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Vol 5 issue 2

Vol 5 issue 2

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page 1
Buddhist Correspondence Course Newsletter 
 Volume 5, Issue 2 April-June 2009
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.Dhammapada, 183 
buddhist correspondence course 
newsletter 
INSIDE THIS ISSUE...
 Articles
Ripening of Karma,
 Ariya Bantu
Buddha's Message,
Charles Carter
 Awaken,
Esca WC Elwood
Question for the Sangha,
Eisai Hakuin
My Past Cannot Defeat Me,
 James Halbirt
What is Our Life About?,
Josh Lyle
Poetry
Sanctuary,
Julio C. Collazo
 A Suffering Transformation,
 James Davie
Come What May,
Erik Fite
My Path to Liberation,
  James L. Halbirt
Prison Life,
Upsaka Lhamo Samadhana
Haiku,
Upsaka William Hoagland
Letters
Travis L. Adams James BettisMichael CollierScott HernandezGuy Richard
The Buddha's Message
Charles Carter (Cottonport, LA)
I’m presently reading and understanding the message. The Buddha formulatedhis teaching in a way that directly addresses the critical problem at the heart ofhuman existence, “the problem of suffering.” All religions say, follow our pathand you will find peace. The world right now is hurting for a solution to the prob-lems facing humanity. The mindset of the world for sure needs to change. TheBuddha says, “By oneself is evil done, by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evilleft undone, by oneself is one purified. Purity and defilement depend on oneself,no one can purify another.” (Dhammapada, V 165) We are prisoners, so tospeak, the way the world “society” labels us. We are in a very good position tosee the world just as it is: it’s corrupt, falling apart. We have a chance to get intouch with ourselves and develop the way of thinking that a normal human beingis supposed to have The world scene isn’t normal, it’s abnormal. When peopledon’t know how the mind works, problems surface. “Man has dominated man tohis own injury.” What normal human normal could find fault with the heart of Buddhism, thesabba papassa akaranam: refrain from all wrongdoing, do not commit anywrongdoing, either through body, speech, or mind. Wrongdoing arises in bodily,verbal, and mental actions. The source of all ood, evil, and harm lies with ac-tions, speech, and thoughts. When we know the truth of suffering, we throw outsuffering. When we know the cause of suffering, then we don’t create thosecauses, but instead practice to bring suffering to its cessation. The practice lead-ing to the cessation of suffering is to see that “this is not a self, this is not me ormine.” Seeing in this way enables suffering to cease. That’s getting close to nib-bana.Buddha helps you understand yourself better. The literature I’ve read so far isvery helpful to me, and what attracted me to want to read more was the Buddhasaying: “If I were to give you a fruit and tell you it’s delicious, you should takenote of my words, but don’t believe me offhand, because you haven’t tasted ityet.” I’m enjoying the literature and I advise anyone who wants to know why weas humans suffer to listen to what the teachings say. The world right now for sureneeds some kind of direction. We in prison need direction. My final word: theteachings work.
 
page 2
Buddhist Correspondence Course Newsletter 
Suffering Spares No One
Hung Le 
Suffering spares no one, it hits peopleoutside the cell and inside the cell.Those outside the cell are at most onlymarginally, slightly better off. Whyare you so sure about this, you mightask. Our Lord Buddha said so: "If it's form, it's fake; if there's a self, there's suffer-ing." Okay, that's not exactly His word, I just added some flavor to make it easierfor my dull brain to absorb. Bottom line is, keep moving forward, for you neverknow if it's the dude in the cell or his own coach in the entoring program, whowill reach Nibbana first. It's all up to you and your own individual diligent effort.Nothing else.
The BCCN is distributed at no charge to those taking the Buddhist Correspondence Course. This is your newsletter,by you, about you, and for you.You are the major contributors,so send us your questions, prob- lems, solutions you've found to difficulties in practice, thoughts you have on practice, artwork, po- etry, etc. Due to limited space,some editing may be necessary.We also welcome your comments on the newsletter and sugges- tions for ways we might improve it to serve you better.
Please mailall correspondence to:Buddhist CorrespondenceCoursec/o Rev. Richard Baksa2020 Route 301Carmel, NY 10512
Let us know if we may use your full name or just initials.
 To receive copies of any of theresources listed below, please write to Rev. Richard Baksa atthe address above.• A listing by state of Buddhistgroups that may be able tosend volunteers to your prisonto conduct Buddhist activities.• The "Religious Land Use andInstitutionalized Persons Act of 2000." This guarantees equalaccess for all religions to prisonfacilities for the purpose of reli-gious meetings.• “What is the Religious LandUse and Institutionalized Per-sons Act?” This explains theAct and how it is to be applied.
Haiku
Upsaka William Hoagland (Daytona Beach, FL)
The pearl from the deepShining, lustrous to behold, A gift from the sea.The sun-dragon roared,It’s dying act of the day, And was quickly gone.Rocks in the garden,Sand raked into lines and whorls,Quiet, subtle beauty.Sakura, she sang, As she strummed her samisen, And the blossoms fell.Cherry blossoms fall,Drifting slowly to the ground,Softly, quietly.The leaf, broken free,Soared swiftly, high on the wind,Lost in the forest.Brilliant falling starsStreak across the midnight sky,Bringing good fortune.The great tree stands tall, A lone sentinel in green.Over the forest.The lake’s calm surfaceMirrors the heavens above,The lone bird, winging.The face of BuddhaLooks down upon the sangha With infinite calm.Curving roofs and spire,The majestic pagodaRises to the sky.Prayers offered at dawnOften bring blessings all dayTo those of pure heart.The seed in the earthRaises its head up to breathe A flower is born.Buddhist bells ringingReverent monks sit, chantingThe name of Buddha.
 
