddhism as a religion, Stephen Batchelor shows us how necessary the Buddha's teachings are in today's world. It may not be what he intended, but he has made a believer out of me."—Mark Epstein, M.D., author of Thoughts Without a Thinker: Psychotherapy from a Buddhist Perspective

"Though he is a former monk in both the Zen and Tibetan traditions, Batchelor is now associated with a nondenominational Buddhist community in England. He deliberately eschews elitist, monastic Buddhist traditions, which often make enlightenment appear all but impossible to attain. Throughout, simple meditation exercises acquaint readers with Buddhist principles that illuminate 'the nature of the human dilemma and a way to its resolution.'"—Publishers Weekly

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B2.21   One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps

Kevin Edward Griffin

What would the Buddha say to an alcoholic or addict? What could those in recovery offer to the Buddhist path? Kevin Griffin has immersed himself in the Buddhist and Twelve Step traditions, and in One Breath at a Time he gives some surprising and inspiring answers to these questions.
The author, a Buddhist meditation teacher and longtime Twelve Step practitioner, weaves his personal story of recovery with traditional Buddhist teachings. The book takes us on a journey through the Steps, examining critical Twelve Step ideas like Powerlessness, Higher Power, and Moral Inventory through the lens of Buddhism. One Breath at a Time presents potent ancient techniques for finding calm and clarity and offers a vision of a Higher Power not tied to traditional Western Judeo-Christian concepts. One Breath at a Time, describes the convergence of two vital traditions, one ancient, the other contemporary, and shows how they are working together to create a rich spiritual path for our times.

Certain to resonate with both meditators and those whose mantra is "One day at a time," One Breath at a Time should find a large, welcoming audience. 

From Publishers Weekly
Meditation teacher and author Griffin discovered that his Buddhist practice deepened as a result of the 12-step program that freed him from addiction. In examining the relationship of Buddhism and the steps, he learned to escape spiritual traps endemic to the culture of addiction, namely, instant gratification and nihilism. He writes that many addicts are dissuaded from attending 12-step meetings because of the Christian tenor exemplified by faith in a Higher Power. Buddhists in particular are encouraged to wordlessly contemplate Buddha Nature, yet for addicts, retreat-style meditation without sponsorship may become another alcoholic behavior: in the last days of his drinking, "walking around smashed saying, 'I'm just a drunken Buddha' " exemplified Griffin's deeply nihilisticversion of the concepts of No-Self and the Mahayana principle that everything is a manifestation of Buddha Nature. Intermediary steps that call for personal inventory and interpersonal sharing of past transgressions may seem at odds with the solitary meditation-based practice of letting thoughts dissolve into a reality of "right here, right now," but Griffin says such sharing is part of the Buddhist principle of Right Speech. One theme in this valuable book is that for some, 12-step meetings offer a cohesive sangha when Western Buddhism does not meet the need for honest group support. In the final steps, Griffin learns to let go of the "I," to resist belief in a single transcendent experience and to instead rely on the gentle vigilance exacted by regular meditation, sponsorship and meeting participation. 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review
"In a wise, honest and personal way, Kevin Griffin has written a book that will be truly helpful to Buddhist practitioners and the Twelve Step community alike." --Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart, psychotherapist, and co-founder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center.

"A Buddhist goes through the Twelve Steps to find God within. A book of compassion and grace." --Ondrea and Stephen Levine, authors of One Year to Live and Embracing the Beloved.
In a wise, honest and personal way, Kevin Griffin has written a book that will be truly helpful to Buddhist practitioners and the Twelve Step community alike. (Jack Kornfield, author of A Path with Heart)

A Buddhist goes through the Twelve Steps to find God within. A book of compassion and grace. (-Ondrea and Stephen Levine, authors of One Year to Live)


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B2.22   In the Buddha's Words: An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon

The works of the Buddha can feel vast, and it is sometimes difficult for even longtime students to know where to look, especially since the Buddha never explicitly defined the framework behind his teachings. Designed to provide just such a framework, In the Buddha's Words is an anthology of the Buddha's works that has been specifically compiled by a celebrated scholar and translator. For easy reference, the book is arrayed in ten thematic sections ranging from "The Human Condition" to "Mastering the Mind" to "The Planes of Realization." Each section comes with introductions, notes, and essays to help beginners and experts alike draw greater meaning from the Buddha's words. The book also features a general introduction by the author that fully lays out how and why he has arranged the Buddha's teachings in this volume. This thoughtful compilation is a valuable resource for both teachers and those who want to read the Buddha on their own.

Review
A remarkable book. A gift to the world. -- Andrew Olendzki, Executive Director of the Barre Center of Buddhist Studies, in Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly

From the Back Cover
This landmark collection is the definitive introduction to the Buddha’s teachings—in his own words. The American scholar-monk Bhikkhu Bodhi, whose voluminous translations have won widespread acclaim, here presents selected discourses of the Buddha from the P›li Canon, the earliest record of what the Buddha taught. Divided into ten thematic chapters, In the Buddha’s Words reveals the full scope of the Buddha’s discourses, from family life and marriage to renunciation and the path of insight. A concise, informative introduction precedes each chapter, guiding the reader toward a deeper understanding of the texts that follow.
In the Buddha’s Words allows even readers unacquainted with Buddhism to grasp the significance of the Buddha’s contributions to our world heritage. Taken as a whole, these texts bear eloquent testimony to the breadth and intelligence of the Buddha’s teachings, and point the way to an ancient yet ever-vital path. Students and seekers alike will find this systematic presentation indispensable.
 

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B2.23   The Dhammapada: A New Translation of the Buddhist Classic with Annotations

Gil Fronsdal

The Dhammapada is the most widely read Buddhist scripture in existence, enjoyed by both Buddhists and non-Buddhists. This classic text of teaching verses from the earliest period of Buddhism in India conveys the philosophical and practical foundations of the Buddhist tradition. The text presents two distinct goals for leading a spiritual life: the first is attaining happiness in this life (or in future lives); the second goal is the achievement of spiritual liberation, freedom, absolute peace. Many of the key themes of the verses are presented in dichotomies or pairs, for example, grief and suffering versus joy; developing the mind instead of being negligent about one's mental attitude and conduct; virtuous action versus misconduct; and being truthful versus being deceitful. The purpose of these contrasts is, very simply, to describe the difference between what leads to desirable outcomes and what does not. 

For centuries, this text has been studied in its original Pali, the canonical language of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. This fresh new translation from Insight Mediation teacher and Pail translator Gil Fronsdal is both highly readable and scholarly authoritative. With extensive explanatory notes, this edition combines a rigorous attention to detail in bringing forth the original text with the translator's personal knowledge of the Buddhist path. It is the first truly accurate and highly readable translation of this text to be published in English.

From Publishers Weekly
The Dhammapada, possibly the most popular and best-known of all Buddhist texts, sums up "in the simplest language the core teachings of the Buddha," as Jack Kornfield writes in the foreword. Translator Fronsdal, a Kornfield protégé who has a doctorate in Buddhist studies from Stanford and has practiced Buddhism for three decades, offers a rendition that is faithful to the original Pali text, but not slavishly so. For example, right in the opening verses he translates dhamma as "experience" when it is often rendered as "teaching" or "truth," and samsara as "wandering" when it usually connotes the cycle of suffering. He also employs gender-neutral language throughout. Fronsdal provides a brief but illuminating introduction in which he describes the history of the Dhammapada and highlights two basic themes: how to obtain happiness in this and future lives, and how to achieve liberation from suffering. He discusses how some verses seem to be specifically addressed to the text's monastic audience, and suggests ways that lay Buddhists might apply those verses to themselves. 
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review
“In his highly praised new translation, Fronsdal brings to bear his considerable experience both as a scholar and a practitioner. His intimacy with the text is obvious: the verses ring out clearly on the first read, communicating their meaning with precision and poetic sensitivity.”—Tricycle 

