Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa

1.What  is Buddhism?

     Buddhism may  be defined and explained from  various standpoints as follows:

    1.Buddhism, the teaching of the Buddha (the Enlightened One),  proposes to develop humankind through purity(by means of morality),calmness(by means of concentration) and clarity (by means of wisdom).

    2.Buddhism is a religion founded by the Buddha for the welfare of many, for happiness of many and for helping the word. People from all walks of life can apply the teaching to practice in accordance with their ability and free will.

    3. Buddhism is a religion of reason and practice for self-help and self-reliance and for extending a helping hand to others others out of loving-kindness and compassion.

    4. Buddhism is both philosophy and practice. Though it accepts the existence of divine beings, it did not put belief in a supreme being as a s  significant part of the religion.   Instead it teaches the followers to have qualifications
such as moral shame and moral fear, making one divine in the Dhamma in this life; to be endowed with right faith, morality, learning, generosity and wisdom.  Furthermore, Buddhism teaches that one who is free from defilements of greed, hatred and delusion is reckoned as superior.

    5. General information about Buddhism is as follows:

Country of Origin          : India
Data of Origin              : Sixth Century B.C.
The Founder                : The Buddha (The  Enlightened One) previously Prince Siddhattha of the Gotama clan within the Sakya lineage.
Doctrinal Tenets          : To avoid all evil, to do good and to purify the mind.
Type of Religion          : Universal, spreading out to many countries of the world;
                                    Atheistic, regarding no divine being ad the centre of the
                                    teaching
Main Divisions             : Theravada and Mahayana
Unity of Diversity         : The World Fellowship of Buddhist is the world
                                    organization for unity of all Buddhist  throuout the  world.
                                    It has one hundred-twenty three regional centres in 37
                                    countries (B.E.2539-1996). The permanent headquarters
                                    of the World Fellowship of Buddhists is in Thailand.
 

2. What is the historical and geographical background of Buddhism ?

         Buddhism came into existence in India some 2,600 years ago when an Indian Prince, Siddhattha, became enlightened and thence came to be known as the Buddha, meaning the Enlightened One. His teaching is preserved in Buddhist scriptures known as  the Tripitaka, which literally means three baskets, namely the Vinaya or Vinaya-pitaka(monastic rules), Sutta or Suttanta-Tripitaka,(collection of the teaching of the Buddha and His disciples) and Abhidhamma or Abhidhamma-pitaka(higher philosophy).

         Buddhism is Atheistic; it does not give significance to divine beings. There are two major Schools in Buddhism; Theravada, the teaching as preserved by the elders and Mahayana, the later development. The former is practiced in Sri Lanka, Thailand,
Burma(Myanmar) Laos, and Cambodia.The latter id more prevalent in China, Japan,
Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and Tibet.

3. What are the purposes of the preaching of the Buddha ?

         In the First Sermon, Dhammacakkappavattana  Sutta(the Discourse of the Turning of the  Wheel of Dhamma or Truth), the Buddha pointed out the Middle Way which gives vision, which gives knowledge, which is conducive to calmness, insight, enlightenment and Nibbana (the state of being free from all defilements and suffering).

         In one of His discourses, the Buddha summarized His teaching with the words "Vimutti or spiritual  freedom from all defilements and sufferings is the Ultimate."  When sending His first sixth disciples on their preaching tour, the Buddha said:
        I, now monks, am free from all bonds of gods and men. And you too, monks, are free from all bonds of gods and men. Travel, monks, for the welfare of the many, for the happiness of the many, for helping the world, for the good, welfare and happiness of gods and men.

         From the Buddha's words, above mentioned we can say that Nibbana or Vimutti is the main purpose of the perching of the Buddha. He encouraged His disciples to walk the Middle Way in order to eradicate all defilements and sufferings and then, out of
compassion for all, lend a helping hand to others.

          In brief, the Buddha taught people how to be happy and prosperous both in a worldly as well as a spiritual sense. Those who follow His teaching can select their way of life practicable for themselves.
 

4. What is the status of Buddhism among world living religions ?

         World living religions can be classified according to their  doctrinal tenets into various types such as:

 1. Theistic religions: believing in the supremacy of a divine being or beings.

 2. Atheistic religions: not believing in the supremacy  of any divine being.

        Buddhism belongs to the latter.  It lays stress on virtuous qualities which every human being can develop. According to Buddhism, good knowledge and conduct (Vijja carana) make a person excellent among divine and human beings. Good knowledge and release from all defilements and sufferings(Vijja-vimutti)are Buddhist ideals.

