Response from Graeme lyall to W.F.Tong’s Post

I checked the URL that you mentioned. It has no reference to I Kuang Tao. It mentions only Fo Guang Shan And Chung Tai Shan, both of which are respected Buddhist organisations in Taiwan. I have visited both temples and I have met Venerable Wei Jei, the Abbot of Chung Tai Shan on several occasions. It is extremely unlikely that either organisation would have any association with I Kuang Tao. However, thank you for your post. It is important to be vigilant.

Maitreya Project – a Disgrace For the Buddhist Community

This proposed construction of the largest Maitreya Statue in the world at Kushinagara in Uttar Pradesh Province in India is a disgraceful waste of money. This holy place, where the Buddha passed away, is one of the poorest areas of India. When I visited this wonderful site, I found children so poor that they will never see the inside of a hospital or school. The money being wasted on this project could go a long way to relieving their poverty and isn’t the relief of suffering and compassion basic to the Buddha’s teaching? Many poor farmers are being displaced to make way for this useless project. They are being given little compensation and are being moved from their traditional land. The State Government is approving this project as it sees it as a revenue raiser by attracting tourists. The wealth provided by tourists will largely go to wealthy hotel owners and very little to benefit the local inhabitants. The Maitreya Project organisers, the Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition, is a wealthy Tibetan group catering for well healed western followers. Their mantram seems to be “Oh money, pay me hum” rather than “Om Mani Padme Hum”. They claim that part of the project will incorporate a hospital and school but this is merely a bandaid to salve their conscience in wasting so much money. They claim that the Dalai Lama has approved it so they feel that they can go ahead and cause suffering to the displaced farmers with a clear conscience. The Dalai Lama is not a god and is subject to error like the rest of us. The FPMT are suffering from the ‘mine is bigger than yours’ syndrome. Let us follow the Buddha’s teachings rather than pandering to our egos.

School Discriminates against Sikh Student

 An Anglican school in Queensland has expelled a Sikh student for wearing a turban. The wearing of a turban is mandatory for devout Sikhs who do not cut their hair and use the turban to keep their hair in place. I work in New South Wales as a Buddhist chaplain in gaols and many Corrective Services officers are Sikhs who wear the regulation uniform but wear a turban in conformity with their religious obligations. This does not create a problem for the Department of Corrective Services.

However, I am appalled that the Sikh community is still suffering discrimination in many parts of Australia. Australia is NOT an Anglo-European society where all citizens must conform to Anglo-European norms. We are, proudly,  a multicultural, multiracial and multireligious society which makes Australia an interesting and great country. We should not impose any rules which constitute a breach of the  traditions of any religious or ethnic community as long as they do not break the laws of our country or cause offence to its citizens. How can the wearing of a turban cause offence to anyone irrespective of their own religious tradition? Are we  going to ban the wearing of robes by Buddhist monks? Are we going to ban  the wearing of white reversed collars by Christian clergy? As an Australian of Anglo ethnic background, I am proud to live in a country where many ethnic communities live in harmony and share their rich traditions. Do we want to revert to the dull Australia of the “White Australia” days? I say emphatically “NO”. Let us retain our multicultural harmonious society which is a model for the rest of the world. We must be vigilant  and oppose any attempt to impose conformity on any religious or ethnic  group of law abiding and peaceful Australians.

Debate on Australian Citizenship Test

Many people are asking the Rudd Government to review the Howard Government’s Australian Citizenship Test as to its fairness. The Ethnic Communities’ Council claims that the test is discriminatory as many candidates for citizenship have failed the test. Many countries, including the United Kingdom, subject potential citizens to such a test to ascertain their understanding of the values of their newly adopted country. Such a test is reasonable as long as it is truly relevant to the community standards of the country of adoption, however, many people born in Australia would have difficulty in answering some of the questions and find it difficult to reconcile their relevance to Australian life.

Relevant questions should relate to the attitudes of Australian life such as: respect for the rights of each individual as long as these rights do not infringe on the rights of others, respect for each individual to hold beliefs in and practise freely the religion of their choice, respecting and treating women and children as having equal rights as citizens of Australia, regarding such practices as female genital mutilation as totally unacceptable in our civilised society, the right to vote in elections for the candidate of their choice, to accept and obey the laws of Australia irrespective of whether one agrees with them or not, obligation to pay the prescribed taxes as determined by the various governments,  to regard each Australian as equal irrespective of their race, ethnic background, gender, sexual orientation, religion and political views.

