The Urban Dharma Newsletter... November 5, 2002


In This Issue:

1. Buddhism - An Introduction
2. The Significance of Vesak ...Venerable Mahinda
3. 2001 Buddhist Holidays (Includes Tibetan, Zen, Pure Land & Theravada Dates)
4. Book Review: Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience ...by Donald W. Mitchell
8. Temple/Center of the Week: The Community of Mindful Living



1. Buddhism - An Introduction

* http://www.religionnews.com/bkgd_budda1.html

By: Terry Muck © 2002 Religion News Service®

In recent years, the most visible Buddhist in America has been a Tibetan exiled from his country by Chinese communists who see his religio/political leadership of Tibet as the Dalai Lama (the leader of all Tibetan Buddhists) a threat to their control. The Dalai Lama's cause has appealed to many Americans who have been attracted not only by the injustice of the situation but the evident spirituality and charisma of the Dalai Lama himself. He has personified a 100-year-old American fascination with many different aspects of Buddhist teaching, particularly the meditation practices that characterize most of the schools of Buddhism. These practices, which go by names such as Zen, vipassana, and insight, find a ready audience in stress-filled American culture.


Buddhism as a modern religion began with a sixth century B.C.E. Hindu named Siddharta Gautama. Because of a religious experience Gautama had at the age of 35, he came to be called the Buddha or the Enlightened One. What the Buddha realized through this Enlightenment was that neither the religion of the high-caste Hindus--a religion of expensive ritual and privilege-- nor the religion of wandering ascetics or sannyasin, who eschewed all luxury and privilege, was in the end helpful for the spiritual quest. The Buddha discovered a Middle Way between those two extremes and began to teach it.

The Buddha was the son of a king, and of a family which most likely were observant Hindus. The Buddha never really gave up basic aspects of Hinduism--he retained, in fact, the basic metaphysical underpinnings of the Hindu worldview, the samsara-dharma-karma ethical engine that drives everyday existence (see our Backgrounder on Hinduism). But he did question much of what he understood to have grown up around that metaphysic--the brahminical sacrificial system, caste, and the singular reliance on gods and goddesses. He questioned whether these were really as determinative of spiritual status and progress as taught by the religious elite of his day. Instead, the Buddha advocated a more interior, personalized approach to spiritual progress that demanded meditative discipline and practice in order for spiritual achievement to take place.

Spiritual achievement, he said, began not with acceptance of outside religious authority residing in the Vedas or any other religious authority, but with realizing the true condition of all human beings, a condition he called suffering (dukkha). Everything about our lives, he taught, is impermanent (anicca) and because of this impermanence, even good things, such as good relationships and wealth, are in the end suffering--because they don't last. The only thing that lasts is to understand that we suffer because we don't understand that all is suffering. The way to gain this understanding is to follow the Noble Eightfold Path, a lifestyle characterized by morality, meditative practice, and deep wisdom. This lifestyle is something we all must work to develop--no god can bestow it on us, no teacher can ensure it. We must work out our own spiritual development with faithfulness and energy, using the insights of the Buddha's teaching (dharma).

The Buddha's teaching struck a responsive chord in India and the growing movement soon was exported to other Southeast Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Burma (where a Buddhist school called Theravada predominates), to China and Korea where Mahayana Buddhism thrives, to Japan where Zen and Pure Land Buddhism dominate, and then back to Tibet, where Vajrayana Buddhism developed. In more recent times Buddhism has become an established feature in Europe and North America. In each of these locales Buddhism has taken on a distinctive character by accommodating itself to the indigenous culture, without giving up the distinctive essence of what the Buddha taught.

The Big Questions

The Dalai Lama notwithstanding, Buddhism seems to thrive without much of the theological and ecclesiological structure that characterizes other world religions. The Buddha said the locus of religious activity was not in philosophical nor religious-political systems but in practice. He was not blind to the need for such systems and structures. In fact, he developed an elaborate rule that defined the Sangha or the community of Buddhist monks and nuns. But the Buddha emphasized that the Sangha exists to facilitate individual spiritual practice, not as an end in itself. In many other religions, the reverse emphasis is true: the people of God, the kingdom of God, is the goal, the end product. If nothing else, Buddhism raises the question of the relationship between individual spiritual practice and the larger religious community.


In a culture where the separation of church and state is mandated by law and where a century of secularization has increasingly made religion more and more of a private rather than a public affair, Buddhism's heavy emphasis on individual spiritual practice finds an eager audience in North America.

