The Buddha never used words such as defense mechanisms. However, the modern psychologists use these words in the exact manner as the Buddha explained these mental attitudes in the discourses. Defense mechanisms are unconscious protections against stressful situations and they play significant roles in keeping us with safe limits. They are not something that you call useless. They have their role to play, to help us from situations of stress, distress and harmful thoughts. When we are in danger, we need immediate protection. But the problem is over-using them and not knowing how to use them. Defense mechanisms are analogous to wearing shoes. You put on your shoes to walk in muddy areas. You go and walk in the woods. These shoes protect you from muddy areas, thorns and elements. But if we over-use, or misuse or abuse them, especially if you come back with your shoes, you mindlessly enter the meditation hall with your shoes on, and you go the dining hall with the mud on your shoes. You go to your room, and take shower with them, and you go to bed with them. Can you imagine what will happen? First, your bed sheets will get dirty. You have to keep on washing them every day. And you go in shower with muddy shoes, your fellow yogis are going to complain—who brought this mud in the meditation hall?
It is very clear these defenses or coping mechanisms have a place to play in life, but the problem is to use them when they are uncalled for.

Sometimes there are techniques we use in mindfulness—coping mechanism. But the thing is that coping mechanism and defense mechanism are similar and they are also different. Copying mechanisms are conscious while defense mechanisms are mostly unconscious. You can really apply coping mechanisms like mindfulness in which actually you deal with the situation and you allow yourself to embrace the emotion and be aware of it and investigate it. However, defense mechanism can be mindlessly pushing the experience so that you do not have to deal with it. These defenses or defensiveness are: repression, aggression, projection, regression, compensation, denial, mental isolation and physical isolation.
That is when defense mechanism is not serving. Because you are thinking chairs are going to protect you.

1.Repression.

We are going to use the discourse itself. I think we better begin with the discourse; it is called Wild Colt. So, the first one, I am just reading from the word of the Buddha.

“And what bhikkhus are the eight kinds of persons who are like wild colts and the eight faults of a person? Here, when the bhikkhus are reproving a bhikkhu for an offense, he exonerates himself by reason of lack of memory, saying I don’t remember. I don’t remember committing such an offense. I say this person is similar to the wild colt that when told go forward, and when spurred and incited by its trainer, backs up and spins the chariot behind it. There is such a kind of a person here like a wild colt. This is the first fault of a person.”

So, the Buddha here was using the word “fault” instead of “defensiveness” or defense mechanism. This is what the Buddha say the first way this bhikkhu is defending himself. Maybe I should explain what an offense is. In monastic tradition, we keep many rules. We keep 227 rules for monks and nuns keep more. When you transgress some rules, especially the first for rules, you cease to be a monk. The next 13 rules, you can make amends but you need a quorum of 20 monks to confess. There are other offenses where it requires one to one, maybe your fellow monastic. Others are just training rules and others just part of the discipline. There are various offenses, but this seems to be one to one—one monk maybe observed that he has transgressed from a certain moral conduct. But the bhikkhus here says “I don’t remember.” In modern psychology, they call it repression—you suppress it.

Maybe you have pain in this retreat and you can’t face it. You may just actually forget about it. But is forgetting about pain going to solve the problem? No. it is not going to solve the problem. So, we need to be realistic and we have to apply mindfulness. Whether it is physical pain or emotional pain, we have to practice mindfulness. We also have to be aware and understand that we are trying to repress it—suppress it, which is actually doing it more consciously; repression is unconscious. Suppression is actually trying to push away things that you don’t want—bottling them. In your meditation, maybe you have experienced those situations where you remember difficult memories in your child, and you try to suppress them, you don’t want to face them. Of course, the good thing about mindfulness is that its function is non-forgetfulness while repression is actually trying to forget. The function of mindfulness is of course to guard the mind from difficult mental defilement, but also it has this function of non-forgetfulness. If you practice mindfulness, you will be more aware of this defensiveness or protection that you are trying to put on. You should be able to really address the issue at hand— whether it is emotional or physical pain. Sally yesterday gave a talk on mindfulness of mind states—a wonderful talk. All the teachers here have been giving techniques of how to deal with difficult situations. Maybe it is a yogi job, very difficult. So, what do you do? Maybe it brings a lot of anger because you are working with somebody who is working too fast and you cannot speak. Then there is that kind of frustration—you get frustrated that you cannot talk. Usually these things happen when you really cannot come out of the situation easily. Then you can easily get a protection and just suppress things. But I think there should be a way how we can deal with these kinds of situations instead of suppressing or repressing. We find some ways of dealing with it.

