Ottawa Buddhist Viharaya
Just as a candle cannot burn without fire, men cannot live without a spiritual life
The Ottawa Buddhist Vihare, which is also the home of the Ottawa inter-community Buddhist Society, the purpose of which, is to provide a place and the needed resources to those who are seeking the needed spiritual life. The Ottawa inter-community Buddhist society comprises of Buddhists with origins in Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma, Lao, Bangaladesh, Chinese, Thai, Malaysian, Indian and Nepalese; and also, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists, from Canada, Russia and Mexico. All of them come together to seek that spiritual life.
The Ottawa Inter-Community Buddhist Society was around 15 years ago. The present location, a few blocks south of Ottawa’s Parliament buildings, came to being in March 2013. The Ottawa Inter-Community Buddhist Society was the brain-child of Venerable Dr. Walasmulle Sirisumana Thero. Today, under the guidance of Dr. Walasmulle Sirisumana Thero, several monks reside permanently at the premises with the intent to help those seeking that spiritual life.
Today very nearly everyone, especially in the urban environments, come under a multitude of pressures, from the work, the family and of course in general, to make ends meet in a highly competitive world. This battle to live, by the ordinary folks, is exacerbated by so many unforeseen events, illnesses and various other things that are completely out of the control of these people. People are under stress, and live in fear of the unknown, as a result. This is why people seek solace in spirituality and some degree of comfort and relief by practicing religious activities on a regular basis.
Buddha’s teaching categorically states that the mind is the forerunner. Everything that happens externally and internally to a person is perceived in one way or another by the mind of that individual. These perceptions could be handled and controlled (this is the only true ‘control’ that anyone has at their disposal) by learning to control the mind.
In facilitating the development of the spiritual life, the resident monks will help those who wish to learn Buddha’s prescriptions to control the mind, thus developing a sense of equilibrium in the mind and the tools to deal with the day to day vageries of life. The web site helps to describe the type of activities and resources available to develop that much needed spiritual life.
At the beginning………
Dr. Sirisumana hails from a small village in the southern regions of Sri Lanka called Walasmulle. Under the tutelage of Venereable Karandeniye Wimalojothi Thero, he commenced his ordained life. Venereable Karandeniye Wimalojothi Thero was instrumental in establishing the temple Dematagoda Mallikaramaya, which Dr Sirisumana considers his home in Sri Lanka.
Beginning in the 1980s, he spent 12 years in Russia where he graduated with a PhD in Linguistics. This period was also an opportunity to discuss Buddha’s teaching with his colleagues in the university, of course in secrecy. Today in Ottawa, there are many Canadians with origins in Russia, who are eager to learn the ultimate aim of mind development from Dr. Sirisumana, of course in their mother tongue, Russian.
In 1995, he left Russia and stayed at the Geneva Buddhist Vihare at the invitation of Venerable Thawalama Dhammika Thero. From there he spent some time at the Paris Vihare, where Venerable Thawalama Dhammika Thero started his life in Europe. He also spent some time at the Kingsbury Buddhist Vihare in London, UK.
Then in the winter of 1998, he came to the ‘other’ great white north, to Ottawa at the invitation of Venerable Ambalangoda Sudhamma Thero. Various circumstances prompted him to establish the Ottawa Buddhist Vihare on his own, when Venerable Ambalangoda Sudhamma Thero decided to return to Sri Lanka. Since that time various monks had come and stayed at the Vihare whilst helping all those who seek spiritual refuge at the Vihare.
The resources to help develop the mind……..
The key motivation of the Ottawa Buddhist Vihare is helping those who wish to learn the teachings of the Buddha and follow the prescribed life style that would certainly bring about calmness to a hectic day. While providing spiritual guidance, the Vihare is also equipped to conduct religious activities where this might have a beneficial effect on those who are looking for solace living in a very disturbed world.
To this end, the sangha at the vihara is composed of the Chief Monk, Ven. Dr. Walasmulle Sirisumana Thero, along with Ven. Omare Nandaloka Thero, and Ven. Devalegama Maithree Moorthi Thero, who organize and conduct guided meditation sessions, Dhamma school for children, dhamma discussions, developing personal techniques for stress relief and psychological consolation, based on Buddha’s prescriptions. Many in the congregation also take part in religious services organized by the monks. The resident monks also engage in limited social services such as counselling where necessary and hospital visits.
– Resident Monks-
Ottawa Buddhist Vihara provides the following services to the community.
- Meditation Programs
- The practice of Meditation has many benefits. The practice allows one to bring in a semblance of control to the activities of the mind. The mind is the forerunner to everything. That is one aspect the Buddha discovered. The programs allow people to learn how to develop this practice. The immediate result could be the elimination of stress.
- Promote Dhamma discussions
- While the practice of Meditation could help with some immediate needs, learning the basis of the meditation practice as per the prescription of the Buddha is the main reason promoted through Dhamma discussions. Understanding how the mind functions under different circumstances allow one to exercise effective control of one’s mind.
- Programs for youth
- exposing children to the vagaries of life and how to deal with such day to day difficulties is the primary objective of the youth-oriented programs. These programs would allow opportunities to practice leadership skills in the society, as well as learning such attributes as patience and controlling stress, and how to deal with successes and disappointments in life.
- Dhamma School for children
- The purpose of the dhamma school is to expose the children to the teachings of the Buddha. These teachings are not just theories. Learning the skills in the youth programs and learning the basis of these skills in terms of mind activities would be the objectives. Learning the theory and applying the teachings to the day to day life, in the society, work place and socially turns children into effective adults
- Hospital visit
- The objective of this is to give our time and effort to helping others who might be suffering due to various illnesses. Part of the teachings of the Buddha is giving away, both material things and time as the needs arise. Devoting part of our time to other people, who might not be your next of kin, is contributing to back to the society as a way of being grateful for what we also get from the society.
- The objective of this is to lend an ear to those who might need to talk to someone. The monks through years of training understand the plight and the difficulties of others and are able to guide those who are in need.
- Helping for homeless people
- Homelessness is a major problem. The Ottawa Buddhist Vihara, due to its location is directly impacted by homeless people who are trying to find shelter and solace in the temple.
- Dhamma Teaching- Online Classes
- The monks at the Ottawa Buddhist Vihara welcome the idea of online Dhamma classes and discussions. The classes would be held for those who wish to learn the dhamma from the basics. Discussions are promoted for those who already have some idea but have many questions related to the understanding and the daily practice. They are encouraged to engage in discussions and ask searching questions to clarify the thoughts and ideas.
Ottawa Buddhist Vihara is opened to anyone who is interested in learning Buddhism and practicing Buddhist way of life.