Friday, February 27, 2009
Thursday, February 26, 2009
The books were launched with much fanfare by the publishers and initial sales were good but now they have leveled off. Heroic efforts to let various Buddhists temples, groups and organizations around the world know about the books has led to some interest, but not much. It’s a bit disappointing. Of course, it may be that the books are not as great as think they are but I have a sneaking suspicion that that old scourge Buddhist indifference is operating here. Since Great Buddhist Stories came out then I have collaborated with the well-known Sri Lankan political cartoonist Vini Hetigodha on another children's Dhamma book, now available in English and Sinhala from the Buddhist Publication Society, and also with another artist on a comic book on the life of the Buddha, available only in Sinhala. I've done my bit.
From the 1st of next month I will be looking at little-known or forgotten Buddhist communities around the world.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
While you are on line also have a look at this unusually inspiring, insightful and moving blog. http://www.shinscancerblog.blogspot.com/. It really made my day.
Monday, February 23, 2009
This is Jalan Dusan, just across the road from me, a fairly typical shaded, tree-decorated Singaporean street in a heavily built-up area.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Friday, February 20, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Atheist: You look so content. Have you grilled another theologian for breakfast? Or did you heat up a Christian for your lunch?
Satan: Both, my friend.
Atheist: I have often wondered how you catch Buddhists. After all, they do not believe the sort of thing Christians believe, so you can't undermine their faith.
Satan: I get them to fall out of love with the world.
Atheist: By dangling beautiful women in front of ascetics?
Satan: Not necessarily. Their aim is to fall out of love with the world. I try to show them that suffering is worthwhile.
Atheist: That’s what I said; women.
Satan: That works only with the least interesting cases. The others I try to interest in some cause, some task, some mission. I may even persuade them to spread their knowledge to as many men as possible. As soon as I have kindled some ambition I generally do not find it too hard to involve men in all sorts of compromises. But there are other ways.
Atheist: Just name one more.
Satan: Sometimes I try to lead then from detachment into callousness and indifference to the suffering of others. But that only works in the early stages. Once a Buddhist has developed his particular detached compassion he represents one of the hardest cases I know. A Christian theologian is child's play compared to that.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Have a look at these breathtaking pictures of the piety of the Tibetan people and the grandeur and splendor that results from it. These pictures really are extraordinary. http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/02/tibets_great_prayer_festival.html
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Last Saturday afternoon, Thirananda, Samata, Yi Rong, Min Than and his mum, Padma, Viraj and I went to the Peranakan Museum to see 35 of these exquisite sculptures which are on display there. The exhibition is appropriately called Serenity In Stone and is really worth seeing. The Buddhas and bodhisattvas left me feeling quite peaceful and that night I had a particularly good meditation.
Singapore used to be a bit of a cultural wilderness, but not any more. Every few months one or another of the city's museums puts on a world-class exhibition, this one, for me at least, being the best so far. Of course there are still a few creases to iron out. I couldn’t help notice several clangers in the Gallery Guide to the exhibition. Shakyamuni is not 'one of the names of the historical Buddha, another is Siddharta Gautama.' It is of course a title meaning 'the Sakyan sage.' Saying that the Gupta period went up to the 7th century is stretching it a bit and Buddhist sculpture flourished in Mathura under the Kushan rather that the Guptas. But they're new at it so we'll be indulgent.
The exhibition is at the Peranakan Museum, 39 Armenian St and continues until it the 26th of April. They're even allowing people to meditate in the gallery every Wednesday evenings between 7.30 and 8.30 pm. What a creative idea!
Friday, February 13, 2009
Whose good works are numerous and wondrous,
Whose virtues are too numerous and awesome to define.
Their number? They are infinite.
Their nature? Words must fail.
But to se speak of them bestows great good,
so I shall speak much.
No faults in any way are found in him;
All virtue in every way dwell in him.
You were kind without being asked,
you were loving without reason,
you were a friend to the stranger
and a kinsman to those without kin.
The joy you beings feel on saving their lives
equals not the joy you experienced
when you gave your life for others.
By not envying the superior,
despising the inferior,
or competing with equals,
you attained pre-eminence in the world.
Good deeds you praise, bad deeds you blame,
but towards those who act thus
you are free from any 'for' or 'against'.
Lovely yet calming, bright but not blinding,
gentle yet strong. Who would not be
inspired just to see you?
Your body seems to say to your virtues:
'I am blessed to have you,'
and the virtues seem to respond:
'Where better could we dwell.'
Just to hear you brings joy;
just to look upon you calms the heart;
your speech refreshes and your teaching frees.
Your are a wall of safety
for those hovering at the edge of the cliff,
those blind to their own welfare,
those who are their own worst enemy.
You are the Lord, but you never lord it over others.
All may use you as a servant to obtain the help they need.
To an enemy intent on evil
you are a friend intent on good.
To one who gleefully seeks faults
you respond by seeking virtues.
I have hardly began to sing your praise
and yet already my heart is filled with joy.
But need a lake be drained
before one's thirst is quenched?
Thursday, February 12, 2009
So be careful that the maluva creeper of sensual pleasure doesn't get a hold on you.