5. What is the size of the Buddhist population  in Thailand as compared to that of other religions ?

        According to the report of the National Statistical Office, Office of the Prime Minister B.E.2538 (1995 A.D.), the Thai population is distributed by religions as follows:
      population   59,460,382
      Buddhists  56,016,758  (94.22%)
      Muslims  2.396,198  (4.03%)
      Christians  326,919  (0.55%)
      Hindus,Sikhs 3,697   (0.01%)
      Unidentified  716,810  (1.20%)

6. What is the official administration of the Thai Buddhist Order ?

         Buddhism is the state religion of Thailand. His Majesty  the King is a Buddhist and a patron of Buddhism and  other religions in the country. Monastic administration is according to the Sangha Act of B.E.2505 (1962), amended in B.E.2535(1992) and the rules and regulations laid down in the code of the Council of Elders headed by His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch. As far as regional monastic administration is concerned. territorial jurisdiction shall be exercised in hierarchical order as follows:
           1. Regional
           2. Provincial
           3. District
           4. Communal

         The geographical boundaries of those divisions shall be in accordance with what has been determined in the rules and regulations laid down in the code of the Council of Elders.
         As far as the regional monastic administration is concerned, the following is the hierarchical order of Bhikkhu officers with reference to their territorial jurisdiction:

           1. Regional Governor
           2. Provincial Governor
           3. District Officer.
           4. Commune Headman

         There shall be one abbot for a monastery. However, when it is deemed proper there can be a vice-abbot or an abbot's assistant.

7.What is the World Fellowship of Buddhists ?

        The World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) is an international Buddhist organization which was founded in B.E. 2493 (1950) in Sri Lanka  where representatives from 27 countries from Asia, Europe and North America met for the
first time in history.

         Buddhist delegates  from all over the world representing various schools of Buddhism, viz., Theravada, Mahayana and vajrayana traditions, were unified under the six coloured flag. (Please refer to question and answer No.9)
         Through this international Buddhist organization, unity and mutual understanding among the Buddhist communities of the world have been established. It can be said therefore, that the WFB has achieved its prime objective, that is unity
among world Buddhists which is fundamental in furthering cooperation for the progress and stability of Buddhism.

8. What role does Thailand play in the World Fellowship of Buddhists ?

         Thailand participated in the  very first conference which established the World  Fellowship of Buddhists in Sri Lanka in B.E.2493 (1950) and, as one of its Founding members, actively attended all the  conferences usually scheduled every
two years. Thailand had upheld the aims and purposes of the organization which appear in the WFB constitution as follows:

1. to promote among the members strict observance and practice of the teaching of the Buddha,
2. to  secure unity, solidarity and brotherhood amongst Buddhists,
3.  to propagate the sublime doctrine of the Buddha,
4.  to organize  and carry on activities in the field of social educational, cultural and
other humanitarian services, and
5. to work for happiness, harmony and peace on  earth and to collaborate  with other
organizations working for the  same end.

        More importantly, Thailand was chosen by the WFB as the seat of the permanent headquarters of the WFB on B.E.2512 (1969) with an International Secretariat working full  time for the benefit of the members of the WFB all over the
world. The reasons which prompted the WFB General conference to adopt this resolution unanimously were:

1.  Buddhism is the national religion of Thailand.
2. His Majesty the King is, by virtue of the Constitution of Thailand, the patron and defender of the Buddhist faith, and
3. The Thai Royal Government has consistently given financial support to WFB Secretariat.
         In this connection, it should be mentioned that the Thai Government has been providing an annual  subsidy for the maintenance and effective  services of the Headquarters up to the present.

9. What is the meaning of the Buddhist  flag ?

         The Buddhist flag, or the flag of Chabbannarangsi, as approved by the  World Fellowship  of Buddhists at its inaugural  conference in B. E.2493(1950) consists of six colours. The first five colours are arranged vertically as  follows: blue,
yellow, red, white, and orange. The sixth colour, called in Pali "Pabhassara", which means  "brilliant" or "radiant", cannot be depicted but is symbolized by the combination of the first five colors arranged horizontally a narrow strip on the
right.
         This six-coloured flag  was originally designed  by Colonel Henry  S. Olcottm an American Buddhist, and has been used by the Sri Lankan  Buddhists ever since. However, it gained  wider recognition when it became the official flag of the
World  Fellowship of Buddhists at its inception in B.E.2493(1950)
         The design was based on the belief that wherever the Buddha went,  he spread the light of wisdom and bliss to the  people all around in six directions, namely, east, west, north, south, above and below. This light was later symbolized
by the six colours in the Buddhist flag.
         However, for Thai Buddhists, yellow flag with the symbol of the Wheel of Dhamma (Dhammacakka) has been in general use since B. E 2501(1958) when itwas officially proclaimed by the Thai Sangha Authorities.

