Buddhists/Buddhism

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Question
Hello Mr. Choo, my name is Allison. For a school project I am required to interview someone of a different religion. I was hoping you could answer some questions for me. I had to come up with 15, which I know is a lot but I would really appreciate your time.

1) What are the beliefs/main principles in Buddhism?
2) Are there any certain rules of Buddhism that you have to follow? If so, specify.
3) What can you tell me about Buddha?
4) What does a day at the temple or class consist of?
5) How do you become a Buddhist?
6) Why did you become a Buddhist?
7) Are there different types of Buddhism? If so, what are they?
8) What are some major holidays for Buddhist?
9) What does a typical meditation session consist of?
10) Why do people get a Buddhist name after becoming a Buddhist?
11) How are these names decided?
12) What is the most important aspect to you of being a Buddhist?
13) Does your religion help you in making important life decisions?
14)How should one live the Buddhist way of life?
15)What is the role of a Monk?

Once again thank you for taking time out of your day to answer my questions (:

Answer
Hi Allison,

15 questions at one go, are lot to answer for a topic like Buddhism!   So I shall only give you brief answers.

1) What are the beliefs/main principles in Buddhism?
Avoid doing evil, do good, and purify your mind

2) Are there any certain rules of Buddhism that you have to follow? If so, specify.
There are no "rules" but advices of the Buddha. The Golden Rule: Do unto others what you wish done to you. Don't do to others that you don't wish done to you. Being Buddhists, we try to keep the five precepts.  They are: refrain from killing, from stealing, from sexual misconduct, from telling lies, and from taking intoxicating substances.

3) What can you tell me about Buddha?
The word "Buddha" is an Indian Pali word meaning "Fully enlightened being". He fully comprehended the nature of life and existence.  His teachings are all about this.

4) What does a day at the temple or class consist of?
The Buddha did not organize anything close to what people tend to believe.  He taught the true nature of existence, and how to live a harmless and peaceful life, free from craving, hatred and delusion. Now we have temples of different Buddhist traditions, each incorporating its traditional rites and rituals which the Buddha did not introduce. Too diverse to describe here.
But generally, chanting and learning the teachings of the Buddha.
 
5) How do you become a Buddhist?
I was born in a Buddhist family.  But I self learned Buddhism.

6) Why did you become a Buddhist?
Because Buddhism encourages its followers to use their common sense and human intelligence to live life in a harmless and peaceful manner.

7) Are there different types of Buddhism? If so, what are they?
The fundamental core beliefs are the same.  Only differences in rites and rituals, and some wider issues. Two main traditions or schools are Mahayana and Theravada with their sub-groups.

8) What are some major holidays for Buddhist?
Wesak Day, which falls on the full moon day in the month of May.

9) What does a typical meditation session consist of?
Buddhist meditation is too deep to describe in a few lines. The objective is to tame the mind, calm the mind, and be master of the mind, instead of being a slave of the mind succumbing to its whims and fancies.

10) Why do people get a Buddhist name after becoming a Buddhist?
Not a requirement.  Usually Tibetan Buddhism practise this. I don't have a "Buddhist" name.  A Buddhist name is just a label, doesn't mean a thing.  Monks will be given Buddhist names, and then again the names vary according to the nationalities/traditions.  Example, Chinese Buddhism will adopt Chinese version, Tibetans will have their own Buddhist names, and the Theravada tradition will have the Pali names.

11) How are these names decided?
Too diverse to answer, depending on the tradition.  Usually given by monks.

12) What is the most important aspect to you of being a Buddhist?
Reduce greed and hatred and purify the mind through Buddhist meditation.

13) Does your religion help you in making important life decisions?
The teachings of the Buddha are all about making life's important decisions.

14)How should one live the Buddhist way of life?
Live a harmless and peaceful life.  Do not harm others.

15)What is the role of a Monk?
Teach followers the message of the Buddha. Be a guiding example of a morally and spiritually elevated person.

Hope this helps.  If you wish deeper answers, you need to ask a question at a time.
Take care and I wish you success in our education.

Regards,
Justin Choo

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Justin Choo

Expertise

All your questions will be answered, and you may not have to agree with the answers. Such is the beauty of Buddhism. I follow the Theravada tradition, and have been studying Buddhism for more than 50 years. As I am not a Buddhist scholar, I answer in simple language, and I prefer answering general questions rather than textual.

Experience

I was brought up in the 50's as a Buddhist. For the past 50 years I have read numerous books on Buddhism and listened to numerous talks on Buddhism by well-respected and learned monks and lay teachers. I have conducted Buddhist classes for parents of Sunday School children in a Theravada Buddhist Temple. My teacher was the late Chief Reverend, The Ven. K Sri Dhammananda of The Brickfields Buddhist Mahavihara, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. You can view the relevant website in memory of my revered late teacher @ http://www.ksridhammananda.com and my blog posting at http://blackandwhite999.blogspot.com/2008/08/my-revered-teacher.html

Organizations
I am a life member of the Buddhist Missionary Society Malaysia.

Publications
YOU ARE INVITED TO VISIT MY BLOG @ http://lifeislikethat999.blogspot.com/ Published a book called "The Rainbow And The Treasure". It is a compilation of extracts from various sources to introduce Buddhism to beginners. (Currently out of print)

Education/Credentials
Bachelor of Commerce And Administration, Victoria University Of Wellington, NZ.(1974)

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