(rh) reg 120 buddhism journal


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1. What were your expectations of this religion? Before we started studying Hinduism, did you have any previous knowledge or experience with this religion?

2. What were the most interesting things you learned about this religious tradition?

3. Was there anything about this religion that really surprised you? Or that defied your expectations?

4. What is one thing that you appreciate or respect about this religion? This could be an attitude, a practice, a belief, a ritual, etc.

5. Which of the three readings (No Death No Fear, Earth and Meal Verses, Ethics for a New Millennium) did you find the most interesting? Why? What did you learn about the religion from the reading? Was there anything that you agreed or disagreed with in the reading?

6. What would you like to learn more about in this religion? Or what questions do you still have about this religion?

Your journal should be at least 500 words long and contain at least two direct quotations from the readings(one from two of the three assigned readings) along with the page number (if available). There are no right or wrong answers for this assignment. You will be graded on the completeness of your journal and whether you followed the assignment instructions. The journal is not due until we finish studying Buddhism, but you are welcome to start working on it as we are learning about it.

OK. So I’m going to introduce your first reading for Buddhism on the first reading that you’re going to do is a the first chapter from this book. It’s called No Death No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh is a very well-known very famous Vietnamese Buddhist monk. He’s quite elderly now. So he he’s been working and practising and living for many many decades. Really became famous during the Vietnam War because he’s one of the pioneers something that we’ll talk about called socially engaged Buddhism. He was very vocal against the Vietnam War and sort of used his status as a Buddhist monk to really come out strongly against against all violence all the violence that was happening during the Vietnam War. Thich Nhat Hanh, As I said he’s he’s very well known. He’s very well respected. And really as someone if you’re interested in Buddhism if you’re interested in learning more about Buddhism after this unit he is a great resource. He specifically writes really for. He has a lot of books that are specifically geared towards non Buddhists or Westerner’s to sort of introduce them to Buddhism to help them understand Buddhism. And he’s written many many books and most of his books are like New York Times best sellers. He’s a wonderful writer and a really good source of information about Buddhism especially for people who didn’t grow up within a Buddhist culture. So this this book and the reading that you’re going to do really focuses on the idea of reincarnation and Buddhism. In one sense it’s similar to the Hindu idea that we’ve studied already this idea that you know once you die you come back into this world until you’ve reached Nirvana until you’ve reached the final goal. You keep being reborn into some sorrow right into this cycle of life death and rebirth. But as you’ll see when you read this this reading in Buddhism it’s a bit more complex than that because there is no soul there is no Atman there is no core or essence of you that gets repeated in every lifetime. So Thich Nhat Hahn in this reading really goes into what does reincarnation mean in Buddhism. And this idea in Buddhism of no birth. No death. Right. That actually when you start to meditate on these concepts when you start to really analyse the concept of birth and death you will see that they are illusions. We actually are never born and we never die. We’re constantly a part of this world in many different forms. So all I’ll let you guys do the reading it. It’s really beautiful. He talks about the death of his mother and how he processes that how this idea of no birth no death helped him to to work through the grief and the suffering of the death of his mother. So I think you’ll enjoy it. And as I said if you’re interested in Buddhism I highly recommend reading any of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books on Buddhism. He’s a really wonderful wonderful resource. All right, I’m going to introduce our second reading for Buddhism, which is a chapter from this book here, which is called Ethics for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama. A lot of you have probably heard of the Dalai Lama before. This is a picture of him right here on the cover of this book. The Dalai Lama is the head of Tibetan Buddhism. So he himself is Tibetan. And he is you know, he is the sort of pope, you could say, of Tibetan Buddhism, but he actually lives in exile in India because Tibet is now has been annexed by China. It’s been part of the country of China for a very long time. And there’s a lot of disputes about the role of Tibetan Buddhism, the role of religion in Tibet. So the Dalai Lama actually no longer lives in Tibet because he is fearful for his life if he were to return to Tibet. But he is sort of a you could say now he’s sort of an international ambassador for Buddhism as well as non-violence. He’s he’s very well known, very well respected, gives gives talks around the world and writes lots and lots of books about Buddhism, similar to Tick, not Hohn. He sort of especially writes for a Western audience, for people who did not grow up within Buddhism, within Buddhist culture, to sort of introduce the concepts of Buddhism to those who are new to them. And the section that I’m having you guys read, the chapter that I’m having you guys read is called Dependent Origination and the Nature of Reality. And it’s really a sort of a and more in-depth look at this concept of dependent origination, which is one of the most important and one of the most complex and confusing concepts within Buddhism. We talked a bit in the lectures about Nortman, the no self or No Soul Doctrine and dependent origination is really taking that doctrine and remembering that it applies not just to ourselves. Right, but to the entire world. So everything in our world is empty of essence. It is not. It has no core, it has no essence and it is not independent. Right. Everything in this world is dependent on everything else. It’s as I said, it’s kind of an overwhelming concept. It’s something that Buddhists themselves meditate on and strive really their whole lives to come to a better understanding of. So that’s what his that’s what his chapter is on. That’s what this reading is about, is sort of how to start thinking about dependent origination. What does it mean that everything is dependent upon everything else? And how should that affect our lives? Right. For Buddhism, for Buddhist doctrine, this concept is important not just to better understand the nature of reality, but to help us to live better in the world. So for Buddhists, the concept of dependent origination is closely connected to ethics that if we change our perspective of the world, it will change the way we treat everything else in the world because we are dependent on everything else in the world. So for this week, for your reading, for Buddhism, you’re actually reading another short reading by tick. Not hon, I feel kind of bad for choosing the same author twice, but I really love this reading. And I think it’s a really great illustration of the connection between Buddhism and environmentalism. The notion of interdependence is something that has really inspired a lot of Buddhists to become very actively involved in the fight for climate justice and eco justice. So it’s very strongly connected. And this is a nice which is a nice short reading to kind of show show those connections and also give maybe a tool for four ways that that you guys can think about, the connection between between what we do every day and the health of the planet. So the reading itself is from this book here. It’s called Dharma Rain Sources of Buddhist Environmentalism. So this really is a main area in the study of Buddhism today, the connection between Buddhist doctrine, Buddhist practices, as well as the health of our planet, of our environment, of nature. So it’s from this book. It’s just a really short list of I guess you could call them either mantras or just sayings. It’s short phrases that are suggested, written by tick, not hand, and suggested by him to repeat to oneself as you’re doing certain actions throughout the day. So the ones that I’ve chosen are called the Earth verses. So it’s, as you say, certain things to think about or say to yourself as you’re waking up in the morning, as you’re washing your hands, as you’re interacting with the world, as well as the second section, which is called meal verses, which is sort of, again, sort of phrases or words that you can say to yourself, say out loud as kind of a reminder of gratitude, as well as the connection between what you’re putting into your body and the health of the entire planet. So I think you’ll enjoy this reading. It might seem long, but it’s really more like just little poems or little stanzas. So it’s not a very long reading, but it gives you a good a good idea about this very strong connection within Buddhism to to yeah. To environmentalism, to justice for the planet. Health for the planet. All of those all of those good things. So I hope you enjoy this. Tip-Top Reading.

