Posted in Buddhism, Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Chinese culture, Dharma Talks, Precepts Holders

Answering questions in Messenger: A Modern Sangha Western Chinese Bhikshuni

Buddhist Laity: Can you tell me why chanting is good to do?

Master: It helps you to balance your emotions. Then you can correct your thinking.

Buddhist Laity: Yes, I felt really calm with chanting today. So why do we dedicate the merit?

Master: So we keep our perspective and open opportunity for real assistance when needed.

We (You) give the assistance. Btw in those dedications in Chinese there is no “we”; it’s in command form implied “I”. Western translations that use “we or ours” are misinterpreting the original intent. It’s from the Christian perspective to use “we”; a common style in Christian liturgy.

Buddhist Laity: I’ve always dedicated merit but never asked why. Weird eh?
Master: Hardly anyone asks and very few have an answer for that question.
The whole service in temples is in command form “I” implied in non-English languages like Sanskrit, Pali, and Chinese. In English bits and pieces use plural and distorts the meaning.

Buddhist Laity: That’s interesting.

Master: Yep, that’s from my experience as translator.

Buddhist Laity: So it is an individual accountability rather than the collective?

Master: No. It’s individual practice with a group. Self-growth is most important focus and not accountability to a group or a leader. Group is for mutual support. So you don’t feel alone.

Some laity get their 5 precept robes in a knot when you can’t keep up or you are late but really that’s their issue not yours.

Chanting the sutras in the services links us to the ancient practice of “chanting sutras” that Sangha has done since Buddha passed. Sangha (meaning Bhikshuni, Bhikshu) still chant sutras.

Buddhist Laity: Thank you very much. I need to write this in a notebook. I think I need to start reviewing.

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Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Chinese culture, Mahayana culture, Temple life, Vinaya

Ven. Hongyang’s memoir

If we are accepted as a disciple of another Sangha member from them we may get more names for that master to use to call us. Please note that students of a master are not in the same category as disciple. It is possible for a master to have many students but few will have even one or more disciples. The disciples are earlier fully ordained as Sangha and the lineage holder in that master’s line, the students are not.

Floating Clouds, Folded Palms ~ A Bhikshuni life in Iowa

Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, On the Path, Temple life

Excerpt from my memoir: Floating Clouds, Folded Palms

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I have also the development of my temple to consider as I have decided to have a small temple and not seek to grow bigger and expand to more sites. I hope to inspire resident Sangha here and elsewhere to do the same. You must protect yourself first while you are on the Path. Solid foundations can decay if you keep ignoring them they fall in disrepair. The problems in Sanghas in the West are confounded with desires for larger, expensive, and prettier. Ambition is a symptom of greed and dissatisfaction; it should not be a part of a Sangha’s strategy to propagate Buddha dharma. I don’t want my Sangha to be bothered with such distractions.

Posted in Buddhism, Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Dharma Talks, Mahayana culture, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Sangha Relationships, Vinaya

New Page as Traveling Sangha offering Dharma

I’ve decided to offer my humble services teaching dharma and precepts in English to temples and monasteries.  I’ve been encouraged by my dharma friends to start to let more Sangha know that I am now willing to travel to their way places.  I’ve strongly believed in practicing one tradition during one’s monastic life and for me that is Chinese Buddhism.  I’ve never dabbled or practiced other religions since taking refuge and five precepts.   And since becoming a bhikshuni I have experienced the guidance of the Vinaya precepts that have given me such comfort and solidity in my daily life!  I want people to understand that comfort and solidity is very important foundation for mind training.  Refuge and 5 Precepts are the foundation for everyone’s practice and should be taken as the basic framework for their practice.

Sangha can see the difference and you can feel the difference in your daily life when you have precepts even as a householder.  It does support you.  It does benefit your mind training.

For those interested in having me talk you can contact me via email venhongyang (at) gmail.com  and I will respond with information to help you decide to furnish an air ticket or a train ticket.  I have freed up my fall to spring schedule, and will open my spring to summer to accommodate your scheduled events and services.

If you are Western people you may not understand how to sponsor Sangha to give dharma talks and precepts.  You usually ask first then offer the transportation cost plus housing and dana monetary offering at the day’s end or end of event.

I only practice Chinese Buddhism and that’s the context of my Dharma talks and training/encouragement in Precepts (Refuge and 5 Precepts, next year qualified for VInaya Precepts and 8 Precepts giving training and ordination for monastics).  I will only transmit the Dharmagupta lineage as that is the one I hold myself.  I will not participate in multi-yana (Theravada, Mahayana combined lineages being offered as a choice to the candidates to pick one) ordinations ever, so don’t ask.  I will only transmit my dharmagupta lineage ordination line with only dharmagupta lineage masters beside me and of proper numbers.

Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Dharma Talks, Precepts Holders

Schedule for 2015

DSC00495Three sages

January to March 2015  Winter Retreat  Master will be able to meet with you by appointment, feel free to visit.

