#WW: “Join my religion. You will be saved.” Conversations on Religious Conversions

#WW: “Join my religion. You will be saved.” Conversations on Religious Conversions

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

Conversions and attempts at conversion are something Buddhists may keep quiet about. This week we explore this prickly topic and how we can manage proselytising when it happens. On the flip side, do Buddhist try to convert others? Let’s explore two resources today!

1. “Hi, would you like to convert to my religion?”: Agreeing to disagree

2. Do Buddhists convert people? : Don’t Ask Strangers If They’ve Found Buddha

“Hi, would you like to convert to my religion?”: Agreeing to disagree

Snapshot from the booklet

What’s going on here & why do we like it?

Yes, being subjected to proselytising is uncomfortable. As ‘nice’ Buddhists, we may feel uncomfortable to say anything so as to not upset others. 

This 2005 publication, yes we are internet archeologists, is a great resource on different settings from work, to deathbed, to home.  Sponsored by two of Singapore’s most famous temples, this resource also covers misconceptions about Buddhism and how Buddhism views other religions. Pretty neat.

We don’t need others’ approval to practise the Dhamma. But we do need to be convinced in our
hearts that what we do is right.

Wise Steps

Ultimately, people who try to proselytise to us have positive intentions to share their religion with us. Learning skilful means to reply is helpful in keeping harmony while being comfortable with your own religious beliefs

Check out the resource website here or the PDF itself!

Cover Page

Do Buddhists convert people? : Don’t Ask Strangers If They’ve Found Buddha

Have you found Buddha? Something you hardly/never hear
Cr: Unsplash

What’s going on here & why do we like it?

Barbara O’Brien, a Zen Buddhism Expert, shares why the Buddhist teachings and practitioners aren’t big on proselytising to other non-Buddhists. She draws from suttas and renowned teachers like Thich Nhat Hanh and Dalai Lama on why proselytising might be counterproductive. We like it because she tackles the topic from many angles in a succinct manner!

There is a snippet on Dalai Lama actually NOT having a wish to encourage people to convert to Buddhism.

“if it becomes important to you to prove to the world that your beliefs are the only correct beliefs, and it’s up to you to lead everyone else out of their erroneous ways, what does that say about you?”

Wise Steps

A common Buddhist saying “There are enough people trying to spread the Dhamma but not enough trying to realise the Dhamma.” Spread the Dhamma by practicing it, without having to use words, simply behave well so as to be an example to others through one’s manners and behavior.

Those of us who wonder how we can introduce our loved ones to Dhamma can start by cultivating our hearts towards greater happiness

Enjoy the article !

#WW: 👩‍👧Can you ever be happy again after your daughter died?

#WW: 👩‍👧Can you ever be happy again after your daughter died?

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

白发送黑发 (White-haired person sends off black-haired person) is a common taboo subject that we avoid in our culture. However, it happens. Elderly sometimes have to witness the death of their offspring. How do we deal with such situations? Today, in the spirit of ghost month, we explore the topic of death.

1. My daughter died of leukemia. Is it possible to ever be truly happy again?

2. Grief and loss. Here’s how attending a concert shows you the difference.

My daughter died of leukemia. Is it possible to ever be truly happy again?

Thich Nhat Hanh’s shares the answer with the lady who lost her daughter

What’s going on here & Why we like it

A lady asks the late venerable Thich Nhat Hanh how she can be happy in spite of her daughter’s death. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh compassionately shares on she can move on as a mother. Seeing other ways the departed person can manifest in your life is one way to develop healing and closure. We love how the mother listens intently to venerable and we feel that sorrow and hope for the mother.

“So the old buds who have died, they have not really died. They come again, as life is very strong. Life is stronger than death.”

Wise Steps

Healing from loss is an extremely difficult process that each of us will go through in our lives. By finding answers in nature, we develop the ability to see reminders of the departed one. A cloud never dies.

Check out the video here or below!

Grief and loss. Here’s how attending a concert shows you the difference.

Cr: A concert and death. What’s the relationship?

What’s going on here & why we like it

There is a difference between grief and loss. Ajahn Brahm, a famous monk from Australia, shares stories of death, loss, and how losses can remind us of the present moment. Grief is seeing only what has been taken away from you. The celebration of a life is recognizing all that we were blessed with, and feeling so very grateful. We like this talk because it beautifully captures the essence of life and how we can move on when love ones go in different directions as we journey through life.

“It wasn’t happy, it wasn’t sad. It was spiritual…It was like how I went for concerts, seeing bands…after the encores finished I had to go home. I knew I would never hear that music again…I never focused that the concert was ending. The only thing I ever knew was how wonderful it had been. How inspiring that music was and how fortunate I was to be there.”

