Buddhist Golden Rule Perspective / Stories

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What is displeasing and disagreeable to me is displeasing and disagreeable to the other too. How can I inflict upon another what is displeasing and disagreeable to me? "

- Samyutta Nikaya 55.7 (7)

Painting by Nigel Black

Patrick Lim: Educator

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Did you know?

Did you know? Buddha is a teacher, not a God. Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha) was born a wealthy prince, but observed the poverty among his people and left all his wealth behind in search of truth.

“Everything in this world is brought about by causes and conditions. There is no fundamental distinctions among things, organic and inorganic. The apparent distinctions arise because of people’s delusive thoughts. Nothing exists entirely alone; everything is in relation to another. When we bring happiness to others, we are also bringing happiness to ourselves, and when we cause pain to others, we are also causing pain to ourselves.” 

Nigel Black: Artist Statement

“The Golden Rule: love thy neighbour,” I recognised this as a perspective resonant with Buddhist practice and understanding. Buddhist practice is the path of compassion and liberation taught by the Buddha, a practice based in the realisation that everything changes, and that nothing can be by itself alone. The central practice of Buddhism is meditation, being mindfully present to the conditions of life moment-to-moment. 

When asked to create an image for this exhibition, I offered to make a circle, in the spirit of O’Sensei Kazuaki Tanahashi, my teacher. A Zen calligraphic circle (J. ensō) is created in one breath and one stroke. There are no touch ups. There is no going back, as in life. It is a raw reflection of what took place in the moment that the circle was brushed. It is also traditionally regarded as a reflection of the quality of mind of the practitioner. 

For this exhibition I added to the complexity of my circle making. Traditionally Zen calligraphy is black and does not use acrylic or canvas, but ink and paper. However, I chose to experiment with materials and add colour, in the same way Kaz does for some of his experiments. I had to build my brushes, and I had to use them in a different way than I was used to. On one hand, by applying different colours in one circle I was attempting to communicate that even though we may be different in our ideas and ways of living, we cannot be by ourselves alone, we cannot be separate, just as waves cannot be separate from each other as they are not separate from the ocean. On the other hand, in brushing the circle itself I let go of intention and simply practiced enjoying being present in that moment of brushing the circle. In my tradition, that of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, we say, “we are the waves of one sea, we are the stars of one sky, we are the leaves of one tree, the time has come for all to live as one”—I would like to add, “we are the neighbours of one collective body.” Dear friends, let us practice loving our neighbours together, recognising that we are not separate, and that it is not possible to have a neighbour without being one. 

My aspiration is that the expressions of this exhibition inspire us to practice being present, so that we can recognise and transform our discriminative habits when they arise, always asking ourselves, “Are you sure?” 

Buddhist Interfaith Stories

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Afghan Archaeologists Risk Lives to Save Ancient Buddhist City 

Mes Aynak is a site 40 km southeast of Kabul, which contains Afghanistan’s largest copper deposit. It also houses the remains of an ancient buddhist settlement with over 400 Buddha statues, stupas and a100 acre monastery complex.

In 2007, a 30-year lease was granted to a mining company. The ancient Buddhist ruins, along with irreplaceable historical treasures, were scheduled to be destroyed. Racing against time, and against the threats of taliban abductions, landmines, and insurgents from Pakistan, Afghan archaeologists risk their lives daily to preserve and uncover the priceless cultural heritage of the ancient Buddhist city before it is obliterated by mining operations. 

 Courageous story told in documentary

“Saving Mes Aynak,” a documentary directed by Brent Huffman, tells the story through of lens of Qadir Temori, the head of the Afghan archaeological department in Kabul. 

Huffman explains that Temori is “braving all of this risk and being very courageous, going against the Taliban, going against this Chinese mining company, going against the bureaucracy in the country to try to save essentially the cultural heritage of Afghanistan... The heart of the fllm is really this story of Afghan archaeologists risking their lives‘

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 Teaching Buddhist Meditation in Christian Churches

Venerable Thay Thong Phap, an Adelaide born Buddhist monk together with Anglican priest Father Nicholas Rundle taught Buddhist meditation in Christian churches in South Australia. 

Empty Mirror provided space for Buddhists, Christians and anyone else who wanted to share time in meditation or silent prayer and discussion based on various themes of mutual interest.

An Avenue for Inner Peace

Participants have found the experience really beneficial and supportive;

” It was an intra faith group where people from different backgrounds came together to learn the style of meditation developed in Buddhism and also by the Desert Fathers and Mothers and to sit in meditation sessions and retreats without words getting in the way of being present with each other. When I became ill and spent some months in hospital undergoing chemotherapy, mindfulness became an avenue for inner peace, a strength to carry me through. Im so grateful that people like Nicholas and Thay have devoted their lives to teaching one of the most precious gifts I have ever received.” 

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  Buddhist foundation to flnance rebuilding of typhoon-damaged church

The world’s largest Buddhist charity, Tzu Chi Foundation, is helping rebuild a church in Tacloban City, Phillipines The show of generosity has been welcomed by the Church. “We are very happy and thankful for the great help and assistance extended by the Tzu Chi Foundation. Indeed, love, concern, generosity and kindness go beyond religion,” said Fr Amadeo Alvero, a Palo archdiocese spokesman.

The Foundation is donating $670,000 for the reconstruction of the Santo Nino parish church. “With their generosity and love we will be able to rebuild our church soon,” the priest said. “We allow people of different faiths to be connected with each other, bound by the same spirit of love, compassion, and understanding,” 

The priest said the parish’s association with the Foundation started when the charity offered a cash-for-work program to typhoon victims. The group later set up tents for displaced families in the church’s courtyard and extended financial assistance to churches and parishes in the area.

Once completed, the new Santo Nino church will have a state-of-the art design that will “withstand the wrath of nature,” Opiniano said. As many as 90 percent of Catholic churches in the central Philippine provinces of Samar and Leyte were destroyed by the super typhoon last November that killed some 8,000 people and left about four million homeless.