Sunday, 31 March 2019

Becoming a Buddhist - Lotus Pond Temple, Lantau Is. Hong Kong 30th March, 2019

After a few false starts I finally took the plunge and officially became a lay Buddhist this weekend. I flew to Hong Kong on Friday afternoon, stayed overnight at the Lotus Pond temple on Lantau Island, and at 5:00 a.m. Saturday morning the community of monks and nuns took me through a ceremony to become part of the Plum Village Buddhist family. It practises in the Zen tradition of the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. I had been fiddling at the edges for years, looked at different traditions, went on a pilgrimage to northern India, and done some study, reading and meditation, so I thought it was about time to take this step and be part of something positive. It will also give me support as I continue in the practice. I will need it!

Every religion has a ceremony of some sort. The usual thing here is to Take Refuge in the Three Jewels (the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) and to undertake one's best to recite and live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings (generally known as the Five Precepts).

It was terrific. The brothers and sisters were lovely to me. We enjoyed eating meditation, sitting meditation, singing, and walking meditation together. The ceremony, in which they were all present, went for almost an hour, and at several points I had to "touch the Earth" which means literally touching my forehead to the ground. Later I received a certificate setting out the details of the event and the lineage of my teacher. The Dharma name given to me is "Radiant Sincerity of the Heart".

There were one or two minor challenges in getting there. The plane from Taiwan arrived an hour late and the taxi driver couldn't exactly find the temple, so it took a quick phone call to figure it out. 

Another pleasant surprise was that the Lotus Pond Temple is just a short walk away from the  huge world famous Buddha statue (Tian Tan) on Lantau Island. So walking around the hills and seeing that area was a definite bonus. Although I was unable to take any photos during the ceremony (since nobody was available to do that), I did get some afterwards which I hope you will enjoy. It was an amazing experience!

Plum Village Temple, Lantau Island, HK

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

I Know - Almost Another Year's Gone By

Hello everyone, and thank you for your patience.

My year following the last post here (March 2016) has revolved around a number of elements:

  • having a gall bladder operation
  • having another operation in July for colon cancer
  • returning to Australia for chemotherapy treatment, which should be complete next month
All in all, not a situation conducive to posting on this site.

However, there have also been some small blessings:
  • I've spent many months back with my family
  • I've used some of the time to study the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and to commence a mindfulness practice
  • I've made a few Plum Village sangha contacts locally
  • I've found a new teaching role starting in mid-March based in Bali, Indonesia.
Naturally, I'm hoping that this will be beneficial to my recovery, less stressful than some previous positions, and a location filled with opportunities to learn a new culture and experience life on another island.

Once I'm re-established there, I will do my best to keep adding interesting and informative posts. In the meantime, I'm including further photos on my "Buddha Images" page, based on my final months in Taiwan.

Blessings, and a lotus for you. Greg.

Thursday, 10 March 2016

The Last Six Months

My apologies to those hoping to read many insights and articles on my blog.
The last six months have been busy for many of the wrong reasons, including illness and ultimately an operation last month to improve my health outlook. This seems to have been successful, so I hope to put it behind me and move forward.
This period was also a time when I reviewed carefully the direction I was moving in with my Buddhist practice, and ultimately this meant I have changed my plans - for the better, I believe.
I am now studying the teachings of the Vietnamese-born Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village tradition he began. I am joining a local sangha for support and encouragement, and I hope to visit the AIAB (Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism) in Hong Kong in July to attend a 4-day retreat and take the Five Mindfulness Trainings.
In the meantime, I have set up a meditation room and hope to make good use of it as I explore the practice further. I have also added links to blogs and websites of Plum Village.
To those reading this post, I wish you every blessing for the year 2016.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Fifty New Buddha Images

I'm pleased to share another 50 photographic images of the Buddha taken in Myanmar and more recently in Taiwan.
My personal favourite is this one. Please see all of them on the "Buddha Images" link above.

