Tea House

Buddhistdoor Global's Daily Dharma Blog

Veggie Burger

The veggie burger is the quintessential hefty meal for a hearty lunch or dinner with family or friends. One of the more famous plant-based hamburgers is the Beyond Burger, which mimics all the taste, smell, and even texture and juice of a beef patty, but made from peas and other protein-packed plants, with beet helping to imitate the “redness” of the beef. Should you wish to make a more “traditional” patty, try mixing in beetroot into the vegetarian patty.

Hungry or cooking for a large group? Make a larger patty, and don’t hold back on the sauce.

With thanks to Susan Sim of Ci Bei magazine for the recipe.

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Science and Religion

Master Jingzong; English translation by Chia Chang Wang, edited by Jingtu

“Religion” here refers specifically to faiths that embrace a single creator-god.

Science and religion are like day and night. Science resembles the day; it wants to reveal things clearly. Religion is like the night, intending to enshroud everything.

Don’t criticize religions as “superstitious,” or complain that God is unknowable and unquestionable. The status and value of religion derives from the mystery of the unknowable and the authority of the unquestionable. It’s like the presence of night being rooted in invisible darkness.

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Roti Canai

Whenever I visit Malaysia, I never pass up the chance to enjoy some authentic and delicious roti canai. The texture and taste need to compliment each other. There’s a particular satisfaction to a good roti canai’s feel in your hands, not to mention how it feels and smells while you’re actually chewing it. The flatbread can be served in almost any fashion, eaten on its own or, even better, with your favourite curry.

With thanks to Susan Sim of Ci Bei magazine for the recipe.

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Allugobi

This is one of my favourite dishes: starchy, hearty, substantial potatoes (among my most beloved savoury foods) with cauliflower in a less bland iteration (I’m not usually a cauliflower person). The sauce is what makes all the difference, and a good curry should be fragrant, generous, and saturate the potatoes and cauliflower with flavour.

With thanks to Susan Sim of Ci Bei magazine for the recipe.

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Why Hindutva Ideology Will Obstruct Indian Buddhist Diplomacy

It was relatively recently in 2014 that Indian PM Narendra Modi went on an all-out charm offensive to Buddhists domestically and globally, appearing alongside Asian leaders at Buddhist sites during international trips and appearing personally at Bodh Gaya in September 2015 at the invitation of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC). While activities related to Buddhist diplomacy have continued, including the building of a monument at the site of a long-lost monastery in Gujarat, the general sense is that Modi’s campaign to woo Buddhist institutions within India and from abroad are not only falling behind China’s, but are losing steam somewhat. Why?

Tensions in the first quarter of this year began to bubble in March when India’s formidable Ministry of Culture held a conference on “world peace” and summoned the Dalai Lama there to address a conclave of guests from India and around the world. The conference was held at Nalanda, a patch of Buddhist land that China has also pinned significant diplomatic hopes on (see my article on the story of the Xuanzang monument for why this place is so sensitive in Sino-Indian relations). Ill will then spilled over into the Doklam dispute in Buddhist Bhutan, a tense standoff that lasted from June to August. As a result, elements of the Bhutanese media’s faith in the Indian government as a sober big brother were shaken and a good deal of goodwill built between Modi and Chinese Buddhists in preceding years (often at Buddhist sites in China) were shaken. During the dispute, the Dalai Lama’s careful silence was an indirect rebuff of Indian efforts to co-opt him as a diplomatic tool.

This reflects a basic problem in the current way Buddhist diplomacy is playing out in India: do Buddhists and Modi even share the same goals and vision?

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Conscience and the Buddha-Mind

Master Jingzong; English translation by Foxin, edited by Jingtu

An honest man speaks from his conscience. An Amitabha-reciter, though, speaks not only from conscience but from his Buddha-mind. In either case, it is not easy and requires courage; it may even offend people. This is because the consciences of worldly people are askew and their Buddha-minds are muddled. They are not accustomed to words spoken conscientiously, from the Buddha-mind.

Conscience by nature is moral and just. When two individuals are arguing, both may be offended by honest remarks. People in general are opportunistic. They side with the one who dominates the narrative, clinging to the powerful to oppress the weak. There are others who speak up for the feeble simply for the sake of supporting the weak. Sometimes, this may not be fair either.

