Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Venerable Mahinda on teaching compassion

Video in TheStarOnline.tv (http://thestaronline.tv/v/3675)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Gems of Life

14th KCBA English Dhamma Youth Camp

Theme: The Gems of Life
Date: 17th - 20th December 2009
Check in Time: 12.00 pm (on 17th December 2009)
Check out Time: 6.00 pm (on 20th December 2009)
Age Limit: 13 - 21 years old
Camp Fee: RM90 per pax

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Buddhist Maha Vihara in Malaysia launches a fund for Sri Lankan IDP Orphans

by Sumanananda Premseri, Lanka Web, June 15, 2009

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- The Buddhist Maha Vihara Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur launched the Sri Lanka Aid fund to assist some 400 orphans in an Internal Displaced Camp in Northern Sri Lanka. These children are mentally affected by the conflict- traumatized, socially disoriented and psychologically vulnerable.

It is important to reach out to the children as they are the most vulnerable section of the population in any conflict. In a serious disorientation condition, they can be easily removed away from safety nets and trained to become child soldiers due to naivety, anger, etc or exploited by unscrupulous elements into child labor or prostitution. They are the most vulnerable section of the population in any domestic, localized or full scale conflict.

To help the children, the Buddhist Maha Vihara Brickfields is organizing a project to raise money to educate and provide assistance to these children. Launching the project was Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M. Saravanan who also pledged RM10,000 from the Ministry. The President of the Malaysian Hindu Sangam, Datuk A. Vaithilingam and the Head of the Pure Life Society, Mother Mangalam and Datin Indrani Samy Vellu who is the wife of the President of the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), Datuk Seri Samy Vellu also participated in the launching.

The MIC is the largest Indian based political party in Malaysia. The Hindu Sangam is the umbrella body of all the Hindu temples in Malaysia. Mother Mangalam, a socio-welfare activist has been closely associated and worked with the Buddhist Maha Vihara for decades to promote inter-faith fellowship and cooperation.

Joining them to launch the project was the Chief Incumbent of the Buddhist Maha Vihara and also the Chief Sangha Nayaka of Malaysia, Ven K Sri Dhammaratana Nayaka Maha Thera who will be going to the IDP Camp in Sri Lanka to distribute goods and educational aid to the children.

The Venerable is no stranger to helping orphans as he is also the founder and Spiritual Director of the Tiratana Welfare Society which runs an orphanage, old folks home, half-way home for runaways, welfare centers and a mobile clinic. The Tiratana Orphanage has more than a hundred and fifty children of whom, about 40 percent are Tamils. Some of these Tamil children from the Orphanage too came forward to participate and donate to the fund to alleviate sufferings of fellow children in another part of the world.

The Buddhist Maha Vihara has to date collected about RM30,000 for Sri Lanka Aid. A limited amount of donations in kind is being collected too.

In the period 2004-2005, the Buddhist Maha Vihara has helped Sri Lanka heavily too for Tsunami Relief sending container loads of aid by air and sea for immediate relief providing relief items such as ready to eat food, dried food, clothes, medicines, generators, etc which found its way to all parts of the country affected by the Tsunami including the Northern Region and the Eastern Province.

In Kalmunai, the Vihara funded the rebuilding of 2 Hindu temples destroyed by the Tsunami and sponsored a daily refugee feeding program. These projects were undertaken by the Triple Gem Society of USA led by Ven Y. Wimala. The Vihara also sponsored the building of the outpatient and specialist wing of the District hospital in Tangalle which was equipped later by AmeriCare of the USA.

Terminators ‘R’ Us?

by Shen Shi’an, The Buddhist Channel, June 16, 2009

Dharma Inspired Movie Review: http://terminatorsalvation.warnerbros.com

Singapore -- The Terminator saga, as most would know, is about the anthropomorphism and demonisation of high technology. It is a series of extreme cautionary tales on the potential danger of humans going overboard with unchecked technologisation.

Technology is meant to be a means for relieving human suffering, for bringing ease into our lives. However, technology for our convenience can conveniently overtake us if we are unskillful in handling it. Do we make machines to more efficiently help or harm us? ‘Good’ technology might be as easy to master as it is to manipulate, though machines are really intrinsically empty of any fixed characteristics; just as we are. We choose.

