Sunday, August 28, 2011

Going To Mt. Kailash

Earlier this year I wrote a small book called Mount Kailash, A Pilgrim’s Companion. Now Ven. Anandajoti has with my encouragement put this book on his web site. You can read it at

Monday, August 8, 2011

Drowned Temple

When Sri Lanka’s great Kotmale Dam was completed and started to fill some decades ago it drowned several villages together with their temples. Recently, unprecedented dryness has left the dam water level lower than it has ever been, exposing some of the long-inundated buildings. This is what one of the temples looks like.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

'Alternative' Precepts and Commandments

There are several ‘alternative’ Ten Precepts and quite a lot of ‘updated’ Ten Commandments going around today. About the best I have come across is from Hal Urban’s book The 10 Commandments of Common Sense - Wisdom from the Scriptures for People of all Beliefs. Hal Urban’s Ten Commandments are informed by a tolerant, open-minded Christian faith and I would recommend his book to anyone. I’m trying to get his earlier book Life's Greatest Lessons but have been unable to find it yet.
1. Don’t be seduced by popular culture. It prevents you from thinking for yourself.
2. Don’t fall in love with money. It will make you greedy and shallow.
3. Don’t use destructive language. It hurts others as well as yourself.
4. Don’t judge other people. Its better to work on your own faults.
5. Don’t let anger get out of control. It can wreak relationships and ruin lives.
6. Keep a positive outlook on life. It's the first step to joy.
7. Bring out the best in other people. It's better to build up than to tear down.
8. Have impeccable integrity. It brings peace of mind and a reputation of honor.
9. Help those in need. It really is better to give than to receive.
10. Do everything in love. It is the only way to find true peace and fulfillment.

Monday, August 1, 2011

The Buddhist Precepts IV

The last of the eight Precepts and the ninth of the ten Precepts say that one should abstain from using high (ucca) or large (maha) seats and couches. Some people are perplexed by this rule and wonder what it has to do with morality or the training of the mind. Of course it has nothing to do with morality. Only the first five Precepts pertain to moral behaviour and are kammically significant. The other Precepts, including the one about seats and couches, are ways of behaving that can assist in calming the mind and shaping character. In ancient India, and even in the modern world, sitting on an elevated or grand chair was a sign of power and status. Monarchs, judges, lecturers, managing directors, the speaker of parliament, etc, all have special high seats. To practice the eighth Precept is to relinquish, not display or take advantage of one's social status, at least for a day. Practising the eighth Precept is about modesty, diminishing the ego and refraining from `putting oneself on a pedestal.'
The picture shows a baby breaking the eighth Precept