But here is the question; most of the people say you Buddhist, you meditators, you don’t talk about expressing anger; you don’t talk about suppressing anger, or repressing it. What do you do? The answer is, we try to dissolve—it is about dissolving. It is not about suppression, or expressing or repressing. It is about dissolving. I always use analogy of; let’s say this is ice; there is a way to make it disappear. Either you can heat it; smash into pieces. You will use a lot of energy to hammer it. But with knowledge and wisdom, we can say, hey wait a minute. This piece of ice got into this state because of temperature. It was put into a refrigerator, then it solidified. How about putting it in temperatures lower than the ice. You then bring it from the refrigerator, and put it out. The causes and conditions for the arising of this ice is temperature so if you put it in the opposite temperature, it starts melting; it dissolves. So, most of the difficult situations we get into is because we are not mindfulness. When we have a situation and you put it in front of mindfulness, it dissolves. Most of the difficult situations we go through—I am talking about this already which includes full understanding, mindfulness itself and many other mental factors.

Most of the time I advise people to practice mindfulness to overcome anger. They say no, how can mindfulness help me overcome anger. They think they need something extra. Actually, mindfulness is very powerful. I used this analogy of ice to actually remind you that most of the problem we go through is being forgetful. Mindfulness itself means to remember. Modern psychologists even talked about repression that it pervades all other defensive mechanisms because it is about forgetfulness and pushing away things. So, this is a major defense mechanism.

2. Aggression—being aggressive.
This is assaulting the sources of frustration. May be the object of anger, so we are aggressive, that is a defense mechanism or defensiveness. I don’t know if you have ever used it. Have you ever used these mechanisms? It is very common. We can put it in simple terms because it sounds so psychological. We can maybe say ‘acting out’.
According to the Buddha;

“Again, when the bhikkhus are reproving a bhikkhu for an offense, he castigates the reprover himself. What right does an incompetent fool like you have to speak? Do you really think you have something to say? I say this person is similar to the wild colt that when told go forward, and when spurred and incited by its trainer, leaps back and the thereby damages the rail and breaks the triple pole. There is such a kind of a person here like a wild colt. This is the second fault of a person.”

Now, with this kind of background of the discourse, maybe we can relate to it very well. In the course of our meditation, so many things happen. Maybe not on this retreat but many years ago I heard that IMS (Insight Meditation Society) had a problem with the windows especially when weather changes. Sometimes some yogis wanted it cool; and some yogis from Uganda I think so like it hot. Can you imagine two of you sitting there, one yogi from Uganda and another one from Finland; one student wants the window open another one wants it closed. What is going to go around? You are all meditating well, but you see somebody opening that window, I am telling you; all the techniques you have learned about mindfulness can go out through the window. You can act out and slam it. I know you are good yogis you cannot do this kind of thing. But I am just trying to create some kind of imagination. The example about the window has actually been here. Maybe thigs are now different but there used to be a little bit of conflict regarding those windows. Now it is not there but used to be. This is very common trying to assault the source of frustration. Of course, there were no physical blows, but I know it was unpleasant. People forgot to note unpleasant and pleasant (audience chuckles).

Now you can do a few things to deal with these things of being aware of aggressiveness; you can be aware of it. Of course, mindfulness helps; metta (loving-kindness) also helps. Oh, poor thing coming from hot place; maybe needs a little bit of help. I told you last time it is better with metta always. If there is something coming out and you feel a little bit of aggression but you are afraid because you cannot talk to somebody, you try to practice and apply metta. Whenever there is a kind of urge or impulse to deal with unpleasant stuff, when I see the object or somebody who caused the problem, I found out this teaching is very helpful. When you are angry with somebody, ask yourself; which aggregate are you angry with? Is it form? Feelings? Am I angry with perception? Guy gave a talk about aggregates and told us that there is no self. In those five aggregates, there is no self. And then you find out you are angry with non-self, not with the self. A little bit of theoretical understanding of Buddhism helps. Okay, who are you angry with? With the nose? With the hair? This teaching is not from this Ugandan monk it is from Visudhimagga—the path of purification. It is a book by a monk called Venerable Buddhagosa. It is a very beautiful commentary. I think this is his PhD. It’s a book for meditators written for a meditator that next time when you get angry with somebody, instead of attacking the person, just ask yourself these questions; are you angry with consciousness? Are you angry with perception? When you go through these, your anger will go out through the window. This man reminds me of a Russian proverb which says that when you get angry with somebody, roll your tongue eleven times (Bhante demonstrates how to roll the tongue—audience chuckles). My friends I tried it. It works. When you reach the sixth time, seventh time, eighth time, you forget about anger. You maybe enjoy your saliva. Most of the time we get angry because we actually buy time; we don’t have enough time; we go on autopilot; we go with our defense mechanism; but here is allowing time.

