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HH The Sangkharaacha

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  1. Reflections on Nationality by HH The Sangkharaacha Every nation has folklore and as a result of tales shared and told again and again, celebrations based on folklore become a norm. So where does Buddhism come from? Should American Buddhists adopt Asian ways and become Chinese, Korean or Tibetan in the hope that it will make them "more Buddhist" or should they remain true to their own roots? When you pass a Chinese restaurant, you will see certain things. You'll probably see a pair of Fu Dogs, Chinese looking dogs that in Chinese mythology, are the powerful mythic protectors that have traditionally stood in front of Chinese imperial palaces, emperors' tombs, and government offices, from the Han Dynasty to today. Fu Dogs are important to Buddhists. Why? Because the cultures of Asia have been built around Buddhist thought. Culture and faith is intertwined and so we take many important symbols from cultures we may be very unfamiliar with. Buddhist monks and nuns will go on pilgrimages and long walks and in Ancient China, they would come back and tell tales of the things they saw which influenced thinking and interpretation. How can Fu Dogs be a symbol of faith? Well, if you see a Fu Dog with it's mouth open, it is said to be saying "om". They are said to be protectors of dharma. So, that very typical symbol - a Chinese Dog, actually has a meaning in Buddhism the world over. Hama Yumi. A small sacred bow used in 1103 C.E. in Japan when the Imperial Palace was said to be over-taken by an evil demon. An archer was brought in hoping that his bow and arrow would help. The first arrow killed the demon and the bow was named a Hama Yumi - an Evil-destroying bow. And now, in Buddhist Temples, you will see a Hama Yumi. From fact into folklore into ritual - that has been the Buddhist way for thousands of years. Buddhist rituals and traditions cannot be traced exactly. We can only go so far before the answers we want are unavaliable because Buddhism is a faith of learning and of teaching each other. Things were handed down by word of mouth, not by written document and so we get to a stage where the only thing that gives us our answers - is faith. But faith is something that human beings make indigenous. We give homes to faith and so as we learn and grow in our faith, we may adopt traits that aren't within our national psyche to adopt. A French Roman Catholic may pray in Latin, an American Orthodox Christian may pray in Russian and a Finnish Buddhist may pray in Tibetan. Let us take the example of a pray of homage. "Namo Amituofo" is a pray of homage to the Buddha which you will hear if you go into any Buddhist Temple. But why do we not chant, "Praise to the Buddha". Surely if the sentiment is the same, the language we express it in is irrelevant? I am a follower of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhism is so called because it takes it's doctrine and it's institutions from the traditions of the Himalayas. I don't need to become Tibetan to follow the school of Buddhism but I do need to be faithful to it. I can travel to Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, Manchuria and Jilin but it won't make me a faithful Buddhist. Until I accept the ways of the Buddha and follow them, I will not be a Tibetan Buddhist. Does being a follower of Tibetan Buddhism make me any greater or poorer than a follower of a different school of thought? No. It makes me a brother in discovery and learning. So, I don't have to change my nationality to be a good follower of Buddhism. I just have to be faithful. I am free to learn Tibetan, to learn Chinese folklore and mythology, to believe it, to accept it and to make it part of me. But it will not make me better spiritually. It may serve to make me feel more at home at a Temple where the faithful who attend are mainly Asian but it won't make me a better Buddhist. The Buddha told us, "The only real failure in life is not to be true to the best one knows". Nationality is a birth issue. It is not a permanent mark upon us and we can change it. But faith - faith should be a matter of choice and of permanent learning. Do not try to be Chinese or Tibetan, Japanese or Korean, Nepalese or Bhutanese - try to be faithful. Contemplate. And learn.
  2. HH The Sangkharaacha

    Questions and Answers

    Your Grace, thankyou for your question. As with many people in the West, I have come to see Buddhism as a good path to live by life by. But I exercise caution. We must be careful not to simply adopt the hallmarks of Buddhism, thus perverting ancient wisdom. By this, I mean that we should be careful not to cheapen Buddhism in all it's traditions. We must adopt, adapt and understand. I hope that I have done that and that by that understanding, I am truly a Buddhist. I hope this answers your question. Many blessings to you.
  3. HH The Sangkharaacha

