About the UBA

The University Buddhist Association of UCLA is an organization of students, faculty, and community members who come together to learn about and practice Buddhism. We're a non-sectarian Buddhist group that welcomes all Buddhists and non-Buddhist of all faiths and traditions.

If you're interested in learning more about the UCLA Buddhist community, please come to our meetings.

When: Every Tuesday, 5:30 - 7:00pm
Where: University Catholic Center
633 Gayley Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90024

If you have any questions, please contact us at uba.ucla.online@gmail.com.
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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Vegatarian Bodh Gaya Campaign

Tibetans for a Vegetarian Society, a nonprofit public charitable trust, is campaigning for the Bodh Gaya to be a vegetarian zone.

"We are trying to create awareness and mobilise support of locals as well as tourists transforming Bodh Gaya into a vegetarian zone.

Abstaining from buying, selling, or consuming any form of meat during the pilgrimage tour in the holy land is the key to the success of the campaign"

Read full article

Monday, December 29, 2008

Buddhist's New Year

Here's a Buddhist's New Year Guide from Shambhala Sun Space:

"Still not sure how you’ll celebrate the arrival of 2009? Well, for meditators, there are seemingly as many possibilities as their are methods and schools. Here are just a few. Just click on their links for more info."

Friday, December 26, 2008

DharmaNet International

I hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday.

Here is a website recommended to me by Venerable Kusala called DharmaNet International.

"The new DharmaNet is providing an independent, non-sectarian informational and educational resource on Buddhism to the ever-widening world-wide audience of people impacted by Buddhism. While there are hundreds of Buddhist web sites, there is still no seminal, non-sectarian informational and educational web site that presents the full range of the Dharma to those seeking to engage the teachings."

DharmaNet also offers videos in copperation with BDK, of which Kusala and many others are featured:

"In 2005, the Society for the Promotion of Buddhism (Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai) [BDK] initiated a BDK TV Series shown in Southern California. The weekly 15-minute shows featured interviews and teachings from major American Buddhist followers and teachers. In cooperation with BDK, DharmaNet will gradually be adding these programs to this page. Four new and different segments will be previewed each month. We invite the world to share in the Buddha-Dharma through this new means of communication."

For videos, click here.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Q: As a Catholic, am I allowed to pray to the Buddha for guidance?

In this article from Buffalo News, Rabbi Marc Gellman answers the question of learning from faiths other than your own. The full question was:

"Q: I’m a practicing Roman Catholic and I recently purchased a book about Jesus and the Buddha. It’s interesting to see that Jesus and the Buddha did say and act in much the same ways, which leads me to ask: As a Catholic, am I allowed to pray to the Buddha for guidance, wisdom and understanding, or is that a big no-no in the eyes of Roman Catholic teaching?

I don’t view or recognize the Buddha as a god, but I do see him as a very holy and wise man, and after all, Catholics pray to saints because they were holy and wise men and women who can intercede for us. — S. "

My favorite part of Rabbi Gellman's answer was:

"Human beings naturally possess different interests, so it’s not surprising that we have many different religious traditions with different ways of thinking and behaving. But this variety is a way for everyone to be happy. If we have a great variety of food, we will be able to satisfy different tastes and needs. When we only have bread, the people who eat rice are left out. And the reason those people eat rice is that rice is what grows best where they live.

So go and study, but remember to eat what grows best where you live."

Read full article.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What does a Buddhist say to the Christmas shopper?

I have posted a few articles on Buddhism and shopping, as we all feel a certain degree of necessity to buy presents for those we care about. But how can we balance all the sales, lines, and gift wrapping with merely enjoying the holidays for what it really represents - a time to recollect and spend time with loved ones at the end of the year.

I found this short but clever and helpful little line from the article "Where Buddha Meets Freud":

Q: What does a Buddhist blogger say to the Christmas shopper?
A: Be the present.

Yes, be the present. Not only does that provide an interesting way of looking at the holidays but it also eliminates all the stress of pushing and shoving through crowds and lining up at stores...the list could go on. May everyone enjoy their holidays.

Read full article

Friday, December 19, 2008

Developments in the Study of Buddhist Art @ UCLA

UCLA faculty and over 10 guest professors gathered at UCLA for a two-day conference on recent research in area of Buddhist art on Nov. 21, 2008. The event was hosted by Donald McCallum, a UCLA art history professor, and consisted of a full day of public lectures.

