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Again … and again … mankind has been threatened by Mother Nature …

These days one would wake up wondering … “where she attacked today”

And it seems to me … that she has taken a decision against us … the unruly … ungrateful children of hers … she obviously has decided that …

“All good things must come to an end …”

and she goes again … its payback time … it s the turn of Japanese …

God … have mercy …

So long ago lived the Mayans …

Like everything else they predicted (their calculations rather extraordinary they say …  & proven correct) … will the existing world would end soon?

Is this s the beginning of the end?

 

According to Mayans:

 

 

 

After over 5,126 years, the Mayan long count calendar is coming to an end. They had two yearly calendars: the solar and the religious.  They also had a 52-year span called a calendar round

The solar calendar lasted 365 days and was comprised of 18 20-day months with an additional 5 days at the end.  This calendar was known as the Haab and was based on astrology.

The religious calendar was 260 days long and consisted on 20 13-day months.  This calendar was known as the Tzolk’in.  The Mayans believed that every day was a new god whose behavior could be predicted by using the two yearly calendars.

These two calendars went together like meshed gears so that every day could be found using either calendar.  The days did not repeat for 52 years.  The first day of the first Haab (solar) calendar was the first day of the first Tzolk’in (religious) calendar; however, the first day of the second Haab calendar (the 366th day) was the 106th day of the second Tzolk’in calendar, because the Tzolk’in calendar had started year two on only the 261st day of the Haab calendar (our September).  Every 52 years this cycle would repeat and that 52-year span was referred to as the calendar round.

The long count calendar is entirely different.  The premise of the long count is simply to add a number after every day of an age until you get to the last day.  In their counting system, the last day would look like this: 13,0,0,0,0.  They add another number for every day and this goes on for over 5000 years! 

 Imagine getting up in the morning and saying, “It’s day 153,783 and the weather is great!”

Now, after all these individual days being counted one-by-one, we are reaching the final day of the Mayan long count.  Now that you understand the intricate counting system of the Mayan calendars, you can further appreciate the final countdown to the end of an age.

Ok now this  …  is a bit too complicated for me

still … I wonder … is this an inevitable

or something we could have prevented

 

Whatever the ancient have said … I believe we are mostly to be blamed …

Here s what seems to me … what Mother Nature trying to tel us:

Human:    “oh Mother Nature … how can you be so cruel …

                     what’s   going  on? … what are you doing to us ?”

Mother Nature: “well my ungrateful children …

                                   it s going to be back to basics for you …

                                 If you can recall … here’s what you have done so far to me”

 

“I lost my precious trees …

and my lands started slip in to rivers … so I sent

what  you’d call  floods …”

“The lands without trees … stopped fighting with the sun … dried up … got cracked … no shades … the sun played havoc … he sent his beam down  harshly … everything started to boil down … created heat waves … outside … and even the inner elements started heating up … bursting power … so irruptions everywhere … you d call them earthquakes …”

 

“Not only you destroyed what was precious to me … you went and sabotaged the entire natural process on earth … my beautiful self … is disfigured by pollution … “

 

 

 

“So there will be … melting ice, rising sea levels … and causing earthquakes and sending tsunami or whatever you call them … “

 

” these will allow me to start a fresh …”

“after wiping out you all … the ungrateful …  stinking creatures … there will be new life … “

“all will start from the beginning … so I’m on – back to basics – business now … hold tight … and pray for mercy …“

So … people …

                                 it’s time to pray …

 

 

The Sacred Seven Prayers

 

 

O Great Spirit, who art before all else and who dwells in every object, in every person and in every place, we cry unto Thee. We summon Thee from the far places into our present awareness.

O Great Spirit of the North, who gives wings to the waters of the air and rolls the thick snowstorm before Thee, Who covers the Earth with a sparkling crystal carpet above whose deep tranquility every sound is beautiful. Temper us with strength to withstand the biting blizzards, yet make us thankful for the beauty which follows and lies deep over the warm Earth in its wake.

O Great Spirit of the East, the land of the rising Sun, Who holds in Your right hand the years of our lives and in Your left the opportunities of each day. Brace us that we may not neglect our gifts nor lose in laziness the hopes of each day and the hopes of each year.

