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08/26/08
Buddha said ” be an island/light unto yourself “…i shall help myself -Uttar Pradesh to give free bags to schoolgirls- The Democratic convention starts today, and my new running mate Joe Biden and I recorded a message about what we all need to do next.-Strengthening Families and Communities
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 10:08 am


Uttar Pradesh to give free bags to schoolgirls


Uttar Pradesh has found another way to attract more girls to government-run schools - by distributing school bags free of cost.

The government has earmarked Rs.130 million for the new scheme, officials said Monday.

‘Initially,
girls studying in Class 6 to Class 8 would be able to avail the scheme.
Later, girls of Class 1 to Class 5 will also be included,’ Rakesh
Kumar, an official in the basic education department here, told IANS.

The programme aims to increase the enrolment of girls in schools, he said.

The state government is already providing free school uniforms and books to girls studying in Class 1 to Class 5, Kumar added.

Officials
said that the new scheme would be implemented in the next academic
session and over eight million girls across the state would benefit
from it.


Amar Singh urges Congress to hurry seat sharing talks


Apparently worried by the moves to form a strong third front with
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati in the forefront, the
Samajwadi Party Monday said talks with the COngress on seat sharing in
Uttar Pradesh for the next general elections were “lagging behind” and
bogged down by “unnecessary delays”.

“There has been unnecessary delay (about alliance in Uttar
Pradesh),” Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh told reporters
here.

The Samajwadi Party, which backed the Manmohan Singh government in
the July 22 parliament floor test after the Left withdrew support over
the India-US nuclear deal, had earlier suggested that the Congress
appoint Rahul Gandhi for discussions on seat sharing.

“Other alliances are working very hard and we are lagging behind. We
have to come to a decision this way or that,” said Singh, apparently
referring to the growing clout of Mayawati with the other parties.

Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Prakash
Karat met BSP leader and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati for
talks on Sunday, while Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief K. Chandrababu
Naidu had met her the day before.

Mayawati has declared that her party would contest general elections from all the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh.

“So far, there have been no formal talks (on seat sharing).
Hopefully, we will meet soon. I don’t know how and when, but we will
take a call tomorrow,” said Singh, Rajya Sabha MP.


Buddha said ” be an island/light unto
yourself “…i shall help myself  Grin

How should I teach Buddhism to my children? [go up]

The Buddha’s advice to parents is straightforward: help your children become generous, virtuous, responsible, skilled, and self-sufficient adults [see DN 31 and Sn 2.4]. Teaching Buddhism to one’s children does not
mean giving them long lectures about dependent co-arising, or forcing
them to memorize the Buddha’s lists of the eightfold this, the ten
such-and-suches, the seventeen so-and-sos. It simply means giving them
the basic skills they’ll need in order to find true happiness. The rest
will take care of itself.

The single most important lesson parents can convey to their
children is that every action has consequences. Each moment presents us
with an opportunity, and it is up to us to choose how we want to think,
speak, or act. It is these choices that eventually determine our
happiness. This is the essence of kamma,
the basic law of cause and effect that underlies the Dhamma. It also
happens to be the message behind one of the few recorded teachings the
Buddha gave to his only child, Rahula.1 This sutta — the Ambalatthikarahulovada Sutta (MN 61) — offers parents some important clues about teaching Dhamma to young children — in terms of both the content of what to teach and the method to use.

In this sutta the Buddha reprimands the seven year old Rahula for telling a small lie. The content of the Buddha’s lesson here is clear and simple: it concerns right speech, and helping Rahula keep himself true to the fundamental principles of virtue. There are several noteworthy aspects to the Buddha’s method.
First, by artfully drawing comparisons to an everyday utensil (in this
case, a water dipper), the Buddha makes his point in vivid and
age-appropriate language that Rahula can easily understand. Second, the
Buddha doesn’t launch into a long-winded abstract lecture on the nature
of kamma, but instead keeps the lesson focused on the immediate issue
at hand: choosing your actions carefully. Third, although the five precepts
do indeed constitute the fundamental framework for moral conduct, the
Buddha does not mention them here — presumably because some of the
precepts (concerning sexuality and using intoxicants) are simply not
relevant to most seven year olds. (Perhaps the Buddha had more to say
about the precepts by the time Rahula was a teenager.) Fourth, the
Buddha keeps Rahula engaged during the lesson by asking him simple
questions; this is no dry, soporific lecture. And finally, the Buddha
takes advantage of the opportunity presented by this “teaching moment”
to expand into deeper territory, to explain to Rahula the importance of
reflecting inwardly before, during, and after performing an action of
any sort — whether of body, speech, or mind. The Buddha thus places
Rahula’s original small misdeed into a much broader context,
transforming it into a lesson of deep and lasting significance.

Although most of us who are parents can only dream of teaching our
children as consciously and effectively as the Buddha did, we can still
learn from his example. But before we can translate his example into
action, there is one crucial point to recognize: the Buddha’s
instructions to his son were given by someone who really knew what he
was talking about; Rahula’s teacher was someone who truly practiced
what he preached, a role model par excellence. So the message
is clear: if we hope to instruct our children about matters concerning
the path of Dhamma, we had better be sure that we ourselves are
practicing on that path. If you extol the virtues of skillful qualities
such as generosity, truthfulness, and patience, but your children only
see you being stingy, overhear you telling lies, or see you losing your
temper, then your message will be lost. Of course, you need not have
perfected the Dhamma in order to instruct your children, but for your
instruction to carry any weight your children must be able to witness
firsthand that you are earnestly striving to put these same teachings
into practice yourself. And if you can inspire them by your example and
give them the skills they need to know to live in tune with the Dhamma,
then you’ve given them a rare gift indeed:

The wise hope for a child of heightened or similar birth, not for one of lowered birth, a disgrace to the family. These children in the world, lay followers, consummate in virtue, conviction; generous, free from stinginess, shine forth in any gathering like the moon when freed from a cloud.

Iti 74

If you’re looking for books to read to (or with) a younger child, I recommend the series of colorfully illustrated Jataka2 story books and coloring books available from Dharma Publishing.
These books (in the “Jataka Tales Series”) recount stories of the
Buddha’s former lives and provide many opportunities for discussion of
basic moral principles with children. They are most appropriate for
children under 10.