"In introductory remarks McCallum recalled a time when scholars in Buddhist religious studies and art history were very separate. 'Previously, there had been a strong tendency to isolate the study of Buddhist religious thought and practice from that of Buddhist art, and ordinarily scholars in the two groups did not interact very much.' "

Tzu Chi offers gift baskets for the needy

The Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist relief group based in San Dimas, prepares gift baskets to give to 51 needy Lynwood families.

"Each family received a $75 debit card, a teddy bear, a box of candy and a 'green' blanket made of recycled plastic water bottles.

'Our faith teaches us to have compassion and love for everyone,' said Sumei Chen, a spokesperson for the Tzu Chi Foundation. 'We want to offer not only help, but hope.' "

Photo from Los Angeles Wave

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Chief Monk meets with President of Pakistan

Chief Buddhist Monk Jeon Woom Deok, who is the Chairman of the Gandhara Arts and Culture Association, Korea, met with President Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan. They talked about future projects and cooperation between the Pakistan government and the Chief Monk in "promoting goodwill and interfaith harmony".

Gandhara is the name of an ancient kingdom once located in what is now northern Pakistan, Kashmir, and eastern Afghanistan. During the 1st to 5th century, Buddhist Kushan Kings brought the kingdom to its peak.

According to the CIA World Factbook, the Pakistani population is 95% Muslim (75% Sunni, 20% Shia), 5% other (includes Christian and Hindu).

Read full article.

Photo from Associated Press of Pakistan

Don't celebrate Christmas?

For those of you who don't celebrate Christmas...

Read full article.

Huffington Post: The Power of Group Meditation

Here's an interesting article from The Huffington Post about rituals (religious and secular) and the experience of practicing meditation or contemplative sitting in a group versus doing it alone. She describes the group experience as "a syncing of individual transformative experiences".

From the brief meditation sittings we do during the University Buddhist Association meetings, I can understand and relate to the power for practicing in a group. It's sometimes very difficult to consistently practice when you do it alone. Being part of a larger group provides motivation, support, and encouragement.

Read full article.

Buddhists gone bad in Bangladesh

Buddhist monks in cooperation with local council officials are holding 13 converted tribal Christians captive to try to convert them to Buddhism by force. They are being held captive in a pagoda in a southeastern mountainous district of Bangladesh.

According to the Compass Direct News article, the Bangladeshi population is 90% Muslim, 9% Hindus, and 0.7% Buddhist, leaving less than 0.3% of the population left to be Christian or other.

Read full article.

Britney wishes Japanese Merry Christmas

Britney Spears wished Merry Christmas during a guest appearance in a Japanese TV show. I guess even though the Japanese are mainly Buddhist, she means well at heart.

Read full article.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

McCartney vs Dalai Lama

Former Beatle, Sir Paul McCartney, tells the Dalai Lama to take on a vegetarian lifestyle.

"Contactmusic.com reports McCartney as saying: "I found out that he was not a vegetarian, so I wrote to him saying 'Forgive me for pointing this out, but if you eat animals then there is some suffering somewhere along the line'.

"He replied saying that his doctors had told him he needed it, so I wrote back saying they were wrong." "

Read full article.

Thailand's "Tiger Temple" accused of drugging animals

At Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua Temple, monks live peacefully with 34 tigers. Abbot Pra-Acharn Phusit remembers the first tiger being brought to the temple years ago as a tiger cub orphanese by poachers. Since then, the monks have bred and raised these tigers and nine years later, they become the stars of the temple, attracting up to 1,000 toursits from all over the world.

At this temple, people can directly interact with the tigers, who have been tamed by the monks since the age of the three. Skeptics believe that the tigers are so tame because they have been drugged. However, the temple denies all accusations and welcome anyone to investigate or come personally see what goes on at the temple.

Photo from ABC

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Urban Dharma Newsletter 12-16-08

From the Urban Dharma website, here's the latest newsletter posted by Venerable Kusala:

The Urban Dharma Newsletter - December 16, 2008
In This Issue: Dana in Buddhism
1. Dana - From Wikipedia
2. The Offering of Dana
3. Dana - Portland Buddhist Priory
4. Buddhist Way of Life (Dãna) Written by Dr. Chuen 5. DANA / HINDU AND BUDDHIST IDEAL OF SHARING


This newsletter deals with the idea of generosity in Buddhism, Dana.

On a personal note, I must say I have been touched over the years by the kindness and genrosity of many people, making it possible for me to share the Dharma.

Just this year I have receive small donations from kind and interested people wanting to support the Dharma and my work... Donations of $5, $10 and $20 help me keep UrbanDharma.org up and running without advertisements of any kind... Donations help me update hardware and software, post audio and Video, help me share my practice and teachings with folks around the world.

A special thanks to International Buddhist Meditation Center for supporting me, my work and the animals I take care of... I couldn’t have done it without you.

To all of you who supported me in 2008 with time, money, advice, cat food and human food... A Big Thank You.

May 2009 be your best year ever, may you find peace, joy and happiness in the present moment experience of your life.

Peace... Kusala"

Monday, December 15, 2008

War on Christmas

Here's an interesting article that discusses the "war on Christmas" that some people fight in during the holiday season. The University Buddhist Association at UCLA staff recently experienced something related to this issue in trying to find a holiday card for Venerable Kusala that did not mention "Christmas" or any family relationships (father, mother, son) on it. The result was a really hard time searching through all possible cards but also finding a great card at the end.

Read full article.

TIME's Top 10 Religion Stories

TIME magazine features the "Top 10 Religion Stories" as part of its "The Top 10 Everything of 2008" series. Among the selected stories, the Tibetan Buddhist monk protests rank #6.

Read full article.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Christianity an Asian religion?

A great article by Philip Jenkins, a Penn State professor and author, about Christian expansion to Asia and the often overlooked interaction Buddhist and Chrisitan had in the past. He argues:

"Yet the reality is that Christianity has from its earliest days been an intercontinental faith, as firmly established in Asia and Africa as in Europe itself."

" Christianity, for much of its history, was just as much an Asian religion as Buddhism. Asia's Christian churches survived for more than a millennium, and not until the 10th century, halfway through Christian history, did the number of Christians in Europe exceed that in Asia."

Above is an image of a cross with a lotus flower on it, a symbol mentioned in the article to show the Christian-Buddhist connections.

Proselytizing during Interfaith events

Here's an interesting article about proselytizing (I still have trouble pronouncing that word) during interfaith events. I've always been fascinated by interfaith events, because it's wonderful how groups of people unified under a faith can come together with other groups of people unified under a different faith and discuss similar topics through their own perspectives.

While diversity, in any issue (race, religion, cultures, etc.), is often hailed as a positive state in society, I think many people forget that diversity is only good when paired with tolerance. With religion, interfaith events allow all religious groups a moment of diversity as well as time to practice tolerance.

Here's a little bit of what Matthew Weiner and Matthew Dunbar from "Navigating the Waters of Interfaith Activity" have to say about interfaith events, specifically Buddhism:

"Proselytization is not always blatant or conscious, and rules that ban it or even shared assumptions that frown on it do not prevent its more subtle forms. Buddhists are fond of saying that meditation is not a religious practice. But it leads to Nirvana - Buddhist salvation. Is having a Buddhist lead a meditation at an interfaith retreat proselytizing? What did the Buddha mean when he called for disciples to 'spread the teachings'? Buddhism, often seen as a more historically tolerant faith, is nevertheless one of the world's most successful missionizing faiths. But it also illustrates how ambiguous the category of 'evangelizing' can be."

Read full article.

Taiwanese Foreign Minister's comment draws criticism

Taiwan's opposition party, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), disapproves and criticizes Foreign Minister Francisco Ou for saying that the Dalai Lama has political motivations.

During a speech on Taiwan's foreign policies at Yishou University in Kaosiung County, a student asked Ou about the Dala Lama visiting Taiwan.

Although the Foreign Ministry is not involved with arranging the Dalai Lama's visit, Ou's personally believes that the Dalai Lama acts as a political leader as well as a religious leader, therefore having political motiviations in his oversea visits.

This comment has attracted great dispproval from the DPP.

"DPP lawmaker Lai Ching-teh said that Ou's remark shows that President Ma Ying-jeou's government is looking at the Dalai Lama 'with political eyeglasses.'

'It's a pity that the Ma government refuses to allow the Dalai Lama to visit Taiwan for fear of angering China,' the Liberty Times quoted him as saying.

Tsai Huang-lang, another DPP lawmaker, said that Ou is not fit to be foreign minister.
'His remark will make the international community see Taiwan as an appendix of a totalitarian state (China). This is a misfortune for Taiwan,' he said. "

Read the full article.

Related blog entries:
Taiwan does not plan to meet with the Dalai Lama

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dalai Lama speaks about economic crisis

The Dalai Lama spoke at a joint press conference with Hans-Gert Poettering, the President of the European Parliament. The Buddhist Channel features an article on what the Dalai Lama had to say about the world economic crisis:

"Answering a question about economic crisis, the spiritual leader explained the ongoing market crisis around the world. Saying, 'Market itself is a creation of human beings,' the Buddhist leader asked, 'What is the real cause of this sort of economic crisis?' Citing answers from his business friends, the Dalai Lama told journalists: 'Too much speculation and ultimately greed,' adding, 'The potential to help is: reduce greed and (increase) self-discipline. 'Economic crisis is something urgent so it will be helpful to reduce some other conflict (that are going on) in the name of faith and nationality.' "

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Responses to "The Bible and Homosexuality"

Newsweek's recent cover story, "Our Mutual Joy", featured an article written by religion editor Lisa Miller about what the Bible really says about gay marriage. Since then, Newsweek has been receiving many comments and emails from all sides of the debate. Kurt Soller shares some of the feedback with us:

"The Atlanta Journal Constitution's political blog linked to the Politico piece and pointed out the comments made by Ralph Reed, the former executive director of the Christian Coalition. 'I see it as an attempt to caricature and reduce to a cartoon the social conservative belief in the efficacy of a traditional marriage, and try to reduce it to some formulaic, scriptural literalism,' he said. 'There's more of a practical, sociological foundation for why we seek to affirm marriage as an institution than I think is generally understood by those who want to legalize same-sex marriage.' "

Here's Newsweek's recent cover story, "Our Mutual Joy".

The Ten Worst Buddhist Movie Characters

Rev. Danny Fisher compiles a list of the ten worst Buddhist movie characters. It's interesting to see the way even stereotypes can be bent and molded in so many diffferent ways.

What would the Buddha buy?

The Buddhist Channel features an interesting article by Gary Gach, the author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism and a member of the International Panel of Advisers for the Buddhist Channel.

So what would the Buddha buy? Here's what Gach has to say:

"What would the Buddha buy? Not too much, not too little. Picture him with his own reusable grocery bag slung over his shoulder, talking to a shopper about making mindful choices: “Do you really need it?” “Where does it come from?” “How will it affect the environment when you’re done?” He might have enjoyed celebrating International Buy Nothing Day on November 29 as a spiritual retreat from frantic holiday shopping (the “shopocalypse,” as Reverend Billy calls it)."

"Neither capitalism nor socialism has prevented children from starving in Somalia. We should be trying to base contentment on being, rather than having. Then the question of buying that fourth shirt or that new gizmo on display might be dwarfed by the prospect of creating more space in one’s life by donating your extra stuff. "

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Bible and Homosexuality

Newsweek features the article "Our Mutual Joy", exploring what the Bible really says about homosexuality.

"If the bible doesn't give abundant examples of traditional marriage, then what are the gay-marriage opponents really exercised about? Well, homosexuality, of course—specifically sex between men. Sex between women has never, even in biblical times, raised as much ire. In its entry on "Homosexual Practices," the Anchor Bible Dictionary notes that nowhere in the Bible do its authors refer to sex between women, "possibly because it did not result in true physical 'union' (by male entry)." The Bible does condemn gay male sex in a handful of passages. Twice Leviticus refers to sex between men as "an abomination" (King James version), but these are throwaway lines in a peculiar text given over to codes for living in the ancient Jewish world, a text that devotes verse after verse to treatments for leprosy, cleanliness rituals for menstruating women and the correct way to sacrifice a goat—or a lamb or a turtle dove. Most of us no longer heed Leviticus on haircuts or blood sacrifices; our modern understanding of the world has surpassed its prescriptions. Why would we regard its condemnation of homosexuality with more seriousness than we regard its advice, which is far lengthier, on the best price to pay for a slave?

Religious objections to gay marriage are rooted not in the Bible at all, then, but in custom and tradition (and, to talk turkey for a minute, a personal discomfort with gay sex that transcends theological argument). Common prayers and rituals reflect our common practice: the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer describes the participants in a marriage as "the man and the woman." But common practice changes—and for the better, as the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." The Bible endorses slavery, a practice that Americans now universally consider shameful and barbaric. It recommends the death penalty for adulterers (and in Leviticus, for men who have sex with men, for that matter). It provides conceptual shelter for anti-Semites. A mature view of scriptural authority requires us, as we have in the past, to move beyond literalism. The Bible was written for a world so unlike our own, it's impossible to apply its rules, at face value, to ours."

Top 10 Buddhist teachers living in America

The Huffington Post features Waylon Lewis and his list of top 10 Buddhist teachers living in America. It's important to note that Lewis has not included in his list:

"...charlatans (Genpo Roshi, who is well-loved in many circles, has recently been accused of such), promising youngsters who have yet to prove themself...and those who you can't really study with because they're too famous to actually study with (Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh), in private meditation retreat all the time (Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche), or rarely in the West (The Karmapa, Khandro Rinpoche)."