O Great Spirit of the South, whose warm breath of compassion melts the ice that gathers round our hearts, whose fragrance speaks of distant springs and summer days, dissolve our fears, melt our hatreds, kindle our love into flames of true and living realities. Teach us that he who is truly strong is also kind, he who is wise tempers justice with mercy, he who is truly brave matches courage with compassion.

O Great Spirit of the West, the land of the setting Sun, with Your soaring mountains and free, wide rolling prairies, bless us with knowledge of the peace which follows purity of striving and the freedom which follows like a flowing robe in the winds of a well-disciplined life. Teach us that the end is better than the beginning and that the setting sun glorifies not in vain.

O Great Spirit of the heavens, in the day’s infinite blue and amid the countless stars of the night season, remind us that you are vast, that you are beautiful and majestic beyond all of our knowing or telling, but also that you are no further from us than the tilting upwards of our heads and the raising of our eyes.

Pray daily … it could be you and me … next !!!

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lonly-child

 

When we truly realize that we are all alone is when we need others the most

we are all afraid of loneliness, if we have a better understanding, then we would know they are just different from us, don’t let them feel alone out there …get to know them, care for them …

Autism – What is it…?

 

Autism is a developmental disability of the brain, much like dyslexia or attention deficit disorder. Autism is not a form of mental retardation, and though many autistic people appear to function as retarded, they are frequently quite intelligent. According to the Autism Society of America, “Autism…occur[s] in approximately 15 of every 10,000 individuals… [and]…nearly 400,000 people in the U.S. today have some form of autism.1

The word autism may actually refer to several similar disabilities, including Autistic Disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, and “Atypical” Autism (a type of Pervasive Developmental Disorder, not otherwise specified). Though there are some differences between these conditions, they are quite similar, and those who have them experience many of the same difficulties in life.

What is autism like for those who have it?

The symptoms of autism can vary widely from one individual to the next. Autism is referred to as a spectrum disorder because it ranges in severity across a wide range of conditions, like the colors of a rainbow. In additions, some people may be affected more by one symptom, while others may be affected more strongly by a different symptom. Also, some of the symptoms may have variable manifestations.

Sensory Processing

Autistic people tend to have unusual sensory experiences. These experiences may involve a sense being too sensitive, less sensitive than normal, and/or difficulty interpreting a sense (“agnosia“). These experiences do not involve hallucinations; autistic people have sensory experience based on real experiences, like normal people, but the experience may feel or sound different, or the autistic person may have difficulty interpreting the experience. No two autistic people appear to have the exact same pattern of sensory problems.

It is not uncommon, for example, for an autistic person to avoid being touched. This is usually because of a heightened sense of touch? a gentle touch to most people may hurt or shock some autistic people. Others may experience confusion, due to difficulty interpreting the sensation or insufficient sensation reaching the brain to interpret. Another, not uncommon pattern is to have the strength of the sensation inverse from that of the stimulation, so that a gentle touch may feel like an electric shock, but firm contact may not be a problem. Some autistic people may be insensitive to pain, and fail to notice injuries.

Hearing may also be heightened, so that noises that don’t bother others may hurt an autistic person’s ears. Many autistic people have trouble making out what is said to them, as they have trouble processing sound.

Vision may also be affected. Some autistic people are prosopagnostic (“face-blind”), that is, have trouble recognizing people. This means that learning to recognize someone is hard, recognition may be slow, faces tend to be analyzed rather than recognized automatically, and many normal effects of seeing a person may be absent. The exact effects and severity may vary between people. Other autistic people may have their eyes hurt by bright light or certain flickering or vibrating frequencies.

One common effect of these heightened senses is that autistic people are vulnerable to sensory overload with continued low-level bombardment. This may also result from too much emotional or social stimulation. Autistic people may become overloaded in situation that would not bother (or might even entertain) a normal person. When overloaded, autistic people have trouble concentrating, may feel tired or confused, and some may experience physical pain. Too much overload may lead to tantrums or emotional outburst. Another result of too much overload may be “shutdown,” in which the person looses some or all of the person’s normal functioning. Shutdown may feel different to different people, but is extremely unpleasant.