Wise Steps

Death reminds us that losses will happen in our lives. Instead of going into loops of loss, we can reflect on the moments of inspiration we gained from that person’s journey in our lives. Reminding ourselves that life is impermanent will also spur us to forgive easily and not let petty arguments get in our way of love and friendship.

Enjoy the talk below! (We have cut it short to the juiciest part! But just listen to the whole thing if you can!)

#WW: 🚀 Buddhist lessons from the moon on earth day

#WW: 🚀 Buddhist lessons from the moon on earth day

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

Earth day is approaching! Climate change, going electric, buying sustainable products are all aspects passionately discussed on Earth day. Buddhists are commonly nudged towards being more environmentally friendly… so what does the late zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh, have to say about our attitudes to the earth?

1. Can you fix climate change? Answering it is harder than you think

2. The astronaut & the Dhamma lessons on earth

Can you fix climate change? Answering it is harder than you think

silhouette of trees during sunset

What’s going on here

Kurzgesagt, an awesome youtube channel and writer of Immune, explores how we can solve rapid climate change. He explores deeper into how individual responsibility is not enough to turn around the tide of climate change. Instead of feeling hopeless, Kurzgesagt explores what we can actually do.

Why we like it

“Go vegetarian! Buy metal straws!” We are often told to make personal lifestyle changes to save the planet. However, there are also more ways to create a deeper impact. This video shares our current impact and why it is not enough to solve climate change. The mixture of narrative and statistics makes this video super enjoyable.

“Can’t some technology save us so we can continue to drive our big cars and eat meat every day? “

Wise Steps

Education is our first step. The next goes towards advocacy at the level we can to help some of the greatest issues facing earth and humanity. Doing our part and helping others/ industries do a little better can go a long way!

Read our review of a Buddhist Environmentalism movie (psst. we enjoyed it!)

The astronaut & the Dhamma lessons on earth

astronaut in white suit in grayscale photography

What’s going on here

Late Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, shares on we can approach caring for the earth and our minds. When we are mindful, we are able to see the beauty of the earth and can start caring for it. Oh yes, he mentions legendary Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon.

Why we like it

His short and impactful sharing between the first moon landing and earth is unforgettable. We sometimes think of different miracles being something extraordinary. Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh challenges to see the miracle in the simple. Simply earth.

“Mindful walking means you touch the ground of the planet earth mindfully, you touch all the wonders of life”

Wise Steps

When is the last time you walked in nature? Taking yourself out to walk and be in nature (no airpods/ no phones) could reconnect you with the earth on earth day!

Enjoy the video below

#WW:📿 A pastor inspires a monk

#WW:📿 A pastor inspires a monk

Wholesome Wednesdays (WW): Bringing you curated positive content on Wednesdays to uplift your hump day.

Famous Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, who taught Dhamma to many in Europe/USA, has passed. We share one snippet story in his exemplary life. Here is one of his many quotes that he shared towards the end of his life:

“Please do not build a stupa for me. Please do not put my ashes in a vase, lock me inside and limit who I am. I know this will be difficult for some of you. If you must build a stupa though, please make sure that you put a sign on it that says, ‘I am not in here.’ In addition, you can also put another sign that says, ‘I am not out there either,’ and a third sign that says, ‘If I am anywhere, it is in your mindful breathing and in your peaceful steps.”‘

Life is fleeting, may we strive on with diligence!


2 stories for you today!

1.Two religious people meet from different spiritual paths…what happens next?

2.How we grow our empathy at work and at home?

A famous pastor & monk meet. Here’s what happened next.

Geneva, May 1967

What’s going on here

Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen monk, recollects his meeting with Martin Luther King (MLK) and how Thich Nhat Hanh was inspired by the meeting. They eventually signed a statement to recognise the need for peace in Vietnam.

Why we like it

Holy people from other paths can inspire us only if we are open to seeing their goodness. While both are from vastly different spiritual traditions, they connected deeply to the goodness of humanity. This short article summarises why MLK was inspiring and how these two men found similarities between them.

Our enemy is not outside of us. Our true enemy is the anger, hatred, and discrimination that is found in the hearts and minds of man. 

Wise Steps

We can always choose to see ‘us’ in ‘others’. Opening up our receptiveness to other beliefs can open us up to different sources of inspiration

Be inspired here

Side note: We also watched one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s films, read the review here!

Empathy is more than ‘active listening’. Here is what it is and is not.

woman in white long sleeve shirt kissing girl in white long sleeve shirt

What’s going on here

@gwenlynewrites , an Instagram writer, shares 3 lessons on empathy she learned from work-life. She shares how we can integrate empathy into all our conversations and become better people!

