In some sense Anagarika Dharmapala can be seen as the first modern Buddhist. For all its emphasis on change (anicca) Buddhists at the end of the 19th century were still locked in the past, content to do what had always … Read the rest

Today is Vesak, the most universally observed of all Buddhist celebrations or holidays. Traditionally it is believed that the Buddha was born, awakened and passed into final Nirvana on the same day, the full moon of the second month of … Read the rest

In the Mahavacchagotta Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya the Buddha mentioned that he had many thousands of disciples, a good number of whom had attained one or another of the stages leading to enlightenment. However, the Buddha’s first disciples were … Read the rest

We usually think of the Buddha’s Dhamma as being “deep, difficult to see, accessible to the wise, and “going against the stream” – and with good reason. The Buddha himself described his Dhamma like this. Further, when we examine it … Read the rest

Most of us take our modern toilets and the sewerage system attached to them for granted. And perhaps it is understandable; thinking often and deeply about human waste would not be a particular pleasant or edifying exercise. However, knowing something … Read the rest

In an article I wrote for The Island and which was published on 21st April 2017 I highlighted several well-known details about the life of the Buddha, which most Buddhists assume come from the Tipitaka, but which in fact cannot … Read the rest

One of the most revered relics in the ancient Buddhist world was the Buddha’s begging bowl. A rough outline of its long convoluted history is this – it was supposedly given to the people of Vesali by the Buddha when … Read the rest

The establishment of a previously alien religion in a new environment is bound to be one of fits and starts, successes and dead ends, and so it has been with Buddhism in the West. Until fairly recently, the beginnings of … Read the rest

It might be difficult to imagine it today, but 180 years ago nobody really knew anything authentic about King Asoka. To explain what I mean it might be best to say that there are two king Asokas; the Asoka of … Read the rest

Between the years 629 and 645 AD the famous Chinese monk Xuanzang travelled through Central Asia and India to visit Buddhist sacred places, learn from Indian teachers and to collect copies of Buddhist scriptures. On his return to China, his … Read the rest