Newsletter – August 2020

How to React to a Disagreeable Speech
Some profound statements of the Buddha remain unnoticed, and the following is just one of them:

“Some are extremely gentle, extremely meek, and extremely peaceful so long as a disagreeable speech does not touch upon them. However, only after a disagreeable speech reaches them, one can understand whether they are actually kind, gentle, and peaceful or not.”

This utterance indicates that one’s personality development can be tested by one’s reaction to opposing views and arguments. Any individual can be gentle when his or her views are approved by others, but the well-developed person remains pleasant even when his or her views are opposed by others.

Elaborating on what he meant by gentleness, the Buddha advised further:

“You must train yourself in the proper way [before responding to what people say]. They may talk to you at the right time or wrong time; they may tell you the truth or a lie; the way they talk may be gentle or harsh; their speech may be beneficial or useless to you; [finally,] they may speak with a wholesome intention or with an unwholesome motive.

However it is, you must train like this: “Our minds will remain unaffected, and we shall utter no unpleasant words; we shall remain compassionate for their welfare with a mind of loving-kindness, without inner dislike’”

What is most fascinating in these instructions is the Buddha’s view that the development of communication skills is not just an external act; rather, compassion toward the listener should predominate throughout the process of communication. Even though one speaks at the wrong time, tells lies, uses harsh words, offers useless and harmful instructions, and reacts angrily, still the skillful listener should keep the compassion towards the speaker intact.

Majjhima Nikaya: 21; Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha, 217-223

Vihara news
Next YouTube Live-Stream Service on Sunday, Aug. 2nd

Maha Sangha will  conduct the next live-stream morning service on Sunday, August 2nd, at 9:00 am. We are requesting parents to mark the service on calendar and participate with their children.

Vas Aradhna on Monday, August 3rd

Vassa Aradhana (invitation to the rain retreat) will take place on Nikini full-moon day (August 3rd) at 8:00 pm.

Considering the wellbeing of the monks and the community, only a few Vihara members will physically participate in the event, and all of you can participate in it through Zoom Live. We will send the link Sunday.

Vassa observance Begins on August 4th

Vassa observance by Ven. Rahula and Sirirathana Theros will take place the following day, August 4th, and will end on Vap full moon day, Oct. 30th. The day of the Kathina ceremony will be announced later.

Vassana Programs

A special Dhamma speech will be given every Saturday, and a Bodhi Puja will be held every Sunday. Notably, several distinguishing members of Maha Sangaha in Sri Lanka and in the USA will give several of the Dhamma talks through Zoom Live.

Bhante Sathi Will Give the First Dhamma Deshana

The first of the Dhamma Deshanas will be given on Saturday, August 8th, by Ven.  Peradeniye Sathindriya Thero (Bhante Sathi), abbot of the Triple Gem of the North, Minnesota. Venerable Thero is well known to the Houston Vihara community.

Anuruddha and Irani Kulatunga family will sponsor this Dhamma program. The Vihara appreciates their sponsorship.

Sponsorship of Programs

Our faithful devotees may take sponsorship of each Dhamma Deshana and Bodhi Puja and receive enormous blessings, which may be shared with their departed loved ones, wishing them the ultimate bliss of Nibbana.

In the past years, sponsoring a program means a lot of activities, including preparing dinner for the participants. However, the current situation has simplified sponsorship this year.

In sponsoring a Saturday Dhamma Deshana, it is the responsibility of the sponsor family to:

1. Invite their friends and family members to participate in the live Zoom program.

2. Offer a Parikkara (donation) to the the Bhikkhu who gives the speech

In sponsoring a Sunday Bodhi Puja:

1. You may physically participate in the Puja with flowers and the like.
2. You offer a donation to the Bhikkhu who conducts the Puja

Several families have already volunteered to sponsor some programs. On the day of Vassana invitation, the Vihara will send the list of the Dhamma Deshanas and programs for your sponsorship.

Announcement 2020/08/21

Live-stream Dhamma Talk in English by Most Venerable  Udairiyagama Dhammajiva Maha Thero:
Saturday, August 22nd, at 8:00 pm
The 3rd of the Dhamma Deshana during the Vassana season will be given by Ven. Udaeriyagama Dhammajiva Thero in English. It begins at 8:00 pm. Ven. Maha Thero is a renowned meditation teacher.