    Welcome - Sawatdee

    I am humbled and overjoyed by these welcomes, especially from fellow religious leaders here in Stormark. Many Blessings to you all.
  4. HH The Sangkharaacha

    Welcome - Sawatdee

    That is very wise and very true. I am always amazed at how the West views the Far East. Uncivilised is a word that was used for far too long. Whether Christian or Buddhist, where there is faith in good things, there are good people.
  5. HH The Sangkharaacha

    Questions and Answers

    Thankyou for your question Your Grace. I believe that Buddhism has had a positive impact on my life because I feel that I have a better understanding of "why". Why am I here? Why do I feel as I do? Why can't I do this? The answers can always be found in the teachings of Buddha. But it isn't just an understanding of "why", it's also the connection with the earth I feel now. When I meditate, my mind opens and I am taken on wonderful journeys yet I remain spiritually connected to the earth and everything in it. I feel that Buddhism tells us to be better people and to care for our brothers and sisters - I try to do that and therefore, I feel I am a better person for following the path of Buddha. I hope that that answers your question. Many blessings to you.
  6. Reflections on Buddhism and Politics by HH The Sangkharaacha Buddhism has always been seen as an Asian religion. We see it filtering into the Western world and as with any new representation of something that has been around for a long time, it sometimes isn't as true to original as it might be. In Asia today, we see extremes in politics. In China, we have Communism. In Thailand, we have an Absolute Monarchy that is sometimes a Constitutional one. In Burma (Myanmar) we have a Military Junta. And yet, these nations have a history built on Buddhism. It is interesting that regimes such as the Communist regime in China and the Military Junta in Burma have made public worship a crime - both nations have a poor human rights record. So, is the case that Buddhism, which focuses on being good and on promoting peace and love, gets in the way of Governments that seek to do just the opposite? Was Buddha a politician? Let us look back. Buddha was born a Prince, Siddhartha Gautama was his name and his father was the King of the Úâkya nation, one of many Kingdoms that forms the modern day Nepal. But despite his high birth, Buddha didn't see himself as a politician - neither did he act like one. Political philosophy as we know it, conservatism, capitalism, communism, socialism - these things were defined and followed long after the time of the Buddha. In his time, politics was a different matter. Countries were ruled by Kings not by elected bodies and so when he was asked what we should expect of our rulers, he gave us a moral code - a checklist almost, to see just how good our rulers are and to see if we should follow their regimes and their governments. The first rule of good government according to the Buddha was to be liberal and avoid selfishness. By this, the Buddha meant that governments should always progress and reform as they learn new things. They should protect civil liberties and take a measured approach to things. In modern times, liberal usually connotates being pro- many things that conservatives or republicans are anti-. But in truth, to be liberal, means to assess, re-assess and progress. So, the Buddha said that leaders should be liberal. He said that should avoid selfishness. Let us look at Imperial Russia - the palaces became more opulent as the people became more hungry. Was this selfishness? Surely, by selfishness, the Buddha meant that we should all be equal? No. Such a thing would mean that the Buddha was a communist and many leaders in China have claimed that he was. It is my belief that by telling our rulers to be unselfish, Buddha meant that our rulers should remember their subjects and his message of progress and unselfishness is a message that runs throughout what we follow as Buddhists. The Buddha said that our rulers should, maintain a high moral character. Why? Well, Buddha also told us that rulers should lead a simple life for the subjects to emulate, something that they would not be doing by being immoral. If we hear that a politician has taken drugs, we lose respect for that politician because he is immoral. He has clouded his judgement with something that is illegal and therefore, he has betrayed the trust we as the electorate put into him. We are told that drugs are wrong and bad for us - so how can we emulate the life of a politician who does bad things and desecrates his body with drugs? Drugs cost money - one who buys and uses drugs, is not leading a simple life. Buddha told us that our rulers should be prepared to sacrifice one's own pleasure for the well-being of the subjects. How many rulers can we honestly say have ever lived by this? Why does Budda say this? We know that good karma only comes when we help our fellow man and live with him as brother and brother. Nobody objects to success but is it right for a rich man to sit down to a 5 course meal when some have gone without food for days? Our conscious should tell us that we should help those who are poor. We should give alms. But if our rulers are leading a simple life, then the poles of rich and poor are not so far apart and the rule of sacrificing luxury so that everyone can enjoy a good quality of life, is not a hard one to achieve. What the Buddha tells us next is, I believe, at the heart of Buddhist teachings. He tells us that our rulers should be honest and maintain absolute integrity, be kind and gentle, be free from hatred of any kind, practise patience and exercise non-violence. Our rulers should respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony. When we look, these things are actually all the things we see in the Eightfold Path; Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration. If our rulers have all these things, they are being good people and are following the teachings of Buddha. Then we can emulate them and become good people also. It is a cycle - a wheel. In a perfect world, all rulers would follow these things and because they refuse to exercise non-violence we wouldn't see wars or genocides. Because they refuse to exercise illegal trade deals, we wouldn't see poverty. But we don't see these things and our rulers do not follow these things. Buddha tells us what to do. He tells rulers to respect public opinion to promote peace and harmony, so if we show our rulers that we want peace and harmony, they must respect that and in turn, begin to follow the Eightfold Path and be good governing officials. Now, Buddha knew of the troubles caused by the weaknesses of human beings. So he said, "A good ruler should show no fear whatsoever in the enforcement of the law, if it is justifiable" - justice. Way back in the 5th century, we see that peace, harmony and justice were vital to good government. What has changed in the 16 centuries since? Buddha tells us that a good ruler must possess a clear understanding of the law to be enforced. It should not be enforced just because the ruler has the authority to enforce the law. It must be done in a reasonable manner and with common sense. Abusing our position is wrong. It goes against our countrymen and we spread upset and hurt, thus rejecting the teachings of Buddha. So, if Buddha taught us the rules for good government, doesn't that make him a politician? No. It makes him wise. Governments are nessecary but their rule isn't always right. Each Government must be noble in it's outlook and in it's outreach and if rulers follow the teachings of Buddha, goodness and peace become interwoven with the people. These rules not only apply to rulers - this is not advice to stay in Government. This is advice to be a good person. Buddha does not advocate imperialism or communism - he advocates being good. He says that our rulers should be moral, good and just. He says that they should be gracious and patient, loving and kind, accepting and wise and not afraid to admit mistakes or take actions that may make them unpopular, as long as those actions are for the good of those who put their trust into that ruler. Politics is seen today as a grubby and an underhanded institution that has become ravaged by corruption and greed. If we want to know how good our rulers are, let us ask ourselves if they follow what Buddha said. Are they; liberal? moral? honest? gentle? generous? non-violent? patient? impartial? If they are all of those things, they follow the teachings of Buddha and we can follow them. In that way, they follow Buddha by leading lives that we can emulate and we are all better people for being ruled by our leaders and they are better for ruling us in that way. Contemplate. And learn.
  7. HH The Sangkharaacha

