Buddhist Ministry

This is a blog for Buddhist Ordained Clergy, Monks and Ministers and Buddhists. Those from other religions are also invited to visit and comment. You are also welcome at our websits, www.wayofthebuddha.com, www.buddhismonline.us and www.americanbuddhist.info. thank you. Venerable Kevin O'Neil

Name:
Location: New York City, New York, United States

American Buddhist Monk with 40 years experience with Buddhism as studied and practiced in India, China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma and the USA. I am the first Buddhist appointed to represent all Buddhists in the United States at the United Nations. One of the founders of The American Buddhist Church Ministeries a Buddhist Order 1980, Association Of American BBuddhists 1981, American Buddehist College 1985. Published Books include, American Buddhist Directory 1979, Esoteric Buddhist Manual 1985, Healing Balls and Buddhist Healing 1990, What to Tell Your Children about Cults 1974, The Healing Buddha 21st Century Buddhism 2000.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Buddhist Bill Of Rights

Brothers/Sisters and Friends,

I am very proud to send you the first copy of the Buddhist Bill of Rights. Please review this document and let me know what you think of it. I eagerly wait to hear of any suggestions and improvements you can think of for the next revision.

Attached to this email is a press release and the Buddhist Bill of Rights. You can help Buddhism throughout the world by doing the following.

1. Read the Buddhist Bill of Rights you can publish the document in your media such as Newspaper, radio, television and magazines.
2. Distribute copies among your members and friends.
3. Provide copies to libraries, schools, churches, universities and other places you can think of.
4. Openly discuss the points with others
.

I thank you for your assistance.

Venerable Dr. Kevin O'Neil

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NEWS RELEASE
July 11, 2005
New York City

The American Buddhist Church Approves Buddhist Bill Of Rights Guidelines for Buddhists

Guidelines include a wakeup call for Christians and those of other religions. A 21st Century document to promote religious freedom and tolerance.


New York City., July 11, 2005 – American Buddhist Church, a leading group of Buddhists in America has released the Buddhist Bill of Rights to raise the standards of Buddhist groups, temples, meditation centers, and organizations around the world. This document describes the best practices that Buddhists should consider embracing as they live in the 21st Century. This is a call for Buddhists to become more proactive as they demand the same respect that they give to followers of other religions.

Venerable Kevin O’Neil head of the American Buddhist Church says, “The Buddhist Bill of Rights should also be a wakeup call to Christians in America. It asserts that Christians should respect and show tolerance to people of other faiths. America is a multicultural country in which all belief systems and religions should be able to express themselves in the fabric of American society”.


Contact: Venerable Kevin O’Neil
212-489-1075
e-mail: revoneil@yahoo.com
websites: http://www.wayofthebuddha.org/, http://www.americanbuddhist.info/, www.buddhismonline.us,

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BUDDHIST BILL OF RIGHTS
American Buddhist Church
By Venerable Kevin O’Neil
July 6, 2005
Copyright © 2005


As Buddhists each of us should uphold rights that involve human dignity for all human beings whether Buddhists or not. Since we are human beings we must first respect ourselves then other human beings. Once this respect is ingrained within our minds can we honestly turn our attention to what exist around us? The key to being effective is to first clean up our own lives.

This Buddhist Bill Of Rights exists to help us get along with each other as well as everything in the world around us. These rights also offer you protection from negative Buddhists and others who may try to hurt you in one way or another. These rights can also serve as a resource that every Buddhist can use to keep on track.

ABOUT THE AMERICAN BUDDHIST CHURCH (ABC)

The American Buddhist Church is the first American form of Buddhism, reuniting all forms of Buddhism and the religions that evolved based on the Way of the Buddhas. American Buddhism comprises an open ended circle which emphasizes that this path of the Buddha is always expanding, growing and benefiting people in the most effective ways. ABC came into existence in 1980 through the efforts of various Buddhists from around the world and within the United States. Their hope was to once again open the Buddha’s teachings to all Buddhists as well as to those with other beliefs.

