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Wednesday, August 31, 2011


Before descending to Earth in 563 B.C., Buddha Shakyamuni was born in the Tushita Heaven as Devaputra with great clear mind and profound recollection. Seated on the lion throne, he gave teachings to all the gods. At this time, he heard the celestial sound of the cymbals and the songs of the Buddhas of the three times perfectly invoked, addressing him thus: "In samsara, burning with the fire of emotions, you, great warrior, pervade the clouds. The falling rain of your ambrosia pacifies the afflicting emotions of those who are not gods." Hearing these words, he looked for the five sights - the continent called Jambudvipa; the six cities such as Champaka; the Shakya clan which for seven generations, has not declined through intermarriage; a mother named Mahamaya, who was free from the 32 negative qualities; and a time of the five increasing degenerations in which people suffer greatly and become objects of compassion, for they are difficult to tame, hold wrong views, have a declining life span, are defiled by the five mental poisons, and gain wealth through impure means. Seeing these things, he said to the gods: "I will blow the conch shell of impermanence, beat the gong of emptiness, and roar with the sound of selflessness." He then empowered Maitreya to take his place on the throne, and declared three times to the six realms of the gods that he was descending to this world.

Then he manifested as the precious elephant having an immense, though glorious and gentle, body with six trunks. He was adorned with the golden nets and a beauteous red hat, and gave forth a pleasant odor because of the medical herbs he ate. In the middle of the fifteenth day of the second month at the time of the full moon, when Mahamaya was in retreat, the Lord Buddha entered her womb through the right side. Mahamaya then dreamed that a mountain had become her pillow, that the sun was rising within her body, and that she was giving teachings to many sentient beings. She felt light and at ease. In the months to come, she had many other auspicious dreams, and experienced bliss and freedom from afflicting emotions.

 After ten months, the moment for giving birth. Mahamaya was passing by the Lumbini Garden when, quick as a flesh of lightening, she grasped a branch of the laksha tree with her right hand. The child emerged from her right side, and Brahma and Indra descended to Earth to make offerings, wrapping him in a pure silk cloth. After the gods and nagas bathed him, the child took seven steps in each of the four directions. He became known as Siddhartha (the fulfiller of wishes) because he revealed many tresures at that time and fulfilled the wishes of his father.
As his mother passed away seven days after his birth, the queen's sister brought up the prince with great affection and tenderness. He was surrounded by all kinds of luxuaries. Though still a child and attended in this fashion by the various kinds of sensory pleasure suitable to his age, yet in gravity, purity, thoughtfulness and dignity he was unlike a child. He received an all-round education. Being intelligent and eager to learn, the Prince became very good at studies and military skills. All the Brahmins and astrologers prophesied that if the child renounced the kingdom, he would become a Buddha; otherwise, he would become a universal monarch. One day a rishi called Krishna, along with his nephew, came to the kingdom for the Himalayas. King Suddhodana asked: "Why have you come here?" and the rishi replied: "Great king, I have come to see your son - the sage and liberator of sentient beings. I have to come and see. What kind of prediction have others made about him?" King Suddhodana replied: "He will become a wheel-turner king. The treasure of the teaching contains all the virtues. He will achieve Buddhahood, becoming victorious over all the faults. He will work for the welfare and happiness of mankind

Adorned with the ornaments, he became expert in astrology and literature. When he departed the city, he meditated in samadhi. Under the shade of the jambu tree, he was praised by the six sons of the gods. One day, the Prince saw a farmer in worn-out clothes, ploughing the field and whipping an ox. He came to understand the difficult life of living beings. He also saw a bird pecking at an earthworm and an eagle swooping down on the bird. He came to understand that living beings kill one another and only the strongest can survive.

His compassion was shown at his young age, when a crane was shot by Devadatta, he took it in his arms, nourished it, saving it.

In his 19th year, he was married to his own cousin Yasodhara, daughter of Suddhodana. He passed hsi youth amid luxury and splendor, in three mansions appropriate to the three seasons, surrounded by forth thousand nautch-girls, like a very god surrounded by troops of celestial nymphs.

In his 29th year, the prince asked Bodhisattva's attendant Dunpa drove his chariot in the eastern, southern and western directions where he saw aging, sickness and death. Seeing such suffering, he was greatly moved and said: What is the use of youth which is ultimately destroyed by age? What is the benefit of health which will only end with illness? What is the good of wisdom in life if this life lasts not forever? Aging, sickness and death follow each other inevitably.

The prince asked the charioteer, "Good charioteer, who is this man with white hair supporting himself on the staff in his hand, with his eyes veiled by the brows and limbs relaxed and bent?" He replied, "Old age it is called, that which has broken him down, the murderer of beauty, the ruin of vigor, the birth place of sorrow, the grave of pleasure, the destroyer of memory, the enemy of the senses." The prince asked, "Will this evil come upon me also?" Then the charioteer said to him:- "Inevitably by force of time, my long-lived lord will know this length of his days. Men are aware that old age thus destroys beauty and yet they seek it."

At the age of 29, the bodhisattva realized that, "The heart is in the nature of happiness and what must be extinguished is the fire of lust, hatred and delusion. Only through that can the heart be truly happy. On this very day, I must renounce the household-life, retire from the world, become a monk and seek after the True Happiness." He gave up the luxurious palace life and departed from his wife and other loved ones. One night, when all his attendants were asleep, the Bodhisattva thought that he should leave the palace. Thus, he called to Dunpa, saying: Awaken, and quickly fetch my magical steed Ngakden. I intend to search for the garden of hardships visited by previous Buddhas seeking Enlightenment. I know that this will please all the sages. Dunpa replied: This is not the hour to go to the garden. No one holds malice toward you here; you have no enemies, so why do you need a horse at midnight? The Prince replied: Dunpa, you have never disobeyed me, so do not do so now as we prepare to separate. At last Dunpa brought the horse, but the horse would not allow the Prince to mount him. The Prince told him: Ngakden, this is the last time that you will carry me. So take me without delay to the garden of hardships. After achieving Enlightenment, I will quickly fulfill the needs of all sentient beings through the rain of samadhi. As his father lay sleeping, Bodhisattva circumambulated him and rode off in the night saying: Until I achieve the supreme path of all the Buddhas, I will not return to this city of Kapilavastu.

Mounted on his horse and accompanied by his charioteer Dunpa, he passed out of the city gate, an angel opening the gate. Mara, the Evil One offered him Universal Sovereignty if he would abandon his purpose, but the Future Buddha rebuked the temptation and passed on. But the Evil One ever followed him, watching his opportunity. The future Buddha proceeded to the river Anoma, where he received the Eight Requistes of a monk from an angel.

Within two sessions (half a day), he discovered a distance which normally takes twelve days. alighting from his horse, he removed his ornaments, gave them to Dunpa and dismissed him and Ngakden. But Dunpa objected: "It is not right that you should remain alone." The Prince replied: All beings come into this world alone; likewise do they die. During this life, they also suffer alone. There are no friends in samsara.

He cut his hair in front of the fully pure stupa,and gave it to Dunpa.

After renunciation, the Prince went from place to place and learned from many well-known teachers in his search for the Truth and practice meditation. The prince spent the next seven days in Anupiya Mango Grove in the enjoyment of the bliss of monkhood. He then went on foot to Rajagaha, the capital of King Bimbisara, and made his round for alms from door to door. Bimbisara, pleased with his deportment, offered him his kingdom. But the prince refused his offer, declaring that he had renounced all for the sake of attaining Supreme Enlightenment. Bimbisara then requested him, as soon as he should become a Buddha, to visit his kingdom first, the future Buddha gave him his promise to do so. He then attached himself to Alara Kalama and Uddaka Ramaputta, teachers of the Yoga philosophy. But becoming convinced that the Yoga discipline was not the Way of Salvation, he abandoned the practice and proceed to Uruvela, and attended by Kondanna and four other monks, entered upon the Great Struggle.

Following the five ascetic rishis, Siddhartha underwent hardships for six years by the banks of the Nairanjana. So great were his austerities that the ribs of his back could be seen. He drank one one drop of water a day. He ate only one grain a day and in this way achieve the highest meditative state. While thus engaged, he was approached and tempted to abandon the Great Struggle by Mara the Evil One, accompanied by his None Hosts, namely, Lust, Discontent, Hunger and Thirst, Craving, Sloth and Laziness, Cowardice, Doubt, Hypocrisy and Stupidity, Gain, Fame, Honor, and Glory Falsely Obtained, Exaltation of Self, and Contempt of Others. But the future Buddha rebuked the Evil One and he departed. One day, while absorbed in trance induced by suspension of the breath, he became utterly exhausted and fell in a swoon. His five companions believed him to be dead, and certain deities went to his father, King Suddhodana, and so informed him. But the king refused to believe this, declaring that his son could not die before attaining Enlightenment. The Future Buddha, convinced that fasting and other forms of self-mortification were not the Way of Salvation, abandoned the Great Struggle. Thereupon his five companions, regarding him as a backslider, deserted him and went to the Deer-park near Benares.

Then he realized that the path of extreme austerities would not enable him to fulfill his vow, so he determined to meditate on building strength of body. Rishi Deva, who had been the Bodhisattva's friend before he renounced the kingdom took pity on his condition and told two village women, Gamo and Gatopma to bring him offerings. When he partook of their milk porridge, the color of his body transformed into pure gold. His five disciples, thinking that he had renounced the path, abandoned him. The Bodhisattva asked the two women how the merit of their offering could be shared, and they replied: Whatever accumulations of merit are created by these gifts. O renowned one, fulfiller of all wishes, we offer to you. May you achieve the ultimate state and fully accomplish your excellent thought.

