Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Winehouse singing Buddhist chants

Amy Winehouse
London (ANI): Troubled singer Amy Winehouse has turned to Buddhism in a bid to find peace of mind in the hectic life she is living. Sources have revealed that Winehouse chants the Buddhist chant 'Nam Myoho Renge Kyo', and follows the teachings of the Nicherin Daishonin Buddhism.

"One of her musicians introduced Amy to Buddhist chanting. She chants for ten minutes in the mornings and just before she sleeps," the Sun quoted a source as saying.

"Amy has also been watching the interview clip of Tina Turner chanting on YouTube and she reckons it's already affecting her in a positive way. She has a string of Buddhist beads that she chants with, which she keeps in a red silk scarf. She says chanting is filling her life with positivity while she is trying to sort herself out," the source added.

Other fans of Buddhism include Pete Doherty, Kate Moss, Courtney Love, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Jonny Wilkinson: 'I've become a Buddhist after reading quantum physics books'

By Colin Fernandez Last updated at 8:03 PM on 19th September 2008

We should have known that Jonny Wilkinson had a spiritual side from the way he clasps his hands as if in prayer before he kicks for goal.

Now the England rugby star has revealed that he has found inner peace through Buddhism.

Wilkinson, 29, who became a national hero in the 2003 World Cup, said the religion had helped him overcome a fear of failure which was ruining his life.

His obsessive perfectionism had been making him miserable but Buddhism had liberated him from being motivated by ‘money, status, or ego’.

Shaggy: England rugby hero Jonny Wilkinson with his longer hair and more relaxed attitude playing for the Newcastle Falcons last weekend

The millionaire sportsman said that within 24 hours of winning the World Cup final against Australia in Sydney, he felt a powerful feeling of anticlimax.

‘I did not know what it really meant to be happy. I was afflicted by a powerful fear of failure and did not know how to free myself from it.’

Soon afterwards his career was derailed by injuries which put him out of the international game for four years.

To distract himself he tried learning the guitar, the piano, French and Spanish.

In the end he had a ‘Eureka’ moment while reading a book on quantum physics – the study of sub-atomic particles.


More relaxed: Wilkinson now and during the World Cup in 2003 which left him fearing failure despite his final drop goal clinching victory for England

‘Quantum physics helped me to realise that I was creating this destructive reality and that all I needed to do to change it was to change the way I chose to perceive the world,’ he told the Times.

‘I do not like religious labels, but there is a connection between quantum physics and Buddhism, which I was also getting into.

‘Failing at something is one thing, but Buddhism tells us that it is up to us how we interpret that failure.

'The so-called Middle Way is also about having the right intentions.

In love: The fly-half with girlfriend Shelley Jenkins early last year

In love: The fly-half with girlfriend Shelley Jenkins early last year

‘Are they decent and honest and are you giving consideration to other people? Selfishness can never be the route to happiness or success.’

Wilkinson’s live-in girlfriend Shelley Jenkins, 27, the daughter of a scaffolding magnate, is apparently ‘really happy’ about Wilkinson’s new enlightenment.

‘I have improved as a person in my relationships, not just with her, but with friends and family,’ he said.

Asked to explain the deeper reason for his Buddhist faith, he added: ‘I think it was rooted in an even deeper fear of death.

‘I couldn’t figure out how to avoid death: it was like a game I could not win. The closer I got to family and friends and the better things got, the more I had to lose.

‘I have accepted my career will finish one day and I am in a place that will enable me to make that transition comfortably. I will not have to reinvent myself to cope with life after rugby.’

Although Wilkinson is about to publish his autobiography, it will not mention Buddhism and physics in case anyone ‘might have thought I was trying to be the new Stephen Hawking’.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Buddhism Now Third Religion in Netherlands

Nisnews Bulletin

AMSTERDAM, 27/05/09 - Buddhism has expanded in the Netherlands into the third religion after Christianity and Islam. The growth is so strong that as well as Islamisation, it is possible to speak of Buddhisation of the Netherlands, argue researchers Marcel Poorthuis and Theo Salemink in De Volkskrant.

The Netherlands now has an estimated 250,000 Buddhists or people who feel strongly attracted by this religion, largely white Dutch. In 1998, there were only 16,000 including just 4,000 Dutch natives and 12,000 Buddhist immigrants from Asia.

While Islamisation is often seen as a threat by politicians like Geert Wilders, and associated with violence and collectivism, Buddhism in the Netherlands is seen as an individualist faith that stands for non-violence and pacifism. But this idea is doubtful, concludes De Volkskrant.

Poorthuis, a lecturer in inter-religious dialogue, considers it "odd" that "nobody is concerned" about the strong growth of Buddhism. "Buddhism apparently has a much better image than Islam."

