Ngakma Nor’dzin Pamo, Chair of the Buddhist Council of Wales, was invited to join a small interfaith group – the South Cardiff Interfaith Network, who meet in Grangetown. She has been attending meetings since the spring, and joined just as they were beginning the creation of an interfaith booklet: our faith. As Ngakma Nor’dzin is experienced at editing, typesetting and book production through her work for Aro Books worldwide, and the publication of her own books, Spacious Passion and Relaxing into Meditation, she was able to be of considerable help to this project.
Our faith was launched at the Salvation Army centre in Grangetown on Wednesday 7th October. Each of the seven faiths represented at the interfaith group and included in the booklet, gave short presentations at the launch evening. The text of Ngakma Nor’dzin’s presentation is below.
A copy of this interfaith booklet can be purchased at Lulu.com.
Presentation - Buddhism, 7th October, Ngakma Nor’dzin Pamo
“I am delighted to be part of the South Cardiff Interfaith Network and to have the opportunity to meet with a variety of faith practitioners, who are actively living their lives through the principles of their own faith, in order to be kind and considerate people in our community. Living as a religious person is of great benefit to our communities. Actively engaging in dialogue with those of other faiths is equally as valuable, for the development of communities based in honour, respect and kindness.
Buddhism is a religion of method rather than truth. This means that there is no one, central book or doctrine that all Buddhists follow. The principle of Buddhism is the development of wisdom and compassion; these could also be called the development of awareness and the enactment of kindness. To discover that these two wings of practice are in essence the same—and inseparable—is to awaken. ‘Buddha’ means ‘The one who has Awakened’. Buddhism teaches that all beings have beginningless Buddha nature within them – all we have to do is awaken.
Because it teaches method rather than truth, Buddhism manifests in many different styles and forms depending on the culture in which it is found. Thai Buddhism, for example, will look quite different to Tibetan Buddhism. The methods of practice will differ; the choice of language to express the path of awakening will differ; and the imagery and ritual aspects of Buddhist practice will differ. Each manifestation of the Buddhist religion will be coloured by the culture and history of where it exists, and by the teachers who have gained realisation and shared their experience.
The underlying principle that will be common to all Buddhist practitioners is the development of wisdom and the manifestation of active compassion. Buddhists try to be kind people. Buddhists try to have awareness of the needs of others. Buddhists try to live their lives with honour and integrity, without harming others.
As Buddhism is a religion of method, it is essentially non-sectarian. It recognises that there are many paths to awakening; that there are many ways to develop awareness and wisdom; that there are many ways to express kindness and compassion. Hence Buddhists are naturally drawn to interfaith dialogue. As well as recognising that there are many styles of method and practice to help us awaken within Buddhism, there is the joyful recognition that there are also many styles of method and practice outside of Buddhism that can equally lead to the development of wisdom and the manifestation of kindness.
In a small way, we members of the South Cardiff Interfaith Network are contributing to recognising each other as religious practitioners. We celebrate each others methods of kindness and awareness. We respect and honour each others’ methods of spiritual practice and meet together in harmony to try and be of benefit to our community. With this in mind, we have created this booklet ‘our faith’ and hope that it will be of interest and benefit to everyone who reads it.”