Dividing Buddhism up into egotistical schools and traditions was seen as counter-productive to the principle of “Freedom of Religion.” There are far too many Buddhist schools and traditions that teach prejudice, elitism, anger, intolerance, and perverted views instead of the Way of the Buddha. Today there are ABC members and ordained ministers throughout America as well as some foreign countries.

Because one of the purposes of the American Buddhist Church is to bring Buddhism to everyone in an unrestricted way, we offer these Buddhist Rights. Because the ABC is concerned with the peace, happiness and enlightenment of all people a committee headed by Venerable Kevin O’Neil was established to document these rights. You are invited to visit us on the following websites:


1. Religious Freedom is each individual’s birthright.

Religious freedom means a right to believe or disbelieve in any religion and belief system. No individual should be forced, expected or encouraged to believe in a teaching within their accepted religion once they reject it. A person should not be shown the door when they do not believe what everyone else believes.

2. Everyone Seeks Freedom.

In today’s world human beings are no longer born free. We are born into a country, society and culture. Because of our educational system, media or lack of either, our thoughts are not our own. Each of us is programmed to think in a certain way. We are programmed to think that what is best for us is best for everyone else in the world. Thus, our freedom is taken away from us. Many individuals live their whole lives without ever generating an original thought. This is a total waste of a person’s mind. Group thinking is the prevailing system of thought in America at this time. If we want freedom we must first free our own minds. To free the mind is an almost impossible thing to do. Learning the way of the Buddha is one of the most effective ways to regain control of the mind.

3. Check Negative Discrimination.

Many individuals discriminate and put up divisions between themselves and others. This is done in order to build a false sense of security. In reality all it does is create divisions of human suffering. This suffering is generated within the discriminating mind as well as the mind of the victim who is being discriminated against. Compassion should be shared with everyone regardless of their beliefs.

4. Respect of Human Life.

Respect for life begins with your own life and is extended to all human lives. When one does not have this respect, love or compassion, all other forms of respect, love and compassion are not real. Some people say that they love animals and the environment. Their love is so strong that they will kill and destroy other human beings in the name of fur, or the environment. They don’t see their own sickness.

5. Rejection of Slavery.

Most of us would agree that physical slavery as it exist in the past and present is wrong. Very few of us understand slavery within our own body, spirit and minds. When what we think or believe hurts, enslaves and causes suffering to ourselves or others we become aware of it. In how many ways are our minds a slave to the past, our ethnicity, culture, country, gender, or religion? How does what we think, believe, feel and do hurt us and others?

6. Reject Torture.

Torture exists when we cause pain and suffering to those who are weaker than us, those in our custody, and those we are angry at. Individuals torture others when they want something from them. Torture often exists in the military, during war, in prisons, jails, and even in the home. Each one of us has a responsibility to end torture whenever it raises its head. We should also try to understand in what ways we currently torture ourselves.

7. Obey Just Laws.

This also means that we should use our minds to find ways to disobey unjust laws. Unjust laws hurt people and cause them suffering. It does not matter what the justification is. Examples of unjust laws are the death penalty and legalized wars. Killing human beings under any condition or situation is unjust. It is the responsibility of every Buddhist and good person to find ways to stop it. It is each citizen’s responsibility to become aware of unjust laws and eradicate them. Laws must serve all people and not be used to give some people an advantage over others.

8. Never Support Unfair Detainment.

Never support a government’s use of unfair detainment of anyone. Each human being deserves the protection of the law not its excesses. When the government oversteps its bounds to create suffering on its citizens it is up to the citizens to stop it. Kidnapping citizens from their country should always be opposed.

9. Valid Until Proven Invalid.

Every school and teaching of Buddhism should be considered equal and valid teachings of the Buddha until proven unworkable, destructive, anti Buddha, and destructive to the peace and happiness of all Buddhists. There are some teachings and practices in Buddhism that do not lead one to enlightenment or Buddha-hood. These teachings and techniques serve to bind the mind and body to a particular teacher, group, school or tradition. When you find that something does not work for you exercise your freedom to drop it. Do not allow yourself to be addicted to, trapped in, or become a prisoner within a Buddhist group. Never allow a teacher to make you their property. Seek a teacher who is strong and broad enough to allow you to learn from other teachers and traditions of Buddhism.

