Spotting Causality

956849-787008-thumbnail.jpgTracing retributions back to their karmic cause is tough when the retribution takes lifetimes to occur. But we can all see causality functioning in our daily lives.

When we ignored an opportunity to help someone, we felt guilty. When we failed to do the work we were supposed to do, we felt depressed. Speaking harshly to someone, we became unsettled and agitated. This is cause and effect. We do something and we experience the consequences.  

Over time, and with awareness, we will discern patterns. When we act in certain ways, there are the same related feelings and results. As this pattern makes itself clear, we will realize that negative actions result in distress, while those that are positive result in contentment and peace.


Chanting as Meditation

Perhaps one of the questions I get most often is similar to the following one.

"Since Buddhism is not a religion, one can be of another faith and at the same time practise Buddha Recitation! Isn't Buddha Recitation a form of religion? Please clear my confused understanding!"

My response to this individual and to others with the same questions is that one can have a religious faith and still learn and practice the Buddhadharma—the Buddha’s teachings. It is like going to school. When we got to school to learn, there is no need to give up our religion.

In my classes, there are Christians, Jews, and people of other faiths as well as those who do not practice any religion. I have been invited to speak at various churches because what I teach about becoming more peaceful and selfless complements the church's teachings.

Chanting "Amituofo" is a form of meditation. It's a way of calming the mind by focusing it on one thing. The primary aim of this form of meditation is to achieve a mental state of "one-mind undisturbed," a state in which the mind focuses solely on its meditative subject.

We chant "Amituofo" to focus our thoughts on a perfectly awakened being who has perfect wisdom and compassion. When I listen intently to the sound of waves, I am not worshiping the ocean. When I meditate by concentrating on my in-breath and out-breath, I am not worshiping my breath. In such chanting, listening intently, and concentrating, I am simply focusing my thoughts on the virtues I wish to perfectly develop. I am not worshiping.

In the same way, people who are not Buddhists can chant a Buddha’s name to develop the qualities that lead to awakening.



Go Veggie and Reduce Global Warming


·   It takes 2,500 gallons of water to produce one pound of meat.

·   Half the rainforests in the world have been destroyed to clear ground to graze cattle to make beef burgers. The burning of the forests contributes 20% of all green-house gases. Roughly 1,000 species a year become extinct because of the destruction of the rainforests.

·   The billions of chickens, turkeys, pigs, and cows who are crammed into factory farms each year in the U.S. produce enormous amounts of methane, both in their digestive processes and from the feces that they excrete. Scientists report that every molecule of methane is more than 20 times as effective as carbon dioxide is at trapping heat in our atmosphere.45 Statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency show that animal agriculture is the single largest cause of methane emissions in the U.S.46 Raising animals for food is causing global warming. (45 “Global Warming: Methane,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 8 Mar. 2006. 46 “Sources and Emissions: Methane,” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2 Jun. 2006.)

·   According to University of Chicago researchers, adopting a vegan diet makes a bigger impact in reducing global warming than does switching to hybrid car does.

·   Raising animals for food, a 2006 United Nations report said, is “one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, at every scale from local to global. The findings of this report suggest that it should be a major policy focus when dealing with problems of land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution and loss of biodiversity. Livestock’s contribution to environmental problems is on a massive scale ….” (Ed Ayres, "Will We Still Eat Meat?" Time, 8 Nov. 1999.)  

·   In the U.S., 70 percent of all grains, 80 percent of all agricultural land, half of all water resources, and one-third of all fossil fuels are used to raise animals for food.



So often, we forget to take the time to be aware. When things do not go as we plan, we get upset, a seemingly natural reaction. But when things go smoothly, we forget to be thankful. We even blame our “forgetfulness” on our busy lifestyles. Yes, we all have problems at work or school, experience difficult relationships, and may fail in what we undertake. But, there are many things in our lives to be thankful for. All we have to do is to slow down, be mindful, notice, and value them. And be thankful.


The Good and Virtuous

The good renounce
(attachment for) everything.
 The virtuous
do not prattle
with a yearning for pleasures.
The wise
show no elation or depression
when touched
by happiness or sorrow.
The Dhammapada
translated by Venerable Buddharakkhita