The instructions you have already got from here are the same. When anger arises, you come back to the body. When you come back to the body, you give yourself time. I don’t have time to talk about biology, this is already explained in biology. It is explained in biology what they call sympathetic nerve system and parasympathetic nerve system. So, giving yourself time, allows the nerve system to go back to normal. So, this works by asking questions; you know all the five aggregates. You keep on asking.

There is more to talk about acting out. There is also what we call acting in. Acting out is of course to others, but this is a side information. It is not given in the discourse. Sometimes we are aggressive towards ourselves. It is called acting in. It can be remorse, guilt; self-blame. This is very common. Maybe in a retreat here; or maybe you are doing a yogi job and your fellow yogi is not cooperating; always doing the task slowly. Let me give another example. You sign up for a yogi job you didn’t like. What will happen? You start “Oh I would come late at IMS during the open day and maybe get another job”. So, you start hurrying these kinds of remorse.

In monastic tradition, since we keep so many rules, we deal with remorse and guilt. Many times, there are situations that do not support the way you keep them; traveling a lot; you go to non-Buddhist countries where they do not know you are a monk, you are bound to encroach some of the minor rules. Now, should we find out there is a sense of remorse and guilt, we acknowledge that we have done something unskillful. The next stage we determine not to do the same thing again. The third thing, we amend not end, according to the Dhamma; either we take the precepts again or we say sorry; the fourth is to do what is skillful or wholesome. I wanted to give that as a side information because in modern psychology, we have things like passive aggression where you don’t take responsibility.

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After participating in the celebrations of the United Nations Day of Vesak, Bhante paid a courtesy visit to the Most Ven. Dr. Ashin Nyanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw) at Sitagu International Vipassana Academy (where Sitagu Sayadaw resides) in Sagaing, Myanmar. Bhante delivered copies of a book that highlights Sitagu Sayadaw’s visit to Uganda in April 2017.

The visit also intended to once again invite Most Ven. Sitagu to Uganda in the year 2020, and to update Sitagya Sayadaw on the construction plans at UBC. Construction of decent accommodation for both monastics and laities was postponed as there was a timely need to acquire more land for UBC. Resources were used to purchase land adjacent to the Centre for expansion. The price of land in Garuga area (where the temple is situated) keeps skyrocketing every day, so buying it now is timely and an indispensable investment. Construction is expected to start as soon as funds are available.

 

Furthermore, 5 children are expected to travel to Myanmar to train as novice Buddhist monks under the guidance of Most Ven. Dr. Sitagu Sayadaw.

Bhante later witness a convocation of Diploma graduates at SItagu International Buddhist Academy (SIBA). During the convocation, Sitagu Sayadaw asked his audience to repeat after him 3 times:

 

Ethical conduct supports wisdom; wisdom support Ethical conduct

Ethical conduct supports wisdom; wisdom support Ethical conduct

Ethical conduct supports wisdom; wisdom support Ethical conduct.

 

He added that,

“To achieve wisdom we have to practice Vipassana (insight meditation) in order to uproot greed, hatred and delusion. Insight meditation is the way to peace. Without insight meditation we cannot achieve peace!

He established Sitagu International Vipassana Academy to training people in Vipassana meditation.

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Thousands of delegates attended the 16th United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) celebrations held in Ha Nam Province in Vietnam from May 12-14, 2019.

Bhante Buddharakkhita participated in this year’s celebrations and represented Uganda at this auspicious occasion.

In his speech, Bhante invited celebrants to take a moment of silence to remember and pray for people who perished in the recent series of bombings in Sri Lanka. “I would like us to spend one minute in silence to remember the tragedy that happened in Sri Lanka just recently. Death is certain, life is uncertain”

Given the big mess happening all around the world, this year’s main discussions centered on “Buddhist Approaches to Global Leadership and Shared Responsibility for a Sustainable Society. Delegates extensively discussed solutions to the UN’s sustainable development goals, placing emphasis on mindful leadership for sustainable peace, global education in ethics, harmonious families, healthcare and sustainable society, and responsible consumption.