10. Truth Versus Value.

You are more important than any Buddhist school or tradition. Walk away from Buddhist traditions that proclaim that they have the true and only Buddhist way. Beware when a group or teacher says that they have the highest teachings and that you need not go anywhere else. Do not be subdued by appearances. Bald heads, Buddhist robes, clever words and large groups should never be the determinants of what good Buddhism is. Value should be what you are after. Are you experiencing change in your life? Are you constantly growing and expanding? Are you being told what you need to know? Are you learning in what ways you are wrong? Are you hearing only what you already agree with? Do you have a personal relationship with the teacher? Can you freely communicate up and down the organization or group? Are you denied access to the highest levels? Are you able to go elsewhere to obtain guidance? These are some of the questions you must ask yourself to find value. Are you getting positive results today like you did in the past?

11. A Right to Examine Doubts.

Every person has a right to explore and examine the doubts within their mind. You have a right to not be forced to accept anything you do not understand or feel uneasy about. Your right to challenge a teacher is fundamental to learning and advancing along the Buddha path. As long as your doubts are real and you are not doubting for doubts’ sake, you are on the right path.

12. Right to Knowledge and Wisdom.

Every Buddhists has a right to the knowledge within Buddhism. Buddhist knowledge is documented in a voluminous amount of written material that can be found in many places around the world. The internet is full of Buddhist sources and knowledge. This knowledge is expressed in sutras, books, articles, commentaries and publications. There exists more written knowledge about Buddhism than anyone can read in a lifetime. This is the major reason why reading cannot be trusted alone to relay what the Buddha taught. Wisdom is a combination of knowledge, practice and experience. This combination is only expressed in the life of a human being. Wisdom has nothing to do with a person’s title, position, ethnicity, culture or label. When a person uses the title teacher, monk, or minister it does not mean that they have the wisdom to relay the profound teachings of Buddhism. Make sure that your teacher is connected to an organization that you are free to explore.

13. Right To Mental Independence.

Each of us has a right to what is in our mind. Mastery and ownership of our mind is a fundamental freedom. Use and control of our mind is important for our own enlightenment and happiness. What we think and how we think should be left up to us. Media, government and doctrine should not be allowed to tell us what and how we should think. Our mind and mental freedom is our birthright. Culture, country, political persuasion, ethnicity, selfishness, greed, position, title, anger, hatred, gender and religion must serve us not we serve them.

14. Freedom to Study Buddhism.

Every Buddhists has the freedom to simultaneously study and practice any Buddhism of their choice. No Buddhist teacher has a right to confine a person to their particular form of Buddhism. We all have a right to go where we want to learn and practice Buddhism. Any teacher who tries to discourage this freedom should be abandoned.

15. Right to a Multi-Cultural World.

Each of us has a right to a multi-cultural America. We also have a right to a world in which various cultures exist. These cultures must be those that agree and disagree with our culture and beliefs. As Buddhists we must have the freedom to mingle, pray, and practice with other Buddhists who believe in and practice different teachings than our own. It is not enough for our teachers or leaders to visit and mingle with other Buddhist traditions than our own. Individual Buddhists must also visit with and practice among Buddhists outside their school, sect, tradition and group. It is also extremely important for us to visit, practice with and socialize among followers of other religions and belief systems.

16. Right to Be World Citizens.

Each of us has a right to become world citizens. It is not enough to be a citizen of our country, state or city. We must reach out to others around the world. This is especially true for those we consider enemies. Just because our country considers a person or group an enemy does not mean that we as Buddhists should also pick up the mantle of anger, hatred or enemy. Buddhists should make peace with everyone in the world. Never allow others to choose your enemies.