In the movie series, we see human rage against merciless machines. But since they were man-made, that humans ‘toyed’ with, terminators ‘r’ us; not really the machines per se! Inhumane robots made by imperfect humans in their own ‘image’! That said, the saga is indeed about the love-hate relationship humans have with machines. Can sentience enter machines? Machines in the future are supposed to have evolved self-awareness, that is slanted towards self-preservation and destruction of anyone against them. Sounds suspiciously like unenlightened human-nature, except that their Mara-like behaviour does not hint of any Buddha-nature. What irony that humans are forced to use more machines to fight machines, with both sides advancing their technologies. It’s no wonder that the saga will continue!

More than a man versus machine action thriller, ‘Terminator Salvation’ is also a terse study of the borderline similarities and differences between both, with the introduction of a cyborg character ambivalent of his true identity. Are we mere biological machines, just as robots are mechanical ones? If a robot simulates sentience, how would we tell if it’s real or not? If the mimicry is realistic, would it be inhumane to terminate one? Which is worthier – robots which simulate compassion, or hardened humans who seem void of compassion? Can a robot develop Buddha-nature? Does a robot have a case if it denies being mere machine? Even if it appears unsure, does this make it any less possibly sentient?

The cyborg who is half-machine chooses his human side to betray the machines. This is while some humans choose their inhumane side by betraying other fellow humans. With a heart of gold, he fights with a lot of heart, while some humans have devolved to become cold, heartless but calculated fighting ‘machines’ – the very enemies they were to fight. The worst thing that happens in war is not losing to the enemy, but to become the enemy by losing one’s humanity. The cyborg makes the ultimate act of sacrifice by donating his human heart for another human. Take heart! What make us human cannot be programmed – it is the strength of the human heart. Compassion is a strength that eventually wins. Our salvation must come from terminating our hate, along with other defilements.

Does becoming a cyborg make us a better human or just a better machine? Is it an upgrade or downgrade? With humans becoming increasingly connected to peripheral electronic devices, will we eventually have their nano versions implanted within us? At what point will we be more machine than human? The machines saw humans as threats as their makers could unmake them. Do we see technology as a possible threat then? Shouldn’t we – to some extent? As John Conner, leader of the human rebels said, ‘If you are listening to this, you are the resistance.’

Resist greed that demands ever more ‘supreme’ technology. In the future, when machines become more powerful and interconnected, they might become more united than humankind. Beware the ills of placing all our eggs in one basket called technology! Collective human wisdom must evolve faster than all its technologies combined!

Friday, June 05, 2009

Swindlers in saffron robes cashing in on people’s generosity

by TAN KARR WEI, The Star, June 4, 2009

"Bogus monks" becoming a big menace in the streets of Malaysia

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- BOGUS monks are roaming the streets of the Klang Valley, cashing in on the generosity of the people to make money.

Charming: A man clad in a monk’s attire selling amulets to a tourist in Bukit Bintang.

These imposters can be seen going from table to table in restaurants in the commercial areas, and even approaching people at the public car parks.

According to Buddhist Chief High Priest of Malaysia, Venerable K. Sri Shammaratana, monks who begged for money are violating the Buddhist code of ethics. The alms bowl is strictly meant for food.

According to the owner of a coffee shop in Damansara Utama, who asked not to be identified, the imposters would make their rounds at the various eating places in the commercial area at various time.

“You won’t see them at a specific time. Sometimes they come at about 10am, sometimes they target the lunch crowd,” she said.

There were also reports of such monks stationing themselves at the morning and night markets.

StarMetro also observed the movements of these spurious monks at the busy Bukit Bintang area on a Saturday afternoon.

A man wearing an ankle-length saffron robe with a cloth bag on one shoulder was seen taking a breather outside the Lot 10 shopping centre when a security guard motioned him to move away.

He then walked across Jalan Bukit Bintang and stopped at the junction just in front of the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

The man, in his mid-30s, targeted only foreign tourists and would not even bother to stop locals who walked past him.

He seemed to be holding a small amulet in one hand and trying to sell it to the foreigners.

After about 20 minutes, he then walked back to the area in front of Lot 10 to sit down for a short rest.

Bro. Wei Han: I am not sure if this is the first time this thing is being highlighted in the newspaper but I do believe that I have been telling everyone that I know that it is best not to be fooled by these bogus monks. They are definitely someone who tried to make easy money from the public and we, are the public, should not be encouraging them by giving them donations or buy anything from them in the name of Buddhism.

So, the only thing that I can tell you here is STOP being fooled by these scums!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

During Wesak Day 2009

Some photographs taken during Wesak Day 2009. As usual, we were doing our promotion while helping out the Adult doing theirs.