Dhamma Deshana is sponsored by Anuruddha and Irani Kulatunga  family.

Please use the following zoom link to join.

Live-stream Bodhi Puja during Vassana Season by Ven. Sirirathana Thero:
Sunday, August 23rd at 8:00 pm
Venerable Karamidule Sirirathana Thero will hold the 3d of the live-stream Bodhi Puja series on Sunday at 8:00 pm. Pradeep and pramitha Matarage family will sponsor the program.

Please joint the Puja through this link:

The Vihara appreciates volunteering to sponsor each program by the two families. 

Note: Please enable original sound for the best quality sound especially when there is chanting. Detailed instructions on how to change this settings is found below. It is necessary to create a free Zoom account. for PC Laptops For Mobile Devices

Wishing You the Blessings of the Triple Gem!

Newsletter – June 2020

There could be more than 30 Alien Civilizations in our Galaxy

Note: This research article draws our attention for two reasons:

1. The ancient Buddhist scriptures state that there are 31 planes of existence, You can learn about that teaching here:

2. Pali Buddhist texts state that life on earth, as well as the life of earth itself, is numbered. (Sattasūriya sutta in the Aṅguttara Nikāya AN 7.66) The following research article also agree that our civilization could be short lived.


By Adam Smith / The Independent UK

There could be more than 30 alien civilizations in our galaxy, researchers have found in a major study.

A new paper looked to understand how many planets in our neighborhood could be home to alien life, by assuming that life develops on other planets in a similar way to how it develops on Earth, and matching that to planets that could be home to similar evolution.

It found that there could be dozens of active civilizations waiting to be found in our Milky Way. But it could also shed light on our own fate, and suggest our prospects for long-term survival are lower than we may have thought.

“There should be at least a few dozen active civilizations in our Galaxy under the assumption that it takes 5 billion years for intelligent life to form on other planets, as on Earth,” Christopher Conselice of the University of Nottingham said in a statement.
“The idea is looking at evolution, but on a cosmic scale. We call this calculation the Astrobiological Copernican Limit.”

One is the ‘weak’ limit, which suggests that intelligent life forms on a planet any time after 5 billion years. The other is the ‘Strong’ limit where life formed between 4.5 billion and 5 billion years years ago.

The new research used the latter, and also assumed that these new species would need to develop in metal-rich environments. This is because human beings developed near a metal-rich environment, due to the metal present in the Sun.

Previous research from 2012 suggests a suitable “minimum stellar metallicity” required for the formation of planets that would be similar to Earth.

Researchers were then able to use those assumptions about where life may form to understand how many planets in our Milky Way would be able to satisfy those conditions.
Detecting any civilisations in our galaxy is strongly dependent on how well we can pick up signals being sent into space.

These include radio transmissions from satellites and television. If these technological civilizations last as long as ours, which has been sending out signals for the last century or so, then it is estimated there could be 36 ongoing intelligent civilizations.

While that might be the case, interacting with them would be difficult. The average distance to any possible civilization would be 17,000 light years, which makes communication very challenging.

The other scenario is that we are the only intelligent life in the galaxy, and that civilisations die out before we can detect them.

“Our new research suggests that searches for extraterrestrial intelligent civilizations not only reveals the existence of how life forms, but also gives us clues for how long our own civilization will last,” Professor Conselice said.

“If we find that intelligent life is common then this would reveal that our civilization could exist for much longer than a few hundred years, alternatively if we find that there are no active civilizations in our Galaxy it is a bad sign for our own long-term existence. By searching for extraterrestrial intelligent life — even if we find nothing — we are discovering our own future and fate.”

The new study was led by the University of Nottingham and published today in The Astrophysical Journal.

This is not the only recent news to imply the development of intelligent life in the galaxy. Scientists have found a potential habitable planet called ‘Proxima b’ around the star Proxima Centauri, approximately 4.2 light years from the Sun.

