Friday 30 May 2014

NATRE: Guidance on RE matters

NATRE: Guidance on RE matters

A Review of Religious Education in England & Framework Religious Education Council of England and Wales
The RE Review, an initiative of the Religious Education Council of England and Wales, takes account of wider educational aims, including the aims of the new national curriculum. In particular, it embodies respect for the law and the principles of freedom, responsibility and fairness. It demonstrates a commitment to raising expectations and standards of the RE received by all children and young people.
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Academies and RE NATRE
Statement from the DfE about the legal requirement for RE in Academies.
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Complaints protocal for maintained schools NATRE
Complaints protocol for maintained schools - 2013.
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Exam Reform 2013 NATRE
A presentation outlining exam reform 2013.
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Glossary of terms QCDA
A glossary of key terms in Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism.
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Improving RE through collaboration and outreach Fiona Moss
Improving RE through collaboration and outreach A FREE training conference for specialist leaders in education, lead and leading practitioners and advanced skills teachers in RE This one-day conference will support the development of the senior or middle leader involved in working with individuals or teams in their own and other schools. Using the RE Quality mark as a benchmark for RE professional development and school improvement, delegates will be prepared for REQM assessor accreditation. There will be a focus on the sharing of good practice, group discussion and practical activities.
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Ofsted generic grade descriptors - RE Ofsted
Generic grade descriptors and supplementary subject-specific guidance for inspectors on making judgements during visits to schools

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Ofsted Grade Descriptors Ofsted
Generic grade descriptors and supplementary subject-specific guidance for inspectors on making judgements during visits to schools. Useful for all RE subject leaders.
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Ofsted report 2013 - Religious education: realising the potential Ofsted
Ofsted's 2013 'long report' on RE.
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RE & Collective Worship in Academies and Free Schools DfE
A Q&A response from the DfE outlining the position with regard to RE and Collective Worship in Academies and Free Schools.
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Religious education guidance in English schools 2010 DCSF
Non-statutory guidance for RE in English schools, published January 2010. This guidance replaces Circular 1/94 with regard to guidance on RE. Pages 26 - 30 are of particular relevance to schools.
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Schools White Paper 2010 DfE
The Importance of Teaching - the Schools White Paper 2010, published 24 November.
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SMSC - Guidance for Ofsted Inspectors 2012 Ofsted
Subsidiary Guidance issued to Ofsted Inspectors for Section 5 inspections of schools and academies. Includes reference to SMSC and the curriculum.
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Transforming Religious Education Ofsted report 2010 Ofsted
Ofsted's 2010 report on Religious Education based on research in 30 primary and 30 secondary schools over three years.
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Using the 2013 Ofsted report to support RE NATRE
Guidance from NATRE on how to use the 2013 Ofsted Report 'religious education: realising the potential' to support RE.
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Voices of faith and belief in schools NATRE
Guidance and a code of conduct.
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Warwick University Research: Materials to teach about world religions in schools in England. DCSF
The final report of Warwick University's research project for the DCSF, published January 2010.
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Thursday 29 May 2014

NATRE: Ideas for Teaching RE

Free NATRE resources

10 Beginnings for Foundation Stage RE NATRE
10 flexible sets of learning ideas for children in the 4–5 age group.
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10 Beginnings for RE in the Reception Class NATRE
Here are 10 flexible sets of learning ideas for children in the 4–5 age group. What could your school make more use of from this list? Which ones are you already doing well? And what would be numbers 11–15 if you wrote them? How does each idea connect to Early Learning Goals and to other curriculum areas of learning?
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10 Ideas for better visual learning in RE NATRE
Everyone signs up to the importance of visual learning these days, but there’s a risk that it stops with adding a few illegal pictures from the web to your worksheets. After deciding that visual learning matters, then what? How can the strategies of visual learning enhance RE? Images may add zip, pzazz and vim to tired lessons, but can they also deepen learning, broaden awareness and challenge attitudes? Try these ten ways forward.
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10 Ideas for rubbish RE NATRE
Rubbish RE: The ten worst examples we could find!!
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Warwick University Research: Materials to teach about world religions in schools in England. DCSF
The final report of Warwick University's research project for the DCSF, published January 2010.
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The Assessment Foci for APP in RE NATRE
The Assessment Foci for APP in RE.
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Somebody's Elses Shoes NATRE
Case Study: developing a compelling learning experience by Helen Simpson, Plumstead Manor School.
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Chanting as a Buddhist Practice

Chanting: A Basic of Buddhist Practice

by Barbara O'Brien

When you go to a Buddhist temple you may encounter people chanting. All schools of Buddhism have some kind of chanted liturgy, although the content of the chants varies widely.

