The new millennium will be ushered in by the biotech century. The earlier we prepare the better. In the short term, we will be affected in these main areas: medical treatment; industrial, agricultural, and forest use; and food. First, let us take a brief look at some problems with the use of genetic engineering in agriculture and in our food. Then I would like to make some simple suggestions about steps we can take to assess the situation here in Mendocino (...) County. (shrink)
The following story is about the Venerable Mahā-maudgalyāyana, an enlightened disciple of the historical Buddha Śākyamuni. Mahā-maudgalyāyana travels to a distant solar system, to a planet which is inhabited by giant people, and on which there is also a Buddha with disciples practicing under his guidance. The story, which brings to mind Swiftâ€™s Gulliver in the land of the giants, is remarkable in many respects. The Buddha and Mahā- maudgalyāyana both probably lived during the ﬁfth and sixth centuries BCE. In (...) the European West, until the time of Galileo (1564-1642), most educated people thought the whole cosmos rotated around the earth and consisted of the sun and seven planets. They did not realize that the stars were other suns. This story here related shows that 2,500 years ago, Buddhists were aware of a vast cosmos ﬁlled with suns and planets and sentient life. Contemporary, scientiﬁcally oriented people often have a tendency to dismiss non-Western cosmologies as limited, primitive, and distorted myths, in the negative sense of that word. In this story we are presented with a cosmology that seems much closer than the Western pre-Galilean view to the contemporary scientiﬁc view of the physical universe. Of course the assertions about the spiritual powers of the Buddha and Mahā-maudgalyāyana and the size of the people on the distant planet do not merge so easily with contemporary scientiﬁc, materialist mindsets. (shrink)
After having been invited to the United States by some disciples from Hong Kong, the Master established a Buddhist Lecture Hall in San Francisco's Chinatown in 1962. In 1963, because some of the disciples there were not respectful of the Dharma, he left Chinatown and moved the Buddhist Lecture Hall to a first-floor flat in a run-down Victorian building on the edge of San Francisco's Fillmore District and Japantown. The other floors of the building contained individual rooms for rent with (...) communal kitchens. Those rooms were occupied by poor, elderly black people and a bunch of young Americans who were, in various ways, eagerly searching for meaning in their lives. (shrink)
Reversing the light to shine within, Avalokiteshvara Enlightens all the sentient beings, thus he is a Bodhisattva. His mind is thus, thus, unmoving, a superior one at peace. His total understanding of the ever-shining makes him a host and master. When the six types of psychic powers become an ordinary matter, Then even less can the winds and rains of the eight directions cause alarm. Rolling it up retracts it and keeps it secretly hidden away. Letting it go expands it (...) so it fills the whole world entirely. (shrink)
The Venerable Master's vision was as vast as the Dharma Realm, and he taught and transformed all beings without regard to path of rebirth, country, ethnic origin, religion, and so forth. There are two countries, however, where he had special affinities in this life: China and the United States. Although the majority of his disciples are Chinese, history will probably remember him primarily for his work in bringing the teachings of the Buddha to the people of the West.
Many of America's new Buddhists are spreading the idea that they are a "sangha" and that their lay "sangha" movement is the correct adaptation of Buddhism to the American scene. Where does this peculiar and dangerous idea come from?
I want to relate to you two striking examples of animals acting with more humanity than most humans. My point is not that animals are more humane than humans, but that there is dramatic evidence that animals can act in ways that do not support certain Western stereotypes about their capacities.
"Oh, no, no," she replied. "You don't understand. My husband and I are in a terrible business. The monk here, who is my spiritual teacher, told me that we should sell it or we will face horrible karmic retribution, but we just can't seem to extricate ourselves. I just try to create a little merit to help us, but I know it is not enough.".
When Dharma Master Heng Shun called to invite me to speak, he didn’t tell me that I was supposed to speak on the interior life. If he had, I would have said no, because here we have so many experts on the interior life, who are real professionals. I think that’s one of the great contributions of Buddhism to the world. It is a professional curriculum in the interior life. Although we have explorers of the interior life in the West, (...) too, I don’t think there’s the same kind of systematic dedication to that exploration as there was in ancient India and in particular in Buddhism. (shrink)
The first series of doctrinal arguments in the Surangama-sutra (T. 945) is concerned with the Buddha's refutation of seven hypothetical locations for the mind proposed by Ananda.The arguments are the first step in the development of the teaching of the entire work. A synopsis of the arguments follows.
