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Thứ Hai, tháng 1 02, 2006

No. 0718

Soulful wit

Towards a more joyous New Year

I If brevity is the soul of wit, then Acharn Brahm's brand of brevity brightened by levity is the wit of soul. Soul-nourishment, that is.

Acharn Brahm's dharmic punchlines make you stop and laugh, but also stop and think. One of his specialties is turning popular sayings on their head, adding a touch of Buddhist flavour.

For example, ''truth doesn't hurt''. It's the lack of truth that hurts in life. Or tooth for a tooth just makes more work for dentists.

Another great T-shirt possibility: ''Make Metta Not War''.

Formally called Acharn Brahmavamso, and and before that, Peter Betts, Acharn Brahm is an English monk who had trained under the venerable forest monk Acharn Chah.

Chanelling his teacher, Acharn Brahm has adopted Acharn Chah's down-to-earth sensibility while updating and urbanising his teachings.

It's a refreshing spin on dharma instruction. Too often, dharma discourse can be difficult to understand, loaded with incomprehensible Pali vocabulary or just too lengthy to hold one's focus. Not Acharn Brahm's.

At first glance, there is nothing atypical about Acharn Brahm's first contribution to the dharma publication scene, entitled Opening the Door of Your Heart. Its cover is earth-coloured and features a single Bo tree leaf _ your standard-issue, non-flashy, Buddhist-looking dharma book. But, as they say, never judge a book by its cover.

Its plain exterior belies what is in fact a colourful, and eminently readable, collection of 108 humorous tales that also happen to contain Buddhist ideas.

Believe it or not, this dharma book could actually be called a page-turner.

In one riddle-like cliff hanger, seven monks are held by bandits. The head monk is asked to sacrifice one so the others can go free. Who would he choose? His brother, his best friend, his enemy, an old monk, a sick monk, a hopelessly incompetent monk, or himself?

Indeed, the stories are not simply funny no, they are not simple at all. What they do is convey the profound dharma in a simple way, which makes them all the more incisive.

And because each story in it is so short, it doesn't feel daunting to pick up. You can bite off one morsel to chew at a time _ or a few, because, like crisps, they are addictive. And you can easily come back for seconds, re-reading your favourites to let them really sink in. It's perfect for people of this day and age, with our busy lives, our short attention spans, our oversaturated media-scape.

That's precisely what Acharn Brahm had in mind. He says, If what you say cannot be understood by a child, it's not worth saying.

He adds, ''You have to make [dharma] entertaining so people will listen, that's when you get teaching done.

''One of the problems with religion is that it sometimes gets too boring. And the truth can be very entertaining.'' He beams a smile that sparkles with good humour.

In person, Acharn Brahm's warmth is palpable. It's testament to nearly 30 years of Buddhist practice as a monk. After nine years in Thailand, in 1983 he went to Australia to establish a monastery, which has over time developed a large following. He still lives there, but also travels frequently to teach in Singapore, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka, where thousands come to hear him speak.

Recently in Bangkok as the head of the Australian delegation to the World Buddhist Summit, he made time to give a public dharma talk. More than 800 people, Thai and farang alike, persevered through particularly bad traffic that night to attend. Dozens circled him before and after the talk to seek his advice.

Despite the crowds, Acharn Brahm gave his undivided attention to each person when they spoke to him. He would concentrate his penetrating, almost unblinking gaze on them, lean forward and listen deeply.

Yet his solemnity was always balanced with a smile and a touch of humour. At his talk, one audience member asked, in complete earnestness, ''What's the difference between sleeping and meditating?'' Acharn Brahm immediately answered, ''You're peaceful in both, but when you're meditating you know it, while when you're sleeping you don't.''

The audience laughs. They get the joke, but they also get the dharma.

Not only does Acharn Brahm make his teachings easy to grasp, he also deliberately tailors them to relate to modern people. Beyond the individual level, he also wants people to consider how Buddhist wisdom can provide different approaches to global problems like terrorism or natural disasters.