Bhante said that “The world is a global village. What happens in Africa, or another continent affects Asia, America and other parts of the world probably the whole universe. What happened in Sri Lanka is affecting all societies in the world.”

The Buddha’s timeless message is a message of “peace and ultimate happiness”, Bhante said. It is this message that inspired Bhante to go forth as a Buddhist monk.

Bhante also spent a few minutes of his speech to invite Buddhist monks, nuns and others to join him in Africa to spread the noble teachings of the Lord Buddha for the happiness and wellbeing of all.

“I am alone. Please come join me in Africa to spread the Dhamma”, Bhante cried out.

He expressed that there is a greater need for Buddhist monks in Africa, and less of them in traditional Buddhist countries. He reminded his audience that “Buddhism is very powerful, but we are weakening it by only focusing on traditional Buddhist countries. There are bigger parts of the world where Buddhism is not established such as Eastern Europe, South America, and Africa.

Bhante also invited the next United Nations Day of Vesak to be conducted in Africa.

Bhante also recognized the coming and support of the Most Ven. Dr. Ashin Nyanissara (in presence) to Uganda in 2017, and other Sri Lankan monks who came in 2016. There were also other monks who came from Germany, Myanmar, India and Bangladesh.

During the event, Bhante met with Most Ven. Dr. Ashin Nyanissara (Sitagu Sayadaw).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To listen to Bhante’s speech during the 16th UNDV, please follow this link

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Recently, we have experienced heavy soil erosion which has left bumps and rough surfaces on the temple grounds. Furthermore, the grounds have been left bare making it muddy and slippery during rainy seasons. To eliminate all these environmentally unfriendly effects, we have embarked on paving the compound.

Due to limited financial resources, we have only been able to pave 154 square meters over the total 750 square meters. We are therefore taking it in phases. But our plan is to pave the entire compound.

We would like to take this chance to invite you to support this effort. The remaining part will cost USD 7,000 to be paved from the face of the temple stretching down to the gate area.

If you would like to make a donation towards this effort, please follow the link below.

Thank you!

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A couple of Russian engineers working in mines in Uganda visited the Uganda Buddhist to meet Bhante with a prospect of building a stupa at the Uganda Buddhist Centre. Bhante told them that the Uganda Buddhist Centre development master plan doesn’t have space.

However, he introduced them to his friend Dr. Juuko who has land at the bank of River Nile. Bhante together with the Russian Buddhists travelled to Jinja to see the site if the future stupa. The group also included Dr. Aung from Myanmar who had just come to visit the Uganda Buddhist Centre.

The spot was determined and Dr. Juuko also offered space for constructing a future meditation centre in Jinja.

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Currently the Uganda Buddhist Centre is in process of buying two acres of land adjacent to the Centre. This land will make it possible to construct buildings for monastics, housing complex for laities, kitchen and administrative block. We have started fencing the land.

Furthermore, the Uganda Buddhist Centre is planning to secure land for a forest monastery at Ssesse Islands in Kalangala district located within Lake Victoria. The size of the land is 20 acres. Each acre of land is costing 13,500 US dollars. So far, Uganda Buddhist Centre can afford to secure only two acres of land. We are yet to get funding to purchase the rest of the 18 acres.

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We have committed our hearts to quality and holistic education, and the safety of our children and teachers is paramount. As students go for a holiday, we are currently fencing the school to guarantee safety of our children and school premises. The fencing will also add extra security to the school and allow the grass and trees to grow which are always destroyed by the wandering children who come to collect water at the nearby borehole.

The fencing project is now on going at USD 3,300 and is expected to be complete by 20th May, 2019.

Towards the end of April, the school was honored to host Most Ven. Bhante Buddharakkhita. Children were happy to see him and humbly greeted him. Bhante was happy about the progress of the children and the school. He offered one of his finest carpets to the school on which children sit to do their daily class activities. Bhante also offered chocolates, and led the children into meditation as he prayed for their safety and peace.

The Peace school Children will report back to school on 27th for their second term of the year. We are so excited for the second term of the calendar year and we are positive that it will be filled with much joy from the warm hearts of our little angels.

If you would like to support our school as a volunteer, or make a donation to our school or offer gifts to our children, please follow the link (https://xpresspay.ug/payments/ugandabuddhistcentre/index.html) or contact us any time via ugandabuddhistcentre@gmail.com. We look forward to welcoming you on board.