10. What is the  meaning of Buddhist symbol ?

         The Buddhist symbol is in the firm of a wheel with eight spokes representing the  Noble Eight fold Path, which means the way leading to the cessation of suffering.  This Path consists of the following:
         Right View, Right Motives,  Right Speech, Right Action, Right Means of Livelihood, Right Effort, Right  Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

         This symbol is called  "Dhammacakka" or the Wheel of Dhamma and has been adopted as the seal of the world Fellowship of Buddhists.

11. What are  the differences between the two major Schools of Buddhism, i.e.Theravada and Mahayana?

         Theravada means the School which maintains the original teaching of the Buddha. Its root can be traced back to the First Council which was held soon after the Buddha's  passing away; hence it is considered the oldest  School. Mahayana
came much later, roughly speaking, about 600 years after the  Buddha's time. Vajrayana or Tantrayana developed from the Mahayana  approximately  400 years after the beginning of the Mahayana.
         Geographically, Theravada is more prevalent in Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Cambodia  and Laos while Mahayana is prevalent in China, Japan, Korea,  Vietnam, Nepal and Tibet.
         Theoretically  both Schools share the  fundamental teachings of the Four Noble  Truths, etc. but  Mahayana developed many more Sutras as elaboration  of the original teaching.   Among the important  Mahayana Sutras are Saddharmapundarika- Sutra, Vimalakirtinirdesa- Sutra, Bhaisajyaguru-Sutra, etc. However, the Vinaya (monastic disciplines) of both Schools remain very similar. The difference in primarily due to different  sociological and geographical  contexts.
 

12. How and what should the Buddhists believe ?

         The Buddha is the Enlightened One who discovered the Supreme Truth. He did not force anyone  to believe in His teaching with blind faith. The reasonableness of the Dhamma. the Buddha's teaching, lies in the fact that it welcomes any critical examination at all stages of the path to enlightenment.  To understand the nature of all phenomena, insight wisdom must
be operative throughout.

        Once the Buddha has instructed the Kalamas, who were inhabitants of Kesaputta, a town in the Kingdom of Kosala, on an appropriate  attitude towards the religious beliefs. He said "Do not accept anything on mere hearsay, nor by mere tradition,
nor on account of rumours, nor just because it accords with your scriptures, nor by mere suppositions, nor by mere inference, nor by merely considering the appearances, nor merely because it agrees with your preconceived notions, nor merely because it seems acceptable, nor thinking that the recluse is our teacher." And  then the Buddha had further instructed the Kalamas to consider everything by themselves carefully. He said " When you yourselves know that these things are bad; these things are blamable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill; abandon them. And in contradiction, when you yourselves know that these things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; these things, undertaken and observed, lead to benefit and happiness, enter on and abide in them."

13. Is it true that Buddhists are taught to be  tolerant of other's opinions, beliefs, customs or behaviour different  from their own ?

         Yes, Buddhists are taught to be broadminded but not to believe in anything easily before investigation or proper consideration.  Moreover, Buddhists are taught to diffuse the Four Divine States of Mind: loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and equanimity towards all sentient beings who may be of different nationalities, religions and environments.

14. Could we live happily without believing in any religion ?

         Yes, we can. If happiness means physical well-being,  then a person can be happy without believing in any particular religion but a human being consists of two major aspects: body and mind. To have a fully developed  and happy life, one needs
to nourish both body and mind. In this case religion can provide  the guidance  and the path  to develop  the mind and  spirit  along with  the body.

15. Is there any particular  form of practice in Buddhism ?

         According to Buddhism, everyone is free to consider and investigate Buddhist teaching before acceptance. Even after acceptance one is free to select any particular  part of the teaching to put into  practice.
         The Buddha has given various practical  formats suitable to the people of different tastes  and tendencies.
         There are, however, some typical  doctrines appropriate for Buddhists in general as follows:

1. Avoid all evils, fulfill good and purify one's own minds.
2. Generosity and mind development. (Development of tranquillity and insight.)
3. Morality, concentration and wisdom. (Brief form of the noble path leading to the
cessation  of suffering.)

16. What are the results of the practice of the Five Precepts ?

         The Five Precepts are not laws but they are self-training rules that lead to moral practices and right behaviour.   Since one does not live alone, living in society requires self-awareness, self-control, adaptability, non-violent attitude and good-will.
         The Five Precepts are to abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct,
false speech, and intoxicants which cause carelessness. One should be kind, honest and mindful. Then our society  will reach the goal that persons can live together peacefully and in mutual trust.

