Yesterday, we attended the second
session of the Meditation & Dharma Talk and Discussion organized by the Middle Way
Buddhist Association . Originally, the
session frequency has been decided at bimonthly
intervals. But today’s session, coming as it is just one week after the first
one held last Saturday, is an ad hoc change to accommodate the planned
one-month trip of Bhante Dhammawansha
to Asia this month. Also, the organizers have decided
to reduce the frequency to a monthly one, it being the second Saturday of each
month. So the next session is scheduled on April 14.
Do mark your calendar accordingly.
During the pre-meditation address, Bhante stressed the needs:
· to keep a happy mind and a happy face by thinking universal loving kind thoughts;
· to sit in a comfortable, relaxed posture, even on a chair if necessary;
· to close the eyes gently so that we cannot see the world but ourselves;
· to be mindful but do not get distracted by external sound/noise. Just be familiar with the sound/noise but do not react to it.
On my part, I heard the following
but did not react to the hearing:
- cars speeding by (the venue is just next to a road);
- faint ringing of a cell phone (perhaps it was kept in a handbag);
- chairs creaking;
- sitting pillows being squashed by bodies changing positions;
- Bhante’s soft droning voice;
- my own occasional deep breathing.
I find that it helps me to be mindful but not distracted by assigning a number to any sound that my audio nerves pick up, much like counting my own breaths.
In the ensuing dharma talk and discussion conducted by Bhante for English speaking attendees (Brother Shieh was unable to be present this time and so I gravitated to the English class), Bhante answered an inquiry from an attendee as to whether Buddha is a God by way of a story:
One day, Buddha was accosted by a passer-by who was drawn to him by Buddha’s radiance, his robe, and his overall demeanor portraying him as a sage.
“Will you be God?”
“Will you be a dead person?”
“Will you be a dancer?” [prompted perhaps by the robe that
“Will you be a human being?”
“No, but I’m a supernatural human being.”
The lotus flower does not carry any odor of the muddy environment, i.e., it is unattached to the mud. In that sense, the mud is the mundane world and we sentient beings are anything but the lotus flower, until we discover our
We are by nature lazy beings, and keep on postponing the surfacing of our
A more accurate analogy is perhaps our
also elaborated on the uniqueness of Buddhism,
· The core values of Buddhism are wisdom, compassion, and self-experience. So Buddhist followers and practitioners are encouraged to think freely and decide for themselves.
· Buddhist monks are teachers, and not preachers as it is not the aim of Buddhism to convert anyone.
· The core teaching of Buddhism is enshrined in the Four Noble Truths (the word "Noble" signifying that the four truths are immutable and eternal). And they are:
1. Life is suffering/misery/distress (the last two are more common terms suggested by Bhante so that westerners may find it easier to relate to. Another connotation of duhkha, the original word in Sanskrit, is unrest).
2. Causes of suffering/misery/distress.
3. Cessation of suffering/misery/distress.
4. Path leading to cessation (“The
“If you want to see me, see my teaching.”
then brought to our attention several quotes from a western scientist and a
western philosopher. The scientist is no other than Albert Einstein, the
acknowledged genius whose greatest legacy is the General Theory of
own popular translation of the physics that shaped our “truths” of space and
I googled Einstein
and Buddhism and located the relevant quotations here (where this picture is taken from as
well) as reproduced below:
Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be
expected in a cosmic religion for the future: It transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and spiritual; and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity.
If there is any religion that would cope
with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism.
And the philosopher is
If I were to take the results of my philosophy as
the standard of truth, I would have to consider
Buddhism the finest of all religion.
---- Arthur Schopenhauer
Bhante also referred to H. G. Wells who is perhaps better known for his fiction works, several of which have been adapted into movies, the latest one being the remake of the War of the Worlds directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise and Dakota Fanning (2005). But he was also an imaginative social thinker whose non-fiction works include A Short History of the World (1922). According to Bartleby.com, this work is “Wells’s tribute to “the needs of the busy general reader who wishes to refresh and repair his faded or fragmentary conceptions of the great adventure of mankind.”
Two chapters from the book are The Life of Gautama Buddha (Chapter 28) and