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Buddhism Beyond Religion
When I was last in China, I met with the vice-minister of religious affair, and we offered calligraphy saying “The Spiritual Dimension.” Although China is developing and strengthening their economy, education, arts, and politics, many people still suffer because they lack the dimension of spirituality in their lives and activities. Giving support to Buddhism, so that Buddhism can contribute to that spiritual dimension, will help people in China suffer less.
A few weeks ago, the School of Medicine of a university in Geneva asked me to teach about the human brain. They organized a week-long symposium on the brain, gathering neuroscientists and brain specialists to offer illumination on this topic. I am not a brain specialist, but they invited me because they want the spiritual dimension represented. I was also invited to the international conference of politicians and business leaders help at Davos, Switzerland. Neither am I a businessman, so why do they invite me? Because they see that business people and those in politics have suffering, worries, and fears, and they feel the need for the spiritual dimension. The Harvard medical school invited me to give a Day of Mindfulness for doctors and medical researchers. The spiritual dimension brings relief to people’s suffering, anxieties, and fears in all fields.
Monks, nuns, and lay practitioner have to bring Buddhism out of its religious context, to be able to share it with, and server the world. We have to bring Buddhism into prisons, schools, hospitals, and police headquarters so that people can live and work with more ease and less suffering. We need methods of mindfulness practice that can be used in all aspects of society, not limited by the form of religion.
Looking at the Plum Village Sangha’s activities, we see that the practice of mindfulness has been able to reach many sectors of society. We host retreats not only in Plum Village, but also in other countries of Europe, America, and Asia. We have had many retreats where parents, children, and teenagers practice together. We have hosted retreats just for young people in the United States, Australia, and Europe. We have had retreats for psychotherapists in America and Europe. We have had retreats for war veterans, environmentalist, doctors, nurses, psychotherapists, teachers, peace activists, and business people. We have brought the practice into prison. This year the school of Medicine at Harvard University wants me to come and receive an award. They say our retreats have helped heal many people, greatly relieving their suffering. They want to affirm that fact with and award. This is an indication that we have been able to surpass the limits of religion and enter the mainstream of society. We are not doctors, nor are we psychotherapists, but our retreats have brought rejuvenation, joy, and hope to thousand of people.
Last Updated (Friday, 23 November 2012 14:54)