Friday, December 12, 2014

Buddhism and Human Rights - A Reflection



Yesterday was International Human Rights Day, so let me share a reflection and express my support for human rights as a Buddhist.
The Buddhists have a practice known as the undertaking of Precepts. Specifically, there is a set of Five Precepts or Panca-sila. 
As a Buddhist, the undertaking of the precepts is the most basic practice that cuts across all major Buddhist traditions.  As a ritual, Buddhists often recite the Five Precepts on a daily basis to remind themselves of their duties to self and society.
The Five Precepts constitute the basic spiritual training practice in the following aspects of life. They are the training to abstain from harming living beings, taking what is not given, indulging in sensual misconduct, speaking the untruth and substance abuse and intoxication.


The precepts and human rights
The first of the Five Precepts translates “I undertake the training rule to abstain from destroying lives”.
This recitation is so basic that children in temple Sunday schools can recite and memorise it. The precept tells us we should avoid harming one another – not just human beings – but also animals and all living beings.
The destruction of lives can come in many forms. The worst form is the deliberate act to end a life – killing.
There are other forms of destruction – such as physical and emotional abuse that has no place in our spiritual practice.
As Buddhists, we cannot condone such acts as, the abuse of women and children from the homes to places of work. We cannot accept the fact that harm and pain can be inflicted upon others, no one has the right to physically harm another – whatever the reason.
We cannot condone the acts such as racism, discrimination based on class, ethnicity, gender and sexuality.  Some abuses go so deep that the victim suffers physical and emotional damage.
The Third Precept provides us with a strong reminder to respect the will of others, especially those different from us. It is about appreciating others for who they are.
As we recite the precepts and reflect on the value of life, we are deeply aware that the destruction of lives happens on various levels, including political persecution, torture and death in custody.
Laws that allow the opportunity for bodily hurt, mental and emotional trauma and that remove justice and freedom must be abrogated.
I am reminded of the Fourth Precept that the value of truth. It is imperative to speak our minds to prevent the further damage and destruction to lives. Recitation of the precepts in ancient language words without the action is an empty practice.

Appreciating the value of life
The sole purpose of the precepts, beginning with the First Precept is to value life. We need to value life and all that support life. We cannot take away the right to education, cultural and religious practices of individuals.
More importantly, we must also support and sustain our ecological environment. Acknowledging and positively responding to climate change is a necessary part of our practice.
The Second Precept is a reminder that we must not take away what rightfully belongs to others. It also reminds us to of the need to develop generosity and to give without expectation of returns. True generosity is about being selfless in our generosity.
Selflessness can be achieved with a state of mind that is calm and peaceful.
The Fifth Precept reminds us of the need to have a calm mind, not quickly reacting to others is indeed a virtue.
With a calm and composed state of mind, meaningful discussions and dialogues will be able to be carried out. Truthful communication and right speech aids in the development of friendship. Healthy and positive relationships are foundations for a peaceful society.
As such it is not difficult for Buddhists to associate our practice of the precepts with the Declaration of Human Rights.
The precepts are indeed the basic building blocks of a peaceful society where human dignity, freedom and personal rights are preserved, we call this practice sila.
To practise sila is thus to train oneself in preserving one's true nature, not allowing it to be modified or overpowered by negative forces.
Acts of destruction are blinded by greed, rage or hatred. Such negative qualities as anger, hatred, greed, ill will, and jealousy are factors that alter people's nature and make them into something other than their true self.  
The practice of precepts is about returning to one's own basic goodness, the original state of normalcy, unperturbed and unmodified.
Our teacher, the Buddha, reminded us that even though we shut our eyes in meditation we cannot shut our eyes and hearts from the suffering of others.
We must strive to build a just society for our families and friends – present and future. Indeed, having a peaceful and just society to live is indeed a very high blessing. (Patirûpa dêsa vâso .... êtam mangala muttamam.)
Our spiritual and social duties are to cultivate our minds and at the same time work for the happiness and welfare of others. (Bahujana hitaya bahujana sukhaya.)
Let me conclude with a Buddhist Prayer of Loving Kindness:

SABBE SATTᾹ SUKHITᾹ HONTU    May all beings be happy.
SABBE SATTᾹ AVERᾹ HONTU    May all beings be free from enmity.
SABBE SATTᾹ ABYᾹPAJJHᾹ HONTU     May all beings be free from malice.
SABBE SATTᾹ ANĪGHᾹ HONTU     May all beings be free from worry.
SABBE SATTᾹ SUKHĪ ATTᾹNAM PARIHARANT   May all beings preserve their wellbeing



Saturday, November 8, 2014

Mindfulness' Popularity - a Good thing?


Buddhism is not about meditation alone.

Meditation is a means to achieve insight leading to liberation and freedom from dukkha. 

Meditation, particularly, mindfulness practice is now gaining popularity. Is it really a good thing? Check this out.