“It's always valuable to go back to the Dhammapada, that most-beloved and oft-translated of Buddhist texts. The publication of Gil Fronsdal's new translation gives us an excellent opportunity to do so. Fronsdal takes care in his choice of words and draws out subtleties of meaning with important significance for people who practice meditation.”—Shambhala Sun 

“What sets this particular version apart is that its verses remain true to the original Pali, the canonical language of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. . . . With its easily readable blend of literary sensitivity and clarity of text, this new edition of the Dhammapada is a highly recommended addition to the practitioner's library of classical spiritual texts.”—The Beacon 

"A fine new translation of an ancient classic. Fronsdal's balance of fidelity to the text and sensitivity to its spirit is perfect. A book to be treasured."—Carl Bielefeldt, Stanford University 

“The language is clear, precise, and inspiring, the phrasing spare and elegant—highly recommended.”—Joseph Goldstein, author of One Dharma 

“I have read many Dhammapada translations in several languages, but never have I come across such a crisp, precise, and lucid translation as this.”—Bhante Gunaratana, Bhavana Society
 

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B2.24   The Foundations of Buddhism

(Opus Book)

Rupert Gethin

Buddhism is a vast and complex religious and philosophical tradition with a history that stretches over 2,500 years, and which is now followed by around 115 million people. In this introduction to the foundations of Buddhism, Rupert Gethin concentrates on the ideas and practices which constitute the common heritage of the different traditions of Buddhism (Thervada, Tibetan, and Eastern) that exist in the world today. From the narrative of the story of the Buddha, through discussions of aspects such as textual traditions, the framework of the Four Noble Truths, the interaction between the monastic and lay ways of life, the cosmology of karma and rebirth, and the path of the bodhisattva, this book provides a stimulating introduction to Buddhism as a religion and way of life.


Having studied Buddhism privately and academically for over 20 years I usually consider introductory works not worth the bother. When I saw the outraged comments from the one-star reviewer below, however, I thought that this could be an interesting work. As another stated, most presentations of Buddhism that are made for Westerners are usually filtered to some extent, particularly older ones that are taking the Buddhism-is-the-secular-religion-for-us-grown-up-Westerners routine. Unlike Mr. Martin, I own and have bothered to read many of the early Buddhist writings, and they are chock full of the kind of things he claims are not part of Buddhism. The author of this book takes it all on the chin and doesn't let it faze him a bit. He's more interested in telling about both the story and teachings of Buddhism as they really were and, at core, still are, rather than keeping Western devotees comfortable.


And what an introduction! Take all those 5 star reviews seriously. I was repeatedly impressed with the clarity of prose and vision Gethin demonstrates while explaining even some of the most difficult to grasp Buddhist philosophical concepts. Things that it took two hours for some of my teachers to communicate to the point that students actually understood are brilliantly exposited with delightful comprehension in just a few pages. It takes a real grasp of the field to pull this off, and Gethin does it over and over. Illuminating charts, penetrating text, and, thank goodness, a topical bibliography to mine for years...what more could you want? If you want to read a book that will leave you with a solid understanding of core, foundational, Buddhist concepts, instead of a fluffy semi-New Age ransacking of the tradition to pamper Western assumptions about the self and the cosmos, look no further. As soon as this is submitted, I am sending an email to the professor at the Buddhist college I attend to look at this work for inclusion in the texts for our introductory survey course. Peter Harvey's and Walpola Rahula's introductory works are both on the schedule already, along with a third that will go unnamed, which Gethin simply stomps into the dirt for value. "The Foundations of Buddhism" clearly belongs in such stellar company and hopefully this Fall will be benefiting students alongside them.


