Unity in Diversity

Reported by: Samiksha Meshram
Some key activities of Buddhism are meditation and chanting. These two activities, which are part of the teachings of the Buddha, bring peace and fulfillment and help us lead happier lives. As a student, it is good to practice the Dhamma of mindfulness all the time. In general, we get to see different rituals and beliefs of different religions. In every religion, there is a kind of faith and to express that faith, they have their own ways of worship. Likewise, in Buddhism, we too have various ways of chanting and practicing the Dhamma as we have many different schools.
My experience in IBC on staying together and practicing the Dhamma with friends of different Buddhist traditions has been good. This is the first time that I witnessed the three traditions, Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana, chanting together with harmony in one place. It is a great opportunity for me to see the various Buddhist countries’ chanting and way of expressing homage to the Buddha. In India, I have never witnessed such different Buddhist traditions although I knew about meditation and chanting in Pāli. Buddhists are encouraged to practice meditation and Dhamma in daily life, and here in IBC, I have been given the opportunity to do so. The “Vesāk Day” celebration was an occasion which displayed the diversity in IBC. Recently, we celebrated Vesāk day in IBC and the interesting thing was that the chanting from each country was done in their own language. The beauty which I found in it was amazing! Besides the chanting of the three traditions, namely Pali chanting, Chinese chanting and Varjrayana chanting; there was chanting from various countries like Thailand, Sri Lanka, Laos, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Vietnam, Korea, India, etc. The Buddha had once said that his saṁgha is like an ocean; when all the rivers come from its respective direction and submerge into an ocean, this indicates the unity and integrity of the saṁgha (buddhasāsana). Similarly, despite the cultural diversification, the acceptance and solidarity is one of the good signs of the spread of the Dhamma.
The Buddha images and pictures are also important for meditation as they are visual teachings. Anyone looking at a Buddha image can appreciate the peaceful alertness, tranquility, and sometimes, smile. Chanting is also important in our cultivation if we really wish to walk the Buddhist path. To me, chanting is as good as listening to the Buddha giving a Dhamma talk. If we were to walk the path and do not know about chanting, how can we comprehend the true Dhamma? By reading the translation, either in English or Mandarin, we would be able to comprehend the meaning and the teaching of the Dhamma.
We must chant sincerely from our heart instead of just using the mouth to merely chant the words. Chanting is beneficial. After consistent practice, our mind would be able to calm down more easily. In our daily life, we can chant while doing certain tasks or work; and if we encounter problems or obstacles, we would seem to know the right thing to do that is in accordance with the precepts (sila).
To practice the Dhamma, adequate facilities are provided by IBC. Being a student in this modern world, I think we need Dhamma the most. The idea of reciprocity must be understood by every human being for peace to prevail in one’s mind as well as in society.