April 2015  Preparation for Buddha’s Birthday this year will be a group effort, new search for a basin with a pedestal

May 2015  Buddha’s Birthday

24 Dharma Talk in Des Moines, IA:   Triple Refuge and 5 Precepts and How to apply it in Daily life

Ven. Long Yun will be the guest speaker with Ven. Hongyang supporting with commentary.

27-31 Gethsemani IV Encounter (DIM-MID) Buddhist Catholic Dialogue

hosted by the catholic monks at Abbey of Gethsemani, New Haven, KY

June 2015  1-5  the 2015 Dharma Teacher Gathering

July 2015   Vassa, TBA

August 2015   Vassa, TBA Iowa State University Buddhist club dharma talks welcome and schedule to set

September 2015  Vassa, TBA

October 2015  Vassa ends, Western Buddhist Monastic Gathering

hosted by Sravasti Abbey in Washington state (west coast)

November 2015  TBA

December 2015  TBA

January 2016  TBA

February 2016  TBA

Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Chinese culture, On the Path, Western Holidays

How do Buddhists Celebrate Christmas?

IMG_3701 IMG_3795 IMG_3798 IMG_2901With Joy! It’s a popular holiday in the West so when i became Buddhist and traveled to different temples in the USA, I found that nearly everyone in those places big and small celebrates with the rest of the country!

Strange you may think, but no…. think about it.

To me Christmas is about the practice of generosity. Santa is a giver of gifts that are deserved and mysteriously leaves them overnight to everyone on Christmas Eve. to wake up to on Christmas morning. He wears red, the color of the heart in Chinese theory called the 5 elements.

The Christmas tree, an evergreen, the sign of life in wintertime, every culture notices this type of tree. Germans long before Christianity used to bring in pine tree boughs to freshen their home in the winter and add color and life in their harsh winters. Later they would bring trees into their home and eventually began to decorate them. Then Christianity came, but nothing was done about the tree issue until the Victorian age when the created myth about the trees began to be commercialized.

I love the lights too. the lights sparkle and immediately make you feel happy upon seeing them! I have a tiny white desktop tree with optic fibers that change color. I love that. I have red lights up on my doorway to the Buddha hall and lining the Buddha altar. I love the colors of Christmas time too. It does not bother me to know that Christians took the holiday that used to be pagan, that probably started as a way to keep the homes from smelling bad in the winter! Pine scents have been used for centuries to deodorize rooms!  There is often a reference to ‘luminosity’ in referring to the mind, this is the goal of many Buddhists who sincerely meditate and particularly attainable for those with discernment and skill.

I rarely go out during the holidays.  However, I do visit mom during this time of year.  Also this year I am going to celebrate Christmas Day with her and the family and I am bringing healthy snack food for them, that will be my contribution.  We have soup and sandwiches on Christmas Day.  Also they play Christmas Bingo, which is just drawing numbers and picking a numbered present.  I hardly go for Christmas celebrations due to the weather or mostly due to the fact I am not too attached to the day.  Mom asked me to come and convinced me to bring my daughter who usually serves up a Christmas meal to her friends without family nearby and like she does so for every holiday.  I bake goodies and breads for them to take home afterwards every holiday, they need fresh food besides pizza!

Remember Buddhas Bodhi Day is also in December around 18th or so. Remember Christmas can be a fun day, it’s not about meeting the needs for wished for gifts, it is about the act of generosity, you can give time, acts of kindness, presents if you like, and food.  All from the genuine wish to give and nothing more than that.  Oh, I stay away from the stores and only buy groceries during the holidays… but love to buy discounted Christmas items afterwords for dharma crafts.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Dharma Books, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Sangha Relationships, Solitary Living, Temple life, Vinaya

Sangha Conduct – Advice to Americans in robes invite for contributors

English: Chinese Buddhist monks performing a f...
English: Chinese Buddhist monks performing a formal ceremony in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Regarding my invite for Sangha members to contribute their wisdom to Sangha Conduct-Advice to Americans in Robes.

Only Sangha fully ordained in robes presently in good standing are asked to contribute.

Living anywhere you have to deal with Americans in robes, or if you are an American in robes; any ethnic group, any tradition. Declare your tradition and give me a brief autobiography

Living in solitude on your own or living in community.

Any level of English, it will be edited for typos and grammar as best I can do.

ANY STYLE, poetry, plain speak, write like you telling another Sangha member some needed advice.  Share stories if you wish, keep the dharma names in them or make an obvious fake name, something like Ven.  ChattyKathy or Ven. Snipesalot… you know be creative or not.  ANY way you write is perfectly ok.

The deadline is Monday June 24, 2013.

And no limits to length on your contribution, but at least a page not a sentence. No Koan, no gungan; Haiku if you must but need to include a lesson or verbiage to add to it or increase our understanding in the Vinaya or Buddha dharma or life in general.

All your work if you have citations include them if not I will find what I can if citing sutras or other ppls words declare in the sentence (paraphrased/written by/from NAME if have year or page great if not just a name).

Write for the Sangha not the public.

It will be on Amazon through my account for sale. Selling a book there does not make you rich, I’m not rich, occasionally I get a partial tank of gas out of it every few months or so. Mostly it’s for benefit of future generations. You can sell it too, I’ll give you advice a bit later on that.