Buddhist Practice Is About the Kind of Person You Are

by Lewis Richmond, The Huffington Post, July 11, 2013

The world has always needed people who are kind and wise and who can effectively and skillfully relate to the cries of the world. It would seem that Buddhist practices and values are designed to produce such people. That is what attracted me to Buddhism as a young man, and has kept me in the Buddhist fold for my whole adult life.

However, over the decades much of what I have learned about Buddhism concerns the ways these lofty promises have been exaggerated or unfulfilled -- perhaps partly due to my own idealization and wishful thinking. Of course Buddhism exists in the human realm and is practiced and taught by flawed and corruptible human beings.

How could it be otherwise? It is true that Buddhism has produced some extraordinary people. It is just as true that Buddhist individuals and institutions--past and present -- have caused harm and suffering. We have only to look at the continuing drumbeat of bad news regarding present-day Buddhist teachers, leaders and institutions to realize that Buddhists -- like people of every faith -- come in all shapes and sizes.

Once Thich Nhat Hanh was asked to summarize Buddhism in one word, and he said, "Ahimsa," which means "non-harm." Following his example, when I am asked to briefly explain what Buddhism is about, I say, "It is about the kind of person you are and what you do." Of course it is about more than that too, but if it is not about that -- if it is only about some heady ideal of perfect enlightenment unconnected to character and action -- then I wonder what use it is.

On that point, I like the Chinese Zen story about an eccentric Zen teacher known as the Tree Master -- since he lived in a tree. Once a high lord, on hearing about the Tree Master's wisdom, visited him and asked, "What is the deepest truth of Buddhism?"

The Tree Master replied, "Do good, avoid evil, benefit beings." These are the three pure precepts of the Bodhisattva, which would have been known to every person of that time.

The lord, perhaps affronted by the apparent triviality of the teacher's response, said, "Why, even a three-year-old child knows that!"

The Tree Master retorted, "Yes, but even a hundred year old man can't fully practice it."

The Tree Master knew that the world of flawed human beings includes intrigue, treachery, betrayal, ambition, pride, rigidity and duplicity -- even among those who profess to be deeply spiritual. All religions -- East and West -- seem to partake of this darkness to some degree. Many adult converts to Buddhism have yet to fully accept this -- perhaps because so much of their knowledge comes from books or reading, which tend to display Buddhism's best face.
Once a senior monk from a training monastery in Japan was visiting a large Zen center in America, and was astonished to see the meditation hall full of Americans silently meditating. The Japanese monk turned to his American host and said, "How do you get them to meditate without beating them?" Apparently in Japan it was unusual for Zen monks to actually like meditation.

In the 1970s, I once asked a highly regarded Japanese Zen teacher how many enlightened Roshis there were in Japan. The teacher paused and finally replied, "Four or five." I was taken aback. I had naively assumed that there were hundreds more just like him. That was an important lesson for me. Saints are rare, whatever the country or the era.

That being said, Buddhists ought not to be discouraged or disillusioned by hearing the news of how things really are. After all, "how things really are" is what the word "dharma" means. While I have at various times been dismayed on hearing bad news about some Buddhist individual or institution, I keep taking refuge in the thought that this too is Dharma. To know how things really are and to face those facts with clarity and courage is our work as Buddhists.

May that work long continue.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lewis-richmond/buddhist-practice-is-abou_b_3570465.html
Lewis Richmond is a Buddhist writer and teacher. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/lewrichmond

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv. Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norbuchatbot. Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: editor@buddhistchannel.tv