His teachings have resonated powerfully. His book tours in Australia, Singapore and Indonesia have been warmly received. In January, his book will be translated into German and Chinese. It is also being marketed in the US, where in classic US style, its title has been jazzed up to read Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung? And true to his objectives, his book has been read by all sorts of people ranging from children to adults, including prime ministers, executives, doctors and psychologists.

Such enthusiasm may be a response to his soulful approach. ''People all have the same heart. I don't speak to people. I speak to their hearts.''

It may also be due to the universality of his teachings, which can appeal to, and be applied by, non-Buddhist readers too.

His sure-fire marketing hook, not used ignobly to hustle, but to spark interest in his message goes like this: Do you want to be happy? Here's How to Be Happy.

Buddhism, after all, is essentially about happiness. Again revealing his knack for savvy PR, he tinkers with the Four Noble Truths, couching them in terms of achieving happiness rather than ending suffering.

Although he views nirvana as the highest happiness, he focuses mainly on populist Buddhism _ how to achieve happiness in the here and now, in everyday life.

His objective is to help people deal with life's problems in a wise and compassionate way. To enable them to live with less stress. And equip them to become better spouses, parents and workers.

When it comes to happiness, he learned from the master. ''Acharn Chah was the happiest man I've ever seen _ he gave me inspiration.'' Although Acharn Chah had fewer academic credentials _ not having finished high school whereas he had graduated from Cambridge with a degree in theoretical physics _ Acharn Brahm readily acknowledged that Acharn Chah had far more panya (wisdom).

What's the most popular topic people ask Acharn Brahm about? Much like mor du (astrologers), it's ''love and relationships''. Many of his teachings directly and skilfully address romantic relationships and marriage.

However, Acharn Brahm takes a broader view of love.

The abiding theme underlying all his teachings is giving unconditional love. Whether it's towards a spouse, parent, child, friend, or any other being for that matter, the truest kind of love is unconditional love, love that is forgiving, kind and completely accepting. It says, ''Whatever you do in life, and whatever you have done, the door of my heart will always be open to you.''

Perhaps even more profoundly, Acharn Brahm also teaches us to ''open our hearts'' to pain, to life's problems, even to greed, anger and delusion (kilesa or defilements). For acceptance, rather than resistance, is the most powerful way to tame them.

He also emphasizes that one should not forget to extend unconditional love to oneself, especially among those given to self-blame and guilt.

Self-blame often leads to one of the most painful afflictions, depression. Although age-old, depression is becoming increasingly prevalent in today's world, ranking high on the WHO's list of leading causes of death. While still a taboo subject in many cultures, especially in Thailand and the rest of Asia, Acharn Brahm addresses it frankly in many stories in his book.

In his view, the increase in depression is linked to modernity. He theorises, ''the reason why it's a common disease now is because we live in a world of such great criticism. We're too hard on each other, too hard on ourselves. Of course we're not perfect, but we see only the two bad bricks in a wall, rather than the 998 good ones. Which is totally depressing.

''We've never been so demanding of each other as in modern times. Because now, people have more material stuff. The more you have, the more you demand. We're asking too much of our partners, our jobs, our life.''

What's the solution then? Lowering our standards?

Well, the nicer, Brahm-ian way to think about it is to ''not ask for so much'' and to ''be more accepting''. To prevent depression or simply to be happier, it helps to be more accepting of our lives, and ourselves, as they are. For those who are suffering from mental illness, accepting the condition itself, and oneself for having it, is a major step towards ending it. Some people even come to appreciate it, for depression, as with all difficult parts of life, teaches us valuable lessons.

Yet the road to recovery is by nature long and the biggest obstacle is impatience, he says. ''But it doesn't matter how long it takes, it needs to be done. So we just do it.''

More than that, he believes ''You have to be proactive.'' Proactive not just in getting out of depression, but proactive in creating happiness in life in general. When Westerners ask him, as they are often wont to do, ''Who created the world?'', he replies, ''You did.'' What he means is that we are ultimately in control of our own lives. We create our own happiness.

