Jennifer Lee Preyss
May 13, 2011 at 12:13 a.m.
DID YOU KNOW?Buddhism is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama, or Buddha. He helped sentient beings achieve nirvana and end suffering.
Buddhism means "enlightened one" or "awakened one."
The teachings of the Buddha contains the Four Noble Truths: The Noble Truth of Dukkha or suffering; The origin or cause of suffering; The end or cessation of suffering; the path leading to the cessation of all sufferings.
Two major branches of Buddhism are Theravada, which means "Traditions of the Elders" and Mahayana, which means "The great vehicle."
Karma drives the cycle of suffering and rebirth for each being. Good and bad actions produce seeds in the mind, which are believed to manifest in this life, or in a rebirth.
There are approximately 376 million Buddhists worldwide, or 6 percent of the world religions. 33 percent of the world practices some type of Christianity, followed by Islam, which makes up 21 percent.
Abbreviated List of Buddhist Centers in South TexasHOUSTON
Chung Mei Temple12550 Jebbia Lane, StaffordContact: The Rev. Juemin, 281-495-3100.
Chuch-Tai Zen Center of Houston12129 Bellaire Blvd., HoustonContact: Master Jian Zhong Shih, 281-568-1568.
Amitabha Buddhist Society of Houston7400 Harwin Drive, #170, HoustonContact: Lee, Chin-Ze, 713-339-1864.
Buddhist Center Houston Heights1822 Mill Creek Drive, HoustonContact: Beth Williams, 713-864-7868.
Dawn Mountain Tibetan Temple Community Center and Research Center2240 Bissonnet, HoustonContact: 713-222-2331.
Diamondway Buddhist Center954 W. 42nd St., HoustonContact: Tom Conell, 713-686-5409.
Vietnam Buddhist Center - Chua Viet Nam10002 Synott Road, Sugar LandContact: www.vnbc.org.
Austin Shambhala Meditation Center1702 S. 5th St., AustinContact: George Hasty, 512-443-9685.
Austin Zen Center3014 Washington Square, AustinContact: 512-452-5777.
Buddhist Center Austin1200 Penny Lane, Bld. D, #123, AustinContact: 512-371-9803.
Chittamani Buddhist Center2919 Manchaca, Ste. A102, AustinContact: 512-916-4444.
Dharma Drum Mountain Austin9904 Brightling Lane, AustinContact: Ven. Master Sheng-Yeng, 512-249-9220.
Diamond Way Buddhist Meditation Center Austin1109 Hermitage Drive, AustinContact: 512-743-7885.
San Antonio Shambhala Center1114 South St. Mary's Bldg. 2, San AntonioContact: 210-222-9309, www.sanantonio.shambhala.org.
Wat Dhammabucha6201 Sawyer Road, San AntonioContact: 210-520-5011, www.watdhammabucha.us.
On the first full moon in May, which falls on Tuesday, Buddha Day is celebrated around the world. Buddha Day, often referred to as Vesak, is one of the most important observances in the Buddhist calendar, encompassing the teachings, birth, enlightenment and passing away of Buddhism founder Siddhartha Gautama, c. 563 BCE to 483 BCE. Vesak is informally referred to as Buddha's birthday.
"I celebrate Buddha Day every year. I'll be vegetarian the whole day from 12 p.m. the night before until 12 p.m. the next day," Buddhist Victoria resident Roger White, 35, said. "I will pray and read the mantra for completion. It's the biggest day of the Buddhist holidays."
In some Buddhist traditions, observers of Vesak will bathe the Buddha statue with fragrant herbs and spices and pray for purification of greed, hatred and anger. Prayers for peace and harmony may also be offered.
White explained that in Buddhism, there are nine spiritual stages of meditation to climb before obtaining complete balance.
"Once you reach the ninth level, you are perfect," White said. "Nothing distracts you anymore; you are like Buddha."
White said when he lived closer to a Buddhist temple in California, he would spend Buddha Day at the temple. But, as Victoria is absent of a temple, he will spend the holiday mediating at home.
Depending on the Buddhist tradition, Buddha Day may be observed on different days.