Misunderstanding

Autistic people have a great deal of trouble understanding things in the social environment. This includes both understanding of social cues and conventions, and understanding language. (The primary difference between Autistic Disorder and Aspergers Syndrome is that those with Aspergers are defined to have less severe communication problems and no speech delays.)

One aspect of autism is that it is like being in perpetual culture shock, no matter where the autistic person goes or how long the autistic person stays. They don’t understand many of the basic social assumptions that others take for granted (often without even being consciously aware of them). In many situations, it’s like being dropped into the middle of an unfamiliar play, and being the only one there who doesn’t know the script, you’re role, or even what play you’re in! What’s going on? What should I do? Why is X crying, Y happy, and Z sneaking around grumbling? Life, especially social life, Can be very, very confusing! Autistic people generally don’t know how to handle innuendoes, either.

Autistic people lack normal non-verbal communication and body language, and may thus seem more literal minded or unemotional than they actually are.

Autistic people also have trouble with verbal communication. This usually involves what is called a semantic-pragmatic component. This means that an autistic person may take a statement or question in a very literal or unusual way; like the comic character Amelia Bedelia2 from Peggy Parish’s children’s book series. This could include things like interpreting “I’d like coffee with my cereal” to mean cereal with coffee in it2. Another example could be innocently answering “what do you do when you get cut” with “bleed,” instead of describing what should be done about the cut3.

Many autistic people have other communication difficulties, such as trouble remembering vocabulary, or trouble pronouncing words. Some may have Apraxia of Speech, meaning difficulty coordinating speech movements. Others have characteristics of speech disorders called aphasias. Some autistic people may be mute, or may occasionally lose the ability to speak. Some may have odd pronunciation, inflection, or vocal qualities. Many autistic people may pause and need extra time to process verbal comments or questions, and to formulate replies. Repeating things that have been heard (echolalia), is not uncommon, nor is repeating ones own words.

 

Attention

Autistic people have trouble handling multiple stimuli. The problem is that they have very narrowly focused attention, and can’t keep up with more than one thing at a time. Most people have a mind like a flashlight, with an area of high focus, and a larger area of partial awareness; the autistic mind is more like a laser-pointer, which highlights only a single small dot. Also, shifting attention is a relatively slow process, and involves a sort of pause or moment of delay. While Attention Deficit Disorder is primarily a disorder of inconsistent (often short) attention span, autism involves other dimensions of attention call selectivity and shifting speed, specifically, too narrow of a focus and difficulty and slowness shifting foci. (Though many autistic people also have symptoms of ADD as well, not all do.) One result of this is that autistic people tend to not see things as connected.

What are Autistic People Like?

There is great deal of variety among autistic people. Some autistic people may never learn to talk and may not be able work or to live independently. Others may do well in special supportive environments, working in sheltered setting. Still others are be totally independent and function fairly well. The last, or “high-functioning,” group is often not recognized. However, these do exist, and people need to recognize and understand the difficulties they face, and their unique ways of thinking, doing things, and experiencing the world.

Most autistic people seem unusually “reactive and reactive to unusual things”. An autistic person who seems to take major emergencies in stride may become upset over any surprise happening, even a minor one (like dropping pencil). Autistic people may often seem unemotional, but can be very emotional when something is important to them. Many are much more candid and expressive with their emotions than normal people.

Autistic people tend to dislike, or at least be uninterested in, change. Many have strong attachments to objects, places, or routines, and become very upset if forced to abandon these things. Something that seems silly to others may be very important to an autistic person.

Most autistic people have a few very intense interests that may seem almost obsessive. These could be as ordinary as sports, as technical as neurology, or as odd as memorizing train schedules. Autistic people take their special interests very seriously.

Autistic people are often aloof, and may be seen as extremely shy. However, while some may be very socially anxious, others are not anxious about people, but either uninterested, or are unaware of how to interact with or approach others. Some may not notice people, because of being absorbed by other things. Some are very interested in getting to know others, some may not care, and other may actively avoid social contact. However, it is a mistake to assume autistic people lack affection; some can be very affectionate toward those they know and care about. The lack of normal body language may make them seem more distant or unemotional than they actually are.