As such, one shouldn't allow anyone else to control our happiness, whether it is to upset you or uplift you. In even the latter case, the decision to be happy is ultimately one's own.

Taking responsibility for one's own happiness can feel like a heavy load. Yet it needn't be so, says Acharn Brahm. The flip side of responsibility is opportunity. The assumption of responsibility is not only a form of empowerment; he goes so far as to say it is a moral duty. ''I think it's actually immoral and unethical to give responsibility for your life to others.''

If that seems a little harsh, he quickly tempers it by saying, ''I don't mean, 'You're in control, it's all up to you.' The point of the spiritual path is to help guide you in how to use that responsibility. So you're not left on your own. Other people can take your hand and help lead the way.''

In making life decisions, his basic guideline is, ''It's not the what that's important, it's the how.'' But what is the wise ''how''?

Acharn Brahm's take is to ''make peace with whatever you're doing. Give it everything you got, but also give 'rest' everything you've got, when you need to. Have fun with what you're doing. Put joy into your life that gives you energy. And then don't ask for much in life, so whatever you get is a bonus.''

In addition to those general rules of thumb, he emphasizes one powerful strategy for creating happiness in particular. One could say he sings the praises of, exactly that _ praise. The oft-cited example of the power of praise is Pavlov's dog experiment. Even among humans, educational psychologists have proven that positive reinforcement is a more effective teaching method than negative.

In addition to outside affirmation, self-praise is extraordinarily powerful, but commonly underrated. And under-performed. Yet it is vital to give praise, just like unconditional love, to ourselves.

Acharn Brahm points out, ''People often say, We learn from our mistakes. But actually, learning from your successes is more powerful than learning from your mistakes.''

People often get so fixated on a mistake that they can't let it go. By focusing too much on it, they do not learn from it and instead keep committing the same mistake. The more effective way to deal with mistakes, he says, is ''AFL''. His catchy acronym stands not for the American Football League, but ''Acknowledge, Forgive, Learn''.

Yet in a society that stresses humility and a religion that seeks to extinguish ego, doubters often ask him, ''But doesn't praise make you big-headed? Without skipping a beat, he answered, ''No, it makes you big-hearted.''

And once you open the door to that big heart, suffering can go out and happiness come in. So go on, open the door, and usher in the joys of the New Year.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/Outlook/03Jan2006_out82.php#
No. 0717

The Bhavana Society, The Forest Monastery & Retreat Center, West Virginia

was created to preserve the Theravada forest meditation tradition within the context of Western culture.

Our vision is as follows:

To provide a forest monastery where ordained monks and nuns can live while cultivating Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom)

To provide training to suitable lay candidates who are seeking ordination and to ordain those candidates at the end of the training period.

To provide opportunities for monks and nuns to become future Dhamma and meditation teachers.

To offer organized meditation retreats on a regular basis to members of the society and to the general public.

To provide space for a limited number of lay people, who will assist in the running of the center, to live as long-term residents.

To provide facilities for a limited number of lay people to undergo private long-term retreats.

The retreats and monastic training will be determined and run by the senior monastic residents. The Board of Directors' function is to assist and support the monastery and monastics in the continued realization of our vision.
Formalized in July 1988

History of The Bhavana Society

In 1976, a man showed up at the Washington Buddhist Vihara seeking some guidance in meditation. He introduced himself as Matthew Flickstein. I started teaching him meditation after that for a couple of years. Being a very good student, he asked me many questions. Once every week or so, he would call and ask me whether I would like to go with him for a drive. I would agree and he would come to the Washington Buddhist Vihara where I lived at that time and drive me for a couple of hours. During that time he would ask me more questions. As I was very busy at the Vihara, once every month or two he would take me to a motel and we would meditate for several hours.

After a couple years, I mentioned to him one of the dreams I had. Since I had come to the United States I had been traveling, giving Dhamma talks in universities, colleges, high schools, primary schools, organization and temples from Miami University to St. John's Memorial University in New Foundland. Students constantly asked questions about meditation. So I wanted to start a meditation center to teach meditation. I thought Matthew might be able to help me to start such a center. He was very pleased and said he would give me his full support. However, I did not take his word very seriously because I did not know how much support he could give me.