Why we like it

It is a short but powerful carousel post on what empathy is and isn’t. We particularly like how some of the preconceived ideas of empathy were debunked by the author such as active listening and ‘putting yourself in someone’s shoe’

“Empathy isn’t just active listening. Empathy is also about appreciation”

Wise Steps

Don’t just active listen and paraphrase what the speaker says. Appreciate them for their courage to share. Don’t assume their situation, be ready to listen and not advise.

Get deeper insights into empathy here!

Film Review: The Way Out – Mindfulness, Environmentalism & Burnout

Film Review: The Way Out – Mindfulness, Environmentalism & Burnout

Buddhist Film Reviews is a partnership series between HOL & THIS Buddhist Film Festival 2021 (25 Sept – 8 Oct’21). Themed “Open your mind”, THISBFF 2021 features 15 thought-provoking documentaries and feature films from 12 countries. 

TLDR: The journeys of two young men searching for answers converge at  Plum Village. It offers light in a world where we see escape as the only means to happiness.

It often feels that a day barely passes without the media talking about mental well-being or climate change as a subject that demands our attention. However, it is rare for a film to stir your attention and make you sit up to notice these issues.

Director Wouter Verhoeven’s heavy use of first-hand footage, interviews with protagonists and others brings into focus, the plight of Mother Nature and burnout in life.

Wouter masterfully uses mindful pauses in the film (shots of nature and the characters doing mundane activities) to create moments for reflection.

His main message is clear throughout the entire film: The way out of these crises starts when we look inwards.

The film, with momentary commentary by the Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, further enhances the impact of the film’s message.

The founder of Plum Village teaches, “The way out is in. The way out of climate change is inside each of us.” His invitation is to pause: to stop running and observe what is really going on.

The Way Out is Reflection

Wouter’s documentary focuses on two protagonists: Eddie, an environmental activist struggling to prevent fracking in Yorkshire, England; the other, a London banker facing an existential crisis. The banker, upon deeply examining his life, discovers its monotony and emptiness.

The film lays bare their attempts to remedy that despair in both their searches. Eddie searches for environmental protection while the banker searches for meaning. 

As I watched the film, I was moved by the protagonists’ raw, unfiltered examination of their lives. The courage to confront their insecurities and uncertainty struck a chord within me. In a world where social validation of positivity is lauded, this film was a breath of fresh air.

For example, the banker realises that so many peers are depressed, in spite of their material success. He reflects that everyone is living in a fishbowl: one can look outside of the bowl but is incapable of experiencing the ocean outside (real world).

“There is a place for peace to reign, to settle, and you should go there. You know how to do it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

“There is a place for peace to reign, to settle, and you should go there. You know how to do it.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

The Way Out is Harmony

What makes this film worth sitting up and paying attention to? For me, it was the Director’s elegant weaving of the two stories into one storyline. As I watched the film, I was trying hard to understand how the two protagonists’ stories would meet. Hint: Plum Village is the centre stage.

Within the film, harmony is achieved by the director’s thoughtful mix of tense scenes of confrontations with still nature shots and interviews with a Plum Village monastic.

The monk speaks to Eddie about his confrontations with the fracking industry and how Eddie feels about it.

“Don’t make a front, make a circle, there is no one to fight. We suffer because we don’t know better,” the Buddhist monk counsels Eddie as he faces burnout over his cause. 

Nuggets of wisdom like this sprinkled throughout the film makes it a compelling watch. The film is not alarmist but rather, awakening.

The Way Out is Change

The most beautiful part of the film is watching how these two protagonists transform their mental states, especially after they come into contact with Plum Village, a Zen monastery in France. Seeing their calm faces while meditating, and their serene smiles while doing temple chores brought a smile to my face.

Eddie’s calm focus while making bread for fellow practitioners and the banker’s gaze while being in the monastery garden were my favourite scenes of inner change for these two characters.

Seeing Eddie and the banker find the strength to feel comfortable in their own skin and at peace was a relief. It was akin to witnessing a fish finding its way out of the fishbowl into the greater ocean. Change can be painful but necessary.

Change enables to let go of superficial & lesser happiness for the greater & deeper happiness in life.

Who do I Recommend the Film for?

Friends who find themselves stuck in the grind of the 9-to-5 or those feeling burnout from championing causes close to their hearts. 

This film speaks directly to you and is unafraid to show you the costs of your ideals. It is a great introduction for those new to Buddhism as the film gives a taste of how Dhamma can be applied in real-world situations. How do we approach people who are in direct conflict with our values? How do we face an existential crisis? The film is a perfect illustration of Buddhism in action without requiring deep Buddhist knowledge.

You will be challenged to stop running and to take a pause. To find a mindful and peaceful way out.

A positive post-note to the film: In 2019, the UK government halted fracking in England. This effectively bans fracking in the UK, a watershed moment for activists and the environment. Scientific studies warned it was not possible to rule out unacceptable consequences for those living near fracking sites.

Liked what our author experienced? Book your tickets right now!

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