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B2.25   Modern Buddhism: The Path of Compassion and Wisdom

Volume 1 - Sutra
Volume 2 - Tantra
Volume 3 - Prayers for Daily Practice


Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Introduction and Encouragement

This eBook Modern Buddhism – The Path of Compassion and Wisdom, in three volumes, is being distributed freely at the request of the author Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (the Kindle Store sets the minimum price at 99 cents and also additional taxes are added in many countries). The author says: “Through reading and practicing the instructions given in this book, people can solve their daily problems and maintain a happy mind all the time.” So that these benefits can pervade the whole world, Geshe Kelsang wishes to give this eBook freely to everyone.

We would like to request you to please respect this precious Dharma book, which functions to free living beings from suffering permanently. If you continually read and practice the advice in this book, eventually your problems caused by anger, attachment and ignorance will cease.

Volume 1 Sutra explains how to practise basic Buddhist compassion and wisdom in daily life. Covering topics such as What is Buddhism?, Buddhist Faith, The Preciousness of our Human Life, What does our Death Mean?, What is Karma?, The Four Noble Truths & Training in Love and Compassion, this volume shows how we can transform our lives, improve our relationships with others and look behind appearances to see the way things really are.


Volume 2 Tantra explains how to practise Buddha’s profound Tantric teachings – the quick path to enlightenment. Covering topics such as The Preciousness of Tantra, The Tantra of Generation Stage and Completion Stage, and How to Meditate on the Central Channel, Indestructible Drop and Indestructible Wind and Mind, this volume shows how, through sincere practice, we can fulfil our compassionate wish and attain full enlightenment in this life.

Volume 3 Prayers for Daily Practice presents a collection of prayers for our daily practice of Sutra and Tantra, including Liberating Prayer, Prayers for Meditation, The Yoga of Buddha Heruka and Avalokiteshvara Sadhana. A Glossary, Bibliography and contact information is also provided. Through practising these prayers regularly we can develop and maintain compassion and wisdom in our daily life, and swiftly fulfil our human potential.

Please enjoy this special gift from Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, who dedicates: “May everyone who reads this book experience deep peace of mind, and accomplish the real meaning of human life.”
With best wishes,
Manuel Rivero-De Martine 
Tharpa Publications, UK Tharpa Director

About the Author
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso was ordained as a Buddhist monk in Tibet at the age of eight. He is a fully accomplished meditation master and internationally renowned teacher of Buddhism. Living in the West since 1977, he is the author of 21 highly acclaimed books that reveal the entire Buddhist path to enlightenment, including Buddha’s Sutra and Tantra teachings. He has also founded over 1,100 Kadampa Meditation Centers and groups around the world.
Library Journal Review
Geshe Kelsang Gyatso “is a prolific and respected author,” according to Library Journal, and in Modern Buddhism, “he again presents the thought of the Buddha in an especially accessible manner.” Library Journal calls Gyatso’s 21st book “elegantly stated” and “a delight.”
 


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B2.26   Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom
 

Rick Hanson
 

From Publishers Weekly
The brain physiology associated with spiritual states has been fertile ground for researchers and writers alike. Neuropsychologist and meditation teacher Hanson suggests that an understanding of the brain in conjunction with 2,500-year-old Buddhist teachings can help readers achieve more happiness. He explains how the brain evolved to keep humans safe from external threats; the resulting built-in negativity bias creates suffering in modern individuals. Citing psychologist Donald Hebb's conclusion that when neurons fire together, they wire together, Hanson argues that the brain's functioning can be affected by simple practices and meditation to foster well-being. Classic Buddhist concepts such as the three trainings—mindfulness, virtuous action and wisdom—frame Hanson's approach. Written with neurologist Mendius, the book includes descriptions and diagrams of brain functioning. Clear instructions guide the reader toward more positive thoughts and feelings. While the author doesn't always succeed at clarifying complex physiology, this gently encouraging practical guide to your brain offers helpful information supported by research as well as steps to change instinctive patterns through the Buddhist path. (Nov.) 