    Welcome - Sawatdee

    And thankyou My Lady. I hope you will visit us regularly.
  8. HH The Sangkharaacha

    Questions and Answers

    Thankyou for your question Sir Dagfinn. Buddhism is much like Christianity in some ways because it offers an idea of salvation. But unlike Christianity, there is no ritual or gesture to become a Bhuddist. It is more an internal change than an external symbol of a code of beliefs. What we look for as Buddhists, is enlightenment by taking refuge in the Three Jewels ; the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. We take refuge in teaching and teachers (Buddha), in truth and in the way of the Buddha (Dharma) and in our fellow buddhists (Sangha). There is alot more to Buddhism than just those things and I hope that in time, I can explain more of these things to you. How one becomes a buddhist is a matter of personal choice. Let me tell you a story. Once, there was a man called Upali. He was the follower of another religion and he went up to the Buddha to try and convert him. In a modern day setting, he would probably own a TV station but Upali kept bashing on about his religion. But he listened to what Buddha said and eventually, Upali wanted to follow Buddha. So he said, "How do I follow you?". And Buddha said, "Make a proper investigation first". So, when one wants to become a Buddhist, one must investigate Buddhism. When you feel you are truly following the ways of Buddha, you are a buddhist. No formal ceremony is needed but some prefer it. If one wishes to have a formal expression, one can recite the following in the Sangha or just privately; Which means; And when you have said that - learn and begin. Be good. Learn the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path and then try and follow them. Meditate on them, live them. Live by the Five Precepts also. In time, I will explain these things in greater detail but I hope that for now, I have answered your question. Many blessings to you, now and always.
  9. HH The Sangkharaacha

    Happy Birthday Crown Princess Chloe!!

