Saturday, September 27, 2008
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Sunday, September 21, 2008
This passage was written by the Reverend Francis Owen, missionary to the Zulus in the 1830’s and is reproduced in Eric Newby’s delightful A Book of Travellers’ Tales. The description is both fascinating and amusing in that it captures all the elements of the Christian missionary endeavor – the initial polite invitation to hear the Gospel, the skepticism on hearing it, the request for convincing answers and evidence, the missionary’s inability to provide them, his exhortation to just believe, him dismissing his hearers as willful and stubborn and they dismissing the Gospel as unbelievable. Of course what preaching was unable to accomplish military power was and the Zulus, broken in spirit and divested of their lands, eventually succumbed to the message.
At length I told him (the king) it was Sunday, whereupon he bid me to address his people and teach them the word of God. At the same time a he sent Masipulu, his head servant to tell the Indoonas that they were all to be quiet and listen attentively to me. A dead pause immediately ensued…I commenced by telling them that they all knew that there was a great chief above the sky…I proceeded to say that this king was greater than all kings, greater than my king, greater than their king: that they aught to fear their parents, they aught to fear their king, but much more that they aught to fear the great God; they aught to do what their parents bid them, what their king bid them, and also what God bid them! We have none of us, however, done what God has told us to do. We are all sinners before him. He is displeased at us: each of us has a soul that must live forever when the body is dead, but that our Souls, by reason of sin, are filthy and that they must be washed. Until this moment the greatest stillness and attention prevailed but not the contradiction began, and such a caviling and stormy audience never did I before address. It is impossible to give an adequate idea of the despite which lasted for nearly 2 hours. When I began to speak of the need of spiritual washing in order to introduce the Gospel the subject was treated with scorn. One asked if it were to be washed in the river. I said not with water, but with blood! Whose blood was the natural reply. The blood, I answered, of the Son of God, who was Jesus Christ. Where is he? They asked. In heaven, I said, but once he came down to earth, and…whom did he leave behind to wash us. He washes us himself with his own blood. It is not our bodies that he washes but our Souls. – He washes all who come to him by faith. Away, its all a lie. I persisted in crying that Jesus Christ shed his blood and that if they believed in him, that he came down from heaven that he died for them their souls would be saved. They asked me how this person was killed and who killed him. I said, wicked men nailed him to a tree. Dingarn then asked if it was God that died. I said the Son of God. Did not God die, he asked. I said God cannot die. If God does not die, he replied, why has he said that people must die? I told him it was because all people were sinners, and death was the punishment for sin, but he would raise us all again from the grave. This gave rise to innumerable cavils. They wanted me to tell them the day and the hour when we should rise again, who would be witnesses of the resurrection, who would be alive at that day. They said if any generation had been seen to raise from the grave they would believe. I told them that Jesus Christ rose again on the third day, and that he was seen by his 12 servants, and afterwards by 500 persons at once, and that his servants raised a great many other people. Dingarn asked how many days Jesus Christ had been dead. If only 3 days, he said, it is very likely that he was not dead in reality but only supposed to be so! I said, that when he was on the tree a soldier pierced his side from which came forth blood, and that blood, I said, if believed in washes away sin. After a great deal more combat they told me I need not speak anything more about the resurrection, for they would not believe it. They had no objection to God’s word, but they would not believe in the resurrection. I many times broke away from their caviling and exhorted them to believe instead of objecting. The king once asked if all men would go to heaven? I told him plainly, if you believe the words which I now speak you will go to heaven, but if you believe them not you will go to hell. They wanted me to give them proof that Christ was not in heaven; as who had seen him there. What the persons who took him up into heaven said when they came back again. Condensed.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
Most religions in developed countries are struggling to remain relevant. Only two developed counties have a significant Buddhist population –
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The first picture is of me in my room at my blog, the second is of my bed and the third is my meditation corner on the other side of my room.
The next picture shows me watering my roof garden, about as close to nature the average Singaporean can get. Picture number five is of Viraj in the kitchen downstairs being useful as usual. The last picture is of our shrine room during our usual Sunday morning puja.
Tomorrow I will be leaving for Sri Lanka and be there until the 30th. However, I will try to do a posting every day. From the 1st of next month I will be exploring everything the Buddha says about health and physical well-being.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
I would like to thank Ven. Anandajoti for helping me with this translation.