Good Neighbors:


Many Buddhists are vegetarians, although not all are. The Buddha taught a strict doctrine of ahimsa or non-violence, which is usually interpreted to include not killing animals. But eating meat from animals killed by others is not strictly prohibited. Still, because of ahimsa and because meditative and contemplative states of mind are best fueled by fruits and vegetables, vegetarianism is more the rule than the exception as it tends to be among Western religions.


American Buddhists tend to wear Western dress. Clothing is more a cultural matter than a religious one, although because the heart of Buddhist practice is meditation, loose fitting clothes are preferred. If you are invited to a sitting mediation, for example, wear something that will be comfortable for an hour of uninterrupted stillness.


Many Buddhist holidays are also culturally conditioned. The distinctively Buddhist holidays, however, celebrate the central events of the Buddha's life, his birth and death, but especially his Enlightenment. The paradigmatic holiday is what Theravada Buddhists call Wesak, usually held sometime during the first two weeks of May (since it follows the lunar calendar the exact date varies). Wesak celebrates the birth, Enlightenment, and death of the Buddha. Other schools of Buddhism celebrate these three events at different times of the year, sometimes separating the three events into two or three holidays.



Theravada Buddhists call the basic worship service Uposatta and hold it at the temple or monastery grounds on full and new moon days at a minimum. The service includes the reverencing (not worshiping) of the statue of the Buddha, the offering of gifts to the monks in charge of the service, the chanting of suttas or teachings of the Buddha, personal meditation, and listening to a homily on some aspect of Buddhist teaching by the monk in charge. Different schools of Buddhism give different weight to these different elements and may not include them all. A Zen Buddhist sitting, for example, emphasizes heavily the personal meditation aspect and may or may not include a short teaching by the roshi or leader.

Life Events

The primary life cycle event in the Buddhist religious tradition is the funeral and the events surrounding death. Since reincarnation is such an important feature of the religious life, It is important to create the right atmosphere surrounding death to ensure the best possible conditions for a favorable rebirth and to accept death as a life stage rather than a disastrous life ending.


Buddhists have been at the forefront of interreligious interaction. In order to support their heavy emphasis on private meditative practice, Buddhist thinkers have develop elaborate understandings of human psychology and mental states. This emphasis has resonated strongly with Western cultures which also lay heavy stress on understanding individual existence. Although the traditional answers given to questions surrounding individual consciousness have differed greatly in the Eastern and Western traditions, the fact that both are so central and that the questions, at least, seem so similar, have made the Christian-Buddhist interreligious dialogue a particularly interesting and rich one.


Perhaps the most difficult teaching in most schools of Buddhism for Westerners to understand is the teaching about no-self or anatta. The Buddha taught that what we have come to understand as individual selves is really just the happenstance coming together of various mental states and physical matter. Thus, elaborate understandings and analysis of human psychology are carried out in Buddhism with the ultimate purpose of showing the impermanence of such constructs. Western psychology, on the other hand, tends to carry out its researches with at least an implicit goal of promoting and enhancing selfhood. Thus, when the two religious traditions are compared an irony of sorts flavors the discussions, with both sides asking similar questions yet for very different purposes.


563-483 BCE Life of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha

483 The first Buddhist council

383 The second Buddhist council

272-231 Reign of Asoka (and third Buddhist council, 250)

247 Conversion of Sri Lanka; missions to South Asia

200 ca. Beginnings of Mahayana

100 CE Buddhism enters Central Asia and China

372 Buddhism enters Korea

538 Buddhism enters Japan

750 ca. Buddhism enters Tibet

1871 Fifth Buddhist council at Mandalay

1952 Founding of World Fellowship of Buddhists

1954-56 Sixth Buddhist council at Rangoon

2. The Significance of Vesak ...Venerable Mahinda

* http://www.buddhanet.net/vesak.htm

The significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind.

As we recall the Buddha and his Enlightenment, we are immediately reminded of the unique and most profound knowledge and insight which arose in him on the night of his Enlightenment. This coincided with three important events which took place, corresponding to the three watches or periods of the night.