17. Freedom To Say What We Believe.

Buddhists should have the freedom to proclaim their religion in the United States just as Christians do. Today we do not have freedom of religion equal to Christians in this country. Religious bigotry and prejudice manifest their ugly heads in all aspects and corners of America. Buddhists are intimidated and excluded from having the dignity of their religion shown in American religious and cultural life. Buddhists are insulted everyday as they are forced to profess the Christian religion above their own. Just take a look at our money, legal system, congress, senate, business, media, and common social manifestations. If you think that this is not religious intolerance, bigotry, prejudice, oppression and exclusion, try recommending that our money say “In Buddha We Trust”, legal system “Put Your Hand On The Tipitaka”, congress “Open Session With Buddhist Prayer or Mantra”, Television “Sign Off With A Buddhist Minister”, Corporate meetings “Lets Begin with a Buddhist Prayer or Mantra.” How many hospitals, colleges and universities do you know of that have a Buddhist Minister on staff? There are hundreds and maybe thousands of examples of religious intolerance, prejudice and bigotry in the fabric of American life. Buddhists have a right not to be victims of this indignity. Why does the president not say “Buddha Bless America”?

18. Workers’ Rights.

Buddhists have the right to work in environments that do not impose Christian beliefs and values on them.

19. Right to Education.

Buddhists have a right to an education that states that Buddhism and Buddhists are also Americans and part of American Culture. Media should also provide free time to Buddhists so that they can express their religion on radio, cable and late night television as Christians do.

20. Right of Disagreement.

Every Buddhist has a right to disagree with doctrines or teachings within their group or tradition. No Buddhist should be ostracized, condemned, or excluded because of a disagreement.

21. Children’s Rights.

Religion should not be forced on any child. Just because parents are Buddhists does not mean that their children are also Buddhists. Every child has a right to choose their own religion when they come of age. It is wrong and should be illegal to force a child under the age of 18 to become a Buddhist Monk or Minister. No child is born a Buddhist.

22. Peaceful World.

All people have a right to a peaceful world, country, city and state. No government or country has the right to bring war and destruction to others for any reason. Every country must give up the right to go to war.

23. Responsibilities.

As Buddhists we are ultimately responsible for our own lives. The content of our mind and the type of life we live is up to us. Either the world controls us or we control our world. We cannot change other people but we can change ourselves. Each of us has the responsibility to show others how Buddhism affects our lives. We should let no one take our dignity away from us. We should live the Way of the Buddha everyday.


[1] Share the Buddhist Bill Of Rights with your friends.

Monday, May 30, 2005

How Can I Find Good Teachers?

This is one of the most important questions for the serious Buddhist. First let me tell you that you have found a good teacher in me. This is not a statement of egotistical meandering; it is a truth. Good Buddhist teachers can be found beyond the limitations of:

  1. Race: It does not matter what race a teacher comes from. Most people are under the misunderstanding that one has to be Asian to be a good Buddhist teacher. It does not matter whether one is Japanese, Tibetan, Chinese, Srilankan, Taiwanese, Burmese, or Korean to be a good or qualified Buddhist teacher. Some people also think that only Asians, Scholars or their appointed teachers understand Buddhism. This type of thinking is just plain wrong. It is so sad when individuals wh0 have spent years and years in Buddhist groups come to this same conclusion. You would not believe the stories I have heard from individuals who have wasted their time following the wrong teacher. So forget race. The same thing can be said for gender. I am now hearing about regrets and complaints from women who have wasted years in women-only Buddhist groups. They succumb to the rhetoric but have never actually achieved the result of enlightenment through gender-oriented teachings and practices.
  2. Copycats: Copycat Buddhist teachers are those who want to look and sound like Asians because they think it makes them more legitimate in the eyes of the public. They walk around in Asian clothes behaving as if Asian culture is their own. This is not a respect for Asian culture as much as it is a rejection of their own western culture. They may have never been able to fit into their own American culture, therefore they reject it. This is a sick state of mind. When the source is sick then everything that comes from it is a little sick. The second stream in the copycat tradition appears when the copycat repeats over and over again what they have read and heard about Buddhism. It is extremely boring to listen to these individuals constantly repeat what they have heard but don't understand. A prime example of this nonsense appears on the internet in the many chat groups where individuals are encourage to give their opinions and thoughts about various elements of Buddhisim. To read the rhetoric written on these message boards as if it came from some deep understanding of the writer is sickening. It is clear to those who know that these people have never undergone a serious involvement and practice of Buddhism in their entire lives. Most of these individuals have filtered in and out of various Buddhist groups and books never really committing themselves for any long period of time. This has led to a voluminous amount of material about Buddhism on the internet without any real substance. Studying Buddhism on the internet and from books leads to more confusion than clarity.
  3. Language: How can one learn correctly from a person who does not have a command of the English language and American culture? I have also spent many of my early years sitting in front of people who had to use translators to teach Buddhism to others. Only after many years of accepting translated babble did my friends and I realize that we had learned very little from these incompetent teachers and their translators. Being a linguist does not mean that one has the knowledge or wisdom to relay Buddhism. As a matter of fact, spending many years becoming an expert linguist prohibits one from having the time to spend in Buddhist practice to gain the insight and wisdom to explain what is being said. So speaking in an Asian language has only a limited value in one's understanding of Buddhism. A person is only limited to the understanding of the specific language to say the least. The most proficient students and teachers in Buddhism know that it is best to look beyond the language. Few people understand that the translator of a Buddhist book is only an interpreter of what they think the book is about. Another person can also translate the same book and the book can go in quite a different direction. An opinion is just an opinion. My forty year observation of linguists is that they have less actual Buddhist development than those who have spent their time studying and practicing Buddhism. The same can be said for academic scholars.
  4. Sectarianism: Studying one flavor of Buddhism is a good place to begin your journey on the Buddha's path. It is best to study many flavors or interpretations of Buddhism. A broad minded study of Buddhism will protect you from becoming a Buddhist bigot. Prejudice runs as rampant among Buddhists as it does in those of other religions. Prejudice is not right. For a Buddhists to think and feel that his or her brand of Buddhism is best or superior to all other brands of Buddhism is destructive to oneself and others. This goes against the spirit and teachings of all Buddhas past, present and future. Sadly, far too many people spend their entire lives devoted to one sectarian form of Buddhism or another. These individuals never achieve advanced levels of Buddhist understanding because they are locked into one interpretation of Buddhism that does not address their current needs. This is attachment in its worst sense. This is why one of my principle teachings is that one opens his/herself to all Buddhism. I even go beyond that teaching and encourage an open mind to everything. This does not mean that once you have identified and understand something to be worthless, nonsense, and unproductive to enlightenment that you must still respect it or like it. No! Instead you should speak out against it and inform people of it so that they do not walk into that type of suffering.
  5. Know When To Stop: Suffering exists because most people do not know when to stop in order to prevent and end suffering. When you know inside that you have outgrown a particular group, teacher or teaching, move on. Never remain attached to a group because of social relationships alone. Never refuse to move on because of fear, guilt or false hope. The point of the "Way Of The Buddhas" is to attain your own Buddha-hood. If you come to realize that this is an impossible task for this lifetime then you must try to get as close to Buddha-hood as you possibly can. You can only live one life at a time; if you waste it you will be very unhappy. Know when you are fooling yourself and when you are just being lazy. Most of the people who speak about the Buddha but do not want to be known as Buddhists know inside that they do not have the integrity, will power and honesty to practice or commit to Buddhism. Their egos just want to be safe just in case. They want to cover all of the bases even on a superficial level if possible. These individuals have no problem living a false life. I have even ordained Buddhist Monks who fit this criteria. They will encounter Buddhism in another life and who knows.
  6. Guide To Enlightenment: A good teacher will guide you to your enlightenment by telling you what you want and don't want to hear. He/she is not only interested in getting good numbers. A good teacher will also tell you to leave when what they teach is not right for you or tell you to leave when you are not advancing at the right pace. A good teacher will not use Buddhism as a narcotic by keeping you drugged up through stupid practices and ceremonies. How many times do you have to be blessed to be blessed? How many times do you have to take the same initiation to be initiated? The beat goes on. Know when to leave. Just because you gained something a year or years ago is no reason for you to remain in the same situation today.
  7. Doubt: Doubt should not just lead to doubt. Doubt should lead you to advancement. I teach and encourage doubt but not for doubt's sake. One's ego always wants to be better than the best. Beware of ego competition with your teacher. Do you think that because you are of a particular race that you should be better than your teacher of a different race? Do you think that because you are a woman that no man can be your teacher or master? Do you think that because you are a man that no woman can be your teacher or master? This type of thinking is a result of the sick mind. There is no way that you will ever gain high spiritual development or enlightenment while you house this nonsense in your mind.
  8. Have Criteria: If you want a good teacher then you must have some stqndards. Maybe you do not yet know everything a good Buddhist teacher must be and have but you can know some important qualities. Heres what the Buddha said:
  • Never judge or be swayed by a teachers title or position
  • Don't believe somethng a teacher says just because it is written in a book.
  • Don't allow yourself to be swayed because a teacher says he follows a long tradition or the true way.
  • Don't be swayed because a teacher is famous. Being famous tells you nothing about ones attainment or ability.
  • Just because a lot of people follow or look up to a teacher is not a good enough reason for you to do so. Even the Buddha knew about grouop psychology and hero worship. Those who do not think follow.
  • Never follow a person becuase of their race or gender.
  • Listen with your mind and heart to what a teacher is saying. Make sure that what they are saying does not just come from a book or someone else.
  • Learn from some one whom you can tell everything to both good and bad. This person should be able to understand where you are coming from. This person should be directly available to you. If you have to go through a lot of other people first, walk away.
  • Make sure you are able to argue, debate, agree, disagree with and tell your teacher he/she is wrong.
  • If a teacher thinks they are perfect and what they say is truth or law then walk away.
  • A good teacher is open and not closed to anything. If a teacher tells you that you must only practice what they teach or that you cannot go anywhere else outside their teachings, walk away. They are bad for you.