Another year passed without any activity on the project. One day he asked me, "Bhante, tell me whether you are really serious in this project or not. If you are not interested in it, I will help someone else to begin such a project." Finally, in 1982 I told him "Yes."

The first thing we did was to form the Bhavana Society on May 13, 1982. Although we did not have money, we simply went looking for suitable land. In 1983, we found 189 acres of land in Virginia for sale for $1.5 million. My friend negotiated and brought the price down to $700,000 and deposited $1,000 as earnest money. We agreed to pay them a $100,000 down payment in three months and the rest in five years with a balloon payment.

Matthew suggested we should raise funds immediately. I was the president of the Washington Buddhist Vihara at that time. I contacted some of the members of the Washington Buddhist Vihara Society and made appointments to meet them and explain our project. On Sunday, October 30, 1983, at 6:45 a.m. we left Washington on fund-raising tour. We went to many places, homes, temples, organizations and individuals.

We went to New York Buddhist Vihara one evening and parked our car in front of the Vihara. After about 15 minutes, Matthew went back to the car to get something and found the windshield was broken and his radio was stolen. We had planed to leave early the next morning. But we had to get the car window replaced and ended up leaving at 10 a.m. This cost almost $1,000. We traveled as far as New Foundland. People donated what they could at that time. After three and half weeks travel, we returned with $5,000. We discovered we had traveled 5,000 miles-and spent $5,000.

That was all we had. I suggested to Matthew that if he could afford to wait to be reimbursed for his expenses that we deposit this auspicious $5,000 in a bank. He agreed but did not want to deposit it in his account. So we opened an account.

But we had since lost the 189 acres of Virginia land and our non-refundable earnest money. Then we thought of looking for a small piece of land between 10 and 15 acres. On May 2, 1984, Matthew made an appointment to meet a realtor at 9:30 a.m. in a place called Ferns Restaurant on Rt. 50. The realtor failed to show up. Matthew asked the customers whether they had seen the man, but nobody had. Finally, a customer came to Matthew and asked him why he was looking for him. Matthew told him the reason. He took Matthew and showed him a 13-acre piece of land. Matthew came to the Vihara and told me about this and asked me to go and see the land. I went with him and saw it. It looked very beautiful. Both of us agreed to buy it if the price was right. Then we asked, "How much?" "$18,000" the man said. That was exactly all we had in the bank-$18,000. On May 4, 1984, we bought it.

On July 15 of that year, we came with 30 of our supporters to see the land. We were supposed to meet at the same restaurant on Rt. 50 and from there to go to the land to eat our picnic lunch, sitting on the newly purchased property. But some of our friends got lost. Only two other monks and myself arrived at the restaurant before 11 a.m. We waited for the others for another half hour. Since we monks have to eat our lunch before noon, we decided to eat there.

We thought it might not be good idea to eat our food on their premises without permission. So we went in and asked the restaurant manager. "Why do you want to eat your food outside in this scorching sun?" said the woman. "Come inside. We have an air-conditioned room. I will open it for you. Sit their comfortably and eat your food." This was a wonderful welcome. We went in and she offered us plates, silverware, cups and water. Afterward, we wanted to give her a little money in appreciation of her wonderful service. She said, "No, I don't want any money. I did all this with a good heart. Don't spoil my merit."

After a while our other friends appeared and all of us went out to the land. We chanted sutras, made speeches, and expressed our appreciation to all who had donated money to buy the property. We installed a sign which read, "Dhamma Village."

Hearing we had bought a piece of land in West Virginia, some concerned friends said, "You live in Washington D.C. Why did you buy a piece of land in West Virginia out of all the places in this country? It is very far away from Washington. Nobody would go there. There is no one who knows you in West Virginia. You will not get any support there. You have simply wasted money."