Review
Hanson and Mendius successfully answer the question: How can you use your mind to strengthen positive brain states and ultimately change your life? 
Arguing that our ancestors brains, flooded with adrenaline and cortisol, were wired for survival, the authors reveal how this neurological propensity for high arousal contributes to our present-day chronic illness, depression, and anxiety. Using Buddhism s eightfold path as a model, they illustrate how meditation and relaxation can change our brain s natural tendencies. Pictures illustrate the brain s functions and practical meditation exercises are found throughout. The authors also discuss the importance of diet and nutritional supplements. 
Verdict. An excellent choice for readers wishing to take control of their lives and spiritual well-being. Readers will find practical suggestions along with impressive research about the brain.
Phyllis Goodman, West Chester Lib., OH --Library Journal
“A wonderfully comprehensive book. The authors have made it easy to understand how our minds function and how to make changes so that we can live happier, fuller lives.”
—Sharon Salzberg, author of Lovingkindness
 
“Solidly grounded in the latest neuroscientific research, and supported by a deep understanding of contemplative practice, this book is accessible, compelling, and profound—a crystallization of practical wisdom!"
--Philip David Zelazo, Ph.D., Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
 
“This is simply the best book I have read on why and how we can shape our brains to be peaceful and happy. This is a book that will literally change your brain and your life.”
—Jennifer Louden, author of The Woman's Comfort Book and The Life Organizer 
 
“Buddha's Brain is a significant contribution to understanding the interface between science and meditation in the path of transformation. Illuminating.”
—Joseph Goldstein, author of A Heart Full of Peace and One Dharma
 
 “Buddha's Brain is compelling, easy to read, and quite educational. The book skillfully answers the central question of each of our lives—how to be happy—by presenting the core precepts of Buddhism integrated with a primer on how our brains function. This book will be helpful to anyone wanting to understand time-tested ways of skillful living backed up by up-to-date science.“
—Frederic Luskin, Ph.D., author of Forgive for Good and director of Stanford Forgiveness Projects
 
“I wish I had a science teacher like Rick Hanson when I went to school. Buddha’s Brain is at once fun, fascinating, and profound. It not only shows us effective ways to develop real happiness in our lives, but also explains physiologically how and why they work. As Dr. Hanson instructs us to do with positive experiences, take in all the good information this book offers and savor it.”
—James Baraz, author of Awakening Joy and cofounder of Spirit Rock Meditation Center
 
“With the mind of a scientist, the perspective of a psychologist, and the wise heart of a parent and devoted meditator, Rick Hanson has created a guide for all of us who want to learn about and apply the scintillating new research that embraces neurology, psychology and authentic spiritual inquiry. Up-to-date discoveries combined with state-of-the-art practices make this book an engaging read. Buddha’s Brain is at the top of my list!”
—Richard A. Heckler, Ph.D., assistant professor at John F. Kennedy University, Pleasant Hill, CA
 
“Buddha’s Brain is a brilliant tapestry that weaves together the strands of neuroscience, Buddhism and psychology in the service of helping people in their quest for personal freedom. It is both relentlessly positive and ardently scientific. Rick Hanson is a master at taking complex concepts and both explaining them in easily understandable ways and providing useful methods to implement them immediately.”
—Daniel Ellenberg, Ph.D., co-founder of the Authentic Leadership Institute and co-author of Lovers for Life
 
“An illuminating guide to the emerging confluence of cutting-edge neuropsychology and ancient Buddhist wisdom filled with practical suggestions on how to gradually rewire your brain for greater happiness. Lucid, good-humored, and easily accessible.”
—John J. Prendergast, Ph.D., adjunct associate professor of psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies and senior Editor of The Sacred Mirror and Listening from the Heart of Silence
 
“Buddha's Brain will show you how mental practices, informed by the contemplative traditions, can increase your capacity for experiencing happiness and peace. This book provides a scientific understanding of these methods, and clear guidance for practices that cultivate a wise and free heart.”
--Tara Brach, Ph.D. author of Radical Acceptance
 