Hoom Chee

Venerable Kevin O'Neil

Available Publications

The following publications are now available. Each booklet can be sent to you for $5 per book. Send your request and donation to: Venerable Kevin O'Neil American Buddhist Church 301 West 45th Street New York, N.Y. 10036

  1. A Book Of Buddhist Prayers. Buddhist prayers to help deepen your understanding of Buddhism, spiritual understanding and awareness.
  2. Buddha Power And Energy Rites. Buddhist exercises for health and healing of the mind and body.
  3. The Medicine Buddha Schol Of Buddhism. Learn how to heal your mind and body. These methods come from ancient traditions.
  4. Mind Seal School Of Buddhism. This booklet explains a meditation technique that one can use to cultivate a strong mind. Those that follow these teachings can become very successful.
  5. The 12 Buddhist Links. This booklet teaches you about he links of dependent arising. For individuals who want to live as Buddhists.
  6. Esoteric Buddhist Manual. This is a special Buddhist practice that anyone can do every morning and evening. This practice will deepen your understanding of Buddhism.

Basic Meditation

There are many forms of meditation. Meditation methods have been modified, copied, borrowed, and integrated into many religions and spiritual paths throughout the world. Buddhism and the teachings of many Buddhas are the foundation of most meditation techniques that exist in the world today. The integration of meditation into religions such as Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, New Age have made these traditions more effective. At the beginner level it does not matter what method of meditation one practices.

It does not matter whether you are a Christian, Jew, Muslim, Agnostic, Atheist, or New Age meditation can improve your health, mind and your quality of life. The basic meditation described below is meant to enable you to give your body a break. Relaxing your mind and body calms it down so that you can take a look at and experience what your really are. Everyone should meditate for a few minutes every morning and evening. Use meditation when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. Teach your children how to meditate because it will help them control themselves.

  1. Sit, Stand or lie down in a comfortable position. It does not matter whether you use chairs, sofas or sit in a crossed leg position on the floor. Loosen your clothing and take your shoes off if you can. Breath naturally through your nose with your mouth slightly closed. Place your tongue on the top of your mouth. Gently close your eyes or keep them slightly open looking at the tip of your nose.
  2. Breathe in through your nose to a slow count of 10. Hold your breath for a count of 5 then breathe out slowly through your nose to a count of 8. You may repeat the word relax as you breathe in and out. Your stomach should bloat out like a baloon as you breathe in and contract as you breathe out. Repeat this process over and over again. Continue this method for the duration of your meditation period.
  3. When thoughts arise in your mind just let them go. Do not follow your thoughts and start thinking about this or that. Don't be judgemental about what you are thinking. If you feel tension in any part of your body tell it to relax. Just breathe into the area and continue your meditation.
  4. Whatever you feel while meditating just let it happen. Detach yourself from all thoughts and feelings. Become an observer to what is happening in your mind and body.
  5. When your meditation period comes to an end get up slowly. Many meditaation groups encourage participants to have a limited discussion of their meditation experience if time permits.
  6. Meditation Groups meet once or twice a week. When individuals meditate in groups they feel more confident about what they are doing. It is helpful to give your meditation group a name or title. Before and after the meditation experience it is helpful to read teachings from the Buddha and lectures by your teacher. If you need material for this part of your meditation experience please let me know. E-mail me at: oneil@mail.com.
  7. You can copy and give this material to each person who wants to use this method of meditation.

Hoom Chee

Venerable Kevin O'Neil

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Starting A Buddhist Discussion Group

Many of you have asked me how to start a Buddhist discussion group. Here are some suggestions:

  1. First gather interested people. Start with ten or more individuals. Use a flyer that says something like "Learn about Buddhism", or "New Buddhism Discussion Group forming". Pick one evening during the week. Start with one hour.
  2. Hand out or leave flyers in bookstores, supermarkets and other places where interested, open-minded people gather. Some people go to clubs to encourage young people, while others go to colleges and universities.
  3. If you cannot get a room in a community center, church, or club use your own living room. The place should be comfortable so you don't have to have meditation cushions or insist that participants kneel or sit crossed legged on the floor. You are not trying to promote eastern culture. If you think that having people sit in Asian positions because it will make the event more enticing then by all means do so. Personally I prefer to have a table that everyone can sit around comfortably for learning and discussion.
  4. Offer tea or a light snack before and during the discussion, making it as informal as possible. Welcome each person with a handshake and a smile. Ask for each person's name, address, phone number, and e-mail address. Insist that if they do not want to give this information they do not have to. They can give this information to you next time or no time.
  5. Begin the event with five minutes of meditation. This can be silent meditation or meditation to relaxation music.
  6. Offer a short reading of the bio of the Buddha if this is your first meeting.
  7. Other topics can be based on various Buddhist topics. Make sure the readings are not more than 20 minutes. Inform participants that they are free to ask questions and make comments at anytime. Tell everyone that nothing is off limits as long as it is constructive.
  8. Open the floor to open discussion. Encourage participants to talk.
  9. End discussion group with three minutes of meditation and invite everyone back next week.

Note: If you need additional material for mettings just let me know. rev.oneil@yahoo.com.

You can also send the names and addresses of participants to headquarters so that we can send them Buddhist study material free of charge. Please get their permission to do this. Inform them that we will not share their names and addresses with anyone else.

Hoom Chee,

Venerable Kevin O'Neil

Buddhism Is Not Only For Buddhists

Many people are under the misperception that Buddhism is for Buddhists. People believe this because Buddhism is often classified as a religion. Buddhism is a Western word used to describe the beliefs and practices of the few individuals encountered in the travels of Western scholars. They often encountered very few people that they tagged as Buddhists and they labeled what these people had faith in Buddhism. The large amount of material and practices that existed in the realm of the "way of the Buddha" are even unknown in western society today.

This ignorance among Asians and Westerners of what is the "Way Of The Buddhas" also exist in Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Tibet, China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other so called Buddhist countries. This ignorance is so prevalent that each of these countries thinks that its particular form of Buddhism is the best, purest, most correct, and only way to follow the Buddha. It is understandable how this ignorance came into being when their cultures are taken into consideration. I feel that in this day and age these attitudes are sick and unhealthy for Buddhists and non Buddhists alike.

Sectarianism and religious bigotry towards Buddhists or Buddhism killed the positive results that one could attain from following the Buddha hundreds or even thousands of years ago. The so-called individuals who are looked up to as Buddhas are those who were appointed to this position after their deaths. They did not feel that they had achieved anything great in Buddhism. As a matter of fact, most of them considered their lives as failures according to the goal of Buddhism. The goal of Buiddhism is to attain enlightenment and Buddha-hood, not to become the leader of a particular school, sect, tradition or form of Buddhism.

Followers of Buddhism should not be relegated to acting like other Buddhists that came before them. In many Asian cultures these unfortunate individuals were even taken as children and forced to become monks. Individuals subverted their own identities to become something other than themselves. Regretfully this abhorant practice is continued up to this day in some countries like Tibet, Japan, China, Korea, Sri Lanka. No child should be allowed to become a Buddhist Monk before the age of consent, 21. These poor children become copy cat Buddhist Monks with a true education that allows for their true internal nature to emerge. Some of them even are indoctrinated to believe that they are the reincarnation of another person. This goes against the truth that each of us are unique human beings. If reincarnation as another Buddhist Monk were real these children would not have to be reeducated by the best teachers to be found. These children would be born with a mastery of the Buddha's teachings. Having met many of these so called reincarnated Buddhist Monks I can tell you that their spiritual level and understanding is quite low. Eventually they are indoctrinated to repeat Buddhist teachings with a little understanding but it is not their own.
The way of the Buddha is about the attainment of one's own enlightenment and understanding, not piggybacking off of another's. Let's remember one of the basic teachings of a Buddha, "No individual is born greater than another".

Many adherents of sects, schools and traditions of Buddhism would do well to remember another Buddha teaching, "attachment is destructive to the Buddha mind."

Hoom Chee,

Venerable Kevin O'Neil

Welcome Buddhist Ministers and Members

Congratulations on your ordination! Now that you should be ready to begin your ministry. It is extremely important that you have a plan for how you will bring the teachings of the Buddha to the public. Do you want to begin by sponsoring a meditation group, Buddhism discussion or study group, weekly lecture or sermon, or did you have something else in mind? Whatever direction you want to go in, it is important to write in down in your plan. Keep in mind that I am here to assist you in any way that I can.

My advice is for you to not try to go it alone. It is always better to work with others. The American Buddhist Church Ministries is open and broad-minded enough to help you in any direction you wish to go. We have the experience that you will find of tremendous value as you try to share Buddhism with others.

Some people may think that your ordination is just another cheap ordination that one can get on the internet. They may be encouraged to think this way when they are given the impression that you are alone with no deep support or assistance of a authentic Buddhist organization. The American Buddhist Church Ministries is the highest quality Buddhist Tradition in the United States. We embrace all forms of Buddhism and offer you the opportunity to deepen your understanding of what the Buddha taught. We feel that those who have received ordination from us must have adequate knowledge and understanding of Buddhism to legitamitely teach and represent the teachings of the Buddhas. If you have a very small or insufficient understanding of Buddhism, you do us and your fellow ministers a disservice.

You are encouraged to visit our websites and get the material we offer to help you with your ministry. Your previous acquired knowledge and understanding can only be enhanced when you learn more and more. As you may know we encourage all members of the American Buddhist Church whether minister or not to be open minded and to embrace all forms of Buddhism. Those who selfishly teach only one Buddhist tradition do a disservice to their students and are unfit to teach properly in the 21st Century. It is our responsibility to leave it up to each individual which form or combination of Buddhism they will follow. We neither want to think for them or tell them how and what to think.

I encourage everyone to be who they are and stop trying to be a particular someone else. This is a profound point that you should remind yourself of everyday.

Ordained Ministers should encourage those they teach to visit our websites as often as they want to. This also will demonstrate to them the religious freedom all of us embrace. www.americanbuddhist.info, www.buddhismonline.us, www.wayofthebuddha.com.

Again I congratulate you on your ordination. Please keep in touch.

Hoom Chee,

Venerable Kevin O'Neil