It receives comparable amounts of energy to that the Earth gets from the Sun. If there is liquid form on the planet, it could harbor life, but researchers said there is still much to be done before that can be confirmed, such as checking for the atmosphere and chemicals that could support life.

Vihara News

Monthly Sila Program and Dhamma Talk on Saturday, July 4th

Saturday, July 4, is the Esala full-moon day. The Vihara will offer two programs on July 4th for you to participate in from home. They both are through YouTube live streaming. You can join the programs here:

Once you are on the page, join the live programs by clicking.

7:00 am: Administering the Eight Precepts and morning Puja

7:00 pm: Dhamma Deshana in Sinhala and Terminating Sila observance

(Since Sila observants find numerous online sources that offer Buddhist programs for them to participate in from home, the Vihara will offer only these two program tomorrow.)

Vassana Retreat Begins on Nikini Full Moon Day

All the Nikayas in Sri Lanka have come to a consensus that the Vassa season begins immediately after the full moon day in August. Accordingly, resident monks at the Vihara will observe the rainy retreat on August 4, 2020, the day following the Nikini full moon day.

You will receive a separate message with details about the Vas Aradhana, programs during the Vassana season, and the Kathina ceremony.

Next Live-Stream Service on Sunday, July 5th

Maha Sangha will conduct the next live-stream morning service on Sunday, July 5th, at 9:00 am. We are requesting parents to mark the service on calendar and participate with their children.

Newsletter – May 2020

Meditation May Have Shaved 8 Years of Aging off Buddhist Monk’s Brain

By Laura Geggel

While there’s no fountain of youth, a Tibetian Buddhist monk may have tapped into the next best thing, according to an analysis showing that his 41-year-old brain actually resembles that of a 33-year-old.

The monk, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (YMR), a renowned meditation practitioner and teacher, began meditating at age 9. The “extraordinary number of hours” that YMR spent meditating may explain why, in part, his brain looks eight years younger than his calendar age, researchers of a new longitudinal study said. (A longitudinal study looks at the same metric over time.)

The findings add to a growing pile of evidence “that meditative practice may be associated with slowed biological aging,” the researchers wrote in the case study, published online Feb. 26 in the journal Neurocase.

In the study, done at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researchers used structural MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to scan the brain of YMR four times over the course of 14 years, starting when he was 27 years old.

During this time, 105 adults from the Madison, Wisconsin, area who were about the same age as YMR also had their brains scanned. These people became the control group, so researchers would know what normal brain aging looked like.

Scientists took MRI brain scans of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche (YMR), a Tibetan Buddhist monk, and used a machine learning network known as BrainAGE to analyze his gray matter. YMR’s brain-aging rate appeared slower than that of the control population used in the study. At 41 years of age, his brain resembled that of a 33-year-old from the controls.(Image credit: Adluru, N. et al. Neurocase. 2020)

After the MRI scans were collected, the researchers used a machine learning tool called the Brain Age Gap Estimation (BrainAGE) framework, which estimates the age of a person’s brain by looking at its gray matter.

Taking an inventory of gray matter structure is a good way to tell brain age, said the study’s senior researcher, Richard Davidson, professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder and director of the Center for Healthy Minds. “Gray matter is the neural machinery of the brain,” Davidson told Live Science. “When the brain atrophies, there is a decline in gray matter.”

BrainAGE’s analysis revealed that YMR’s brain had delayed aging in comparison with the controls, who fell onto the “typical aging band” when graphed, the researchers found.

“The big finding is that the brain of this Tibetan monk, who has spent more than 60,000 hours of his life in formal meditation, ages more slowly than the brains of controls,” Davidson said.

BrainAGE also showed that specific regions of YMR’s brain didn’t differ from controls, “suggesting that the brain-aging differences may arise from coordinated changes spread throughout the gray matter,” the researchers wrote in the study.

Davidson noted, however, that it’s unknown whether having a young brain means that a person will live longer.

Even so, the study suggests that meditation can be healthy for those who practice it, said Dr. Kiran Rajneesh, a neurologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, who was not involved with the research.

“It kind of makes sense biologically, because stress is a thing that causes aging,” Rajneesh told Live Science, “Not just psychological stress, which is definitely a part of it, but also stress happening at the cellular level.”

