Master of Buddhism Course

This is a blog for the course comments from the Master of Buddhism course through the Universal Life Church Seminary.
The course can be found at Buddhism Course.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Master of Buddhism: lesson 7 (assignment)

1. Buddhists believe that death is a teacher. Would you agree?
Yes, to a certain degree. Death certainly has initiatic aspects -- which has been demonstrated in recent decades by studies of near death experiences. People returning from these experiences have a much broadened perspective and become more tolerant. They feel a greater connectedness with everyone and everything as a result of their experience. They usually have a changed perspective of death: from one of dread to a peaceful acceptance of death as a mere transition, another step on the path of evolution.
   2.      What are the advantages or benefits of meditating on one's own death? Are there disadvantages?
Among the benefits is becoming aware of one's own mortality and realizing how precious life is. It helps to keep things in perspective. The downside, of course, is the risk of becoming preoccupied with death, even to the point of becoming consumed with dread, which in turn hinders enjoyment of life. A balance must be struck between the two. The ideal which is displayed by many who've had near death experiences -- and which, I believe, would be the Buddhist ideal as well -- is neither a fear of death, nor desire for it; death is a transition.
3.      Which do you think is the more important question: What happens when I die? or What is happening now?
Although contemplating what happens at the moment of death and thereafter can be a helpful exercise for some, it should not dominate our thinking. This is one of the faults of religions that focus too much on salvation and the afterlife while neglecting this life.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Master of Buddhism: lesson 11 (assignment)

1.            What are some of the unique traits of Mahayana Buddhism?

For one, in Mahayana Buddhism enlightenment is seen as attainable by all, not just monks and nuns. Mahayana is also more outward-directed, focusing on compassion towards others rather more so than individual enlightenment. It also centers around the concept of bodhisattva, beings who defer entering Nirvana in order to help other sentient beings to reach enlightenment.

2.            What is necessary in order to attain bodhicitta?

The most essential condition is the desire to attain Buddhahood.

3.            Why do you think Mahayana Buddhism appeals to such large numbers of people?
I think the salvation-oriented message and the involvement of the laity is attractive to many people. The need to abandon normal life and live a monastic one (as in Theravada) is a step few people are willing to make. Also the emphasis on compassion towards others and universal salvation is appealing to more collectivist East Asian cultures than is the individualistic approach of Theravada.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Master of Buddhism: lesson 9 (assignment)

1.    What are the three main divisions of the Pali Cannon?
The Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, Adhimmada Pitaka – the last of these not recognized outside the Theravada tradition.

2.      How many pages are in the Pali Cannon?
Approximately 20,000 pages.

3.      In your opinion, does it matter whether the Buddha actually spoke the words making up the text of "Original Buddhism?" How accurate is accurate?

Not particularly. Buddhism is not a revealed religion in the sense that God or some divinity revealed truth in an external, verbal form. Truth was revealed through the Buddha's enlightenment – enlightenment which is in everyone's reach (i.e. the historical Buddha was not an incarnate divinity or specially chosen prophet). So, whether the teachings come from Siddhartha Gautama or some other enlightened person is mostly irrelevant as it's the spiritual message of the teachings that's important.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

Master of Buddhism Week 17

Master of Buddhism Week Seventeen

1. Which of the Buddhist festivals most appeals to your sensibilities? Perhaps you can find a celebration of this
event locally.

Loy Krathong (the Floating Bowls). The ideas of watching one's troubles float away is pleasing. It puts in one in mind
of a Canadian native tradition wherein one ties offerings to a tree branch to mourn the passing of a loved one. A person
can be aware of nature reclaiming the symbol of the person and find comfort and healing in the process.

2. "So let the master settle, and wander." What does this mean to you?

The master being referred to is the bee. It is the master because it spreads life (pollen) while leaving the environment
undisturbed. This is a hint to us that we should do the same; spread life and encourage growth while at the same time
being careful not to disturb or destroy what happiness or existence.

3. If Buddha were alive today, would he preach abstention from eating meat? Why or why not?

I do not believe he would. It still stands that a Buddhist beggar would accept what is placed in the begging bowl. On a
larger scale, one should that which is given to aid spiritual growth.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Master of Buddhism Lesson Sixteen

1.      There are many possible reasons people site as to why Buddha hesitated in allowing Mahapajapati to join the sangha. Can you think what any of them might be?

I would think that because of the times in which the Buddha lived were structurally based around a heavily male dominated society. That is, men were considered more important, smarter, entitled, or even superior to women. I believe its one of those things that people were brought up to believe, and the Buddha may have had concerns about how others would view this. Obviously there could have been any other number of reasons such as, he might be concerned about the lust factor between men and women as well. Unfortunately those stigmas about people still hold true today. However, I do believe that those barriers have been broken significantly in many countries.

2.      Does the Thai sangha benefit by keeping women out? Why or why not?

I think that when you do not include someone who could be a potential benefit to a group then you are missing out - whether it is a woman or man. I understand that people have traditions, rules, and other things that can upset a delicate balance of crossing one path or another – but to me it does not make sense to disallow a person because of their sex when they could benefit a sangha with their wisdom, experiences, and compassion.

3.      What do you think the Buddha would say today if he were here to give advice to monks and nuns?

I would hope the Buddha would say something like he always would. Be mindful, treat each others with respect, and be compassionate to all sentient beings. I would also hope he would let them know that no matter who they are, they have to potential to become enlightened and that each monk and nun are the same, both capable of all the precepts, teachings, and helping others to attain enlightenment.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Buddhism Week Sixteen Women in Buddhism

1. There are many possible reasons people cite as to why Buddha hesitated in allowing Mahapajapati to join the
Sangha. Can you think what any of them might be?