Notes

1.
Seven years after leaving his home and family to begin his spiritual
quest, Siddhattha Gotama — now the Buddha — returned on the first of
several visits to his family to teach them Dhamma. The only suttas that
record the Buddha’s instructions to his son Rahula are these: MN 61
(Rahula is 7 years old), in which the Buddha explains the importance of
self-reflection before, during, and after performing any action; MN 62
(age 18), in which the Buddha teaches him breath meditation; MN 147
(age 20, just after his ordination as a bhikkhu), in which the Buddha
queries him about impermanence, and Rahula thereby becomes an arahant
(this sutta is identical to SN 35.121); SN 22.91 (= SN 18.21) and SN
22.92 (= SN 18.22), in which the Buddha answers his questions about
uprooting I-making and conceit; and Sn 2.11, in which the Buddha praises to him the virtues of the homeless life.

2. The Jataka, or “Birth Stories,” is a book in the Khuddaka Nikaya
that recounts tales of the Buddha’s former lives prior to his final
rebirth as Siddhattha Gotama. In previous lives he was born a human, or
a bird, or a monkey, etc.; in each life he dedicated himself to
developing and strengthening a wholesome quality of mind (parami). One Jataka story might be about developing patience, the next about developing generosity, and so on.

Strengthening Families and Communities

“”…at
the dawn of the 21st century we also have a collective responsibility
to recommit ourselves to the dream; to strengthen that safety net, put
the rungs back on that ladder to the middle-class, and give every
family the chance that so many of our parents and grandparents had.
This responsibility is one that’s been missing from Washington for far
too long — a responsibility I intend to take very seriously as
President.””

— Barack Obama, Spartanburg, SC, June 15, 2007

The Problem

Over the last few decades, too many
American families have worked hard their whole lives only to find that
sometimes the game is rigged against them. Too many rungs have been
removed from the ladder to middle-class security, and the safety net
that’s supposed to break any falls has grown badly frayed. Many
families face increased anxiety when it comes to paying medical bills
or balancing their home and work life or finding ways to send their
children to college. At the same time, others have tumbled into
poverty, watching jobs disappear, and the chances for their children’s
success slip further and further away.

Providing these
families with the same chances that previous generations have had is a
daunting challenge, but it is certainly one we can meet. Barack Obama
will bring the much needed leadership and vision to Washington to
finally restore the promise of the American Dream to all American
families.

Balancing Buddha Dhamma with family
life

Written by John. D.
Hughes, Vincenzo Cavuoto, Lainie Smallwood, Lisa Nelson and Evelin Halls.