Rajneesh added “it’s definitely something each of us could take home. Perhaps doing those few minutes of meditation and slowing down our lives, even for some amount of time, is likely to help.”

Read the entire article here:

Vihara News

Vihara Is Now Open with Restrictions

As informed in a previous message, the Vihara is now open to the community with restrictions. You are welcome to visit the Vihara and participate in the religious activities by following these restrictions, which are meant for the resident monks’ and your wellbeing.

1. Maha Sangha will perform any special service or Puja and accept a special Dana at the Vihara. We encourage only one family or a group of friends living in the same place to participate in those events. If you invite anybody else, the number of the participants should be limited to ten persons, including children. All special Pujas will be held in the main shrine hall and the Dana at the dining hall. Please call the Vihara (713 944 1334) or Ven. Rahula Thero (713 501 9084) to arrange your visit.

2. We are requesting the Dayaka families who offer daily Dana to resume bringing Dana to the Vihara. Please call the Vihara to inform the time of your visit. Only Ven. Sirirathana and a layperson, (as well as Sati and Good Girl), will be at the Vihara during week days.

Depending on what you prefer:

You may hand over the Dana to the monks at the door of the Avasa.

You may visit the inside of the Avasa and leave the Dana inside the kitchen.

You may participate in the Buddha Puja with monks.

If you wish to stay at the Vihara through to the end of the Dana, please keep distance. Monks will serve themselves and partake the Dana.

3. Please visit the Vihara with your masks on for any event. In a service, from the time you visit the Vihara until the Puja is placed on the altar, please wear the masks. When the Gathas are recited while sitting, you may not have to wear the masks. Whenever you do not wear the masks, please keep distance from monks. When monks give blessing strings, you will have to wear the masks.

4. No other classes or events that require your physical participation will be held at the Vihara. If any of you need to have a private visit to the Vihara, please call any of the numbers given above to arrange your visit.

Saturday’s and Sunday’s Live-Stream Chanting

Saturday’s and Sunday’s live-stream chanting will continue from 7: 00 to 7:40 pm during summer. You can make it a weekend schedule to participate in the chanting.

Next Live-Stream Service on Sunday, June 7th

Now that parents and children will mostly stay home during summer, Maha Sangha will conduct a live-stream morning service every other Sunday at 9:00 am. Accordingly, the next service will be held on Sunday, June 7th.

We are requesting parents to mark the service on calendar and participate with their children.

Newsletter – April 2020

Who Am I?

Now that the Vesak 2563 is approaching, it is timely to draw the reader’s attention to who the Buddha is as explained by the Buddha himself.The mission launched by the Buddha during the 6th century B.C. after attaining the Buddhahood is the most rational, compassionate, and spiritual guidance the human being has ever witnessed. Over nearly 26 centuries, the Buddha’s teachings have influenced all major religions, philosophy, rational thought, and literature all over the world.

The Buddha expounded such an incomparable teaching by going beyond the human level. The following encounter shows that:

During one of his long journeys, the Buddha was walking along a connecting road between two cities. After travelling a certain distance on that road, he then decided to take a short rest. Having spotted a secluded and peaceful place nearby the main road, the Buddha thought it was an ideal place for him to relax. He entered that place, sat in lotus posture under a tree, and began his relaxation.

While travelling on the same road, a prominent Brahmin in that area, by the name of Dona, saw the Buddha sitting in a meditation posture under a tree. Fascinated by the Buddha’s magnificent appearance, Dona began to wonder whether the Buddha was actually a human being or a deity. As he continued watching the Buddha, all the different kinds of higher beings that he had read about in his holy texts came to Dona’s mind.

After a short while, Dona walked towards the Buddha, intending to talk to him. Dona had heard about three kinds of deities, and he wanted to know if the person sitting just in front him were one of them.

“Are you a Deva?” Dona asked the Buddha respectfully, referring to one of the deities he had heard about, and the Buddha replied, “No, I am not a Deva.” Then, Dona asked whether the Buddha was any of the other two kinds of deities, but again the Buddha said, “No.”

Finally, Dona asked, “Then, are you a human being?” and, to his utter surprise, the Buddha replied, “No, Brahmin, I am not a human being, either.”
Surprised, as well as confused, Dona said, “You are saying that you are neither a deity nor a human being. Then, who are you?”

The Buddha gave the following answer:

“Brahmin, A lotus flower or a lily flower is born in [muddy] water and grows in water, but it soon rises above water and lives untouched by water. In the same way, I was born in the human world and grew in the human world, but I have arisen above the human world [of greed, ill-will, and illusion], and I live untouched by the human world.”

Anguttara Nikaya 11:

Newsletter – December 2019

Teaching Meditation to Kids in Chicago Swiftly Reduced Crime and Dropout Rates

Source: motto “think before you act” may be more powerful than people think.

In a working paper published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research this month, researchers found that a simple, cost-effective after-school program for Chicago high-schoolers focused on slowing down their decision-making process significantly lowered crime and dropout rates for participants and boosted school attendance.

The study analyzed the effects of a Chicago-based program by the organization Youth Guidance called Becoming a Man (BAM). The researchers invited 1,473 Chicago teens, chosen at random from 18 public schools, to participate in BAM programming and compared them to a control group of similar students who were not invited.

The goal of the program, explains coauthor Harold Pollack, a professor at the University of Chicago and the director of its Crime Lab, was to encourage less violent behavior by slowing their automatic response, rather than telling the students to be less violent. ”If you tell the kids never fight, you’re basically saying don’t listen to anything else we’re going to say,” he tells Quartz.

In psychology, humans are thought to develop automatic responses to common situations to save time. For example, American teenagers from privileged backgrounds learn to automatically comply with authority figures, handing over their smartphone to a mugger, or quieting down when a teacher says so.

Low-income teenagers sometimes learn that submitting to authorities on the street isn’t necessarily the smartest or safest choice. For instance, handing over your wallet, instead of shielding you from further harm, may only invite more aggression.
Much of BAM’s training focuses on what is termed “positive anger expression.”

Students learn simple breathing and meditation exercises—slowly exhale, count to four, control your thoughts—to help manage their emotions while making difficult decisions. They also run through exercises that teach the power of positive reactions. For instance, in an exercise where a participant is tasked with getting a ball from a peer in less than 30 seconds, the students learn that grabbing or stealing the ball is considerably less effective than politely asking to hand it over.

The study found that, based on monitoring the students for a year after the program, those assigned to participate in the BAM program were 44% less likely to commit violent crimes, and performed significantly better in an academic performance index that combines academic measurements including GPA, attendance rates, and dropout rates.

Pollack says the research shows there are easier ways to help reduce crime rates among low-income teens. Many people “believe that there are so many deeply rooted, chronic problems that we have to address before we can reduce the rate of violence and crime among young people,” Pollack says. But programs like these, he adds, can be “cost-effective, and a feasible part of a solution.”

Vihara News
Morning Puja and Evening Blessing Service on January 1st

To bless the Vihara community for the New Year, the Vihara has organized two services: a Kiri Ahara Puja at 7:00 am and the traditional blessing service at 6:00 pm.  You are invited to participate.The Blessing Service from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. will include a special Puja, Maha Paritta chanting, and a brief Anusasana (Dhamma advice) in English.

As done in the past years, please bring flowers for the Puja and Kiribath and/or other food items for you to share after the service.

January Sila Program Conducted by Ven. Sathi Thero

Venerable Sathindriya Thero will conduct the first Sila program in 2020 on Saturday, January 11th.Sila program begins at 6:00 am and ends at 6:00 pm.

Most of you are familiar with Ven. (Bhante) Sathi who has conducted several meditation sessions at the Vihara. He is a leading meditation teacher in the United States. The program will be conducted both in English and Sinhala.

Dhamma Discussion Every Saturday

The Vihara will offer a Dhamma discussion session every Saturday (except Sila observance days) from 5:00 to 6:00 pm, beginning from Dec. 28th. Visiting monk, Venerable Kirama Rathanasiri Thero, will hold the first  session this Saturday (Dec. 28). It is given in the Sinhala language.This series of discussion is based on Suttas. Venerable Thero will discuss Asivisopama Sutta in his initial discussion.

Monthly Dhamma Deshana on Jan. 25th
In 2020, monthly Sila program and the monthly Dhamma Deshana will be given on two different days. The January Dhamma Deshana will be delivered on Saturday 25th. You will receive details of this program in the 2nd week of January.

Newsletter – November 2019

Seven Buddhist Beliefs that Make You Happy, according to Science
Source: always find it fascinating when new scientific discoveries prove things that religious and spiritual sources have been saying since time immemorial. Recently, science has found some interesting principles of happiness. And it turns out that they are pretty similar to Buddhist beliefs.

I recently read an article by Bodhipaksa the founder of Wildmind, who looked at scientific research published by Yes Magazine. He found some amazing correlations that suggest that living by a few Buddhist beliefs can make you happy.

Here are the principle Buddhist beliefs that can make you happier and more contented.

1. Be mindful

One of the core beliefs of Buddhism is the idea of right mindfulness. When we’re mindful, we stay in the present moment and really pay attention to what we are doing rather than dwelling on past events or worrying about future ones. This is the real heart of Buddhism. Wisdom will emerge if your mind is pure and calm.
Science also suggests that taking the time to savor the moment can increase happiness. A study showed that when people tried to be present in the moment they felt positive benefits. Psychologist Sonja Lyubomirsky found that the participants “showed significant increases in happiness and reductions in depression.”

2. Avoid comparisons

The Buddhist principle of equality says that all living entities are equal. In addition, the Buddhist belief that we are all connected makes a nonsense of comparing ourselves to others. There is no superiority or inferiority when we are all parts of a unified whole.
Studies have shown that comparing ourselves with others can damage self-esteem. Lyubomirsky says we should focus on our own personal achievements rather than comparing ourselves with others.

3. Don’t strive for money

Buddhism says that relying on materialism to bring us happiness is a false refuge. While money is important in that it helps us meet our physical needs, we will not find long term satisfaction in striving for money and material goods.
Scientific studies have suggested the same. People who put money high on their priority list are more at risk for depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem, according to researchers Tim Kasser and Richard Ryan. Money-seekers also score lower on tests of vitality and self-actualization.

4. Work towards meaningful goals

Bodhipaksa says that ‘The whole point of being a Buddhist is in order to attain spiritual awakening — which means to maximize our compassion and mindfulness. What could be more meaningful than that?’ The Buddhist principle of right effort tells us to find a balance between the exertion of following the spiritual path and a moderate life.
Again, science agrees. Though it is not necessary for meaningful goals to be spiritual or religious. People who strive for something significant, whether it’s learning a new craft or raising moral children, are far happier than those who don’t have strong dreams or aspirations,” say Ed Diener and Robert Biswas-Diener.

5. Develop close relationships

To the Buddha, spiritual friendship was “the whole of the spiritual life. Generosity, kind words, beneficial help, and consistency in the face of events” are the things that hold people together. Buddhism also emphasizes the idea of non-attachment, which allows us to love our friends and family unconditionally without any need or desire to control or change them.
Research has found that people who have good relationships with family and friends are happier. However, it is not a number of friendships we have that matters. “We don’t just need relationships, we need close ones,” says Yes Magazine.

6. Practice gratitude

The Buddha said that gratitude, among other qualities, was the “highest protection,” meaning that it inoculates us against unhappiness. It is by being grateful and appreciative that we begin to focus on the blessings in our lives, which makes us more positive and happy.
Science has studied the concept of gratitude extensively. Author Robert Emmons found that people who keep gratitude journals on a weekly basis are healthier, more optimistic, and more likely to make progress toward achieving personal goals.

7. Be generous

Buddhism has always emphasized the practice of dana, or giving. As well as giving money or material possessions, Buddhism recognizes the benefit of giving less tangible gifts such as time, wisdom and support.
Make giving part of your life, and it can help you achieve more happiness. Researcher Stephen Post says ‘helping a neighbor, volunteering, or donating goods and services results in a “helper’s high,” and you get more health benefits than you would from exercise or quitting smoking. Listening to a friend, passing on your skills, celebrating others’ successes, and forgiveness also contribute to happiness,’ he says.