Buddha was a product of his time. He was raised to believe in the inferiority of women and lived in a culture that
actively promoted those ideals. Just because he was an enlightened being, doesn't mean he wasn't politically aware. He
likely considered that there would be resistance should he let women enter the Sangha. Perhaps he knew it would always
be a source of difficulty for the men who couldn't come to grips with it and that fact, not the women, would lead to the
destruction of the Sangha.

2. Does the Thai Sangha benefit by keeping women out? Why or why not?

Nobody ever benefits from elitist stratification.

3. What do you think the Buddha would say today if he were here to give advice to monks and nuns?

I believe that his advice would be the same, but he would now enjoy the fact that he would not have to make distinctions
based on gender.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Master of Buddhism Lesson Fifteen

1.      In your own opinion, could Buddhism exist without any one of the following: monks, nuns, laymen, laywomen?

I would think that there are two different levels to this question. The first being that in order for Buddhism to exist with its rules, precepts, philosophies, and other various teachings – there needs to be some sort of guide along the way to keep it to its true roots. For example, I will use the analogy repair manual. There are people who are very handy, sort of handy, and no so handy when it comes to fixing things. With a book a person can have a anything from a very simple to a very complex system of repair work. And while a book or manual offers a guideline for understanding how something operates, it may be necessary to seek out someone who better understands how to use the book. Or even better, someone who knows better on the subject and has been in certain repair scenarios before. Some things may or may not be covered in the manual as well.

On the second level I think the idea of Buddhism in any sense for personal enlightenment or the addition of empathy towards others can exist without monks, nuns, laymen, and laywomen. What I mean by this is that even if Buddhism didn't exist, I think people would still try to better themselves and others. They would set their own guidelines and limits and may even write a manual along the way.

2.       What are the advantages of going on a pilgrimage?

The advantages of going on a pilgrimage are to distance oneself from their current state and to reflect along the way. They might also go to a place where someone such as, the Buddha resided to feel more of a connection and find inspiration in themselves. I suppose in a sense a pilgrimage is about feeling a connection mostly but not entirely. Never having been on one myself, I would also imagine it might be a much more heightened experience for the closeness one could feel to the Buddha.

3.      Are monks and nuns as reliant on laypeople today as they were in ancient India? Are  laypeople of today as reliant on monks and nuns?

I would say that there is always going to be a symbiotic relationship between the two sides. However, I think that the reliance between the two has become less – more so in the sense of needing the basics to survive (i.e. food and shelter). This is mostly due in large part to the growth of industrialization, transportation, and technologies. We have more: planes, bridges, roads, cars, boats, computers, factories, houses, shelters, and the list of excess goes on - than ever conceived of during ancient times. On the teaching aspect alone, I would even say to some extent due to media access such as, the internet, even the teachings can be acquired without the need of an physical person. That being said however, I suppose if one was to boil this down to salt or the cause and effect concept then yes, without the teachings originally put in motion then the internet or other places of information would not be available. So yes, there is still a need but not as much as it used be.

Master of Buddhism Lesson Fourteen

1.      What are some advantages of taking precepts?

Taking on the precepts is advantageous in that it helps keep the practicing Buddhist on track throughout his or her path to enlightenment. I think it also helps to know what these precepts involve before taking on the path. I believe initially it also gives the potential monk/nun a choice of either yes: this is what I want to do or no: this is not for me.

2.      Under any circumstance, should any of the ten precepts be taken lightly?

I don't think the any of the precepts should be taken lightly except under environmental or life threatening situations For example, do not take food after noon. I can't imagine that food is always going to be available at every time before noon. A Buddhist should not starve because of this. I think this is also a situation of social acceptance. Whereas, some communities might accept the idea of begging while others might night.

3.      "(The homeless brother) must preach to everyone, he must wake up sleeping people." What do you think this means

I believe what this means is that the homeless brother has a task of showing people that there is a better way of life and through that way one can be enlightened or awake. Many people are blind to their social, material, and unmindful way of life. They go through life "asleep" or unaware of the suffering they are causing themselves and the world around them. The homeless brother, being on the Buddhist path is also on a mission to help his/her fellow sentient beings.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Master of Buddhism Week Fourteen - Monastic Buddhism

1. What are some advantages of taking precepts?

Living in accordance with the precepts, one would live a life of safety and wisdom. Wise choices about daily life would
be made which would lead to better circumstances. If one chooses not to rob a bank, for example, then one doesn't need
to worry about being chased and caught by the police and subsequently doing time in prison. Better choices, better

It would also allow one to gain a reputation for honesty and integrity. Trustworthiness is a by-product of living the
precepts. People would feel safe and comfortable such a person who lives the precepts.

Finally, one would shed much of the causes for anguish that interfere with life. Life would become less complicated and

2. Under any circumstance, should any of the ten precepts be taken lightly?

A silly question really. Should one take the precepts lightly, one is not following the path of Buddhism. This is how
corruption and greed sneak into life. Buddhism is about removing delusions, if you are not vigorously seeking to remove
those delusions, why would a person bother to practice?

3. "(The homeless brother) must preach to everyone, he must wake up sleeping people." What do you think this

If taken literally, this is no more than an exhortation to evangelize on behalf of Buddhism. However, if taken in the
spirit of Buddhist teachings, it means that one ought not to withhold teachings from those who wish to know - don't not
teach somebody because you dislike them, for example. And of course, waking up the sleeping person is to bring them to
enlightenment, wake them from the sleep of delusion. It is as if one is asleep because they do not see the truth of the
world, only a hazy dream of it.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Master of Buddhism Lesson Thirteen

1.      What do you think it is about Vajrayana that makes it appeal to so many Westerners?

I think that Vajrayana appeals to so many westerners due the idea that this school of Buddhism offers not only the idea that all sentient beings are capable of becoming enlightened, but offers a concentrated set of rules and guidelines (e.g. Tantras) to achieve enlightenment. These teachings offer a quicker path to becoming enlightened which is also a plus for many seeking the path. Of course these ideas may or may not have have spread so much if not for the movement of Tibetan monks to the west when China invaded Tibet, opening up this school for so many new people who were ready for some new ways of though.