Autistic people may do strange things, like rocking back-and-forth, flapping their hands in front of their eyes, humming, talking to themselves, spinning in circles, or repeating things. Some of this is just for fun, or out of excitement or distress. Sometimes, strange behaviors are to compensate with sensory problems. The repetitiveness is related to the natural repetitiveness and narrow focus of the autistic mind. Talking to oneself or giggling for no apparent reason is often the result of intense daydreaming or remembering but may sometimes result from deregulated emotion, or be a form of echolalia. (Some estimated 25% also suffer from epileptic seizures of various kinds, some of which may cause strange behavior.) These things are harmless, and do not result from total disorientation or hallucinating. Some may injure themselves with such behavior, but it should not be assumed that such behavior is self-injurious.

Some Things Autism is Not

  1. Autism is not mental retardation. Some autistic people may be very intelligent there is a lot of evidence that Albert Einstein may have been autistic.
  2. Autism is not “savant” syndrome. Some autistic people are “savants,” (e.g., instant calculator, etc.) but most are not. Other autistic people are “gifted,” however, and have high “general” intelligence. Many autistic people have normal intelligence, and some may be retarded.
  3. Autism is not an emotional problem. Autism is a neurological condition which people are usually born with. Psychological trauma doesn’t cause it.
  4. Autism is not a psychosis or lack of reality contact.
  5. People do not choose to be autistic.
  6. Autism is not “a fate worse than death.” Autistic people have some disadvantages, but some live very happy and rewarding lives. Many autistic people wouldn’t want to be “cured,” as this would be like erasing them and replacing them with different people.

 

Children With Autism: A Developmental Perspective – for more information.

 

 

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buddha-s-life

 

Tolerance in Buddhism

  He who experiences the unity of life sees his own Self in all beings, and all beings in his own Self, and looks on everything with an impartial eye”

 

Today, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, nations are more closely connected than ever before. We have news from the opposite sides of the earth as quickly as we get it from the next county. Decisions made in one nation’s capital can affect villagers on another continent in mere hours. Despite this virtual intimacy, an alarming trend in our unhappy world stands out–burgeoning intolerance.Unfortunately, when an increasing distrust of nuance reduces important questions to absolute standpoints of black and white, respect for differences becomes much more difficult to maintain, and the propensity for violence against outsiders grows. 

What is tolerance?
Tolerance means allowing other people to have their own attitudes or beliefs or to behave in a particular way, even if you do not agree or approve. The United Nations Declaration puts it very clearly
 

 

 

  • Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the rich diversity of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human. It is fostered by knowledge, openness, communication, and freedom of thought, conscience and belief. Tolerance is harmony in difference. It is not only a moral duty, it is also a political and legal requirement. Tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, contributes to the replacement of the culture of war by a culture of peace.
  • Tolerance is not concession, condescension or indulgence. Tolerance is, above all, an active attitude prompted by recognition of the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of others. In no circumstance can it be used to justify infringements of these fundamental values. Tolerance is to be exercised by individuals, groups, and States.
  • Tolerance is the responsibility that upholds human rights, pluralism (including cultural pluralism), democracy and the rule of law. It involves the rejection of dogmatism and absolutism and affirms the standards set out in international human rights instruments.

Consistent with respect for human rights, the practice of tolerance does not mean toleration of social injustice or the abandonment or weakening of one’s convictions. It means that one is free to adhere to one’s own convictions and accepts that others adhere to theirs. It means accepting the fact that human beings, naturally diverse in their appearance, situation, speech, behavior and values, have the right to live in peace and to be as they are. It also means that one’s views are not to be imposed on others.* (From The Declaration of Principles on Tolerance, signed by the Member States of UNESCO on 16 November, 1995)

Buddha taught important lessons on tolerance, both by word and by example, more than 2500 years ago, and his lessons deserve careful consideration now. Let us consider some of the forms intolerance can take and the Buddhist attitudes toward them.