17. How should one live the Buddhist way of life ?

         To live the Buddhist way of life one should avoid doing evil, perform wholesome acts and purify one's  own mind.
        The "don't and do" moral principles of the Buddhist way of life are as follows:

1. To abstain from killing, and develop loving-kindness and compassion to all living
beings.
2. To abstain from  stealing . and develop right means of livelihood.
3. To abstain  from  sexual  misconduct, and develop  restraint of the senses.
4. To abstain from lying, and develop truthful speech.
5. To abstain from intoxicants,  and develop restraint and mindfulness.

         The more one can observe the above Five Precepts and Five Virtues, the more happy and  peaceful life one will achieve.
         Furthermore,  trying to purify one's own mind from greed, hatred, and delusion step-by-step in daily life is the ideal way for all Buddhists.

18. Is  there  any Buddhist teaching that monks  should have a role of serving society in  addition to teaching Dhamma ?

         The  history of Buddhism tells us that when the Buddha convened his first group of 60 disciples before sending them  on missionary work, He instructed them to go separately on a journey for the gain  of the many,  for happiness of the many,  and
for helping  the world. This shows that  the Buddha advised His  disciples to serve society . The serving should be done appropriately to the status of the monk. To put the teaching into practice, to make oneself an exemplar, and to teach  the people are the  main functions of Buddhist monks. Usually monasteries are the  centres of communities  and social welfare. In case of  various disasters, monks will extend their helping hands to the people as much as possible. To serve society in the way of charity or other social work is also allowed for monks, providing it does not contradict the monastic rule.

19. Is it justified for a Buddhist to believe that he could be a real Buddhist only through meditation, and to discard all concerns about serving society ?

 To be a real Buddhist is just to take the Triple Gem as one's guide, that is to say, if anyone puts his or her  faith in the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha, he or she is regarded as  a Buddhist. This is according to the answer of  to the Buddha to Prince Mahanama's  question about being a Buddhist.  There is advice  for  the progress in practice called the Basis of merit making as taught by the  Buddha as  follows:

   1. Charity  or generosity (Dana)
   2. Morality (Sila) and
   3. Development of  meditation which is of two kinds, namely: tranquility of the mind and spiritual insight (Bhavana).
        From the above mentioned principle it is clear that charity and serving society in the way of  giving  a helping hand  and other spiritual practices are regarded as the additional  practices of  being a Buddhist.

20. Why do monks wear patched robes ? Does  a darker brown robe signify strictness  of  the wearer ?

         Buddhist  monks  are  homeless  and  do not have any valuable personal belongings. Originally they  had to collect discarded pieces of cloth wherever they could be found, and wash and sew them  together. Then the robe was dipped in natural  dye  from bark or the pith of a tree. The robes were mostly brownish  in colour. The different shades  of the colour  did not signify the strictness of the wearers  at  the time  of the Buddha, nor do  they  today.
         Venerable  Ananda, the Buddha's cousin and personal attendant, designed the robe at the request of the Buddha.  The pattern of the robe  was taken from the pattern of the paddy fields in the Magadha Kingdom. It was accepted by the Buddha and had become standardized since then.
         In Thailand, usually the darker robed monks tend to be forest monks. However, there are some monks living in the city  who also prefer wearing  darker brown robes responsibilities. The reason why the Buddha  accepted a  patched robe
was to distinguish monks' robes from lay people's clothing and to discourage thieves.

21. Why do monks go on alms round in the morning ?

         In order to appreciate this act, one needs to have a background understanding of Buddhist society, Buddhist society consists of four groups of people: monks, nuns,  laymen and laywomen. Monks and nuns have left household life and have gone forth to spend time fully in the study and practice of Buddhist teaching. Once they are well fortified with study and practice, they are expected to teach the lay people and provide them with spiritual comfort and guidance,
          Lay  people, on the other hand, are householders who are still engaged in worldly activities, It is expected that able Buddhists should support the  ordained ones by providing them with material requisites such as food, clothing etc. Buddhist societies are expected to work out this compromise division of responsibilities.
        When the monks go for alms round, from the monk's  point of view, they are to make available the opportunity  for the lay people to make offering to the ordained ones who are  a  "field of merit" worthy of offering. Also taking care of the material
needs of the ordained ones is a way to  reinsure the stability of Buddhism  and its institution on the one hand and also to uplift the  lay peoples' own practice on the other.

