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Seeking the true refuge: an enlightened route of Buddhist communities in Malaysia.

This article is to express my sincere impression on being follower of Ven. Dhammanada to Malaysia on the occasion that she was invited to teach dhamma there during dune 5-9, 2002

Even though the sound of AHSAN (the announcement of time to chant for Islamic) resonates in every part of Malaysian Kingdom five times a day, the Buddhism's sprout was vigorously cultivated in this territory. It was also being nurtured with strong care of Buddhist Communities in Malaysia, a group of people who chose to be Buddhists by their own soul and spirit.

Among 23 millions people in Malaysia, Buddhists seems to be a very small or about 3.5 millions people. 85% of this Buddhist group is Chinese. In this group of Buddhists, taking out the number of Mahayana, left only 75,000 people who are Theravada Buddhists. By their uncertain status as minority of Malaysian, Chinese Buddhists regularly gather and establish their own communities. These communities are aimed at organizing activities and various fellowships as well as expanding their networks in all regions of Malaysia The largest group of Theravada Buddhists is in Penang and the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur or Petaling Jaya.

My delight from being closed to Venerable

This journey to Malaysia of Ven. Dhammananda was invited by Buddhist Gem Fellowship (BGF) in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. BGF organized a two-day dhamma talk on the topic of "Seeking the True Refuge". Before this trip, the Venerable was also invited by lpoh Buddhist Dhamma Association (IBDA), located 200 km. north of Kuala Lumpur, to give a one-day Dhamma lecture after the Buddhists in lpoh previously watched a live interview of the Venerable on CNN. Therefore she lectured the Buddhists in Ipoh on "Women and Environment from a Buddhist Perspective"

which was very practicai to their beings in that region. lpoh is a small town surrounded by greenish mountains and women are the strongest group in nurturing the nature and Buddhism.

Each time the Venerable lectured, a lot of people came to listen more than the organizers' expectation. Some of them were new members who had just joined BGF and IBDA's activities. It reflected the Venerable's Dhamma talk ignited their interest. Both men and women members followed her and offered morning and midday meal. They intended to have more time to learn dhamma and meditation with her. Above all, it was their appreciation in her favor to offer an opportunity for women to be enlightened. Most women had a chance to learn in the way of woman-to-woman talk. Many told that this was the first time they could touch the beauty of mind, the fearless to reveal women's distress that had been voiceless so long.

Ipoh... Nature is an inner of Buddhists

Ven. Dhammananda showed her interesting idea to Buddhists in Ipoh:

"The viewpoint of Buddhism on nature is different to the Westerners. Buddhism believed that we are part of nature. If we preserve nature, nature will take care of us. Westerners, on the contrary, have the feeling to dominate and control nature."

The Venerable recommended Buddhists in lpoh to nurture the nature from within, which is our inner peace. She said it is the route to achieve tranquility and peace in mind. She also suggested that meditation can provide us to interconnected with the whole body. Once we learn how to heal our breath, we can heal the nature.

The dominant point of Buddhists in lpoh was to cooperate in restoring the nature i.e. the IBDA office which is a small one-storey house in the compounded houses. The IBDA members donated their money to turn a small and deserted swamp behind this house to be a green yard covering by tall trees and plants. They turned the useless alloyed gate to be rails of a bridge across the garden. All of this decoration seemed to be a lively, warmhearted masterpiece of Art for this dhamma practice garden. Judy Chua, important manager of IBDA who retired from her job in New Zealand and became volunteer to take care of elders in Ipoh, told us "Working in IBDA was influenced by love in our green area. Men would collect and sweep falling leaves, decorate our garden, and clean the hail while women would take care of continuing dhamma activities such as the evening chant, meditation. Sundays' activity for mothers and children. Judy affirmed "If we love the Lord Buddha, we will know how to love every tree in the world"

BGF..... The Buddhist Gem is the enlightened end of seeking

BGF comprised of over 500 members of BGF in Kuala Lumpur of which around 20 were core members of this group. These core members were volunteers who bonded with BGF since it was only established as young Buddhists community in university. After they graduated, their mission in sustaining Buddhism in Malaysia was still alive, They therefore established BGF in 1980. One of their vows in being members of BGF "Commit to the vision of promoting the growth of Buddhism and creating a better world for all sentient beings."

Having a leasing 4-storeys building enabled BGF to organize regular activities throughout the year such as the evening chant, meditation, dhamma talk, singing of dhamma songs, public speaking and free counselling service for the public through phone. These activities would be held after 8.00 p.m. which was after office hour period. Furthermore, BGF also prepared the 3rd floor to be public library, producing books, newsletters, cassettes of dhamma talks and researches. Benny Liow is a successful businessman and one of the establishers of BGF who has been follower of Ven. Dhammananda for almost 20 years. He told that the strength of BGF nowadays came from members, sharing the same mission, who were led by their faith in the Lord Buddha Moreover, they also shared the same clear vision in dhamma and all leaders could teach dhamma.

The idea that Ven. Dhammananda gave to Buddhists of BGF was holding on to the Lord Buddha as their refuge would become real when we were in the truth of enlighten and we can become enlighten. The refuge that all Buddhist are trying to seek was already established in their mind and soul. In each one of us, we have seeds of Buddhism. It depended on. how much could we nurture this seed into a strong tree that could spread their branches and protect us as well as all beings. The Venerable warned the Buddhists in BGF to help arranging the correct and prolonging route of Buddhism. She mentioned that Buddhists should walk on this path by themselves. No one could walk for us. Vowing to retaining to the Buddhist Gem as refuge is to believe in the Lord Buddha' teachings and to seek enlightened wisdom in a way the Lord Buddha did. It would lead us to the Enlightenment at the end.

The strength and faith in Buddhism of Buddhist Communities in Malaysia could energizes and encourages the Venerable Dhammananda and to affirm us as the followers that we are not alone. Our mission in establishing Bhikkhunis as the Lord Buddha's disciples in Thai Buddhism society is always supported and looked after by our networks in Malaysia. This world is not so wide. Having Bhikkhunis in Thailand can lead to the beginning of having Bhikkhunis in Malaysia.
COPYRIGHT 2002 NIBWA-Newsletter on International Buddhist Women
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Phiphitkul, Wilasinee
Publication:Yasodhara-Newsletter on International Buddhist Women's Activities
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Oct 1, 2002
Words:1215
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