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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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Han Tibetan Buddhists

Growing number of ethnic Han Chinese are following Tibetan Buddhism despite the Communist Party.

"While statistics are hard to come by, monks, followers and experts say that growing numbers of middle-class Chinese are turning to Tibetan Buddhism, driven by the perception of a spiritual vacuum in society and aided by the voluminous information available on the Internet. Communist Party officials and celebrities alike have embraced Tibetan Buddhism, despite having to worship at home, meet their lamas at night and run the risk of attending officially unauthorized events, such as the fish release and "fire sacrifice" at Huangsongyu Reservoir."

"Like other religions, Buddhism suffered during the persecution of the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution. When it limped back, it took a simpler form that had been influenced by China's gradual opening to the West. Meanwhile, a purer and more complex form of Buddhism continued to be practiced in the isolated region of Tibet, which the Chinese army had invaded in 1950 and annexed in 1951. The Communists allowed a degree of autonomy until a Tibetan uprising in 1959. After the Dalai Lama fled to India that year, China formed the Tibet Autonomous Region, which it has governed since. Some Chinese Buddhist temples now invite senior Tibetan monks to visit in a bid to attract more followers."

Read full article.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Similarities between Darwinism and Buddhism

From National Geographic News:

Charles Darwin probably didn't know it, but he held views on human empathy that mirror Buddhist beliefs, says a pioneer in decoding facial expressions.
Based on his interactions with foreign cultures, Darwin came to define empathy as a desire to end someone's suffering to assuage one's own discomfort. Buddhist teachings also see empathy as a somewhat selfish motivation, but one that the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, calls the "seed of compassion."

Read full article.

Photo from National Geographic News.

Buddhism and Journalism

Interesting for those of you who are bloggers and news junkies:

"Buddhist principles have universal applicability because they are not divine dictates but explicit and practical morals of human communication. American journalist Doug McGill says that a journalism grounded in Buddhist morals would produce (1) a journalism of healing because the goal of Buddhism is achieving the end of "suffering," which connotes many facets of existence, and (2) a journalism of timely, truthful, and helpful speech based on the Noble Eightfold Path. Because Sri Lanka is emerging from the ravages of a long-drawn war with the Tamil Tigers, this is the time for the state, as well as all newspaper editors and publishers, to give serious thought to applying Buddhist principles to news and journalism."

Read full article.

Week 7: New Website

Hi UBA friends,

We hope you are enjoying the holiday weekend! Just a quick reminder: we continue our regular meetings this Tuesday, January 20th from 5:30-7 pm at the UCC (633 Gayley Avenue, across from the UCLA campus). Our meetings are facilitated by Reverend Kusala, who leads us in a dharma discussion followed by a chance to ask questions and a meditation. Previous dharma discussions are available in podcast form at Rev. Kusala's website: www.dharmatalks.info.

Also, the new UBA website is up and running. You can access it through the same URL: www.theuba.org. Please check it out and tell us what you think!

And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for events you'd like to see us put together, email us at uba.ucla.online@gmail.com. Have a great week!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Results of Thai Temple ZAB Hearing

Update on the results of the ZAB hearing for Wat Mongkolratanaram.

"On February 12, 2009 the Zoning Adjustment Board voted in favor of the Thai temple 8 yes to 1 no. Though the board has given the temple its approval for the project, it is NOT the final approval. The final approval will come after the conditions recommended from the city to the ZAB have clarified. The major points of contention that temple had was in part due to the vagueness of the language. The language is being revised under the direction of the ZAB with recommendations, modifications, and removal of some conditions. At the next hearing, the board will vote to give the project final approval based upon the revisions to the conditions.

The first part of this journey is almost at an end.

The complainants will have the right to appeal, however, that appeal process cannot begin until after the ZAB gives its final approval. Once that approval is final, the complainants will have 2 weeks from the time everything is processed. That normally takes 2 to 3 days after the vote. If the complainants appeal, the case will be heard in front of the Berkeley City Council.

From the entire team, we want to thank each and every one of you for your heart felt support. It was your belief in our cause and our team that gave us the energy to work hard over the course of the past 10 months.

Please continue to visit this site for future updates on the status of the final approval."

Visit their website.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Passing of Ven. Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen

Venerable Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsen
Founder and Spritual Director of Thubten Dhargye Ling

"Dear Friends,

We have very sad news. Our great and dear teacher Ven. Geshe Gyeltsen passed from our world today, Friday February 13th at around 12:20 p.m. Ven. Geshela died peacefully, surrounded by monks from Gaden Shartse Monastery and family members.

All prayers and necessary rituals were performed by the monks. His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other lamas called and spoke to Ven. Geshela earlier this week.

Please pray for Geshela's swift return to continue his teachings for the benefit of all sentient beings.

Students are encouraged to include the King of Prayers into their daily practice, wishing Geshela to return quickly to continue to teach us.

Thubten Dhargye Ling / Center for the Study of Buddhism and Tibetan Culture"

Learn more about Venerable Geshe Tsultim Gyeltsten.

Photo from UrbanDharma

From Father to Son

From The News & Observer, Geshe Gelek Chodha, a teacher at Kadampa Center, answers this question from a concerned father, reminding me of some of the ways my father had exposed me to Buddhism as a child:

"Q: A week ago, my son asked for a Buddha figurine -- he's quite clear that it must have a round belly and be seated in a meditative pose.

He says he was inspired by "The Cat Who Went to Heaven," which we read several months ago. As he is not yet 6, I am keeping my discussions with him relatively simple. We've agreed that a Buddha is not a toy and cannot go in his toy box but must be displayed where he can see it. We've discussed the importance of compassion, and I have offered to meditate with him. We are reading about Buddhism in a book on comparative religion ("A Faith Like Mine").

Is there anything else we should do? Are there concepts we should discuss beyond the practice of compassion and meditation? Is there a temple we could visit during this very preliminary exploration of Buddhism?"

"A: It may be helpful to know that you do not have to be Buddhist to practice any aspect of Buddhism. You may find benefit from Buddhist methods such as meditation or teachings on compassion and wisdom. It is perfectly OK to put into practice what you find helpful and leave the rest. After all, the intent of the Buddhist path is to teach us to be better human beings.

For Buddhists the world over, a Buddha statue is a symbol of peace and freedom. It reminds us of our own potential to achieve his exalted qualities: perfect love, compassion, power, wisdom and skill in helping others..."

Read full article.

Darwin and Religion

Feb. 12, 2009, the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin

"Charles Darwin is widely praised by atheists for the way his theory of evolution denies the existence of God. For the same reason he's vilified by conservative religious people.

There is just one problem with the opinions of these opposing camps: They're not exactly based on what Darwin said. The pioneering 19th-century biologist actually confessed that evolution placed him in a "hopeless muddle" about the concept of God.

Church-going Darwin did, indeed, end up rejecting traditional 19th-century views of an Almighty Christian God. He could not accept that an all-powerful Being would willingly cause, as he said, a cat to cruelly play with a mouse."

Read full article.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reuters - Sensitive Anniversaries in China in 2009

From Tibet to the Falun Gong, we can expect the government to approach these anniversaries very carefully...

Read full article.

"Let's Go After the Buddhists"

A rather clever and catchy song posted by Rev. Danny Fisher.

"Let's Go After the Buddhists" by Roy Zimmerman.

Save the Thai Temple - Berkeley Hearing

The Berkeley ZAB hearing is this Thursday, February 12, 2009 and this is the last time to vote and save the temple. Hear the cause to save Wat Mongkolratanaram from those supporting the temple (as well as a brief segment from those opposing) in city hearings:

Also, please visit savethethaitemple.com.

Thanks to arunlikhati from DharmaFolk who has posted on this issue.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Week 6: Picture Day & Staff Recruitment

Hello UBA friends,

A few things to announce this week...

As usual, we continue our regular meetings this Tuesday, February 10th from 5:30-7 pm at the UCC (633 Gayley Avenue, across from the UCLA campus). Our meetings are facilitated by Reverend Kusala, who leads us in a dharma discussion followed by a chance to ask questions and a meditation. Previous dharma discussions are available in podcast form at Rev. Kusala's website: www.dharmatalks.info.

A special note about our meeting this week is that we are planning to take b of the UBA to replace the rather outdated one on our website. Come be a part of this historic event and feel free to wear your UBA t-shirt if you have one! (Don't have a UBA t-shirt yet?
A situation that can certainly be remedied! Visit our other blog at theuba.blogspot.com for more information.)

Another special and very important note: we are recruiting new staff members for the UBA for the upcoming year! Being on staff is a great opportunity to help bring Buddhism to the wider UCLA community and offers great leadership experience, so give it some thought! No prior experience is necessary and all talents and skills are appreciated and needed. We will have a sign-up sheet available at the next meeting for anyone who is interested.

Thanks everyone! Have a great week and we hope to see you Tuesday.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Obama's new faith-based initiative

"Obama said the office would work with nonprofit organizations "both secular and faith-based" and would help them determine how to make a bigger impact in their cities, learn their obligations under the law and cut through government red tape.

Groups that were critical of the Bush faith-based office — including the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and People For the American Way — issued statements Thursday expressing disappointment in the Obama version. All said that by failing to repeal Bush policies, the White House will allow participating religious groups to continue discrimination in hiring.

Obama's advisers want to be certain tax dollars sent to the faith-based social service groups are used for secular purposes, such as feeding the hungry or housing the homeless, and not for religious evangelism. The administration doesn't want to be perceived as managing the groups yet seeks transparency and accountability."

Read full article.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Corporate/Poltical leader now, Asura tomorrow

The six realms of Buddhism are rebirth as a deva, an asura, a human being, an animal, a hungry ghost, or a being in Naraka (hell). Can we make any metaphorical connections from these realms to our life here as a human?

O'Brien writes about how being reborn as an asura may very much be like being a corporate or political leader.

"I believe these days most of us (including, I understand, His Holiness the Dalai Lama) do not believe in the Six Realms as actual locations. Instead, they are more often understood as metaphors for our psychological projections. As such, it seems to me the Six Realms teachings shed light on our ongoing financial crisis."

Read full article.

Photo from
The Buddhist Channel.

Master Sheng Yen dies at age 80

Tuesday, Feb. 3, Venerable Dharma Master Sheng Yen died of renal disease at National Taiwan University Hospital at the age of 80.

Read full article.

Photo from The Buddhist Channel

According to The Buddhist Channel, he wrote this poem before he passed away:


Busy with nothing, growing old.
Within emptiness, weeping, laughing.
Intrinsically, there is no "I."
Life and death, thus cast aside.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Huffington Post: The Groundhog Day Buddhism Sutra

UBA has actually watched The Groundhog Day during a movie night event so I thought this article from the Huffington Post was more than relevant to our readers and members. I actually haven't watched this movie so I cannot offer much insight. But this article explores the possible interpretation of the movie using the Four Noble Truths.

"I was interviewing Ramis for a Buddhist magazine called the Shambhala Sun because, it turns out, many Buddhists read the Buddha's truths (or dharma) between the lines of the script. Ramis gets a kick out of the fact that many religious groups claim the film is for and about their particular sect. I suspect Ramis and the Buddha would agree: 'The more, the merrier."

Ramis himself is not a Buddhist, does not meditate but is well read on the principles and consciously practices the simple tenets that weatherman Phil Connors comes to embody (picture a bald Bill Murray in saffron robes). Ramis, I learned from hanging out with him and interviewing many around him, is somewhere between a mensch (a really good guy) and a boddhisatva (a really good guy whose mission is to help other people become really good guys)."

Read the full article.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Week 5: Midterm Stress!

Hi UBA friends,

Wow, it's the middle of the quarter already! If you're finding yourself caught in the midst of midterms stress (or even if you're not!) why not try a nice evening of dharma discussion and meditation with the UBA?

We continue our regular meetings this Tuesday, February 3rd from 5:30-7 pm at the UCC (633 Gayley Avenue, across from the UCLA campus). Our meetings are facilitated by Reverend Kusala, who leads us in a dharma discussion followed by a chance to ask questions and a meditation. Previous dharma discussions are available in podcast form at Rev. Kusala's website: www.dharmatalks.info.

It is likely that we will be in the downstairs room at the UCC again this week; so just keep that in mind and see if we're around in the room downstairs before coming up the stairs if you don't catch us when we meet at 5:30.

And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for events you'd like to see us put together, email us at uba.ucla.online@gmail.com. Have a great week!

Dalai Lama may choose his own reincarnation

The Dalai Lama may choose the reincarnation set to replace him as leader of the Tibetans.

"The Dalai Lama has openly speculated about his next life, his reincarnation, musing that he might upend historical and cultural practice and choose his reincarnation before his death, the better to safeguard his exiled people."