After about six months, a friend of ours came from Korea. I wanted to show him the land we had bought. He had rented a car and we drove there. When we arrived we saw that "Dhamma Village" had been turned into "Dam Village." About six months later I returned with another friend and found the sign board was gone completely.

In May, 1985 we began the first building. On October 2, 1986 Matthew Flickstein bought the 10 more acres of land nearby and donated it to the Society on July 20, 1989. We found a builder who agreed to build when we had the money to do so. We started when we had $2,000. When we had more than that he would build for that amount. When the structure was up he told us: "Since you don't have much money I suggest you get some volunteers to build trusses and I will draw the plan." He drew a plan on the concrete foundation.

We called for volunteers and 70 of them came in one weekend and built 40 trusses. The builder came and put them up and found they all were of different sizes and shapes. Some of the joints were about 1/4 inches apart. He rebuilt all of them. After putting on the roof, we called an inspector for his approval. He looked at the roof and shook his head horizontally. I asked him what was the matter.

"I don't want to live in this house," he said. "Why?" I asked. "One snow fall will cave the roof," he replied. "What shall we do now?" I asked. "Destroy the whole roof and build a new one." "Please give us a break. You don't know how much trouble we had in building even this much." "All right, I will give you an alternative," he said. He agreed to help us rebuild new trusses, but that we should give him one helper. At that time there was a man at the Washington Vihara who agreed to help him. My friend called me one Wednesday and said he had taken a one-week leave and asked if the helper would be ready to go to West Virginia that Friday. I mentioned this to the man who was at the Vihara. Next morning, I found he had run away from the Vihara. I told my friend what had happened and he canceled his leave and went back to work.

A few months later a man came from New York and asked me whether he could spend one night at the Vihara. That evening he asked me whether there was anything for him to do. All I had in my mind was this building project. I asked him whether he could build. "That is what I do for living," he said. He agreed to help. He came and put the new reinforcing beams up and left without charging us a penny.

In April, 1987 Ven. Rahula wrote me a letter saying he had heard we had started a meditation center and wished to come and spend two weeks there. I agreed. Then on the May 15, 1987, he came to the Washington Buddhist Vihara to give a dhamma talk. On May 17 we drove him to the Bhavana Society meditation center and left him there. After two weeks, I came to see how he was doing. I saw that he had already made it his home. He had done enormous amount of work by himself. I was so impressed with his work that I asked him to stay.

In August, John Hitchings and Karen Egbert donated two more acres between the 13-acre piece and the new ten-acre plot. One day in 1988 we received a white Buddha image from Sri Lanka, donated by Ven. K. Sri Pemaloka and a Malaysian man, Rex de Alwis. A year after that we received another dark Buddha image from Thailand. In 1991, a Thai monk visited us, recognized the dark Buddha image and said, "I am glad you received this image." I asked him who sent it to us. He humbly acknowledged that it was he who made the arrangements for it to arrive here. Becoming an opportunist, I told him we were planing to build a meditation hall and when it was finished we hoped to have a little bigger image in gold color. "When are you going to finish it?" he asked. "We don't know. We have not even started it," I replied. "I don't know whether I will live that long to see the completion of your meditation hall to send an image. Let me send one as soon as I returned." Sure enough a couple of months later we received the gold image, which we installed in the former shrine room.

On October 22, 1988, the first building and two kutis were officially inaugurated. On July 22, 1989, Sima was established and we ordained 3 men and a woman. In 1992 we thought of building a dormitory and our rough estimate of the cost was $65,000. We wrote a notice and pasted it on the wall. Several generous people who came to the Bhavana donated some money. Meanwhile our neighbor on some nearby property passed away. His wife happened to be our friend. She approached us and said she was going to sell her house which included an annex building. She said she would prefer if we bought it. We asked how much. She said $65,000. That was what we wanted to raise to build a dormitory. When we mentioned this to the members of the board, some suggested we should negotiate and bring the price down. But we said, "She is a good neighbor. What she is asking seems to be fair." One director said, "Bhante when it comes to business we sometimes must lose friendship." "That depends on our priorities. If we value money more than people, certainly we lose friendship," I said. Finally, they agreed and we bought the two houses with 7 acres of land, making 32 acres altogether.