2.      Which of the three paths—Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana, appeals most to you? Why?

Of the three paths, Mahayana appeals to me the most. This is because of its availability or approach-ability  Though I would have to say that whiting Mahayana, I do lean more towards the Zen school. Zen Buddhism has always been the most appealing due to its sense of life lessons and koans which have been very eye opening in seeing things as they really are.

3.      Are there practices in Vajrayana which could be beneficial to all sentient beings? If so, which ones?

Definitely. The idea of the interconnection of energy and using the body to promote well being such as, deity yoga and other tantric practices which help free a mind of suffering and fill it full of enlightenment are beneficial. Not only do they give a more tangible approach to Buddhist practices giving the practitioner a physical and mental uplifting, but can provide one with a new and better understanding of the surrounding environment and due to this interconnection. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Lesson 13 -- Vajrayan Buddhism

Buddhism Week Thirteen

1. What do you think it is about Vajrayana that makes it appeal to so many Westerners?

Western people, like all people, have a leaning toward ceremony and rites in order to establish meaning in their lives.
Rituals are important because it binds culture with daily life - gives it meaning and importance. Vajrayana has many
rites and rituals that appeal to people; there are colourful clothes, exotic sounds and smells, and the air of mystic
knowledge. It is Buddhism mixed with shamanism - a very potent mixture! The appeal of Eastern wisdom coupled with
mystic rites is irresistible to many people.

2. Which of the three paths—Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana, appeals most to you? Why?

Personally, Mahayana is the most appealing branch of the three. Not being one for supernatural explanations, I shy away
from Vajrayana. However, being very interested in symbolism, Mahayana strikes a cord with my sensibilities. I am
particularly enamoured with such sutras as the Lotus Sutra which is filled with rich images of symbolism and meaning.

3. Are there practices in Vajrayana which could be beneficial to all sentient beings? If so, which ones?

Many aspects of this practice may be beneficial to all beings; Yogic practices and tantric practices are obvious
choices. Yogic practice may allow one to understand them self as a buddha, fully complete and fully formed. This may
have a huge impact on one's esteem and perception of the world. Tantric practices, such as mantras, allow people to
become more grounded and connected with rituals that impact on daily activities. It may allow a person to believe that
their practice is strong.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Master of Buddhism Lesson Twelve

1.      Why do Zen Buddhists strive to break the language barrier? Have you had an experience where language has gotten in the way of something intrinsic?

I believe Zen Buddhists strive to break the language barrier because words do not always do justice to the actual meaning of something. There are many things that need to be experienced, achieved, or even meditated on in order to come to some sort of personal explanation of what it is we are presented with. For example, what words can truly describe enlightenment or the experience of love? When words are used to explain things such as, love and enlightenment, we put restrictions on them by giving them definition or absolutes.

2.      Why do you think the text compiling koans is called the Gateless gate?

I think it is called the Gateless gate because it represents a point of entry without bounds to the mind or way of thought. It's not an actually gate but is still a starting point. Again keeping to the idea of language barriers, the term Gateless gate I think fits perfectly.

3.      Why do you think Zen is so appealing to Westerners?

Much the same as any Buddhist practice, Zen Buddhism offers the idea of enlightenment or being freed from suffering or burdens. Zen Buddhism might seem to appeal more than other schools of Buddhism however, because of the appearance of a mystical or some some other element due to its self reflective and often extensive utilization of the mind to find answers in koans or everyday happenings. People are always grasping for a new way or fix to their problems. Usually if something seems more than it is, it becomes appealing. 

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Master of Buddhism lesson 12

master of Buddhism lesson 12: Zen

1. Why do Zen Buddhists strive to break the language barrier? Have you had an experience where language has gotten
in the way of something intrinsic?

When one is attempting to describe ideas, especially ideas about what experience is, words cannot adequately suffice.
Even art merely approaches what is trying to be expressed. Using words and language to describe an experience always
falls short; it's like attempting to build a magnificent mansion with broken two-by-fours.

2. Why do you think the text compiling koans is called the Gateless gate?

It is crossing a boundary that doesn't really exist. Insight comes out nowhere and allows one to understand what was
previously unknown. Thus one has opened a gate. Yet we have understood all along, we just couldn't see because of all
the foolishness that runs around our heads. So there really was no barrier to our understanding, hence the gateless-ness
of the gate!

3. Why do you think Zen is so appealing to Westerners?

The Western, scientific approach is a good bed for this type of Buddhism. Both the Western mind and Zen like to get down
to the bones, to strip away the non-essential. Westerners want answers NOW and Zen seems to allow for direct insight
(although it takes longer than NOW!)