Earth Verses

(first step of the day)

The green Earth

is a miracle!

Walking in full awareness,

the wondrous Dharmakaya* is revealed.

(turning on water)

WAter flows from the high mountains.

Water runs deep in the Earth.

Miraculously, water comes to us

and sustains all life.

(washing hands)

Water flows over my hands.

May I use them skillfully

to preserve our precious planet.


As I mindfully sweep the ground of enlightenment,

A tree of understanding springs from the Earth.


The mind can go in a thousand directions.

But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.

With each step, a gentle wind.

With each step, a flower.


Earth brings us into life and nourishes us.

Countless as the grains of sand

in the River Ganges,

all births and deaths are present in each breath.

(the watering garden)

Water and sun green these plants.

When the rain of compassion falls,

even the desert becomes an immense, green ocean.


Garbage becomes rose.

Rose becomes compost-

Everything is in transformation.

Even permanence is impermanent.

(watering plants)

Dear plant, do not think you are alone.

This stream of water comes from Earth and sky.

This water IS the earth.

We are together for countless lives.

(planting trees)

I entrust myself to Buddha;

Buddha entrusts himself to me.

I entrust myself to Earth;

Earth entrusts herself to me.

Meal Verses

(blessing the meal)

This food is the gift of the whole universe-the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it.

May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially our greed.

May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.

We accept this food so that we may realize the path of practice.

(filling the plate)

My plate, empty now,

will soon be filled

with precious food.

(seeing the full plate)

In this food,

I see clearly the presence

of the entire universe

supporting my existence.

(sitting down to eat)

Sitting here

is like sitting under the Bodhi tree.

My body is mindfulness itself,

entirely free from distraction.

(before the first bite)

Many beings are struggling for food today.

I pray that they all may have enough to eat.

(contemplating the food)

This plate of food,

so fragrant and appetizing,

also contains much suffering.

(the first four mouthfuls)

With the first taste, I promise to offer joy.

With the second, I promise to help relieve the suffering of others.

With the third, I promise to see others’ joy as my own.

With the fourth, I promise to learn the way of nonattachment and equanimity.

(upon finishing the meal)

The plate is empty.

My hunger is satisfied.

I vow to live

for the benefit of all beings.

(holding a cup of tea)

This cup of tea in my two hands-

mindfulness is held uprightly!

My mind and body dwell

in the very here and now.

*Dharmakaya is one of the three “bodies” of the Buddha. It means the true self, or Buddha Nature that is present within each person. We don’t learn too much about this aspect of Buddhism in our class, because it is important in Mahayana Buddhism, but if you take my Asian Religions class we discuss it there!

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