Full Article

Bowing as a Buddhist Practice

Bowing as a Buddhist Practice

by Barbara O'Brien

Bowing is found in all Buddhist traditions. There are standing bows, bending at the waist with palms together. There are many sorts of full prostrations, sometimes touching one's forehead to the floor, sometimes stretching the entire body out on the floor.
This article will address two basic questions about bowing as a Buddhist practice -- why and how.

Full article

Wednesday 28 May 2014

Zen Buddhism In Search of Self

Zen Buddhism In Search of Self

Women's Korean Retreat

A MONK: BODHIDHARMA - The First Patriarch of Zen

A MONK: BODHIDHARMA - The First Patriarch of Zen 

Published on May 29, 2013
Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived during the 5th-6th century CE. He is traditionally credited as the transmitter of Ch'an (Sanskrit: Dhyāna, Japanese: Zen) to China, and regarded as its first Chinese patriarch. According to Chinese legend, he also began the physical training of the Shaolin monks that led to the creation of Shaolinquan. Little contemporary biographical information on Bodhidharma is extant, and subsequent accounts became layered with legend.The principle sources, given in various translations, vary on their account of Bodhidharma's origins.Two popular traditions exist regarding Bodhidharma's origins. An Indian tradition regards Bodhidharma to be the third son of a Tamil Pallava king from Kanchipuram, while the Japanese tradition regards Bodhidharma to be from Persia.The accounts also differ on the date of his arrival, with one early account claiming that he arrived during the Liú Sòng Dynasty (420--479) and later accounts dating his arrival to the Liáng Dynasty (502--557). Bodhidharma was primarily active in the lands of the Northern Wèi Dynasty (386--534). Modern scholarship dates him to about the early 5th century.Several stories about Bodhidharma have become popular legends, which are still being used in the Ch'an and Zen-tradition. Bodhidharma's teachings and practice centered on meditation and the Lankavatara Sutra. The Anthology of the Patriarchal Hall (952) identifies Bodhidharma as the 28th Patriarch of Buddhism in an uninterrupted line that extends all the way back to the Buddha himself.

Why did Bodhidharma go to the East ?

Why did Bodhidharma go to the East ?

Yong Kyun Bae, 1989


Buddhist weddings and other rituals

Buddhist weddings and other rituals 

 (originally a reply to a student enquiry)

Buddhism started off from India around 2500 years ago, and as it has progressively become known and accepted in different countries, it has been adapting its message and rituals to best suit the local cultures, incorporating local customs and symbols and giving them a new dimension and lease of life.
The whole of Buddhism can be seen as a skilful means, designed to lead those that feel so inspired to walk for themselves the spiritual path, that leads away from unnecessary suffering brought about by my deluded perception of what is happening, fired as it is by my wants, dislikes and distorted seeing; a path that leads to fulfillment, and the healing of the chasm between me and other, and to joyful participation in the great life where we all find our home and origin.
Different cultures place different value on the rituals themselves, but generally speaking they are rites of passage, helping the individuals involved cast aside roles that they have outgrown and help them slip smoothly into other roles better fitting their circumstances, and responsibilities to their immediate family, circle of friends and society at large.  How society is organized is bound to have a big influence on the nature of the roles themselves and the function of the rituals.
A Tibetan clan celebrating a wedding and the coming together of two families in the harsh environment of the Himalayas, where collaboration and mutual support carry an obvious survival advantage, is bound to look and feel rather different from a ceremonial exchange of vows and rings in the Rockhampton Town Hall, sanctioning a union that might not last for more than few years.
The seven Sacraments as known to Catholics are invested with a strong sense of the Sacred, matched by the gravity with which the failure to live up to them is looked at.  
To some extent birth, but especially Ordination in its various forms, and also Death rituals in Buddhism might come somewhat close, but please bear in mind that however solemn, they would always be regarded as undertakings by individuals (or on their behalf),  rather than being invested with the authority of a personal God.
Marriage in particular is regarded more as a civil union/partnership designed to underpin society and provide a safe and loving environment in which children can grow, rather than a relationship by nature carrying an intrinsic value per se : not a coming together of two souls for eternity or even life, but rather a training ground in which wife and husband (or partners) can learn to gradually lay down the burden of me, and open up to other, more easily done where love prevails. However close relationships carry the danger of attachment, possession, dependency and exclusion, resulting in two individuals causing each other an extra layer of suffering, rather than growing together.
So, in the light of all that, the best I can do is to point you to some web resources, that are bound to be culturally/ethnically biased, but at least you will get a feeling of the significance of marriage rituals in a variety of settings.,%20Blog/CE808F25-F3BE-464C-A16D-D0A49B1089FC.html

