Hanzze wrote:What brings me back to "often because of the personality and charisma of the Lama". Is it really needed to feed the desire of people? I mean, actually most do not really seek for the teachings of the Buddha when joining a community. Think on origami coures, how many go there just to learn origami techniques?
Parabel Mahayana (modern) – Theravada (conservative)
„As the Theravada and the Mahayana are both stages in the development of Buddhism, both are addressed to all individuals, so we can’t distinguish between them in this respect. At the same time, there is a difference, which will perhaps become clear with the help of a parable.
Let’s suppose that there is famine somewhere, a terrible famine of the kind that still happens in Africa. People are gaunt and emaciated, and there is terrible suffering. In a certain town in the country which has been struck by this famine there live two man, one old, one young who each has an enormous quantity of grain, easy enough to feed all the people. The old man puts outside his front door a notice which reads: “Whoever comes will be given food.” But after that statement there follows a long list of conditions and rules. If people want food they must come at a certain time, on the very minute. They must with them receptacles of certain shape and size. And holding these receptacles in a certain way, they must ask the old man for food in certain set phrases which are to be spoken in an archaic language. Not many people see the notice, for the old man lives in an out-of-the-way street; and of those who see it, a few come for food and receive it, but others are put off by the long list of rules… When the old man is asked why he imposes so many rules, he says “That’s how it was in my grandfather’s time whenever there was a famine. What was good enough for him is certainly good enough for me. Who am I to change things?” He adds that if people really want food they will observe any number of rules to get it. If they won’t observe the rules they can’t really be hungry. Meanwhile the young man takes a great sack of grain on his back and goes from door to door giving it out. As soon as one sack is empty, he rushes home for another one. In this way he gives out a great deal of grain all over the town. He gives it to everyone who asks. He’s so keen to feed the people that he doesn’t mind going into the poorest, darkest and dirtiest of hovels. He doesn’t mind going to places where respectable people don’t usually venture. The only thought in his head is that nobody should be allowed to starve. Some people say that he’s a busybody, others that he takes too much on himself. Some people go so far as to say that he’s interfering with the law of karma. Others complain that a lot of gain is wasted, because people take more than they really need. The young man doesn’t care about any of this. He says it’s better that some grain is wasted than that anyone should starve to death. One day the young man happens to pass by the old man’s house. The old man is sitting outside peacefully smoking his pipe, because it isn’t yet time to hand out grain. He says to the young man as he hurries past, “You look tired. Why don’t take it easy?” The young man replies, rather breathlessly, “I can’t. There are still lots of people who haven’t been fed.” The old man shakes his head wonderingly. “Let them come to you! Why should you go dashing off to them?” But the young man, impatient to be on his way, says, “They’re too weak to come to me. They can’t even walk. If I don’t go to them they’ll die.” “That’s too bad,” said the old man. “They should have come earlier, when they were stronger. If they didn’t think ahead that’s their fault.” But by this time the young man is out of earshot, already on his way home for another sack. The old man rises and pins another notice beside the first one. The notice read: “Rules for reading the rules.” No doubt you’ve already guessed the meaning of the parable. The old man is the Arhat, representing Southern Buddhism, and the young man is a Bodhisattva, representing the Mahayana. The famine is the human predicament, the people of the town are all living beings, and the gain is the Dharma, the teaching. Just as in principle both the old and the young man are willing to give out gain to everybody, so in principle both the Theravada and the Mahayana are universal, meant for all. But in practice we find that the Theravada imposes certain conditions. To practice Buddhism within the Theravada tradition, even today, if you’re taking it at all seriously, you must leave home and become a monk or nun. You must live exactly as the monks and nuns lived in India in the Buddha’s time. And you mustn’t change anything. The Mahayana doesn’t impose any such conditions. It makes the Dharma available to people as they are and where they are, because it is concerned solely with essentials. It’s concerned with getting the grain to the people, not with any particular manner in which this is be done. The Theravada expects people to come to it, so to speak, but the Mahayana goes out to them. This difference between the Theravada and the Mahayana goes back to the early days of Buddhist history. About a hundred years after the Buddha’s death, his disciples disagreed about certain issues so strongly that the spiritual community was split in two. Indeed, they disagreed about the very nature of Buddhism itself. One group of disciples held that Buddhism was simply what Buddha said. The Four Noble Truth, the Eightfold Path, the Twelve Links or chain of conditioned co-production, the Four Foundations of Mindfulness – this was Buddhism. But the other group responsed that this was not enough. Yes, all of these teachings did part of Buddhism, but the example of Buddha’s life could not be ignored. The Buddha’s teaching revealed his wisdom, but his life revealed his compassion, and both together made up Buddhism.”
transcripted from „The Seeker’s Glossary of Buddhism“ edit by the Van Hien Study Group
The close relationship between Buddhist teachings and nature is very special to me – not just as a Buddhist monk, but also as a social activist. I’m involved with many social activities concerning human rights, peace, non-violence and forest conservation. I find that to sustain those activities, we need a solid foundation. We need strong and deep roots. It’s like a tree. A tree can grow tall and spread its branches only when its roots are deep enough, or expansive enough.
We can all learn from plants, even small shrubs. Last year, I organised a spiritual green walk-athon called ``Dharma-yatra'', which involved trekking through several hillside communities in the Phu Khong area of Chaiyaphum province in northeastern Thailand. For seven full days we had to trudge along under a scorching sun. Everyone was feeling hot and tired and our party was close to total disarray.
At one point we walked by a small shrub. Diminutive and fragile-looking, it had sprouted up right by the side of the road. The intriguing thing about it was its bright red flowers. Despite the sweltering heat, the flowers had turned to dire
ctly face the sun, their petals fully open, almost as if they were greeting it with a smile. Seeing that, we all felt suddenly refreshed. If those dainty blooms weren't afraid of the sun, how should we be?
Plants have the ability to transform sunlight into shade. And they are great teachers, too; there are so many things to be learned from them. When we humans have problems, we should try to emulate plants -- to turn hurdles into lessons, suffering into happiness.
Phu Long is the rain catchment forest of the Lampathao River, the lifeblood of countless communities downstream. It used to be one of the most fertile rainforests in the region, but the government's logging concessions and its policy to expand farmland on the frontiers have caused massive forest destruction here and elsewhere.
Over the past few decades, the Phu Long forest has recovered significantly, thanks to a strong Phu Long forest conservation movement led by Buddhist monks and nuns. For the past decade, Phra Paisal Visalo, a reformist monk and abbot of the Phu Long forest monastery, has been organising Dharmayatra, a religious pilgrimage to cultivate forest conservation awareness, leading to a community network to safeguard Phu Long.
The forest guards need help. They need sneakers to do their forest patrol because combat shoes are too heavy and make too much noise on dry leaves, which alerts the poachers.
They also need binoculars and digital cameras. It helps to be able spot poachers from afar, and since the forest guards often cannot get close to them, it helps to have their pictures so they can be arrested in the future.
True happiness cannot be bought. It is something we have to cultivate ourselves. There is a Chinese saying that "if you want three hours of ecstasy, try gambling. For three weeks of rapture, go traveling. For three months of bliss, get married. Build a new house, and you will enjoy three years of heaven. But if you want a true and lasting happiness, grow and live with trees." Growing trees make us happy not only when we see them blossom and give us fruits and shades. We already experience the feeling of joy the moment we put the seeds into the soil, pour the water over it, till and take care of the land constantly. As the seeds grow into saplings, and eventually bigger trees, so does our sense of happiness. Those who have spent time living in the midst of nature know how what seems to be a life of monotony is indeed a blessed one, brought about by innate peace and tranquility.
To have a chance to grow trees, to take care of the environment, to become a part of nature, that is, to me, real happiness. And we should not be just the beneficiaries; we should also take an active role in the nurturing of our surrounding. Nowadays, such opportunity has become few and far between: the wild woods have been continuously shrinking. We need thus to join hands in bringing them back. That is the beginning of growing happiness by our own hands.
At the same time, what is no less important is to take care of "a tree" in our own heart. When that flourishes, so will our peace of mind. The question is: how is the tree faring? Is it growing healthily? Or has it been withering away? How much are we attending to this tree in our own mind? Most may not realise that there is ?a tree? inside each of us that needs looking after. We may not be aware at all if it is still alive, or is it wilting away? This is because we often spend little time with ourselves. Much of the time, we keep ourselves busy with things from the outside: friends, work, TVs, shopping, and so on. We think they are indispensable. We look outward to avoid the problems inside. The tree in our mind has been neglected. It becomes vulnerable to pest, weeds, and drought. But now is the time to go back and nurture our own tree.
That is not difficult at all. When we do something good, when we give something away or make someone happy, we are watering the tree inside us. We have been taught to believe that the more we possess, the happier we will be. Thus a number of people think happiness can be purchased; they run after things to fulfill their craving all the time. Few realise that the happiness gained from giving away is more profound, more refined; it waters the tree inside our mind. And when that grows, prospers, it will give the flowers, fruits, and shades _ an unsurpassable peace _ to us.
The Jit Arsa volunteer programmes have drawn a number of people [who volunteer on various projects]. Incidentally, many participants talked about the discovery of happiness in the process. At the end of a two-day tree-planting project, a lady confessed that she initially felt overwhelmed at the sight of the barren hills in front of the temple. She felt like she was just a clump of lowly grass. Having planted numerous trees, her spirit soared. She no longer felt like the grass. She now feels like the trees. The trees in their minds have grown. Just two days of working on something meaningful with other people has given her the energy. From the grass, she suddenly becomes the trees. It is so instant. It is up to us how we will grow, take care and nourish it.
Hanzze wrote:Why is there a recruiting of youth and coming to the temple seen as a need?
drifting cloud wrote:Speaking as a youth or at any rate as a "young adult" (20 something), I would have to say....no.
polarbuddha101 wrote:Not sure what qualifies as youth here but I'm 22 and I chose theravada because it seems to me to be the only tradition that an educated person would choose if they really want to follow the teaching of the historical Buddha. I don't think the tradition needs more Ajahn Brahmavamso's telling jokes...
Benjamin wrote:Maybe a question like this is better focused on countries where lay Buddhists are a majority, but in my experience all the Buddhist schools in the west have little influence on the youth at large. Not their fault, just the nature of the culture.
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