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Buddhism Essay by Rev. Tse

Master of Buddhism

Applicant's name: Kenneth Yee Man TSE
Man's position according to Buddhism, is supreme. Man is his own master, and there is no higher being or power that sits in judgement over his destiny. Buddha once said, "One is one's own refuge, who else could be the refuge?" (Rahula, 1978).
Buddha has admonished his disciples to 'be a refuge to themselves', and never to seek
refuge in or help from anybody else.
Peter Drucker (1999) also claims that every individual should become his own chief executive officer (CEO) because we live in an age of unprecedented opportunity, but with opportunities comes responsibility, or accountability. Indeed, companies today are not managing their employees' careers; knowledge workers must, effectively, be their own CEOs.
Besides, the aim of Buddhist practice is to achieve liberation from suffering and to attain the realization of true reality (Sanskrit term for the nirvana) by escaping the cycle of rebirth (samsara ) and preventing the cultivation of unwholesome karma.
To achieve this, one should purify and train the mind, and act morally. There seems to be some similarities between Buddha and Drucker – both require us the need to cultivate a deep understanding of ourselves – not only what our strengths and weakness are, but also how we learn, how we work with others, what our values are, and where we can make the greatest contribution to the world. Only when we operate from strengths we can achieve true excellencethe ultimate goals of the "Great Learning" as well.
The research questions intended to investigate may be as follows:
Q1 Who Is Buddha?
Q2 Why Buddha CEO?
Q3 How to apply the teachings of Buddha for today's CEOs?
I would like to link up together as Theravada and Self Management (with reference to Peter Drucker, and the Confucian "Great Learning") will include self-evaluation, self control of temper and emotions (especially the "dukkha", or stress management) ; the recognition of personal mission statement (Direction) and achieving the inner peace of mind ("always balancing") as goal.
Zen and the Art of Living, as the concluding mark for self-management and the foundation for the next level via Sharing, Love and Care.  Mahayana and the Managing for Stakeholders Value: the promotion of achieving ultimate goals for Life contained in parts 1&2, including but not limited to:
a)  Managing the relationships with others: family members- attitudes towards parents
(piety); "strategic partner" for life; parenting and leadership;
b) Working partners: peers/ subordinates and/or supervisors as well; teaching/educating (mentoring), life coaching and leadership; Change management;
c)  Managing for Stakeholders Value- not only Profits for shareholders, but also respecting the environment, social accountability, as well as sustainable development.  Emphasis will be placed on the study and promotion of the concepts and practices of "Dāna".
The focus will be the applicability to daily life and to the workplace, with the concluding remarks as: "Every Sentient Being has the potentials to become
Buddha. Every Man is the Master (CEO) of his own life."

Master of Buddhism Lesson 6

1. What do you think is the ultimate goal of meditation? Is it enlightenment, or something more personal?

Perception of what life really is all about is the sole purpose of meditation. In the beginning, it may be to find peace or calm, but as one continues, there comes a realization that these chattering thoughts that rush around in our heads are a distraction from what is really happening. Perhaps there is the realization that thoughts we experience are about things. The real object is not truly perceived because of the filters we apply to life. For example, perhaps a person is viewed as a viscous person. But this is a filter that has been applied. It is an opinion. The so-called viscous person is not being viewed completely. Missing are that person's background history, other relationships, how they perceive the world, etc.

The goal of meditation is to allow a view that removes habitual filters and to see things as they are without the aid of our opinions.

2. What are some of the misconceptions westerners might have about meditation?

One misconception is that meditation takes a specific skill or that there are levels of meditation. In Buddhism the point of meditation is to cut through extraneous thoughts and perceive things as they are. The skill that is required is practice. Constant practice. There are no levels; there is only seeing correctly and not seeing correctly. Seeing correctly is when we have dropped viewing the world through our habituated opinions. Seeing incorrectly is when we do not. It is not so much a matter of levels, but more a matter of consistency ... and this comes back to the idea of continued practice.

3. Practice mindfulness. Begin by mindfully eating a piece of fruit (or candy if you like). Try to begin
incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine.

Master of Buddhism Lesson 7

1.      Buddhist believe that death is a teacher. Would you agree?
I would agree that the knowledge of death or acceptance of the inevitability of death is a helpful in giving one a better perspective on his or her own impermanence. Knowing that death is something that happens to everything can allow us to prepare or accept it. For example, we can choose to make the most out of our living time doing good, helping others, or bettering ourselves instead of dwelling on the inescapable impending doom as many people would see death as.

2.      What are the advantages or benefits of meditating on one's own death? Are there disadvantages?
The advantages of meditating on one's own death could be that it would help bring a peaceful calm knowing that death is inevitable. Death is something that will happen, but has not yet happened. However, if we look at death as something that makes life hopeless because it can not be escaped, then we end up loosing our peacefulness regard towards death and live hopeless lives.

3.      Which do you think is the more important question: What happens when I die? or What is happening now?
I think the more important question is what is happening now. This is because death is the great unknown. I don't think death can truly be understood until it happens. Focusing on death too much can lead to disparaging thoughts or straying from the path. What is happening now is the chance to make changes, create good karma, live a mindful life, etc. I believe that when the mind is free – (i.e. not suffering) death is irrelevant. I don't think one should not think about death, just not spend so much time that it consumes.

Master of Buddhism lesson 7

Master of Buddhism Lesson 7


1. Buddhist believe that death is a teacher. Would you agree?

In keeping death at the forefront of contemplative thinking, it becomes a constant reminder to discover - both ourselves and our world. What is our purpose, how can we fulfil that purpose? Why do we procrastinate when time seems to stalk us? Life becomes enriched when death is understood.

2. What are the advantages or benefits of meditating on one's own death? Are there disadvantages?

Meditations on death can give purpose and meaning to one's life. A direction or path may be found for someone who reflects on death. It reminds us that we, and everything else, are in a constant state of flux. Everything is somewhere along the continuum of integration, maturation, declination and extinction. Being aware that everything is interdependent can bring balance to people and allow one to view life in a kinder, gentler fashion.

Of course, if misunderstood, meditation on death may become nihilistic and a person may become despondent.