“This book enables us to understand the whys and hows of our human operating system so we can make more informed actions that allow us to live our lives more fully, compassionately, and with greater well-being and kindness towards others and ourselves. What I find exciting about Buddha’s Brain is Rick Hanson’s ability to clearly delineate the root causes of suffering and explain pertinent ways we can actually change these causes and effect lasting change on all levels of our mind, body, and interpersonal relationships. His informative, relaxed and easy-to-read style of writing made me want to pick this book up again and again and dive ever more deeply into the complexities of our human engineering. Buddha’s Brain is now on my recommendation list for all my students and teachers-in-training.”
—Richard C. Miller, Ph.D., founding president of Integrative Restoration Institute
 
“Numerous writings in recent years have exacerbated the traditional rift between science and religion; however, there has been a refreshing parallel movement in the opposite direction. Neuroscientists have become increasingly interested in using first-person introspective inquiries of the mind to complement their third-person, Western scientific investigations of the brain. Buddhist contemplative practices are particularly amenable to such collaboration, inviting efforts to find neurobiological explanations for Buddhist philosophy. Stripped of religious baggage, Buddha’s Brain clearly describes how modern concepts of evolutionary and cognitive neurobiology support core Buddhist teachings and practice. This book should have great appeal for those seeking a secular spiritual path, while also raising many testable hypotheses for interested neuroscientists.”
—Jerome Engel, Jr., MD, Ph.D., Jonathan Sinay Distinguished Professor of Neurology, Neurobiology, and Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the University of California, Los Angeles
 
“Buddha’s Brain makes a significant contribution to the current dynamic dialogue among neuroscience, psychology, and Buddhist disciplines of mind training. Drawing on the wisdom born of their own meditation practice and their scientific backgrounds, the authors point again and again to the possibilities of the deep transformation of our minds and lives.”
—Christina Feldman, author of Compassion and The Buddhist Path to Simplicity
 
“Recent developments in psychology and the neurosciences have led to clear and powerful insights about how our brains work and how these neurological functions shape our experience of the world. These insights are profoundly congruent with the wisdom that has been developed over thousands of years in the contemplative traditions. The authors of Buddha’s Brain have given us a concise and practical guide to how these two currents of knowledge can be used to transform our capacity to engage both ourselves and others with wisdom, compassion, and mindfulness.”
—Robert D. Truog, MD, professor at Harvard Medical School, executive director of the Institute for Professionalism and Ethical Practice, and senior associate in critical care medicine at Children’s Hospital, Boston
 
“Rick Hanson ably unpacks key, un-obvious implications of brain research to help us more skillfully surf the waves of moment-to-moment mental experience. This beautifully written, easy-to-read book gracefully conveys a series of epiphanies that can enable us to achieve self-compassion, balance and happiness. Highly recommended!”
— Terry Patten, co-author, Integral Life Practice
 
 “A clear introduction to some basic principles of neuroscience and dharma.”
—Roger Walsh, MD, Ph.D., professor at the University of California, Irvine, and author of Essential Spirituality
 
“Buddha’s Brain brilliantly reveals the teachings of the Buddha in the light of modern neuroscience. This is a practical guide to changing your reality. This is your brain on Dharma!”
—Wes ‘Scoop’ Nisker, author of Essential Crazy Wisdom and editor of Inquiring Mind


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B2.27   Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children
 

Sarah Napthali

 

Firmly grounded in the day-to-day reality of being a mother, this revolutionary guide discusses Buddhist teachings as applied to the everyday challenges of bringing up children.