 

 

Racial tolerance

In the United States people used various means to justify slavery and racial domination. Some cited the “curse of Ham” from Genesis in the Bible. Samuel Morton, an anthropologist in the mid-1800s claimed that whites and Negroes belonged to different species. About the same time, Josiah Nott popularized the view that slavery saved Negroes from reverting to their original barbaric state. In its 1857 Dred Scott decision, the Supreme Court declared that “the Negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit.”
In the sixth century B.C., Buddha clearly delineated the Buddhist attitude toward racial differences and thereby precluded all grounds for prejudice.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

If you observe the trees or the grass,
Without knowing it, they exhibit different types and kinds.
There are many different species.
Then observe beetles and moths or small insects like ants, . . .
And in the four-footed creatures, both great and small, . . .
Observe creatures that crawl on their bellies, snakes and reptiles, . . .
Observe fish and those that have the water as their home; . . .
Observe birds on the wing, those that travel through the sky,
They exhibit different types and kinds.
There are many different species.
In these creatures types and kinds can be seen;
In humans no such types or kinds can be seen.
Not in hair or head, not in ears or eyes,
Not in mouth or nose, lips or eyebrows
Is there any great difference.
Not in neck or shoulder, not in abdomen or chest,
Not in genitals is there any great difference.
Not in hands or feet, nor in fingers or nails,
Not in calves, thighs, or complexion
Are there different types or kinds as there are with other creatures.
Human types do not differ greatly as other species do.
The differences between humans are only differences of convention.
–Majjhima Nikāya

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buddha repeatedly proclaimed that a person should be judged by his deeds alone. “One is not low because of birth, nor does birth make one noble. Deeds alone make one low, deeds alone make one noble.” (Sutta Nipāta)Realizing that rituals encourage a sense of exclusiveness and an intolerance which could lead to distrust and even hatred of members of other groups as outsiders, Buddha de-emphasized the rites, rituals, and ceremonies connected with birth, marriage, and death. He also disdained rituals of initiation and confirmation because these have a tendency to burden the mind and interfere with moral and spiritual growth. Buddha repeatedly taught that racial feelings, feelings of national pride, and pride of self defile the mind and hinder the development of loving-kindness (mettā) and compassion (karunā).Equality is also incorporated into the order of monks and nuns, the Sangha, which is the oldest institution of humankind. Monks are ranked only by seniority, depending upon the date of ordination. Buddha explained that as the great Indian rivers–Ganges, Yamuna, Achiravati, and Mani–lose their names and separate identities when they enter the great ocean, in the same way, those of the five castes–princes, Brahmins, merchants, farmers, and outcasts–lose their names and identities when they enter the Sangha. 

Tolerance toward women
 

 

Buddha once soothed the great King Pasenadi, who was angry and upset because his queen, Mallika, had given birth to a daughter: “A female offspring, O king, may prove even nobler than a male.”
As regards equality of the sexes, in the Sigālovaāa Sutta, Buddha enumerated five duties of the husband toward his wife: respect, courtesy, faithfulness, handing over authority, and providing gifts of finery. He also enumerated five duties of the wife toward her husband: managing the household well, hospitality to relatives, faithfulness, taking care of his property, and skillfulness and industriousness.
Buddha made himself readily available to his nuns and female lay disciples. He never discriminated against women in his teaching and praised those women who were outstanding for particular characteristics, such as preaching ability or insight. The devout and generous laywoman, Visakha, regularly visited the Buddha whenever he was in Savatthi to offer requisites, to seek advice, and to listen to his sermons. Accompanied by friends and servants, Visakha scrupulously attended to the needs of monks and novices, offering medicine to the sick and supporting visiting monks. She was foremost among lay women disciples.
 
 

 

Buddha clearly affirmed that women were equally as capable as men of becoming fully enlightened arahats and that they followed the same path as men to get there. Buddha stated that any differences between men and women were irrelevant in the pursuit of liberation.