Poorthuis and Salemink, both University of Tilburg scholars, argue in a just published book, Lotus in the Low Countries, that Buddhism also has other sides. "For example, the Kamikaze pilots in the Second World War had Buddhist teachers. And the Dalai Lama can also not avoid conflict due to Tibet's difficult political situation, even though the Netherlands wants to make him into an unworldly pacifist," says Poorthuis.

Many Dutch people call themselves Buddhist without knowing exactly what the religion consists of, according to Poorthuis. The teaching is also sometimes commercially misused, as in management courses. "Instead of raising the question of whether the credit crisis was caused by greed, Buddhism has been used to optimise production processes."

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rev. Julius Goldwater; Convert to Buddhism Aided WWII Internees

The Rev. Julius A. Goldwater, an early American convert to Buddhism revered for safeguarding the belongings of hundreds of Japanese Americans forced into internment campus during World War II, died June 11 at his Los Angeles home after an illness. He was 93.

A descendant of a German Jewish clan that included late Sen. Barry Goldwater, his first cousin, he became an ordained Buddhist priest in the 1930s, when Buddhism was relatively unknown in the United States and white converts were rare. He went on to teach Buddhism in Los Angeles for almost 70 years.

"As a priest, he was a pioneer in this country," said the Venerable Walpola Piyananda, president of the Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California.

From the 1960s to the 1980s, when new waves of immigration brought Buddhists from Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Korea and other countries to the U.S., Goldwater helped them get settled and establish temples, often with money from his own pocket. He was part of the group, along with Piyananda, that founded the Buddhist Sangha Council in the 1980s to draw together diverse representatives of the Southland's growing Buddhist community.

Goldwater was born in 1908 to a well-to-do Los Angeles family. He encountered Buddhism as a teenager when he went to live with his father in Hawaii after his mother's death. There he was impressed by the teachings of three men: the Rev. Ernest Hunt, an Englishman who had become a Buddhist minister; Yeimyo Imamura, a Japanese bishop; and Tai Xu, a Chinese monk. In 1928, he started a study group called the Buddhist Brotherhood in America and began to teach Buddhism in Los Angeles.

During the 1930s, he was ordained in Kyoto, Japan, by the Jodo Shinshu sect. He was ordained again in Hangzhou, China, where he spent time in a monastery. He took a Buddhist name, Subhadra.

In the late 1930s, he returned to Los Angeles to become a minister at a large Buddhist temple in Little Tokyo. Then called Homba Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, it was built at First and Central streets, the site now occupied by the Japanese American National Museum.

He had been recruited by the temple's Japanese-immigrant elders, who feared that their American-born children were rejecting Buddhism as too "old country." As one of the very few white Buddhists, Goldwater "was brought in to show that you could be American and you could be Buddhist," said the Venerable Sunyatha, one of Goldwater's disciples.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Dalits, nomads convert to Buddhism en masse

Gulf Times, May 28, 2007

MUMBAI, India -- About 50,000 low-caste Hindus and nomadic tribespeople converted to Buddhism before a vast crowd yesterday in the hope of escaping the rigidity of the ancient Hindu caste system and finding a life of dignity. Monks in orange and saffron robes administered religious vows to the converts as about half a million spectators, mostly Buddhists, cheered the ceremony at the Mahalaxmi horseracing track in Mumbai.

Some of the converts were low-caste Hindus once considered as “untouchables” by the higher castes, but most were members of India’s numerous nomadic tribes.

Many of the tribespeople had their faces painted and ritually flagellated themselves before being asked by the monks to give up their practices and follow the non-violent path of Buddhism.

“Whatever may have been your religion until now, from today you will take refuge in the teachings of the Lord Buddha,” one told them.

At a signal from the monk conducting the proceedings, the converts, some of them visibly emaciated or carrying babies in their arms, stood up, took off their shoes and with folded hands repeated Buddhist chants.
Hindu scriptures separate people into Brahmin priests, warriors, farmers, labourers, and those beyond definition — called “Dalits”.

These low-caste Hindus, making up about a sixth of India’s 1.1bn people, were once considered “untouchable”, performing the most menial and degrading jobs.

While the constitution forbids caste discrimination, and spectacular economic success and exposure to Western culture have remoulded many social paradigms, the caste system has persisted, above all in villages.

Large-scale Dalit conversions take place periodically in India, with close to 10,000 changing faith in October to mark the 50th anniversary of the conversion of their deceased political leader Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar.

Ambedkar, a low-caste Hindu who rose to become a distinguished jurist and played a key role in drafting India’s constitution, galvanised Dalits with his public rejection of caste and Hinduism itself.

Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who was due to preside at the function could not attend due to health problems.

“They want to embrace Buddhism because it is a free religion. It is open to all. It preaches non-violence and is not divided on the basis of caste,” Ramdas Athavle, the leader of the Republican Party of India (RPI), which organised the event, said.