These principles are simple enough to live by and as both spiritual and scientific theories say they can make us happier they are well worth giving a try.

Vihara News
Last Sila Program of the Year on Dec. 14thNext monthly Sila program will be held  at the Vihara on Saturday, December 14th, from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm.

It will be conducted by the visiting monk Ven. Kirama Rathanasiri Thero and Ven. Karamidule Sirirathana Thero.

Both breakfast and lunch will be offered by Vihara members.

Next Two Sunday Classes for Children on Dec. 8th & 22ndDec. 8th and 22nd are the last two days in 2019 of the children’s Sunday school.

On 8th, the children will learn the final lessons of the semester, and on 22nd they will do the year-end evaluation of their learning.

Newsletter – October 2019

Benefits of Holding a Kathina Ceremony

“Kathina” means “solid” or “unbreakable.” This Pali word indicates that the merits acquired by offering a Kathina robe are extremely powerful. Nagita Apadana, a scripture in the Tipitaka, notes that the Kathina offering is the highest meritorious deed one can perform in the sensual world.

Why is Kathina offering is so significant? It is a ceremony performed at a temple only once a year. It is a ceremony performed after both monks and lay devotees accumulate lots of merits throughout the Vassana season. Kathina ceremony is the culmination of all the meritorious deeds performed during the Vassana season. More than anything else, offering the Kathina robe signifies the highest respect to the Maha Sangha without whom the Buddha’s teachings remain unseen by the world.

Original Buddhist texts identify five specific worldly benefits of offering the Kathina robe. They are:

1.The donors, wherever they travel, will always have safe journey without worry, danger, or obstacle.

2.They will never suffer shortage of food and will not be harmed by food poisoning.

3.They will not suffer loss by robbery or theft.

4.They will not suffer loss by natural disasters.

5.They can easily accomplish what they set out to do.

Importantly, whatever items the donors offer to the monks during the Kathina ceremony will be a part of the Kathina Robe offering, and the merits acquired through that are also immeasurable.

Vihara News

Nov. 2nd & 3rd: Kathina Ceremony Weekend 

All necessary steps are now being taken to make this weekend’s Kathina ceremony a beautiful and meaningful event. Invitation cards have now been mailed.  If you have not received a card by mail, please  consider this message as your invitation.

Video-recorded Kathina program will be telecast on ITN. Dr. Hasantha Hettiarachchi will be at the Vihara both Saturday and Sunday for recording.

Saturday evening and night: Atavisi Buddhapuja will be held on Saturday from 6:30 pm to 7:30 pm, honoring all the Buddhas. All-night chanting will follow.

Sunday: Around 22 Bhikkhus will participate in traditional Pindapatha around 11:00 a.m. Dana and lunch will follow. Kathina procession will begin in the afternoon, and Kathina ceremony will be held from 2:00 pm.

You are cordially welcome to attend!

May the Blessings of the Triple Gem be with you!

Newsletter – September 2019

The Buddha’s Analogy of Blind Men Touching an Elephant
The Buddha, in principle, stayed away from arguing on metaphysical speculations, but most philosophers and spiritual leaders in his society did not. They argued with, confronted, and hurt their opponents in their habitual effort to demolish others’ speculative concepts. Consequently, the arena of religion and philosophy during the Buddha’s time gradually become a verbal battlefield.

A group of Bhikkhus who witnessed during their morning trip for alms one of such frequent confrontations reported it to the Buddha on their return. They told the Buddha that they had seen an altercation among those who maintained “different views, concepts, tendencies, and attachments.”

The Buddha remarked that those who had a tendency to participate in such argumentation were “shooting verbal arrows from the bows of mouth” simply because all of them had missed the “the true sight.”

To clarify his statement, the Buddha gave the following parable:

A group of perpetually blind people touched an elephant and then began to describe the animal. Those who touched the elephant’s trunk said that the elephant was similar to an iron rod. Those who touched the elephant’s head said that the elephant was similar to a pot. . . . Those who touched the elephant’s tail said that the elephant was similar to a broom.  When others in the group disagreed, they began to fight with each other.