We will illustrate the priorities of a Buddha Dhamma practitioner in
contrast to the norms of the four common forms of Australian culture towards family
life. There is no pure one culture but rather high-bred mixtures in a range from
total denial of any family responsibility or obligation to obsessive clinging
to the family unit as the one and only refuge that matters. Both these extremes
cause considerable emotional suffering over as many as four generations of family
members that could involve a hundred or more persons.
Even in a nuclear family
with one or two children it is becoming apparent that the birth rate is falling.
Just
because you are working hard does not mean you are doing the right things. It
is more important to be doing the right things - than to be doing things right.
One
day, the king of Kukkutavati, Maha Kappina, was out in the park with several ministers.
While in the park, they met some merchants from Savatthi. From these merchants
they heard about the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, and the king and his ministers
decided to leave for Savatthi.
The Buddha saw in his visions Maha Kappina and
the ministers and knew that they were ready to attain Arahanthood. When the king
and his ministers were approaching the Buddha they saw the Buddha with six-colored
rays radiating from his body and paid homage. On hearing a discourse delivered
by the Buddha, king Maha Kappina and his ministers realised the Dhamma and joined
the Holy Order.
Queen Anoja, wife of the king, heard about the king and the
ministers setting out for Savatthi and, together with the ministers’ wives, followed
them to Savatthi. On the way to Savatthi they saw the Buddha surrounded by a halo
of six colors and paid homage to him.
However, the Buddha had made the king
and his ministers invisible with his supernormal powers, because if the women
were to see their husbands in yellow robes and shaven heads, it would have upset
the wives and would have deterred them from realising the Dhamma.
The Buddha
promised the women that they could see their husbands, which made them very happy.
Then the Buddha taught the queen and the ministers’ wives and they reached the
first stage of Sainthood. The king and the ministers attained Arahanthood. Immediately
after the wives’ attainments they were able to see their former husbands as bhikkhus.
Following
these events the wives entered the Order of bhikkhunis and soon attained Sainthood.
(Dhammapada).
The Buddha made the husbands invisible to the wives as otherwise
their attachment to family would have hindered their opportunity to be taught
the Dhamma.
This teaching was given by the Buddha 2500 years ago and is pertinent
today. Being born to a Australian family denotes some form of attachment to parents
and siblings. We inherently adopt our family’s culture which can create circumstances
where it is difficult to learn Buddha Dhamma.
To balance family life and the
Dhamma, the Dhamma should be given priority. As long as the attachment to family
is dominant, this attachment has the capacity to stop persons from learning Buddha
Dhamma. Nevertheless, this does not mean we abandon helping our family.
In
the Buddha’s sermon on What is True Blessedness, titled the Mangala Sutta, the
Lord Buddha stated that ‘to wait on father and mother, to cherish wife and child,
to follow a peaceful calling; this is true blessedness’.
Childbirth is a major
event and denotes religious significance in most cultures. Conceiving a child
can secure the emotional contentment and security of a parent.
A few of our
Members have young families and learn to involve their children in various activities
at our Centre. If the poorly educated grandparents follow another religion beyond
mere lip service, they may express a dislike of the direction their sons and daughters
take by their attendance at our Centre. If they do not follow another religion,
they may still express dislike which often stems from ignorance or fear of losing
control of their children.
The detailed methods given by Buddha on the tolerance
of how to treat parents of different religious belief is well taught at our Centre.
The
net result of even a few months of Dhamma practice shows an obvious improvement
of the mental health and educational level aspiration of practitioners. The tolerant
behaviour towards their parents view on religion causes the grandparents to pause
in their unthinking attack on what they do not know. The grandparents agree to
not stress religious differences over time because they approve of the level of
courtesy they are shown by their children and grandchildren.
It may be that
in their childhood they were taught by their parents who could have been the parochial
kind of Australian person that slandered other religions as an act of misplaced
faith. Such persons experience difficulty in accepting the sight of Buddha Dhamma
followers and fail to see that interfaith services are not uncommon in Australia.
When
family culture has no tolerance for other citizen’s religious beliefs troubles
arise in the short term. Consider the two Christian religions used to promote
conflict in Ireland and elsewhere.
We do not see ourselves wanting to hinder
the ability to balance Buddha Dhamma practice with multifaith family life.
Most
of our Members have been raised in a non-Buddhist family culture because of their
past causes. If people understood the “Law of Karma” cause and effect,
which the Buddha taught they would make the necessary causes to be born in a family
culture conducive to Buddha Dhamma.
At our Centre persons have the opportunity
to make the necessary causes to be born in a family culture that enables the practice
of Buddha Dhamma in future lives.
The Buddha’s teachings provide ethical guidelines
towards the function of family life.
The average person’s common sense version
of being kind, caring and considerate to family members is not correct in most
cases to help us to create a more harmonious community environment.
For example,
we ought to think twice if we plan to pay for a holiday of any sort for our children
or parents where the children are allowed to be foolish by lazing around with
foolish friends and attempting to learn nothing.
To fund an overseas or local
holiday in the long vacation at University or other tertiary learning establishments
may not be the best thing for the mind.
Norman Mackenzie in May 1961 wrote
a paper for the New Statesman detailing how students in the UK spent their long
vacation. The sample size was 500 students from 9 universities.
The students
interviewed were drawn from all social classes. More than 90% of the students
had some sort of award. The first point was to establish how many students worked
during the long vacation. (work at Christmas and Easter was excluded).
77%
of all students worked.
23% did not have paid work.
84% planned to work
in the coming vacation.
17% did not plan to work.
What type of work did
the students do?
The range of jobs was diverse, ranging from general labouring,
farm, and factory work, to employment in offices and shops. Several sold ice-cream
or drove lorries. Many girls worked as waitresses; men worked as waiters, orderlies
and batmen at army camps.
Those taking scientific, technical or foreign language
courses found it easier to get jobs which related to their academic interests.
In certain cases, they were required to do this as part of their studies.
The
average length of employment was 7 weeks and 23 % worked a minimum of 10 weeks.
For
those employed 73% liked their employment and 27% disliked their employment.
There
was some interesting points. It is a fair conclusion that if grants were increased
many students would continue to work.
A Leicester girl said: “Every student
should be compelled to take up some form of work of practical work for a limited
time” ….”this would raise the social status of students and help liquidate
the rumour that students are just parasites on society”.
“How can
any self-respecting student” asked another “expect her parents to support
her for 14 weeks?”.
An Oxford undergraduate observed: ” A change
of reorientation to normal life after a long exercise in social and intellectual
snobbery”.
Teaching persons to develop ways of being lazy and idle and
wasting their leisure time is not any sort of highest blessing.
The correct
view is that even if a fool associates with a wise person all his or her life,
he or she does not anymore perceive the truth than a spoon perceives the flavour
of the soup.
But if even for a moment an intelligent person associates with
a wise person, he or she perceives the truth as the tongue perceives the flavour
of the soup.
To waken up persons, we do not tell them they are too young or
too old to help others who can learn. This is ageism.
But, like it or not
like it, it is true that some persons have wasted this life systematically by
doing the things that destroy their chances of learning.
For learning to occur,
viriya is needed. The Pali word Viriya is popularly translated as vigour and energy.
There
is always some difference or compromise between the popular meaning of words and
that of the meaning in a true Dictionary, which is largely concerned with derivations
and synonyms, and an Encyclopaedia, which sets out a few terms at considerable
length.
When we think of the profile of our average listener’s range of vocabulary,
we have to stay within the “popular” use of words. For a person to meet
with Dhamma the language must suit their knowledge and mind.
At the same time,
we issue cautions from time to time that there are levels of meaning that persons
born overseas and educated in Buddhist terminology would grasp because certain
words are unique in range, depth and complexity.
Ordinary persons in Australia
are not expert in all of these meanings.
Our difficulty of compressing 84 000
terms which are current in key Western translations of Buddhist literature into
a radio script working vocabulary of perhaps 50, 000 words is therefore obvious.
It
follows that the listeners deserve some help to bring them to the mental map in
which the terms described had their place and meaning.
In the field of Buddha
Dhamma, the component parts of the whole are partly visible and objective, and
partly invisible because subjective.
The following may help get to a sketch
map of the relationship of family to Dhamma.

Those who can hold their
mind steady enough to remember the birth process come to recognise that human
life is suffering. No matter how big your family’s desire is to deny suffering,
it will not change the fact that this is so.
Your family cannot be born for
you.
The suffering, large dukkha or small dukkha, comes from past causes and
has to be born by your mind, your feelings.
Because life has this dukkha, the
same applies to sickness, old age pains and death.
Your family cannot help
you other than to tell you to bear up under such dukkha.
Reflection in such
a manner makes you know that your family cannot prevent the life processes of
going from womb to tomb occurring.
When reason appears, we understand why we
ought not bind ourselves tightly in family relationships or go to an extreme view
that our family is our refuge.
Since our family is not suitable as our refuge,
we must free our minds of family clinging if we can understand the way out of
suffering.
All Buddhist schools agree that sooner or later meditation (Bhavana)
must be done.
Our family cannot do this for us, nor can they teach us the path
out of suffering.
We must become rational, practical minded, and cool to plan
the time away from our family for some time to practice.
We must plan ahead
for a year or so to get even five days of few duties for this purpose. This is
why we serve, or help, or fund others to make causes for their retreat. If we
do not do this, we will never come to our time to practice a retreat.
The Shorter
Oxford English Dictionary defines a retreat as, ‘ A period of seclusion or retirement
from one’s ordinary occupations devoted to religious exercise’.
Bhikkhu Piyananda
says, that many people are searching, they are searching, but they are not finding.
Some do not even know what they are searching for, on the other hand, some know
they are searching for some kind of inner peace and harmony. They have found worries.
They
have found so much confusion and disturbances. They found more unsatisfactoriness.
But they have not found the peace and harmony within. Most people are adopting
the wrong methods to find peace and harmony: they are looking outside themselves
into the external world as the source of their troubles, worries and problems.

