Monday, August 26, 2013

Taming the Want Monster

The if-I-don’t-get-it-I’ll-die type of desire that we think is tied to happiness

by Toni Bernhard

餓鬼草紙 (がきぞうし (Hungry Ghost Scroll), late 12th century, Kyoto National Museum

How many times in your life have you smiled and shook your head in disbelief at how strongly you thought you had to have some material thing or some experience—that “if I-don’t-get-it-I’ll-die” type of desire? Now you look back and it's just one more item on that list of “wants” that no longer has any hold over you.

Monday, August 19, 2013

The Life of a Korean Seon Buddhist Nun

by Martine Batchelor

Songgwangsa Temple in Songil, Korea, 1976

I was a Seon Buddhist nun in Korea between 1975 and 1985 because I wanted to meditate. I felt the need to transform my mind and my emotions. Reading a Buddhist book I realized that meditation could help me to do that.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Freedom Before Release

The First Daylong Silent Retreat in a California Maximum Security Prison

by Diane Wilde

"Since this first retreat in 2009 at California State Prison, Sacramento, we have held daylong retreats
at six prisons, usually once or twice a year." Photo courtesy of Seattle PI: http://www.seattlepi.com
California State Prison at Sacramento (CSP-SAC) is a maximum security prison. It is also known as “New Folsom” and is adjacent to the more infamous prison, “Old Folsom,” where Johnny Cash gave his famous concert in the prison cafeteria. The men in our sangha at the time were mainly lifers (meaning they were probably not ever leaving prison) and had come to Buddhist services initially out of curiosity, or boredom, or perhaps needing a spiritual lift. Our sangha of twenty-seven men was mostly African American with quite a few Muslim practitioners, along with a smattering of Christians, and a number of spiritual seekers.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Going Beyond Gender Ambiguity in Theravada Forest Tradition

by Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

In the past decade a modern revival of the ancient tradition of full ordination
 for women into the Buddhist monastic community, or sangha,
has unfurled in South and Southeast Asia as well as in the West.
Image courtesy of www.Dhammadharini.net.

Entering into the world of the Therīgāthā, we find a world in which women's voices are radically honest with regards to the sufferings and joys that they faced both in lay life and monastic life. The joys of the senses and of relationship, as well as the sufferings of abuse, the death of loved ones, even the suffering of Buddhist practice and apparent non-progress on the Path before their final enlightenment, is all related in the ancient therīs' enlightenment verses with fresh forthrightness and honesty. It is a kind of "no holds barred" text in terms of the gritty and glorious realities of these ancient monastic womens’ lives.