Measure H is confusing to many people, because the scientific issues involved are complex, and few have the necessary scientific background to analyze them themselves. When those of us of more advanced years were growing up, the university scientific community for the most part was independent and objective, today even the best universities are dependent upon multinational corporations for their funding. Many scientists even have to go out and fund-raise for major portions of their own salaries. Nowhere is the situation (...) worse in this regard than in the field of biotechnology. And no modern day Jesus has yet driven the money-changers from the temple of science. Where else can we look for guidance? (shrink)
Measure H reads: “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm, or corporation to propagate, cultivate, raise, or grow genetically modified organisms in Mendocino County.” It goes on to exempt any GMOs associated with medical treatment and any GMOs that come into the county through commerce. Genetic modification in the sense in which it is defined in the ordinance refers to genetic engineering, not conventional breeding or hybridizing. GMOs cannot be produced conventionally.
The topic of this panel is "Biotechnology: Boon or Bane for Spiritual Development." It has very often been said that we are on the threshold of the biotech century, and I am sure that all of you are very clearly aware that genetic engineering is going to totally reshape life on this planet in many ways: economically, politically, scientifically--particularly in terms of medicine, and also environmentally. Most important for all of us is what the relationship of this incredible technology will (...) be to the spiritual nature of human beings. Although an enormous amount has been written on biotechnology, very little has been written about the relationship between biotechnology, particularly genetic engineering, and the human spirit. (shrink)
I would like to thank the Sangha for inviting me to speak with you tonight. Some of you may be wondering what Measure H has to do with the Buddhadharma and why we are taking time during the period for sutra lectures to discuss it. I think it's very important to remember that all dharmas are Buddhadharmas, and that the Venerable Master Hua taught us that we have a responsibility towards the country in which we are living. (...) class='Hi'> This is one of the few places in the world where we can freely practice Buddhism without interference or oppression from the government. This is a democratic country in which the principle of freedom of religion is practiced. In order to protect freedom of religion and to maintain the democracy in this country, all the people in the country, including us-both lay Buddhists and monastic Buddhists-must act responsibly. If you are a citizen, you have the responsibility to vote intelligently. If you are a teacher, you have a responsibility to teach the students how to be knowledgeable and responsible citizens of this country. And if you are student, you should learn what it means to be a responsible citizen. And if you are in none of those categories, you still have a responsibility to do whatever you can to lessen the suffering of all the sentient beings in this country. That is why it is important that you understand about Measure H and its relationship to the Buddhadharma. (shrink)
The monastic and the layperson are both individuals whose individuality is empty of essential, permanent reality. To the extent that they hold to individual identity, they are deluded. To the extent that they grasp dharmas, such as, ‘I am a nun or laywoman on the Path,’ they are also deluded, but that is an attachment that can lead to non-attachment, and ultimately to enlightenment. The Buddha said.
The historical Buddha Shakyamuni denied the divine authority of the Brahmins, the Hindu priestly class. He set up a system of taking refuge with the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha) in which a member of the Buddhist monastic community becomes the representative of the Three Jewels and the teacher of individual lay Buddhists. He also set up lineages of enlightened masters, who were entrusted with the task of carrying on the authentic teachings.
The choices I will be talking about have to do with biotechnology and genetic engineering, choices which we are currently not making consciously because we really don't know what is going on. I would like to tell you what is going on in these areas, and then talk about how we might approach this matter in ethical ways.
Although there are people from the north and people from the south, there is ultimately no north or south in the Buddha nature. The body of the barbarian and that of the High Master are not the same, but what distinction is there in the Buddha nature?
