My past ten years involvement with
the Buddhist Discussion Centre (Upwey) Ltd.
I came to visit the Buddhist Discussion Centre (Upwey) Ltd. on 21st March 1991, the date of my birthday. I was invited to stay and did so for one week's meditation practice. No talking, and abstinence of all food was part of this practice.
When I awoke in the fragrant surrounds of the Centre, I walked with my monk's bowl around the garden, and was offered food and sustenance by the Heavenly Devas.
I would then walk to the Wooden Dragon Buddha, which was facing the Eastern Gate, where water offerings had been placed by Dhamma practitioners. I sat down in front of the Dragon Buddha and used this water to clean the Sangha bowl, and drink the contents. This was heaven food for the monk who wishes to do the right thing in the future and stop suffering.
I turned my attention to the fact that Australia is new to the teachings of the Buddha, and what I could do to sustain and build the good things for this Buddha Sasana, for the benefit of all beings in this country. Why? Because Buddhism is newly born in this country.
The Buddhist Discussion Centre (Upwey) Ltd. was officially inaugurated in 1980. The Centre had acquired numerous Buddhist artifacts, icons and statues, but I felt the need to offer more to help the people remember and practice Dhamma.
The fact also that Australia is a multicultural country directed my efforts in acquiring these Buddhist statues from various Buddhist cultures around the world, which is in line with the multicultural, non-discriminatory policy and culture of the Centre.
The genuine enthusiasm to learn the Buddha Dhamma by the people of Australia in general and the students, pleased and encouraged me to help leverage the efforts of the Centre by upgrading and expanding the resources available for practice.
The many overseas and local Buddhists who visit this Centre regularly recognise their own Thai, Sri Lankan, Chinese, Japanese or other Buddhist cultural artifacts presented within this Centre, and so feel at home, honoured, and at ease.
My first gift was to offer approximately 20 chairs, so it would be easier for students to sit in the garden and listen to the Dhamma.
I later traveled overseas and taught the Dhamma in many different countries. I taught persons of many nationalities, including Laotians, Vietnamese, Chinese, Sri Lankans, Cambodians and Australians.
The Chinese people have a strong belief in Quan Yin. The Thai and Sri Lankans are strong believers in the Walking Buddha. Therefore, my first gift was a Quan Yin, and then a Walking Buddha, 110 cm and 120 cm high respectively, both made of bronze.
I returned from overseas to visit and pay respect to the founder, John Hughes, on his birthday 9th September 1993, and offered the Walking Buddha to the Sangha on behalf of John, so that the merit and blessings would keep him safe, healthy, and have a long life.
I again returned overseas. More Vietnamese people visited the Centre. The Vietnamese people are strong believers of Buddha Was Born. I then ordered and brought the Buddha Was Born image to the Centre. This statue weighed 359 kg, was 110 cm high, cast of bronze, overlaid with gold paint and cost AUD 13000. It also had seven lotus steps accompanying the image, also cast of bronze, overlaid with gold paint, and each weighing 50 kg.
I returned overseas in 1998 and brought back the Dragon Buddha statue. This image was 550 cm high and 120 cm wide, and weighed over half a ton. It cost AUD 16000, and was made of bronze and painted gold.
An additional AUD 500 was donated for the roof and maintenance of the Bodhi tree and the protective surrounds, and a donation of AUD 200 towards the upgrading of the Centre's electrical system, and 6 cans of gold paint valued at AUD 85 each, were also given.
In 2000, the Centre's students, under the guidance of their teacher, constructed a Stupa in the garden. I was happy to donate AUD 3500 towards the bronze roof construction. Included in this donation was AUD 300 donated by Jocelyn Hughes, and AUD 200 donation by Vanessa McLeod. Further on, I came into possession of 1500 Buddha relics, of which I gave 69 to the Centre.
In the year 2001, I donated the Reclining Buddha, which cost AUD 18000. The length of this image is 150 cm and it weighs over 400 kg, is cast of bronze, and is copper in colours. Pam Adkins kindly donated AUD 300 towards this gift.