22. How is universal loving-kindness taught in Buddhism ?

        Loving-kindness (Metta) means extending  good-will or benevolence which is opposite  to ill. Buddhism teaches that  loving-kindness should  be diffused to all sentient beings, be they human or non-human. If the world follows the teaching of
diffusion of universal loving-kindness, conflicts may be solved not by confrontation but through peaceful means.

23. What is the Buddha's teaching about caste and colour ?

         There is no division of caste  and colour in Buddhism. In some country, the caste system is a very  important social structure. However, Buddhism  is free from caste, racial, and gender prejudices. Everyone is equal in spiritual potential.
          The Buddha explained that  a man's virtues  or vices depend on his  deeds, not his birth or wealth. One who comes to be ordained in Buddhism had equal rights such as the right to vote in meetings. The only difference of the order of
seniority which goes according to the  precedence in ordination.
         Buddhism  lays stress  on human equality by  pointing  to the importance  of knowledge and  good  conduct.  Lord Buddha taught that  one who is  endowed with knowledge  and  good  conduct is  excellent  among divine  and  human  beings.

24. What is the Buddhist attitude towards ecological problems ?

         It  is well known that more than  2,500 years ago  the Buddha had laid down rules and regulations  for His disciples to take care of the environment. Examples may be given as follows:

 1.  Not to throw the rinsings of the bowl mixed wit lumps of boiled  rice into the house compound,
 2.  Not to ease oneself or spit on grass and green.
 3.  Not to ease oneself or spit into water.
 4.  Not to cut any living plant.
 5.  Not to burn the forest.
 6.  Not to throw waste through the window.
 7.  Not to leave the toilet dirty without cleaning it or asking others to do so.

         Buddhists are encouraged to maintain the balance of nature and material development. Recycling of  used material was already mentioned in the Buddha's time. In Buddhist teaching, life is a apart of nature. Everything is interdependent. So
the concepts of natural  conservation and ecological awareness can be found in the teaching of Buddhism in the early period.
         If we now take a trip to rural villages, we could  visit the Buddhist monasteries and enjoy the feeling of serenity, fresh air, the beauty of flowers and trees, pets and tame  animals living happily together with human beings.

25. Is it true  that Buddhism is pessimistic ?

         The belief that Buddhism is pessimistic derives from the  misunderstanding of the First Noble  Truth which teaches that all sentient beings are subject to the suffering of birth, old age and death, etc. Only when one accepts the truth of this suffering will one begin to  investigate the cause of suffering, the cessation of its cause and practice the path leading to its cessation.

         In this sense we will see that Buddhism  is neither pessimistic nor optimistic; it is rather realistic. The Buddha may be compared to a medical doctor who diagnoses that human beings do have a severe disease, but he did not stop there. He pointed out that it can be overcome and further prescribed medicine to remedy it. Buddhism  seeks to overcome human suffering. Each individual needs to develop  morality, concentration, and wisdom  in order to solve the problems of life. Buddhists are taught to face the world in its reality and try to overcome its binding  forces and ultimately arrive  at spiritual freedom which is known as Nirvana or Nibbana.

26. What is the  purpose of Buddhists in worshipping and making  ?

         Buddhists cast Buddha images and statues  as reminders of  the Buddha.
        People of various countries  designed national flags to represent each of their own countries which are held as paying a  respect  to  the cloth or its colour but  to the highest national institution. In  the same manner, Buddha images  and  statues also
are objects of respect.  Our respect does not  aim only at wood or  metal which Buddha images  are made  of but  mainly at the  3 qualities  of the Buddha, namely:  wisdom, purity, and compassion.   A  Buddhist paying respect  to a Buddha  image is  a  way  of
reminding oneself that one  needs  to  improve  one's own  wisdom,  purity, and compassion  in  order to follow  the Buddha's  triple  quality  at  the same  time

27.  What is the real  meaning of "merit  making" ?

         Literally speaking, the word  'merit'  is translated  from Pali Punna which means  'cleaning'  or 'purification'.  To make  merit is  to cleanse greed, hatred  and delusion from  one's mind. The Buddha  taught  His  followers  to  make  merit  by
means  of charity  (Dana), morality (Sila)  and spiritual  development (Bhavana). When we know the real meaning of 'merit  making'  in Buddhism as described above we can decide  for  ourselves that there are many ways and means  to  make
merit.   At  any  moment in one's daily life, even while sitting comfortably on a chair, trying to cleanse  greed, hatred, delusion or other mental  defilements from  one's mind is  also reckoned  as  making  merit.