They look to the solution of their problems in their family, job, partner,
friends, etc. They believe that if they can only change the external conditions
in their environment, they can become peaceful and happy.

The external
conditions change, but they do not become peaceful and happy.

And now
so many people are turning their attention to the real source of their happiness
and their troubles: the mind. To turn persons attention to the mind is to come
to meditation (Bhavana).

Louis van Loon says: “Although the Buddha
had nothing specific to say about the size, composition or limitation of the family
unit, he had some definite advice to give on the time and quality of the relationship
that should be fostered within the members of the family.

The Buddha
considered the family environment a most precious circumstance and opportunity
for spiritual growth, second only to becoming a Monk or Nun.

To be born
in a certain family results from a special type of Kamma. A Kammic relationship
therefore exists between the parents and their child even before the moment of
conception. This Kammic link intensifies from the moment of birth and expresses
itself in the relationship that parents and children establish between themselves
and the family unit.

The parent-child relationship is the basis of human
society. From it flow all the other types of interpersonal and community associations.
In the well known Sigalovada Sutta these relationships are considered of extending
in all ‘directions’. To the East one’s parents and to the West one’s wife (or
husband) and children.

The emotional-psychological need for children
is, as a rule, basic to the life of the family man and women. The desire to get
married is virtually synonymous with the wish to have children of one’s own -
at least until the relatively modern stage of individualism is reached when cohabitation
no longer involves either or wedlock or procreation. The religious ‘needs’ surrounding
childbirth are of a different nature.

The function of religion should,
in principle, be able to provide family members with a set of moral guidelines
which would enable them to face life difficulties and cultural transitions without
falling apart.

In Buddha Dhamma great stress is placed on generating
quality in family relationships. The consequence of this is the creation of quality
within the community. Great emphasis is placed on a child’s education by the parents
in a Buddhists family.

Family & Kinship (Encyclopedia Britannica)

“Family and kinship (relationship by descent; consanguinity or blood
relationship, according to the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary) play an important
part in all human societies, both in the regulation of behaviour between persons
and in the formation of social, political, and territorial groups.

Kinship
tends to be of more pervasive importance in the traditional and especially in
tribal societies, in which it exerts far-reaching influence on the social and
economic life of the community.

In industrial societies the domestic
family remains the chief institution based on kinship, but the form and function
of the family has varied over time and among different societies, and continues
to evolve in response to societal changes and pressures.

Modern research
has revealed the nature of the biological continuity between an individual and
his or hers genetic parents. But kinship, as a set of social relations, does not
depend on knowledge of genetics or physiology.

Indeed, some societies
with elaborate kinship systems have held beliefs about the development of the
human fetus that in no way approximate to the actualities of conception and gestation.

Genetic mechanisms are uniform for all humankind, but human groups differ
widely in the significance they attach to kinship.

All cultures recognise
that the human fetus is born from the womb of its mother, on whom it depends for
survival. There is thus, a physically based and culturally defined relationship
between mother and child.

Likewise, all cultures distinguish between
male and female individuals and institutionalise, in varying forms, a second relationship:
that between a man and a woman who copulate in some acceptable way. This relationship
is described, in English, as “marriage”.

There are vast differences
between cultures in the customary entailments of these two relationships- mother
and child, man and woman- and in how they generate other separately identified
relationships such as, in English, father, sibling, mother-in-law, or cousin.

The study of kinship began with the recognition, from at least classical times,
that the names for kin relations in one language cannot always be translated accurately,
on a one-to-one basis into the kin terms of another language.

It was stimulated
by the discovery of an American ethnologist in 1858, that two Indian languages,
Iroquois and Ojibwa, although apparently unrelated, nevertheless possessed common
patterns of kin terms so that one-to-one translation was possible.

Yet
there is more to the study of kinship than the investigation of patterns of names
for kin relations. For such study embraces the investigation of;

(1) The
way in which individuals enter into and leave kin relationships;

(2) How
they use them in private and public life;

(3) How kin relations are made
to define social groups and categories;

(4) What connection kinship has
with other sets of relations between individuals and groups based on political,
residential, religious, and other non kin criteria;

(5) How copulation
and birth are associated with kin relationship;

(6) How ideas about the
development of the human embryo, the acquisition of personal characteristics,
the fate of the “soul” after death, and other matters may be linked
in any culture with a pattern of kin relation; and

(7) What explanations
can be given for the genesis, development, maintenance and decay of these various
beliefs and practice.” Encyclopedia Britannica.

Conflicts arise in
families due to numerous factors and each family has their own mechanism for dealing
with such conflicts.

One reason for such a family conflict would be the
accelerated cultural change a Buddhist practitioner is subject to when he or she
decides to take the Buddha Dharma Path on earnest, while other family members
regard such a Path outside their cultural stream.

The visible changes
in the Buddhist practitioners’ behaviour may or may not have the effect of inspiring
other family members, to investigate more closely the Buddha’s Teachings.

Whether family members like it or not like it, the minds of the practitioner
have a wholesome influence on a family mental environment due to keeping five
precepts of the Buddhist ethical system. (The five precepts are abstaining from
killing, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from lying and from alcohol and
drugs).

Socialising young children for the first four years of their life
and forcing them to share basic family values is the self-imposed task of the
mother, father and relatives. For example, one of our Members knows of a case
where a fourteen year old woman gave birth to a boy nine years ago.

The
boy was subject to two mothers because the biological mother reared the child
in the same residence as her own mother. The kamma of this child was related very
strongly to both women and was bought up with dual mothering and multiple males
who acted for short periods of time in a fatherly role.

What are the
consequences of this type of kamma?

Because of lack of consistency in
mother / father instructions of what is right in family relation and the two mothers
competing for power over the child’s culture, it should not be surprising that
the child is confused about what is the correct view of relating to adults.

The main influence on a child is what they did in past lives. Any such patterning
opens up possibilities - regions of concern that prompt responses, through which
human beings may come to understand themselves in their actually lived situatedness.
Therefore, the facticity of a formal gestalt, as a holistic process, cannot be
reduced to nor confused with any static essence.

Facticity implies that
the pervasive and inherent intelligence of Being, becomes patterned as the mystery
of being human in its most profound sense. So, there are other factors operating
apart from the two mothers and the multiple male surrogate fathers.

In
conventional non-Buddhistic terms, we say when children are young their main influence
is their parents. In conventional non-Buddhistic terms, we say they are indoctrinated
into their parents culture. In Buddhistic terms, we say the main influence of
the child’s value set is their past kamma. In Buddhistic terms, we say nobody
can indoctrinate anybody without their consent. This is why some great children
arise from poorly integrated parents and why some not so great children arise
from what appears to be well integrated parents.

Prince Siddhattha, who
later became the Buddha was born, an ascetic of high spiritual attainment named,
Asita told his Father King Suddhodana that his son would become a Universal Monarch
or a Buddha.

Prince Siddhattha left his family at the palace, renouncing
all his worldly possessions and led a life of poverty to search for the truth.
He later became the Buddha.

With a basis of cultivated wholesome Cetasikas,
the students’ wisdom increases enabling them to practise Dana and Sila actions
with greater understanding, energy and precision. As a consequence, the students
display ever increasing friendliness towards their mothers, fathers, brothers,
sisters and family friends.

Their relatives, seeing the improvements
in the students’ attitudes and circumstances, in gratitude develop warm feelings
towards this Centre and its Members. This is the way we build Buddhist families
in this country.

The re-creation of family amity, although praiseworthy,
is not our primary objective. We never lose sight of’ our primary objective which
has been from our inception to encourage the study, practice and realisation of
Buddha Dhamma.

The study of Buddha Dhamma has been promoted in various
ways by this Centre. The provision of a multilingual Buddhist reference library
and Buddhist archives collection is accessible and for use at a nominal cost.

It is not our intention to devote much space to the issues that stand in the
way of a change of consensus. But to point out that we believe excellence is necessary
in order to preserve our way of life and that the pursuit of excellence may incorporate
values arrived at from religion.

It is not the religion itself that is
to be promoted but an increased awareness that the criteria for sane living should
embody religious traditional values expressed in terms of good behaviour,

Although it may be theoretically argued that social, cultural and economic
development policy can occur within a set of standards, this is not supported
by religious experience. The facts are that without the energies arising from
religious practice these cannot be sustained.

We have used the term energies,
since Buddhism does not accept the notion that human affairs are determined by
a creator god but rather are determined by the conditioning effects of the physical
environment, the physiological condition of body, the social environment, one’s
own present actions and kamma or by way of any combination of these.

Without
elaborating we might say that a factor in the instability of families in Australia
arises from not keeping the precept of not committing adultery and it would appear
from recent changes in Family Law legislation that there is a consensus that adultery
is accepted even though the act of adultery conditions consciousness resulting
in anguish and consequent family unit dissolution.

We assume we will
go through a life process where we might become educated and attain a good job
to support our family and still have the leisure time to read and practice Buddha
Dhamma in later years.

In ancient China, scholars could sit the Government
exams to be an administrator.

Of those who sat in any province, only 2%
passed.

These then went to the national capital to sit the final grading
exams.

Of these only 50% passed to acceptance to Government positions.

It should come as no surprise that, in ancient times, the Chinese Government
service was staffed with an elite of superior skills.

But the mass of
persons never started to study. They were so hard at work they had no time for
anything else. Taxes were paid in grain they grew - about one twentieth of their
total grain.

The Government stores held the grain to distribute in times
of famine.

Slaves were available to help the farmer. These were criminals
or captured enemies.

In ancient China, the average life expectancy of
a farmer citizen was 26 years. This low figure was a function of 80% of the population.

Total population figures from the census tends to give a wrong picture
of the population in absolute figures.

In the Han Dynasty in the year
156 the population was given as 56, 487. 000.

In the Sung in the year
1102 it was 43,822,000.

in the Ming in the year of 1578 it was 60, 693,000.

Population estimates were closely related to the number of taxable cultivators.

This did not include the whole population.

Chen Ta has suggested the
Chinese population may have reached 150 million by the end of the Ming dynasty,
considering the extent of new land under cultivation.

It seems likely
that if you were not in the census your living standard was most likely near famine.

Yet, in spite of all this misery the official view of Confucius was to revere
the family and the ancestors. At lot of this misplaced value of placing family
values too high is found in our culture today.

Buddha Dhamma never makes
you family a refuge. For those who put the family name as number one, there can
only be a mass of suffering to follow as they get sick and die in great suffering
as they reach old age body symptoms and death at the young age of 26 years.

It is easy to see why Buddha Dhamma refuge that explains the truth of suffering
and of how to make merit passing over death found such a strong following in ancient
China.

When you realise the truth of suffering is so real, it cannot be
not masked by the false values of putting your family on a false pedestal as your
refuge, you are ready to begin the practice of Buddha Dhamma where you understand
it is sane to help others in suffering not just you own family.

We raise
money to help many families in many countries and help this week welcomed Monks
at our Centre who were born in Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam.

These
Monks are someone’s children. We help their living family in their countries by
treating them as more precious than our own children and helping them to achieve
respect in this land Australia far from their own country.

One of our
Members serves the Sangha well because she is learning to speak the Cambodian
language and teach several Cambodian Monks English language.

Just as parents
who can speak teach their children to speak, so, our Members, too, have taught
many Monks and Nuns to speak our English language.

But, this happens because
our Members raise money and are wise enough to spend time away from our own children
to do such a Noble work.

If our Members were so selfish and foolish, we
decided we could only spend our time serving our own family, it would be evident
that Buddha Dhamma Teaching would vanish from our Centre.

The concept
of adding value is about creating a physical change for the end user and doings
things right the first time.

Our Teacher created the causes in the past
for our Centre to develop an e-culture today.

When we consider ancient
history in China, we see, by merit from past lives, that the total population
was divided into two categories - the dominant group was the masses the other
comprised of scholars, gentry, officials, merchants and militarists.