page 3
Buddhist Correspondence Course Newsletter 
BUDDHISM IN INDIA
Buddhism emerged first inBihar, India. Following thedeath of the Buddha inapproximately 483 BCE,Buddhism rose and spread inlarge part through the supportof Buddhist rulers. Chief amongthese was the emperor Ashoka(304-232 BCE), whoseconversion was sparked by grief over the deaths arising from hisconqueroring the Kalingapeople. Ashoka built manymonuments that helpedestablished Buddhism andpropagate the teachings of theBuddha. He also sent envoys who spread the seeds of Buddhism to many far-off lands, including present-day SriLanka and Afghanistan.By the 13th century CE,Buddhism was extinguished inIndia. Many causes and condi-tions converged to spell its de-cline. The religion had reliedheavily on royal patronage, andas non-Buddhist rulers ascen-ded, Buddhism weakened. Atthe same time, Hinduism wasundergoing changes that madeit more appealing. The incursionof Muslims into India is gener-ally recognized as the final blowto Indian Buddhism. In their at-tempts to establish Islam, thenew rulers destroyed manyHindu and Buddhist sites. Thishad a much more devastating ef-fect on Buddhism than onHinduism.In the last century, however,Buddhism has reestablishedroots in India. Its revival beganin 1891, with the efforts of theSri Lankan Buddhist leaderAnagarika Dharmapala. In1959, the 14th Dalai Lama es-tablished his home in India fol-lowing his escape from Tibet.Also in the 1950s, Dr. B. R.Ambedkar founded a movementthat resulted in the conversionof hundreds of thousands of Dal-its ("untouchables") that hascontinued to the present day.
The Ripening of Karma
 Ariya Bantu (Kincheloe, MI)
 A
lthough I never watched the movie, a fellow prisoner told me that in themovie “The Bucket List,“ actor Morgan Freeman told actor Jack Nicholsonthere are two questions the Egyptian gods would ask after death upon resurrec-tion: (1) Have you found joy in your life? and (2) Have you brought joy into otherpeople’s lives? Obviously I’m paraphrasing, but Morgan Freeman went on to saythat Buddhists believe in reincarnation and you come back to life either better orworse depending on how you lived your life. In response, Jack Nicholson, in hissarcasm, asked what a snail had to do to come back better – leave a perfecttrail of slime? Because the concepts of rebirth and karma are extremely profoundand complex, I will simply explain how a snail receives or can receive the meritto take a fortunate rebirth in one of the upper realms, hopefully, the human realm. All rebirths are dictated by one’s karma, and the realm in which one’s conscious-ness is propelled is likewise determined by one’s karma. Karma is created by ouractions whether those actions be physical, mental, or verbal, and falls in the cat-egory of negative/unwholesome and positive/wholesome. Karma is like seedsplanted in our subconscious minds: when the conditions are ripe, our karmicseeds sprout, growing to fruition. Our actions leave these imprints deep withinour storehouse consciousness, inevitably later resulting in our future experimentalpicture. Karma is impressionable, like the film of a camera. When a picture istaken, the image is imprinted subtly in the film and remains there until the condi-tions are ripe for that film to project a picture that will coincide with and bringback an exact reflection of the original image, impressed upon the film. Karma isthe same way. Karmic seeds do not necessarily ripen in this lifetime or the nextlifetime, but can ripen over many, many lifetimes, depending on the conditions. Just like the impressions left on the film will only manifest when the time and con-ditions are ripe, i.e., when someone takes it to the film store for developing. Youmay not have the film developed during your lifetime, and your children may notin turn have it developed, but it may actually be your great-grandchildren, curi-ous to know what impressionable imprint seeds are found in the film, who decideto finally have it developed. Once developed, a precise, accurate picture will de-pict the exact actions that were captured by camera so many years ago. Karmais no different.This being the case, although one may have created the negative karma to havebeen reborn in the animal realm, or as a snail, one may have also created posit-ive karma in previous lives by generating great merit by performing virtuous actsduring those lives, but the conditions for those karmic seeds simply have notripened yet in order for the film to reflect those acts. However, once one’s karmato live as a snail or any animal burns out, then this necessarily means the condi-tions are ripe for other karmic seeds to sprout, and these seeds could be theseeds of our own virtuous acts, positive karma, and may merit a fortunate rebirthin one of the three upper realms, hopefully, the precious human realm. The snailis literally enslaved by his previous actions, a slave to karma. Karma, and karmaonly, can liberate the snail from existing as a snail.But a good question remains: What if the subconscious imprints, the seedsplanted in the storehouse consciousness, contain no positive karma, but instead
continued on p. 5 

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