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Thứ Ba, tháng 5 23, 2006

No. 0955 (Nhị Ðộ Mai dịch)

600-pound Buddha statue stolen from Stuart restaurant

Thieves made off with this 600-pound Buddha statue that sat in front of the Sakura Japanese restaurant in Stuart.

May 23, 2006
STUART — Talk about thumbing your nose at karma.
Thieves who apparently were not conversant in eastern philosophy stole a 600-pound gold concrete Buddha statue Sunday night from Sakura Restaurant and Steak House of Japan in Stuart.

"I don't think it's luck if you stole the Buddha," steakhouse owner Ako Tarallo said.
The statue of the founder of Buddhism — one of whose central precepts is "do not take what is not yours to take" — had adorned the restaurant for the past six years.

The bald, pot-bellied smiling likeness was the centerpiece of a rock garden, sitting lotus-style atop a fountain with a gold pagoda on either side.

The 3-foot, 6-inch statue was purchased from a shop in Palm Beach County for $1,500 and would have certainly taken several people to lift — no matter their inner strength.

"It's definitely like a three-man work," Tarallo said. "It's very heavy. It's not that easy to move."

It wasn't the first time someone had desecrated the garden outside the restaurant in the 1600 block of South U.S. 1.

Several years ago, someone stole one of the pagodas. A replacement was found but the two pagodas don't quite match.

The Buddhist belief in karma holds that actions in this life determine the nature of existence in the next.

Aside from the religious aspect, the owners just want their Buddha back so nirvana can reign once again amid sushi rolls and hibachi-style grills.

"It's a part of Japanese culture and we need the luck," Tarallo said. That, and it's "nice to look at."

No. 0954

A century of spirituality
Wed, May 24, 2006 : Last updated 0:10 am (Thai local time)

Even 13 years after his death, Buddhadasa Bhikku's teachings continue to rattle the underpinnings of religion in Thai society

This Saturday, Phra Ajarn Pho, the abbot of Suan Mokkh will rise at 4am to meditate and chant with other monks as he does every day. However, despite his wishes to the contrary, this day will be unlike any other at the now internationally renowned forest monastery in Surat Thani Province.

Saturday marks the birth centenary of the late Venerable Buddhadasa Bhikku, the founder of Suan Mokkh or the Garden of Liberation. Thirteen years after his death, his ideas and teachings continue to rattle the underpinnings of Buddhism in Thai society and also further his domestic and international acclaim.

"Celebration is not what Ajarn Buddhadasa would have wanted, so we've asked people not to come, but we know thousands will turn up anyway," Phra Ajarn Pho said. "However, there won't be any celebrations held at Suan Mokkh."

It is not simply that Buddhadasa Bhikku was humble and shunned the idea of celebrity status, but the renunciation of such rituals and idolising stood at the very heart of his teaching.

In one of his most famous books, "Handbook for Humankind", Buddhadasa heavily criticised a major pillar of Thai Buddhism - the making of merit at temples in the hope of bettering one's present life, or improved standing in a perceived future life - as contradictory to the Buddha's teaching.

He quotes the Buddha as saying, "If man could eliminate suffering by making offerings, paying homage and praying, there would be no suffering left in the world at all, because anyone can pay homage and pray. But since people continue to suffer despite the various acts of obeisance, homage and rites, this is clearly not the way to liberation."

Since founding Suan Mokkh in 1932 at the age of 23, Buddhadasa devoted his whole life to understanding and reinterpreting Theravada Buddhism consistent with the words attributed to the Buddha in ancient Pali scriptures. He emphasised that many beliefs and practices associated with Buddhism in Thailand are not rooted in the Buddha's own words, but have evolved from third-party commentaries within the Pali scriptures, which he found inconsistent with what the Buddha taught.

More than 300 books, translated into more than 10 languages, have been published under Buddhadasa's name, deriving from his more than 4,000 recorded talks and mountains of manuscripts.

Despite his disapproval of rites and rituals, Buddhadasa's centenary will be marked by a three-day national celebration along with many other private events throughout May.

His devoted follower, Dr Bancha Pongpanich, is convinced that although Unesco's recent recognition of Buddhadasa as one of the world's "Great Personalities" has prompted public interest in the revered monk, for most Thais this does not extend to the understanding of his teachings.

"We have only just managed to rescue Ajarn Buddhadasa's centenary from becoming a tourist attraction," Bancha explains. "In his hometown of Surat Thani, there were plans for a boxing championship and even a trade fair to 'celebrate' Buddhadasa's 100th birthday. Senior monks from all over the country have also offered to come and organise a major chanting ceremony at Suan Mokkh."

Phra Ajarn Pho said he had instructed them about Buddhadasa's wishes, but humbly noted that Suan Mokkh could not stop them if they choose to proceed.

"We have our own simple way of doing things, and we did make two requests. We asked that there be no soliciting of, or creating of worship materials in the name of Ajarn Buddhadasa," Bancha said.

Buddhadasa stressed that Buddhism in Thailand has become overlaid by ceremony, and wrote that "[the] whole objective of Buddhism has been obscured, falsified and changed. This tumour has been spreading constantly since the day the Buddha died, expanding in all directions".

"The Buddha did not teach us to seek lottery numbers, have parties to solicit money for temple expansions, or for monks to receive new robes," added Bancha. "All of this has been made up over time, and reinforces the distance between lay peoples' understanding of the Buddha's Dhamma teachings."

It was part of Buddhadasa's mission to eliminate the practice of excluding lay people from the real substance of the Buddha's message, which historically had been made available only to monks and a limited number of scholars.

Buddhadasa emphasised that instead of praying at temples, people should learn to seek an end to suffering in the course of their daily lives as taught by the Buddha: practising a strong moral code and looking within oneself to understand how suffering arises and passes away with each thought travelling through one's minds.

Practising in this way can allow us to put an end to the cycle of suffering in our present life, as opposed to seeing this objective as a benefit that may come in some future life - a life which Buddhadasa observed, we have no proof exists.

"Unfortunately, Buddhadasa's wisdom has yet to spread much further than intellectual circles and the middle class," said Phra Ajarn Supan, the abbot of Wat Rampoeng in Chiang Mai.

"We know that many people who come to the temple are still too grounded in the rituals that have defined Thai Buddhism for so long, so we don't fight against it. But neither do we nurture or take advantage of it, trying to keep our activities simple and our focus on teaching mediation, as both the Lord Buddha and Buddhadasa emphasised."

Hundreds of years of merit-making provide the foundation and are at the heart of Buddhism in Thailand, and this can't be expected to disappear within just 60 years of Buddhadasa's teaching, if ever, notes Phra Ajarn Supan.

Even in Buddhadasa's hometown of Chaiya, just a few kilometres away from Suan Mokkh, the local people have yet to absorb the teachings of their most famous native son. "We respect Buddhadasa very much, and often pray for his spirit to grant us safety before taking long trips," said Siriporn Ketanan, a Chaiya resident. "Many of us plan to go to his temple next Saturday."

There are some indications that the influence of Buddhadasa's teachings may have actually reduced in recent times. In the 1970s and 1980s, Buddhadasa's interpretations inspired many college students and young activists, but is less apparent now.

"We give alms twice a week and try to learn meditation to help improve our study habits, but Buddhadasa's teachings and the dhamma are too complicated for us," said Wichai Yaowalak, chairman of Thammasat University's Buddhism Club, which, like its counterparts in many other colleges, subscribes to Dhammakaya Temple's teaching.

Evan at Suan Mokkh, Ajarn Pho notes that he has had to stem internal pressures to transform Suan Mokkh's very spartan grounds to include all kinds of ornate buildings common at other famous Thai temples. "We have a few Buddha images, and our main hall is a clearing under the trees; but it's still more than the Buddha had."

On Saturday, even though visitors will be welcomed, they will not find any food, added Phra Ajarn Pho.

In his final years, Buddhadasa asked that those who wanted to remember his birthday should fast for 24 hours, or just go about their day as any other, spreading the dhamma as best they could.