Among
the masses who had not made much merit in former lives because they spent too
much time attending to their family and did not enter public life, we find peasants,
artisans and base groups like servants, actors and prostitutes.

Once
again, these poor persons spent a miserable life focused on the narrow view of
their own family.

When famine came they sold their daughters to the brothel
owner.

In conventional terms, we say the underpinnings of this division
were power, wealth and literacy.

But in Dhamma terms, we know that the
great persons are those who built libraries, attended to many and helped fund
orphanages in other countries as we do.

Causes for public service exist
for us by putting on line a new multimedia website to help other families. Our
Member who drove this project to launch is a mother of two young boys. If she
spent all her time looking after them to excess, she would not have studied to
bless many, many others.

Our new site is www.bdcublessings.one.net.au.

In ancient China, eighty per cent of the population were peasants and traditionally,
together the artisans produced the surplus which supported the dominant groups,
which preserved and perpetuated Chinese culture.

Life for the peasants
was very hard and the standard of living usually at subsistence level. Taxes and
social expenses kept families in a state of impoverishment.

One could
say that China was split in two: the many agricultural communities and the city
dwellers made up of absentee landlords, merchants and officials. While the peasants
were doing it hard, the urban citizens had access to tea houses, restaurants,
brothels and theatres.

However, with the development of printing and
the resultant access to education and the rise of popular culture in the form
of novels and plays, a culture formerly restricted to the privileged city dwellers
was made available to the masses.

This increased education had the effect
of facilitating social mobility because the examination system allowed selected
persons to be appointed to official positions.

The development of Imperial
China in ancient times was typical of the times.
The modern age can be better
for the practice of Buddha Dhamma.
To meet with the Dhamma, it must be taught
with a language suited to individual needs.
May you find the Dhamma in this
life.
May You Be Well And Happy.
Bibliography
Beckmann, George M. The
Modernization of China and Japan. A Harper International Student reprint, jointly
published by Harper & Row, New York, Evanston & London and John Whetherhill,
Inc., Tokyo, 1965.
Bhikkhu Piyananda. Why Meditation?. Buddhist Missionary
Society Publication. Kuala Lumpur
Encyclopedia Britannica. Macropaedia, Volume
19, Fifteenth Edition, 1987.
Guenther, Herber V. Matrix of Mystery. Shambhala,
Boulder & London, 1984.
Loon, Louis van. Family Planning and Birth Control,
Buddhist Publication Society, Sri Lanka.

Barack Obama’s Plan

Support Working Families

Provide a “Making Work Pay Tax Cut” for America’s Working Families:
American people work longer and harder than those in any other wealthy
nation in the world. But their hours are getting longer and their wages
aren’t getting any higher. In addition they are being squeezed by
rising health care, education and energy costs. Rather than relieving
the burden on working families, the current administration has provided
tax cut after tax cut to the wealthiest Americans and enacted tax
breaks for the most well-connected corporations. Barack Obama will
restore fairness to the tax code and provide 150 million workers the
tax relief they deserve. Obama will create a new “Making Work Pay” tax
credit of up to $500 per person, or $1,000 per working family. This
refundable income tax credit will provide direct relief to American
families who face the regressive payroll tax system. It will offset the
payroll tax on the first $8,100 of their earnings while still
preserving the important principle of a dedicated revenue source for
Social Security. The “Making Work Pay” tax credit will completely
eliminate income taxes for 10 million Americans. The tax credit will
also provide relief to self-employed small business owners who struggle
to pay both the employee and employer portion of the payroll tax. The
“Making Work Pay” tax credit offsets some of this self-employment tax
as well.

Provide a Living Wage: Barack
Obama believes that people who work full time should not live in
poverty. Before the Democrats took back Congress, the minimum wage had
not changed in 10 years. Even though the minimum wage will rise to
$7.25 an hour by 2009, the minimum wage’s real purchasing power will
still be below what it was in 1968. As president, Obama would further
raise the minimum wage, index it to inflation and increase the Earned
Income Tax Credit to make sure that full-time workers can earn a living
wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs
such as food, transportation, and housing — things so many people take
for granted.

Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit:
In both the Illinois State Senate and the U.S. Senate, Obama has
championed efforts to expand the EITC, which is one of the most
successful anti-poverty programs to date. As president, Obama will
reward work by increasing the number of working parents eligible for
EITC benefits, increasing the benefit available to parents who support
their children through child support payments, and reducing the EITC
marriage penalty which hurts low-income families. Under the Obama plan,
full-time workers making minimum wage would get an EITC benefit up to
$555, more than three times greater than the $175 benefit they get
today. If the workers are responsibly supporting their children on
child support, the Obama plan would give those workers a benefit of
$1,110.

Expand Paid Sick Days: Half of
all private sector workers have no paid sick days and the problem is
worse for employees in low-paying jobs, where less than a quarter
receive any paid sick days. Barack Obama will require that employers
provide seven paid sick days per year.

Expand the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA):
The FMLA covers only certain employees of employers with 50 or more
employees. Barack Obama will expand the FMLA to cover businesses with
25 or more employees. Barack Obama will expand the FMLA to cover more
purposes as well, including allowing workers to take leave for elder
care needs; allowing parents up to 24 hours of leave each year to
participate in their children’s academic activities at school; allowing
leave to be taken for purposes of caring for individuals who reside in
their home for 6 months or more; and expanding FMLA to cover leave for
employees to address domestic violence and sexual assault.

Encourage States to Adopt Paid Leave:
As president, Barack Obama will initiate a 50 state strategy to
encourage all of the states to adopt paid-leave systems. Obama will
provide a $1.5 billion fund to assist states with start-up costs and to
help states offset the costs for employees and employers.

Expand High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities:
Barack Obama will double funding for the main federal support for
afterschool programs, the 21st Century Learning Centers program, to
serve one million more children. Obama will include measures to
maximize performance and effectiveness across grantees nationwide.

Expand the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit:
The Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit provides too little relief to
families that struggle to afford child care expenses. Barack Obama will
reform the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit by making it refundable
and allowing low-income families to receive up to a 50 percent credit
for their child care expenses.

Protect Against Caregiver Discrimination:
Workers with family obligations often are discriminated against in the
workplace. Barack Obama will commit the government to enforcing
recently-enacted Equal Employment Opportunity Commission guidelines on
caregiver discrimination.

