Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Dharma Talks, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Vinaya

Sangha – laying the foundation

This carries forth the idea of Sangha mind. The words I used in the last post and an attempt to flesh out the idea with what we already know. I am hoping that most still have good memories or notes from their ordination training. I still do!

Stability in our practice was determined by our training, our ability to embrace as much as possible the teachers guidance, our core training while at our preceptors temple learning the ropes and our willingness to stay on the path after ordination.

What we uphold after we ordain is key to our monastic life. How we actually carry out our daily lives is key to our laity that come to us for help and our success in helping them by teaching dharma and our future years as elders in the Maha Sangha.

We individually are responsible for ourselves…en total. Not our teachers or our temples. We are. The sum total of “I” is still here, still doing stuff, still typing at this computer trying to relieve people of doubt about the power of the robes, the stabilizing force of our training, the ability of Vinaya to guide our path and our own power to succeed.

We are even in our dreams monastics. Even in our private moments, spazing out (freaking out) over bills we can’t possible figure out to pay, or facing homelessness in the winter, or seeing our elders decline into babbling fools (not aimed at anyone…love my elders!…respects to you who read this, no harm, prostrating just in case your offended). 

When your in a private moment freaking out, just remember this. Your on a stage in your full robes, freaking out and your elders are there with more invited elders from other temples and so are the laity who came to just see you. Your alone on the stage. Do you still want to freak out? I hope the answer is no.

Keep yourself from freaking out by staying calm, see emotion remove from the situation, then respond to the situation then completely let go of it.  My first monastic friend is a monk a bhikkhu Ven. Zhang Ji who often said in Chinese “Fang Xia” which means let go!. So simple words, so valuable advice.  It saved me. It helped me remember to act on it. Thank you Ven. Zhang Ji.

My next monastic friend was a bhkshuni Ven. Jin Xin who gave me a recitation book. Her advice was to recite the morning service as my mind was jumbled full of interior talking because I was really stressed over separating from my husband with a toddler to support and lots of rejection letters from potential employers! I was scared! I couldn’t calm myself while I was trying to survive. So stabily after a long while happend due to my persistance to use a service in a foreign language which I struggled to pronounce!

I got so much comfort from the morning and evening service, even I didn’t know they were the LengYan Zhou and the Amitabha Sutra. Very good for stabilizing your mind. I stablized my discomfort inspite of the situation not changing for a real long time, but I survived it and my kid grew up very well. I learned to trust the mundane daily practice rather than depend on the glittery fluff of immediate gratification or grandiose events hoping for immediate relief.

Karmas cause and effect well we all got those, but we do not need raise our emotions to such a desparate level to deal with life’s problems. Stable mind relies on practice that is mundane even boring. This is what you do for yourself while you trod that Path. Think of the humbleness of when you were lay person listening to the service enjoying it, gaining benefit from joining it to right now, when you are the one performing the service and enjoying it benefitting from knowing so many people are there with you benefitting from joining in with you. What a treasure life you have!

If you are Sangha and suffering from serious problems like schizophrenia, serious health problems, depression, physical or verbal abuse or other serious problems you must get yourself help. If you need medication then get it. If you need police then call. If you need therapy take it. If you need something in the real life that will ease your body while you cope with your mind then do it! Surgery, medicine, good food, good Sangha community, stable place to live….this is your responsibility to achieve to allow you to cultivate the Path, if you lack in the basics or have one of these or other obsticles you then need to deal with it first.

Created modern things, methods that exist in the world are your tools too. Just because internet was not around in Buddha’s time doesn’t make it no less a poweful tool for dharma teaching.

Medicine has come along way since people suffering from mental health problems were tied to a stake to live out their lives in destitution and shame. Medical advances in treating bodily problems have made for many quick recoveries in what would have never been possible in Buddha’s times.

No excuses for not taking advantage of such things in modern life now.  Shame on you if you don’t, but if you lack money then understandable. But at least there is medicaid for low to no income people in the USA and overseas many national health programs exist. It’s your duty as a Sanghan to take care of yourself so please do it.

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Author:

I am a Bhikshuni ordained in Mahayana Chinese Buddhist tradition. I'm currently translating Vinaya sutras from the Chinese Mahayana Tripitaka.