A GENEROUS heart, kind speech, and a life of service and compassion are the things which renew humanity, Buddha said.
As I listened to Venerable Wu Ling, a Buddhist nun at her Toowoomba base, it was this quote that came to the foreground.
The gentle woman, who sat before me with her head shaven and wearing a simple brown cloak spoke in a quiet voice as if every word had been carefully chosen before it left her mouth.
She gave up her material possessions and the life she once knew in Dallas Texas, to live the teachings of Buddha and lecture at the Pure Land Learning College in Toowoomba.
"We like to say the teaching of Buddha is an education not a religion," Ven Wu Ling said.
"People of all different religions can use Buddha's teachings to help deepen their own beliefs."
"The practice is to calm the mind, to correct our faults. Develop good qualities such as patience, diligence and generosity. Due to Karma, everything we say and do creates our future, therefore we are more aware of what we think, say and do."
I have often seen monks swathed in brown walking from time to time and wondered of their story.
It was this curiosity that led me through the doors of the college for this article.
The Pure Land Learning College was established in West Street in 2001, by Venerable Master Chin Kung, as a base in Australia to train future lecturers.
Known as "Teacher" by the students, Ven Master Chin Kung, is committed to an interfaith understanding.
His belief: "Different religions can unite to co-operate to teach their followers the virtues of sincerity, purity of mind, non-discrimination, loving-kindness and peace; to accept, respect, love, and trust one another; to care for and cooperate with one another. Together, this is the mission and responsibility of every religious worker and every peace builder. We should make every effort to move toward this goal. Then disasters will be avoided, world peace and stability achieved, and happiness will indeed prevail".
The college organises multi-cultural forums each Friday propagating the universal love of all saints and deities of all religions.
An example of different religions being able to unite is the Christmas decorations in the dining hall "that have been up for several years now", Ven Wu Ling laughed.
"We like to be supportive of our community," she said.
"That is why we hold a Christmas party each year in respect of the belief system of the environment in which we live."
Ven Wu Ling is one of the vice presidents of the college working primarily with translating as well as speaking at the Saturday night dinners.
Each week the College organises a get-together dinner, at 5pm on a Saturday, providing a channel to interact with neighbours and friends.
"Teacher wanted to repay the kindness of the people in Toowoomba for making us feel welcome," Ven Wu Ling said.
"Teacher wanted to have a vegetarian dinner for people in Toowoomba to get to know us and for us to get to know our neighbours."
She said when students came to the college they were here to be focused with little distractions.
"We tend not to do a lot of talking," she said.
"We are here for a purpose and being supported to stay here. They do not waste time, as a result everyone is focused, but people in the community do not know so much what we are doing. …