 

 

“The straight way” that path is called,
And “fearless” is its destination.
The chariot is called “unrattling,”
Fitted with wheels of wholesome states.
The sense of shame is its leaning board,
Mindfulness its upholstery;
I call the Dhamma the charioteer,
With right view running out in front.
One who has such a vehicle–
Whether a woman or a man–
Has, by means of this vehicle,
Drawn close to Nibbana.
Samyutta Nikāya
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Mara, the Evil One, taunted the bhikkhuni Ven. Soma that no woman could reach “the high ground of the wise” because she had only “two-finger knowledge” of a woman (an allusion to cooking rice where its consistency was tested by pressing it between two fingers), that great nun proclaimed:

 

What matters being a woman
If with mind firmly set
One grows in the knowledge
Of the Right Law, with insight?
Any one who has to question
Am I a woman or am I a man
And does not oneself really know
Over such a one will Mara triumph.
Samyutta Nikāya
 
 
 

 

 

 

Religious tolerance

Perhaps there is no more critical issue today than that of religious tolerance. It appears that this new century is witnessing a disastrous hardening of the world’s major religions into rigid fundamentalism, in which each aggressively proclaims its beliefs, zealously proselytizes, and even takes up arms against its rivals. A fundamentalist and intolerant stance, taken by any religion, is offensive to followers of other faiths and to those of no faith at all. Overzealous attempts at conversion disturb peaceful coexistence. In many countries minority groups are under siege because of their religion. Religious strife even threatens to drag us into a cataclysmic Third World War.
Against a pattern of increasing fundamentalism, the ethical guidelines of Buddhism encourage an attitude of tolerance toward other religions and their followers. Certainly, Buddha’s teaching disavows aggression of any sort, in word, deed, or even thought.
Some philosophers have argued that monotheism is inherently intolerant. As Schopenhauer put it:
 
 

 

 

 

Intolerance is essential only to monotheism; an only God is by nature a jealous God who will not allow another to live. On the other hand, polytheistic gods tend to be tolerant; they live and let live. In the first place, they gladly tolerate their colleagues, the gods of the same religion, and this tolerance is afterwards extended even to foreign gods who are, accordingly, hospitably received and later admitted, in some cases, even to an equality of rights. . . . Thus it is only the monotheistic religions that furnish us with the spectacle of religious wars, religious persecutions, courts for trying heretics, and also with that of iconoclasm, the destruction of the images of foreign gods, the demolition of Indian temples and Egyptian colossi that had looked at the sun for three thousand years; all just because their jealous God had said, “Thou shalt make no graven image,” and so on.
–Parerga and Paralipomena

 

 

 

 

 

When a monotheistic religion sees its scripture as revealed and divinely inspired, it finds a basis for subsequent exclusivity and intolerance. The very nature of a Supreme Being may also provide justification for intolerance, when He is described as a jealous and angry being, who punishes those who defy Him with eternal damnation. Stories in the Bible which describe God as committing genocide on unbelievers with violence toward men, women, children, and even the unborn can inspire intolerance. In the Koran we read: “Slay unbelievers wherever you find them, and drive them out of the places they drove you from . . . Fight them until idolatry is no more and God’s religion is supreme.” Martin Luther wrote, in his treatise Secular Authority, “It is a Christian act, and an act of love, confidently to kill, rob and pillage the enemy. Such happenings must be considered as sent of God, that he may now and then cleanse the land and drive out knaves.”
History teems with examples of gross intolerance. By the sixth century, pagans in Europe were declared devoid of all rights. In 782, Emperor Charlemagne beheaded 4500 Saxons unwilling to convert to Christianity. In just the First Crusade (1095-1099) more than one million “infidels” were killed.
In 1193, Muslim invaders slaughtered thousands of Buddhist monks in Bihar, India. The university of Nalanda with its great library was left in ruins. Countless ancient Buddhist monuments were defaced or destroyed, virtually erasing the Buddhist faith from India. In 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini, a powerful Islamic cleric in Iran, pronounced the fatwa, or sentence of death, against Salman Rushdie for writing The Satanic Verses, a satire on the prophet Mohammad, which raises issues of divine inspiration and the nature of blasphemy. Rushdie has survived, mainly by living in seclusion for more than ten years, but the Japanese translator of the novel was killed, and the Italian and Norwegian translators were attacked and wounded.*
Buddhism does not accept an omnipotent God, a Creator, nor any revealed scripture. Because faith in God or a savior is not an issue for Buddhists, there is no reason to judge others, to condemn them for their beliefs, or to feel compelled to convert them. The Buddha Dhamma is described as ehipassiko, inviting one to come and see for himself. There is no concept of coercion or proselytization.
Buddhists revere Buddha as the teacher who showed the way to liberation. He is not a god. Repeatedly, Buddha taught the importance of patience, tolerance, and non-aggression, providing a splendid ideal of tolerance for Buddhists to follow. On no occasion did Buddha ever show anger toward anyone, even the most irritating or aggressive. Once when he was cursed and abused, Buddha replied, “He who abuses his abuser is the worse of the two. To refrain from retaliation is to win a battle hard to win. If one knows that the other person is angry but refrains from anger oneself, one does what is best for oneself and the other person also. One is a healer of both.”