During the first watch of the night, when his mind was calm, clear and purified, light arose in him, knowledge and insight arose. He saw his previous lives, at first one, then two, three up to five, then multiples of them .. . ten, twenty, thirty to fifty. Then 100, 1000 and so on.... As he went on with his practice, during the second watch of the night, he saw how beings die and are reborn, depending on their Karma, how they disappear and reappear from one form to another, from one plane of existence to another. Then during the final watch of the night, he saw the arising and cessation of all phenomena, mental and physical. He saw how things arose dependent on causes and conditions. This led him to perceive the arising and cessation of suffering and all forms of unsatisfactoriness paving the way for the eradication of all taints of cravings. With the complete cessation of craving, his mind was completely liberated. He attained to Full Enlightenment. The realisation dawned in him together with all psychic powers.

This wisdom and light that flashed and radiated under the historic Bodhi Tree at Buddha Gaya in the district of Bihar in Northern India, more than 2500 years ago, is of great significance to human destiny. It illuminated the way by which mankind could cross, from a world of superstition, or hatred and fear, to a new world of light, of true love and happiness.

The heart of the Teachings of the Buddha is contained in the teachings of the Four Noble Truths, namely,

The Noble Truth of Dukkha or suffering

The Origin or Cause of suffering

The End or Cessation of suffering

the Path which leads to the cessation of all sufferings

The First Noble Truth is the Truth of Dukkha which has been generally translated as 'suffering'. But the term Dukkha, which represents the Buddha's view of life and the world, has a deeper philosophical meaning. Birth, old age, sickness and death are universal. All beings are subject to this unsatisfactoriness. Separation from beloved ones and pleasant conditions, association with unpleasant persons and conditions, and not getting what one desires - these are also sources of suffering and unsatisfactoriness. The Buddha summarises Dukkha in what is known as the Five Grasping Aggregates.

Herein, lies the deeper philosophical meaning of Dukkha for it encompasses the whole state of being or existence.

Our life or the whole process of living is seen as a flux of energy comprising of the Five aggregates, namely the Aggregate of Form or the Physical process, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formation, and Consciousness. These are usually classified as mental and physical processes, which are constantly in a state of flux or change.

When we train our minds to observe the functioning of mental and physical processes we will realise the true nature of our lives. We will see how it is subject to change and unsatisfactoriness. And as such, there is no real substance or entity or Self which we can cling to as 'I', 'my' or 'mine'.

When we become aware of the unsatisfactory nature of life, we would naturally want to get out from such a state. It is at this point that we begin to seriously question ourselves about the meaning and purpose of life. This will lead us to seek the Truth with regards to the true nature of existence and the knowledge to overcome unsatisfactoriness.

From the Buddhist point of view, therefore, the purpose of life is to put an end to suffering and all other forms of unsatisfactoriness - to realise peace and real happiness. Such is the significance of the understanding and the realisation of the First Noble Truth.

The Second Noble Truth explains the Origin or Cause of suffering. Tanha or craving is the universal cause of suffering. It includes not only desire for sensual pleasures, wealth and power, but also attachment to ideas', views, opinions, concepts, and beliefs. It is the lust for flesh, the lust for continued existence (or eternalism) in the sensual realms of existence, as well as the realms of form and the formless realms. And there is also the lust and craving for non-existence (or nihilism). These are all different Forms of selfishness, desiring things for oneself, even at the expense of others.

Not realizing the true nature of one's Self, one clings to things which are impermanent, changeable and perishable. The failure to satisfy one's desires through these things; causes disappointment and suffering.

Craving is a powerful mental force present in all of us. It is the root cause of our sufferings. It is this craving which binds us in Samsara - the repeated cycle of birth and` death.

The Third Noble Truth points to the cessation of suffering. Where there is no craving, there is no becoming, no rebirth. Where there is no rebirth, there is no decay. no, old age, no death, hence no suffering. That is how suffering is ended, once and for all.

The Fourth Noble Truth explains the Path or the Way which leads to the cessation of suffering. It is called the Noble Eightfold Path.

The Noble Eightfold path avoids the extremes of self-indulgence on one hand and self-torture on the other. It consists of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

These path factors may be summarised into 3 stages of training, involving morality, mental culture and wisdom.

Morality or good conduct is the avoidance of evil or unwholesome actions -- actions which are tainted by greed, hatred and delusion; and the performance of the good or wholesome actions, - actions which are free from greed, hatred and delusion, but motivated by liberality, loving-kindness and wisdom.

The function of good conduct or moral restraint is to free one's mind from remorse (or guilty conscience). The mind that is free from remorse (or guilt) is naturally calm and tranquil, and ready for concentration with awareness.

