Buddha, Dharma and Love

Karim Raslan — Ceritalah ASEAN

Posted at Dec 19 2017 09:47 PM

Ceritalah ASEAN recently visited Ubud (Bali), Pekalongan, Muntilan, Mangelang (Central Java) and Jakarta’s phenomenal Tanah Abang district to produce a series of videos on Indonesia’s “Keberagaman Agama” (Religious Diversity”). Ceritalah ASEAN will present these videos as well as companion essays on the country’s stunning tradition of pluralism.


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Namo sanghyang adi buddhaya
(Praise to the One and Only God)

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammasambuddhassa
(Praise to the Holy Buddhas who have achieved Enlightenment)

Sabhe satta bhavantu sukhitatta
(May all living beings achieve joy)

This is the morning prayer that the Bhikkhu Badraphalo recites on the dharmadhatu or peak of the Borobudur Candi.

Every morning and afternoon, the Bhikkhu Badraphalo always prayers and mediates in the Vihara Jina Dharma Sradha of the Kidul Mountain. However, on uposatha or fasting days in the Buddhist religion, 37-year-old the bhikku (or monk) goes to Borobudur to pray, entreating for the good of all mankind. The stupa-shaped Candi which is located in Maelang, Yogyakarta (in the centre of Java) was founded by the adherents of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition during the Sailendra Dynasty in the 8th Century as a place of worship.

As the Bhikkhu Badrapohalo told the Ceritalah ASEAN team: “The Candi means one-ness, it reflects our journey towards the Adi-Buddha. We should strive for perfection in our lives, upholding humanistic and civilized values.”

Buddhism was founded by Siddhartha Gautama, who achieved Enlightenment and then became a “Buddha.” The word itself means "awakened one" or "the enlightened one". As per various sources, the Buddha then spent the next 45 years of his life teaching the principles of the “Dharma” or “Truth”, which stressed love and wisdom.

Buddhism came to Indonesia centuries ago, principally via maritime trade. It arguably took root here during the 7th Century, under the Srivijaya Empire which was based in Sumatra. Indeed, as history will tell us, Srivijaya played a crucial role in the spread of Buddhism throughout Southeast Asia.

After the Srivijaya, there were many other Buddhist-influenced kingdoms in Indonesia, such as the Tarumanegara or Old Mataram. All of them contributed to the spread of Buddhism and were more or less influenced by trends from India.

In Central Java, a Buddhist kingdom, called Sailendra emerged. While not as big as the Srivijaya, it left a number of major Buddhist Candis that exist until today, including the Borobudur. It is hence unsurprising that most Buddhists in Indonesia are located in Sumatra and Java.

The Borobudur Candi is seen as a reflection of the glories of the ancient Buddhist kingdoms. It has also emerged as a symbol of Indonesian culture and pride. From 1975—1982, the republic’s government, with UNESCO’s assistance undertook major preservation work on the Candi, which is close to the Merapi and Merbabu mountains.

Thanks to the efforts of the Indonesian government, the monument has become regarded as one of the seven wonders of the world. Indeed, the area, which is always frequented by tourists, is now a World Heritage Site.

The Bhikkhu Badraphalo sees the Borobudur as a part of Indonesia’s heritage. Its continued existence to him shows that the Indonesian people are tolerant and love unity.

Buddhism itself teaches that love is an important need for human beings and is universal. It cannot be limited to only a few, or dependent on backgrounds and should be unconditional. As he says: “This means we must love all of nature and all living things. All of them need life and happiness. Love must also have the right intentions.”

Surahman, a 38-year-old Buddhist, notes that two teachings of the faith are attractive to him: namely love and wisdom. He sees them both as “wings”: “Without these ‘wings’, Buddhism would not be perfect” he says.

Every Sunday, this father of one visits the Vihara Giriloka in Kulon Progo for worship services. Then, on Monday nights, Suarhman (who works as a civil services in the local Ministry of Religious Affairs office in Yogyakarta) and other Buddhists take turns to have prayer meetings in their homes.

The Buddha taught his followers that their lives would improve if the “Dharma” is followed faithfully. They would also become more spiritually mature until they could overcome suffering in themselves and others.

Suarhman—who is a native in Kulon Progo (which is one hour away from Borobudur)—seeks to follow these teachings in his daily life to achieve peace. He also tries to ensure that his wife and children follow them. While he lives in a religiously diverse area—alongside Muslims and Christians—Surhaman says that this has not hurt his own faith. “We are used to living together, in peace. The key is to respect diversity and uphold tolerance.”

Surahman’s sentiments mirror the first principle of Indonesia’s state ideology, the Pancasila, which calls on the republic’s citizens to uphold the “Belief in the One and Only God.” This, in turn, demands that Indonesia respect each other, work together and not force their religious beliefs on each other. As a result, Indonesia recognizes six religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism—strengthening its pluralism.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.