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Author Topic: The man behind the mission  (Read 3385 times)

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Offline morpheus

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The man behind the mission
« on: 09 July 2007, 09:57:02 AM »
Who's reading Ajahn Brahm's book? A very mixed crowd - Germans, Chinese, Thais, any number of people literate in the eight languages into which his book has been translated. Executives, students, psychologists, even Christian chaplains.

"Last month, a Catholic priest in Adelaide phoned me especially to thank me for the book because he uses it in his chaplaincy work," Ajahn Brahm says, sounding both delighted and a bit amazed. "When you get praise from Christians, you think, wow, this book is actually making those bridges between different religions."

With his knack for presenting Buddhist teachings without being too "Buddhisty" - conveying their wisdom in universally relevant ways - he makes a skilful bridge-builder (if an imperfect bricklayer).

Whether travelling around the world giving talks or based at his monastery in Australia, where only two per cent of the population is Buddhist, Ajahn Brahm is actively involved in interfaith dialogue, although he would rather not use the term "dialogue".

"It's friendship, actually," he says.

He tells of a particularly close friendship he has with the Catholic abbot of a Benedictine monastery just north of Perth. Both being entertaining speakers, they regularly do public talks together as "The Two Abbots", a sort of two-man spiritual-comedy act.

The concept is catchy, but also inspiring. "People see a Buddhist abbot and a Catholic abbot sitting together, talking about similar things, and being obviously friends. And they love it."

The two abbots' close friendship also makes it possible to have that "interfaith dialogue" more effectively. Ajahn Brahm observes that at many interfaith gatherings, one has to "tread on eggshells" out of fear of causing offence.

"But our friendship has gone way beyond that now. We know each other well enough that we're not afraid to disagree. He can say whatever he likes. He's my friend and I refuse to be offended.

"He can say, 'I don't believe in reincarnation!' And I can say, 'I don't believe in God!' And we both win, because we know exactly what we mean," he says with a laugh.

Debates about God's existence aside, another sticking point some Buddhists - particularly orthodox Theravadans - may have in truly respecting other religions is their belief that the only way to achieve ultimate liberation is through the practice of insight meditation, which is not found in other religions.

When this point is raised, Ajahm Brahm immediately responds, "That's called conceit."

He then goes on to quote an inarguable authority - the Lord Buddha. "Once the Buddha was asked that question - 'Can you become enlightened in other traditions?' And he gave this beautiful answer: 'Wherever there's an eightfold path, wherever you practise a bit of meditation, some virtue, some wisdom, there you'll find people becoming enlightened."'

Still, that watch-word "meditation" was mentioned, was it not? Yes, but Ajahn Brahm is keen to demystify "meditation". Many times in his talks, he emphasizes that there is nothing magical or esoteric about it. Meditation is simply stilling the mind. "It's a fundamental freedom of all human beings." He likens it to getting out of a speeding car and walking. When you're riding in the car, you can only see the world whizzing by through the window, the details blurred. Once you slow down, once you still the mind, you can see more clearly.

Buddhism has no monopoly on meditation. He points out that meditation is so popular nowadays that there are meditation groups in Christian and other faiths, so non-Buddhists can practise it within a tradition they're comfortable with.

Nor does Buddhism, or any religion, have a monopoly on truth.

"Now, you can actually bottle water and sell it. But you can't bottle truth and sell it. Religions try to do that. [They say] 'We're the only ones who've got the truth. So we've got the franchise, and no one else can sell it."'

Just as water is the same, no matter what bottle it's in (and no matter what those clever marketers say), so truth is the same, no matter what religious container it's in - love, peace, harmony, forgiveness, freedom.

Making that distinction between the containers and the contents is the key to avoiding inter-religious strife, he says. So much conflict is instigated when others attack one's own containers - the symbols, texts, icons of one's religion. But one need not get upset if one can remember that they are just symbols, and focus on maintaining the contents, the teachings.

"When the Taliban destroyed the Bamyan Buddha statues, Buddhists did not allow themselves to seek revenge, because that would, in fact, mean the Taliban had succeeded not only in destroying the containers, but also the contents."

Similarly, he says, "A Muslim might say, 'I don't like those cartoons [referring to the controversy over offensive caricatures drawn of the Prophet Muhammad], but it's more important that we're friends. Forgiven.' Wouldn't it be wonderful if that happened?"

Following an incident where US soldiers allegedly flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet, Ajahn Brahm was asked what he would do if someone flushed a Buddhist holy book down a toilet.

"Call a plumber."
* I'm trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You're the one that has to walk through it
* Neo, sooner or later you're going to realize just as I did that there's a difference between knowing the path and walking the path

Offline langitbiru

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Re: The man behind the mission
« Reply #1 on: 09 July 2007, 02:49:37 PM »
Quote
Following an incident where US soldiers allegedly flushed a copy of the Koran down a toilet, Ajahn Brahm was asked what he would do if someone flushed a Buddhist holy book down a toilet.

"Call a plumber."

huahahahaha..this man is a trully comedian..huahahaha
oni... kao titi bobo... gigi...

Offline Sumedho

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Re: The man behind the mission
« Reply #2 on: 09 July 2007, 03:05:52 PM »
That's why he is well known. On his Dhammatalk we won't get sleepy, many laughter but with many "Dhamma values" in his talk.

You should watch his dhammatalk about "Clairvoyance". Free for download, or subscribe using video podcast.
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Offline langitbiru

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Re: The man behind the mission
« Reply #3 on: 09 July 2007, 06:26:22 PM »
sumedho : wah.. thanks for your information :D
but you know indonesiainternet connection not very good :(
just hoping someday i have chance to attend his dhammatalk live! :D
oni... kao titi bobo... gigi...

Offline Kalyanadhammo

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Re: The man behind the mission
« Reply #4 on: 10 July 2007, 07:29:40 AM »
By the way how much file size for the Dhammatalk video?

regards.
« Last Edit: 10 July 2007, 08:17:01 AM by Kalyanadhammo »

Offline Sumedho

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Re: The man behind the mission
« Reply #5 on: 10 July 2007, 07:58:03 AM »
English please :D

For average Dhammatalk video, 1 hour -> 30 MBs
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Offline Gun@saro

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Re: The man behind the mission
« Reply #6 on: 14 July 2007, 07:52:28 PM »
Little bit OOT, pals... Speaking of foreign language, it reminds me back to 1993s. I've seen many tutors from Yehova Sect, teaching Bible in English, inside McD (Gj Mada Plaza). Those pupils were elementary-junior high students. It was a great idea, as for sure most parents would be delighted. Learning English as the same time, developing spiritual.

Few year ago, I did saw may of them tought, even more, in Chinese. See, this is a good selling point. Reflect into our domain, I guess we shall try to implement this issue into our vihara/cetiya's activities. Such as: Sunday School (in English, of course).

Let's see what we can explore futher here...
Sukhi Hotu...

Gunasaro

 

anything