Buddhist buffet beckons

By Andrea Werner, Kamloops This Week, Oct 27 2006

Kamloops, Canada -- Imagine a buffet of Buddhist teachings. People can take what they want and use it to enrich their own lives, regardless of their religion.

That’s how Buddhist monk Arjahn Sona describes his practices. “Many of these teachings are not in conflict with other mainstream religious values,” said Sona. “They are exercises of self-mastery, rather than ideas about salvation through God.”

Sona will speak at St. Paul’s Angelical Church tomorrow from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

His talk is called Training the Emotions — The Buddhist Approach, and it is intended for people of all religious backgrounds.

“Emotional training is missing from our educational institutions; we educate the mind, with science and language skills, but the heart is left to whims of the school yard and home life,” Sona told KTW.

In the past 20 years, Sona said, there has been focus generated around training the mind for happiness and emotional well-being.

Sona has been a Buddhist monk for almost 20 years and is an abbot at the Birken Forest Ministry south of Kamloops.

The Birken Forest Ministry is the only one of its kind in Canada. Local holistic health practitioner Tyson Peter Bartel asked Sona to speak to the public. Bartel studies the teachings of Buddhism, but he is not a Buddhist.

He describes Sona’s talk as an interfaith initiative, and said people don’t have to be practising Buddhists to take Sona’s words to heart.

All religions have common threads, said Bartel. “When we focus on the differences, we find conflict.”

Admission is by donation and all proceeds will go to the monastery. Visitors to the monastery and the public donate food and services on a regular basis. Sona does not charge people who seek his counsel.