There is not a single occasion in the Buddhist scriptures of the Buddha being less than compassionate, not only to those who accepted his teachings but also to the followers of all faiths, not only to the good but also to the wicked, not only to humans but also to animals and to all living beings. The oft-recited Mettā Sutta states:

 

 

 

 

 

ne should do no unkind thing that wise men might condemn. and one should think, “May all beings he secure and happy. Whatever beings there are, moving or still, tall, middle-sized or short, great or small, seen or unseen, whether living far or near, existing or not yet come into existence, may they all be happy.” One should not harm another or despise anyone for any reason. Do not wish pain on another out of either anger or jealousy. Just as a mother would protect her only child even at the risk of her own life, even so, one should develop unbounded love toward all beings in the world.

 

 

 

 

When a wealthy man, named Upali, a follower of the Jain religion, heard Buddha explain the Dhamma, he decided to become a follower of the Buddha. Instead of exulting at the conversion, Buddha advised Upali to think carefully before making such an important decision, “Make a careful investigation first, Upali. Careful investigation is good for well-known people like yourself.”
At another time, a man named Vacchogatta said to Buddha, “I have heard it said that you say that charity should only be given to you, not to other teachers, to your disciples, not to the disciples of other religions.” Buddha answered, “Those who say this are not reporting my words, they misrepresent me and tell lies. Truly, whoever discourages anyone from giving charity hinders in three ways. He hinders the giver from doing good; he hinders the receiver from being helped; and he hinders himself through his meanness.”
This is not to say that Buddhists should remain silent when there is cause to discuss, criticize, and rebut other religions. Buddha made it clear to his disciples that there was no value in the religious practices of asceticism, ritual bathing, animal sacrifice, and caste system of the time. In the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta, instructed his disciples: “Teach the Dhamma, declare it, establish it, expound it, analyse it, make it clear, and be able by means of the Dhamma to refute false teachings that have arisen.” Subjecting a point of view to careful scrutiny and criticism has an important part to play in helping to winnow truth from falsehood, so that we can be in a better position to choose between “the two and sixty contending sects.”
Criticism of another religion becomes inappropriate when it is based on a deliberate misrepresentation of that religion, or when it descends into an exercise in ridicule and name-calling. Likewise, it is worse than useless for Buddhists to argue about the Buddha’s teaching:
 

 

 

 

 

 

“Monks, if anyone should speak in disparagement of me, of the Dhamma, or of the Sangha, you should not be angry, resentful, or upset on that account. If you were to be angry or displeased at such disparagement, that would only be a hindrance to you. For if others disparage me, the Dhamma, or the Sangha, and you are angry or displeased, can you recognize whether what they say is right or not?”
“No, Lord.”
“If others disparage me, the Dhamma, or the Sangha, then you must explain what is incorrect as being incorrect, saying: ‘That is incorrect, that is false, that is not our way, that is not found among us.'”
–Dīgha Nikāya
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

In striking contrast to the spread of other world religions, which are replete with forcible conversions, sectarian strife, and the suppression of heresies, the history of Buddhism is remarkable for the complete absence of bloodshed in the name of the teacher.

