Monday, March 18, 2013

Some thoughts on Pope Francis

Some thoughts on Pope Francis – A Buddhist View

An interesting choice, first Jesuit and the first Francis - I was thinking Francis of Assisi and it turns out (according to NPR) that is the case. I also learned today one of the founding members of the Jesuits was Francis Xavier who died in 1552 just off of the coast of China on a quest to evangelize the Chinese.

The Buddhists and Catholics have a lot in common when it comes to relics (body parts). The right forearm of Saint Francis Xavier, the one used to bless the converts, is on view in St. Joseph's Seminary and the Sacred Art Museum. The Buddha’s tooth relic can be found in the ‘Tooth Palace,’ Kandy, Sri Lanka. I suppose it’s part of the human condition, not wanting to ‘let go’ – bits and pieces are better than nothing at all.

It’s come up in news reports, he has one lung and has lived a simple life in poverty. A simple lifestyle encourages one to see, earthly rewards don’t lead to lasting happiness and having one lung may give insight into the fragile nature of life. These conditions could turn out to be his greatest asset, and allow him to shepherd his flock with wisdom and compassion.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Beginning of the World.

Yesterday I went to a place called the 'Vegan Joint' in West LA to eat... I go there a couple times a month, if not more. The reason I bring this up is, in the last two talks I've given, I've made a reference to a movie about the beginning of the world.

We had the boiling water, then land, then the first creatures on land, then some more creatures and some more, now we are up to 7 Billion people, walking around on planet earth.

In my talk, I put it this way," And what is the first thing those creatures did? They killed something to eat... And what is the second thing they did, they had sex so they could have more creatures... And what is the third thing they did, killed some more... So they could eat again, they were hungry from having all that sex."

Now, this always gets a laugh, because it's such a strange way of looking at the beginning of the world and what life did when it finally got a chance to live, it killed. As humans we haven't come that far, we still like to kill, eat and have sex. It seems to be just how we're put together, hard wired if you will.

In Buddhism we have the five precepts and one of the five, is not to take life. The Buddha said, killing is not good... Any kind of killing. Yet as humans we find ourselves killing stuff all the time, sometimes by choice, sometimes by circumstance. We like to watch killing on TV and in movies... We read about killing in newspapers, magazines and books. No two humans ever seem to die in the same way, I often wonder about my own death and how I'm going to go.

I said to myself, if there are 7 Billion humans walking the earth, how many animals of all kinds are killed everyday just to feed the humans. I asked a few people, they and no idea and wouldn't even venture a guess. So I did what anyone would do, a Google search and here we go:

"World wide, an estimated 140 BILLION animals are killed for food every year. This includes marine animals (about 50 billion). So about 383 million animals every day (including marine animals), or 246 million land animals slaughtered every day for food."

The average American meat consumption for 2007:

87lbs of chicken (est 40 chickens)
17lbs of turkey (1.5 turkeys)
1lb of veal (1/100 of a calf)
1lb lamb (1/30 of a lamb)
66lbs beef (1/12 of a cow)
51lbs pork (1/2 of a pig)

Total of 227lbs

"There is a very simple way we can prevent the greatest amount of animal suffering from taking place: By adopting a vegan diet we can personally save up to 95 animals a year, and thousands during our lifetimes."

Okay, I'm not saying we all need to be Vegans, but maybe we need to wake up to the fact that we, you and I are responsible for the killing of a whole lot of life, just so we can live another day.

That being the case... What good have we done with our life today???

Here is the first verse and chorus from a song by Daniel Nahmod called, 'Last Song"

(verse 1)

If this is my last song / If this is my final day... If tomorrow I’ll be gone / What do I want to say... If this is my last song / If it’s my time to go... When my body’s moved on / What will I have to show... No not fortune or fame – they scatter to the wind... The things that make a name – just don’t matter in the end


Is the world a little more peaceful... Oceans and sky a little more blue... Is humankind a little bit wiser... About the good that we can do... Does the sun shine a little bit brighter... Where before there was only rain... If so, then I’m glad I came

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Diamond Sutra May Be the Oldest Book

As it turns out... The Diamond Sutra may be the oldest book ever published. An article in the Huffington Post written by Joyce Morgan Says:

"Its discovery is the result of a series of accidents and its significance realized belatedly. The book unwittingly came to light when a Chinese monk clearing sand from a Buddhist meditation cave in 1900 noticed a crack in a wall. It suggested the outline of a doorway. Plastered over and painted, the entrance had been deliberately concealed.

The monk, Abbot Wang Yuanlu, broke in and discovered a small chamber, about nine feet square and full from floor to ceiling with scrolls. They had been hidden and perfectly preserved in the dark, dry grotto for 1,000 years. Although he didn't know it, among the nearly 60,000 scrolls was the Diamond Sutra of 868 A.D., a woodblock printed scroll, more than 16 feet long, complete and dated, with an instruction that it be given away for free."

To read the full article / Click Here

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Dhammapada / Android app / Free Download

The Dhammapada is an important and old text found in the Pali Canon. One of the best versions of The Dhammapada and a difficult one to find is, "The Complete Illustrated Dhammapada" in its original hardcover book form it is 1200 pages in length.

For all those who use 'Android Apps' this is a version of the book available for free download from 'Google Play.' Not only is it illustrated, but each chapter has an audio file of the Pali Chanting of the verse, a great way to become familiar with the ancient language of early Buddhism.

You can find the Free Download here / Click Here

Free - Android App. for Cell Phone and Tablet

World’s largest edition of Dhammapada, this is illustrated with 423 especially commissioned works of art. The book represents the quintessence of Buddhism, embodied in 423 stanzas that represent the words of the Buddha. The wisdom implicit in these sacred verses is timeless and is universally applicable. This encompasses both spiritual and worldly situations.

The book classified into 23 chapters is arranged to give the reader the original Pali in Roman characters and the translation of each stanza at two levels. The prose order of each stanza is provided, with the meaning of each word explained. The story, out of which the verses emerged, is also provided. A comprehensive commentary facilitates the understanding of the work in depth. The book comes in an attractive slip-case, with an illustration depicting one of the most serene images of the Buddha adorning the cover.

Number of pages in the original book: 1200 (Hardcover - A4 size)

This Dhammapada Android app features the same illustrations and stances of the original book and more, please refer to below feature list for more details

* Ability to read the book offline (No internet connectivity required)
* Ability to view and download original illustrations onto your SD card / phone for FREE
* Can set illustrations as your wallpaper
* Listen to stances in Pali language with audio English translation
* Interchangeable night and day modes for comfortable reading
* Supports landscape and portrait modes
* Save bookmarks with your own remark to remember the place you stopped reading
* Easy to use user interface

The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha

An important Buddhist book is about to published by Wisdom Publications... "The Numerical Discourses of the Buddha: A Complete Translation of the Anguttara Nikaya"... Translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi

You may want to put this on your list of 'books to buy'... Bhikkhu Bodhi is an American born Buddhist monk and well known for his authoritative translations.

Here is what Wisdom Publications says about the book:

This is a full new translation of the Anguttara Nikaya by Bhikkhu Bodhi, which was previously only available in an abridged version. This is the fourth collection of the Buddha's discourses or suttas (sutras) in the Pali Canon.

The Anguttara arranges the Buddha's discourses in accordance with a numerical scheme that promotes retention and easy comprehension. The primary focus of the Anguttara Nikaya is practice, which it treats from a wide-angle perspective, advancing from basic ethical observances, through the pillars of mental training, to the highest meditative attainments. The Anguttara is also distinguished among the four Nikayas by its interest in types of persons, which it describes in detail, often with stunning similes.

The previous volumes in Wisdom's Teachings of the Buddha series of translations of the Buddha's suttas - Long Discourses of the Buddha, Middle Length Discourses, and Connected Discourses - praised by both scholars and practitioners, are widely regarded as the definitive translations of these foundational sacred works. This volume upholds the same consistent standard. is taking pre-orders for this book at a 41% discount... You can find it here. / Click Here

Monday, September 24, 2012

Human Rights; What a Concept

Gave a talk yesterday (9/23/2012) at 'Insight LA' in Santa Monica and the topic of duties came up... There is so much resistance to the idea of duties, now that we have become used to the idea of having rights.

The idea of human rights is sort of a new in the big scheme of things and the idea of having rights seems to lead us to define them every chance we get. Why we think we should do this and not do that. Why it's my right, to do and not to do... Because I'm human and humans are born with inalienable rights, aren't they?

In the Sigalovada Sutta the Buddha talks about the importance of duties and what they are... The idea of human rights is missing, but 2600 years ago no one had rights.

The Sigalovada Sutta takes place when Lord Buddha encountered a youth called Sigala in his morning stroll. The young man, in drenched attire, prostrated and worshipped the four compass direction (East, South, West and North), plus the Earth (Down) and the Sky (Up). When asked by Lord Buddha why he did so, the youth Sigala replied that he had been told by his late father to do so and he thought that it was right to uphold his father's wishes. Lord Buddha then, based on Sigala's point of view, taught him on how a noble one should worship the Six directions.

The Sigalovada Sutta in Pictures - Click Here