On the 15th of June 2009 a Buddhist delegation presented the Dhammapada Buddhist text to the Speaker of the House of Representatives The Hon Harry Jenkins MP .
The Speaker will formally request the Clerk of the House to place it in a despatch box in the Chamber. The idea arose from a visit to the House by Brian Ashen, President of the Australian Buddhist Councils when a guide explained the Bible, Koran and other spiritual texts were contained within the despatch boxes.
The text presented was the Pali Dhammapada , a translation by K.R. Norman, a foremost expert on early Indic languages. The Pali Dhammapada was the first Buddhist text to receive a critical edition and translation into a European language and has been translated countless times in the modern era.
While this version is by far the best known , versions of the Dhammapada exist in Chinese, Tibetan, Sanskrit and other languages. The details of these texts differ, but the essential teachings are common to all schools of Buddhism. Hence the Dhammapada was chosen to be placed in Parliament for its central importance within all the living Buddhist traditions. It offers spiritual guidance from a Buddhist perspective that is meaningful for all, whether Buddhist or not.
The Buddhist delegation comprised of
Venerable Sujato – Abbot Santi Monastery Bundanoon NSW
Venerable Thich Quang Ba, Abbot Van Hanh Monastery ACT
Venerable Chi Kwang Sunim Abess Seon Centre Victoria
Lama Choedak Rinpoche, Spiritual Head Tibetan Buddhist Society of Canberra
Venerable David Lungtuk President Australian Sangha Association
Mr Brian Ashen, President Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils (FABC)
Mrs Mohini Gunasekera, Honorary Vice-President FABC
Mr Jim Ferguson, Buddhist Council of Queensland
The other participants in the ceremony were
Hon Harry Jenkins MP – Speaker, House of Representatives
Mr Ian Harris – Clerk , House of Representatives
Ms Cora Trevarthen- Adviser, Speaker’s Office
Ms Indra Kuruppu – Senior Researcher, Department of Parliamentary Services.