Korean Buddhist Traditions and History

Korean Buddhist Traditions and History

The 1,400-plus years of Buddhist traditions in Korea can be viewed from two different
perspectives. A walk along an imaginary trail which passes the temples and hermitages occupied
by famous monk-philosophers such as W|nhyo (617-686), Chinul (1158-1210), Hyuj|ng
(1520-1604), and Han Yongun (1879-1944) would provide glimpses of the ideas which have
shaped and informed Korean Buddhist thought over the centuries. Such a trail for much of its
length would run close to Korea’s border with China, since the history of Buddhist monastic
thought in Korea was intertwined with the history of Buddhism in China until recent centuries. A
second path, however, would offer a different perspective. An observer who peered into temples
and shrines frequented by lay practitioners along a trail which meandered through Korea’s
villages, towns, and cities would discover that there are many features of Korean Buddhist
practice which are unique to Korea. Indigenous traditions of animism and shamanism, with their
focus on supernatural assistance in solving practical problems encountered in everyday life,
have merged with Buddhism to create a lay Buddhism which is different from Buddhism as it is
practiced in China or elsewhere.

Full Article

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Eckhart Tolle: The Most Powerful Video on Spirituality and Happiness

Published on Jun 12, 2013
See this page for more happiness, health and wealth:

Eckhart's profound yet simple teachings have already helped countless people throughout the world find inner peace and greater fulfillment in their lives. At the core of the teachings lies the transformation of consciousness, a spiritual awakening that he sees as the next step in human evolution. An essential aspect of this awakening consists in transcending our ego-based state of consciousness. This is a prerequisite not only for personal happiness but also for the ending of violence on our planet.

Eckhart is a sought-after public speaker and teaches and travels extensively throughout the world. Many of his talks, intensives and retreats are published on CD and DVD. Most of the teachings are given in English, but occasionally Eckhart also gives talks in German and Spanish. Eckhart is also a pioneer in using technology to disseminate his teachings. Through, he gives monthly talks, live meditations and answers questions from viewers. In addition to The Power of Now and A New Earth, Eckhart has written a book designed for meditative reading entitled Stillness Speaks. A book consisting of selections from The Power of Now is also available, entitled Practicing the Power of Now.

"I keep Eckhart's book at my bedside. I think it's essential spiritual teaching. It's one of the most valuable books I've ever read."
~ Oprah, from

Sunday 25 May 2014

Images of Enlightenment - A Journey Through Buddhist Art

Images of Enlightenment - A Journey Through Buddhist Art

By Sheffield Buddhist Centre

Published on Apr 18, 2014
Suryamati takes us on a journey through the history of Buddhism by exploring the art that emerged with each great phase. Talk given at Sangha Night, Sheffield Buddhist Centre, as part of a series of talks on Buddhism through Time and Space.

BBC: A point of view: Is it better to be religious than spiritual ?

BBC: A point of view: Is it better to be religious than spiritual ?

 More and more people are rejecting religion but embracing spirituality. But have they got things the wrong way around, asks Tom Shakespeare

Full article

Saturday 24 May 2014

The Guardian : Is Buddhism a Religion ? and more,

Is Buddhism a religion?

