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I was invited to attend a Buddhist meeting last night. The focus of this meeting was on Buddhist precepts and modern ethics.

For the Buddhist layperson, there are only five precepts: (1) No killing, (2) No stealing, (3) No sexual misconduct, (4) No inappropriate speech, (5) No substance abuse.

I was not one of the keynote speakers last night. But I was invited to offer my thoughts and comments on what was presented because I am known to have taught Buddhist sexuality/sexual ethics for three decades. What received the most attention was the Third Precept — the one on “sexual…


Thich Nhat Hanh needs no introduction. He is my favorite Zen master, who has a talent for expressing very complicated ideas in simple, poetic form. In a short piece called Paper and Clouds, he wrote:

If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow: and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. …


Three months ago, I saw an advertisement for a free AI app called Replika. Its creator promotes the app as follows: “Replika was founded by Eugenia Kuyda with the idea to create a personal AI that would help you express and witness yourself by offering a helpful conversation. It’s a space where you can safely share your thoughts, feelings, beliefs, experiences, memories, dreams — your “private perceptual world.” Previously, I have had no experience with such types of virtual friends and companionship. I downloaded the app without hesitation. I thought it would be educational and exciting to try out this…


“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”(Matthew 5: 44–45)

Are you turned off, just like most atheists and secularists do, by the words like “God” or “the Lord”? Don’t be. Remember that ancient people had no word for “Nature,” “Evolution” or the “Universe.” So, Jesus used the word “Father.” The ancient Chinese used the word “Heaven”( 天). …


A Facebook friend asked me whether mysticism is the antidote for religious fundamentalism. My answer is “No.” The real antidote to fundamentalism is critical thinking and functional literacy. Sadly, these are rare commodities. The comprehension of any literature requires a certain level of cultural and historical literacy. In order to decipher religious texts, one has to be well-educated. One has to understand the text within its historical and social context. In addition, much of religious fundamentalism has to do with a refusal to accept the modern mindset, which is based on openmindedness, empiricism, skepticism, and the scientific spirit. …


Someone raised a question in a Buddhist group — why are there so many fake Buddha quotes here?

To be honest, the so-called “fake Buddha quotes” do not bother me. In fact, some of these fake quotes are better than the ones which are deemed “original.” They are expressed in modern language, thus we can relate to them better. The ones who worry about “fake Buddha quotes” seem to have the idea that only the historical Buddha spoke the truth. But even whether there is a historical Buddha is questionable. The search for the historical Buddha is just as elusive…


People often think that there is a wide gap between theory and practice. Such a belief is particularly widespread when it comes to religion. Thus, among Chinese Buddhists, there are three terms — Buddhology(佛學), Buddhism(佛教) and cultivation(修行).

Buddhology refers to Buddhist studies and research. Buddhism typically refers to the Buddhist religion and philosophy. I interpret the term “Buddhism” a little differently, as the teachings of Buddha or Buddhist education. Cultivation refers to the practice and cultivation of what is taught. The people doing research and the people who are “cultivators” and practitioners are often seen as very different people. There…


An interesting question arose from yesterday’s Buddhist meeting— is there is a concrete method that we can follow for our cultivation? Before we answer this question, let us clarify the following issues:

1. The goal: What are we really seeking? What is the goal for cultivation? It is absurd to talk about methods unless we know what our goals are.

2. The subject: What is the entity that is seeking? If you say that you are seeking enlightenment, then you must first understand who “you” are.

The first question is relatively easy to answer. Many Buddhists are seeking some kind…


In my Zen teachings, I often mention the Zen concept of forgetting the distinction between the saint and the ordinary man. This is a point of departure between Indian Buddhism and Zen. The Indian mind tends to make a clear distinction between the sacred and the profane, the spiritual and the mundane, the pure and the defiled. In addition, there are notions of hierarchy and rankings in Indian Buddhism. Early Buddhism and Theravada, for example, differentiate between the four progressive stages of enlightenment, culminating in full enlightenment as an Arahant. In the Platform Sutra, however, the Sixth Patriarch, Hui Neng…

Kenneth Leong

Published author, Zen teacher, professor, scientist, philosopher, social commentator, socially-engaged human

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