 

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The Uganda Buddhist Centre hosted the Vice President of Uganda His Excellency Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi on Saturday April 6, 2019 to celebrate the 5th international Buddhist Day. This was the first time for the Centre to host such a prominent leader in the country.

The Most Ven. Bhante Buddharakkhita warmly welcomed the Vice President. Thereafter, a flower was offered to the Vice President by two children of the Uganda Buddhist Centre Peace School.

Upon his arrival, Vice President planted a tree and reminded all of us to plant and preserve trees. He was later led into the temple by Bhante Buddharakkhita, who thanked the Vice President for visiting the temple, and introduced the Centre’s activities to the Vice President. Bhante further expressed that the Buddhist faith was founded on various principles such as peace and respect for all beings and that the Vice President’s visit affirms “our commitment to peace, respect for all humanity and harmony amongst all religions and people”.

Bhante Buddharakkhita called upon the Ugandan government to assist the Buddhist community to extend its humanitarian services in rural areas such as providing safe and clean water, education and livelihood support to rural communities throughout Uganda.

In his speech, the Vice President pressed upon reflection on Buddhist values especially on the conservation of the natural environment. “26 centuries ago, the Buddha asked his followers to not only protect mankind but also protect animals and vegetation”, he said.

Ssekandi assured the Buddhist community that the government of Uganda is committed to environmental conservation and “will continue to enforce policies and regulations that ensure that the country’s forest cover and the rich natural diverse environment endowment is protected for sustainable development.”

The Vice President later in the afternoon joined a 20 member delegation led by Bhante Buddharakkhita to Japan to participate in the 5th International Buddhist Day celebrations as a Chief Guest.

While addressing the Supreme Buddhist leaders in Japan from five continents, the Vice President said that there cannot be meaningful sustainable development without the freedom of individuals to think and act, and this freedom can be guaranteed through peace and tolerance. He applauded the world Buddhist leaders for promoting peace and harmony and extended his invitation to Buddhist leaders to come to Uganda to see the beauty and of the country. Furthermore, he suggested the future World Buddhist Summit should be held in Uganda. He assured them that Uganda is safe and peaceful and will continue to promote freedom of worship for all its citizens.

He emphasized peace as the central pillar of Buddhism and the need for a peaceful co-existence as the component in the socio-economic transformation and development of a society. In his official speech, he conveyed a message of the president of Uganda to the World Buddhist Summit that wished the Summit a grand success and prosperity.

The Vice President attended a press conference where he expressed his gratitude to the World Buddhist Summit for inviting him and his delegations.

As part of the tour, the Vice president visited Hiroshima and offered a flower and wrote a prayer of peace for the victims of A-bomb. He spent his last night at a Seaside Guest House in Okayama.

Most Ven. Bhikkhu Buddharakkhita who led the delegation had just landed two days ago from Hawaii, USA. He travelled with one assistant Mr. Joe Kivumbi Busirike and two journalists from the leading television in Uganda. Bhante was offered a proclamation by the World Buddhist Summit as an outstanding Buddhist leader working tireless to spread Buddhism for the benefit and well-being of all.

Other delegates from Uganda included His Majesty Oyo Kabambi Iguru Rukidi IV, Her Royal Highness Best Kemigisa, Queen Mother of Tooro Kingdom, His Royal Highness Apollo Sansa Kabumbuli II Kamuswaga of Kooki, Her Royal Highness Rebecca Tulituuka and other royal members.

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The Peace School organized an environmental awareness and cleaning campaign on Friday March 29, 2019. The campaign involved our preschool children, teachers, and the management. The theme of the campaign was “Caring for Mother Nature: Clean Environment, Good Health”. This campaign aimed at raising awareness about the great importance of a clean and green environment and teach children to be more responsible towards the environment by not littering and that rubbish be properly disposed off to keep the environment clean and green.

In this 21st century, our environment is at a great threat and facing inordinate challenges of rapid changes. We are faced with climate changes. In our community for example, we have had a few rain showers since the year began which is unlike before, in seasons of the year like this one, we usually experience heavy rains. We believe these sudden changes are mainly due to the rapid aggressive human actions to the environment such as deforestation.

As Peace School, we are committing to taking an active participation in environmental protection and we will encourage every child to plant trees to enhance greenery and purity of the environment from pollutions.

During this campaign, children participated in cleaning and planted a mango tree at the temple, of which they will enjoy the fruits of their action in the nearby times.

 

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