The gods, gazing on him, thought he would soon die, and so they lamented: The son of Shakya, the essence of sentient being, when in the Tushita heaven would have done well to remain and give teachings. But he promised to liberate sentient beings and now it seems he will die. And they told Mahamaya that her son, Siddhartha, would soon pass away. Hearing this, the mother descended form the heavens and made this lamentation: When my son was born in the garden of Lumbini, fearlessly, like a lion, he took seven steps, looked in the four directions and said: This is my final birth. You have not fulfilled this pleasing prophecy; I see the words of the rishi Krishna unrealized that you would achieve Enlightenment. All I see is the impermanence of death. Who will give life to my only son? siddhartha replied: This earth may crumble; the sun, moon and stars fall away. Yet even if I were an ordinary being, I would not die. Soon I will achieve Buddhahood.Despite such allurements and temptation, the prince firmly guarded his senses, and in his perturbation over the inevitability of death, was neither rejoiced nor distressed and thus meditated :- "Do these women then not understand the transitory nature of youth, that they are so inebriated with their own beauty, which old age will destroy? Surely they do not perceive anyone overwhelmed by illness, that they are so full of mirth, so void of fear in a world in which disease is a law of nature. And quite clearly they sport and laugh so much at ease and unperturbed, because they are ignorant of death who carries all away. For what rational being would stand or sit or lie at ease, still less laugh, when he knows of old age, disease and death? It is not that I despise the objects of sense and I know that the world is devoted to them; but my mind does not delight in them, because I hold them to be transitory. I am fearful and exceeding distressed, as I meditate on the terrors of old age, death and disease. I find no peace or contentment, much less pleasure, as I perceive the world blazing as it were with fire. If desire arises in the heart of a man who knows that death is inevitable, I consider that his soul is made of iron, in that instead of weeping he delights in the great danger." Bodhisattva sat, saying: "Even if my flesh and blood dry up and my skin, my nerves and bones disintegrate, yet will I remain in this seat until I achieve Enlightenment which is hard to find even during many kalpas."

Mara the Evil One endeavored to drive him from his seat with the Nine Rains, namely, wind, rain, rocks, weapons, blazing coals, hot ashes, sand, mud, and darkness. From his forehead, the Bodhisattva radiated a light known as the Subjugation of the Assembly of Maras. Because of this invocation, all the groups of sinful maras, who delight in negative actions, gathered to his left. The hundred-handed said, "My body has a hundred hands and even one can shoot one hundred arrows. I will therefore pierce the body of practitioners. Father, rejoice, come forth; Do not lag behind." Those who gathered to his right delighted in positive action and were known as Great Discrimination Mind. They praised him, saying: "The body of him who meditates on loving kindness beyond samsara cannot be harmed by poison, weapons and fire. Such weapons, if thrown will be transformed into flowers." It was accomplished as they said. Thus the male maras could create no obstacles neither could the female maras deceive him. In this way, he defeated all the maras.

After conquering the Mara's host by his steadfastness and tranquility, he, the master of trance, put himself into trance in order to obtain exact knowledge of the ultimate reality.

In the first part of the night, he achieved the four stages of samadhi and the state of super-awareness. In the middle watch of the night, he achieved the clairvoyance of recollecting his previous lives; and in the last hours of the night he achieved the stainless wisdom of the end of afflicting emotions. He then realized in a moment the nature of the twelve links of interdependent origination (the twelve nidanas) both in their arising and cessation, as well as the Four Noble Truths. Thus, in a moment, he achieved Enlightenment, the perfect Buddhahood.

For seven days, the Buddha sat motionless on the Throne of Enlightenment, experiencing the Bliss of Deliverance. After spending four weeks in earnest thought near the Tree of Wisdom, he spent the fifth week at the Goathered's Banyan-tree. Here he was tempted by the three daughters of Mara the Evil One, namely, Craving, Discontent, and Lust. But he repulsed their advances, saying, "Begone! The exalted One
Prince Siddahartha attains Enlightenment on
the eighth of December under the Bodhi tree
after defeating Mara

has put away Lust, Ill.will, and Delsuion." The sixth and seventh weeks were spent at the Mucalinda-tree and the Rajayatana-tree respectively. On the last day of the seventh week, he received his first converts, tow merchants named Tapussa and Bhallika. He then returned to the Goatherd's Banyan-tree.
When Buddha attained Enlightenment, he said, "I have found a teaching like ambrosia, profound, peaceful, free from conception, luminous, uncreated. If I tell of this teaching, no one will understand. So I shall stay in the forest without speaking. Bringing offerings, Indra requested the one-thousand-spoked golden wheel with these words. "Like the moon free from eclipse, your mind is completely liberated. Please awaken the victors of battle to kindle the light of wisdom and destroy the darkness of the world." Brahma then appeared and requested: "Go wherever you will, O Sage, but please give the teachings." To them, the Lord Buddha replied: "All beings are chained to desire and remain immersed in that state. Therefore the teachings I have found will be of no benefit even if I offer them." Thus he refused to give the teachings. Again Brahma requested: "The teachings previously given in Magadha are all impure and false. Therefore, Sage, open the door of ambrosia." For many lifetimes, Brahma had cultivated his mind and accumulated great merit so that he could request the teachings from the Buddha. For this reason, the Buddha finally agreed to do as he wished, saying: "The sentient beings of Magadha are full of faith and pure devotion. They are ready to hear the teachings. I will therefore open the door to ambrosia." On the way, Nyendro asked: "Where are you going?" The Buddha said: "I go to Varanasi, to the city of Kashika there I will kindle the teachings in sentient beings who are as blind men. I will beat the drum of the teaching for sentient beings who are as deaf men. I will cause the rain of teachings to fall on sentient beings who are as lame men. As he approached Varanasi, the five disciples paid homage to Buddha. Then Buddha turned the wheel of the Dharma three times in succession.

Resplendent with power and glory, Buddha expounded the Four Noble Truths to Kaundinya gotra, Mahanaman, Vaspa, Asvajit and Bhadrajit. "The fool who tortures himself and equally he who is attached to the domains of the senses, both these you should regard as in fault, because they have taken paths, which do not lead to deathlessness. The former, with his mind troubled and overcome by the bodily toils called austerities, becomes unconscious and does not know even the ordinary course of the world, how much less then the supersensual way of truth? Just as in this world one does not pour out water to obtain a light for the destruction of darkness, so bodily torments are not the prerequisite for the destruction of the darkness of ignorance by the fire of knowledge. Just as a man who wants a fire does not obtain it by boring and splitting wood, but does succeed by using the proper means, so deathlessness is obtained by yoga, not by torments. Similarly those who are attached to the lusts have their minds overwhelmed by passion and ignorance, they do
Turning the Dharma Wheel the first time at the
Deer Park, the Buddha expounds the Four
Noble Truths to convert the first five ascetic

not even attain the ability to understand the doctrines, still less then the passionless method of suppression. Just as the individual who is overcome by illness is not cured by eating unwholesome food, so how shall he who is overcome by disease of ignorance and is addicted to the lusts, reach religious peace?"

Just as a fire does not go out, when it has dry grass for fuel and the wind fans it, so the mind does not come to peace, when passion is its companion and the lusts its support. Abandoning either extreme, I have won to another, the Middle Path, which brings surcease from sorrow and passes beyond bliss and ecstasy. The sun of right views illumines it, the chariot of pure right thought fares along it, the rest-houses are right words rightly spoken, and it is gay with a hundred groves of good conduct. It enjoys the great prosperity of noble livelihood and has the army and retinue of right effort; it is guarded on all sides by the fortifications of right awareness and is provided with the bed and seat of concentrated thought. Such in this world is the most excellent eightfold path, by which comes release from death, old age and disease, by passing along it, all is done that has to be done, and there is no further travelling in this world or the next. 'This is nothing but suffering, this is the cause, this is the suppression and this is the path to it: thus for salvation's sake, I developed eyesight for an unprecedented method of the Law, which had been hitherto unheard of. Birth, old age, disease and death, separation from what is desired, union with what is not desired, failure to attain the longed for end, these are the varied sufferings that men undergo.

whether he has or has not a body, whatever quality is lacking to him, know that in short to be suffering. Just as a fire, when its flames die down, does not lose its inborn nature of being hot, however small it be, so the idea of self, subtle though it may become through quietude and the like, has still the nature of suffering. Recognize that, just as the soil, water, seed and the season are the causes of the shoot, so the various sins, passion and the like, as well as the deeds that spring from the sins, are the causes of suffering. The cause for the stream of existence, whether in heaven or below, is the group of sins, passion and the like; and the root of the distinction here and there into base, middling and high, is the deeds. From the destruction of the sins the cause of the cycle of existence ceases to be, and from the destruction of the Act that suffering ceases to be, for, since all things come into being from the existence of something else, with the disappearance of that something else they cease to be. Know suppression to be that in which there is not either birth, or old age, or death or fire or earth or water or space or wind, which is without beginning or end, noble and not to be taken away, blissful and immutable. The path is that which is described as eightfold and outside it there are no means for success. Because they do not see this path, men ever revolve in the various paths. Thus I came to the conclusion in this matter, that suffering is to be recognized, the cause to be abandoned, the suppression to be realized and the path to be cultivated. Thus insight developed in me that this suffering is to be recognized, the cause to be abandoned, the suppression to be realized and the path to be cultivated. Thus sight developed in me that this suffering suppression has been realised, similarly that this path has been cultivated. When Buddha, full of compassion, thus preached the Law there in these words, he of the Kaundinya clan and a hundred deities obtained the insight that is pure and free from passion.

The Buddha expounds the Dharma to Queen

The Buddha returns to Kapilavathu to visit
King Suddhodana and to preach Dharma to
his royal relatives.

Buddha spoke, "I know, O king, that in your compassionate nature you are overtaken by sorrow at the sight of Me. Give up that delight in having a son, and becoming calm, accept from Me the Law in place of a son. What no son has ever before given to a father, what no father has ever before received from a son, that which is better than a kingdom or than paradise, know that, O king to be the most excellent deathlessness. Guardian of the earth, recognize that nature of the act, the birthplace of the act, the vehicle of the act and the lot that comes by maturation of the act, and know the world to be under the dominion of the act, therefore practize that act which is advantageous. Consider and ponder on the real truth of the world. The good act is man's friend, the bad one the reverse. You must abandon everything and go forth alone, without support, accompanied only by your acts. The world of the living fares on under the impulse of the act, whether in heaven or hell, among animals or in the world of men. The cause of existence is threefold, threefold the birthplace and various are the deeds that men commit. Therefore rightly direct yourself to the other alternative and purify the actions of your body and voice. Strive for quietude of the mind. This is your goal; Knowing the world to be restless as the waves of the sea and meditating on it, you should take no joy in the spheres of existence, and should practise that act which is virtuous and leads to the highest good, in order to destroy the power of the act. Know that the world ever revolves like the circle of the asterisms; even gods pass their peak and fall from heaven, how much less then may one rely on the human state? Look therefore on the world as encompassed with great dangers like a house on fire, and seek for that stage which is tranquil and certain, and in which there is neither birth nor death, neither toil nor suffering. Crush the hostile armies of the faults, for which there is no need of wealth or territory or weapons or horses or elephants. Once they are conquered, there is nothing more to conquer. comprehend suffering, the cause of suffering, the appeasement and the means of appeasement. By thoroughly penetrating these four, the great danger and the evil births are suppressed."