Friday: "The Truth about Rebirth" will appear in the Trends section on the back page)

Saturday: "Buddhadasa and the future of Buddhism"

Nantiya Tangwisutijit

The Nation

No. 0951 (Hạt Cát lược dịch)
Hội nghị Phụ nữ Phật Giáo Quốc Tế tổ chức ở Mã Lai.

By JADE CHAN, The Star, May 20, 2006

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- Một số người cho rằng phụ nữ trên một vài phương diện nào đó không có được cái sở năng sở hành như đàn ông. Không những chỉ một số nam giới có thái độ này mà cả bản thân của người phụ nữ cũng nghĩ thế.

“Tôi muốn giúp quý chị em phụ nữ hiểu rõ tiềm năng phi thường của họ”. Ni Sư Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Phụ Gỉang ngành Thần Học và Nghiên Cứu Tôn Giáo thuộc Ðại Học San Diego và là chủ tịch Hiệp Hội Phụ Nữ Phật Gíao QuốcTế Sakyadhita -Thích Nữ đã nói như trên.

Ðã có rất nhiều phụ nữ đáng kể trong các quốc gia Phật giáo, những người bắt đầu từ con số không và thành tựu to lớn. Một ví dụ như Ni Sư Thích Vận Phạm, người sáng lập Ðại Học Phật Giáo đầu tiên tại Ðài Loan.

Hội Nghị Phụ Nữ Phật Giáo Thế Giới lần thứ 9 là một trong những cơ cấu được tổ chức bởi Hiệp Hội Phụ Nữ Phật Giáo Quốc Tế “Sakyadhita - Thích Nữ” dành cho các học giả Phật Giáo, hành giả và các nhà hoạt động xã hội từ các nơi trên thế giới chia sẻ kinh nghiệm trên vấn đề hỗ trợ, khuyến tấn dự án cải thiện tình trạng phụ nữ Phật Giáovà cổ võ bình đẳng giới tính.

Sakyadhita có nghĩa là “Những nhi nữ của Ðức Phật, vắn tắt Thích Nữ”- là một tổ chức Phụ Nữ Phật Giáo hàng đầu trên thế giới

Với đề tài “Phụ Nữ Phật Giáo trong một Cộng Ðồng Ða Văn Hóa Tòan Cầu”, hội nghị sẽ diễn ra từ ngày 17 đến ngày 21 tháng Sáu, 2006 tại Trung Tâm Triển Lãm Sau Seng Lum, Mã Lai.

Chủ tịch Hội Ðồng Kế Hoạch Hội Nghị, Ni Sư Chang Heng cho biết trong cuộc họp báo hôm thứ Ba “Hội nghị tổ chức mở rộng cho công chúng, cả hai giới nam nữ, bất cứ quốc tịch và bối cảnh tôn giáo nào.

Hội nghị được tổ chức vòng quanh thế giới mỗi 2 năm một lần. Ðoàn thể Phật Giáo Mã Lai đảm trách tổ chức hội nghị kỳ này là Tu Viện Phật Giáo Maha Vihara và Hiệp Hội Phật Giáo Người Mã Lai. Các hội đoàn cùng cộng tác khác gồm có Hội Liên Hữu Phật Bảo (Buddhist Gem Fellowship, Phật Quang Sơn (Buddhist Light Inter-national Association), Giáo hội Phật Giáo Mã Lai, Tu Viện Kỳ Viên (Jetavana Monastery), Chùa Tu Thành Lâm ( Sau Seng Lum), chùa Ðàn Hương (Than Hsiang), Giáo hội Phật Giáo Kim Cang Mã Lai (Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia) và Hiệp Hội Thanh Niên Phật Tử Mã Lai (Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia). Nơi gặp gỡ sẽ là Trung Tâm Triển Lãm Tu Thành Lâm (Sau Seng Lum) .

Sẽ có khoảng 45 diễn giả quốc tế và địa phương diễn thuyết trước Hội Nghị
Hầu hết diễn giả sẽ phát biểu bằng Anh Ngữ và đồng thời được thông dịch ra tiếng Quan Thoại và Ðại Hàn.

International Conference on Buddhist women in Malaysia

By JADE CHAN, The Star, May 20, 2006
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- SOME people have the perception that women are somehow not as capable or worthy as men. This attitude is held only by some men, but also by women themselves.

“I would like to help women understand their tremendous potential,” said Venerable Karma Lekshe Tsomo, University of San Diego Theology and Religious Studies assistant professor and Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women president.

“There have been many remarkable women in Buddhist countries who started from zero and achieved great things. One example is Ven. Shig Hiu Wan, who founded the first Buddhist university in Taiwan.”

The 9th Sakyadhita International Conference on Buddhist Women is one of the platforms organised by Sakyadhita for leading Buddhist scholars, practitioners and social activists from around the world to share experiences on issues of mutual interest, promote projects that help improve conditions for Buddhist women and foster gender equity.

Sakyadhita, which means “Daughters of the Buddha”, is the world’s leading international organisation of Buddhist women.

Themed “Buddhist Women in a Global Multicultural Community”, the conference will be held from June 17 to 21 at Sau Seng Lum (Puchong) Exhibition Centre.

“It is open to the public, both women and men, of every nationality and religious background,” said Malaysian Conference Planning Committee (MCPC) chairperson Ven. Chang Heng, at the event’s press conference on Tuesday.

The event is held around the world once every two years. The Malaysian organisers for this conference are Buddhist Maha Vihara and Malay- sian Buddhist Association. The co-organisers are Buddhist Gem Fellowship, Buddhist Light Inter-national Association, Malaysia Chapter, Buddhist Missionary So- ciety Malaysia, Jetavana Monastery, Sau Seng Lum Buddhist Temple, Than Hsiang Temple, Vajrayana Buddhist Council of Malaysia and Young Buddhist Association of Malaysia. The venue sponsor is Sau Seng Lum (Puchong) Exhibition Centre.

There will be 45 international and local speakers at the conference, including Karma, Ven. Tenzin Palmo from England, Christie Yu-ling Chang from Taiwan, Tomomi Ito from Japan, Jampa Tsedroen from Germany and Dr Goh Pik Pin from Malaysia.

Most of the speakers will speak in English, and simultaneous translation in Mandarin and Korean will be provided.

Programmes include panel presentations, workshops, group discussions, cultural performances and meditation.

Registration fee to attend the full five-day conference is RM150 without accommodation or RM250 with accommodation. Participants can also choose to participate on selected days, priced at RM50 per day.

About 400 local and 200 foreign participants are expected to attend the conference, which is supported by the Tourism and Women, Family and Community Development Ministries.

For details, visit www.sakyadhita.org or call the MCPC Secretariat (c/o Buddhist Maha Vihara) at 03-2274 1142.

No. 0953 (Hạt Cát dịch)

Chinese bus joins rush to Buddha’s Bengal
Calcutta, May 22: Soon after the entry of the Tata group in the automobile sector in Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s Bengal, foreign firms have shown interest in setting up a bus manufacturing unit in the state.

Officials from Yu Tong Bus Company Limited, one of the largest bus body manufacturers in China, along with a Bangladeshi company, Nitol-Niloy Group, met commerce and industry minister Nirupam Sen and discussed the proposed venture.

The Chinese company wants to set up a bus body manufacturing unit near Kharagpur in a joint venture with the Bangladeshi concern.

Edward Chang, investment manager of the Zhengzhou Yu Tong Group Company, the parent firm, four representatives of the Yu Tong, its subsidiary, and the group director of the Bangladeshi company, Abdul Mannan Ahmed, are in the state to scout for a land for the project.

The team is leaving for Kharagpur tomorrow. Officials from the West Bengal Industrial Development Corporation will accompany them.

“Today, they made a presentation before the industry minister on their expertise in the field,” said commerce and industry secretary Sabyasachi Sen after the meeting.

The group wants around 300 acres near the Telcon unit at Kharagpur, where the Tata subsidiary proposes to set up a unit manufacturing payloaders and heavy earthmovers.