This list is far more relevant than asking dates in Australia’s history or the names of sporting heroes. Such questions do not make towards a good citizen but questions on societal standards and human rights will ascertain that the new citizens will join our harmonious  Australian family and enhance it.

Beware of Unscrupulous Blog Sites

Several months ago, I subscribed to a blog site called “Velocityblog”. The URL of my website was “Ananda76.velocityblog.com”. I received, almost daily, requests to moderate comments to my posts. These comments had no relevance to the posts but were spam advertising various online drug pedlars which I always deleted. I tried to e-mail the offending posters requesting them to cease sending such comments as I had no intention of allowing them on my blog site. They were returned stating that they were undeliverable.

A couple of days ago the link to velocityblog returned a message stating “Website is down – try again later”. I did a Google search on ‘velocity.com’ and found that the offending drug spammers were a part of their network. Perhaps they have been requested to remove their site due to complaints. They seem to be totally unethical and hide their real intention to use blog sites to peddle their products.

Be careful when finding a host for your blog. WordPress has a reputation of being totally honest and ethical. By choosing them, your posts will be safe.

Who is Ananda76 – Real Name Graeme Lyall AM?

Graeme Lyall AMPhotograph of Graeme Lyall AM

After taking Refuge in the Triple Gem on the Holy Day of Vesak, May, 1953, Graeme Lyall served as Secretary of the Buddhist Society of New South Wales from 1953 until 1956. In 1982, he founded the Sydney University Buddhist Society, now known as UNIBODHI, and served as its President until 1986. In 1984, he served a short ordination as a novice monk at the Brickfields Temple, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. From 1986 until 1992, he was President of the Australian Buddhist Mission under its Spiritual Director, Venerable Mahinda. From 1992 until 1994, he was Founder Director of the Buddhist Library and Meditation Centre. From 1997 until the present he is a Committee Member of the World Conference of Religions for Peace (WCRP) New South Wales Chapter.Graeme Lyall was Chairman of the Buddhist Council of New South Wales from 1985 until 2006. Since 2001, he has been a Member of the Executive Council of the World Fellowship of Buddhists, President of the Amitabha Buddhist Association of New South Wales under the spiritual guidance of Venerable Master Chin Kung AM, since 2001 and is the current Chairman of the University Buddhist Education Foundation, which funds Buddhist Studies at the University of Sydney. He is also the Buddhist Chaplain at Parklea, Dilwynia and John Moroney Gaols, teaching inmates meditation and Buddhist philosophy. Having been practicing Buddhism since 1953, he is the oldest surviving Australian Buddhist from this era. He has represented Australia at many international Buddhist conferences and was awarded the Award for Volunteering by the Community Relations Commission for a Multicultural New South Wales in 2001, the Membership of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2002 and the Centenary Medal in 2003.

Among his publications are: Ethnic Buddhists in New South Wales in Atta, Abe(Wade) Ed. Religion and Ethnic Identity – An Australian Study: Vol.3, Richmond, Spectrum, 1990

Buddhism: Australia’s Reaction to a New Phenomenon in Without Prejudice, No.7, April 1994, Melbourne, Australian Institute of Jewish Affairs.

The King Asoka: The Idealistic Leader of Buddhists in WFB Review, Vol.XXXI, No.4, Oct.-Dec., 1994, Bangkok, World Fellowship of Buddhists.

Religion, Racism and Tolerance in Without Prejudice, No.8, April 1995, Melbourne, Australian Institute of Jewish Affairs.

The Rise of the Mahayana in WFB Review, Vol.XXXII, No.1, Jan.-March., 1995, Bangkok, World Fellowship of Buddhists.

Exploring Religion Beck, Margie, Tatz, Pam, Lewin, Ruth (Eds.) 1997, Melbourne, Oxford University Press (Graeme Lyall is the author of the main chapter on Buddhism and sections of several other chapters on cross-religion studies)Second Edition Published 2000

Some other articles appear on his website: http://www.buddhismaustralia.org/articles.htm