“Now Ambedkar’s dream of making entire India Buddhist again is going to be fulfilled,” a senior Buddhist monk Bhadanta Rahul Bodhi Mahathero had earlier told the Hindu newspaper.

Yesterday’s conversion came just two weeks after Mayawati, a Dalit woman, was sworn in as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state in an unexpected majority win that some saw as a sign of how far the group has come.

Dalits are still often beaten or killed if they use a well or worship at a temple reserved for upper castes.

“I’m here because people from our village have decided to become Buddhist,” said Santosh Mane, a landless labourer from a village about two hours’ drive from Mumbai.

Sushil Kathe, who traveled thousands of kilometres to convert yesterday, remembers not being allowed to drink from the local well as a child growing up in a village in a rice-growing district of Maharashtra.

“The upper caste came and did not allow us to drink water. They said the place would be impure if we were allowed to take the water,” said Kathe, 25, who sells religious booklets.
The conversions have been opposed by right-wing Hindus who have pushed some states to legally restrict the practice, calling them “forced.”

But landless labourer D G Khade said conversion was his only hope of a life of dignity in India.

“The Hindu religion is structured in such a way that we lower-caste people will never get dignity,” said Khade.

“I am 45 and I don’t want my children to suffer my fate.”

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Teachings of Some Christian Churches Drive Some Converts to Buddhism

By: Robert Williams
Tuesday, 19 June 2007, 23:33 (EST)

As the Dalai Lama completes his tour of Australia, his visit has been seen by some as boosting the number of adherents to the Buddhist faith as the religion is now moving towards the Australian mainstream.

The Voice of America (VOA) reported that Tibetan nuns chanting traditional prayers are increasingly common in Australia, as the nation has more Buddhists per capita than anywhere else in the Western world.

Experts who study religious trends in Australia say many converts to Buddhism found the teachings of some Christian churches too rigid and intolerant of questions about the faith, reported the VOA.

In a three-year national study on the religious behaviour of Generation Y published last year, the co-author of the study, Dr Andrew Singleton from Monash University said that Generation Y in Australia is gradually departing from religion where some are turning to alternative spiritualities.

However the number turning towards these alternative spiritualities is not as big as Dr Singleton expected. He said: “It's well-known that there has been a turn away from church attendance and participation in young people. But we thought there was going to be a move towards alternative spiritualities. There are still a number turning towards it, but not as big as you would have thought."

The survey found 20 per cent of young people did not believe in a god and 32 per cent were unsure.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Italian contemplates life as Buddhist monk

By Wu Jiao, China Daily, Nov 17, 2007

Nanjing, China -- A week after becoming a Buddhist monk in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, an Italian man finds he hardly has any time for meditation.

"I have to speak to journalists all the time. I haven't started (Buddhist meditation) so far," said the 28-year-old, who preferred to be identified only as Lucas.

Lucas during his ordination at Xuanzang Temple in Nanjing last week. [China Daily]

He was ordained on November 10, becoming the first Italian, and perhaps the first foreign Buddhist monk in China, attracting crowds of reporters.

Lucas' ordination took place at Xuanzang Temple, well known for housing the relics of master monk Xuan Zang, who was famous for his 16-year pilgrimage to India and translating Buddhist scriptures in the early Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD).

Lucas used to visit the temple at weekends when he was studying Chinese at the nearby Southeast University.

Explaining his conversion from Catholicism to Buddhism, he said all religions share similar underlying basic truths though they have different cultural manifestations.

The master's graduate from the University of Rome speaks fluent Chinese after spending two years in China. He described his commitment to Buddhism as yuan fen, or destiny.

"Becoming a monk was rather an internal call determined by fate," said Lucas.

Despite the ease with which he changed his religious belief, his tutor at the temple was actually quite cautious in accepting the foreign disciple.

Master Chuan Zhen, the abbot, said he didn't accept Lucas until he passed one year of observation, to make sure that he did not make the choice on the spur of the moment.

"I found that although his knowledge of Buddhism was limited, his belief was strong," Chuan Zhen recalled, stressing that he has a very good understanding of classic Buddhist concepts.

For instance, Lucas' favorite Buddhist hymn is, "Put down the killing knife, and become a Buddhist at once".

"It means that human life is basically a struggle, but one can get internal peace once he stops struggling," said Lucas.

He was confident that he could obey the five basic precepts of morality defined in Buddhism, including commitments not to kill, drink alcohol or engage in sex.

Master Chuan Zhen has a major ambition - that Lucas can one day be like Matteo Ricci, the first foreigner to bring Catholicism to China in the late 16th century.

