Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Culture, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Conflicts in Buddhist Life, On the Path, Precepts Holders, Sangha Relationships

Crimes against Nuns recent reports

A nun is gangraped by a bus driver and his busload of men who drag her off the bus to commit the deed.  What were they thinking, a robed nun! Whats wrong with those men! What’s wrong with that society! Nepal is the birth place of the Buddha! where is the justice!

KATHMANDU, Nepal — A 21-year-old Buddhist nun was gangraped by five men inside a bus in eastern Nepal, media reports said Monday.  The victim, a resident of Bhojpur district in eastern Nepal, was travelling by bus when she was attacked by the group, which also included the driver of the bus.

http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=39,10274,0,0,1,0

CHINATOWN — A Buddhist nun giving out prayer beads on Canal Street to raise  money to rebuild her burned down temple was arrested and detained for several  hours without an interpreter, she told DNAinfo.

Police charged Baojing Li, 48, with  acting as an unlicensed vendor, a misdemeanor. They claim she hawked costume  jewelry at the corner of Canal and Mott Streets on June 2 without a license from  the state Department of Consumer Affairs.

But the religious woman, who wears a traditional Buddhist robe and has a  shaven head, says she was not selling the 50-cent strands of prayer beads, but  handing them out to generous people who dropped donations in her collection  tin.

Read more: http://www.dnainfo.com/20110614/lower-east-side-east-village/buddhist-nun-arrested-after-handing-out-prayer-beads-on-canal-street#ixzz1QmsTIrFT

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Posted in Buddhist community activities, Buddhist Health and Wellness, Conflicts in Buddhist Life

Experiences of ‘Other’ the desperate finding meaning through the wrong use of drugs, or other harmful means

There was a substrand of query in Secular Buddhism on Sugato’s blog so I sent this reply.

Here is a few links to DMT but I wondered if it has anything to do with secular buddhism? Is altered states with drugs a method it proposes? or was it a pattern or a part of their lifestyle?

It is highly dubious that this would be useful to Buddhists at all; and might only interest those who do spend the time learning with a guru or as a part of their traditions’ practice and need to visualize devas and buddhas for their practice-not meaning that they want to pursue it but rather the chemical studies indicate that this is a physical effected type of perception so that means they might be inducing the same state after some time and affecting their body chemistry; the altered states in this way require no guru, no skills, and no need to be a Buddhist it is just a drug that is smoked, injected, and eaten. Within 45 secs this one goes right to the brain…shocking isn’t it?

I do not approve of this type of artificial means to altered states and it is not a part of Buddhist practices, growing up in the 60s I saw my fair share of adults and teens (not my parents who were ok with their buds on the weekends) tripping and their minds were then and are even now when their clean long after as they age, addicted.  Their habits, their life focus is spent trying to fight that memory and experience of addiction.  It’s hard for them and their families.

I’ve seen adults coming in loaded by that I mean high and/or drunk to join a service in a temple, join meditation classes having heard to their talk and expressed anticipation for the expected ‘trip’ (hey some don’t hide that fact and tell anyone or in one case one pulled out his loaded med box and grabbed handfuls in glee, giggling…his family was called and they put him in the hospital again…he was an adult).

DMT a slew of studies happened on this drug that is now a schedule 1 class drug in the USA. Derived from a plant in South America, there have been studies done on near death experiences and drug induced altered states.  See this wiki article for along chemical analysis and pharmacology and the latter half has the information about the research efforts and the various studies of it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyltryptamine

A review in the American Journal of Psychiatry:

DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor’s Revolutionary Research Into the Biology
of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences

By Rick Strassman, M.D. Rochester, Vt., Park Street Press, 2001, 358 pp.,
$16.95 (paper).

http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/159/8/1448

 Just a word about encounters with people in temples, nearly all the people attracted to coming to temples need to be there for various reasons, we can’t know what; the most difficult times for those who encounter people there is when the hurting ones come in they are in the greatest need of peace, a temple is a safe place for all levels of people to be in to study Buddhism.  For this reason we tolerate almost any type of suffering person, as long as they are not hurting someone, not committing a crime or involved in some kind of mental or medical crisis they are welcome.  This means its a quite a degree of latitude of allowable behavior that many are not used to seeing; we feel that by allowing them to remain they receive some benefit, a measure of safety and comfort.
That is why in my earlier post I recommended the Mental Health First Aid.  There is a stigma many people have about mental health, the name for one, the other is fear of that perceived stigma in their own minds.  This fear spans all cultures and countries.  They also fear the label, becoming mentally ill, misperceiving the difference between crisis coping and a long-term challenge of the mental kind or developmental or sociological kind.  Not enough study in Buddhism is usually the problem in perceiving their own state of being, or obstacles within their own state of being.  The reasonable answer is widespread diligent study of Buddhist sutras/suttas plus the commentaries of various traditions masters that are legitimately monks and nuns.