    Many blessings on your birthday Your Royal Highness. I wish you sunshine, joy and love on this day and all days.
  10. HH The Sangkharaacha

    Questions and Answers

    Thankyou for the question My Lady. For me, Buddhism means two major things; explanation and understanding. Humans have always looked for answers to questions. You are asking me a question right now because as a human being, you want to know. We are curious and so we fill our lives with ideas to give answers to our questions and to fufill our curiosity. I ask questions about the cosmos and about life, existance and feelings, love and hate, suffering and happiness. When I look, I find the answers in the teachings of Buddha and Buddha helps me to understand. He explains and I understand. By my understanding, I learn and by learning I become a better person. Buddhism also means a focus on the good and I believe that we all want to be good. Buddhism shows me how to be good because it explains why I should be good and how I should be good. And so I understand. I hope that answers your question My Lady. Many blessings to you.
  11. Reflections on Rebirth by HH The Sangkharaacha When we ask most people about Buddhism their first thoughts turn to re-incarnation and so it is the subject of re-incarnation I wish to address today. You say re-incarnation, a buddhist says "Rebirth". The idea of rebirth is not confined to Buddhism. We see it in Hinduism and the idea of rebirth has been adopted by Christians who see that they become new people after accepting the Holy Spirit. Rebirth in buddhism varies on tradition. You see, Buddhism is not black and white and that makes it harder for us to understand but it makes it easier for us to see how complex the cosmos is. Life for Buddhists is always a time of learning and change but everything hinges on one thing - karma. Buddhists believe that the actions of beings will affect their own future, and because of this there are no private actions: all actions have a consequence and those consequences form karma. If we have good karma, our rebirth will lead to something better. If we have bad karma, our rebirth will lead to something the same or something worse. Imagine that you are given the choice between two cars in a showroom. One car is shiny and new. The paintwork gleams and it has a top of the range sound system, it's seats are leather and everything about it is exciting. The other car is battered and the paintwork is flaking. The engine doesn't always start. If I set off on a journey in the first car, I will have more chance of reaching my destination. If I set off on a journey in the second, I will encounter all kinds of problems and I might never reach my destination. That is karma. When we have good karma, we reach a good place. It's much like Christianity and the belief that if you are a good person who lives by the ways of Christ, you will get to heaven - a good place. But simply by being good, we don't understand. The cosmos is extremely complex. Buddhists believe in the number 6. Six states of existence, six roads of reincarnation, six paths of transmigration, six realms of Samsara, six directions of rebirth, six destinies - and one thing that steers it. Enlightenment. So, what are these six realms of life? Imagine a giant office in a long building with an elevator and as we go up in the elevator, we see six departments and in each department, they are a little higher in status than the one below. Well, that is like the six realms of life. At the very bottom, we have Hell. In Sanskrit, it is known as Naraka-gati or Dmyalba in Mongolian. There many levels to hell known as Narakas. There are hot narakas; Raurava – the "screaming" Naraka, where people run around screaming because the ground is so hot. There are cold narakas; Hahava – the Naraka of lamentation where the beings lament in the cold, wailing "ha, ho" in pain. But as ever, this is not a permanent state. Beings who find themselves here wait until their negative karma has gone away and they understand that bad things happen to bad people as a result of being bad. When they are free from negative karma, they are reborn. The next realm we have is the realm of Hungry Ghosts, Preta-gati in Sanskrit; Gaki in Japanese. Preta-gati means, "one who has gone forth". Pretas are invisible to the human eye, but some believe they can be discerned by humans in certain mental states. They are described as human-like, but with sunken, mummified skin, narrow limbs, enormously distended bellies and long, thin necks. They reside in waste lands of the earth and their suffering is based on their karma. Some may eat, some may not. Some may experience searing heat, some may not. With others, they see what they desire but they cannot reach it. Again, by their suffering they change and their karma is rebalanced. They are reborn. Animals. The next state of existance we know and understand in terms of rebirth. Rebirth as an animal is considered to be one of the unhappy rebirths, usually involving more than human suffering but for many, when asked what they want from life, many say that they would like to be reborn as an animal. But animals suffer. They may be slaughtered for their skins and their meat. They may be used as work horses. They suffer from ignorance without knowing that they are ignorant. They have instinct but not common sense and this is not desirable. Every animal we see and know is a spirit of life that has been reborn. Our next realm is Asura. Because of their passions, rebirth as an Asura is considered to be one of the four unhappy births (together with rebirth as an animal, a preta, or a being in Naraka. The state of an Asura reflects the mental state of a human being obsessed with force and violence, always looking for an excuse to get into a fight, angry with everyone and unable to maintain calm or solve problems peacefully and this is contrary to the teachings of the Buddha. From this, we learn that bad feelings cause irrational actions. Asuras rank above humans but below most of the other deities. They live in the area at the foot of Mount Sumeru and in the sea that surrounds it. And when the time comes, they are reborn. The next realm is the realm we know. The human realm. In Buddhism, human beings have a very special status, if for no other reason than that only a human being can attain enlightenment as a fully enlightened Buddha. It is our chance to achieve the higher realms of the cosmos. If we do not, we will be reborn and we will suffer and through suffering, we will know enlightenment. We must avoid crimes against people and against the Dharma. We must have sincere compassion for other people. We must learn. If we do not, we must suffer to learn. When we die, we will be reborn and if we have achieved enlightment, if we have good karma - we become a Deva. The term deva does not refer to a natural class of beings, but is defined anthropocentrically to include all those beings more powerful or more blissful than humans. Some have no physical form but dwell in meditation. Others have a physical form and they live in a large number of "heavens" or deva-worlds that rise, layer on layer, above the earth. Devas are not Gods. They are not immortal, they do not create or shape worlds, they are not omniscient or morally perfect. But they are enlightened to a greater understanding of the cosmos. Buddhist devas are not to be worshipped. While some individuals among the devas may be beings of great moral authority and prestige and thus deserving of a high degree of respect, no deva can be a refuge. If we can reach enlightment - we become complete. We do not have to be reborn to suffer or learn - because we have learned all we can learn. Time and space are finally understood - the mysteries of life are known to us because we are enlightened. By rebirth, we have learned and in the same way as those who call themselves "born again" Christians, we are new and better beings for being born again. Let me close on a passage from an ancient text written in Pali Text. It is known as Milinda's Questions and it is an important document to all who follow the Theravada school of Buddhism. It reads; Contemplate. And learn.
  12. Buddhism is an ancient way of life. It was founded in the fifth century BCE by Gautama Buddha and despite the great period of time that has passed, we still have questions. Some can be answered, some can't and some don't need answers. They need thought. If you would like to know more about Buddhism, why not ask a question here? The Sangkharaacha will answer them.
  13. HH The Sangkharaacha