The concentrated and cultured mind is a contemplative and analytical mind. It is capable of seeing cause and effect, and the true nature of existence, thus paving the way for wisdom and insight.

Wisdom in the Buddhist context, is the realisation of the fundamental truths of life, basically the Four Noble Truths. The understanding of the Four Noble Truths provide us with a proper sense of purpose and direction in life. They form the basis of problem-solving.

The message of the Buddha stands today as unaffected by time and the expansion of knowledge as when they were first enunciated.

No matter to what lengths increased scientific knowledge can extend man's mental horizon, there is room for the acceptance and assimilation for further discovery within -the framework of the teachings of the Buddha.

The teaching of the Buddha is open to all to see and judge for themselves. The universality of the teachings of the Buddha has led one of the world's greatest scientists, Albert Einstein to declare that 'if there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism'

The teaching of the Buddha became a great civilising force wherever it went. It appeals to reason and freedom of thought, recognising the dignity and potentiality of the human mind. It calls for equality, fraternity and understanding, exhorting its followers to avoid evil, to do good and to purify their minds.

Realising the transient nature of life and all worldly phenomena, the Buddha has advised us to work out our deliverance with heedfulness, as 'heedfulness is the path to the deathless'.

His clear and profound teachings on the cultivation of heedfulness otherwise known as Satipatthana or the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, is the path for the purification of beings - for the overcoming of sorrows and lamentation, for the destruction of all mental and physical sufferings, for the attainment of insight and knowledge and for the realisation of Nibbana. This has been verified by his disciples. It is therefore a path, a technique which may be verified by all irrespective of caste, colour or creed.

3. 2001 Buddhist Holidays (Includes Tibetan, Zen, Pure Land & Theravada Dates)

* http://www.wheeloftheyear.com/buddhist.htm

* 1/3: Day for meditation on Tantric Buddha Deities Amitayus and White Tara, who grant good health and long life. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are aspects of Adi-Buddha--the masculine and feminine, transcendent and immanent, omniscient and omnipotent, primordial and eternal Absolute. [a/k/a Medicine Buddha Day, Tara Puja]

* 1/6: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful of the peace, joy, and beauty of the moment. Forms of Buddhism include Theravada, Mahayana (Zen and Pure Land), and Tantra.

* 1/21: World Religions Day--Day to contemplate all religions as different paths to the One Universal Deity of many names and aspects.

* 1/24 to 1/27: Chinese and East Asian Lunar New Year (Year 4699--Year of the Snake). [a/k/a Hsih Nien, Suhl, Tet]

* 2/3: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that you, and all that is, are in the process of transformation.

* 2/19: Day the President ordered the internment of loyal Japanese Americans during World War II (1942); day to mourn Asian victims of internment and exclusion (past and present), make peace, and celebrate empowerment of Asian Americans. [Executive Order 9066; signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt]

* 2/22: Sojong Day--Buddhist day of fasting, confession, and reparation for harm done.

* 2/24 to 3/10: Losar/Tibetan Buddhist New Year (Year 2128) and Monlam Chenmo/Great Prayer Festival--Commemorates miracles performed by the Buddha; rituals, dances, and sculptures are made to drive out evil spirits and to protect and benefit all sentient beings.

* 3/3: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that you are connected to each and every sentient being that has ever existed.

* 3/13: Mahayana Buddhist festival of Bodhisattva Tara/Kuan Yin/Kannon; celebrates Her "birth." She declared women the spiritual equals of men.

* 3/21: Day Japanese Buddhists mark the time of change by meditating on the impermanence of death. [a/k/a Haru-no-Higan]

* 3/31: Vigil to mourn China's annexation of Tibet (1959) and the killings, torture, and religious persecution of Tibetan Buddhists. [Day the Dalai Lama fled into exile following the Chinese invasion of Tibet]

* 4/2: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Deities Avalokitesvara and Green Tara, consciousness and empowerment of Compassion. Buddhists recognize the equality of all sentient beings. [a/k/a Tara Puja]

* 4/7: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that the joys and suffering of others are your joys and suffering.

* 5/3: National Day of Prayer--Day to pray for freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state throughout the world.

* 5/5: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that everything you do, or fail to do, affects all sentient beings.

* 5/7 (Tib B 5/30 & 6/7): Wesak--Theravadin Buddhist festival celebrating the birth, enlightenment, and parinirvana of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama (563-483 BCE). Buddhists study sacred texts, meditate, pray, chant mantras, and make devotional offerings to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. [a/k/a Vesak, Vesakha Puja, Visakha Puja, Saga Dawa Duchen, Budh Purnima, Buddha Jayanti]

* 5/18: Dakinis' Day--Day to unite will and power to manifest positive social change and environmental healing. [a/k/a Mother Tantra Puja, Tsog, Tsok]

* 6/2: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing the interdependence of all things at all times.

* 6/4: Day to mourn the massacre of the peaceful, pro-democracy protesters in China (1989).

* 6/7: Day for meditation on Pure Land Buddha Amitabha/Omito/ Amida, who provides a heavenly refuge and helps all attain salvation. [a/k/a Amitabha Buddha Day]

* 7/2 to 7/9: Mahayana Buddhist festival of Tara/Kuan Yin/ Kannon, Supreme Goddess of Nature and Perfect Buddha of many emanations; celebrates Her vow to help all sentient beings. Buddhists daily act on their vows to help all sentient beings.

* 7/5 (Tib B 7/24): Dhammachakka and Wassana--Theravadin Buddhist celebration of the Buddha's first teaching and beginning of a 3-month retreat for self-examination and peace-making. The Buddha taught an 8-fold path to enlightenment--right views, right aspiration, right speech, right conduct, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, and right contemplation. [a/k/a Esala & Vas, Ashala Dhamma & Vassa, Asalha Puja & Varsa, Chokhor Duchen]

* 7/6: Birthday of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama; Tibetan Buddhists believe he is a reincarnation of Avalokitesvara, Bodhisattva God of Compassion.

* 7/7: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that alienation and hunger for possessions results from ignorance of interconnectedness.

* 7/13 to 7/16: Obon--Japanese Buddhist festival honoring departed ancestors. [a/k/a Bon]

* 8/4: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that desire for power over others results from ignorance of interdependence.

* 8/6: Day to mourn those harmed by the atomic bomb attacks on Japan (1945); day to advocate for world-wide prohibition of all weapons of mass destruction. [Hiroshima was bombed on 8/6/1945; Nagasaki was bombed on 8/9/1945: over 270,000 civilians died from the bombs and radiation.]

* 8/8: Vigil for democracy, justice, and respect for human rights in Burma. [Day a pro-democracy demonstration opposing the authoritarian military government was attacked by government troops (1988); catalyst for the military crackdown.]

* 8/28: Opening of the Second World Parliament of Religions, attended by members of all the world's religions (1993). A Global Ethic was adopted that condemns hatred, aggression, oppression, and environmental abuses committed in the name of religion.

* 9/1: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that harm to the Earth and sentient beings results from ignorance of interdependence.

* 9/23: Day Japanese Buddhists mark the time of change by meditating on the impermanence of life. [a/k/a Aki-no-Higan]

* 9/25: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Goddess Red Tara, protector from evil and harm. [a/k/a Tara Puja Day]

* 10/5: Mahayana Buddhist festival of Bodhisattva Tara/Kuan Yin/ Kannon; celebrates Her attainment of Bodhisattvahood.

* 10/5: Bodhidharma Day--honors Zen Buddhist philosopher Bodhidharma, who believed one could attain Buddhahood by realizing one's own Buddha nature.

* 10/6: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for being mindful that fear and hatred of others results from ignorance of interconnectedness.

* 11/3: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing and acting with compassion for the Earth and all creatures.

* 11/23: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Goddess Tara, who guides the dead to a Pure Land where all will find salvation. [a/k/a Tara Puja Day]

* 12/1: Mindfulness Day--Zen Buddhist day for mindfully seeing and acting with compassion for the poor and oppressed.

* 12/10: Day for meditation on Tantric Bodhisattva Deities Manjusri and Prajna-Paramita, consciousness and empowerment of Wisdom. Prajna-Paramita is considered Mother of All Buddhas.

[Buddhism is a religion founded in India by Buddha Siddhartha Gautama (also called Shakyamuni), following his attainment of enlightenment in 528 BCE. Beliefs, ritual practice, and holidays vary among the various Buddhist denominations. The holy scripture of Theravada Buddhism is the Pali Canon: Vinaya Pitaka (Book of Discipline), Sutta Pitaka (Book of Buddha's Discourses), and Abhidhamma Pitaka (Book of Higher Philosophy). The holy scripture of Mahayana and Tantric Buddhism also include: the Heart Sutra, Wisdom Sutra, the Lotus Sutra, and the Diamond Sutra. Buddhists take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma (Buddhist teachings), and the Sangha (Buddhist community). They believe in the Four Noble Truths, and follow the Eightfold Path and the Five Precepts of morality. Buddhists recognize that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas constitute the ultimate Adi-Buddha.]