The Buddha converts Patacara, an unfortunate
woman, to become a Bhiksuni in the Sangha

The Buddha advises Singala about the meaning
of worshiping six directions: East, West, South,
North, Above and Below.

The Buddha converts a heretic, Angulimala,
who murdered others for their fingers.

A mother agonized over the sudden death of heronly son, came to Buddha, asking him to help her saving her son. The Buddha delivered a sermon on impermanence. She was thenEnlightened leading a life of happiness and serenity.
The street of Rajagrha became impassable through the corpses, which the elephant had struck with his body or taken up with his trunk or whose entrails were drawn out by his tusks and scattered in heaps. Buddha said, " The slaughter of the Sinless one is accompanied by suffering; Do no harm, O elephant, to the Sinless One. For, O elephant, the life of him who slays the Sinless does not develop from existence to existence in the eight good births. The three, love, hatred and delusion, are intoxicants hard to conquer; yet the sages are free of the three intoxicants. Free yourself therefore of these fevers and pass beyond sorrow. Therefore in order to abandon this love of darkness, be quit of intoxication and resume your natural self. do not, O lord of elephants, slip back through excess of passion into the mud of the ocean of transmigration." The elephant, hearing these words, was freed from intoxication and returned to right feeling; and he obtained the good internal pleasure, like one released from illness on drinking the elixir.

With his great compassion, the Buddha brings
to submission the ferociously drunken
elephants released by King Ajatasatti.

Lord Buddha went to Kusinagara near the Hiranyavati River. He blessed all the sentient beings, each in their own language, as he thought of them all as his own sons, saying that if any doubts or hesitations were arising, they should question him during these, his last moments. Those gods, demi-gods and humans who loved the Dharma gathered the finest offerings and supplicated him with these words: "All the sentient beings, tortured by the disease of afflicting emotions, are separated from the skillful physician of the Dharma. Lord Buddha, the blessed one, do not abandon us." The Buddha replied: "The Buddhas are Dharmata therefore they remain. Dedicate your lives to awareness and protect your thoughts through mindfulness. Renounce all non-virtuous actions. Be content and happy." Buddha died in 483 B.C..

The Buddha attains Parinibbana in the Sala
Grove, between the twin Sala tress, in the
vicinity of Kusinagara.

The Buddha pointed out that life is suffering and that suffering is caused by ignorance and desire. In order to end suffering, one has to follow the path shown by the Buddha, it is the Noble Eightfold Path. It means right understanding - understanding the law of cause and effect; right thought - pure and kind thoughts; right speech - truthful and gentle speech; right action - good and law-abiding conduct; right livelihood - proper and purposeful occupation; right effort - striving to improve and progress; right mindfulness - mindful of thought and conduct; right meditation - practicing meditation to gain wisdom. He said, "We must guard against the three fires of greed, hatred and ignorance, as they keep burning in our minds causing sufferings. To put out the fire of greed, one must avoid the extremes of sensual indulgence and self-torture. To put out the fire of hatred, one must practice compassion. To put out the fire of ignorance, one must understand the Four Noble Truths and practice the Noble Eightfold Path." He emphasized compassion in his teaching. He told us to be concerned for each other, to help each other. He emphasized the equality to all beings and stressed on self-reliance. He said that everyone has the Buddha nature and everyone can become a Buddha provided he himself practices diligently.

The Buddha said that everyone is responsible for his own actions. Virtuous action creates good karma and non-virtuous action brings bad karma. One can be reborn in any of the six realms. The six realms are the god realm, the demi-god realm, the human realm, the animal realm, the hungry ghost realm and the hell realm. The karma of one's past determines which of the six realms he will be reborn in. He showed us the Noble Eightfold Path, by practicing which we can be freed the cycle of birth and death, and attain the supreme happiness of Nirvana.



London, Oct 9, 2004--- Celebrities seem to have a strange fascination for Buddhism, and this time it is Latino diva jennifer Lopez who is taking up Buddhism.

The 'Wedding Planner' actress was reportedly so impressed by her co-star Richard Gere's dedication to Buddhism that she was inspired to embrace the religion after she had a number of spiritual talks with him, reports the Sun.

Lopez, who is acting with Gere in the movies 'Shall we Dance' says that she is now aware of higher energy, and the fact that it is very important to be a good human being.
"Now I know there's a force in the world. There's an energy that if you put out good and you put out love it comes back to you. That's a basic thing that works for me," the report quoted her as saying.


Although he is arguably the most in-demand actor in Hollywood at the moment, Leonardo Dicaprio has joined a Buddhist group in Los Angels and has vowed to drop out of film-making until he is "recharged," the London Daily Mirror reported today (Wednesday). The newspaper quoted Dicaprio as saying that he is seeking "peace and tranquility" and that he is considering "taking a long break before returning to the set....some months, maybe a year.

May 6, 1998.......