Once, when Brahmadatta was king of Banaras, the Bodhisattava was reborn into a brahman family in Kasi. After finishing his education at Taxila, he decided to give up sense pleasures and ordain as an ascetic. He established an ashram in the Himalayas on the banks of the Ganges and there attained spritual powers and the jhanas. In this birth, it seems, the Bodhisattva was exceptional impartial, having devoloped equinimity to perfection. One day, while he was sitting at the door of his leaf hut, a mischievous and naughty monkey crept up on him and tried to put its dick in his ear. The Bodhisattva resisted this and being equinimous continued to camly sit there. Then on another day, it happeded that a tortoise, having come out of the water onto the bank of the river, went to sleep in the sun with its mouth open. Spying this, that lusty monkey stuck his dick in the tortoise’s mouth. Waking up, the tortoise snapped its mouth shut (like someone banging) a chest, causing the monkey great pain and gripping its dick tightly. Unable to bare the pain the monkey thought, ‘Who can free me from this pain? Only that ascetic. I will go to him’ Carrying the tortoise in his hands the monkey approached the Bodhisattva and he, teasing the naughty monkey, spoke this first verse -
Like a brahmin with a big handful of rice.
Where did you go for alms?
What funeral did you attend?
In that I have touched the untouchable.
If you can release me
I will go back to the mountains.
The Kassapa tribe are tortoises.
The Kondanna are monkeys.
Kassapa, please free Kondanna,
From having sex with you.
The picture is of a monkey Jataka from Ajanta, 6th cent.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Her. Good morning. I’m ringing to try to get some information about Buddhism (cheerful).
Me. Yes. How can I help you?
Her. We’re launching a new line of clothing, T shirts and the like. And the logo for the line is a picture of the Buddha holding a cup of tea. I’m sure Buddhists wouldn’t be offended by this. What would you think about this?
Me. A picture of the Buddha holding a cup of tea?
Me. As a logo on T shirts?
Her. Yes. That’s right.
Me. Look, I’m just a simple monk so you explain for me. What’s the connection between the Buddha and clothing? And why the cup of tea?
Her. Well, you know. The Buddha is associated with, you know, spirituality, the infinite and all that. And the cup of tea suggests, you know, casualness, easygoingness, you know.
Me. Mmm. Actually I don’t know. But you would like my opinion about this. Is that right?
Me. Well, I don’t think this is very offensive and I don’t think the average Buddhist would be offended by it either. I don’t think they are going to throw rocks through you window, threaten to kill you or burn down your factory. But I do think that a logo like this belittles Buddhism and I think most Buddhists would agree with me. They would probably be more sad than angry that an images which is particularly meaningful to them was being used so frivolously. And also that it is being used for a commercial goal.
Her. But I’m a Buddhist myself. I would never belittle the Buddha.
Me. You’re a Buddhist?
Her. Absolutely! I respect the Buddha and Buddhism (defensive).
Me. What are the Four Noble Truths?
Her. Er!..Um…Um. Er! The Four Noble Truths? (very hesitant)
Me. Yes, the Four Noble Truths. What are the Four Noble Truths?
Her. Er! D…D…D…Dalka?
Me. Mm. Am I right in saying that you are reading that from a book in front of you?
Her. I feel like I’m being interrogated here (slightly annoyed).
Me. Well. You told me you were a Buddhist. I asked you a pretty basic question about the Buddha’s teachings and you didn’t know it. The proper pronunciation is dukkha. I suspect that like a lot of people you mistake ‘respect’ for Buddhism, for liking it from a distance, while knowing very little about it and not practicing the parts that don’t suit you.
Her. No! I really respect Buddhism.
Me. Well, to get back to your question. You asked me for my opinion about your logo and I told you what I think. I think it belittles and diminishes a noble man and a noble philosophy of life and I think it is an unfortunate choice. I think to use a sacred image for commercial purposes in insensitive to the feelings of others and inappropriate. It’s on a par with getting an image of the Buddha, drilling a hole in the top of its head and sticking a lamp shade in it. I don’t think I can say anything else.
Her. Well, thank you (irritated).
Me. Be well and happy.