Posted in Buddhist community activities, On the Path, Vinaya

Xi Fang Temple – Chinese New Year 2011 stay

It’s an important time of year for all Chinese people who value traditional new years.  And to temples it’s very, very busy.  Almost every holiday we have in here in the USA and lunar events with services and birthdays of Buddha and bodhisattvas are very busy times plus the regular 1st and 15th of the lunar calandars AND sunday services AND any regular programs like chinese school or social services.

What has meant the most to me during this time is the interaction and pleasant visits between myself and the master who is my tonsure master and the residing nuns. There is an air of stability and peace from them during this extremely busy time. Many happy chats in our moments together which were brief due to tirednes. And the fun moments of play and jokes with the 3 tom cats rescued by them.

Next is the laity who offered me bits of welcomes and conversations, something that I lacked in the past when a new to the temple years ago. Overwhelming it was then to memorize Chinese texts and daily services. Much study was needed and very little talking or relationships were established.  These last 4 years spent as a hermitess, I found a striking contrast that left me to deeply appreciate the 2 laywomen who visited with me in Iowa. There were only a few visits but they offered to bow to me and did so each time on the floor even. Very respectful. Rare for me here in Iowa. So when I returned to Xi Fang Temple it was only to renew my relationship with my master. And visit with the residing nuns to establish relationships with them as well.

No, laity bowed in respect to me, they did another thing. They often greeted me palms together with smiles saying their welcomes and offering red envelopes. I was never so generously given with red envelopes before that time.. Their willingness to connect with me by talking to me and then offering me red envelopes helped me feel less isolated and more welcomed by Xi Fang Temple’s disciples and visitors. I never had that sense of welcome before this time, except by my cherished friends from the early days of Xi Fang Temple; these friends who are like rare jewels to me, so often rarely seen but deeply treasured.

So, thank you! A-Hua, Bao Ying, Bai Taitai and so many others in our Brooklyn neighbor hood who I know by face but not by name who took time out from their busy days to say Amituofo! and held their palms together in respect to me. I loved seeing you all! Sorry I couldn’t catch all the time to spend with you but I hope you know how deeply your kindness restored my faith in laity, for I had forgotten what it felt like to be shown respect and how much I needed it!

Master, that offer you made me to return is so very welcome, thank you. I trust that you will not be impatient for me to prepare the time here is overwhelming right now, too many things to do! Too much unexpected stuff this day and this week. It’s going to be hard to raise money to come back since unexpected regular monies did not arriver at the first of the month. I must rely on the red enevelop money until I can figure out what to do next, travel maybe delayed a bit. But I will return as soon as I can.

I want to underscore my appreciation of the masters with the story of what Xi Fang Temple masters really did for me. I had my hip go out due to inflamation of a muscle connected the hip to spine, it swelled so big I couldn’t step on it, and walking was neary impossible, so when it obviously wasnt better, they decided to ask a nearby doctor of Chinese massage and accupunctue to treat me.

Those two nuns had to nearly walk with lifting me up with force because it hurt so much to step on the right leg at all! It was slow and struggle for me and more for them as I am pretty fat right now. The doctor adjusted massage methods because it hurt so bad. Then when he could he got the muscle swelling down. It agnozied me to walk with lots of help back to the temple and he said one day in bed. I did get better but not all the way. But it was due to their kindness and effort that I could bear it better and got on the plane to return to Iowa.

I am preparing to move back to Xi Fang Temple, asap. I’d like to do it in 3 weeks. Should be interesting to see if that happens like we all want or not. I hope the weather is better by then. It’s been really super cold and a high of 9 degrees F here.

And get on imqq.com for their messanger service is so much fun!  Check google for english website! The temple uses it exclusively to communicate with people who visit them at the temple and the rest of the Buddhists in the area. It’s fun. They suprised me with so muc technology and aptitude, they really know their computers and other stuff so very well! Wonderful!

Posted in On the Path, Precepts Holders, Vinaya

More on Precept Levels See Sept 29

Thank you Lee for your questions about the precepts. Yes, there are a variety of choices regarding the precepts for laity and those interested in monastic life may consider variations on what level they want to achieve.

Laity

Beginners – 3 Refuges (in the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha)
and the 5 precepts (no killing, no stealing, no lying, to sexual misconduct, no intoxicants). This starts your offical life as a Buddhist…. and usually the temple offers both together and some may choose to wait until they study Buddhism more to accept the 5 precepts separately.