Teaching how to become a calmer and happier mother through Buddhist teachings, this enlightened book helps mothers achieve their full potentials to be with their children in the all-important present moment, as well as to gain the most possible joy out of being with them. Parenthood can be a time of great inner turmoil for a woman—yet parenting books invariably focus on nurturing children rather than the mothers who struggle to raise them. This book is different; simply put, it's a book for mothers. Using Buddhist practices, Sarah Napthali offers ways of coping with the day-to-day challenges of motherhood. These ways also allow space for the deeper reflections about who we are and what makes us happy. By acknowledging the sorrows as well as the joys of mothering, Buddhism for Mothers can help enable a shift in perspective—so that a mother’s mind can guide them through the day instead of dragging them down. This is Buddhism at its most accessible, applied to the daily realities of ordinary parents.

From Publishers Weekly
Buddhist practitioner Napthali has written an eminently practical book that gives frazzled mothers usable advice and empathy. At a time in their lives when women must balance the pulls of instinct, hormonally charged emotion and familial and social expectations, it is both possible and highly beneficial to practice Buddhism. While Buddhism has a long history of monastic practice and application, its modern expansion into the West has emphasized its relevance to householders. Parenting books are a logical application, though still relatively few in number (e.g. Jacqueline Kramer's Buddha Mom: The Path of Mindful Mothering). In a highly selective culling of teachings, Napthali wisely focuses on maternal mind states and how Buddhism can give a mother insight and literal breathing space before she responds to any parenting situation. The essential Buddhist teaching that all things are impermanent is highly relevant when responding to, for example, a toddler throwing a tantrum in public. The book is perhaps less deep than those written by longtime teachers, as so many Buddhist books are. But precisely because she is not a teacher and is in the midst of mothering, Napthali offers the approachable and authentic perspective of a rank-and-file practitioner who lives the techniques and situations she writes about. This book will be most useful for mothers of young children, providing them spiritual resources at a life stage when women need all the help they can get. 
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Review
"The author guides busy women in the art of transforming their lives in the midst of chaos." -- Library Journal --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

 

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B2.28   From Vedic Theology to Buddhist Psychology and other Buddhist Essays

Learned essays on Buddhist Psychology

Dr Keerthi Jayasekera

 

From Vedic Theology to Buddhist Psychology is an intriguing title, Dr Keerthi Jayasekera could not have found anything more apt for his book. After years of dedicated research into areas of the Buddha Dhamma that the layman does not normally delve into, he has revealed aspects of the Doctrine that would have eluded many adherents. The message of the Buddha, though sublime was eminently sensible and practical. Dr Jayasekera emphasizes this, and explains aspects that would otherwise seem obscure. He says “the Buddha was an empiricist.

The Buddha spoke of things which he had personally experienced and had verified them to be true or false.

The Buddha did not subscribe to the then held view that the Vedas contained the ultimate knowledge. The Buddha was analytically critical about the content of the Vedas when such teachings did not conform to reality.

“He gave new meanings to those concepts which people were conditioned to believe in as absolute truth.

The Buddha gave a psychological interpretation to the theological concepts in the Vedas, and in the process of so doing the Buddha made people realize reality as it is, and to rely on oneself to improve and develop an ethical pathway to realize the ultimate happiness, Nirvana”.

Reality is the four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha; the pathway to Nirvana is the Noble Eightfold path shown by the Buddha. The author endorses the view of the eminent Indologist and Buddhist Scholar Mrs C Rhys Davids; “Buddhist philosophy is ethical first and last”.

The author says that a number of Discourses preached by Arhath Mahinda reflects his own understanding of the society which he helped to convert to Buddhism.

The four pictures in the book shows the extent to which Buddhism flourished in the Greek Kingdoms in and around India.

The last words of Alexander quoted in the book shows that the Emperor seems to have understood the message of the Buddha.

The compact 100 page book is available at the Buddhist Cultural Center bookshops at Anderson Road, Kalubowila and Sambuddhathva Jayanthi Mawatha, Thunmulla, Bambalapitiya.