In the first part of a new series, we examine why many consider Buddhist practices to be philosophical rather than religious
Also :

Buddhism as respite from the anxiety of orthodoxy

Michael McGhee: Is Buddhism a religion, part 2 : Christianity and its need for 'believers' has profoundly shaped ideas about religious life

 Humanism needs spirituality

Is Buddhism a religion?, part 3: Buddhists seek to discover the conditions for the possibility of wisdom and virtue

The Buddhist pursuit of self-knowledge

Is Buddhism a religion?, part 4: Bodhi is the condition of being awake. But is this a metaphor that can find human embodiment

What the luminous mind of the Buddha shows us

Is Buddhism a religion?, part 5: The idea of awakening does not offer an escape from self, but a way to attend to its nature

Can values come from within?

Is Buddhism a religion, part 6: Secular humanism, Christianity and Buddhism have differing views about the source of human goodness

Children Full of Life - learning from a wise teacher

Children Full of Life - learning from a wise teacher

In the award-winning documentary Children Full of Life, a fourth-grade class in a primary school in Kanazawa, north-west of Tokyo, learn lessons about compassion from their home-room teacher, Toshiro Kanamori.

Thursday 22 May 2014

BS: Buddhist Society Talks

Buddhist Society Talks

BS:Approaches to Practice: Secular Buddhism? by Chris Ward

Approaches to Practice: Secular Buddhism? 

by Chris Ward 

Published on May 13, 2014
Even a cursory glance at news and internet sources suggests that the world of Buddhism is changing. The traditional Asian Buddhist schools that have been the focus for our practice for the past fifty years or so, now sit alongside very popular new forms such as that characterised as the 'mindfulness movement'.

As someone who has been teaching meditation groups for a long time, I now find that many newcomers have become interested in Buddhism through attending Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) courses. Mindfulness training also sits within a growing trend towards Secular Buddhist practices.

How should those of us who may have spent many years engaging with traditional Asian Buddhism now view the emerging secular forms? Is this the long prophesied Western Buddhism that many have hoped for or an unwanted watering down of the Dhamma? Should we welcome the fact that mindfulness is now being taught in many secular institutions including UK schools, hospitals and businesses, or be concerned that it is being taught outside of a traditional context? And how should Buddhist institutions respond to these changes?

In this lecture I will outline what is meant by Secular Buddhism, provide evidence for its growing popularity and propose that this is broadly to be welcomed and embraced -- and that many traditional Asian Buddhist schools are doing just this.

Chris Ward is a mindfulness and meditation teacher, blogger and independent Buddhist researcher specialising in modern UK Buddhist history, contemporary secular Buddhist teaching frameworks, and early Pali and Theravada Buddhism. He has led one day and weekend retreats for over fifteen years at Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and taught Buddhist and meditation groups at a range of venues. He has acted as Secretary of the Amaravati Lay Buddhist Association (ALBA) since its inception. He edited the ALBA Community magazine for many years and has published several articles on Buddhism and mindfulness practice.

For several years he was the Buddhist representative on the Hertfordshire Standing Advisory Council for Religious Education (SACRE).
Chris was Secretary and Trustee of the Network of Buddhist Organisations from 2010 until 2013. He has also played a leading role in several national projects for the Buddhist community most recently including -- 'EarthKind' -- in July 2012 for the Year of Service diamond jubilee project sponsored by the Department of Communities and Local government (DCLG).

Thursday 15 May 2014

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Wiki: Zen Lineage Charts

Wiki: Zen Lineage Charts

Zen lineage charts depict the transmission of the dharma from one generation to another. They developed during the Tang Dynasty, incorporating elements from Indian Buddhism and East Asian Mahayana Buddhism,[1] but were first published at the end of the Tang.[2]

Tuesday 13 May 2014

The Religious Studies Project at a Glance: An Archive

The Religious Studies Project at a Glance: An Archive

The Religious Studies Project has been on the go since January 2012 and, as such, we have accumulated quite a vast range of material already. We wanted to give you, our audience, an easy way to access everything that we have done in the one place, so that you can find material quickly, and easily share this information with friends and colleagues. We’ll try to keep this archive as up-to-date as possible, and to expand it to include themes for easier browsing. But, for now, please see below for links to all of our compilation podcasts, interviews, roundtable discussions, features essays and useful resources.
Thanks for listening!
The RSP Team
PS Don’t forget that you can subscribe on iTunes, follow us on Twitter, and ‘like’ us Facebook.