"I have high expectations of him," said Chuan Zhen. "Some day he might take Buddhism to Rome."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Orlando Bloom's time out for Buddhism

By Ryan Parry, Mirror, April 19, 2007

Los Angeles, USA -- HOLLYWOOD star Orlando Bloom is taking a break from acting to embrace life as a Buddhist. The Lord of the Rings star made the decision after admitting his life had turned into a "white knuckle ride".

Orlando, 30, who chants daily, said: "The philosophy I've embraced isn't about sitting under a tree and studying my navel.

"It's about studying what's going on in my life and using the fuel to go on and live a bigger life."

He added: "I've been white knuckling it for so long. Between the first Lord of the Rings and the last Pirates of the Caribbean, I've been going non stop.

"So now I just want some time and space from everything and the phone and the communication."

Orlando credits a recent trip to South Africa for changing his life. He said: I felt so isolated and vulnerable and I had time to think."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Former nurse, now a Buddhist nun will teach that change is inevitable

by Nancy Haught, The Oregonian
Monday June 08, 2009, 4:42 AM

Portland, Oregon (USA) -- Ani Gilda Paldron Taylor was a nurse in the 1960s, confronting death and dying on a daily basis, when she began to think about suffering. A Christian at the time, she asked her Episcopal priest to explain why suffering seemed to be inevitable.

"It's God's will," the priest said.

"That did nothing but cause frustration," says Taylor, now 74 and a survivor of breast cancer, a brain injury and at least one economic recession.

She's also now a Tibetan Buddhist nun who thinks her own experience with suffering might help others who are struggling in today's economy.

Taylor, a native Oregonian and the leader of Portland Sakya Center, is offering a free series of conversations about fear and suffering. It's time, she says, to set aside the tongue-twisting jargon of Tibetan Buddhism and offer help to people, whether they have spiritual backgrounds or not, who are jobless, living on reduced incomes or facing the loss of their homes.

"If you were working in an emergency room," she says, "and someone came in with a headache and someone else was bleeding out of their belly, who would you attend to first?

"There's a lot of bleeding going on right now. Let's try to control the hemorrhaging."

In an interview, Taylor talked about suffering and the Buddha's insights. Her responses have been edited for clarity and brevity.
Isn't it a leap from the end-of-life suffering you saw as a nurse to the end-of-a-job suffering so many people feel now?

Losing a job is just like a death. Our jobs are who we are. I've been fired and found that I didn't have an identity beyond my job. There are stages, emotions to move through when you lose a job: disbelief, anger, sadness. I've been down this garden path before. I've experienced the terrors of economic downturns, of having your salary depend on the economy.

Now, even people who are meaningfully employed -- and there's no chance they'll lose their jobs -- still have fear. Fear is worse than the measles. Everybody catches it.

Isn't fear a reasonable response given the economic situation?

Fear comes, and then paranoia arises. We think, "I am the only one this is happening to. I'm the only one feeling shame because I've lost a job." Or, "I'm working in a grocery store or a service station." Self-cherishing plays such a prominent role.

What do you mean by "self-cherishing"?

Self-cherishing describes a person who is interested only in their personal well-being, which could be a need for recognition or affirmation by others. Wisdom and compassion produce an individual who is totally focused on others.

What's an example of a tool that Buddhism offers in the face of suffering?

Impermanence -- thinking that this won't last forever. "Change" is the same thing as impermanence. We tend to cling to things so much. Somehow we think that everything in our lives should be as solid as the pyramids -- and you've seen what happened to them over the years. Trying to avoid change is like standing on sand.

Does meditation really help?

I'm not suggesting it's the answer to all things. But stabilizing our minds is a great benefit, the ability to sit down and not think, not to grab hold of fear and not to look into the future.

But people looking for jobs are looking into the future, looking after their futures. Is that a problem?

Sometimes, if fear plays a role. If you've had cancer, and a pain or lump appears, you see it and think "cancer." Fantasizing too much before an interview distracts you from the qualities that you would bring to a job. When I was a health industry recruiter, I'd advise people to stop projecting into the future and come back to where they were. Look at your own history. What have you survived before?

Is it better to look to the past?

Too often we -- and I mean Americans -- forget our past. There has always been strife. There have always been wars. There have always been recessions, always been declines. But there has also always been good health and prosperity.

So, is there a Buddhist bottom line?

It's important to accept change. You are more than you think you are. The Buddha taught that we are all, by nature, pure, with no blemish, no stain. The bottom line is that we're all pure nature and we can draw upon a stream of consciousness that has always existed and will continue to exist.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

List of converts to Buddhism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From Abrahamic Religions

[edit]From Christianity

[edit]From Islam

[edit]From Judaism

  • Goldie Hawn, (b.1945-), actress.
  • Surya Das, (b.1950-), Lama who founded Dzogchen Foundation and Centers. (from Judaism)[19]

[edit]From Indian religions

[edit]From Hinduism

[edit]From Other or Undetermined

Richard Gere converted to Buddhism