PERMIT me a RAMBLE…. This category of people are not automatically Buddhists: scholars of Buddhism, students of Buddhism, admirers of Buddha, people who know who Buddha is, tourists, members of Buddhist forums, friends of Buddhists, catholic priests and nuns, ex-monks, ex-nuns, temporary ordained for: a day, a hour, a week, a month, a year type layperson; those christian pastors/reverends who spent a days’ visit in a temple and are claiming expertise or ordination, one who meditates or used Buddhist methods, anyone confusing hari-krishna or hindu practice with being a buddhist monk or nun, anyone who reads Vinaya is NOT automatically Buddhist or ordained in anyway whatsoever by wish, thought or deed, etc. You need to take the 3 Refuges and the 5 Precepts to be considered Buddhist and seek out proper training on your role as Buddhist laity….and then progress under a great deal of real supervision by proper Sangha monks or nuns. Nothing is immediate; it’s all properly guided and in due time. UNramble.

Bodhisattva precepts – laity may take 48 precepts for guidance not for ordination, it means they get to use a blank robe (laity having taken the 8 precepts may be issued or not a 3 or 5 strip robe) depending upon the temple conferring the precepts… MOST just issue a blank robe with no strips at all…

Laity living in a temple

Must agree to observe the 6 harmony rules, may be offered 8 laity monastic precepts (Shegu-women, forgot the word for layman… foguang shan has this group). This group wears modest street clothes, or gray laity clothing as designated by the temple itself… not monastic wear nor may they be allowed to wear monastic shirts and trousers or vests or overcoats, they do not shave their heads nor look like monks or nuns; nor may they claim to be monks or nuns. They are more often stewards or liason officers for the general town or visitors.

10 precepts of novice are offered to laity after observing their life in the temple and by agreement of their division monastic leader or community vote of monastic sangha.

Monastic Life continues for the novice from this point

10 precepts and 6 harmonies are important to be able to get along as well as are the special temple rules set up by the common vote of the monastic resident sangha.

If the novice is not willing to or is unqualified to undertake higher ordination then they may with temple consent remain a novice for their monastic life. This is a case by case basis and determined by monastic consent of the temple.

Novices for life

This category of monastics are found in Theravada and Mahayana… they are special group of men and women who have realized they do not want to progress in their precepts nor return to lay life.

Due to lack of higher ordinations in Theravada orders for women you find there are novices of considerable years more than 10 many over 20 years before they cross into higher ordination due to unfavorable rulings by the Theravada councils against ordaining women after it was destroyed in 10th or 11th centuries CE, even this is largely unavalable to theravadan laywomen…

You find this also true for Tibetan Buddhist order in the Mahayana tradition as well.. In order for them to become ordained they must go to Taiwan, Korea or Vietnam for bhikshuni ordinatin.

Novices returning 10 precepts to 8 laity precepts or returning to laylife. Once one is done it’s done… Then the layperson can ask to become novice again in the same place or different place. Nobody will mind unless there is a fault of a major nature like breaking the 5 precepts, or being forced to leave the temple. The fault should not be hidden for that would be lying, so be sure to reveal any type of dismissal with the new temple or when seeking novice ordination at the same temple.

Higher ordination

This level is purely monastic Sangha level and gender based, preceptors are the sponsors for the male novice or the female siksmana (novice of 2 years study of bhikshuni precepts), application is formal and requested of a elder Sangha council (not the temple itself, unless it has enough qualified elder Sangha members to conduct the ordination) and by admission to the training program before the ordination itself takes place. During the training period, the candidate may be re-ordained as novice or not, may be dismissed for being unqualified or inappropriate during training, may quit the training and forfeit the ordination (this requires home temple to act whether they accept the candidate back or the candidate returns to laylife or remains a novice upon returning… DO not just quit like a job… risking expulsion from your preceptor. There are monastic helpers around during training if you find your confused or need help… quickly ask and they will guide you or contact your sponsor for you… don’t do it alone.. or you will be alone!)

If a novice doesn’t observe specific guidelines like separation from opposite sex: going with someone, even going for coffee or lunch is being with opposite sex person; this is the core of monastic protocol… we just don’t mix the genders due to the training rules and that includes in person conversations with opposite gendered persons including higher ordained Sangha members… If your meeting your classmates in mixed company then it’s seen as a potential flaw… you can’t continue to do this as a monk or nun without proper monastic companions.

