Monday, January 27, 2014

Reflections of a Forest Nun

Ayya Anandabodhi

Photo: Bellah via Compfight cc

In Western culture we are conditioned from an early age to think of ourselves as a separate, individual person, unique and different from the rest. There is of course some truth in this, but along with our uniqueness and individuality comes our total interconnectedness with all beings and everything on this planet. It’s a big leap.

Each time we take a breath, we are sharing that breath with every other life form that breathes! While we are breathing in oxygen and breathing out carbon dioxide during the day, trees and other plants are breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen. It’s a beautiful symbiosis, but as long as we take ourselves to be the only ones who are truly relevant, we disrupt that balance. Having cut down so many trees on this beautiful planet for short-term gain, we find ourselves not only losing the majesty and diversity a forest can provide, but we are finding ourselves in doubt as to whether there will be any air left to breathe.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Reminder: E-learning course on Bhikkhuni/Bhikshuni ordination

Mark your Calendars! Universität Hamburg's Numata Center for Buddhist Studies and the Women in Buddhism Study Initiative have announced an e-learning cour­se on Per­spec­ti­ves on Bhikk­hu­ni Or­di­na­ti­on, Summer Semes­ter, 2014.

Registration begins February 1, 2014

The cour­se in­tends to of­fer sound aca­de­mic re­se­arch on the le­gal qu­es­ti­ons, ba­sed on a study of the re­le­vant Vina­ya mate­rial, fol­lo­wed by an up­da­ted re­gio­nal sur­vey on the cur­rent si­tua­ti­on of nuns in the Thera­va­da and Mu­lasar­vas­ti­va­da tra­di­ti­ons.

Please visit this link for more information on the course. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Mindfulness in Modern Buddhism: New Approaches and Meanings

Tamara Ditrich

Photo: AlicePopkorn via Compfight cc
Mindfulness (sati in Pāli; smṛti in Sanskrit) meditation is one of the main methods of meditation which plays a prominent role in many traditional and modern Buddhist meditation practices. The recent expansion of Buddhist meditative techniques across the world has facilitated the introduction of mindfulness into a variety of new environments, in its traditional as well as in new roles: as a path to spiritual liberation and enlightenment, as a therapeutic tool, as a relaxation technique in wellness industries etc.

Although modern Buddhism has, at least to some extent, retained its ethical and soteriological aspects in the practice of mindfulness, there is an increasing emphasis on its psychotherapeutic function. This article explores the new interpretations of mindfulness that have developed in the last few decades in radical ways of practice, which are unprecedented in the history of Buddhism.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Staying Buoyant Amidst Suffering

Jacqueline Kramer

Typhoons destroying cities and killing thousands in the Philippines, complete devastation in the already beleaguered Haiti, thousands of men, women, and children fleeing their homes in Syria, children enslaved as soldiers and prostitutes in the Sudan—there has been widespread suffering somewhere in the world—holocausts, land grabs, rape, and natural disasters—since the beginning of time. But we humans have not been exposed to the suffering of others outside of our communities to the extent that we are today. Were our human hearts designed to hold the vast, constant awareness of suffering offered up each day in our media-connected world? What’s a person with a human-sized heart to do? We don’t want to shut our heart down. Even if that were possible, hearts seem to seep through the cracks in our control systems. If we shut out the pain, we also shut out the joy. A closed heart is impervious to feeling. Still, we don’t want to become overwhelmed by sadness. We’re of no use to ourselves or others when we’re paralyzed by sorrow.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Gift of the Sacred Feminine

Santacitta Bhikkhuni

Feminine and masculine principles are indivisible in each of us.

The interaction of these two forces makes up life as we know it and we all carry both of these energies in our bodies. Generally, a female body has more feminine energy and a male body more masculine energy, but this is not always the case and varies from person to person. However, if these masculine and feminine energies are not balanced—when one dominates at the expense of the other—disharmony and disease are the result.