Returning to earlier days, 1991, I wrote the book entitled “The Way Your Are Looking For”. This was a difficult process, as my English was not extensive. John Hughes helped in translating this book to English, correcting many of the grammatical errors, but it still wasn't perfect. This was not John's fault, but my lack of understanding of the conversion of Pali and Lao texts into English. The pressure of time in which to publish was also a major factor to the lack of grammatical editing.
Once published, I gave the Centre 2500 copies, which they could sell to visitors or others, for AUD 12 each. All monies were used to help fund and run the Centre. Other publications followed:
- “The Buddha Dharma For You” (200 copies donated to the Centre)
- “The Emptiness You Are Looking For” (250 copies donated to the Centre)
- “Insight Meditation Vipassana - The Middle Way Meditation of the Six States of Consciousness (Bhumi 6)” (250 copies donated to the Centre)
All monies raised by the Centre from these publications went to helping the Centre. These are some of the good things I have been able to contribute for you to remember the Buddha, and to strengthen the Buddha Sasana in the world.
I wish I could do more for you all, but now, of course, I am old. Which is why I ask each and every one of you, to practice now, to do the good things, now, tomorrow may be too late for you. Why? Because no one sees you tomorrow, only your name remains. If you want to do the good thing, start now, don't wait for tomorrow. There are only 365 days in one, year, and then a new year begins. When will tomorrow arrive?
These gifts have brought great joy to me. No other rewads are necessary. What the students think of me I do not know or worry about, as I know I have done my best to help the Buddha Sasana.
This story is written only to help the Centre and the Buddha Sasana. I believe John Hughes knows a lot of Dhamma, and is a master teacher. I wish in the future he will bring more of the good things like I have done for the Buddha Sasana and the Centre, more and more. He knows many monks from all around the world, including Australian. At the time when I first came here. I believed I could help in those areas which have been mentioned. In the future I wish that the Sangha will continue to bring the good things to the Centre, to keep strengthening the Buddha Sasana in Australia for many years to come.
It is unfortunate, but due to the business of the Centre, unavoidable not to be able to have had this celebration of my birthday, the 21st March 2001. But, I am happy to celebrate with you today, Tuesday 17th April, 2001.
I am happy to recollect my first memories of the Centre 10 years ago until today. Much has changed, I remember all these changes and I am sure all of you who have been at the Centre for the period will acknowledge the improvements in the buildings and garden surrounds. I walk around the Centre happy to see all the good things. The work and efforts of you and your teacher can be seen everywhere. I walk in the garden and see the Dragon Buddha, the Reclining Buddha, the Stupa and it's protective surrounds. I enter the hall, I see Quan Yin, the Walking Buddha, and as I exit through the back door I see the Buddha Was Born. I will never forget these images, I will remember them forever.
But I still remember back to 10 years ago, when I look at the picture of myself and John and students, meditating in the front garden of the Centre. You look at the picture from 10 years ago, and look now. What is different? This, I want to give to you, to remember the past and now, make you more happiness and remember forever. It makes me so happy, and I think it makes all of you happy, too.
That is a review of my past 10 years with your Centre. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and all the Buddhamamaka in Australia and around the world, to bring your minds here to join in these blessings and offerings. To help me do the good things and bring all your minds to enjoy and make you happy and at peace, and make one another happy to enjoy all the good things I have done over the past 10 years. I wish all the good things I have done, I want to send to the Buddhamamaka and the Heaven worlds, Deva world, Naga world, Human world and Hell world. All to come and enjoy, make you happy in the good things I have done, sending to them. All this on my wish. Whoever has a problem, stop the problems. All have happiness, keep going to become more happy. I wish the god, humans and animals to be kind and live together and take care of themselves, have happiness and long life. Take care of yourself and make yourself happy.
SADHU, SADHU, SADHU, ANUMODHARMI.
Luongta Chanhphy Manivong
17 April, 2001