[There is no one Buddhist calendar. Zen Buddhist holidays (with roots in Japan) are based on the Japanese ( Gregorian) calendar and have fixed dates. Tibetan Tantric Buddhist holidays are based on the unique Tibetan lunisolar calendar. The Tibetan New Year begins just after, or a month following, the Chinese New Year. Though some Tibetan Buddhist holidays occur annually, many occur fortnightly or monthly. Pursuant to prevailing practice, Tibetan Buddhist holidays are calculated based on Universal time. Chinese Mahayana Buddhist holidays are based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Theravada Buddhist holidays (with roots in Sri Lanka and Thailand) are based on a Theravada lunisolar calendar.]

[Information in brackets is not found in the printed calendar.]

Permission to use and distribute these excerpts is granted for non-commercial purposes, provided the following information is included:

Excerpted from


© 2000 Page Two, Inc.

4. Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience ...by Donald W. Mitchell

* http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0195139526/wwwkusalaorg-20/

Amazon.com Book Description:

Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience focuses on the depth of Buddhist experience as expressed in the teachings and practices of a wide array of its religious and philosophical traditions. Taking a broad and inclusive approach, this unique work spans over 2,500 years, featuring chapters on Buddhism's origins in India; Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism; and Buddhism in Southeast Asia, Tibet, China, Korea, and Japan. It also includes an extensive discussion of modern, socially engaged Buddhism and a concluding chapter on the spread of Buddhism to the West. Mitchell provides substantial selections of primary text material throughout that illustrate a great variety of moral, psychological, meditative, and spiritual Buddhist experiences.

Buddhism: Introducing the Buddhist Experience features twenty-two boxed personal narratives provided by respected Buddhist leaders and scholars from around the world, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dharma Master Sheng Yen, Dharma Master Cheng Yen, Jeffrey Hopkins, Sulak Sivaraksa, Rita M. Gross, Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, and Robert Aitken. These concise and intriguing essays give students a glimpse into what the topics discussed in the book actually mean in terms of human experience today. Ideal for courses in Buddhism, Asian religions, and Asian philosophy, Buddhism also incorporates helpful maps, numerous illustrations, a glossary, and suggestions for further reading.

5. The Community of Mindful Living

* http://www.iamhome.org/

Community of Mindful Living

P.O. Box 7355

Berkeley, CA 94707

The Community of Mindful Living (CML) is guided by the * Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings for Engaged Buddhism of the Order of Interbeing--the Tiep Hien Order. Tiep means "being in touch with" and "continuing." Hien means "realizing" and "making it here and now." The Order of Interbeing was formed by Thich Nhat Hanh in the mid-1960s, at a time when the Vietnam War was escalating and the teachings of the Buddha were desperately needed to combat the hatred, violence, and divisiveness enveloping his country. From its inception and in the present, the Order was comprised of all four membership categories of the original Buddhist community-- monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen.

Established in Berkeley, California in 1983 and incorporated in 1990 in California as a nonprofit religious organization (Church), CML provides support for individuals and meditation groups (Sanghas) worldwide who wish to practice in the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition. CML assists with the organization of retreats offered by Thich Nhat Hanh and lay teachers in his tradition in the United States and Canada. CML also develops programs of social engagement in the United States to help create a culture of transformation and awakening while also experimenting with skillful means by cultivating a mindful workplace. In December, 1999, CML legally became a "Doing Business As" (DBA) arm of the Unified Buddhist Church. The Unified Buddhist Church was established by Thich Nhat Hanh and others in Vietnam in the 1960's and in the United States in 1997. It is the legally recognized governance body for Plum Village in France; for Maple Forest Monastery and Green Mountain Dharma Center in Vermont; and, since March, 1999, for the Community of Mindful Living, Parallax Press, and Deer Park Monastery in California.

The Mindfulness Bell, published by CML three times a year, is the journal of the Order of Interbeing. Each issue includes a dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, articles by practitioners about their practice, reports on socially engaged work in Vietnam and other outreach projects, and a schedule of upcoming retreats and events.

* Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings:

1. The First Mindfulness Training: Openness

Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.