A conscionable person does not necessarily choose sides but stands her moral ground. She may thus please neither side, an inevitable consequence of following her conscience. Rarely will one not conform to and flatter the majority. Shakyamuni Buddha advises us to follow the middle path and avoid extremes. Conscience is the middle path, but it is only human to be attached to one extreme or the other. No wonder there are few takers for ethical and forthright utterances from the conscience.

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Master Huijing’s Dharma Words about Attributes of the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism: Ultimate Truths

Master Honen therefore says: schools of the Sacred Path focus their practice on development of knowledge and discernment for realization of truth and entering nivana, while the practice of Pure Land school focuses on returning ignorance for rebirth in the Land of Bliss. “Returning ignorance” means not displaying our talents, wisdom, or good deeds in this school of teaching, and treat ourselves as idiots who can practice nothing and know nothing except “Namo Amitabha”. What we can do is, just like old folks, to recite, “Namo Amitabha, Namo Amitabha…” Enlightenment by meditation is a practice of the Sacred Path. For us, we closely follow the teachings of our founder. If we overestimate our ability and act according to our “smart” way, we will quite likely deviate from the right path.

Namo Amitabha!

Far and Near

Master Jingzong; English translation by Foyuan, edited by Jingtu

There are many people around us, of similar appearance and speaking the same language. The bonds among them are shallow, however. And the distance separating their inner hearts is farther than the milky way. In other words, though they seem near, their hearts are in fact far apart.

Amitabha Buddha is in the Western Pure Land, ten trillion cosmic galaxies from here. He neither speaks to us nor manifests himself. But if we recite his name, no distance will separate the Buddha from us. That is the meaning of far away yet near. Says the Contemplation Sutra: “Amitabha Buddha is not far from here.” And that’s the truth!

Unnecessary Worry

Master Jingzong; English translation by Fomu, edited by Jingtu

In the darkness there are many ditches and obstacles; we must use both hands and feet as we grope our way forward. Even with great caution, we inevitably bump, stumble and lose our sense of direction. We can only hope not to fall down flat. Amid daylight, however, we are able to walk swiftly and straight towards our destination. We may seem less cautious than in the dark, but our missteps will be fewer. More important, we will have a clear direction.

Non-believers in Amitabha Buddha’s deliverance are like those whose minds are shrouded in darkness. The minds of those who entrust themselves to Amitabha’s deliverance are illuminated by brilliant light. Some people worry that the Buddha’s unconditional deliverance will encourage self-indulgence and unwholesome behavior. This is like fretting about falling during an easy walk in daylight. Apparently they feel more assured crawling in the dark — and direction and destination are meaningless to them. People who have never seen the light speak from their own experiences amid the darkness. That merely reveals they have yet to witness the light.

It is pointless for those who are in the dark to worry about others who are in the light. We say to the former: “Why not join us for a safe and comfortable stroll in the light?” Yet they hasten to reply: “No. Even walking so carefully I still stumble often. If I walk leisurely like you, it will be much worse.” They are ignorant, stubborn and arrogant.

Is There Something Buddhist About Mario? (Seriously)

On 27 October the video game Super Mario Odyssey was released worldwide by Nintendo for the Switch platform. It’s pretty safe to say that very few people in the world (except yours truly) is thinking about how this game series relates to Buddhism. And I can already guess what you’re thinking. You assume I’m writing nonsense to get attention. Actually, that’s not my intention at all. I enjoy thinking freely and writing from novel, informed perspectives that others might hopefully find interesting. Am I saying that Mario is a product of Buddhist thought? No, there’s no reason to suggest that. But it might be fun to consider how the world of Mario and that of Buddhism intersect. So as Mario would say, “Here we go!”

As I began to write this blog post, I operated under the assumption that no one else had shared their thoughts on this topic. As it turns out, I was wrong. Jane McGonigal (a video game designer and author) gave an insightful talk at the Buddhist Geeks Conference in 2012 entitled “Is Super Mario a Buddhist?”. Her main argument is that the Mario games help us achieve positive mental states: “There is something about gaming, in that way, that I think is similar to meditation. A lot of people play games during difficult times in their lives to avoid ruminating on it.”

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