The Buddha, Shakyamuni, lived 2,500 years ago in India. He was a human being who possessed the same spiritual potential that is within us all. He realized enlightenment and spent His life helping others find what He had found. Enlightenment is the direct experience of one’s Buddha Nature, i.e. the realization of one’s true nature and the nature of all existence. This reveals not only the cause of human suffering but the means by which we can bring our own suffering to an end. It engenders profound compassion for all living things.
Since the time of the Buddha, many traditions of Buddhism have developed. The aim of each has been to express the essence of the Buddha’s teaching in a manner appropriate to the time and culture.
Monastic and Lay Training
In the Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition, one can follow the Way as a lay person or as a monk. We use the term ‘monk’ for women as well as men, since there is complete spiritual and functional equality of the genders within our Order.
We can all learn to meditate because we all have the Buddha Nature, even though it may be, as yet, unseen. All beings are Buddhas and should be respected as such, whatever manner of life they may be in.
Awakening the Heart of Gratitude and Compassion:
Compassion is aroused when we experience our unity with all life. When we realize that all things teach, we can accept them with gratitude. Meditation embraces both the good and the bad without judgment or indulgence. When we are touched by the infinite compassion that is the foundation of all existence, the desire to help all beings arises naturally. By understanding and embracing both the egocentric side of ourselves and the purity which lies beneath, we come to realize that the Precepts are our life blood, and that to go against them causes suffering for ourselves and others.
Buddhism is noted for its respect for other faiths. Our hope is to make the Buddha’s teaching available to all, but never to try and impose it upon others. Buddhism does not claim an exclusive Truth; it is a way that has led many to the deepest fulfillment.
The Order of Buddhist Contemplatives is committed to providing a safe and ethical environment in which all may practice. We expect that we, and those who come through our doors, will treat others preceptually and with respect. We value the harmony of the sangha, and wish to address any concerns that may arise about possible unethical or inappropriate behavior. If you should have such a concern, you should feel free to discuss it with the priest of your or any OBC temple, any senior member of the Order or lay minister. Temple contact information can be found on the OBC website or in the linked document.