3. Which do you think is the more important question: What happens when I die? or What is happening now?

Although both questions may lead to greater understanding of what this life is all about, it is more important to contemplate what is happening now. It is well and good that all aspects of life (and death) be understood, but we exist here, now. We are this existence because of the manner that various criteria have come together. This is our reality, what we must deal with. Once dead, we are no longer "us" so such questions will not only not matter anymore, but they will not exist.

Master of Buddhism Lesson 8

Master of Buddhism lesson 8

1. What socially-driven, pre-conditioned ideas might a person have to give up in order to have faith in nirvana?

The western idea of success. Success in North America is usually thought to be a combination of financial and material
accumulation. The idea that things (big houses, cars, etc) and ideas (money, time, importance, etc) can lead to a secure happiness is a mistaken one. It is these two main factors that drive western cultured people to misery and fear - hence, suffering. Nirvana requires that one understands that such things are in fact, just things. How can happiness be founded upon that which can be removed from you?

2. As we have said, the lotus flower is frequently used as a comparison to enlightenment. Can you think of another image that could be compared, metaphorically?

A mountain stream might be a good comparison. Image that the water is rushing downhill very quickly and in its race, it picks up sticks and debris and carries it downstream as well. Because the it is a cold, pure stream, one can see right to the bottom. There sits a stone that too heavy for the water to pick up or to push forward so it sits on the bottom of the stream. The stone watches the stream rush past. The stone is nirvana. The stream is our thoughts.

3. If so, write a small poem about the comparison.

Cold still rock
in the riverbed
as ice water
madly rushes

To what do you rush?

Buddhism Lesson 3. Q and A.

1.  Could the fact that the Dharma was not written by the Buddha himself be problematic?  If so, in what ways?

Clearly, the fact that the Dharma was not written down by the Buddha himself is problematic and likely to lead to disputes  as to the authenticity of  some of  the content. This is by no means confined to Buddhism but has probably, to a greater or lesser extent, plagued most religious and philosophical movements throughout history.  The teachings of Jesus were collected and disseminated by others after his death and for nearly three hundred years,  there were heated discussions as to what writings did or did not form part of his message, a process only alleviated after the conversion of Constantine and the deployment of imperial power to create a monolithic church which had sufficient power to cow most dissident movements with relative ease.  In the process, many  contemporary 'scriptures' such as the Infancy gospels, the gospel of Thomas, gospel of Mary, various non-canonical acts of the apostles,and many more  failed the 'cut' and were rejected and suppressed in the interest of a particular institutional agenda.  In Islam, many of the problems over time and today are attributed to the existence of many thousands of hadith or alleged sayings of the Prophet (which were recorded some 250 years after his death by non-Arabs).Although the Koran repeatedly states that the Koran is sufficient in itself and that there is no need for supplementary legal authority in Islam,  most traditional Muslim clergy assert that one cannot be a true believer without the hadith.  This then is a portal for the importation of precepts which are not contained in the Koran or vastly exaggerate moderate in junctions.  

One would suggest that Buddhism has suffered less in this respect partly because so much emphasis is placed upon the individual and his or her reaction rather than upon adherence to a creed, partly because the Buddha denied himself any divine status and played down the role of teachers, and partly because Buddhism has always seemed to be more of a way of life than a form of worship.  Where divisions exist, they tend to co-exist peaceably and not result in violent schism as history has witnessed so often elsewhere.

2.  Imagine that you are preparing to go for refuge.  What changes would you need to make in your life first?

It is arguable that the main change you need to make has already been made by virtue of the decision to go for refuge which indicates a dissatisfaction with one's present path and the desire to open oneself to the new.  Much would depend too, on the level of refuge upon which one is embarking;  the provisional refuge requires an openness and clearing of the mind as a preliminary to embracing the new, whilst the effective and real refuges represent more advanced stages which presuppose a familiarity with  both the practice and the underlying philosophy of dharma.  The word 'refuge' may also give an erroneous impression rather suggesting an asylum or escape from the world, perhaps akin to a retreat in Christian terms, whereas it can be seen more as a new outlook which has a transformative effect upon one's life and relationship with others.

3.  When going for refuge, are you relying on forces outside yourself for peace of mind or are the three levels ultimately found inside yourself?

In the essence, the three levels, or the potentiality to develop them, are found within the individual but they need to be identified and brought to the fore.  This involves inner readjustment but will also require assistance by way of example, spiritual advice or 'pairing' and practice.  The final commitment has to come from within the supplicant but on the way outside influences are helpful.  The relationship is perhaps the same as that sketched out by the Buddha himself in the way he counseled and encouraged those who came to him in order to follow his example and follow his way.

Master of Buddhism Lesson 8

1.      What socially-driven, per-conditioned ideas might a person have to give up in order to have faith in nirvana?
In order to have faith in nirvana, a person may have to let go of the socially-driven concept of putting themselves in a place of importance. That is, people put too much emphasis on competition or achievement. Or, more definitively, a place of status. One huge reason may be the fear people have of what may come if they don't hold on to that status. A person might think if they go and seek out nirvana and don't attain or find it, they might end up back where they started. It is this fear of failure or nothing to show for accomplishment which is so engraved in the social makeup of societies that can really hold a person back from being free.

2.      As we have said, the lotus flower is frequently used as a comparison to enlightenment. Can you think of another image that could be compared, metaphorically?
I think a ripple in the water from a rain drop could be used as comparison. We see the the rain drop on to a puddle representing the beginning journey as it hits the surface, the waves or disturbance on the water is hard and strong. As the ripples spread out, they become calm and eventually still.