    The Sangkharaacha

    About The Sangkharaacha His Holiness The Sangkharaacha is the spiritual leader of Stormarkian Buddhism and leader of the Haaeng Khaawng Laaek Temple. The Sangkharaacha lives at the Temple. He has his own flag, as does the Temple and his major role is to teach and take forward Buddhism into the world. The Sangkharaacha is addressed as "His Holiness". He also enters into dialogue with leaders of other faiths in order to learn and furthur personal knowledge which he can then pass on to those who follow the path of Buddha. Personal Flag of His Holiness The Sangkharaacha The Flag of The Haaeng Khaawng Laaek Temple
  14. Sawatdee, Welcome to the Haaeng Khaawng Laaek Temple, the home of Buddhism in Stormark. For many visitors here, Buddhism will be a foreign world. As well as holding prayer sessions, the Temple is here as a place of learning and sharing. Indeed, the name of the temple means "Place of Sharing". The Buddha taught us; Wars have been fought, attacks have been waged in order to convert people to a way of thinking. A buddhist believes that faith is a personal journey of learning. If what we teach here agrees with your reasoning, your moral code, your views and common sense then we welcome you and if it doesn't, we welcome you. Just as we hope you will learn from the Temple, the Temple can learn from you. The Head of the Haaeng Khaawng Laaek Temple and Buddhism in Stormark, is His Holiness The Sangkharaacha. Sangkharaacha means "Great Teacher". As we teach, we also learn because we have to learn to have the ability to teach. We hope that you will make the Temple a home and take wisdom from it. Welcome and Sawatdee.