From the very first milk you suckle, your food is genetically engineered. The natural world is completely made over, invaded and distorted beyond recognition by genetically engineered trees, plants, animals, insects, bacteria, and viruses, both planned and run amok. Illnesses are very different too. Most of the old ones are gone or mutated into new forms, yet most people are suffering from genetically engineered pathogens, either used in biowarfare, or mistakenly released into the environment, or recombined in toxic form from (...) originally harmless but rapidly mutating engineered organisms. Genetic engineering is so commonplace, you start your own simple experiments with it in elementary school. (shrink)
One major reason for the importance of the Sutra is its final section, presented in this volume, on fifty deviant mental states associated with the Five Skandhas; ten states are described for each of the skandhas. For each state a description is given of the mental phenomena experienced by the practitioner, the causes of the phenomena and the difficulties which arise from attachment to the phenomena and misinterpretation of them. In essence what is presented is both a unique method of (...) cataloguing and classifying spiritual experience and indication of causal factors involved in the experience of the phenomena. Although the fifty states presented are by no means exhaustive, the approach taken has the potential of offering a framework for the classification of all spiritual experience, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist. (shrink)
What might it be like to be a Buddhist in a future world where your life started with your parents designing your genes? In addition to screening for unwanted genetic diseases, they would have selected your genes for sex; height; eye, hair, and skin color; and, if your parents are Buddhists, maybe even for genes that allow you to sit easily in the full lotus position. Pressured by current social fads, they may also have chosen genes whose overall functions are (...) not clearly understood but are rumored to be connected with temperament, intelligence, mindfulness, and perhaps psychic powers. (There is no longer any need to search for reincarnated lamas. They now clone themselves and get reborn in their own clones.) If your parents are poor, they may have been paid to design you with genes tailored for a particular occupation, together with a pre-birth contract for future employment. As in the film Gattaca, you probably belong to a clearly defined social class according to the degree of your genetic enhancement. Of course there may still be a few weird, unenhanced naturals-by-choice meditating in the mountains. (shrink)
Imagine a world in which as part of their basic substances tomatoes contain fish and tobacco, potatoes contain chicken, moths and other insects, and corn contains fireflies. Is this science-fiction? No, these plant-animal hybrids already exist today and may soon be on your supermarket shelves without any special labeling to warn you. Furthermore, in a few years the types of these genetically engineered "vegetables" are sure to increase and may very possibly also include human genes. If you are a vegetarian, (...) do you want to be in the position of inadvertently eating vegetables that are part meat? Even if you are not a vegetarian, are you ready to become a cannibal and eat foods that are part human being? (shrink)
The bare bones of the story of Bodhidharma, that strange, bearded, wide-eyed fellow who brought the meditation school of Buddhism that we know as Zen to China, are well known. He sailed from India to Canton and then proceeded to the court of Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty, who asked the Patriarch how much merit he had accumulated from sponsoring the building of temples, the copying of Buddhist scriptures, and the ordination of monks. When Bodhidharma replied, "None," the emperor (...) didn't understand, so Bodhidharma went north, crossed the Yangtse River on a reed, and spent nine years gazing at a wall at Shao-lin Monastery. (shrink)
It is very easy to get the feeling here in our local community that we have reached an impasse on pollution and many other environmental issues. The lines are clearly drawn, and all too often loud name-calling drowns out the little meaningful dialogue that is actually taking place. My purpose tonight is to present some ways of looking at environmental questions that are very old, yet which may represent fresh approaches to many of us. Perhaps some of the ideas can (...) provide new beginnings for meaningful dialogues and perhaps even solutions. The three main ancient traditions that I would like to discuss, albeit very briefly, are Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. (shrink)
Buddhists call Buddhism the Buddha Dharma: the Dharma, a collection of methods for getting enlightened, taught by a Buddha, a Fully Enlightened One. Buddhists refer to themselves as people who have taken refuge with the Three Jewels: 1) the Buddhas or Fully Enlightened Ones, 2) the Dharma or methods taught for reaching enlightenment, 3) and the Sangha or community of Buddhist monks and nuns, called Bhikshus and Bhikshunis. In formally becoming a Buddhist one becomes a disciple of a Buddhist master, (...) a fully ordained Bhikshu, who administers the Three Refuges: "I take refuge with the Buddhas; I take refuge with the Dharma; I take refuge with the Sangha.". (shrink)
I greatly enjoy meeting with all of you today, because I see you are all especially capable and intelligent young people. In the future you certainly can help America to be even better; you can cause its glory to be even greater. Today I would like to thank Professor Lancaster very much for inviting me here to meet with all of you. I fully see this professor's methods, by which he is able to cause your knowledge to increase daily. So, (...) day by day you have new things to learn. One can say that among present-day professors, his professorial methodology represents a very special kind of genius. I hope that you will all be able to receive this professor's continually fine inducement. Since your professor teaches you in this way, none of you should be ungrateful for the hopes which he has for you. (shrink)
What I would like to do in the next few minutes is to outline very briefly some of my research on the authenticity of the Shurangama-sutra. Although the material is rather complex, I'll do my best to omit what is tedious without sacrificing important points. However, it will be necessary to omit most of the details just in order to get through the material.
(Originally published in Vajra Bodhi Sea , Jan., Feb., Mar., 1985. Copyright by Vajra Bodhi Sea. Permission is granted for single copies made for personal use. Comments and corrections may be sent to the author's e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.).
Genes are the fundamental chemical codes that determine the physical nature of all living things, from the tiniest single-celled organism to human beings. Genes make up the DNA, the cell-level master plan which determines how the organism is going to develop in all ways that are not environmentally influenced.
Genes are the fundamental chemical codes that determine the physical nature of all living things, from the tiniest single-celled organism to human beings. Genes make up DNA, the cell-level master plan which determines how the organism is going to develop in all ways that are not environmentally influenced.