28. What is  the real meaning of  dana (giving) ?

  Giving is  an expression of generosity.  It is one of  the three means of merit making: Giving (Dana). Morality (Sila) and Development  of meditation (Bhavana), which is of two kinds: development of tranquility (Samatha-bhavana) and  that of
insight  (Vipassan-bhavana). There are  three kinds  of  giving, as  follows:

 1. Giving  to the needy,  e.g.  helping  the  poor. giving to  orphans, etc.
 2. Giving to equals, e.g.giving to our friends or neighbors to build up
friendship.
 3. Giving  to people to  whom we want to show our gratitude  or respect, e.g.
parents  or  monks.

  In the real sense,  a Buddhist should  give without  expectation  of  return. In other words, to give is  to lessen one's own selfishness. Hence giving is a way of decreasing craving  and  attachment.

29. What does it  mean when a Buddhist take refuge in Triple Gem ?

         A basic requirement for a person to become a Buddhist is to take refuge in the Triple Gem, namely the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha.
         There are levels of taking  refuge in the Buddha.   At one level the Buddha simply means the Budda image which may be taken  as a reminder or indicator  of of  the historical Buddha who provides inspiration  for all  Buddhists to follow
the path He has taken to enlightenment. The Buddha at a deeper level would mean Buddhahood, the highest spiritual quality which is available to all of us, if we follow the path the Buddha has shown.
         Dhamma also may be understood in different levels. It is often understood to mean the canonical body of the teachings of the Buddha. However, more profoundly, it  means the highest truth realized by the Buddha, who said that "One who sees Dhamma sees me, and one who sees me sees Dhamma". That is to say, when one realizes Dhamma one becomes enlightened.  The Sangha could again  be understood on different levels, generally it means ordained Buddhists: monks and nuns. In a deeper  sense, it means the enlightened persons, ordained or lay, who are spiritual guides for  human  beings.
         To take refuge in the Triple Gem is to accept the qualities embodied in the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha and to try to develop such qualities within  one's life.

30. What are the Buddha, Dhamma  and Sangha ?

         To be a Buddhist, one is expected primarily to take refuge on the Triple  Gem: the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.
         Buddha means the Enlightened One.
         Dhamma means Truth realized  and taught by the Buddha.
        Sangha means the Buddha's disciples  who behave and  practice righteously. The
ideal Sangha means those who attain the Four States of Noblehood.
        The meaning of the Triple  Gem or the  Buddha, Dhamma  and Sangha may  be
understood on three different levels as  follows:

(1)  First Level
       The Buddha  : the Enlightened  One represented  by  His  replica or
Buddha image.
         Dhamma  : Truth realized and taught  by the Buddha, represented
by Tripitaka or the  Buddhist scripture.
         Sangha  : the Buddha's noble disciples represented by Buddhist
bhikkhus (monks) and bhikkhunis  (nuns) in general, who have not yet attained the
Four  States of Noblehood.  The Sangha in this level is called Conventional  Sangha or Sammati Sangha.

(2) The Second Level
         The Buddha : The Enlightened One, who was formerly Prince Siddhattha of the Sakya clan. He renounced the worldly life in search of Truth and after His  Enlightenment established Buddhism.
         Dhamma : Truth realized and  taught by the Buddha, learned and put into practice by the Buddhists, both ordained and lay people.
         Sangha : the Buddha's noble disciples who have attained the Four States of Noblehood.

(3)  The Third Level
          The Buddha, Dhamma and  Sangha become one. The Buddha in this level is identical with Dhamma as it was stated by Him that "One who sees Dhamma sees me; one who sees me sees Dhmma"   This shows that Buddhahood is Dhamma   and Dhamma is Buddhahood .The ideal Sangha is the embodiment of the realized Dhamma.

31. What does going to the  monastery mean ?

         There are two kinds of monasteries: the external and the internal.
          The external monastery means  a  place where monks live as  a community under religious practice.
         The internal monastery means one's serene  mind. If  one tries to make his or her mind clean, calm and clear with morality,  concentration, and wisdom. one mayalso be considered as regularly going to the monastery.
        The Buddhists should aim at both external and internal  monasteries on accordance with the appropriate occasion.

32. Is it compulsory  for lay Buddhists to go to the monastery regularly ?

         There are no  strict rules or regulations for  lay Buddhists to go to the monastery regularly.   If spiritual progress is needed it is suggested that Buddhists should go to the internal monastery (see question and  answer No.31) even for a short moment. If any Buddhists tries  to diffuse  loving- kindness, compassion or other benevolent wishes to living beings or tries to clean, calm, and clear one's mind then he  or she is considered a good Buddhists and regarded as going to the monastery regularly.

