Venerable K. Sri Dhammananda Maha Thera
first edition of this book came into being in 1964 as a result of
questions posed by devotees to the Venerable Author in the course of his
delivering a prolonged series of Dhamma talks throughout the length and
breadth of Malaysia. He felt that a book of this nature should serve as a
handy reference book for Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, presenting in
simplified form the beliefs and concepts of Buddhism, and also Buddhist
attitude towards other beliefs.
It is ironical but true
that there are people who profess this religion and who even claim to be
Buddhist leaders, and yet lack the knowledge of the basic principles of
Buddhism. Many of them are well-versed with certain rites and rituals but
they do not understand the essence of the Master's Teaching. Ignoring the
noble Teachings, they have introduced many baseless beliefs and
ill-founded traditions, making a mockery of a rational and gentle
religion. As a result, many people concerned themselves more with the
devotional and ritualistic aspects of Buddhism whilst paying scant
attention to true spiritual development which leads to wisdom and
This is a sad state of
affairs brought about by some selfish and misguided religious workers.
Driven by ignorance and goaded by mercenary ends, some people have
blemished Buddhism as a religion and given the impression that it
encourages superstitious beliefs and dependence on charms and omens. Even
some monks have lowered themselves to the status of charm peddlers.
ironic that many people do not even know the name of the religion they
belong to. There are some who say 'I think I am a Buddhist' This
shows the extent to which they have neglected the Buddhist way of life.
Such ignorance of the sublime teachings has encouraged unscrupulous
missionaries from other religions to ridicule Buddhism with false
accusations and misinterpretation. As a result, Buddhists being ignorant
of their own Teachings and unable to refute the false allegations, fall
easy prey to the snares of conversion.
partly with a view to countering such ignorance that the book 'What
Buddhists Believe' came into being.
This book is intended mainly for those who have a genuine desire to know
something about the basic Teachings as well as the more difficult aspects
of the religion explained in a manner which can be understood in a modern
context and without prior knowledge of the subject. The popularity of this
book has gone beyond our expectations. It was revised and expanded in 1973
and again in 1982. The demand for this book continues. Chinese, Korean and
Indonesian translations of this book are also available.
1987, being the 25th Anniversary of the formation of the
Buddhist Missionary Society, it was decided that 'What Buddhists Believe'
should be further revised and enhanced as a 'Special Commemorative Issue'
to celebrate the Silver Jubilee Year of our
Society. In this connection, the Venerable Author, with over forty years
experience as a missionary, has spent much time on extensive research and
compiling suitable new chapters to make the 1987 Reprint of 'What
Buddhists Believe' as the Book for all those who seek knowledge about what
with the original aim of this book, it is to be emphasized that the Ven.
Author has no intention whatsoever to denigrate or belittle the beliefs
and practices of other religionists and other Buddhist schools of thought.
He has repeatedly stressed the Buddha's injunctions in the Kalama Sutta
to His followers to be open-minded and rational in accepting any teaching.
The Buddha in His time never ridiculed the practices and beliefs of other
religionists then prevailing but He expounded the truth. It is also not
the aim of this book to seek converts, because such a spirit is alien to
the spirit of Buddhism. What it does aim at must be reiterated to inform
and educate Buddhists about the basic tenets of their religion and to
demonstrate its lofty ideals, making every Buddhist proud to be called a
Buddhist. 'What Buddhists Believe' aims
at enlightening others about the pristine Teachings so that with greater
and wider understanding they will be good and kind enough to refrain from
castigating this Noble Religion which is serving and guiding millions of
people to the Right Path.
The Buddha's Teaching is
the greatest heritage that man has received from the past. The Buddha's
message of non-violence and peace, of love and compassion, of tolerance
and understanding, of truth and wisdom, of respect and regard for all
life, of freedom from selfishness, hatred and violence, delivered over two
thousand five hundred years ago, stands good for today and will stand
forever as the Truth. It is an eternal message.
We are in
a world torn by strife. The Buddha taught that we must develop the 'Bodhi'
heart of wisdom, a heart of love, a heart of
understanding, to overcome the prevailing vices which have plagued man
since the beginning of time. 'Overcome anger by non-anger, overcome hatred
by love'. Are we practising the advice given by Him? We are
responsible for our destiny. We have to cleanse our hearts, scrutinize our
own natures and determine to practise the Teachings not only in the letter
but, more importantly, in the spirit. It is to be hoped that this
publication of 'What
Buddhists Believe' will help in
guiding many of our Buddhist friends to tread the true path towards
As the President of the
Buddhist Missionary Society, it has been an honour and a pleasure for me
to have been closely associated with Venerable Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda, the
author, in the production of this book.
I wish to express our
sincere thanks and appreciation to Mr. Victor Wee and Mr. Vijaya
Samarawickrama for assisting the author in editing the book and for their
many useful suggestions which helped to bring the book to its present
form. I also like to thank Mrs. Chong Hong Choo who had spent endless
hours looking after the innumerable details in the production of the book,
from its inception right to its completion. Thanks are also due to Mr.
H.A. de Silva, Misses Lily See, Lee Lai Fong, Quah Pin Pin, Leong Poh
Chwee, Tan Kuee Fong and Low Mei Ying for the typing work involved and
proof reading, without whose assistance the present book is not possible.
Buddhist Missionary Society, Kuala
Contents | Next
Study and Practice Group, http://www.sinc.sunysb.edu/Clubs/buddhism/
Layout: Chan Duc - Nguyen Thao
Update : 01-11-2002