Udana:  6.4.

Vihara News
This Saturday: Ceylonians’ Musical Concert to Help the Vihara
Most of you must be aware that the Ceylonians will present a musical extravaganza this Saturday (Oct. 05th) to help complete the renovations of the old Avasa building.

The show, which begins at 7:00 pm, will be held at Stafford Civic Center (1415 Constitution Ave, Stafford, TX 77477).

The Vihara is extremely thankful for the band, as well as the singers, dancers, and many others, for making such a committed effort. They have practiced about 40 complete songs and non-stop baila for many days. This week alone they will get together and practice three days with Friday being the rehearsal. All this is done purely for charity!

The Vihara appreciates your participation in the concert!

Progress of Constructing Prakara and Ran Veta
Construction of Prakara (enclosure) and Ran Veta (gold-plated fence) around the Bodhi tree and Stupa is progressing well. Ven. Sirirathana Thero, with the help of Vihara members, is striving to finish it before the Kathina ceremony, which is on Nov. 2nd & 3rd.

Ven. Pannila Ananda Nayaka Thero, who will also attend the Kathina ceremony and the opening ceremony of the new construction, has shipped another shipment of beautiful decorative concrete constructions and a Buddha statue from Sri Lanka. That, which will add much elegance to the Prakara, will arrive in Houston early next week.

Newsletter – August 2019

Astonishing Things Meditation Can Do

Among many other benefits, here are 4 of the astonishing things meditation can do, according to research:1. It can reduce crime rate in nearby areas

You would be surprised, but it is true. Many researches have proved that, when a group of people continue to practice meditation, crime rate in that area—in a large area of several squire miles—drop drastically. The researches have focused on TD meditation only, but the results would be similar with other forms of meditation as well.

How does it happen?  Many have seen a connection between individual consciousness and mass consciousness. Relaxed and compassionate individual consciousness may produce energy to invisibly calm down mass consciousness in and around where meditation is practiced.


2. It improves heart health

According to latest research, meditation can reduce the factors that cause heart problems—such factors as high blood pressure and high levels of bad cholesterol. Meditation does so by reducing number one killer in industrialized countries: stress. Scientists have observed a close connection between stress and higher levels of cholesterol, and practicing meditation has been proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce stress.


3. It helps fight premature aging

Could meditation be a solid foundation of youth? “We know that unmanaged stress is one of the greatest causes of aging,” says Dr. Roizen. “It increases your risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer.”

In one 2016 study published in Translational Psychiatry, researchers recruited 102 women to spend six days at a retreat where they either just relaxed or did a meditation program. Compared to blood drawn before the women checked in, blood samples from the end of the retreat showed improvements in biomarkers related to aging in the newly-minted meditators.
While the exact reason why isn’t clear, “we know from this and many other studies, meditation works through reducing the aging effect of stress,” Dr. Roizen says.

4. It helps keep a cold out of your future

Meditation be beneficial to staving off a cold. In a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine, researchers assigned 150 participants aged 50 and older to one of three groups for eight weeks: mindfulness meditation training, moderate-intensity exercise training, or a control group.

Meditation and exercise both reduced their susceptibility to colds compared to the control group—the latter two groups took just over half as many sick days as the people in the control group during the course of the study.

Again, the relaxing effects are likely a factor, says Dr. Goyal, since stress can actually get in the way of your immune system’s ability to fight an infection.


Vihara News

Children’s Sunday Classes Begin Sunday, Sept. 1Sunday, Sept. 1, is the first day of children’s classes for the fall 2019. Dhamma, Sinhala, music and Dance classes all will begin the same day.

On day 1, children will be grouped into new classes. Parents are encouraged to bring their children to the Vihara around 8:15 am. The Puja will begin at 8:30.

Kathina Ceremony on Nov. 2nd & 3rd

This is an in-advance reminder that the Kathina ceremony will be held on Nov. 2 & 3, Saturday and Sunday.We will have all-night chanting Saturday night, and the Kathina ceremony will be held on Sunday.

Opening ceremony of the Bodhi Prakara will be the special event during the same weekend!