33.  In Buddhism, can women attain enlightenment ?

         The Buddha was the  first religious leader to accept equal spiritual potentiality of men and women. The nature of enlightenment  transcends gender difference, which otherwise tends to limit women in their social contexts. For this reason
women were accepted into the Order (Sangha), and proved themselves worthy of the Buddha's recognition.   Some of them were individually praised by the Buddha, such as Bhikkhuni  Patacara who was foremost  in  Vinaya, and Bhikkhuni  Khema who was foremost  in wisdom.   Among laywomen. Visakha was  foremost  in offering dana and Samavati was  foremost in loving-kindness. In brief , women showed equal capability in practicing and propagating Buddhism in  early  Buddhist history.    Even now both men and women who practice the Buddhist teachings can undoubtedly attain enlightenment.

34. Is it true that in some countries women can be ordained ?

         The Buddha allowed women full ordination in His time. They were called Bhikkhuni (Bhikshuni  in Sanskrit). The Bhikkhuni lineage in India itself lasted more than a thousand years and disappeared together with the Bhikkhu Sangha when India was  invaded in B.E 17th.
          A group of Bhikkhunis from India led by Sanghamitta Theri, king Asoka's daughter, were invited by King Devanampiyatissa of Sri  Lanka to establish the Bhikkhuni lineage in B. E. 246.  This Bhikkhuni  Sangha in  Sri Lanka also lasted  for more than a thousand years before they were  uprooted by foreign invasion.
         However, a group of Sri Lanka Bhikkhunis were invited over to China in B.E. 976 where they  established  a  Bhikkhuni lineage there. This lineage has been kept alive until today.
         Afterward, they spread to many neighbouring countries, i.e. Japan, Korea, etc. Bhikkhuni strongholds can now be found in Taiwan and Korea. In B.E. 2531 (1988) Hsi lai Temple, a Chinese monastery in Los Angeles,U.S.A. provided  ordination
for 200 women from various traditions and countries to strengthen the  institution of fully ordained Buddhist women. In  the last two decades, Buddhist women have expressed clearly their desire to participate  at all levels in Buddhism. Considering that women form half of the world population, this trend should have  a  positive effect towards the development of Buddhism.

35. What is the Buddhist attitude towards prostitutes ?

         Since Buddhists are taught to extend their good wishes to human and other living beings, Buddhists should sympathize with prostitutes  and should not despise them, whether they may be compelled or voluntary. It is  an  appropriate deed to help release them from the status of being looked down upon.
         The procedure to solve this problem might be carried out through the educational system, economic management, social welfare, etc., as the case may be.

36. Is the Buddha's teaching dynamic ?

           The Buddha's words in THE  GRADUAL SAYINGS, THE BOOK OF TENS  clarify this as follows:
        "I  do not speak in praise of the stand still in righteousness, not to say about the decline therein. I do, monks, speak  in praise of the prosperity, not of the stand still, not of the decline in righteousness."
        From  this passage we can say that the Buddha's teaching is dynamic, which is the moral force that produces activity or change.

37. How does Buddhism praise gratitude ?

        One who is grateful and does something in return for kindness to those who have done a favour such as parents, teachers, and other benefactors, is praised by Buddhism as a  precious person who is difficult to find in  the world.
         This teaching helps much in bringing  harmony and concord to the  family
and society.

38. What is the concept of Anatta (non-self). how can our understanding of this concept direct us in  our daily life ?

        Anatta or non-self is an essential tenet in Buddhism. It can be realized through insight. The concept  of  Anatta or non-self may be classified into two  levels:
       At the lower level, Anatta  or non-self can be understood through rational thinking and we can  use such understanding in our moral development. If we remain mindful of non-self, it will help us to be  free from craving, conceit, and the idea of self. In this way we can rid ourselves of attachments and become unselfish.
       At the higher level, Anatta or non-self is the truth of all that is, of all that exists. The truth of all that is  not what  we perceive through our ordinary senses unless we have attained enlightenment. When one attains full enlightenment, one's
attachment and craving absolutely stop.
         The following principles are essential to the application of the  Anatta concept to our daily life:

 1. Do nothing  only  for one's own benefit or to satisfy only one's own needs and wants.
 2. Do everything to decrease one's self-importance.
 3. Do not hold one's own ideas above the views of others.

          In our interactions with others we should be openminded and perceive things according to the principle of cause and effect rather than according to our own desire. However, attachment to non-attachment is still a kind of attachment which is also to be avoided. Along the middle path, detachment needs to be accompanied by wisdom.