3.      If so, write a small poem about the comparison.
A drop so small
A ripple so strong
The journey begins

Spreading like a storm
Until it finds a calm
Until it finds an end
The journey from within

Master of Buddhism Lesson 9

1.      What are the three main divisions of the Pali Cannon?
The three main divisions (also known as the "Three Baskets" or "Tipitaka")of the Pali Cannon are: Vinaya Pitaka, Sutta Pitaka, and Adhimmada Pitaka. They are all different lessons, guidelines, or rules for the Theravada Buddhist in the Pali language.
2.      How many pages are in the Pali Cannon?
The Pali Cannon consits of some 20000 pages. Which makes this quite exceptional form someone to actually put these wrings into practice considering the length and understanding they require.
3.      In your opinion, does it matter whether the Buddha actually spoke the words making up the text of "Original Buddhism?" How accurate is accurate? 
I think that to some extent I would want someone's claims of accuracy to have some foothold in truth. However, having said that, I do not believe that it ultimately matters because it is up to the individual to take from any lesson or teaching and then discover the meaning for oneself by meditation of mindful thoughts on what they are presented with. The practicing Buddhist or person wishing to better his or herself is constantly changing or transforming. The Buddha himself spent many long years trying to figure out what worked best for him and finally he reached enlightenment. 

Master of Buddhism Course Lesson Nine

Master of Buddhism Lesson Nine


1. What are the three main divisions of the Pali Cannon?

Vinaya Pitaka (Upali's commentary at the first Buddhist council dealing with the rules and regulations of monastic life), the Sutta Pitaka (Ananda's memories of Buddha's talks and parables - Ananda was one of the principal disciples of Buddha), and the Adhimmada Pitaka (an account of a talk on the metaphysical doctrines of Buddhism given to Sariputra from the Buddha).

2. How many pages are in the Pali Cannon?

Approximately 20 000 pages. Not all of the Canon has been translated into English.

3. In your opinion, does it matter whether the Buddha actually spoke the words making up the text of "Original Buddhism?" How accurate is accurate?

What is most important are the ideas expressed in the Pali Canon. The concepts expressed are what has become our understanding of Buddhism. It is pointless to argue of who actually spoke the words as long as one can find truth in them.

Master of Buddhism Lesson Eleven

1.      What are some of the unique traits of Mahayana Buddhism?
Mahayana Buddhists believe that everyone is capable of becoming a Buddha, not just the members of their school or other Buddhist schools. That is, any lay person has the potential to reach enlightenment. The Mahayana Buddhist adheres to life of compassion for all things, they seek to help others in their end of suffering. Mahayana Buddhism also follows more of a learn from the Buddhas actions and how he lived his life and not solely rely on strict doctrine to attain enlightenment.

2.      What is necessary in order to attain bodhicitta?
I think that a strong sense of compassion towards others who have not yet or are currently trying to end their suffering, to help them attain a cessation and become enlightened. Even if the practicing Buddhist does find and ends, he or she will keep trying no matter how long it takes. When the Buddhist does these things out of the kindness of their minds, bodhiccitta will eventually follow.

3.      Why do you think Mahayana Buddhism appeals to such large numbers of people?
Mahayana Buddhism appeals to large numbers of people because of its "universal" inclusion and approachability. Mahayana Buddhism is made available for everyone and teaches compassion and the inter-connectivity of all living things. In other words, we are all the same and we can all attain enlightenment no matter who you are or what you have done in the past.

Lesson 11 master of Buddhism

Lesson 11 -- Mahayana Buddhism

1. What are some of the unique traits of Mahayana Buddhism?

Mahayana Buddhism likes to apply its concepts globally rather than individually as the Theravada school does. For
example, one of the parables in the Lotus Sutra describes a group of travellers who are tired while on a long journey.
Their guide takes them to a wonderful hostel where they can rest for the night. The next morning the hostel has
disappeared and the travellers realize that they must finish their journey without delay. We understand from the parable
that the hostel was the state of enlightenment and that the end goal of the journey is not enlightenment - that is only
a stop along the way. The real goal is to encourage all creatures to seek the end of suffering. This is called the way
of the bodhisattva.

Mahayana is also not so concerned about trying to be a Buddha as that is often unattainable for people. People will set
standards so high for themselves, that the standards cannot be met - hence the idea that only monks can become
enlightened per the Theravada school. It is concerned more with becoming a bodhisattva, to be in service to others,
because everybody can succeed in this even in only a small way.

2. What is necessary in order to attain bodhicitta?

The Mind of Awakening is achieved through the desire to become a bodhisattva. This necessarily entails thoughts of
compassion for people, animals, the world. So a great concern for others is paramount. There must also be the
understanding that all people are different and find themselves in different situations. If we are to be of service to
others, we must have the mind of patience and understanding. When people are in mental pain, they often cannot see past
their own self and that makes it very difficult to help sometimes. The ability to see things from the point of view of
other people is another skill that one should possess because once a person is seen in a different perspective, it
changes one's own ideas about others. This is the beginning of compassion.

3. Why do you think Mahayana Buddhism appeals to such large numbers of people?

Mahayana is designed with ordinary people in mind. It is not about setting up borders between insiders (monks and nuns)
and outsiders (everybody else). Ordinary, everyday people can access the teachings and apply it to their lives right
now. Mahayana also holds out the idea that one may become enlightened in this lifetime, not several lifetimes from now.
One doesn't need to be cloistered away from the world - Mahayana practice IS the world.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Master of Buddhism - Lesson 5

1. Is the idea of karma uplifting or unsettling? Why?

Knowing about karma and how it works can be nothing but uplifting. It is the idea that one may escape their suffering
is something that gives us hope. Once a person is aware of how karma operates, one can take specific steps to lesson,
even reverse, the impact on past actions. This may take some thought and a lot of work, but it a reason for joy. Even if
one is initially unsettled by the idea that they may be trapped in some negative outcome, one can eventually understand
how to escape the cycle.

2. Do you know anyone who exists in any or each of the symbolic worlds?

We all exist in all of these worlds continuously. These are transitory states that we cycle through. Perhaps we're in a
state of despair (Hell Being) and it takes us many years to receive the impact of past actions (big debt, lost your job,
for example). But maybe we get a good, steady job and begin repaying our debts (Anti God). But let's say that we desire
companionship so badly we become desperate for social company (Hungry Ghost) and we end up regretting a one-night stand
(Animal). This is how these states works; we continually cycle through each one on a roller-coaster ride. The awareness
of the workings of karma can help us to slow and eventually stop the fast-paced ride and stabilize our life.

3. How do the symbolic six worlds differ philosophically from our Western concepts of Heaven and Hell?

The six worlds theory is a much more practical concept to work with. It recognizes that all of us are up and down, and
that most often we are dependent on life circumstance to dictate our state. The Western idea is a more totalitarian
concept of punishment and reward. For many it can be a frightening idea that one will be struck down and denied an
eternal reward at the end of one's life. The Western concept, although it allows one to correct your past, doesn't allow
for slip-ups or mistakes. Whereas the Six Worlds theory takes into account that we're all human and will make mistakes
from time to time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Master of Buddhism Lesson 5

1. Is the idea of karma uplifting or unsettling? Why?

I would think that karma could be both uplifting and unsettling depending on ones perspective or way of thinking. Since the idea that all of our actions can result in either a bad or a good outcome; not only in our own lives but the lives of every thing including: people, trees, animals, insects, and a myriad of other things – bad choices will result in bad karma and good choices will result in good karma. In other words, everything is interconnected on some macro or micro level. All of what are to be, what comes our way, and so on will be the direct end result of karma or cause and effect. So to say it could be uplifting is because it gives one hope that enough karma will bring suffering closer to an end and draw in more happiness in oneself and the the things which surround us. As far as being unsettling, I think many people find that no matter what they do, their path can not change because of karma. That is, the motions of cause and effect can not be changed once they are set in motion. They feel they are doomed to the wheels they have set in motion. When in fact karma is all about change. And until they can realize that, the uneasy feeling of not being in control of their own lives will always be there.

2. Do you know anyone who exists in any or each of the symbolic worlds?

I would say that everyone falls into the symbolical worlds. I see them as a description of what happens when we fall into the trappings of of each of them. I think the symbolic worlds show us that to know they exist is to know they can be changed or transformed. I know people who crave things, people who are miserable because they can't be on top forever, or even the mean person who is always stuck in a "rut."

3. How do the symbolic six worlds differ philosophically from our Western concepts of Heaven and Hell?

I believe in the Buddhist concept of the six worlds, we have a chance to change or escape from any of these personal cells we have put ourselves in. With Buddhism there is always a chance to end suffering and reach nirvana. Whereas the Western concepts of Heaven and Hell are quite black and white for the most part. Obviously it differs from religion to religion but the underlying concept seems to be the same. That is, you do good and abide by "God's laws" and you will go to heaven. You do bad and turn away from god's laws and it's off the fiery pit. Unless you can repent and such before the end. If not - no return. I suppose on some level here the idea of redemption can be applied to both, however, with Buddhism you are really being redeeming to yourself and those around you and not to a god. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Master of Buddhism - Lesson Four

Lesson 4 -- Buddhist Council


1. Why do you think Buddhism resonated so deeply with so many kings and rulers?

Buddhism presents a clear guide to ethical / moral behaviour. Leaders might be drawn to such ideas because of their
desire to rule fairly. History is replete with the horrors and degradations that people have forced upon each other. A
ruler who is concerned about these terrible acts might look for a way to correct such behaviour. Buddhism answers that
call. It concerns itself with inner peace which then extends to environmental factors. What ruler would not want peace
in their kingdom?

2. What elements were necessary for the spread of Buddhism?

The most important element for the spread of Buddhism is a feeling of lack. Perhaps it's questioning what life is or if
there is more to life than "just this", or a searching for one's true self. Without a motivation to go searching for the
truth, Buddhism would not spread - why would it? Perhaps this a reason why the western world did not accept Buddhism at
first - things were going well. Jobs could be found, space seemed unlimited, and the future may have appeared very
promising. After WW2 when prosperity seemed to peak, so began the questions.

3. What, if anything, could rulers of today's world learn from the dharma?

Just as in the past, world leaders could find a guide to bring peace to people. They might learn from the dharma to be
less concerned with material things such as finances, and be more concerned about people's welfare. It is without doubt
that the enormous amount of money available to countries today could easily feed, clothe, house, and educate every
person in the world. The missing ingredient is the will to do so.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Master of Buddhism Lesson 4

1.      Why do you think Buddhism resonated so deeply with so many kings and rulers?

I think Buddhism offered many of the ruling powers a chance to find meaning once the reality of their conquests and monetary wealth became stagnant. That is, their power could only bring them so much happiness. Suffering is universal in that everyone suffers. Even Kings for whatever reason might find that the attainment of wealth, power, and killing could only offer just so much before leaving them with an empty void. Or perhaps it was the realization, in a similar manner to Siddhartha (i.e. being shielded or ignorant to the happenings of suffering around them) as to methods and results from which these conquests came from. What I mean by this is, that they might have been aware of there means but not the actual sight of the ends that came from them.

2.      What elements were necessary for the spread of Buddhism?

The elements needed where a common goal which every person could relate to which was the end of suffering and common, if not slightly varied set of guidelines to reach that goal. There were also the need of a way to transmit this whether it was verbal or written in a way which all people could understand. Most specifically being able to interpret into different languages.