Rechard Gere, an Oscar-winning star, and best known for his performance in Pretty Woman, Runaway bride, and an Officer and a Gentleman, is today considered a serious Buddhist practitioner.
Together with many other well-known Hollywood celebrities such as Harrison Ford, Goldie Hawn, and Kennu Reeves, Gere has been in the forefront to promote Tibetan Buddhism and culture to the West. The following is a short extract of an interview he gave to Rajiv Mehrotra for Indian national television channel Doordarshan:


Well, his holiness the Dalai Lama, obviously. I have been his student since 1982-83. Sometimes I come to Dharasala (headquarters of the Tebetan government-in-exile in northern India) twice or thrice a year.


Most of my teachers are from the Gelupa school of Tibetan Buddhism. There is a lot of work on the mind and intellecture play and exploration of reality itself, using language and pure logic, along with various techniques of meditation. It's a gradual process as the mind is familiarized with another way of seeing things and hopefully, the correct way. So it is a process that takes several lifetimes, but if within a lifetime one can see gradual change.........

You mentioned the Dalai Lama is a remarkable human being. You've spent a lot of time with him as a student. What is the role, the contribution, you believe the Dalai Lama is making?

He's the most simple man and also the most complex man I've ever met. He's an artist and he's a farmer. He--- like my great mind and heart--- is able to engage each of us on a level where we exist. He has been giving me teachings on Shantideva, who was a great nith century Indian monk at Nalanda University, one of the greatest Universities of ancient times, that saw a great flowering of Indian culture.


Well, the first thing is the fact that I am able to live many lives at once. There are a lot of growth possibilities depending on what level I give myself to it.


I could practice a lot of more for one thing. Music has been a very strong part of my life, a lot of my acting has to do with music, playing instruments. There is also a musical sense to the way I work.


Happiness to all beings. Number One. happiness to all beings. Number two. And Number three-- happiness in the causes of happiness to all beings. No question about that.

LIFE POSITIVE, APRIL 1996.........................


Psychologist and management guru Dr. Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., is probably American Buddhism's finest journalist, and was nominated twice for the Pilitzer Price. His book Emotional Intelligence in 1995 introduced millions of people the very Buddhist concept that self-awareness and empathy or EQ are essential to success in life. In his latest book, Destructive Emotions: A Scientific Dialogue With The Dalai Lama (Bantam books, 2004), Goleman chronicles a five-day meeting of the minds among Buddhist scholars, cognitive scientists and the Dalai Lama in March 2000 in Dharamsala, India. The following is an extract of an interview Daniel gave to the Scientific Research Society in the US.

How did you become interested in the relation between Buddhist 
and Western approaches to understanding the mind?

Back in the early 1970s, when I was completing my doctorate in psychology at Harvard University, I had a pre-doctoral traveling fellowship (from the Ford Foundation) and then a post-doctoral which gave me the opportunity to spend a total of two years in Asia, particularly India, Sri Lanka and Dharasala (a "little Tibet" in the Himaliyan foothills). While there I began to study the Asian religions as theories of mind. I was surprised to find fully articulated systems of psychology----generally little known-- at the heart of these religions; the most fully articulated was "Abhidhamma:, a Buddhist system of thought.
this system describes how the mind works, and how that process gives rise to ordinary states of suffering and remedies---especially meditation. I, of course, had never heard of this psychology in my study of psychology in the West, even though it has been in full and continuous operation for more than 1,500 years.

On my return to the United states I began to write about this system--- in my first book, the Meditative Mind in a textbook on theories of personality, and in some obscure journals-- and to do research on meditation as an antidote to stress reactivity (for my dissertation). At the time as I recall, there was little interest among my professional colleagues.
However, I began meditating at about that time and have continued on and off over the years. I experimented with many different varieties of meditation, and over the years settled into a Buddhist method called mindfulness, and most recently I have been working with Tibetan teachers. Given the recent finding (summarized in Destructive Emotions) that seem to indicate a positive neuroplasticity-- for example, shifts to a more positive daily mood range---I've tried to make more time for it. 
It seems that one of the biggest gaps that must be crossed between the Eastern and Western approaches to the mind is that the scientific method requires an objective third person approach, whereas Buddhist practice is clearly a subjective first person phenomenon.

What do you think is behind the result popularity of Buddhist meditation 
techniques in psychotherapy?

There has been on again off again interest in the therapeutic uses of meditation for the last three decades--- since a small circle of psychotherapists first became aware of (and themselves tried) meditation practice. But there has also been a notable increase in recent years if these applications by a much wider slice of psychotherapists-- far greater interest than ever before. For example, my wife, Tara Bennett-Goleman, has written a book on how to integrate mindfulness with cognitive therapy (Emotional Alchemy, Harmony books which became a New York Times bestseller; she regularly gets invitations to teach the integration of these methods to therapists). Much of this has been driven bey recent findings on the successful application of mindfulness meditation in conjunction with cognitive therapy---notably, the research of Jeffrey Schwartz UCLA, who had success with obsessive-compulsive disorder, and of 50 percent in the relapse rate among severely, chronically depressed patients.
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In destructive Emotions, you discuss who the Buddhist notion of an "empty self" can inform science based views of the mind. I wonder if you could elaborate on these ideas a little.

The notion of an "empty self" posits that there is no "CEO of the mind," but rather something like committees constantly vying for power. In this view, the "self" is not a stable, enduring entity in control, but rather a mirage of mind-- not actually real, but merely seemingly so. While that notion seems contrary to our own everyday experience, it actually describes the deconstruction of self that cognitive neurosceince finds as it desserts the mind (most famously, Marvin Minky's" society of mind").