Mindfulness’s moment is here. One million Americans are taking up mindfulness meditation each year. It’s in the conference rooms at Twitter, in schools and hospitals, and helping traumatized soldiers. And the scientific data on the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions has become so compelling that insurance companies are starting to cover them.

The backlash is here, too. Buddhist purists are dismayed by one-percenters using mindfulness to get even richer. Skeptics say that meditation’s benefits are being oversold and overhyped. And critics say that celebrity meditation-boosters like Arianna Huffington and David Lynch offer more flash than substance.

Read the rest of the article here




Friday, November 7, 2014

Found it?


have you found the Buddha within?






*try replacing Buddha with another other religious masters, it may still work :-)
 

Rethink Buddhism to respond to peace, justice an liberty

Shared a session at the Nottingham University Buddhist Society (Malaysia).

Key points shared were:
  • Do not be afraid to doubt. Question and get clarity.
  • Buddhist practice is both personal and social

It was good session, thank you. With peace and compassion, let's proactively help build a peaceful and just society. #nbs #walkintopeace


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Reflections on Charity

Charity is good but not enough. Charity, in too may cases charity has become a tool for self-promotion and marketing (for corporations). Some are even making money on the process of charity. 

Yet, we continue to indulge in this - why?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Have we lost our spiritual and moral bearings?

Have we lost our spiritual and moral bearings?
A brief reflection on 57 years of independence.



I was browsing the news the day after Merdeka celebrations, this news caught my attention. The news of the arrest of a prominent academic and earlier, political leaders (mostly opposition)  under the Sedition Act 1948. This news seemed to have overshadowed the festivities of the celebrations.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sri Lankan Government: Take Urgent Action to Stop Attacks on Muslims

Here's statement signed by 250 concerned individuals and organisations from across the world together with the update on events we attached with the statement.

Sri Lankan Government: Take Urgent Action to Stop Attacks on Muslims
 

We the undersigned organizations, individuals and members of Sri Lankan and international civil society condemn in the strongest possible terms the latest wave of horrific violence led by the extreme right-wing Sinhala Buddhist organisation, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS – The Buddhist Power Force)against the Muslim community of south-western Sri Lanka in the towns of Aluthgama, Beruwala, Velipenna and Dharga Town.
 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Extreme Middle Path

I know we are suppose to be followers of the middle-path. 

Sometimes, we need to be "extreme" followers of the middle-path.  
I cannot help but to post this :-)   Enjoy!

Kammaṭṭhāna first came to international prominence in 1997, when five of its members boarded a New York City subway car and held 42 hostages in a state of transcendent serenity for seven hours while performing atonal syllabic chants. The group then claimed responsibility for a severe 2004 outbreak of interconnectedness in central London, later traced to a 23-year-old Kammaṭṭhāna sleeper cell operative who sat cross-legged in Trafalgar Square and read aloud from The Gateless Gate collection of 13th-century Zen koans.



Read on, click on the image above



Sunday, June 15, 2014

We Are Recruiting!






Beyond Buddhism aims to be a an e-Buddhist platform for social change. It hopes to harness the energies and strengths of the internet to achieve this aim. As such, we are looking for dynamic, idealistic and highly motivated individuals to fill these positions:
  1. Stringer/Reporter/Contributor
    We are looking for individuals who are keen to report and publish activities and opinions on spiritual and social change agenda. We are looking for writers, photographers and / or videographers. Amateurs and students of journalism are encouraged to apply.  

  2. Webmaster/Information Coordinator
    We are looking for part-time/full-time/volunteer. We run our website and social media presence and aim to build on this presence strongly. If you have an inclination, interest or passion to see a strong online presence of a socially engaged Buddhist perspective, please contact us.

  3. Volunteers
    We are looking for volunteers who need to from time-to-time assist in our activities. Undergraduates are encouraged to apply. 


Depending on the projects, you may require travelling. Renumeration to be discussed.
For more information, please write in with your contact details to info@samma-ajiva.net.

Buddhism and National Unity?

Malaysia is facing a social crisis in some ways attributed to interfaith relations or lack of it.  It is not a problem about Islam and Muslims although they seem to be in the center of the media both social and mainstream. The discussion on the proposed implementation of Hudud, and other interfaith-related issues has generated a lot of discussions. Sadly, there are more anger than real discussions.

Picture Source : YBAM Facebook Page 

Dr David Loy: Speaks at the BGF on Buddhism and Consumerism (2012)


Here is another talk (re-uploaded) where Dr David Loy talked about Buddhism, economic, the corporation and the 99%. This was delivered at the Buddhist Gem Fellowship (BGF) in Malaysia.



Talk by Dr David Loy: Nalanda 2012

Dr David Loy, spoke here about 2 years ago. His message is clear to us - we need to be spiritually AND socially awaken. (re-uploaded)