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B2.29   Divesting Buddhism of superstition

A commentary for the critical inquirer

Wasantha Ranasinghe

This is a slim and attractively turned out booklet of absolute and immense commonsense which ought to be read keenly by the local practising Buddhist. It could be said that in this concisely and lucidly-worded author publication, Senior Attorney-at-Law Wasantha Ranasinghe has prodded the Buddhist reader into reflecting long and deep on his religion and on the numerous practices and rituals which have grown around it over the centuries.

Ranasinghe’s yardstick of the validity and relevance of the rituals of Buddhism is none other than the Dhamma. The writer carries out a swift but searching survey of these popular practices and poses the question whether they accord with the teachings of the Buddha. His conclusion is that if they are not consistent with the Dhamma, these practices are irrelevant and meaningless exercises for the adherents of the religion, which could very well be done away with.

All in all, it is the essential message of the Buddha that Ranasinghe focuses on in this timely booklet. Buddhism is basically the answer to earthly suffering and the path to the attainment of inner calm, beauty and peace. It is also the guide to humanity and Loving-Kindness. All these and more virtues are inculcated by the Buddhist through a rational and commonsensical approach to life. The writer also emphasizes that Buddhism, on account of its uniqueness, cannot be viewed through the lenses of other religious traditions. These parameters need to be adhered to if the wholesomeness of Buddhism is to be experienced.

The writer rounds off his commentary with some reflections on the humanistic content of Buddhism. The true Buddhist would be reaching out to his fellow humans with the aim of bringing her or him relief from their travails and suffering. He makes the thought-provoking point that the ‘Pansalas’ be turned into centres of caring and sharing, besides being places where the Dhamma is taught and reflected upon. Thus, is the religion’s immense and lasting relevance clearly underscored.

21 11 2012 - The Island

 

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B2.30   The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching

Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

Thich Nhat Hanh

In The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh introduces us to the core teachings of Buddhism and shows us that the Buddha's teachings are accessible and applicable to our daily lives. With poetry and clarity, Nhat Hanh imparts comforting wisdom about the nature of suffering and its role in creating compassion, love, and joy--all qualities of enlightenment. Covering such significant teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Three Doors of Liberation, the Three Dharma Seals, and the Seven Factors of Awakening, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching is a radiant beacon on Buddhist thought for the initiated and uninitiated alike.

Amazon.com Review
What should we think when on the one hand Buddhism tells us that life is suffering and on the other we are told to enjoy life's every moment? Loved around the world for his simple, straightforward explanations of Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh has finally turned his hand to the very core of Buddhism and conundrums such as this. In the traditional way, Thich Nhat Hanh takes up the core teachings one by one--the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Twelve Links of Interdependent Co-Arising--but his approach is as fresh as a soft breeze through a plum orchard. For illustration, he dips into the vast stores of Buddhist literature right alongside contemporary anecdotes, pointing out subtleties that can get glossed over in other popular introductions. He also includes three short but key sutras, essential source teachings from which all Buddhism flows. Studying the basics of Buddhism under Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh is like learning basketball from Michael Jordan. --Brian Bruya

From Publishers Weekly
Thich Nhat Hanh's introduction begins with the Turning the Dharma Wheel Sutra, the classic tale of Buddha's announcement in the Deer Park of his awakening. Nhat Hanh then proceeds through a series of laundry-list definitions of core Buddhist terminology: Four Noble Truths, The Noble Eightfold Path, The Three Dharma Seals, The Three Doors of Liberation, The Twelve Links of Causation, The Three Jewels, The Six Harmonies, The Five Powers, The Five Wonderful Precepts and The Four Immeasurable Minds. Despite the tedium of the list, Nhat Hanh does present Buddhism as way of thinking and a well-traveled path toward enlightenment. Buddhism, he teaches, is not only about the individual's attainment of enlightenment but also about the community, past and present, which has fostered the possibility of an individual's enlightenment. As an introduction to Buddhism, this is a masterful inventory of the basic accouterments of a well-furnished Buddhist life. 
 


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Once we control our capacity for love and happiness, the light has been turned on.

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