Mesa Buddhist center to hold ceremony rarely done in West

by Srianthi Perera, The Arizona Republic, Nov. 12, 2010

Mesa, Arizona (USA) -- A Buddhist ceremony rarely performed in the Western world is scheduled to take place in Mesa on Saturday.

The Arizona International Buddhist Meditation Center will hold the Atavisi Buddha Puja, a devotional ceremony to pay homage to the 28 Buddhas in this eon. An eon in Buddhism is a countless, but not infinite, period of time.

"The goal of the ceremony is to generate as much merit as possible to free ourselves from suffering," said the Venerable Ananda, principle monk.

The Ven. Ananda said the ceremony creates an atmos- phere of tranquility, which leads to a calm mind that in turn generates positive thoughts that could continue in their daily lives.

Buddhists believe all living beings are subject to an endless cycle of births and deaths, as well as suffering in various forms.

The ultimate goal is to purify the mind. That leads to liberation from this cycle by attaining nirvana, a freeing of the spiritual self from attachment to worldly things. Venerating, and observing the teachings of Buddhas, as well as meditation are two ways followers try to achieve nirvana.

Saturday's ceremony involves venerating 28 past Buddhas with flowers, lighted oil lamps, incense and other offerings and acknowledging their exceptional qualities and contributions.

The ceremony is rarely done outside Sri Lanka.

Ten Buddhist monks, most from temples in California, Las Vegas and Oregon, will preside. The service is open to the public.

"I consider it a great opportunity to be able to participate in this," said Chamath Abhayagunawardhana of Chandler. "In North America, there aren't many Buddhist temples."

Abhayagunawardhana said that even though the ceremony is held occasionally in Sri Lanka, his native land, he never had an opportunity to attend one there.

According to teachings, Buddhas in the past have spent countless numbers of lives striving to develop the qualities that helped them attain ultimate realization or Buddhahood. Having attained it, the Buddhas discover the true nature of existence and explain it to the world.

"We pay respect to all the great qualities that Buddhas have perfected over such a long time and use them to guide our lives," said Abhayagunawardhana, an engineer.

"It's extremely difficult to develop a full understanding of existence as it really is without the teaching of a Buddha, due to defilements in our minds. Hence, we express our gratitude for showing us the way to train our minds towards this goal."

The concept of acknowledging the 28 Buddhas is prevalent in countries that practice Theravada Buddhism such as Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia.

Shane Wilson, who conducts meditation classes at the Mesa center, said that Westerners who practice Buddhism in America don't embrace ceremonies or rituals. Instead, they practice meditation and read the dhamma, or Buddhist teachings.

"A lot of times, they don't quite understand the rituals," he said. "People are interested, but they think it's more of a cultural thing rather than religion. I don't think that's a reason to stay away from it."

Wilson - a Buddhist for 15 years, who has lived in Thailand, a predominantly Buddhist country - noted that Americans often crave the cultural experiences they find in foreign travel.

"There are cultural experiences right in their backyard. If more people can understand and take part in that, it would be good," he said.

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: