The Venerable Matthumagala Chandananda Thero, resident monk of the Manitoba Buddhist Vihara and Cultural Association shared his knowledge at a Nov. 22 Diversitas event in Morden. (GREG VANDERMEULEN/Winkler Times)
The Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre Aquasaur Theatre was packed Nov. 22, as Diversitas hosted the Venerable Matthumagala Chandananda Thero, resident monk of the Manitoba Buddhist Vihara and Cultural Association.
Thero gave the crowd a lesson on Buddhism and its roots, focussing primarily on the life of Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha.
Born in Nepal in the fifth century B.C., the prince became the founder of a religion that now includes an estimated 400 million followers across the world.
Thero said Buddhism teaches that the world’s search for happiness is flawed.
“People have many problems these days,” he said, adding they stem from people being dissatisfied.
“If we can convince people that spirituality is the way to better understanding of yourself, and also others, and also if you can point out that the spiritual practice is the way to lasting, fulfilling happiness, I think we can attract many listeners and also practitioners.”
Thero said that happiness cannot be found from the world. “Real happiness is to be found within us,” he said.
While many mainstream religions believe sin is the origin of human suffering, Buddhism teaches that ignorance is the cause.
Buddhists subscribe to the Four Noble Truths.
1.) All life is suffering. Death, illness, abuse, poverty - nothing is permanent, whatever gives us happiness will end. Pleasures are temporary. Nothing lasts forever.
2.) The cause of suffering is selfish desire. Desires always exceed our resources, leaving us unhappy and unsatisfied. All suffering originates in desire, but only selfish desire generates suffering.
3.) By stopping desire, suffering also stops. Don’t get attached to material goods, places, ideas or people.
4.) By following the Eightfold Path desire can be stopped. The Eightfold path includes striving to demonstrate: Right views, intentions, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, concentration.
- Ancient History Encyclopedia, ancient.eu, Cristian Violatti
In its most basic form, Buddhism does not include the concept of a God, and though they celebrate Buddha’s teachings, they do not worship him.
Thero said Buddhists are called to avoid extremes, to take the middle path between self indulgence and self mortification.
Thero said the world often has distorted perceptions, and said there is no permanence.
“Everything is in a state of flux,” he said, adding any sense of solidity is simply created in the mind.
“We cannot always rely on our perceptions,” he said. “Distorted perception gives rise to craving. We want things to be otherwise.”
He also touched on their idea of heaven and hell. While they do believe in those ideas (but not necessarily places) Thero said they are not permanent.
“In other religions hell and heaven are eternal. If you go you don’t come back,” he said. “In Buddhism they are temporary. If you go to hell or heaven, you’ll be back. Nothing is permanent.”
Buddhists also believe in Karma, (the idea that you reap what you sow), and Thero concluded the evening by directing karma generated by the applause of the audience to those who have passed on before.
Diversitas founder Peter Cantelon was pleased with the presentation, saying he learned a lot.
“I didn’t know anything really about Buddhism going into it, except from a fairly pop cultural kind of way,” he said. “I think what I appreciated, it was a fairly straight forward humble kind of a presentation. It didn’t make any presuppositions.”
Cantelon said this was one of the better attended events they’ve hosted, and the audience seemed genuinely ready to learn.
“People were very polite, people were very friendly,” he said.