In 1993, I suggested to our in-house architect, Bhante Rahula, that he draw a plan for the new meditation hall. He drew the plan which was approved by a professional architect.

Meanwhile we started thinking of building a new meditation hall. We made a chart with small squares and when somebody donated $50 we checked off one square. We thought of raising funds for the new meditation hall this way. Our plan was to build slowly as funds came in. Seeing this very slow fund raising project, the Thai community arranged a Dana ceremony in 1994. At the end of it, Dr. Piriya and Dr. Nee Pinit gave me an envelope in which I found $73,500. Then we started work on the new meditation hall.

Later on, more and more donations came in. We contacted a local builder named Timothy Nally. Bhante Rahula contacted the right people and got the right materials. We purchased high beams in the dead of winter in 1995. But we could not put them up because of the rough winter and they sat in our parking lot for almost two months. As soon as the weather improved, Bhante Rahula got in touch with a minister, Mrs. Sue Adams, from a local church called Lord's Chapel and asked her to help us find a boom truck. She spoke to her husband Sam Adams. He contacted a friend with a boom truck. He brought the truck to begin the work, but the weather didn't let up and the truck sat in our parking lot for almost a month. Finally, he came with five people and in two days installed the beams,-all free of charge. We announced in our newsletter that we needed someone to make a Bodhi leaf in stained glass. A woman Jenette Foster from California came with all the material and made it and donated it to us along with a cash donation.

Bonnie Spoales donated her time and material in making a second piece of stained glass for us with our logo. Robert .....and Gene.... donated three large glasses for windows. In the finishing stage, two other monks appeared, Ven. Dhammapalo and Ven. Saddhadhiko. The two of them, along with Bhante Dhammaratana and many other people donated many hours of labor, while many other people donated the money we needed to complete the building. Now many of them have come and seen for themselves the results of what they have done for this place.

At the start of collecting donations, a man sent us $1 each month. Once he had sent $8. He was so poor he could not send us more than that. He had suggested to his son that if he was willing to donate something to a worthy cause, he could put his leftover pocket money into a till and donate it to the newly formed Bhavana Society. Occasionally that child wrote us a note along with his monthly donation, which was a few cents. This continued for several years. We wanted to invited them to come for the opening ceremony, but they had moved somewhere.

The opening ceremony was attended by more than 300 people, including 24 monks and 4 nuns. Breakfast was organized by our friends in Virginia Beach, lunch by the Gaithersburg group, and refreshments by members of the International Buddhist Cultural Center in Wheaton. We thank all of them.

Almost all the major events in the history of the Bhavana Society took place with pleasant surprises. Here are some of them:

Meeting the right person in the Washington Buddhist Vihara in 1976
Traveling 5,000 miles, spending $5,000 and collecting $5,000
Buying the land with $18,000 when that was all we had in the bank at that time
Cushions arrived the same day the carpet was installed
When we bought paint someone anonymously sent by mail a sprayer
The day before the opening when we were struggling to make the sound system work, sound system expert showed up and made it work
The same day a cabinet maker appeared and made a cabinet to put the sound system in
Until Friday, April 25, it was raining. On the day we had the opening ceremony, the sky was very clear and temperature was pleasant and warm. Sunday the rain continued again.


Rt. 1, Box 218-3
Back Creek Road
High View, WV 26808 USA
Tel: 304-856-3241 Fax: 304-856-2111

http://www.bhavanasociety.org/bhavana.asp?f=about/history
No. 0715 (Chánh Hạnh dịch)

Wat Pah Santidhamma -THE FOREST HERMITAGE
Buddhist Teaching and Practice in the Heart of England.