Buddhism in Myanmar - A Personal Perspective

Let me preface this by saying that I only spent five months in the country, working as a trainer with the British Council. So my observations are necessarily limited by that amount of time.
Nevertheless, I got the distinct impression that Buddhism is taken very seriously there.
What in particular do I mean?
- young boys and girls spend time in robes as part of their upbringing
- monks provide general education to those less fortunate
- bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, including young ones, walk the streets on alms processions
- people give generously from what little they have to the monks
- prayers are sent out over loudspeakers from certain temples at different times of the day
- major festivals are celebrated with great energy by the whole community
- people generally act modestly in public
- monks are invited to attend important social events and are treated respectfully at them
- there are always new young men and women wishing to take vows
- houses have shrines with Buddhist images, candles, incense, flowers, etc.
- monks are consulted, probably revered, for certain decisions

Of course, there are some unique elements within Burmese Buddhism, such as the worship of nats, which are unique and, to outsiders, strange, but they are fortunate to have both male and female monks, and a long history of worship extending back thousands of years. Most recently there have been some monks becoming more vocal in everyday affairs, perhaps even political ones. Given the military's iron grip on power and their extensive lack of concern for the less fortunate, this is humanly understandable. Myanmar has far to go to resemble a country Westerners would relate to, and the November elections may not change that situation in the short term.

As a fellow seeker of the Path, I certainly felt comfortable with that part of society. Please see my photo page for many images taken during my time there.

I Know - It's Been a While

If you are, or have been, a reader of my blog, you may have been wondering where I disappeared to, or why I stopped posting.
Well, I really have no excuses, so I'll just say sorry and carry on.
My last post was Vesak 2014 in Singapore.
Not long after that I accepted a training position with the British Council in remote Myanmar. I will be posting several photos of interest from there shortly.
After a couple of close shaves with my humanity, I returned to Australia around Christmas 2014 to spend some quality time with my family.
Finally, in late March I accepted another post in Taiwan, which is where I plan to be at least until this time next year.
However, I'm not standing still here, and I have some exciting news to share with you in my next post.
In Metta,

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Happy Vesak 2014 (2558)

Dear friends of the Buddha,
I wish you well on this special day when Buddhists around the world celebrate three major events in the Buddha’s life: his birth, awakening, and parinibbāna.
Every blessing, Greg.

Photos taken at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Buddhist Monastery Singapore. 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

What is Parami? How many Paramis are there? How do they determine the attainment of different types of Bodhi?

Paramis are ‘perfections’ or qualities developed and brought to maturity by Bodhisattas during their past experiences, and they lead to Buddhahood.

There are ten Paramis in the Theravada tradition:
Dana Parami – perfection in giving, generosity
Sila Parami – perfection in virtue, morality
Nekkhamma Parami – renunciation of sensual pleasures
Panna Parami – wisdom, understanding, insight
Viriya Parami – energy, effort (physical and mental)
Khanti Parami – patience, endurance, tolerance, non-violence
Sacca Parami – truthfulness, gentle speech
Adhitthana Parami – resolution, strong determination, will-power
Metta Parami – universal love, loving-kindness, goodwill
Upekkha Parami – equanimity, impartiality

The ten perfections vary in intensity and magnitude with respect to the three different types of Bodhi (enlightenment), ranging from least intense (Arahat) to most intensive (Sammasambodhi). They also vary according to the number of times they are fulfilled, ranging from once (Arahat), twice (Pacceka) to thrice (Sammasambodhi).

Saturday, 22 February 2014

How many types of Buddha are there? What are the pre-requisites for becoming these different types of Buddha?

There are three types of Buddha: Arahat Buddha, Pacceka Buddha, and Sammasambuddha.

All three are born human with the highest virtue and supernormal wisdom, they develop from being a Bodhisatta, develop spiritually over countless aeons, and are motivated by compassion.

The first is a disciple who perfects the Paramis over hundreds or thousands of lives, achieves the pre-requisites for becoming an enlightened being, meets the Buddha or a disciple, hears the teaching, grasps the teaching of the four Noble Truths and becomes an Arahat.

The second fulfils the 10 Paramis over two cycles, appears when the teachings are lost and beings are living in ignorance, becomes enlightened on their own, and lives in seclusion as a hermit.

The third fulfils the 10 Paramis over three cycles, becomes supremely enlightened by hearing and understanding the Dhamma from previous Buddhas, enlightens others and makes significant impacts on world history.