2. The Second Mindfulness Training: Nonattachment from Views

Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to others' insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

3. The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought

Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever - such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination - to adopt our views. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through practicing deeply and engaging in compassionate dialogue.

4. The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Awareness of Suffering

Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help us develop compassion and find ways out of suffering, we are determined not to avoid or close our eyes before suffering. We are committed to finding ways, including personal contact, images, and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so we can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace, and joy.

5. The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Simple, Healthy Living

Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, we are determined not to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. We are committed to living simply and sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those in need. We will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs, or any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness.

6. The Sixth Mindfulness Training: Dealing with Anger

Aware that anger blocks communication and creates suffering, we are determined to take care of the energy of anger when it arises and to recognize and transform the seeds of anger that lie deep in our consciousness. When anger comes up, we are determined not to do or say anything, but to practice mindful breathing or mindful walking and acknowledge, embrace, and look deeply into our anger. We will learn to look with the eyes of compassion at ourselves and at those we think are the cause of our anger.

7. The Seventh Mindfulness Training: Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment

Aware that life is available only in the present moment and that it is possible to live happily in the here and now, we are committed to training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life. We will try not to lose ourselves in dispersion or be carried away by regrets about the past, worries about the future, or craving, anger, or jealousy in the present. We will practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. We are determined to learn the art of mindful living by touching the wondrous, refreshing, and healing elements that are inside and around us, and by nourishing seeds of joy, peace, love, and understanding in ourselves, thus facilitating the work of transformation and healing in our consciousness.

8. The Eighth Mindfulness Training: Community and Communication

Aware that lack of communication always brings separation and suffering, we are committed to training ourselves in the practice of compassionate listening and loving speech. We will learn to listen deeply without judging or reacting and refrain from uttering words that can create discord or cause the community to break. We will make every effort to keep communications open and to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

9. The Ninth Mindfulness Training: Truthful and Loving Speech

Aware that words can create suffering or happiness, we are committed to learning to speak truthfully and constructively, using only words that inspire hope and confidence. We are determined not to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred. We will not spread news that we do not know to be certain nor criticize or condemn things of which we are not sure. We will do our best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten our safety.

10. The Tenth Mindfulness Training: Protecting the Sangha

Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practice of understanding and compassion, we are determined not to use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit or transform our community into a political instrument. A spiritual community should, however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

11. The Eleventh Mindfulness Training: Right Livelihood

Aware that great violence and injustice have been done to our environment and society, we are committed not to live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. We will do our best to select a livelihood that helps realize our ideal of understanding and compassion. Aware of global economic, political and social realities, we will behave responsibly as consumers and as citizens, not supporting companies that deprive others of their chance to live.

12. The Twelfth Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life

Aware that much suffering is caused by war and conflict, we are determined to cultivate nonviolence, understanding, and compassion in our daily lives, to promote peace education, mindful mediation, and reconciliation within families, communities, nations, and in the world. We are determined not to kill and not to let others kill. We will diligently practice deep looking with our Sangha to discover better ways to protect life and prevent war.

13. The Thirteenth Mindfulness Training: Generosity

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, we are committed to cultivating loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants, and minerals. We will practice generosity by sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. We are determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others. We will respect the property of others, but will try to prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.

14. The Fourteenth Mindfulness Training: Right Conduct

(For lay members): Aware that sexual relations motivated by craving cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness but will create more suffering, frustration, and isolation, we are determined not to engage in sexual relations without mutual understanding, love, and a long-term commitment. In sexual relations, we must be aware of future suffering that may be caused. We know that to preserve the happiness of ourselves and others, we must respect the rights and commitments of ourselves and others. We will do everything in our power to protect children from sexual abuse and to protect couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. We will treat our bodies with respect and preserve our vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of our bodhisattva ideal. We will be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world, and will meditate on the world into which we are bringing new beings.

(For monastic members): Aware that the aspiration of a monk or a nun can only be realized when he or she wholly leaves behind the bonds of worldly love, we are committed to practicing chastity and to helping others protect themselves. We are aware that loneliness and suffering cannot be alleviated by the coming together of two bodies in a sexual relationship, but by the practice of true understanding and compassion. We know that a sexual relationship will destroy our life as a monk or a nun, will prevent us from realizing our ideal of serving living beings, and will harm others. We are determined not to suppress or mistreat our body or to look upon our body as only an instrument, but to learn to handle our body with respect. We are determined to preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of our bodhisattva ideal.


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