Buddhism: Sir Mark Tully

Buddhists do not worship gods or deities; they focus on personal spiritual development. Broadcaster and journalist Sir Mark Tully is the former bureau chief in New Delhi.

It is estimated that there are more than 150,000 Buddhists in Britain, according to the most recent Census figures available.

Buddhism is a spiritual tradition which encourages people to search for deep insight into the true nature of life. It is based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama who lived in northern India 2,500 years ago.

He became known as the Buddha after he achieved enlightenment and shared his insights with other people to enable them to end the cycle of birth, death and rebirth - samsara.

In this film, Sir Mark Tully explores Buddhist beliefs and practices and discusses some of the issues facing the religion today.

Background

Different types of Buddhism are strongest in different parts of the world. The different schools, as they are known, do not agree on what the teachings of Buddha are; nor do they agree on the significance of texts and scriptures.

Buddhists believe that actions have consequences; so our current lives are governed by past actions. They believe that consciousness continues after death and finds expression in a future life.

Leadership

There are several different types of Buddhism in the UK. No one organisation can speak for all Buddhists.

The Dalai Lama is the head monk of one sect of Tibetan Buddhism. He does not represent all Buddhists. Traditionally, the Dalai Lama was responsible for governing Tibet, until the Chinese government took control in 1959.

Buddhist monks and nuns who live in religious communities or monasteries. They have often studied for many years and generally live off donations from the congregation. Some become teachers or lecturers.

Monks and nuns look after the daily business of running a temple. They are well respected within the Buddhist community, but have no authority within it.

Doing a story

If journalists want to film or record in a Buddhist temple, it is best to call ahead and ask for permission. The receptionist, secretary or shrine manager will advise.

There are a few points of etiquette to keep in mind during a visit, although this will vary according to the specific form of Buddhism:

• Remove shoes before entering a temple

 

• Dress ‘modestly’ and cover shoulders, arms and knees

 

• Don’t do anything to distract worshippers if you enter the temple during a ceremony - the sound of a gong is a good cue to be silent

 

• Do not attempt to shake hands with a monk or priest unless they offer a hand to you

 

• Do not step over prayer books, sacred images or other religious objects - and don’t touch Buddha images.