Sunday, January 6, 2008

DSC Graduation 2008

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Brahmavihara for TEENS...

: Falling IN Love
(Kajang Teenage Camp, 2007)

How to teach teenagers about LOVE: A Buddhist Perspective

Saturday, October 27, 2007

How to handle Q&A in Dhamma Talk?

How to handle Q&A session after a Dhamma talk?
You may find these links helpful...

Tips for handling Q&A session after the presentation.

9 Tips for handling public speaking questions.

Q&A Made Simple!

How to handle TOUGH questions from the audience?

How about Q&A session spesifically in a Dhamma talk setting?

Thus have i understood from my practice, found to be beneficial and would like to suggest:

1) Be aware that there is more than one Buddhist traditions and try not to give answer which is biased towards a particular tradition e.g. issues on vegetarianism. Instead, give a general view and then mention the difference in various traditions that you know of.

2) If we are quoting the Buddha to answer a question, "According to the Buddha...........", make sure that's what the Buddha said and it's not just a hearsay. If we are not sure, just be honest to say so and make the effort to check it out.

3) If we are giving a personal opinion to an answer, which can be a very beneficial sharing, say so, "In my personal experience.........", instead of putting our opinions into the Buddha's mouth. This is important in order not to dilute or contaminate the Buddha's teachings in case our opinion is wrong or it's actually right but not mentioned by the Buddha.

4) It's important to tailor our answer to questioner's level of understanding. Don't be obsessed with Buddhist jargons e.g. jhana, emptiness, nirvana etc. and end up confusing people, mystifying the Buddha's teachings and deluding ourselves that we have answered a particular question well.

5) For further understanding of an answer, we can refer a questioner to further readings e.g. book, CD, website etc. For those will psychological issues (which is rather common among audience in a Dhamma talk), we can refer them to our Buddhist network of mental health volunteers e.g. BGF counseling unit for better answers.


dr. phang

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Alcohol & Heart Disease

Is wine consumption good for heart disease?

This is one of the FAQs related to 5th Precept. People will often quote the "French Paradox" study. This study has MANY limitations:

1. It's a study in the French population - may NOT be applicable to Malaysians.

2. The study is ONLY for moderate wine consumption and not in alcoholics.

3. The study is NOT a strong scientific study - it only suggests and NOT a solid proof.

4. There are others studies to suggest that the evidence is FALSE.

5. It's an OLD study, 1992 - Not up to date.

For a proper perspective of alcohol consumption and heart disease, kindly refer to guidelines from American Heart Assoication: Some of the useful points:

1. Drinking alcohol to prevent heart attack is NEVER a recommendation. i have not come across any medical guidelines in my practice to suggest that people should take up moderate alcohol drinking as a way to prevent heart attack.

2. There are other gold standard strategies to prevent heart attack e.g. stop smoking, control diabetis, hypertension and dyslipidemia, exercise & healthy diet.

3. If you are already drinking alcohol and can't stop drinking, then the next best option is to reduce drinking to a safe level as recommended.

4. Alcohol shouldn't be mixed with Aspirin, a medication commonly prescribed for people with heart attack.

5. Alcohol during pregnancy is a strict NO! There is no such thing as alcohol in little amount for health benefits during pregnancy.

6. Alcoholism is associated with various medical and psychiatric complications.

Overall conclusion
: Taking alcohol in moderate amount for health reason may not break the 5th Precept as it usually does not involve addiction or intoxication. But, there is NO strong scientific basis to support that it can prevent heart attack or any other disease. On the other hand, alcohol addiction or intoxication is strongly associated with medical, psychiatric and social complications from a Buddhist and medical pespective.

Hope this is useful.........

dr. phang

Motivational & Inspirational Stories

i have compiled some motivational and inspirational stories for Dhamma speakers. Hope you will them useful in preparing for your Dhamma talks.

Jataka Stories - vol 1

Jataka Stories - vol 2

101 Zen Stories

The Illustrated Dhammapada

Afterhours Inspirational Stories

Comfort & Compassion Stories

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Buddhist Perspective of God, Gods & gods

This is a sutta about how a Maha Brahma by the name Brahma Baka was deluded that he was the eternal and almighty God and how Mara tried to convince the Buddha and other Brahmas that He (Brahma Baka) was right: The last verse in the Jayamangala Gatha is about this same Brahma Baka.

This sutta answers several questions that we may encounter in giving Dhamma talks:

1. What is the equivalent to God in Buddhism?
2. Is God almighty in terms of psychic power?
3. How God himself was deluded that He was a God?
4. Does the Buddha sometimes use psychic powers for education purpose?
5. What is the relationship between Buddha and God or Gods?

There is a sutta that indicates to us that a Maha Brahma (God) is NOT omniscient (under 'Conversations with Gods). Once, He was consulted by a monk on a metaphysical question related to the 4 great elements. He was bragging about His knowledge and greatness but in the end still could not answer the question. He then felt embarrass among the other Brahmas and finally asked the monk to consult the Buddha instead of Him.

This sutta answers the following questions:

1. Is God omniscient or all-knowing?
2. Does God also sometimes have pride and feel embarrass?
3. How much does the Buddha know as compared to the gods (deva) and Gods (brahma)?

Why do some people believe that there is a creator and almighty God? (last part of sutta under 5th wrong view) This sutta talks about how Maha Brahma's' can become deluded that they are Gods.

According to Bhante Punnaji, Maha Brahmas are beings of the 1st Jhana Brahma Realm (lowest of the Brahma realms) and each Maha Brahma actually resides at the center of a galaxy. When the universe (numerous galaxies) contracts into a 'big crunch', there will be no matter (galaxies) in the universe, then all the Maha Brahmas and other smaller Brahmas ('Mini Brahmas') will be reborn into Higher Brahma realms that are immaterial. During a subsequent big-bang and universe expansion, the Maha Brahmas and Mini Brahmas will be reborn again in the 1st Jhana Brahma Realm/galaxies. Since the Maha Brahmas are born first and more powerful than the Mini Brahmas, they became deluded that they are the Gods. Some Mini Brahmas later were reborn in the human realm and able to recall their past association with the Maha Brahma. Naturally, they (Mini Brahmas) became deluded that they were inferior to the Maha Brahmas (God) and they are the follower of God.

This sutta answers the questions:

1. Why does God think that He is a God?
2. Why do some people think that there is a God?

Please be diplomatic when you answer questions about God to avoid arguments or intimidations. Late Chief would say, "Buddhists do believe in God but the concept of God is different" when asked whether Buddhists believe in God. i think that is a gold standard answer for peace, harmony and understanding.

31 Planes of Existence (Buddhist Cosmology):

Do human beings evolve from devas and simpler life forms?

Aganna Sutta & Buddhist Cosmology: A Commentary

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lessons from Tirokkuda Sutta - Powerpoint Slides

In conjunction with the Hungry Ghost Festival, I have delivered this talk in 3 places - Nalanda Buddhist Society, Kota Kemuning Buddhist Society, HUKM Buddhist Society and find that the response is encouraging. Hope that you would find the slides useful in preparing for your talks related to this topic. Those white colored slides are just notes for presenters and not part of the presentation. Interestingly, I have met two sisters from the audience with vivid peta encounters and they related to me stories that support what the Buddha said in the suttas.