This is a small, peaceful Buddhist monastery after the ascetic style of the forest monasteries of N.E. Thailand but set in the Heart of England. It became an official branch, no.158, of Wat Nong Pah Pong in the province of Ubon in N.E. Thailand in June of 1999. It is administered by the Buddha-Dhamma Fellowship who act as stewards of the Sangha, the community of monks founded by the Buddha more than 2,500 years ago. The senior monk, the Venerable Ajahn Khemadhammo, with other monks and a lay-attendant reside here. The tradition is that of the Theravada school.
Venerable Ajahn Khemadhammo was born in England in 1944. After training and practising as a professional actor for some years, in 1971 he travelled to Thailand via the Buddhist holy places in India. In December 1971 in Bangkok he became a novice and about a month later moved to Ubon to stay with Ajahn Chah at Wat Nong Pah Pong. On the day before Vesakha Puja of that year, 1972, he received upasampada as a bhikkhu.

In 1977 the Ajahn returned to the U.K. and after staying in London and Birmingham set up a small monastery on the Isle of Wight. In 1984, at the invitation of a group of Buddhist meditators that he'd been visiting monthly for some years, he moved to Banner Hill near Kenilworth and the Buddha-Dhamma Fellowship was formed. In 1985 the present property was most generously made available and in 1987, with considerable help from devotees in Thailand, it was purchased by the Buddha-Dhamma Fellowship and formally offered to the Sangha of the Four Quarters, present and to come.

The main building was originally a pair of nineteenth century cottages which have long been converted into one. Recent modifications have provided a substantial Shrine Room. The surrounding land includes the original garden with its abundant supply of apples, damsons and plums, its ponds and small meditation huts, and the portion of an adjoining field which has provided space for a carpark and room for a strip of newly planted woodland.

Also in the grounds is the English Shwe Dagon Pagoda, a gift from Burmese devotees and built under the guidance of Venerable Sayadaw U Thila Wunta who has built similar pagodas throughout the world. It is dedicated to the welfare and happiness of all beings.

Apart from its function as a Buddhist monastery and a focus for Buddhist teaching, practice and traditional observances, The Forest Hermitage is the headquarters of ANGULIMALA, the Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation. It also plays an increasingly important role in local education.


THE FOREST HERMITAGE

- Wat Pah Santidhamma -

Lower Fulbrook, near Sherbourne

Warwickshire CV35 8AS

The United Kingdom

http://www.foresthermitage.org.uk/fh.html
No. 0711 (Hạt Cát dịch)
Nghi thức Kính Lễ Bồ Ðề cuối năm tại Bồ Ðề Ðạo Tràng
FROM UPALI Rupasinghe
Monday, 2 January 2006
Bản tin được đăng tải trên trang Web dailynews.lk ngày 02 tháng Giêng, 2006
Bồ Ðề Ðạo Tràng - Hội Ðại Bồ Ðề Ấn Ðộ đã tổ chức một nghi thức Kính Lễ Bồ Ðề kéo dài 3 giờ tại Trung Tâm Bồ Ðề Ðạo Tràng vào lúc nửa đêm ngày 31 tháng 12 dưới cội Ðại Bồ Ðề ở khu vực Tháp Ðại Giác để nguyện cầu ân đức Tam Bảo gia trì cho Tổng Thống Mahinda Rajapakse, chính phủ và dân chúng Tích Lan.

Khoảng 200 tu sĩ từ nhiều quốc gia khác nhau đã được mời đến và hơn 300 Phật tử Tích Lan, những người đang du lịch hành hương đã tham dự buổi lễ.

Chương trình buổi lễ Bodhi Puja đã được tổ chức bởi ÐÐ Palwatte Seeveli Thera, vị Tỳ Kheo lãnh đạo TrungTâm Ðại Bồ Ðề thuộc Bồ Ðề Ðạo Tràng và được cử hành vào lúc 10:30 tối 2005 đến 1:30 sáng 2006, và 300 ngọn đèn dầu đã được thắp lên chung quanh Kim Cương Tọa. Vào sáng thứ Hai, một buổi cúng dường trai tăng đã được dâng đến cho khoảng 200 chư Tăng.

