The teacher did indeed wear traditional robes, but I was surprised to note that not a single attendee wore anything even resembling a saffron colored robe. Jeans, sweatshirts and western dress was the norm. I learned from watching this that there is no proscribed dress code for attending a Buddhist teaching service, at least not with this teacher. The setting looked like a conference room that was equipped with a microphone so the teacher’s voice filled the room. The room was bright and airy without a single candle. A second misconception I had about Buddhist teaching was that it was more interactive. For some reason, I always pictured the teaching of The Buddha occurring as conversations under that tree. I was surprised to find that the flow of the teaching ceremony closely resembled that of other religions I have attended. In a Christian church, a rough outline of the worship service consists of an invocation, a hymn; the pastor’s message another hymn and then a benediction. The same was true for this teaching session. The session opened with chanting, the teacher spoke for about an hour and a half on the link between common sense, philosophy and realization, and then several sessions of meditation concluded the meeting. The purposes of the meditation and chanting seemed to serve the same purposes as prayer and congregational singing in a Christian service. I was surprised to see that the two religions operated in such similar ways. A final misconception that disappeared by watching this video was the idea that Buddhist teachings were somehow delivered in riddles. I expected the instruction to be more mystical, more open to interpretation and opaque. What I witnessed was clear instruction on the link between unhappiness and want, desire and ego. The teacher clearly taught how common sense without philosophical depth leads to a shallow existence without a realization of one’s self and the world around us. The teaching was clear, even though the teacher had limited English proficiency. After watching this service, I feel that I have a better grasp on how Buddhists apply the principles of their religion in the modern world. I understood the basic teaching of the Buddha, but I understood them in abstract. This teacher was very adept at using real life situation that occur in modern times to illustrate how to apply the teachings in the lesson. Following the themes of common sense, philosophy and realization, he spoke candidly about applying the teachings of The Buddha in our interpersonal relationships, our relationships with material goods and out perception of ourselves. I learned that Buddhist teachings are compatible with everyday life in a way that I did not understand before viewing this video. The teacher used humor often in his teaching, which was unexpected for me and seemed to make everything updated. I understood that The Buddha taught about how to be happy by overcoming our own desires for wealth, fame and power, but I don’t think I realized just how incredibly ingrained these desires are in each one of us, including myself. I gained a deeper understanding through this video of the mindset that is expected in Buddhism. The teacher taught that depending on common sense alone to get us through difficult times alone could lead us to unhappiness because we become self-satisfied and self-centered. We must also have a philosophy
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