The many paths of Buddhism

Rich spiritual history still guides Jeffco seekers

Posted 6/1/15

Inner peace is a treasure.

That is one thing Abbot Tinh Man, a Buddhist monk, teaches at the Compassionate Dharma Cloud Monastery in Morrison.

“If you don’t have inner peace,” he said, “everything else you have doesn’t …

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The many paths of Buddhism

Rich spiritual history still guides Jeffco seekers

Posted

Inner peace is a treasure.

That is one thing Abbot Tinh Man, a Buddhist monk, teaches at the Compassionate Dharma Cloud Monastery in Morrison.

“If you don’t have inner peace,” he said, “everything else you have doesn’t matter.”

Buddhism includes many paths, but Man said each path seeks to transform the things that cause pain and suffering, and to let go of afflictions to find that inner peace.

Compassionate Dharma Cloud Monastery encompasses many Buddhist traditions, according to the 40-year-old Man, who has been a practicing monk for the past 25 years. Every month, both English and Vietnamese-speaking worshipers come to the monastery for a Day of Mindfulness. They spend seven hours meditating, chanting, doing yoga and learning the teachings of Buddha.

The teachings help people “understand how Buddhism is related to everyday life,” Man said, “how it can change their habitual pattern.”

Buddhism originated in the Indian subcontinent about 2,500 years ago. It stems from the teachings of the original Buddha, which were later compiled into scriptures known as sutras.

Seven percent of the world’s population practices Buddhism, about 487 million people, according to Pew Research Center’s 2010 data. Almost 4 million people within the U.S. identify as Buddhist. China has the largest number of practicing Buddhists, with about 244 million people.

In Lakewood, Sven Hillring has been practicing Buddhism for 32 years because of the changes he says he’s seen in his life as a Buddhist.

“This gives me the wisdom and energy to keep creating value wherever I go,” Hillring said.

Hillring is a member of Soka Gakkai International, which is a Buddhist network of 12 million people in 192 countries and territories in the world. There are about 100 Soka Gakkai centers in the U.S., including the Denver Buddhist Center, located near Colfax Avenue and Speer Boulevard, and more than 500 Soka Gakkai chapters. Hillring meets with the Lakewood district.

Soka Gakkai members are Nichiren Buddhists, who teach that each person possesses “the courage, wisdom and compassion to face and surmount any of life’s challenges,” its website states.

“It’s a practice of self-empowerment,” member Lauren Nelson said.

The Lakewood district meets four times a month. The members study, share and discuss the teachings of Buddha, and how Buddhism can be applied to daily challenges in life.

And they chant.

“Rather than blame people, my surroundings or my health for my suffering,” Hillring said, “I chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and take responsibility for my situation.”

The phrase Nam-myoho-renge-kyo means devotion to the teachings of the Lotus Sutra. A 13th-century Japanese priest named Nichiren “identified that the Lotus Sutra is the key to developing the Buddha nature,” according to the Soka Gakkai International’s website.

There are many sutras in Buddhism, said Man, who teaches from a number of different ones at the monastery. He changes them around for his teachings so people can learn from different ones.

But “the main things,” he said, are “to generate concentration and good merit.”

Man teaches people to develop confidence in themselves, he said, and “explore themselves and see what brings them personal peace and happiness.”

Chris Surposa lived at the Compassionate Dharma Cloud Monastery for a year, and during that time he developed many of the ideas for what would become his Noble Arts Project.

“That’s where the foundation of my art was seeded,” he said. “My stay there influenced me to share the ideas (that) impacted me with the rest of the world.”

Surposa, 33, a resident of unincorporated Jefferson County, said the project is meant to “inspire higher consciousness through symbology and illustration.”

Buddhist ideas depicted in the art can include trusting in one’s own inner wisdom and bridging with the ethereal, for example.

Not all of the line is traditionally Buddhist, but a lot of its art encompasses the ideas, Surposa said, such as interconnectedness and balance.

As a global organization, Soka Gakkai’s ultimate goal, Nelson said, is to create world peace. It begins with inner happiness.

“People are driven by the same need to be happy, no matter where you are,” Nelson said. “We have to believe we have the right to be happy. Becoming happy, as individuals, has a ripple effect.”

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