Expand Flexible Work Arrangements:
Barack Obama will address this concern by creating a program to inform
businesses about the benefits of flexible work schedules for
productivity and establishing positive workplaces; helping businesses
create flexible work opportunities; and increasing federal incentives
for telecommuting. Obama will also make the federal government a model
employer in terms of adopting flexible work schedules and permitting
employees to petition to request flexible arrangements.

For more information about Barack Obama’s plan to help more Americans succeed in the workforce, please visit the Economic Policy page.

Strengthen Our Schools

Expand Early Childhood Education:
Research shows that half of low-income children start school up to two
years behind their peers in preschool skills and that these early
achievement gaps continue throughout elementary school. Obama has been
a champion of early childhood education since his years in the Illinois
legislature, where he led the effort to create the Illinois Early
Learning Council. Obama has introduced a comprehensive “Zero to Five”
plan to provide critical supports to young children and their parents
by investing $10 billion per year to create: Early Learning Challenge
Grants to stimulate and help fund state “zero to five” efforts;
quadruple the number of eligible children for Early Head Start and
increase Head Start funding and improve quality for both; work to
ensure all children have access to pre-school; provide affordable and
high-quality child care that will promote child development and ease
the burden on working families; and create a Presidential Early
Learning Council to increase collaboration and program coordination
across federal, state, and local levels.

Improve Public Schools:
From the moment our children step into a classroom, the single most
important factor in determining their achievement is their teacher.
Barack Obama values teachers and the central role that they play in
education. He will work to ensure competent, effective teachers in
schools that are organized for success. Obama’s K-12 plan will expand
service scholarships to recruit and prepare teachers who commit to
working in underserved districts. To support teachers, Obama will
foster ongoing improvements in teacher education, provide mentoring for
beginning teachers, create incentives for shared planning and learning
time for teachers. To retain teachers, Obama will support career
pathways that provide ongoing professional development and reward
accomplished teachers for their expertise. This Career Ladder
initiative will help eliminate teacher shortages in hard-to-staff areas
and subjects, improve teacher retention rates, strengthen teacher
preparation programs, improve professional development, and better
utilize and reward accomplished teachers.

Reform and Fund No Child Left Behind:
The goal of the No Child Left Behind Act is the right one - ensuring
that all children can meet high standards - but the law has significant
flaws that need to be addressed. He believes it was wrong to force
teachers, principals and schools to accomplish the goals of No Child
Left Behind without the necessary resources. We have failed to provide
high-quality teachers in every classroom and failed to support and pay
for those teachers. Obama understands that NCLB has demoralized our
educators, broken its promise to our children and must be changed in a
fundamental way. Obama will work with mayors and state leaders to
ensure that NCLB reform addresses the need for a broader and better
range of assessments and an accountability system that focuses on
improving schools, rather than punishing them.

Make College More Affordable:
Barack Obama will make college affordable for all Americans by creating
a new American Opportunity Tax Credit. This universal and fully
refundable credit will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college
education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover
two-thirds the cost of tuition at the average public college or
university. And by making the tax credit fully refundable, Obama’s
credit will help low-income families that need it the most. Obama will
also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of
enrollment by using prior year’s tax data to deliver the credit at the
time that tuition is due, rather than a year or more later when tax
returns are filed.

For more information on Barack Obama’s education plan, please visit the Education Policy page

Help American Families Stay Healthy

Provide Universal Health Care and Lower Health Costs:
Barack Obama is committed to signing universal health legislation by
the end of his first term in office that ensures all Americans have
high-quality, affordable health care coverage. His plan will save a
typical American family up to $2,500 every year on medical expenditures
by providing affordable, comprehensive and portable health coverage for
every American; modernizing the U.S. health care system to contain
spiraling health care costs and improve the quality of patient care;
and promoting prevention and strengthening public health to prevent
disease and protect against natural and man-made disasters.

For more information on Barack Obama’s health care plan, please visit the Health Care Policy page

Protect Homeownership

Create a Universal Mortgage Credit:
Owning a home is the culmination of the American dream that so many
Americans work so hard for. The tax code is supposed to encourage home
ownership with a mortgage interest deduction, but it goes only to
people who itemize their tax deductions. Like so much in our tax code,
this tilts the scales toward the well-off. The current mortgage
interest deduction excludes nearly two-thirds of Americans who do not
itemize their taxes. Barack Obama will ensure that anyone with a
mortgage, not just the well-off, can take advantage of this tax
incentive for homeownership by creating a universal mortgage credit.
This 10 percent credit will benefit an additional 10 million
homeowners, the majority of whom earn less than $50,000 per year.
Non-itemizers will be eligible for this refundable credit, which will
provide the average recipient with approximately $500 per year in tax
savings. This tax credit will also help homeowners deal with the
uncertain state of the housing market today.

Combat Mortgage Fraud and Subprime Loans:
There is a growing epidemic of mortgage fraud crimes in which
sophisticated scam artists cheat homeowners out of their mortgages.
Some have estimated that more than 2 million homeowners with subprime
mortgages are at risk of losing their homes. Barack Obama believes we
must establish stiff penalties to deter fraud and protect consumers
against abusive lending practices. Obama introduced the STOP FRAUD Act,
which would increase funding for federal law enforcement programs,
create new criminal penalties for mortgage professionals found guilty
of fraud, and require industry insiders to report suspicious activity.
In March 2007, Obama urged Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to bring together lenders, consumer
advocates, federal regulators and housing agencies for a summit meeting
on preserving home ownership. The bill also provides counseling to
homeowners and tenants to avoid foreclosures. As president, Obama will
continue to fight to ensure more Americans can achieve and protect the
dream of home ownership.

Create Fund to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosures:
In addition to taking important steps to prevent mortgage fraud from
occurring in the future, Barack Obama will establish policies to help
Americans currently facing foreclosure through no fault of their own.
For instance, in communities where there are many foreclosures property
values of innocent homeowners are often also negatively impacted,
driving them toward foreclosure, too. Obama will create a fund to help
people refinance their mortgages and provide comprehensive supports to
innocent homeowners. The fund will also assist individuals who
purchased homes that are simply too expensive for their income levels
by helping to sell their homes. These steps will ensure that
individuals who have to sell their homes will be able to quickly regain
stable financial footing. The fund will be partially paid for by
Obama’s increased penalties on lenders who acted irresponsibly and
committed fraud.