Here's the breakdown (for individual descriptions, click the link at the beginning of this post for the whole article):

1. Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
2. Pema Chodron
3. Sharon Salzberg
4. Ponlop Rinpoche
5. Joan Halifax Roshi
6. Dr. Reggie Ray
7. Robert Thurman
8. Norman Fischer
9. Dr. Judith Simmer-Brown, Dale Asrael, Frank Berliner
10. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

Within Tibet's interest to stick with China

The Dalai Lama addressed the Eurpoean parliament Thursday as part of his European tour. He believes it is in Tibet's interest to remain part of China, reports United Press International.

"Ours is not a separatist movement. It is in our own interest to remain in a big nation like China," he said. "We are not splittists."

Though criticized for its human rights record, China was recognized for its efforts in modernizing Tibet, bringing its people economic prosperity.
The Buddhist Channel posts His Holiness The Dalai Lama's Address to the plenary session of the European Parliament -- Brussels, 4 December 2008

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Taiwan does not plan to meet with the Dalai Lama

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has decided not to see the Dalai Lama during his visit next year to Taiwan.

" 'The Dalai Lama has visited Taiwan twice, and we generally welcome all religious leaders to visit, but at the current moment, the timing isn't appropriate for that,' he told foreign media in Taipei.

He declined to say when the visit might be welcomed, but political observers said Ma was apparently reluctant to displease China by hosting the Dalai Lama as cross-strait relations have improved.

In what would be his first visit in seven years and an apparent reversal of a policy of avoiding the island for fear of angering China, last week the Dalai Lama told Elta TV in the northern Indian hill station of Dharamsala that he hoped to visit Taiwan in 2009."

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Chanting prayer ceremony at Bodh Gaya

Starting Monday, hundreds of Buddhist monks and practioners from all over the world gathered in Bodh Gaya for an eleven-day chanting prayer ceremony.

At the Mahabodhi temple, monks and nuns chanted from the "Tipitaka", praying for world peace and prosperity for all living beings. It is said that the Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, where 250 years later, emperor Ashoka built the Mahabodhi temple.

Bodh Gaya is a city in the Indian state of Bhihar.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Meditation an alternative to anti-depressant drugs

Studies show Buddhist meditation a better remedy for depression than drugs, The Telegraph reports. The study is funded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) and published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

"Fifteen months after an eight-week trial, 47 per cent of people with long-term depression who underwent the group psychology therapy had suffered a relapse, compared with 60 per cent of those taking anti-depressant drugs.

Professor Willem Kuyken, from the Mood Disorders Centre at the University of Exeter, said the technique - known as mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) - could shorten NHS waiting lists for psychological therapies.

He said: 'Anti-depressants are widely used by people who suffer from depression and that's because they tend to work.

'But, while they're very effective in helping reduce the symptoms of depression, when people come off them they are particularly vulnerable to relapse.

'MBCT takes a different approach - it teaches people skills for life.

'What we have shown is that when people work at it, these skills for life help keep people well.

'Our results suggest MBCT may be a viable alternative for some of the 3.5 million people in the UK known to be suffering from this debilitating condition.' "

Bhutanese refugees resettle in the United States

Many Bhutanese immigrants have settled in American cities like Pittsburgh where housing is affordable and opportunities are open for them. The United States has agreed to resettle 60,000 displaced ethnic Nepalese from Bhutan. The Associated Press reports their situation and the cultural adaptations they experience.

"Unlike other, high-profile refugee groups such as Iraqis and Burmese, the ethnic Nepalese have gone largely unnoticed. Since there are no Bhutanese communities in the United States, most are being resettled near cities like Pittsburgh, where housing is affordable and officials hope diverse populations will reinvigorate urban areas hurt by deindustrialization.

Charitable organizations responsible for resettlement get the families apartments, food, Social Security cards and English classes, and help them find jobs. After three months, the families will have to provide for themselves, usually working minimum wage jobs.

Bhutan is a predominantly Buddhist constitutional monarchy bordered by China and India. In the early 1990s, the monarchy instituted sweeping legislation that effectively stripped the ethnic Nepalese, a Hindu minority also known as the Lhotsampas, of their citizenship, their right to own property and their ability to get government jobs.

Since then, an estimated 100,000 ethnic Nepalis have fled to refugee camps."

Links to other posts on Bhutan: