This is great. Wikipedia is great. Thanks Jean, via her new Wild Radish blog for the ref.
I've been studying Buddhism off and on, and trying to practice it off and on, for the past two-and-a-half years. It has brought me more peace, equanimity and joy than many, many (don't ask how many!) years of Roman Catholic church-going and endless prayers to saints, etc. have. Not that I diss the saints or even the Virgin Mary or Jesus. They are all on my altar or on the walls of my house (Mary Magdalen is one of my favorites, and if you've never read the gospel that is attributed to her--yes! a gospel attributed to a woman!--do pick it up). It's the church that is so often lacking in real spiritual depth, in accessibility and responsive to the people it is trying to serve, that always left me feeling dissatifisfied, a little lost, and very pessimistic about the possibility of happiness within this lifetime.
Buddhism has taught me that peace and happiness are within us, all the time, and that our minds and the conditions that we have created in our own lives and habits keep us from experiencing that innate happiness. I've discovered pure bliss just sitting in meditation for thirty minutes! How cool is that? Now, if only I could get to enlightenment....
So I'm glad that Jean found this info about Buddhism in the Philippines, a predominantly Roman Catholic and otherwise Christian nation. Gives me hope that when I finally do visit the homeland, I might be able to find some refuge in a sangha where everyone looks like me. Ah, now that would be nice.
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