The 7th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia Illustrations
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Buddhism originated in the teaching of Prince Siddhartha Gautama who was born approximately 500 BC in Nepal, near the border of present day India. Through the practice of Meditation he became The Buddha , the Enlightened One . Buddhists do not normally speak in terms of an Absolute Deity or God but rather emphasise the practice of Meditation and right behaviours in all areas of Life in the process of reaching Nirvana, the Enlightened state free of Suffering. Particular emphasis is placed on non-violence and the development of Love and Compassion for all. There are a number of Holy Scriptures within the various traditions of Buddhism. Six per cent of the World’s population is estimated to be Buddhist. The Religion has a clergy of Monks, lamas (teachers) and nuns as well as many lay spiritual advisers. There are a number of Buddhist centres supporting different traditions in Ireland. The Dharmachakra or Wheel of Law is one of the most important Buddhist symbols.
Religious contacts and religious practices: There are different traditions of Buddhism in Ireland. Clarify the tradition of Buddhism followed and the name of a spiritual contact. In emergency situations contact the local Buddhist centre or one of the centres named under Developing a local Buddhist contact. Food and the content of medicine: Many Buddhists are vegetarian or vegan. Clarify Food preferences and inform the person if medicine contains an animal product. Family dynamics and decision making: Some Western Buddhists living in Ireland were raised in Christian families who may not be familiar with Buddhist Death-related customs. As much as possible this needs to be taken care of before the moment of Death as it is vital to maintain a peaceful environment. If deemed necessary, assistance could be provided to a family, through social work or family intervention, to resolve any issues. The wishes of the person are paramount. Death-related religious rituals: Generally, Buddhist teaching views Life and Death as a continuum, believing that Consciousness (the spirit) continues after Death and may be reborn. Rituals vary among Buddhist traditions and individual Buddhists may have specific wishes for the time of Death. Where possible, discuss individual needs with the person and clarify requirements with a spiritual contact. In an emergency follow these protocols: •
If Death is imminent the spiritual contact identified by the person should be called so that the appropriate prayer practice can be initiated.
Preferably a dying Buddhist should be moved to a private area to allow prayers to be conducted in privacy.
All Buddhist traditions believe that awareness is retained for some period after clinical Death. Maintain a calm, stable and compassionate atmosphere around the person before, during and after clinical Death to facilitate the Consciousness (spirit) leaving the Body. Cleaning and touching the Body: In some traditions specific protocols apply to touching cleaning a Body. Unless a spiritual contact advises otherwise, apply these practices to all Buddhists.
Delay moving and laying out the Body for a minimum of four hours to allow for prayers necessary to be conducted. • Buddhists believe that the spirit should be allowed to leave gently via the crown of the head. Clarify with the spiritual leader if it is necessary for the head to be touched in the traditional way to enable the departure of the spirit. If so, the practice should be attended to before moving or cleaning the Body and should be carried out by the spiritual leader or another Buddhist.
Some Buddhist teachers have requested that the head is not touched after clinical Death Summary of Essential Practice Points: Please refer to the full text of the highlighted points related to the following summary points. by healthcare staff. Do not touch the head unless given permission to do so by a spiritual adviser, and then under guidance given by the adviser or another Buddhist.
Do not wash the Body unless it is essential to do so. Conduct only essential cleaning, for example clean excretions such as blood or excrement. Use as little touch as possible in any cleaning/washing that is done. Personal and religious items: Some Buddhists may wear religious items that must be replaced if removed. Some may also place Prayer Mandalas (sacred symbols drawn on material) on the Body after clinical Death and these need to be replaced if removed. Initiation ritual: In the case of imminent threat to Life of a newborn infant no initiation ritual is necessary. Foetal, infant and child Death: The Death-related practices described in Essential Practice Points 4 and 5 need to be followed for children of Buddhists, unless a family or spiritual adviser directs otherwise. Summary of Essential Practice Points: Profile of Buddhist Traditions in Ireland Census 2006 indicated that Buddhist membership in Ireland increased by just over 67% over the four year period since 2002. The Religion registered 6,516 members in 2006. Buddhism developed in three distinct phases, each emphasising different aspects of The Buddha’s teachings. The main branches, all of which have a presence in Ireland, are as follows.
Theravada or Southern Buddhism is described as the oldest tradition and is strongest in southern Asian countries such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Burma. There are some centres in Ireland supporting this tradition of Buddhist practice.
Mahayana or Eastern Buddhism developed as a second phase and is found in China, Korea, Vietnam and Japan. Chan Buddhism developed in China as a specific tradition within this overall phase of development and spread throughout Asia where it is sometimes called Zen Buddhism. Groups such as Mindfulness Ireland , Soto Zen and the Long Van Temple in Clondalkin, Dublin, are examples of this overall tradition.
Tibetan Buddhism is the best known school in Vajrayana/Tantric/Northern Buddhism. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is a key leader of Tibetan Buddhism, which builds on the Mahayana tradition and is practised in Tibet, Nepal, Siberia, Mongolia and Northern India. There are centres in several parts of Ireland supporting Tibetan Buddhist practices, some of which are supported by Tibetan Lamas.
Various forms of Western Buddhism are also in existence, some of which may follow or are influenced by an Asian school. An example is the Dublin Buddhist Centre in Dublin. Buddhist contributors have indicated that there is growing Interest in Buddhism in Ireland. There are a number of Buddhist teachers, some of whom are Asian, visiting or living in Ireland. There are also an increasing number of people visiting Buddhist centres to learn About Buddhism. Based on contribution to this section, Buddhist practice in Ireland can be categorised as follows: There are a number of Asians living in Ireland who were raised in areas of the World where Buddhism is an established Religion including China, Mongolia, Nepal, Tibet and Vietnam. These are continuing their practice in Ireland but may not have contact with Buddhist centers and groups in Ireland.
Westerners, including those of Irish, UK and American origin, who have become Buddhist are following a specific Buddhist tradition and raising their children as Buddhists. This group usually have contact with Buddhist groups and are likely to wish to avail of Buddhist practices when ill or near Death.
A number of people are partaking in Buddhist practices and blending them with their own religious beliefs, often [[Wikipedia:Christianity|Christianity]]. Buddhist teachers, as a general principle, encourage people to learn from Buddhism without converting. As a result many of this group may not wish to avail of Buddhist practices in healthcare settings. Care of the ill Beliefs about the treatment of illness responsibility for all of one’s actions and as a result a Buddhist will wish to do all that is necessary to maintain health through positive means. They also emphasize the spiritual aspect and many may use prayer and psychosomatic techniques such as Meditation as preferred options for pain relief.