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02.12.11 : Verse For Repentance | Why Go On A Buddhist Pilgrimage? | Power Of Empathy Over Vengeance | State of the Dharma | Protect or Destroy

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  • NamoAmituofo
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    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 2, 2011
      The Daily Enlightenment
       Quote: Verse For Repentance (忏悔文)

      All the evil karma I have created in the past,
      from beginningless greed, hatred and delusion,
      that arose from my body, speech and mind,
      for all these I now seek repentance and reformation.

      - Samantabhadra Bodhisattva (Avatamsaka Sutra)


      - 普贤菩萨 (华严经)

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       Realisation: Why Go On A Buddhist Pilgrimage?

      All true pilgrimages without
      are truly pilgrimages within too,
      towards the immediate holy 'site'
      of our Buddha-nature.


      In the last sermon (Mahaparinibbana Sutta) by the Buddha, Ananda, his attendant disciple, remarked that the monastics used to gather after the seasonal rains retreat to meet and wait upon the Buddha, thereby also benefiting from the company of revered monastics, that after the Buddha's physical passing, these benefits would cease to be available (as there would be no more cause to gather). To that, the Buddha replied that there are four places that the pious should visit with feelings of reverence – where he was born (Lumbini), where he attained supreme enlightenment (Bodhgaya), where he set rolling the unexcelled wheel of the Dharma (Sarnath), and where he passed into parinirvana (Kushinagara). He added that, as attested today, there will indeed be pious monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen, who visit these places.

      The Buddha also taught that anyone who dies on such a pilgrimage undertaken with strong faith will be reborn in a happy heavenly realm (or another realm that one aspires, such as a Pure Land). This is possible as a pilgrimage made for reverencing the Buddha is very meritorious. The Buddha did not insist that every Buddhist has to go on such a pilgrimage, but suggested so as a means for both monastics and laity, similar to those in his time, to gather to benefit one another with the Dharma via the practice of reverencing him, as they retrace the significant places he went and recall the teachings given there. The benefits that Ananda was fearful of totally ceasing will perpetuate, though in subtler ways, via the practice of going on pilgrimage itself. Many centres have been established near these sites to facilitate Buddhist gatherings too.

      For more than 25 centuries since the Buddha's parinirvana, millions of Buddhists have made (repeated) pilgrimage(s) to the four holy sites – not simply because the Buddha suggested so, but because they truly experience the myriad blessings of making such a trip, which further inspires their faith in the Buddha and his teachings, urging them to walk the path of practising, realising and sharing the Dharma like he did. Because the Buddha mentioned that even dying faithfully on a pilgrimage leads to a good rebirth, such a pilgrimage is literally 'worth dying for', even though this is not compulsory! That said, it should not be mistaken that such trips are very hazardous nowadays, though it was especially the case in ancient days, when pilgrims venture from afar without the convenience of planes, trains and automobiles!

      A physical place is experienced as sacred
      only when it is spiritually charged up,
      and/or when its visitors are likewise so.


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       Excerpt: The Power Of Empathy Over Vengeance

      Have empathy
      instead of vengeance for the vengeful,
      as vengeance can karmically rebound.

      - Stonepeace

      Several months ago, a student of mine broke her pelvis after falling off a horse. While she was recovering, her boyfriend ended their relationship, Through phone calls and e-mails, he criticized her for 'playing the victim' and trying to gain sympathy. He told her that the accident was a result of 'bad karma' because she had disturbing relationships with her family. Throughout the process, she refused to talk about his response, making her ex-boyfriend into a 'bad guy' in the eyes of friends and family, and reinforcing that judgment in her own mind.

      In an odd coincidence, three months after ending the relationship, he ex-boyfriend fell from a tree and broke several bones in his back. My student could have responded negatively when he called to ask her to return some devices he'd sent to relieve her physical pain. Instead, she made a care package, including the requested devices along with homeopathic remedies that had helped her endure her pain. Having recognized the emotional pain of being attacked while suffering severe physical pain, she chose to take what some people call the 'high road.' Instead of asking him if he was playing the victim or if the accident was the result of bad karma, she recognized the emotional pain she'd felt and chose to extend herself by sending a care package.

      Rather than fighting with her ex-boyfriend, she responded empathetically, experiencing a peace of mind while extending to him not only the opportunity of peace but also the chance to appreciate the possibility of recognizing what he'd done in judging her. Had she responded angrily, throwing his accusations back at him, it's likely he would have closed his mind and become bitter or more harshly judgmental. By choosing to extend herself by preparing a care package instead of retaliating, she not only experienced an opening of her heart, she also offered him the opportunity to open his – that is, to recognize that attacking someone in pain is probably not the best approach to establishing and promoting healthy relationships.

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