Mandate Accurate Loan Disclosure:
Today’s subprime mortgage problem stems in large part from the lack of
easy-to-understand information that borrowers receive from mortgage
brokers. As president, Barack Obama will enact laws to ensure that all
prospective homebuyers have access to accurate and complete information
about their mortgage options. Obama will create a Homeowner Obligation
Made Explicit (HOME) score, which will provide potential borrowers with
a simplified, standardized borrower metric (similar to APR) for home
mortgages. The HOME score will allow individuals to easily compare
various mortgage products and understand the full cost of the loan. The
HOME score would also help borrowers understand their long-term
obligations and would be required to include mandatory taxes and
insurance.

Close Bankruptcy Loophole for Mortgage Companies:
Barack Obama strongly opposed the 2005 bankruptcy bill, which is
expected to have serious effects on low and middle-income borrowers of
subprime mortgages. As president, Obama will work to eliminate the
federal bankruptcy law’s Chapter 13 provision that prevents bankruptcy
courts from modifying an individual’s mortgage payments. This forces
individuals who seek bankruptcy protection to continue paying the full
amount of their existing mortgage plans. This provision, which provides
unique protection to the mortgage industry, places the interests of big
lenders over than of low and middle-income Americans. Obama believes
that the subprime mortgage industry, which has engaged in dangerous and
sometimes unscrupulous business practices, should not be shielded by
outdated federal law.

Strengthen Families at Home

Strengthen Fatherhood and Families:
Since 1960, the number of American children without fathers in their
lives has quadrupled, from 6 million to more than 24 million. Children
without fathers in their lives are five times more likely to live in
poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of school,
and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. Barack Obama has
re-introduced the Responsible Fatherhood and Healthy Families Act to
remove some of the government penalties on married families, crack down
on men avoiding child support payments, ensure that support payments go
to families instead of state bureaucracies, fund support services for
fathers and their families, and support domestic violence prevention
efforts. As president, Obama will sign this bill into law and continue
to implement innovative measures to strengthen families.

Support Parents with Young Children:
Barack Obama would expand programs like the successful Nurse-Family
Partnership to all low-income, first-time mothers. The Nurse-Family
Partnership provides home visits by trained registered nurses to
low-income expectant mothers and their families. The trained nurses use
proven methods to help improve the mental and physical health of the
family by providing counseling on substance abuse, creating and
achieving personal goals, and effective methods of nurturing children.
Proven benefits of these types of programs include improved women’s
prenatal health, a reduction in childhood injuries, fewer unintended
pregnancies, increased father involvement and women’s employment,
reduced use of welfare and food stamps, and increased children’s school
readiness. Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis
concluded that these programs produced an average of five dollars in
savings for every dollar invested and produced more than $28,000 in net
savings for every high-risk family enrolled in the program. The Obama
plan would assist approximately 570,000 first-time mothers each year.

Strengthen Retirement Security

Create Automatic Workplace Pensions:
Currently, 75 million working Americans ? roughly half the workforce ?
lack employer-based retirement plans. Even when workers are given the
option of joining employer-based plans, many do not take up the option
because it requires considerable work to research plans and investment
portfolios, and enroll in the plan. Barack Obama’s retirement security
plan will automatically enroll workers in a workplace pension plan.
Under his plan, employers who do not currently offer a retirement plan,
will be required to enroll their employees in a direct-deposit IRA
account that is compatible to existing direct-deposit payroll systems.
Employees may opt-out by signing a written waiver. Even after
enrollment, employees will retain the right to change their savings
levels, reallocate investment portfolios or end contributions to the
account. Obama’s plan will give options to the self-employed and new
small businesses to access new easy-to-enroll savings plans and direct
the IRS to deposit tax refunds into those savings plans for people who
choose to save some of their refunds. Under the Obama plan when
employees change jobs, their savings will be automatically rolled over
into the new employer’s system to ensure continued savings. Experts
estimate that this program will increase the savings participation rate
for low and middle-income workers from its current 15 percent level to
around 80 percent.

Expand Retirement Savings Incentives for Working Families:
Barack Obama will ensure savings incentives are fair to all workers by
creating a generous savings match for low and middle-income Americans.
Obama will expand the existing Savers Credit to match 50 percent of the
first $1,000 of savings for families that earn under $75,000, and he
will make the tax credit refundable. To help ensure that this proposal
actually strengthens retirement investments, the savings match will be
automatically deposited into designated personal accounts by using the
account information listed on IRS tax filings. Coupled with the
automatic workplace pension plan, this proposal will stimulate tens of
millions of new Americans to invest for retirement. Over 80 percent of
the savings incentives will go to new savers, and 75 percent of people
eligible for the incentives who are expected to participate in the new
program do not currently save.

Jagatheesan –

The Democratic convention starts today, and my new running mate Joe Biden and I recorded a message about what we all need to do next.

When we started this campaign, very few people thought we would make it this far.

But we put our faith in the power of ordinary supporters like you
coming together and building a movement for change from the bottom up.
And that’s exactly why we’re here.

I’d like you to watch this special message — and I have a request.

We have our team, and this week the eyes of the entire country will be
on our movement. Now is the time to take the next step and own a piece
of this campaign.

Watch our video message and make a donation of $5 or more today:

Watch the video

You joined this campaign because you’re ready for real change in this country.

Over the next four days, the Democratic convention will define what change means and highlight our differences with John McCain to every voter who’s tuning in.

We’ll show the change we will be bringing the country on the economy, health care, energy, foreign policy, and the issues that affect all Americans.

But make no mistake about what we’re up against. John McCain has
embraced the same old politics of fear, division, and Karl Rove-style
attacks — which makes sense coming from someone who’s voted with George Bush literally 95% of the time.

From the very beginning, this campaign has been in your hands. Now more than ever, we’re counting on you to see it through.

Watch the video Joe and I recorded and make a donation of $5 or more now:

https://donate.barackobama.com/messageofchange

Thank you,

Barack

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