The primary purpose of the Buddhist Society of Queensland is to foster
the knowledge and the practice of the teachings of the Buddha in Queensland.
The teaching of the Buddha (563- 483 B.C.) is usually referred to as "Buddhism"
in the Western world, but the Buddha himself used the term Dhamma which
generally means the "1aw" or "norm" (of the universe). Those who believe
that the Buddha's analysis of the universe and the human situation is basically
correct call themselves "Buddhists".
Now there are several different versions of Buddhism current in the
West. Indeed this has been the case for the last 2500-odd years. The BSQ
has sought to adhere to the original message of the Buddha as far as it
could be discerned from existing texts of the Buddha's discourses. The
oldest existing collection of the Buddha's discourses are those preserved
in the Pali language (an ancient language of India, reportedly very close
to that spoken by the Buddha). During the last century scholars in the
West have established the integrity of the Pali texts (the more important
of which are referred to as the Pali Canon), and almost all these have
been translated into English (even though some of the earlier translations
leave something to be desired).
The Pali Canon has been preserved by what is generally called the Theravada
school of Buddhism. The BSQ does not accept uncritically any text, and
indeed the Buddha does not reqire Buddhists to do so. Theravada practice
of Buddhism in Asia (mainly Sri Lanka, Burma, Thailand, Laos and Kampuchea)
introduced many extraneous elements, which are in a sense national peculiarities,
and the BSQ does not endorse any of these developments. The Society seeks
to discover in the Buddha's discourses contained in the Pali Canon the
essence of the Buddha's teaching and seeks to apply it to the conditions
of modern world, and seeks to evolve a mode of living and practice which
is consonant with that essence.
The BSQ does not consider Buddhism as just another "religion"; in fact
it does not regard it to be a religion in the normal sense of the term.
In the traditional Theravada countries of Asia Buddhism is considered to
fulfill some of the functions of a "religion". The BSQ prefers to revert
to the original message of the Buddha, which it considers to be in harmony
with the discoveries of Western science. The BSQ believes that Buddhism
provides a more appropriate philosophy for the modern man, and one that
is fully capable of meeting the challenges of modern society.
Other than the traditional Theravada groups there are several other
systems of Buddhism current in the world, and represented in the West.
These schools are generally derived from the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism,
mainly represented by Buddhist schools developed in China, Japan and Tibet.
The BSQ considers that they contain something of the Buddha's enlightening
message, but consider some of their practices as emphasising religious
elements to a greater degree than is present in the Buddha's original teaching.
The BSQ maintains cordial relations with all Buddhist groups and fully
recognises their claim to call themselves Buddhists within their own interpretations
of the Buddha's teachings.
The BSQ is thus something unique amongst Buddhist groups in the West
in general and Australia in particular. The BSQ seeks to apply the original
message of the Buddha to the conditions of modern Western society, rather
than import another Eastern tradition into the West.