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Given how important the notion of enlightenment is to a Buddhist, it is amazing that the Buddhist world has no consensus on what the term “enlightenment” means. Certainly, most Buddhists believe that the historical Buddha was enlightened. But there is no agreement on the contents of his enlightenment. Just this fact alone indicates that the notion that Buddha was enlightened is a matter of religious belief quite similar to the belief that Jesus is God. In this article, I will explore the possible contents of Buddha’s enlightenment. I will also discuss how Buddha can be seen as “unenlightened” through a…


Is “unconditional love” possible? There is no consensus on this matter. But “unconditional love” sounds too good to be true. Do we have to be a saint in order to love others unconditionally? Do we have to be enlightened?

In this article, I want to debunk certain myths and misconceptions about love. First, to love is not the same as to like. It is possible to dislike someone’s behavior and still love him/her. Second, love is not simply an emotion because deep understanding is required.

Love is not possible without understanding, wisdom and insight. Thich Nhat Hanh said, “To understand…


What is the most direct method in Buddhist practice? How important is effort on the spiritual path?

What I find shocking is that although there are hundreds of methods for the practice of Buddhism, almost all of these methods fail to recognize one central truth Buddha taught — the truth of no-self (Anatta). Because there is no self, ego is also an illusion. Throughout the ages, various spiritual methods have been developed in an attempt to subdue or destroy the ego. Yet, the more effort we exert to combat the ego, the stronger our sense of ego will grow. Such…


What is the essence of science? How is science different from technology? And how is science different from the knowledge of facts? Many ancient civilizations such as ancient China have a repertoire of scientific facts such as the value of pi and the Pythagorean Theorem. But the knowledge of facts does not imply the existence of science as we know it today.

One of my most intellectually satisfying jobs is to teach statistics and research methods to students in the medical field. In this Internet Age, everyone can gain access to certain medical knowledge through Google and Wikipedia. But what…


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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. …

Kenneth Leong

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

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