So the Buddhist model of the self may turn out of fit the data far better than the notions that have dominated Western thinking for the last century.

Finally, I wonder what's it like to hang out with the Dalai Lama, 
or is he more formal than that?

Unless you're far more fortunate than I, "you don't hang out" with the Dalai Lama these days. He's in such huge demand that his time is tightly guarded and closely scheduled. But when you're with him (as I've been in meetings over the years), you do feel an immense sense of his presence, spontaneity and delight in things, which is a bit contagious.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society



In an interview with screenwriter Stanley Weiser, the martial arts expert and action film star Seagal speaks about his many years of Buddhist practice and his Buddhist teachers:

Were you introduced to Buddhism as an off-shoot of your martial arts discipline?

Well, to be honest with you I am not sure, I was born with a serious spiritual consciousness and for many years studied different paths. I went to Japan in the late sixties and began Zen sitting. I visited monasteries, studying Buddhism and receiving spiritual instruction. This was the beginning for me, the way I believed it should be --- the development of a physical man through martial arts and polishing the spiritual side simultaneously.

You also studied acupuncture?

Right. That was the way I was originally introduced to Tibetan Buddhism. There was a handful of lamas who had come over from Tibet. They were sick and had been tortured. Because I was studying acupuncture, I was asked to try to look after a couple of them, even though I didn't speak Tibetan. We were able to eventually communicate. I learned a little Tibetan and I became very close with them.

Who was your root guru?

Basically, for me His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was the greatest, and now I have a very strong devotion to Minling Trichen and His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.

Do you have memories of past lifetimes?

From the time that I started going to India and meditating I did start getting memories that were fairly unclear. Just a few days ago, I was sitting with a Lama and one of the things he said to me was that you have a very good imprint of many strong past lives, and therefore your realization will come more swiftly than some people's.

Of course, as you practice longer, you will develop some different powers. But none of them really matters. What matters is what you do with your life. I also don't believe it is very important who was in my last lives; I think it is important who I am in this life. 

And what I do in this life is only important if I can ease the suffering of others, make the world a better place, serve Buddha and mankind, and plant the seed of bodhicitta in people's hearts.

So has your practice been developing over a long period of time?
Oh, I have been doing serious meditation in my own pitiful way for probably (over) twenty-seven years.

When you became a movies star, how did that affect your ego? 
 Did it go out of control?

Even when I was in Japan, people tried to deify me, and the reason I left there was that deification is truly a death trap. That is a reason why I kept my spiritual practice to my self in America. I don't think deification has been one of my biggest problems in life because I am lucky enough to have understood a long time ago what adoration and power really are about. I think the great obstacle was just a luck of understanding of the way.

There is a Buddhist slogan which says, 
"Work with the greatest defilement first." 
What would you say is your greatest defilement?

Not really understanding the difference between desire for spiritual perfection for the benefit of all sentient beings, and feeding myself! This is where I was confused in my youth: I though that if I could spiritually feed myself to levels of great spiritual attainment then I could do greater things in the world and it would be good for me and foolish to realize that the basis we have to come from is first and foremost the benefit of all sentient beings. This was a great obstacle for me and it caused me great suffering.

Do you do prostrations?

Prostrations are my favorite thing in the universe. Right now I am just trying to simplify all of the exalted practices that are probably over my head, all of the tantras I have tried to learn, and I am jsut trying to concentrate on bodhicitta.
I am not a highly realized being, not a great Lama, and I don't have any great practice. I am just trying to get to first base and the most basic practice of a bodhisattva, including meditations and prayers.

In the busy movies life of chaos and uncertainty, where is your sense of equilibrium?
When you ask what gives me solace and eases samsara, it is Guru Ringpoche, the Lord Buddha and all the protectors.

What other projects are you spending time on?

I want to be able to feed the children who are starving and sick, including those with eye problems, in Tibet. Many of the monasteries are in need of help.

What do you do with all the unchecked anger that comes with working in this back-stabbing business. As a Buddhist, how do you deal with it?

I'm human--- when cut I bleed like everybody else. When this happens it is best to bring your problems into your practice. By overcoming anger, hurt and attachment we become stronger; you bring these before the Buddhas, before the protectors, and purify yourself.

Your screen persona is that of the noble tough guy protecting the innocent and terrorists. In the characters you play, you meet violence with violence. When you watch yourself on screen, how do you reconcile the carnage with the lifestyle of a man practicing compassion and non-violence?

Well, I don't think one has anything to do with the other. I think that art imitates life and its function should be a perfect and accurate interpretation of the way life really is, in all of its emanations. I am an artist trying to perfect his craft, but at the same time I do have feelings about violence. I was under a contract with Warner Brothers I could not get out of, and what they wanted me for was the male action films. Now that I'm out of that situation, this will enable me to do the kinds of films I would will lead people into contemplation and offer them joy.

Okey, last question. Acknowledging the inseparability of samsara and nirvana, what would you say the best thing about being Steaven Seagal is and what is the worst thing about being Steaven Seagal?

You know, I was sort of raised in Zen and I don't really look at my life in terms of best or worst.

I  was asking from a relative point of view.

