Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dalai Lama Draws Thousands of Japanese Buddhist Crowd


Yokohama, Japan, 20 November 2007 (Phayul) - Some 5000 Buddhists, mainly Japanese, congregated in the National Convention Hall of Yokohama city, Kanagawa prefecture, to hear His Holiness deliver message of peace and hope.

His Holiness was invited by the All Japanese Buddhist Federation (AJBF) and Kanagawa Buddhist Federation (KBF) to speak on the topic Shinzuru Kokoro to Heiwa (Faith and Peace) at the Buddhist Conference commemorating their 50th and 40th anniversaries respectively.

Mainly relying on his own experience and from the lessons of the Buddhist Tibetan tradition, The Tibetan spiritual leader spoke on how to create a more peaceful world by reducing gap between human perception and realities in today’s world.

His Holiness blamed many of the world’s man-made problems and crisis to lack of “realistic approach”.

Pointing out at the problem of “more mental and emotional crisis among younger generation” and increasing global “environmental damages”, His Holiness told the Buddhist conference that “these problems which we are facing are creation of human beings themselves – in some cases (through) mistakes, some cases – negligence, and also some cases out of ignorance”.

“The gap between human perception and today’s reality should be reduced. There should be less and less gap between these two for a more sensible approach to reduce many problems,” His Holiness insisted.

The Tibetan spiritual leader also did not approve the wide gap between the rich and poor, which he says “exists even in developed nations like United States and Japan”. “That is not only morally wrong … practically also there are problems” he added.

His Holiness also called for incorporation of moral lessons in today’s educational system. “Modern education pays more and sufficient attention on brain development only and less or no attention on moral values. I think that is a mistake,” the Dalai Lama said.

On the question of “whether the world with six billion people (are) going towards doomsday,” the Dalai Lama said, “It depends entirely on our mental attitude, hope, vision, and our efforts.” Taking the example of Japan, the Dalai Lama said the people of the country “did not give up” after the World War II crisis. “With more hope and determination, Japan is now strong and very much advanced,” the Dalai Lama said.

“Because of negative events and negative developments, if we lose our hope and self-confidence, and remain pessimist, then we will not develop,” the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate told the crowd.

Describing himself as a “simple Buddhist monk”, the Dalai Lama said promotion of human values and religious harmony are two of his main commitments in life. He, however said, Buddhist concept of interdependency is worth an attention for non-Buddhists and, both believer and non believer of religion. Since the concept is based on reasoning, the Dalai Lama said the concept “can be very much relevant in this 21st century”. Because of its scientific implications, the Dalai Lama also opined that it could be even more useful for non-believers and scientists.

To the Japanese Buddhists, the Dalai Lama demanded more serious practice of the Buddha Dharma. For followers of other faiths, he said there was no need of religious conversion to understand the concept of another religion.

The President of the All Japanese Buddhist Federation and Yokohama City Mayor were among those dignitaries at the Buddhist Conference in the shell-shaped hall, which is one the largest in the world.

After the conference, the Dalai Lama interacted briefly with Mongolian community in Japan at the latter’s request.

The Tibetan leader is currently on a 9-day Japan tour beginning November 15.

Although he was well received by the religious groups, the Japanese government officials have avoided contact with the exiled Tibetan leader in an obvious effort not to irk China. But the popularity that the Dalai Lama enjoys in Japan, with its considerable Buddhist population, enabled the organisers of the Tuesday’s conference to sell out 5000 tickets within hours.

The Dalai Lama earlier described his current visit as part of his effort to promote human values and religious harmony. On Sunday he paid visit of the nation’s most sacred Shinto shrine and participated in an Interfaith Forum at Kogakkan University in Western Japan’s Ise City, Mie Prefecture.

While in Yokohama, His Holiness is expected to give lectures in two private schools and visit a Shingon Buddhist temple in Tokyo's Bunkyo-ku before leaving for India on November 23.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Zen -- Harmony for Mother Earth (Takuhatsu)


It is a tradition among zen monks to periodically embark on takuhatsu or begging bowl exercise. This is a system used by Zen monks who are in training, to beg for their food or for the temples' needs. This is generally done in groups of ten to fifteen.

In keeping with this tradition, the Zen Center for Oriental Spirituality in the Philippines, of which I am a student of, is embarking on its own Takuhatsu. Its friends and members have organized a unique concert entitled "Zen -- Harmony for Mother Earth"December 9, 2007, a Sunday, at 7:30 p.m. and will be held at the Bro. Donato Center for Perofrming Arts in La Salle Greenhills. The concert will feature Noel Cabangon and Susan Fernandez (as guest performer).

Please PM me for further inquiries regarding tickets or call me at 933-17-96. which aims to help raise funds for the Zen Center. The concert will be held on

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Diabetes, Obesity & Zen

It has been about three months since I was told by my Doctor that I was diabetic. At first, i was so worried about my condition that I underwent a short period of depression. I had this idea that diabetes meant a life of bland food for the rest of my life. To calm my fears, I did a lot of research over the internet regarding diabetes, and was surprised to learn that one can live a nearly normal life even with diabetes. Then an invitation to attend the Glimpse into Zen orientation at the Zen Center for Oriental Spirituality came, and I decided to attend.

We were a small group of attendees, probably less than twelve, and composed of individuals of varying ages and professions. Our hostess, Dr. Lulu Ignacio of Cardinal Santos, gave us a brief introduction on zen meditation and its beginnings here in the Philippines, as well as a backgrounder on the beginning of the Zen Center for Oriental Spirituality in the Philippines.

The talk was a short one which lasted about thirty minutes. We were then taken to the meditation area where we were taught how to "sit" or meditate properly, the potures we should use, the hand positions and everything else in between.

When i walked into the Zen orientation, i had no intention of finishing the entire "course", but i found myself going weekly to attend the orientation. It was then that i discovered that slowly, zen meditation helps me to cope with my diabetes. Being overweight for nearly a third of my life, it also helped me to see clearly the need to revere my body, thus encouraging me to eat foods that are not harmful to my body (which is a good thing since, as a diabetic, i am under strict orders by my doctor to follow a strict dietary regiment).

I and my "peers" have finished the 5th session and we are on our last three sessions before our formal acceptance into the practice. Being able to sit daily for ten to fifteen minutes used to be hard for me, but now has become sort of second nature. It has helped me to become a calmer person, more patient and understanding of others. I have learned to overcome my insecurities regarding my weight and have adjusted to a more tranquil lifestyle.

It got me thinking that Doc Lulu is right: nothing happens by chance. We moved to Provident without knowing that the Zen Center was just three houses away. I found out my sister practices zen when we moved to Provident. Now, I am taking the zen orientation classes.

My 5 weeks experience with zen has led me to believe that it can help others in my situation to try meditation, whether as a form of stress relief, therapy for the insecure or just plain sitting in silence in union with others.