39. If there is no Atta  or the permanent soul, how could Kamma[Karma],good or bad actions, give its result  to the doer?

         Buddhism denies Atta or the permanent soul to be attached to, but admits the continuity of life from one to another, as long as one does not reach Nibbana or the utter extinction of the fire of defilements and the fire of suffering.
         Whenever human or animal beings continue to transmigrate in the cycle  of life from birth to death and from death to rebirth, kamma still continues to give its result to the doer.

40. How can one be divine being  in this life ?

         To be a divine being in this life is to be with one of the  following categories of appropriate qualifications:
         1. To be accompanied by  moral shame (Hiri) and moral fear (Ottapa)
for doing wrong or  immoral acts, or
          2. To be accompanied by
             Reasonable faith (Saddha)
             Morality (Sila)
             Learning (Suta )
             Sacrifice or generosity (Caga) and
             Wisdom(Panna)
         3. To  be endowed with these   Four Divine States of Mind:
              Loving-kindness(Metta), wishing  happiness to others as opposed to ill-will,
              Compassion (Karuna), wishing others to be free  from   suffering as opposed  to violence,
              Sympathetic Joy over others' achievement (Mudita), as opposed to jealousy,
              Equanimity (Upekkha), being impartial as  opposed to prejudice.

41. How many categories of divine beings are mentioned in Buddhism ?

      There are three as follows:
     1. A divine being by convention(Sammati deva) means a king and royal family.
     2. A divine being by birth (Upapatti deva) means a born deity.
     3. A divine being by absolute purity (Visuddhi deva) means a Buddha  and
Arahanta (the Worthy One)  whose mental defilements(greed, hatred and delusion) are utterly done away with. This kind  of  divine being is classified as the highest.
     There is the  Buddha's saying  that a person who is  endowed with "knowledge" and "conduct" is superior to divine and  human beings.
     The word "knowledge" here means the Insight which puts an end to all defilement and suffering, while "conduct" means high moral and spiritual standard.

42. What are the  advantages or benefits concerning which the Buddha taught the practical ways and means to achieve ?

         There are three levels of advantages including ways and means to achieve
them as told by the  Buddha:
     1. The Present  Benefit (Economic and social profit) or Ditthadhammikattha.
       (1) An effort in earning a livelihood
       (2) Protection of what one has acquired
       (3) Having good companions
       (4) Moderate way  of living
     2. The Future Benefit (The profit based on morality and virtues) or Samparayikattha
       (1)  Faith
       (2)  Morality
       (3)  Generosity
       (4)  Wisdom
     3. The Absolute Benefit (The highest profit through  freedom  from defilement and suffering) or Paramattha
       (1)  Morality
       (2)  Concentration
       (3)  Wisdom
    In detail these three practical methods  for the  Absolute  Benefit are  explained  as the Noble Eightfold  Path:
       [1] Right  View
       [2] Right  Motives
       [3] Right Speech
       [4] Right  Action
       [5] Right Means of Livelihood
       [6] Right Effort
       [7] Right Mindfulness
       [8] Right Concentration.

43. What is the  triple study or education taught by the Buddha ?

      According to  Buddhism the  triple study or education is:
     1. The study of morality or  good  conduct [Silasikkha]
     2. The study of mind or mental tranquility [Cittasikkha]
     3. The study of knowledge or spiritual insight [Pannasikkha]
    The practice of this triple study will lead one to deliverance.

44. What are the main doctrinal tenets of Buddhism ?

     The  main doctrinal tenets  of  Buddhism can be summarized as follows:
     (1) To refrain from evil
          To do good
          To purify the mind
     (2) Suffering
          The cause of suffering
          The cessation of suffering
          The  way leading to the cessation of  suffering
     (3) Morality, Concentration, and Wisdom leading to Deliverance
     (4) Nothing is appropriate to cling to
     (5) Nibbana or Extinction of all defilement and suffering.

45. Is  Nibban or  Nirvana attainable in this lifetime ?

          Certainly, there are many passages in  the  Tripitaka, the Buddhist Scripture, some of which mentioning Nibbana in this lifetime that  Dhamma which can be seen in this life is timeless, inviting one to come and see, appropriate to be brought into practice and realizable  for  themselves by  the  wise. Anyone  who can free oneself  from clinging to  egotism  is  sure  to  attain  Nibbana or  Nirvana here and now.
 
 
 Wat Yarnna Rangsee Buddhist Monastery
 21950 Shaw Road     Sterling, Virginia 20164-9318 USA.
 Tel. 703-406-8290, 703-406-2509