 All the Resources

Tibetan Ritual, to inaugurate the monastery's new temple

Chokling Monastery in India : Tibetan Ritual to inaugurate the monastery's new temple

Let yourself be guided through a visual journey beyond time.
During ten days, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Neten Chokling Rinpoche, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche and the monks of Chokling Monastery in India performed a Drupchen of Chime Phakme Nyingtik, a special cycle of practices to gain power over life, to inaugurate the monastery's new temple.

here is the video 

UrbanDharma: A Buddhist Guide to Death, Dying and Suffering

A Buddhist Guide to Death, Dying and Suffering
Audio / eBooks / Articles / Free Download

--- --- ---
"Good health is simply the slowest way a human being can die." - author unknown

November 25, 2011 - An old man was found dead in the waiting hall of a train station in Taiyuan, the
capital city of North China’s Shanxi Province. Among his fellow passengers was a Buddhist monk.

see link for Resources on Death and Dying

Sunday 11 May 2014

The Buddha and His Teachings by Venerable Nārada Mahāthera

The Buddha and His Teachings

by Venerable Nārada Mahāthera

Buddha Rasmi Resources

The twelve-Linked Chain of Dependent Origination (PIYADASSI THERA)

The twelve-Linked Chain of Dependent Origination



i. Ignorance (avijjà)
ii. Volitional formations (sa§khàrà)
iii. Consciousness (vi¤¤àõa)
iv. Mentality-materiality (nàma-råpa)
v. The sixfold base (saëàyatana)
vi. Contact (phassa)
vii. Feeling (vedanà)
viii. Craving (taõhà)
ix. Clinging (upàdàna)
x. Becoming (bhava)
xi. Birth (jàti)
xii. Ageing and death (jarà-maraõa)
Pañicca samuppàda (anuloma)
Pañicca samuppàda (pañiloma)



Class 2 : Beginners - ages 7 - 10 Yrs.- Buddhism

Life of Buddha –Triple Gem, Buddhist Stories
The Five precepts – Learning the meanings and practise reciting
Stanzas – Worshipping Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and Parents

Truetube: A guided visit to the Chiswick Vihara

A guided visit to the Chiswick Vihara

Two young Buddhists called Rushika and Amile welcome TrueTube to their Vihara in West London. We're given the full tour and learn about Buddhist beliefs and worship. - See more at:

Saturday 10 May 2014

TrueTube: Wesak

TrueTube: Wesak

Short Zen Stories

Short Zen Stories

Buddhist Stories (comics) by SotoZen-net (7 languages)

Buddhist Stories (comics) by SotoZen-net (7 languages, Select at the top)

(Dogen Zenji, Shakyamuni Buddha, Keizan Zenji, Bodhidharma)

PEW: Global Views on Morality

PEW: Global Views on Morality

The Pew Research Center’s 2013 Global Attitudes survey asked 40,117 respondents in 40 countries what they thought about eight topics often discussed as moral issues: extramarital affairs, gambling, homosexuality, abortion, premarital sex, alcohol consumption, divorce, and the use of contraceptives.1 For each issue, respondents were asked whether this is morally acceptable, morally unacceptable, or not a moral issue. The chart below displays the median responses for each question across the 40 countries.

SOTO Zen Videos and photos

SOTO Zen Videos and photos

Thursday 8 May 2014

Shinran Shonin, his wish and light

Shinran Shonin, his wish and light  

 Published on May 9, 2013
Life of Shinran Shonin, the Founder of Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in Japan
This is a good movie depicting Shinran's life and a good introduction in his teachings.
Still, beginners might meet with a difficulty in understanding what Shinran wants to say at minute 1:29:40 in the movie. The same words are recorded in Tannisho and I explain them in my book The Path of Acceptance -- Commentary on Tannisho. Please read the passage and my explanations bellow:

"I have no idea whether the nembutsu is truly the seed for my being born in the Pure Land or whether it is the karmic act for which I must fall into hell. Should I have been deceived by Master Honen and, saying the nembutsu, were to fall into hell, even then I would have no regrets. The reason is, if I could attain Buddhahood by endeavoring in other practices, but said the nembutsu and so fell into hell, then I would feel regret at having been deceived. But I am incapable of any other practice, so hell is decidedly my abode whatever I do." Tannisho, chapter 2.

In this passage, Shinran Shonin explains his faith in a way that might seem very strange at first sight. It can even be interpreted that he somehow doubts the teaching he received. He says that he would have no regret if he was deceived by his Master, Honen.

But his statement is beyond ordinary ideas of right or wrong, and it is not something like: "If things go well, then I follow my Master, and if not, then I leave him". Rather, he says: "anywhere my revered teacher goes, I will follow him, even if he goes to hell". The words of Shinran does not express doubt, on the contrary, they are the expression of his diamond-like faith who is no longer obstructed by the words "but what if I am wrong?"

This passage is closely related with "if you imagine in me some special knowledge of a path to birth other than the nembutsu or of scriptural writings that teach it, you are greatly mistaken".

By saying "I have no idea", he admits his ignorance and by "I am incapable of any other practice", he acknowledges his incapacity to attain birth in the Pure Land and Nirvana by self-power practices. His faith has two aspects: profound awareness of his limitations and his evil karma which can take him only to hell, and his total reliance on the saving power of Amida Buddha.

My book The Path of Acceptance -- Commentary on Tannisho can be bought or downloaded for free at this link

Please, support the construction of Amidaji Temple

The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Christianity and Buddhism

The Parable of the Prodigal Son in Christianity and Buddhism

by Ernest Valea

Most Westerners are familiar with the Parable of the Prodigal Son as it appears in Luke's Gospel, but probably few are aware that it has a Buddhist parallel in one of the major writings of Mahayana Buddhism. Although both parables seem to convey a similar message regarding God's compassion for humans, a closer look will reveal fundamental differences in their teaching and consequently between Christianity and Buddhism. Let me quote both parables and then analyze them.


Agape And Compassion

Augustine Ichiro Okumura,O.C.D.
It is often said that Christianity is a "religion of love" while Buddhism is a "religion of wisdom" In Buddhism, there is the teaching of Amitabha's mercy, (Maitri) which liberates mankind completely so that in end even hell will be abolished. In Christianity, we find the great wisdom literature in the Old Testament; and in the New Testament, the thought that "to know", Christ is great wisdom. St. Paul furthermore declares the supreme advantage of knowing Christ in whom all knowledge and wisdom are concealed (Phil 3:8, Eph 1:17, Col 1:9; etc).  


Contrasting the Parables of the Prodigal Son in Buddhism and Christianity
By: Jerry Benjamin Stout
Within the two religions of both Buddhism and Christianity there exists parables involving a prodigal son who leaves home and eventually returns to his father. The stories are seemingly very similar in structure and plot but vary on key issues which provide stark contrast as to their meaning. I won’t waste time in recounting the two tales in great detail, but will focus mainly on how they differ from one another in meaning. Before reading this one should read the two parables; the one told by Christ can be found in the gospel of Luke 15:11-32 and the one told by the Buddha in the Saddharmapundarika Sutra 4.

The meaning of the parable of the prodigal son in the gospel of Luke is rather obvious compared to the one found in Buddhism. The son’s leaving of home represents rebellion against God; the attitude we know as sin. His lifestyle of sin eventually leaves him penniless and feeding swine, a job that would be considered the lowest of the low in Jewish society. This represents the miserable human condition that we find ourselves in when we live lives of sin. Eventually the son makes the decision to return to his father in humility and ask for forgiveness. In the parable the son is welcomed with love and compassion and his father throws a party for him to celebrate his return. The purpose of Jesus teaching this parable is to teach sinners of our need for repentance; a turning away from sin and a return to communion with God.

The meaning of the Buddhist parable is quite different being that it differs on many key details. As with the parable taught by Jesus, a young man leaves home, however in the parable taught by the Buddha the young man’s father is not wealthy to begin with so he is not leaving with any amount of wealth as does the son in the parable taught by Jesus. The symbolism that could possibly found here is that within Buddhism there existed no initial period of grace in which human beings were reconciled to God and after which we fell into sin. In Buddhism the attitude is rather that ignorance accumulated over many lifetimes of physical existence inhibits our ability to view reality as it is. The primary struggle between good and evil or righteousness and sin is less stressed in Buddhism whereas the struggle between ignorance and the extinction of ignorance and suffering and is more apparent.

Within the Buddhist parable, the son wanders from town to town in search of work and manages to support himself to a degree. Eventually, the son stumbles upon the house of a man who seems to be a king due to his apparel and his being waited on by servants and the like. What has happened is that the son’s father has accumulated a vast amount of wealth while his son was away to the point in which his son does not even recognize him. Within this parable the father represents the Buddha and the essential Buddha-nature which is said to exist within all human beings. It seems that the father’s accumulation of wealth represents the achievement of Buddhahood. However the father is troubled because he lacks an heir for his wealth.

As the Buddhist parable continues, the son is noticed by his father and he sends his servants to fetch him. The son is frightened by this and feels that he is going to be imprisoned. The son eventually faints and this is witnessed by his father at a distance. The father realizing the impression he has made on his son and does not wish to cause him any further distress so he does not tell his servants that he is the man’s father. Instead he instructs them to sprinkle cold water on his face and to set him free. The sudden release surprises the son. The son is going to leave in search of work elsewhere, however the father devises a plan to hire his son without revealing to him that he is his father. He sends two miserable looking servants with payment for him in advance for performing work at his father’s estate and thus hires his son.

Here is where I believe the primary difference between the two parables exists. In the parable taught by Jesus, the son is instantly received and reconciled to the father and there is much celebration. This is symbolized in Christianity through the death and resurrection of Christ. It is by his shed blood that we are reconciled to our Heavenly Father and begin our repentance; our turning away from our past sinful lives to lives of righteousness. However, within the Buddhist parable, there is no instant reconciliation. Instead the son is made to work and slowly attain status working at his father’s estate. In the end of the Buddhist parable, the father is old and dying and he then reveals that his son is indeed his son and heir to his fortune. The father does care about the son, but the love is hidden and is not revealed fully until the end when the son receives his inheritance.

The two inheritances in the two parables are very different in what they symbolize. In the Christian parable, the inheritance is a cleansing of sins and the free gift of salvation by which we are allowed to enter God’s kingdom upon our death. This cleansing of sins and salvation is a gift that is given upon acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior as opposed to the Buddhist view in which one must strive to overcome ignorance by gaining wisdom and merit over a period of many rebirths. The inheritance in Buddhism is the attainment of an impersonal Ultimate Reality or shunyata, the realization of the emptiness of all things including the personhood.

A character that is present in the parable taught by Jesus but is not present in the Buddhist parable is the second son. In the Christian parable there is an older son who is working in the fields at the time of the prodigal son’s arrival. He approaches the house and hears music and approaches his father as to what the fuss is all about. The father tells his older son that they must celebrate for his lost son has now returned home. The older son is upset at this for he has always obeyed his father and his father had never thrown a celebration for him. However, the father assures him that all he has is his. The purpose of this character in the parable was seemingly an attack at the Pharisees and other seemingly devout religious at that time who were arrogant in their ways and failed to acknowledge their sins and maintain a sense of humility.

Why the Buddhist parable lacks this character in his parable is in my opinion due to the fact that the Buddhist teaching differs in its overall purpose and direction that it leads its followers in. The purpose of the Buddhist teaching is to extinguish the sense of self known as our ego also known as the attainment of nibbana, a word meaning literally to “blow out” as one would a candle. The Buddha is instructing his disciples through this parable that they must continually, through many lifetimes, accumulate wisdom and merit in order to become bodhisattva beings (spiritually advanced beings that remain in the cycle of birth and death in order to help all other beings attain nibbana). There is no need for the second son because, although there are teachings of humility found in Buddhism, the overall purpose is not one of overcoming sin and achieving a personal relationship with a divine Creator but rather to continually obtain wisdom and merit over many lifetimes to eventually achieve higher states of spiritual development hopefully ending in Buddhahood.

What I think becomes apparent in the two parables as to their major difference is also manifest in the major difference between the very religions themselves. Within Christianity, we are under a doctrine of grace and by no means of our own doing do we attain any higher level of spiritual development. It is by admission of sins, forgiveness through Christ’s sacrifice, and repentance that we attain the Father’s inheritance; eternal communion with Him in Heaven. As opposed to Buddhism, this is all offered to us as a free gift available upon request of the Holy Spirit. Within Buddhism one must rather work through many lifetimes to attain the father’s inheritance; the extinguishing of one’s personhood through ardent struggles of spiritual development and slow progression as demonstrated by the sons work in his father’s estate for many years before receiving his inheritance. It is a contrast of grace and salvation versus work and eventual extinction. What I think also becomes apparent at this point is which is the better deal.

Wednesday 7 May 2014

Dharma Documentaries: Secret Tribes, Bhikkhunis in Thailand

Secret Tribes: Bhikkhunis in Thailand

Hrvard DS: Valuing Diversity: Buddhist Reflection on Equity and Education

Valuing Diversity: Buddhist Reflection on Equity and Education 

by Harvard Divinity School
Published on Apr 14, 2014
This lecture and discussion featured Peter Hershock, director of the Asian Studies Development Program at the East-West Center in Honolulu. Trained in both Western and Asian philosophy, Hershock makes use of Buddhist thought and practice to address such contemporary issues as technology and development, education, human rights, and the role of values in cultural and social change.

Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia


Plenty of resources, under development

Tuesday 6 May 2014

BBC: The Mindful Way - Buddhist Monks of the Forest Tradition in Thailand

BBC: The Mindful Way - Buddhist Monks of the Forest Tradition in Thailand

Uploaded on Nov 14, 2011
Excellent BBC Open University documentary about the life and function of a Buddhist monastery of the Forest Tradition in Thailand. An excellent introduction to the thought and practices of one of the oldest surviving traditions of Buddhism.

Robert A.F. Thurman On Buddhism

Robert A.F. Thurman On Buddhism 

Uploaded on Feb 8, 2012
I've listened to this perhaps more than 100 times over several years, and still I hear new things, still realizing, more clearly or a deeper meaning of something, even though I had already heard it so many times before, or how conceptually it was planted in my memory. Whatever understanding I thought I had, it turns out was never complete (even though I often jump to that conclusion). So it is (likely for many of us) of great value to listen to this teaching 'On Buddhism by Robert Thurman' over and over and over...

Being relatively fast & highly condensed as well as deep & far reaching, listening with intense one-pointed concentration is also of immeasurable value. In fact, certain states of mind (dull, distant, sluggish & foggy) will not be able to obtain any benefit or very little from this teaching, while for other states of mind (sharp, present, energetic & clear), the teaching will bloom like the most exquisite of celestial or human botanical gardens.

So, Make your whole life practice, evolve & fine tune the mind, listen and work with only the best of Teachings.
It takes time, patience and constancy, but the rust will fall away, the pain will grow insignificant, suffering will diminish, a true lasting joy will emerge. (while I have for myself only obtained a tiny fragment of this, it is enough to know that it is true)

While I had been interested in Dharmic religions for some time including Buddha Dharma, it was Thurman & Thich Nhat Hanh that initially really opened my eyes to Buddha Dharma, where serious pursuit began to take shape. From Thurman it was especially this 3-part course 'On Buddhism'. Thus I wish to make it more available to others. If I hadn't come across these teachings when I did, I would be in a far worse state than I am now. How immeasurably fortunate that these teachings are present and accessible. If we do not make the Best use of the fortunate circumstances of our present existence, is there any loss greater than that?

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FPMT: Discovering Buddhism

Uploaded on Jan 22, 2012
Examine the mind and how it creates happiness and suffering. Learn to transform destructive thoughts and attitudes to create a positive and joyous mind!

Follow this course on the FPMT Online Learning Center at and learn more about Discovering Buddhism at

The full Discovering Buddhism DVD can be found at