OK HIGHEST ordained

Once you get your bhikshuni or bhikshu ordination no matter whether it’s Theravada or Mahayana; you get to keep it voluntarily for your life as long as your observing the vinaya precepts…

Exceptions… you know you don’t want to be a monk or nun anymore and want to give back your precepts… You can absolutely do this… Your not locked in for life unless you are capable and want to.

Parajika a defeat, is immediately upon the act and confession or revelation of the defeat.. Robes are surrendered, immediately returned to lay life and not able in this life to return as a monk or nun in any Buddhist Vinaya tradition.

Parajika learner a special unsual category of monastic who is defeated but wishes to avoid being disrobed declares an intention to become a parjika-learner to the monastic Sangha. This is a very serious matter that Sangha is required to review and decide whether it would be granted or not. I’ve not ever met anyone of this status in my young years as Bhikshuni. And I would think the person undergoing this status is under hardship and would remain humble in their community. I would think that this would be like being in living limbo… but the good karma of the parajika-learner would be an intensive lifelong study of Vinaya thus improving the next life chance for encountering Buddhism and hopefully a return to proper monastic conduct in the next possible life.

CHALLENGES to Higher Ordinatinon

This is done usually by temples or competing orders or due to lack of information or mis-information by Sangha members only. Protocol demands exploration into the history of newly arrived Sangha members or those requesting higher ordiantion… This is to protect the Sangha order, never is it done out of politics or spite…

A bhikshu or bhikshuni may challenge another’s ordiantion only to clarify and in cases where it will damange the Maha Sangha reputation, cause harm to the order, cause harm to the orginal ordination, in evidence of a crime, in cases where inapropriate claim of seniority, use of conflabulated titles, use of extrodinary claims of exceptional abilities, mental illness manifesting in a way that is immediately harmful to Sangha; lack of evidence of ordination having taken place, fakery of any kind, lack of qualifications in public and private conduct of the bhikshu or bhikshuni, obvious breaking of parjika precepts, criminal convinction requiring meetings about status. THIS IS SANGHA TO SANGHA NOT LAITY TO SANGHA EVER…

Sangha members are obligated to speak up to support their brothers and sisters it’s in our Vinaya precepts. Bhikshuni may address only bhikshuni/bhikkhuni and bhikshu may address only bhikshu/bhikkhu. Abbot/Abbess trumps everyone, and the legal system of your resident country trumps them.

IN THE WEST – There is no Country Sangha council in places like the USA… therefor the Sangha is not guided by anything other than Vinaya and their own best judgement in temples (guided by overseas national councils in their own countries culture) or monasteries or living in solitude doing dharma study or dharma work…. It’s still developing here.

There are new orders appearing in a new form of Theravada for bhikkhunis now, since 2009 there have been many sudden ordinations within the USA (three maybe four in 2010 alone) and in the western countries. This is an unsual trend and worth watching. It’s also encouraging that new statement by the Tibetan Karmapa to offer Tibetan Buddhist women a chance to ordain within the Tibetan Buddhist Vinaya…

Posted in Dharma Talks

What does Sangha mean?

Sangha is a Pali and Sanskrit word meaning “community, association, members and in Buddhism it is the 2 part members called bhiksu (men) and bhikshuni (women) or the 4 part members bhikshu, bhikshuni, upasaka (layman), upasika (laywoman); and controversially and wrongly it has been used by western fans without lineage or refuge in the Triple Jewel and 5 Precepts (ie, as proper laybuddhists) and secular Buddhist groups in it’s literal sense of community.from India where the Buddha Sakyamuni actually was born, raised and lived.

Secularists have made inroads into Buddhist centers and have unfortunately no proper standing among Buddhist communities since they do not acknowledge or support the Triple Jewel in the core of their practice and teachings. They often santiize Buddhism because they do not have access to actual Buddhist monasteries, Buddhists, and the Sanghans themselves; so in that light they have money to create centers then in order to gain power they decry what they never had and actively promote their own often christian beliefs and rewrite that into a ‘secular’ equating it with liberal view of Buddhism. This is only because they had limited or no encounters with actual Buddhism beyond books so they lack a proper understanding of what is a Buddhist or even the basics of Buddhist culture.

If they had contact with traditional Buddhism they tell of their lack of understanding due to language difficulties, rejection of standard practices and teachings, dissatisfaction with monks or the monastic life, refusal to participate in events, Telling words are thus: correct, fair, unfair, equalitarian, secular, free of traditional trappings including rites, monastics, and sutras, overemphasis on meditation as the only means and no access to traditional Sutras/suttas to back up their teachings, no lineage, no Sangha presence, outright slander by refusing to support the Triple Jewel (Buddha, Dharma, Sangha).