Religion Discussion Forum
Re: interested
Posted by Y Chan on Thursday, 14 January 1999, at 1:16 p.m., in response to
interested, posted by Tricia on Saturday, 12 December 1998, at 7:00 a.m.
> I want to learn about Buddhism and have wanted to for a while now. I wrote a few people individually, but if there is anyone who during this busy season who has a little extra time, I'd appreciate it if you would write. As of now I am an agnostic who wants to expand her mind. Buddhism seems like the most spiritual and interesting religions and way of life. Happy holidays to everyone.
Response by Y Chan :
If you want to learn about Buddhism and the way of life, I suggest the following:
Go to your local video shop and rent (or buy) the movie "the Little Buddha" and watch it on your television. It gives a good introduction to Buddhism and to the biography of Prince Gautama Buddha. Also, try the two movies, "Seven year in Tibet" and "Kundun", which dramatize the life of the HH Dalai Lama.
If you had seen the above movies and wish to know more, you will have to go to your local library or bookstore. There are many excellent books on Buddhism written by Westerners, such as "Awakening the Buddha Within" by Lama Surya Das . Professor Robert Thurman also has written many excellent books such as "Buddhism without Belief" and "Tibetan Buddhism".
If you found it too boring to read theoretical books, try enjoying a Buddhism novel! The best Buddhism novel is "Journey to the West", also known as "the Monkey King", written by the Chinese author Mr. Wu in the Ming Dynasty. You should be able to find the English translation in many libraries. The story is strictly fictitious, but it is packed with Buddha's teachings (Dharma) and is so popular that even Christians, Muslims, and people of other faiths in Asia enjoy it. It is about the journey of Buddhist monk who traveled from China to India to fetch the Buddhist Sutra and brought it back to China in the Tong Dynasty. The Monk was protected by the Monkey King, the Pig King and Sandy, who helped him to fight all the monsters on the way. If you live in a city with a huge Asian population such as Toronto or New York City, you may be able to get the movie or TV series "Journey to the West" with English Sub-titles.
Of course if you are serious, you should visit a Buddhist Temple (or a Buddhist Organization) and observe or join a celebration. A good time to go is Chinese New Year (January 17, 2001 starts the year of the Snake, one of the 12 legendary animals that paid homage to Buddha). And how about the Buddha Day (see elsewhere in this Website for description) to celebrate the Birth of Prince Gautama. You should be able to watch Chinese Dragon Dances in both festivals - the Dragon being the Protector of Dharma according to Buddhist Texts (Buddha's security officer, in modern terms!). Be prepared for large crowds.
You may also like to try Buddhist food. In some large cities like Toronto or San Francisco, there are Chinese Restaurants specialized in serving Buddhist vegetarian dishes - which are a little bit more expensive than ordinary Chinese dishes, but very very tasty!! Chinese Buddhist menus are developed over 2,000 years by Chinese Monks and are equally enjoyed by Christians, Muslims, etc. Many large Buddhist Temples also serve Buddhist meals after a ceremony, at a reasonable "donation". Just ask if they serve any Buddhist meals. If you live in a small city, try to talk to the owner of your local Chinese restaurant to see if the Chef can prepare you a vegetarian Buddhist supper.
How about Buddhist music? or music with a Buddhist flavour? Although there are quite a few Western entertainers who are Buddhist, such as Suzanne Vega and Tina Turner, there are not many Buddhist music or songs which has the same popularity as Christian Songs. But you may wish to try Yo Yo Ma who undertook the so called "Silk Road Project", introducing music along the Ancient Silk Road in his new CD. Miss Vanessa Mae also has an album called China Girl (EMI Records, CDC556483), in which she played "Butterfly Lovers Violin Concerto" - a story about a pair of lovers who could not get married. After they died, they were re-born as a pair of butterflies, to continue their love among beautiful flowers. (If it were a Christian love story, they would have gone to hell for their sin of disobedience, which is anything but romantic!)
In conclusion, unlike Christianity, Buddhism is not a proselytizing religion and no one will persuade you to convert. No preaching "salesman" will knock on your door distributing flashy brochures promoting Buddhism. You have to look for Dharma on your own intuitive.

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