3.      What, if anything, could rulers of today's world learn from the dharma?

I think the rulers of today could learn that even with their power, wealth, and control there is still a better way to not have to dominate, instill fear, or whatever means they use to control a people. For example: through compassion and kindness they could instill that same process into the people they are under them. They could put their people on the same level. They could understand that everyone suffers from all walks of life and what the give they will receive. What better way to rule than with kindness.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Master of Buddhism: lesson 6 (assignment)

1.      What do you think is the ultimate goal of meditation? Is it enlightenment, or something more personal?

I think meditation serves various purposes ranging from religious/spiritual (as is the case with the quest for enlightenment) to purely practical (stress reduction, etc.). Thus, the ultimate goal of meditation depends on the individual meditator.

2.      What are some of the misconceptions westerners might have about meditation?

In the West, meditation is sometimes wrongly associated strictly with certain religions -- e.g. that one must be a Buddhist to meditate. Another common misconception is that meditation can only be done sitting in a certain posture -- while maybe even chanting mantras.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Master of Buddhism - Lesson Three

Lesson 3 -- The Three Jewels

1. Could the fact that the Dharma wasn't written by the Buddha himself be problematic? If so, in what ways?

This question cannot really be answered. Since it is unknown what the actual words of Buddha were, how are we to know if
they have been altered? Let's imagine that the words are original and unaltered. Hundreds of thousands of people over
the centuries have used those words and lessons to alter and better their lives and the lives of other people. This is
the purpose of Buddhism. Now imagine that the Dharma has been altered. Has the impact on people's lives now become void?
Of course not! It is still the same outcome as before and will continue to be so. Like all major views of life,
alteration - even slightly - is part and parcel of the history. So long as people continue to recognize and scrutinize
the Dharma, it will continue to serve its purpose.

2. Imagine you are preparing to go for refuge. What necessary changes would you need to make in your life

There would have to be frequent monitoring of thought and behaviour. Often our modern consumerist habits do not fit well
with Buddhist refuge ideals. Taking refuge would necessarily mean being concerned with the impact of what one does and
says upon other people. Constant awareness of the ramifications of your actions would have to become paramount. This is
a huge undertaking for anybody. Changing one's habituated patterns is very difficult indeed.

3. When going for refuge, are you relying on forces outside of yourself for peace of mind, or are the Three
Jewels ultimately found inside yourself?

Peace of mind only comes from one place - internally. Peace is a perception that must be cultivated and practiced. It
means accepting life as it comes to you and not judging what is happening. The Three Jewels are something that has been
formulated, a concept, and is therefore within ourselves. All of the effort comes from each individual and only each
individual will see the result of their effort. Even the motivation to take refuge is a personal decision. These ideas
are all a result of how people wish to live - it's an inside job!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Master of Buddhism Lesson Two

Master of Buddhism Lesson Two

1. Which of these guidelines do you think is the most important? Why?
It is difficult to isolate one guideline from the others. they are all so
interconnected. But to me, the most important
guideline is Right Action. It seems to me that actions that are not thought out
completely have the probability of
hurting other people. Lying, stealing, sexual misconduct and becoming intoxicated
seem to cause more problems in society
than some of the other guidelines such as misdirected speech. Intoxication especially
leads to much trouble and has
destroyed many homes and families. The results of an addiction in the family leaves
lifelong scars for all involved.

2. What is the unifying concept of these guidelines?
Relief from suffering is what brings all of these together. Each one of these has
at its core the intention of alieving

3. What do you think the Buddha would have to say today about "Right
Livelihood?" Can you think of any
positions in today's workforce that he might use as an activity one should avoid?
This is a very difficult question to answer. There are obvious lines of work that
are harmful - such as those dealing
with criminal behaviour. But many other jobs may also lead to the suffering of
others. A person would have to carefully
consider the full spectrum of actions that result in the particular job that they are
engaged in. The manufacture of
arms is one that comes to mind as we can see tragic results from the use of firearms.
Yet others might argue that if
used responsibly there would be no problems. Still, if there were no guns available,
irresponsible use would be
Another example might be the manufacture of pharmaceutical drugs. Although a
great stride forward to the relief of
chronic pain sufferers, irresponsible use causes difficulty. Even the fact that some
pharmaceutical drugs cause
dependency is a problem itself.
Each individual must decide for them self if they are involved in Right
Livelihood. One must think deeply on the
possible aspects and weigh the pros and cons of each.

ULC Buddhism Course Lesson 2

1. Which of these guidelines do you think is the most important? Why?

Right mindfulness would be the first building block to all other actions. One must find a place within thought that is free of hate, self-recrimination, and anger. Anger, hate, and negative ideas, lead to wrong action, wrong words, mistreatment of self and others. With right mindfulness one can lead a peaceful existence with no harm to none, beginning with self. Hate and anger are the worst enemies of any human being, causing illness and one to be shunned. Those who ban together in anger cannot be trusted. Developing a mind of peace is the correct path to all else.

2. What is the unifying concept of these guidelines?

Living in peace. Through peaceful living one will wish to serve others, to carry a message of peace, love and well being. People who are at peace are like magnets, others are drawn to them and walk away feeling good. To live in peace equates to love, doing that which is right, and serving human kind.

3. What do you think the Buddha would have to say today about "Right Livelihood?" Can you think of any positions in today's workforce that he might use as an activity one should avoid?

The Eightfold Path is the culmination of Right Livelihood. A wage earned through service, no harm, and providing products that enlighten and further health is Right Livelihood. Though some would feel that this would include butchers and hunters. 
Workplace activity that Buddha would wish one would avoid? Several come to mind, but following the Eightfold path, as stated butchers, hunters, and farmers who raise animals for food.