The thing I am most grateful for is teachers who have allowed me to have the little bit knowledge and wisdom that is now keeping me breathing. I am grateful for the ability that I have on the screen to bring people happiness and joy and the ability that I will have in the future to hopefully bring people into the path of contemplation. In terms of worst things, I consider my worst enemies and my worst sufferings to be my greatest teachers, so there is always another side to these negative forces.

Copyright @ 2004 Shambhala Sun Magazine


In order to understand and appreciate the history of early Buddhism in Ceylon we should have, as a background, some general idea of the third century B.C. from where Buddhism came to Ceylon, and also of the pre-Buddhist Ceylon to which it was introduced. When the Indian missionaries brought Buddhism to this Island, they carried here with them not only the teaching of the Buddha but also the culture and civilization of Buddhist India. Almost all the Buddhist rites, ceremonies, festival and observances of Ceylon were, with slight local changes and modifications, the continuation of Indian practices which the early Buddhist missionaries introduced into this  country. It is necessary therefore at the very beginning to have an idea of the conditions prevalent in India at the time of the advent of Buddhism to Ceylon.
Buddhism began as an intellectual and ethical movement in the sixth century B.C., with the first sermon preached by the  Buddha to the five ascetics at Isipatana near Beneras. Is spread gradually during the life-time of the Buddha along with the Gangetic valley and found its way into several kingdoms in North India ministers, bankers and wealthy merchents, brahmins and peasants became the followers of this new teaching which was a revolt against some of the accepted theories and practices of the day.
At the tome of the Buddha's death, about 483 B.C almost all the important states in North India seemed to have been deeply influenced by the new teaching. According to the Mahaparinibbana-sutta, eight countries claimed, on various grounds, a portion of the ashes of the Buddha- which shows that he had already gained many ardent devotees in these states. Yet, there is no evidence to show that the teaching of the Buddha had been adopted as the state religion of any of these kingdoms till long after his death.
Immediately after the Buddha's death, a Council was held at Rajagaha during the rainy season under the patronage of Ajatasattu, king of Magadha, with Maha-Kassapa as its president, the most senior of the disciples of the Buddha then alive. Its purpose was to decide and settle the authentic teaching of the Master. The Buddha's immediate disciples, like Ananda and Upali, were the principal protagonists in this great event.
About a century later, in the fourth century B.C. during the time of King Kalasoka of Pataliputta, a group of monks known under the generic name of Vajji Bhikkhus, residing at the Mahavana monastery in Vesali, raised ten new points of indulgence which perturbed the orthodox authorities. Under the guidance of Yassa, Revata and Sabbakami, three leading theras of the day, a great Council was held at Vasali, and the ten points raised by the Vajji bhikkhus were condemned as false and heretic. The authentic and genuine teaching of the Master was defined for the second time.
After this Second Council, the bhikkhus who were condemned as unorthodox and heretic, assembled elsewhere, held a rival Council and inaugurated a new sect called Mahasanghika ( or century saw the rise of eighteen sects in all, including the various schools of the Theravada.
In the last years of the fourth century B.C., Chandragupta Muarya had founded and organized a large and powerful empire extending approximately from Afghanistan to Mysore. Territories which are even now outside India and West Pakistan were parts of the Indian Empire under Chandragupta.
Chandragupta's son, Bindusara, kept his father's empire intact, and perhaps even extended it in the south. About 274 B.C., Bindusara's son, Asoka, succeeded to this vast empire which had been built by two great emperors under the expert guidance of such able statesmen as Kautilya Chanakya.
The extent of Asoka's empire can be gauged from the inscriptions published by the emperor himself. Rock Edicts II, V and XII mention the nations on the borders of his dominitions. In the south, the limits were the Cholas. Pandyas, Satiyaputras and Keralaputras. In the north, his empire extended as far as the foot of the Himalayas. Buildings in Kashmir and Nepal show that these countries too were parts of his kingdom. Towards the north-west, it extended as far as the territory of the Syria king, Antiochus and hence stretched as far as Persia and Syria which were under Antiochus. The Yavanas, Kambojas and Gandharas are mentioned as the peoples living on the borders in the north-west. It should be mentioned here that Asoka's grandfather Chandragupta had, in about 304 B.C. and after a successful campaign, wrested from Seleucus, one of Alexander's generals. the four satrapies of Aria, Arachosia, Gedrosia and the Paropanisadai. To this should be added the Kalinga country which Asoka himself had, in about 262 B.C., conquered after a devastating war.
"The Government of India under Asoka was an absolute monarchy in the legal and political sense of the term. Nevertheless authocracy in India was much more limited in many directions than the authocracies of the West."
Society was composed of religious and secular classes. The former was divided into Brahmanas, Sramana and Pasandas. Among the Pasandas the most prominent, in Asoka's time, were Nirgranthas, and Ajivikas to whom the emperor had granted some rock-cut caves. The popular religion of the time seems to have been full of trivial ceremonies and superstitions, as found in Rock Edict IX. The conception of family life appears to have been of an elevated standard. Even the claims of animals to kind treatment were recognized. It was the duty of the house-holders to honour and support sramanas, brahmanas and other religious ascetics. Special attention was paid to the welfare and uplift of women. There were ministers, named Stri-adhyaksamahamatras, who were in charge of the affairs of women.