“Currently, the Bangladeshi group imports around 1000 compressed natural gas engines with chassis from the Tata plant in Jamshedpur every year. The Chinese-Bangladeshi collaboration now wants to manufacture the whole body in Bengal,” said N. Pal Chowdhury, partner of N. Pal Chowdhury Engineering Enterprises, the mediator in the project.

“The Chinese company will bring pre-fabricated material from China, assemble it with the Tata chassis in Kharagpur and then supply from Bengal. They also plan to export to other countries with their base in Bengal,” said Pal Chowdhury.

According to him, the two companies had initially shortlisted Pakistan, Bangladesh and India for the project, but they found India most feasible. “This is because Bangladesh imposes an import duty of 65 per cent on chassis, while only 6 per cent is levied on ready buses,” he said.

After the Kharagpur inspection, the team will visit Haldia port, from where they will source their raw material and machinery from China.

After they return to their country, the Chinese representatives will discuss the project and then report back to the Bengal government.

“Chang told the minister that he would discuss the matter with the sales and marketing supervisor of Yu Tong Bus Company Limited, Vicky Zhu, and will get back. They will also carry out a survey on the project,” said an official.

No. 0949 (Nhi Do Mai dich)

Ấn Độ bắt tay vào việc phát triển và duy trì trung tâm Phật Giáo

PIB Ấn Độ, May, 18, 2006

New Delhi, India---Bộ du lịch đang bổ sung tài chánh trung ương nhằm tài trợ phát triển hạ tầng cơ sở cho nhiều khu vực Phật Giáo trong nước và đã chi tiêu 93. 47 triệu Rupees giữa kế hoạch thứ 8th-10th cho đến nay.

Song song đó, Bộ du lịch cũng huy động quỹ bên ngoài từ Nhật Bản cho việc phát triển hạ tầng cơ sở tại nhiều khu vực Phật Giáo quan trọng và hợp tác với các bộ phận tương đương nhằm cải thiện và phát triển đường phố, đường rầy xe lửa và hàng hải. Đây là những gì mà Ms, Ambika Soni, Bộ Trưởng Du Lich và Văn Hóa trả lời câu hỏi Shri Nikhil Kumar trong Lok Sabha hôm nay.

Bà nói thêm Bộ Văn Hóa cũng phê chuẩn ngân sách tài trợ cho công trình duy trì và phát triển nghệ thuật Phật Giáo và văn hóa trong nước. Bộ cũng bổ sung ngân sách tài trợ cho các học viện Phật Giáo và cung cấp ngân quỹ đâỳ đủ cho ba trung tâm học viện tại Leh, Sarnath và Nalanda nhằm gây ảnh hưởng giáo lý nhà Phật và triết học

Khu vực Phật tích chính trong nước được duy trì bảo quản theo chế độ mỗi ngày và chỉ sửa chữa mỗi khi có nhu cầu cần thiết đòi hỏi.
Duy trì cấu trúc và nghệ thuật điêu khắc cũng được lưu ý đến bên cạnh việc phát triển môi trường để cho đài kỹ niệm có một diện mạo thích đáng, bà nói thêm.

India acts on Development and Conservation of Buddhist Centres

PIB India, May 18, 2006

New Delhi, India -- The Tourism Department is extending central financial assistance for development of tourism infrastructure for various Buddhist sites in the country and has spent Rs. 93.47 crore between 8th –10th plan till date.

In addition to the above, the Department of Tourism is also mobilizing external funding from Japan for development of infrastructure at major Buddhist sites and is coordinating with relevant ministries to improve and develop road, rail and air connectivity. This was stated by Ms. Ambika Soni, Minister for Tourism and Culture in a reply to a question by Shri Nikhil Kumar in Lok Sabha today.

She further said that the Department of Culture is granting financial assistance for preservation and development of Buddhist art and culture in the country. It also extends budgetary support to Buddhist institutes and provides full funds for three autonomous central institutes at Leh, Sarnath and Nalanda which impart education in Buddhist religion and philosophy etc.

The centrally protected Buddhist sites in the country are maintained on a day-to-day basis and structural repairs of special nature are taken up as and when required. Preservation of structures and sculptures is also taken up besides environmental development to present the monuments in a befitting manner, she further stated.