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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…


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“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). …


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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. …


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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…


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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…


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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…


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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…


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Both Jainism and Buddhism are offshoots of the Sramana Movement, which is a countercultural movement in India around the sixth century, BCE. It opposed the mainstream Vedic religion of the time. The Sramanas, commonly known as monks, are members of the movement who “left home” (i.e. renounced married and domestic life). Not only did they reject the worldly lifestyle, but they also rejected the authority of the Brahmins and practiced an ascetic lifestyle in pursuit of spiritual liberation. …


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We all suffer, although the wise suffer much less.

In Buddhist circles, there are many myths and misconceptions about enlightenment. One very common myth is that enlightened people(i.e. the Arahants) no longer suffer. There is a widespread belief that the enlightened ones live in perpetual bliss. But is there empirical evidence for that? To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever produced any life specimen of a suffering-less Arahant.

In the Pali Canon, there are multiple accounts of senior monks and Arahants getting sick and experiencing anxiety and severe pain. One such example is the case of Assaji(see…

Kenneth Leong

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

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