Chương trình Tổng Thống Mahinda Rajapakse dự định viếng thăm Bồ Ðề Ðạo Tràng vào ngày 30 đã bị đình hoãn vì lý do an ninh.

Bodhi Puja at Buddha Gaya
Monday, 2 January 2006


FROM UPALI Rupasinghe

THE Buddha Gaya Centre of the Maha Bodhi Society of India performed a three-hour Bodhi Puja at mid-night on 31st December under the Sri Maha Bodhi Tree at the Buddha Gaya Maha Viahara complex to invoke blessings of the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha on President Mahinda Rajapakse, the Government and the people of Sri Lanka.

Around 200 monks from different countries were invited to conduct the Bodhi Pooja and over 300 hundred Sri Lankans who were on pilgrimage participated in the event.

The Bodhi Puja programme was organised by Ven Palwatte Seeveli Thera, Bhikkhu-in-Charge of the Buddha Gaya Maha Bodhi Centre and from 10.30 p.m, on the 31st to 1.30 am 2006, and three hundred oil lamps were lit and kept around the Vajrasana. On Monday Sangadana were offered to more than 200 monks.

It may be noted that President Mahinda Rajapakse's planned visit to Buddha Gaya on the 30th of December was postponed due to security reasons.

http://www.dailynews.lk/2006/01/02/news23.htm
No. 0713 ( Hạt Cát dịch)
Khánh thành ngôi chùa Việt Nam đầu tiên trên đất Nhật.

01/01/2006 -- 20:39(GMT+7)
Bản tin được đăng tải trên trang Web VNA ngày 01 tháng 01, 2006

Tokyo, Jan. 1 (VNA) - Một ngôi chùa Phật Giáo, ngôi chùa hải ngoại đầu tiên của người Việt Nam trên đất Nhật, vừa được khánh thành tại thành phố Việt Cốc- Koshigaya thuộc tỉnh Kỳ Ngọc - Saitama trong ngày đầu của năm 2006.

Ngôi chùa 300 mét vuông tọa lạc cách Tokyo 100 km về hướng tây bắc. Công trình xây dựng tốn kém khoảng 42 triệu Yen tức khoảng $350,000 USD từ tịnh tài cúng dường bởi phật tử Việt Nam hải ngoại.

Với bài diễn văn trong buổi lễ khánh thành, Ni Sư Thích Thông Thăng nói rằng ngôi chùa không phải chỉ là nơi thờ phụng lễ bái mà còn là nơi gặp gỡ cho người Việt Nam hải ngoại tại Nhật Bản. Ni Sư cũng nói rằng ngôi chùa có tên là Nam Hòa như là một ước vọng cho hòa bình và hạnh phúc của Việt Nam và cho sự phát triển tình thân hữu giữa Việt Nam và Nhật Bản với cách chiết tự Nam là biểu hiệu cho Việt Nam và Hòa có nghĩa là hòa bình đồng thời cũng là một danh xưng khác của Nhật Bản.

First Vietnamese pagoda inaugurated in Japan
01/01/2006 -- 20:39(GMT+7)

Tokyo, Jan. 1 (VNA) - A Buddhist pagoda, the first of overseas Vietnamese in Japan, was inaugurated in Koshigaya city, Saitama province, on the first day of 2006.

The 300 sq.m pagoda is about 100 km to the northwest of Tokyo.
Its construction is estimated to cost 42 million JPY (around 350,000 USD) from donations by overseas Vietnamese.

Addressing the inauguration ceremony, nun Thich Thong Thang of the pagoda said the pagoda not only serves as a spiritual worship but also a venue for overseas Vietnamese in Japan.

She also said the pagoda takes its name of Nam Hoa as a wish for a peaceful and prosperous Viet Nam and for the development of the Viet Nam-Japan friendship because Nam means Viet Nam and Hoa means peace and also is another name of Japan.-Enditem

http://www.vnanet.vn/newsA.asp?LANGUAGE_ID=2&CATEGORY_ID=29&NEWS_ID=181109