Tolerance toward homosexuality

Buddha taught that, given the workings of the laws of kamma, individuals can be born with a number of characteristics and predispositions, including beauty, intelligence, artistic ability, eye-color, skin tone, and sexual orientation.
We know that he recognized homosexuality, for it is explicitly mentioned in the Vinaya, the code of discipline he laid down for monks and nuns. For them, all sexual activity–between sexes, with the same sex, or with oneself–is strictly prohibited. Serious offenses result of in expulsion from the order. Lesser offenses must be confessed before the monastic community but do not require expulsion.
Buddhist literature includes a story of a man (married and with children) who became a woman, married, bore more children, and then became a man again. After all these dramatic experiences, he foreswore the homelife, became a celibate monk, and attained arahatship.
Of course, lay Buddhists are not required to be celibate, but all Buddhists voluntarily undertake the Five Precepts, the Third of which is to abstain from sexual misconduct.
Buddhist ethics, which are based on compassion, suggest three criteria for determining what is right and wrong. All thought, word, and deed can be measured against these criteria to determine whether it is wholesome or unwholesome.

According to the first principle, we should act toward others as we would like them to act towards us. In the Samyutta Nikāya Buddha advises against adultery:

 

 

 

 

A noble disciple should reflect like this: “If someone were to have sexual intercourse with my spouse I would not like it. Likewise, if I were to have sexual intercourse with another’s spouse they would not like that. For what is unpleasant to me must be unpleasant to another, and how could I burden someone with that?” As a result of such reflection one abstains from wrong sexual desire, encourages others to abstain from it, and speaks in praise of such abstinence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The second principle concerns the consequences or effects of an act. Any behavior which causes harm to oneself and others can be called blameworthy, while any behavior that causes no harm to (and perhaps even helps) oneself and others can be called praiseworthy. “The deed which causes remorse afterwards and results in weeping and tears is ill-done. The deed which causes no remorse afterwards and results in joy and happiness is well-done.” (Dhammapada)
According to the third principle, behavior can be considered right or wrong depending on whether or not it helps us to advance toward our goal. The ultimate goal of Buddhism is Nibbana, the ending of suffering, a state of mental peace and purity. For Buddhism, anything that leads us in that direction is good. Someone once asked the Buddha how after his death it would be possible to know what was and was not his authentic teaching, and he replied:
 
 
 

 

 

The doctrines of which you can say: “These doctrines do not lead to letting go, giving up, stilling, calming, higher knowledge, awakening or to Nibbana”– you can be certain that they are not Dhamma, nor discipline, nor the word of the Teacher. But the doctrines of which you can say: “These doctrines lead to letting go, giving up, stilling, calming, higher knowledge, awakening and to Nibbana”– you can be certain that they are Dhamma, they are discipline, they are the words of the Teacher.
Anguttara Nikāya

 

 

 

 

The Buddha specifically mentions several types of unskillful sexual behavior for laypeople. The most common is adultery, which involves deceit and a betrayal of trust. Since homosexuality is never explicitly mentioned in any of the Buddha’s discourses, we must assume that it is meant to be considered in the same way that heterosexuality is. Wherever there is mutual consent, where no adultery is involved, there is no violation of the third precept. In Buddhism it is not the object of one’s sexual desire that determines whether a sexual act is unskillful or not, but rather the quality of the emotions, the consequences, and the intentions involved.* (For a more complete discussion of this topic, see “Homosexuality and Theravada Buddhism,” by A. L. De Silva, at <www.buddhanet.net/homosexu.htm>, from which most of this section has been taken.)

Buddhism began in northern India in the sixth century B.C.E., but its spread throughout the Indian subcontinent and to neighboring lands is due largely to the great Buddhist monarch, King Asoka, in the third century B.C.E. Early in his reign, Asoka was cruel and ruthless. He executed his brothers in order to seize the throne. At one point, his army fought an extraordinarily bloody battle against Kalinga. This victory created an empire greater than any India had known, but the bloodshed left the king disgusted and dismayed. Soon afterwards, King Asoka converted to Buddhism. Thereafter, he ruled wisely, justly, and with compassion

Today, as people search for a political philosophy that goes beyond the greed of capitalism, the rank intolerance of fascism and communism, and the delusions of tyrannical dictatorships, we ought to consider the Buddhist civil order that King Asoka established more than two thousand years ago. Never have we been more in need of tolerance, the virtue that makes peace possible, to help us replace, as Asoka did so many centuries ago, the culture of war with a nurturing culture of peace.

By Ken and Visakha Kawasaki   

Picture www.mahindarama.com/buddha-life/life13.jpg

 

 

 

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