Offering a Buddhism for everyone

By SHERYL KAY, Source: St Petersburg Times, July 7, 2006, Published on the Buddhist Channel, Aug 3, 2006

A Lutz practitioner brings the ancient faith's tenets and beliefs to those seeking greater peace.

LUTZ, Florida (USA) -- In a quiet lakefront back yard, a small group learns and meditates with the sweet smell of incense wafting through the air.

Every Wednesday evening for the past 20 years, Dr. Lucjan Shila has led a sangha, a Buddhist meditation group, in Lutz. Buddhist tenets are shared, chanting is heard, meditations are experienced.

Shila, 55, a natural medicine practitioner, was raised in the Catholic Church, but says he had great difficulty accepting things on blind faith.

"You know, it was that blessed-are-those-that-don't-see-but-still-believe traditional education," Shila said. "It wasn't that I was a doubter. I just felt compelled for myself to know it was so."

When he was 12, Shila picked up his first books on Buddhism and found a sacred system based on acquiring spiritual experiences for oneself. For the first time a theological path made perfect sense to him, and it stayed with him until he left home at 17 and joined a Buddhist retreat in New York.

Buddhism is an ancient set of philosophies and life practices that originated 2,500 years ago with Siddhartha Gautama, the son of a king in Lumbini, India. After many years of meditation, contemplation, and often existing under very austere self-imposed living conditions, Siddhartha eventually reached a state of enlightenment, wherein he became "the Buddha," the awakened one.

For the next 40 years, the Buddha taught thousands of followers those tenets that became a part of his being while meditating, such as compassion and moral actions. He told them to not simply accept his visions of truth, but rather to go and experience his teachings for themselves.

Over the centuries many versions of Buddhism have evolved. Shila learned and now practices a form called Vajrayana, and within that, a rare system called Dzogchen.

"It's an entirely nonsectarian way of practicing Buddhism," Shila said. "It's not that it's a departure, but it dispenses with a lot of the ritual and cultural elements and directly approaches the core issues of Buddhism."

Shila noted that two general forms of Buddhism are practiced worldwide: the monastic form, where practitioners live together in retreats and monasteries away from secular society, and the nonmonastic form, where believers live integrated into everyday society. Shila and the other members of the Lutz sangha fall into the latter group, and Shila said it is that form of Buddhism that is in fact more difficult to practice.

"It's difficult to maintain the purity of your ethics while engaged in daily life, so that's why a lot of people go to monasteries" he said. "In many occupations you can do it. You just need to be clean and honest in what you do."

John Geders, a business consultant from Brandon, had attended many meditation and chanting services at other Buddhist temples in the past. But because of the language barrier, he often could not experience the full impact of the service.

At Shila's meditation and teaching group, Geders, 58, made an instant and transforming connection.

"It's really turned me around," he said.

Before he was able to employ the Buddhist concept of compassion for all, Geders said he was often angry, which then led to depression. Now, he said, he sees the world with more "loving kindness and joy," which has brought him closer to family and friends.

Geders said he also has benefited enormously from the actual meditations that go on during the sangha, as well as those he does alone at home.

"I feel very settled now, peaceful," he said. "It's just this calm inside."

Meditation, Shila said, is a fundamental ingredient in the Buddhist concept of experiencing intrinsic awareness. When meditating, the practitioner is narrowing the mind's attention to a very focused point.

"We practice meditation to train the mind to do what we want it to do, even when there are distractions," he said.

Shila's sanghas are open to the public, and while donations are welcome, there is no charge to attend. For more information, see the sangha's Web page at

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: 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: 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: