BHAVANA SOCIETY NEWSLETTER Vol. 10, No. 3 July-September, 1994 Kathina Edition Copyright 1

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BHAVANA SOCIETY NEWSLETTER Vol. 10, No. 3 July-September, 1994 Kathina Edition Copyright 1994 Bhavana Society Bhavana Society Rt. 1 Box 218-3 High View, WV 26808 Tel: (304) 856-3241 Fax: (304) 856-2111 * * * This electronic edition is offered for free distribution via DharmaNet by arrangement with the Bhavana Society. Formatting: John Bullitt DharmaNet International P.O. Box 4951, Berkeley CA 94704-4951 * * * * * * * * CONTENTS {1} Impact of Buddhism on America -- Dr. Ananda W.P. Guruge {2} Meditation and Creativity -- Ven. Sister Sucinta {3} Book Review -- Douglas Durham ["Heartwood from the Bodhi Tree"] {4} Notes and News -- Travel; Vassa; New Meditation Hall {5} Bhavana Tape Collection -- New releases] * * * * * * * * {1} IMPACT OF BUDDHISM ON AMERICA Vesak Speech, 1994 by Dr. Ananda W. P. Guruge Significance of Vesak ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Vesak is the most important Buddhist holiday to all of us because it signifies the three main events of the life of the Buddha and, at the same time, the three main events that should be part and parcel of the life of each one of us. We all got born and we know that one day we shall all die. We still have to attain an accomplishment which this day signifies: namely, enlightenment. The faster we can reach towards the goal of enlightenment, the faster we will end the cycle of birth and death to which we all are subjected. The Buddha came to this world as a great teacher with this lofty message: namely, that with our own effort, with our own dedication, without the interference, the helping hand or the instrumentality of any supernatural power or superior being, a human being can reach the highest level of development. That highest state is enlightenment which, when we reach it, will end all suffering. So every time we celebrate these three events of the Buddha's life, let us remember that there still remains one event that we have not been able to experience, internalize, personalize, and make a part of our own life. That is enlightenment and that is what we are all searching for. Vesak, thus, is a reminder of the ultimate goal for which we should strive. We Sri Lankans are, indeed, very proud custodians of this religious tradition which we would like to preserve for all times and share with humanity because Buddhism's greatest appeal to the humankind is: "Share the benign doctrine of loving kindness and help to make all humanity attain that summum bonum which we call Nibbana, the end of all suffering". The Theme ~~~~~~~~~ When I was asked to speak on "The Impact of Buddhism on America", I thought I should deal with the subject from two or three different angles. First of all, there is the historical dimension. We really do not know at what time in the history of the U.S.A. the knowledge of Buddhism first came here. With regard to Buddhism of Sri Lanka, it was somewhat unfortunate that the circumstances under which we had our initial contact with America did not enable the early visitors to serve as instruments of bringing the message of Buddhism to this continent. There was a very special reason. A Missed Opportunity ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In 1796 the territories of Sri Lanka were transferred to the British as a result of the wars in Europe. By 1801 that transfer was confirmed by the Treaty of Amiens. After this treaty, Sri Lanka (then known as Ceylon)became a British Colony. The Dutch had a well-established system of schools which was run by the government, but the British had never had a system of state schools. Even in England the school system had been independent. Accordingly, they decided that the schools in Sri Lanka should be handed over to Christian missionaries from any part of the world who were prepared to come. Of course, the invitation was immediately accepted by many missionaries from the U.S.A. But the British, naturally, were a little suspicious of anyone from America being brought into a British Colony because 1776 was not too far away. In around 1810 when the American missionaries came to Sri Lanka they said, "You are most welcome but you should go far away from Colombo and serve in the northern province." Accordingly, they served in areas where Tamil was the language and Hinduism was the predominant religion. While Buddhists of Sri Lanka had one of the greatest of spiritual treasures that we could have shared with the world, this first batch of American missionaries who came to Sri Lanka had access only to Tamil language and Hinduism. They introduced literary works of the Tamil language and the Hindu philosophy to the U.S.A., because they were very intelligent people who wanted to share the new knowledge and culture with the people who stayed behind at home. But unfortunately Buddhism did not find a conduit to U.S.A. during that period. Buddhism Transplanted in the Nursery of Western Academia ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So it took a long time. During this period a couple of interesting things happened in Sri Lanka itself. One was the introduction of Sinhala, Pali, Buddhism, Sri Lankan History and similar subjects into the efficiency bar examinations of the British Civil Service. The officers of this Service came from England and were totally unfamiliar with the culture of the Island. Immediately after the Rebellion of 1848, the British realized that they could rule a country like Sri Lanka only if they knew and appreciated its multi-faceted culture. So the British civil servants who were brought to the country were made to learn all these subjects not just superficially but in great depth. The other was the main result of the exposure of an intelligent young generation to a new and challenging culture. It was something entirely unexpected. These young people became deeply interested and committed to Sri Lankan culture, including Buddhism. This was manifest in their magnificent contributions. One of them, Robert Childers compiled the first Pali Dictionary in 1875. Another civil servant, T. W. Rhys Davids formed the Pali Text Society of London in 1891 and introduced Pali as a subject to this part of the world. This band of young devoted scholars who made Buddhism their special field of study were planting the seeds of Buddhism in the fertile nurseries of academia, namely, colleges and the universities. Several outstanding missionaries who came to Sri Lanka for evangelical purposes were also caught up in this intellectual appreciation of Buddhism and their writings too made a significant contribution to the development of Buddhism as an academic discipline. Once the universities in the West started developing these subjects as disciplines in which degrees could be earned and research done, the U.S.A., too, sought immediate access to this vast literature. T. W. Rhys Davids' most interesting series of lectures on Buddhism and Pali literature was really called "American Lectures" because they were delivered to academic assemblies in U.S.A. With this kind of impact many universities started teaching Buddhism as well as Pali language and literature and did research into various aspects of Buddhist history. This is the time when most Americans first took an interest in Buddhism. But Buddhism in practice as a professed religion had meanwhile come to the Western shores of this country from East Asia with early waves of Chinese and Japanese migrants. Honolulu became a place where Buddhism found entry as far back as the 1830's, even though the first known monastery was established by Rev. Soryu Kubahi in 1887. The Chinatown of San Francisco became a Buddhist center because several prominent Chinese Buddhist monks brought their message to this part of the world. Thus the last quarter of the 19th century saw some very interesting developments which brought Buddhism from every possible angle into the U.S.A. The Chinese and the Japanese introduced into the U.S.A. their different versions of Mahayana Buddhism. Zen in particular gained popularity. The academic circles in Europe had mainly concentrated on Pali or Theravada Buddhism, the kind of Buddhism our Venerable Theras from Sri Lanka preach. But still Buddhism was like a beautiful plant grown in the nursery; rather well protected, not very widely seen, and hence still not fully understood and appreciated. It had not begun to infiltrate into the lives of the people. Colonel Henry Steele Olcott ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Then came the Civil War of 1861-1865. Whenever a country has gone through the kind of cataclysmic experience that a war can bring about, many changes do take place in the hearts of people. After a war, no nation is the same again. One of the major things that happens to a nation after a war is that the people begin to question their own value systems, beliefs, and moral and ethical foundations which made it possible for them to have had a war, to have committed atrocities, not to have found a solution other than through war and to have let enmity and lasting dissension to come into existence. This was a rather fertile period when several of the people who were themselves in the war became the searchers for the truth. One of them happened to be a colonel in the Civil War who came from the town of Orange in New Jersey. His name was Colonel Henry Steele Olcott. He, along with Madame H. P. Blavatsky, the Russian lady who was reputed to be a seer or clairvoyant with some kind of powers, had started looking into various religions to find out whether a new religion comprising all good elements of human thinking in the field of spirituality could be formed. What they formulated was called Theosophy. Theosophy, by 1875, was a fairly well spread movement in this country. The spiritual atmosphere of Theosophy helped to bring Buddhism here in a very direct manner and Sri Lanka comes into the picture. In Sri Lanka, in the meantime, the Buddhist monks had been struggling to withstand the onslaught that colonial powers had launched against our way of thinking and against our way of life. When an imperial power rules a country as a colony, it is a distinct political advantage to ensure that the country's intellectual, religious and cultural norms and patterns are made as far as possible subservient to the ruler's whims. The Buddhist monks felt the biggest arm that was used by the colonial powers against them was the evangelical fervor of the Christian missionary. So they started to question the Christian missionaries on the veracity and relevance of their teachings. These questions, first raised in tracts and publications, led eventually to formal controversies and public debates very much like the ones that you have in the presidential or vice presidential elections. Unfortunately we did not have radio or the television then. But two to three thousand people would gather at such a public debate. Usually a Buddhist monk and a Christian padre would argue in favor of each one's religion, ask questions, attack each other's arguments and display their oratorical skills. It was a very fascinating experience. An American gentleman by the name of Dr. S. M. Peebles happened to be in Sri Lanka in 1873 when one of these controversies took place in Panadure, a small town to the south of Colombo. He was so impressed with what he heard in that debate that he wrote eight articles which were issued in the form of a pamphlet under the title "Buddhism and Christianity Face to Face". One of the people who read it was Colonel Henry Steele Olcott who had already made his contacts with Sri Lankan Buddhists. He wrote to a Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka, who had been corresponding with him for some time, that his letter came as "the voice of a brother speaking comfort and encouragement to those who need them sadly -- being surrounded by enemies who wish them ill and have done and would do them all possible harm". In the 1870's this American representing the new intelligentsia recoiling from the havoc which they had seen with their own eyes from the war was looking for alternative ways of directing their spiritual life. Dr. Peeble's eight articles relating to how the Buddhists approached each one of his own questions, particularly those relating to the Christian dogma, impressed Colonel Olcott. He decided to go to Sri Lanka. He went in 1880 with Madam Blavatsky. He became the pioneering leader of the Buddhist and nationalist revival movement in Sri Lanka and set up a large number of Buddhist schools which have produced a large number of leaders for our nation with a new or special orientation to the country's culture and Buddhism. He wrote a book after four years of study of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It was called Buddhist Catechism. This book in about ten years went to sixty-four editions and was widely read in the U.S.A. and Europe, along with The Light of Asia, a poem written by the English poet Sir Edwin Arnold in 1879. These became the two main works by which the American general public gained a measure of acquaintance with the message and the principles of Buddhism. Paul Carus and Henry Clarke Warren ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The American people were very impressed. Scholarly interest was further developed and immediately other kinds of activities began. At two different places there were two exceptionally able and devoted persons who took a tremendous interest. Paul Carus had contacts with scholar monks of Sri Lanka and was publishing several important works on Buddhism. Among them, The Gospel of Buddhism, published in 1894, was an outstanding contribution. In this he tried to reflect the wisdom of Buddhism from not only what came via Europe from Southeast Asia or from Sri Lanka (in particular Theravada Buddhism), but also Buddhism that had already come into this country from China and Japan. He presented a beautiful anthology of the wise sayings of the Buddha and the beautiful parables in Buddhist literature with which the finer aspects of Buddhist philosophy and the fundamental doctrines of Buddhism were made clearer to the people. With Paul Carus' efforts, all that became a part of the intellectual property of the people of the U.S.A. That was Paul Carus's main contribution. Then there was another gentleman who was working close to Harvard. His name was Henry Clarke Warren. He started translating Pali works into English. As the culmination of over a decade of intense work, he produced a book called Buddhism in Translations, published in 1896. You cannot imagine how much of an impact that work had on the American intelligentsia. It was a very fine anthology of carefully selected Pali Canonical and Commentarial passages, translated accurately into elegant English. When Harvard University decided to compile its Five Foot Library of World Classics, consisting of the world's best books, one of the volumes was devoted to Henry Clarke Warren's Buddhism in Translations. In other words, by the 1890's Buddhism had reached the very high level of prestige in the intellectual life of this country. Anagarika Dharmapala of Sri Lanka in the U.S.A. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Thus Buddhism had already begun to have a very significant impact on the American life. Although, as it always is in a large country, the people who came into direct contact with Buddhism had been in small groups, they were quite influential. In 1892 the U.S.A. had a major exhibition to mark the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Columbus. This exhibition was in Chicago. The first year of the exhibition was devoted entirely to science, technology and industry. But in the second year the organizers decided to celebrate the spiritual aspect of human achievements. The Parliament of World's Religions was convened in 1893. To this came from Sri Lanka a gentleman by the name of Anagarika Dharmapala, one who had given up his householder's life from a very rich family so that he could propagate Buddhism. Anagarika Dharmapala would not have been there for us to send if not for the intervention of that American of revered memory whom I mentioned a while ago: namely, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott. It is a very interesting story. Colonel Olcott, in the course of his campaign to revitalize Buddhism in Sri Lanka, concluded that the Island needed a good Buddhist educational system, which would help young children to gain exposure to a decent English education with a Buddhist background. Its product, he felt, was the kind of person who could interpret Buddhism for Sri Lanka, for the world and for humanity. That was Olcott's strategy. So he went around the country collecting pennies and handfuls of rice from every single person as a way of establishing a Buddhist educational fund. He went around to every nook and corner of the Island for two or three years. To his utter dismay, not a single Sri Lankan joined him in his effort. Of course, people came to meet him, spoke to him, went with him from one village to the next. But as he proceeded to other villages beyond, they quietly withdrew to whatever jobs they were doing in their paddy fields or carpentry shops. There was nobody who accompanied Colonel Olcott on a regular basis. So in disgust he wrote in an article in one of the newspapers that he was thinking of abandoning his Buddhist educational activities and leaving Sri Lanka. Don David Hewavitharana, who was barely seventeen years old, read this article. That particular week he had joined the civil service of the British administration of Sri Lanka. He had a very good job as a clerk in the education department. He decided that he would volunteer if Colonel Olcott was planning to give up his educational activities in Sri Lanka and leave, because there were no Sri Lankans to help him. He went and asked Colonel Olcott, "Could it be that I am the person you are looking for?" Of course, Colonel Olcott was very pleased in view of the young man's background. He became Anagarika Dharmapala. So in 1893 Anagarika Dharmapala came to Chicago and delivered a speech which made headlines from the east coast to the west coast, from the Canadian border to the Mexican border. It was a magnificent speech. The newspaper reports of that week, by themselves, indicate the tremendous impact that his one speech on the "World's Debt to the Buddha" had on the people of the U.S.A. Paul Carus invited Anagarika Dharmapala to his home for several days and arranged speaking engagements in several parts of the country. He went to Hawaii. There, Mrs. Mary Elizabeth Foster was so taken up with the contribution he made in bringing Buddhism to U.S.A. that she offered to be the financier for his activities connected with the propagation of Buddhism in the world. That was another impact which Buddhism had on this country and this country in turn had on Buddhism. Her financial assistance was vital to the establishment of many Buddhist missions in various parts of the world by Anagarika Dharmapala. An Eclectic Approach to Buddhist Traditions ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Paul Carus, who was already conversant with the Chinese language, had an eclectic bend of mind. He knew that the U.S.A. could never be satisfied with just showing partiality to one or the other form of Buddhism. He found that Anagarika Dharmapala could make a very big impact with Theravada Buddhism. He found that Olcott's book, Buddhist Catechism, had made a tremendous impact, again with Theravada Buddhism. His own book, The Gospel of Buddha, the anthology of different versions of Buddhism, had also made an equally significant impact. He thought of inviting a great Buddhist scholar from another part of the world to come here and work. Whom did he invite in 1897? Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ It was D. T. Suzuki, the Japanese scholar who came to New York and became the translator of the Japanese and Sanskrit books on Zen Buddhism and Mahayana doctrines. He proved to be one of the most lucid, direct and convincing writers of the message of Buddhism in every possible way. He was a great Zen practitioner himself. So he was not speaking of something he did not know. He was not simply pointing out a path to the people saying, "This is the way to go". He had already gone and therefore he knew the road and the people appreciated the practical clarity and applicability of what he wrote. With his work alone, over the next forty years Zen Buddhism made a tremendous impact all over this country. Continuing Duality in the American Involvement in Buddhism ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ By the time the 20th century dawned, the entry of Buddhism in all its diverse schools and traditions was complete as far as the whole of the U.S.A. was concerned. But still there existed neither a very large population nor the organizations and temples adequately devoted to the practice of Buddhism. The numerical paucity of Buddhists and Buddhist organizations in keeping with the popularity that Buddhism has gained in the U.S.A., was due to two reasons and these same reasons continue even today. The Growing popularity of Buddhist Studies in American Universities and Colleges ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To many Americans Buddhism is only a very interesting, and certainly rewarding, intellectual pursuit. If one is intellectually curious, Buddhism can provide an enormous number of areas for fascinating intellectual quest. If it is philosophy, Abhidhamma can keep one busy a whole life time. If it is literature, the Buddhist narrative literature in prose as well as Canonical and post-Canonical poetry in Pali and Sanskrit, besides many other Asian languages, can keep one profitably engaged for an enormous length of time. If one studies the way a competent and innovative teacher teaches another person, the very methodology of convincing and winning over, which the Buddha himself called "the miracle of instruction", the greatest of all miracles, bears in-depth research. There is much to be unraveled by psychologists and educationalists as regards the catalytic role of the teacher in bringing about behavioral change through subtle instructional methodology. If, on the one hand, someone wants to go into the intricacies of human history, Buddhist history, namely, the history of events, institutions and personalities in the Buddhist countries, provides endless data for study and analysis. Let one start, for example, with the Maurya Emperor Asoka of India of the third century before Christ. He wins a war, sees the havoc created by the war, says, "No more war," and lives the rest of the 37 years of his reign in non-violence, spreading the message of the Buddha and conquering more people through his "Conquest by Righteousness" or Dharmavijaya. Available for analysis is an enormous range of such lives and examples of human beings who demonstrated the vibrant impact of virtue, self-sacrifice, tolerance and dedication under the influence of Buddhism. If, on the other hand, one is a lover of art, one will be impressed that the world's greatest and oldest of works of art, created for a multiplicity of educational, spiritual and aesthetic purposes, had been inspired by Buddhism and executed by Buddhists of a whole Continent. Their objective was to convey through artistic creativity the noble message of Buddha to the people. Here, art was used as a way by which a visitor to a temple was made to recall what he had learned or given an introduction to what he was going to learn. Whether it be painting, statuary, sculpture, illuminated manuscripts or any other form of artistic expression, the scope for investigation and appreciation, which Buddhist Art provides is incomparable. So Buddhism has become a tremendous source of disciplines in which each person according to his or her likes and preferences, could carry on research. Today, there may be about 700 professors of Buddhist studies in various universities in the world . They work on the many-faceted discipline of Buddhist Studies with ever-increasing sophistication and diligence. Of them over 500 have formed themselves into an international organization called the International Association of Buddhist Studies, founded in the U. S. A. Eighty to ninety percent of its members live and teach or do research in this country. In other words, around 500 professors and lecturers specializing in Buddhist studies or some aspect of Buddhist studies work here in the American universities and colleges. That is the intellectual impact which Buddhism has had and continues to have in this country. Buddhism in Practice as a Solution to Social and Personal Problems of the American Youth ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ As a result of the various ways in which Buddhism has come to this country, many people from diverse walks of life have begun to look upon Buddhism as an alternative way of life. These are in addition to those from traditionally Buddhist countries of Asia who brought their traditions and forms of worship, their scriptures and spiritual leaders as they came to the U. S. A. under different conditions. Those who look to Buddhism for new inspiration have their special reasons for doing so. The U.S.A. has tremendous social problems due to its size, wealth, political advancement, and the complexities of life. These social problems are of enormous proportions and affect everybody. The country has to cope with and find solutions for ever-increasing rates of divorce, teen-age mothers, single parents and incidents of domestic violence and child abuse. Equally disturbing is its homicidal rate of nearly 13 per 100,000 (of which Washington D. C. records a phenomenal 80 per 100,000) as compared, for example with Japan's 0.9 per 100,000. Confronted by these, the youth in particular have been looking for other ways by which the problems that they personally encounter and experience could be overcome. The young people in any culture are the keenest searchers for alternatives and innovations. But they do not always find the safest or the most efficacious. I have in mind especially the young people who end up with narcotic drugs which deaden them to the problems they have to grapple with and hence create the impression that they had found a solution to their social and personal problems. I will illustrate this with a real case. A Mini-case study of an American Youth in Search of Spiritual Guidance ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have a very close friend in Chicago who thirty years ago found himself (a young man of early twenties) dying in a New York hospital as a result of drug overdose . He was a student at a University in Chicago and did not even recall how he found himself in a hospital in New York. When he was released from the hospital, he realized that an incredibly great tragedy had overtaken him. He decided to find a way to get out of his drug problem. Where did he look for answers? Curiously, this intelligent young man looked for answers in the religions of the East. He wanted to find anybody who could give him some guidance so that the causes that led him to experiment with drugs could be eliminated from his life. What are the causes he identified by himself? Simple things, indeed; such as frustration, boredom, tension, stress, inability to cope with the daily traffic and pressures on his time. It could be the amount of required reading that had been prescribed in the classroom. It could be the competitive aggressiveness that was considered necessary to ensure a slight gain in his grade point average. It was this type of tension or stress that he thought he could solve very easily with a little something injected with a little syringe right into his system. He found that as long as he returned to a life in which the same things were going to be confronting him, he was never going to find a solution. Someone suggested that he should try meditation. He went to various reputed meditation masters. Apparently there are a lot of people who come to the U.S.A. to "sell meditation" like the proverbial vendor of "snake oil". Every one of the meditation masters whom this young man met had a beard as he himself had and wanted an exorbitant fee that he could not afford. They told him, "I can give you exactly the little mantra, the magic word or expression, that will rescue you, but at a fee". Given his circumstances, this young man had to go about looking for help until he found a very different kind of meditation master -- one who believed that meditation was the key to world peace and played a major role in inculcating this message to international diplomats in the United Nations. The doctrinal underpinnings of his form of meditation, which combined physical activity, art, music and poetry, was as much Hindu as it was Buddhist or, for that matter, universal. To the young seeker, there were several surprises: The first was that this meditation master did not have a beard or long hair. So, at least in this external detail, there was a distinction between him and his chosen guru. The second thing was he did not ask him for a fee. The third surprise was that he had no secret formula to meditate on. All he said was, "Young man, all nature, all actions begin in the mind. Train it. Control it. Purify it". The first discussion, as was narrated to me, was nothing but a lucid explanation of the contents of first stanza of the Dhammapada, even though the text was at no point mentioned. By the time the discussion was over the young man said to himself, "Now I understand. It is my mind that is really causing all these problems." He became a devout disciple of this meditation master, who is none other than Sri Chinmoy whose reputation for saving the lives of thousands of such young men and women remains unparalleled. This young man was truly "reborn" and now pursues a very successful career in computers while devoting his entire leisure for the promotion of the spiritual mission that saved him. We are in frequent contact as his guru is my most revered friend. I described this case in detail as this young man appears to be a typical representative of the American youth of today. Having gone through some critical experiences and come to the discovery that all problems begin in the mind, they look for practical guidance to live a more satisfying spiritual life. Buddhism, which begins with the statement that keeping the mind pure, controlling the mind, taming the mind is the fundamental spiritual practice, has proved to have all the ingredients of the solution they seek. Being a monastic tradition where every seeker is received with the highest possible hospitality, Buddhist institutions -- whatever be the school or sect -- have an openness which is particularly important to those in need of this kind of help. Many a person going through crisis situations have found solace and fortitude in the serene atmosphere of the Buddhist temple. The Relevance of Buddhism to Modern American Life ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Therefore, it is amply evident that Buddhism is beginning to have an impact on American society in the most practical way. Buddhism comes to the aid of those in distress who find that neither their social and personal problems nor their stressful day-to-day situations can be solved with drugs or with medicines, whether prescribed or bought on the street corner. They have realized that the only way that one can realign one's life is through the purity of one's own mind. By experience, they have also come to the conclusion that it is easier to begin in the manner the Buddha had preached. //Dana// or Liberality, the initial step in the elimination of the three roots of evil ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ That is, start with the simplest of all practices, namely, DANA: giving, or the exercise of liberality. Though it is simple it is also very important because to give is something much more than a mere manifestation of generosity. For Buddhism generosity has a far greater meaning as a step in the purification of the mind. When a Buddhist gives, it is not the hand of the giver held up aloft, very proudly handing some largesse to a recipient cringingly holding his hands below. In short, giving is not a form of exercising power or demonstrating domination, because the act of giving in Buddhism is, in itself, a process of meditation to purify one's own mind. As our venerable Theras have often told us, we cannot give anything to anybody unless we control and suppress at least two of the forces of evil that are within us. If there is greed and craving and one clings on to that little substance that one has in one's hand selfishly -- that is, as long as that //lobha// is within him or her -- one cannot part with anything. Hence one cannot give and thus exercise liberality. Nor can one give anything to another person if one has hatred, malice, or any kind of ill-will towards the other person. That is, we can give only up to the point we have no //dosa// or hatred or malice towards the recipient. So the very act of giving is a spiritual process in which we train ourselves to suppress at least our greed for that one little object even for that moment. Similarly, at least for that one moment we remove from our mind malice and hatred that we could have towards the other person. But that is not all. Even for a moment we also develop a positive thought that by giving we do something beneficial for our spiritual development. Such positive thinking is a veritable antidote to //moha// or delusion pertaining to our moral responsibility as human beings. So, when we begin with dana as the first step we have commenced our spiritual training by identifying and even momentarily suppressing the root causes of all evil, namely, lobha -- greed or craving, dosa -hatred or malice and moha -- delusion or ignorance. //Sila// or Moral or Virtuous Conduct, the second step ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The second step in spiritual training is sila, which consists of virtuous practices and good moral conduct. This stage comprises (i) avoiding what would make life impossible or injurious to others and (ii) doing what makes life fruitful to you as well as rewarding to others. In Buddhism, sila or moral conduct is a very simple concept. It is defined as: "Avoid evil. Do good. Keep the mind pure." What is evil and what is good is empirically explained by the Buddha. He does not go on to complex theoretical philosophical examination of how people decide upon morality or value systems with regard to ethical function. He simply says, "Make yourself the standard: what you like for yourself is what the other person will like for himself or herself. What you do and later repent is an act that you should avoid. What you do and rejoice or you do not repent is a good thing. There are things that people who are knowledgeable would say is wrong, particularly when done by somebody else. These are the bad things which you should avoid. What conduces to the good, the benefit and the happiness of the many is good". We have thus very empirical standards given in Buddhism for anybody to practice. This important aspect of practice in daily life and the constant development of virtuous standards of living or moral living; determined by our own free will through conviction rather than submission to the command of a supernatural being or entity, is what we call sila. //Bhavana// or Meditation, the Final Phase of Training ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Then comes the third stage, //bhavana// or meditation. Etymologically, it means training and, in this context, the training of the mind. By training the mind to concentrate on a specific subject we make it an efficient instrument, which works for us rather than the other way around. It is with well-directed intense training that we are able to concentrate our thoughts and proceed to understand the reality of life, the reality of existence. A controlled, purified mind is indispensable for the realization of the true character of life, and thus we begin to guide ourselves in the Path of Virtue or Righteousness. It is such a path towards purification of the mind that spiritually motivated Americans in general and the American youth in particular are searching for. So, with its diverse traditions and techniques of mental culture ranging from the Mindfulness Training (Satipatthana) of Theravada to Ch'an and Zen traditions respectively of the Chinese and Japanese Mahayana, to Tibetan Meditation and Ritual of Vajrayana, Buddhism has begun to make a tremendous and visible impact on the people of the U.S.A. The only thing we as practicing and devoted Buddhists need to do is to be in readiness to make ourselves available to those who want to learn more. When I say "to learn more", I think of all the facilities that are needed to gain knowledge. But there is a very important concept about learning and practicing as far as Buddhism is concerned. Although we write books and, as a writer, I would like people to read all that I write, one does not have to read an enormous number of books and amass theoretical knowledge to be a good Buddhist. Do you know what the Buddha said about the people who studied a lot of books and tried to master all the intricacies of the doctrine without ever practicing what was intended by such doctrines? He said, "You are good cowherds. You are only protecting the cows so other people will take the milk and the ghee." There are cowherds like me but our service is only incidental. Really to take advantage of the impact which Buddhism has on the U. S. A., you must be the consumers of the milk, the butter, and the cheese, as so aptly explained in the Buddha's picturesque imagery. That is what Buddhism wants all of us to be. If we can come to that level in this country, we shall see all the serious social and personal problems and struggles minimized, if not eliminated. Truths to be Realized ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The threefold Path of Virtue or Righteousness, whose relevance to this country we have so far highlighted, will lead us to realize three simple truths about us and our physical and social environment. As we look around us with care and perspicacity, we do realize that life is impermanent. We see for ourselves that nothing is the same for two moments. All of us started together this exercise of talking or listening an hour ago; but we are not the same any more. Every moment we have changed physically, biologically and psychologically, to such an extent that we are different persons by the time I sit down. Each person, thing and situation is in state of flux, evanescence and transition. Nothing is dependable. All is impermanent or anicca. Are such things or such a situation conducive to our happiness? An unpredictable tomorrow or an unpredictable next moment is not something that makes us happy. Impermanence is undesirable and unsatisfactory and all it causes is suffering because we all like to have things without change and within our control. We do not like to grow old and decrepit, to become sick or die. We do not like to associate with unpleasant things; say for instance, we do not like our cars to be defective or to break down. We want everything to go very smoothly. But nothing happens that way. We, from our day to day experiences, do realize, therefore, that our existence in every dimension is ultimately unsatisfactory. It is suffering or dukkha. With these two conclusions already reached, can anyone of us keep on going about claiming that what is so impermanent and so full of suffering, unpleasantness and unsatisfactoriness is "Mine". I am the one who is in charge and doing all this. The more we realize the fallacy of "I-ness" and "my-ness", the more we are convinced that there could be no entity like self to which we can be attached. This is the third characteristic called anatta or selflessness. Conclusion ~~~~~~~~~~ Once this realization of anicca, dukkha and anatta is gained through meditation, it certainly changes our attitude towards life, our interpersonal relations and our values and judgment. Selfless compassion and loving kindness with deep commitment to equanimity begin to dominate our lives. What impact will it have on a great civilization like that of U.S.A., where the stresses are far more than elsewhere in the world, because of the very great leadership role it is called upon to play in the world? No country in the world needs to be ready for a war or massive military intervention in the way U.S.A. has to. Tomorrow there may be a war in Haiti or Bosnia, in which the young in this country may be engaged. The young in this country have been called upon to fight devastating wars in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, and participate in many humanitarian operations elsewhere in the world. All these obligations call for the preparation psychologically, emotionally and spiritually of people who have to meet the challenges of the nation. The tensions and stresses, uncertainties and the other social problems that are created in this country on account of these obligations can be grappled with and can be solved only to the extent that we provide every possible help, particularly to those youth who are seeking answers. Our gift to them is the Buddha's noble path of peace, especially inner peace. At the end of all our efforts to control the environment, we have to accept that what we have no other option than to recognize the veracity of the Buddhist view of life as impermanent, unsatisfactory and selfless. The more we are convinced of this fact the more will we be committed to make our long voyage, through recurring birth and death, to the ultimate goal of full enlightenment, as soon as possible. I implore all of you in every possible way to engage yourself in this great effort of making the recurring cycle of birth and death shorter and see in Buddhism the wonderful message that has been provided for this progress. [Dr. Ananda Guruge is the Ambassador to the U.S.A. from Sri Lanka] * * * * * * * * {2} MEDITATION AND CREATIVITY by Ven. Sister Sucinta There is an increased interest in meditation all over the world. People experience benefits from their practice. Their health improves, as they learn to reduce stress and to relax. They may develop their faculties more fully and find more joy in their lives. Another highly appreciated quality in social life is creativity. And meditation seems to be very promising. If meditation has such good effects, there is reason to be happy with those who experience one or another of these improvements . However, there is much more to meditation. This essay won't be a lesson in "How to increase my creativity (and maybe become famous or rich)", or "How to get more good ideas or beautiful images" or "How to have more fun with them". If these are our intentions, it's like using an airplane to roll from one end of the runway to the other without getting into the sky. We can do it, we will even progress, but we remain mundane, "worldlings". It seems that Buddhism, especially Theravada Buddhism, does not cherish creativity. Theravada Buddhism has the image of being sterile. There is little decoration, no music, and nothing is exciting or really exotic. We try to keep everything simple. The Buddha's teaching does not change. We repeat it, remember it and gradually penetrate into its true meaning. When we practice Vipassana meditation we are advised just to sit and watch the breath; getting interested in what seems to be ordinary. We learn to see things as they are: perceptions are just perceptions; thoughts simply thoughts; feelings, feelings....We are taught that birth is suffering, so we head towards becoming "no-thing". Do we necessarily increase suffering by our creations? Do we always create monsters as Frankenstein did? Will our creation always lead to alienation, since we'll never be able to control our creatures? There are famous examples of what may happen, when technical possibilities invented by creative human minds are manifested. Many people may associate this issue with nuclear power stations, for example. Even if we should come to the conclusion that candle light is better than neon tubes, or a pen is more handy for writing than a computer, it's simply the nature of our mind: that it creates. It creates all the time. We can't stop it easily. Vipassana meditators see and scrutinize every state of mind. They take interest in boredom and dullness as well as in the excited mind. We investigate the highly energetic and sometimes chaotic mental states, when fantasy goes all over the place. Referring to creativity: if it happens deliberately, it's often called "brainstorming". We can watch the process of creating as it happens; be it a drawing, building construction, organizing a meeting or writing an article. Let us look closely into the creativity workshop and find out, if there is a creator at work. Which feelings arise in this process? We experience different stages; often starting with initial enthusiasm. Indeed, there are so many possibilities in the air, and it seems we could grab them all. In this state we imagine we are running the world. This nourishes our sense of being somebody. We feel great. Then we listen to our critical, doubting mind, which has at least some clue that we are chasing balloons that contain only air and will inevitably deflate. Then we tend to throw all our crazy thoughts and intentions into the trash, noticing our exhaustion after all. We get stuck and tend to blame ourselves for being a hopeless case. It's a good time to take a break and a good opportunity to see how our ego is involved. We get in our own way with our ambition, separation from others, comparing, judging. Later we might find that at least some ideas make sense and that maybe others could benefit from expressing them. There is no reason to envy very creative people. If we read biographies of famous artists, we often find times of crisis in their lives, some of them even spent months or years in mental hospitals. Heinrich Boll, a novelist in post-war Germany, wrote a story called "Dr. Murke's gesammeltes Schweigen" (Dr. Murke's collected silence). There he tells about Dr. Murke, who was employed at a broadcasting corporation. This peculiar man used to collect empty space on tapes, tape cuttings from the breaks taken by speakers, as other people collect stamps. (Dr. Murke would have been delighted about Guided Meditation tapes, which he certainly did not know about). Similarly it is possible to use creativity to create space or to create time. We don't have to follow all our ideas, not even all those we consider to be "good" ones. Maybe we manage to leave a cigarette in the packet or our favorite cookies untouched or not watch another movie on TV. However, not to follow a scintillating thought or a dark thought with its quality of glue, or even to stop it as it arises, seems to be much more difficult. We need meditation to learn to refrain from thoughts. One morning I woke up suddenly realizing that I was very late for morning meditation. In this sudden awakening I could only remember that I was just dreaming vividly, but though I was trying hard, I could not remember any tiny hint about the content of my dream. I was very curious and started to feel a bit grumpy about this rush. Then I realized: It was silly to blame morning meditation for having lost... just an ego-bubble! We need creativity for the Path of Liberation, to develop skillful attitudes, qualities and means. It takes creativity to figure out how to apply the Buddha's teaching in our daily life. This includes Right Livelihood as well as ways to live in peace with different people in all kinds of situations. We need to find out how to get the dirt out of our mind, how to trick our mind out of delusion and -- finally -- how to dive into the ocean and stop existing as a drop of water. The Sufi Mystic Farid ud-Din'Attar (12th century AD) used in this context the word "creation" in a very uncommon sense: "The drop that becomes part of this great ocean abides there for ever and in peace. In this calm sea, a man, at first, experiences only humiliation and overthrow; but when he emerges from this state he will understand it as creation, and many secrets will be revealed to him." (Quotation from Christopher Fremantle's summary of Attar's parable "The Conference of the Birds" in: Sulzberger, Jean; Search -- Journey on the Inner Path; 1979; page 141). "Creation" here is result of total self-surrender and means complete deliverance from delusion. In the Buddha's words there is "ajatam, abhutam, akatam, asamkhatam" (the not-born, not brought-to-being, not-made, not-formed), which is our real refuge. Only by the existence of the "unborn" and "uncreated" is there the possibility of escaping from all suffering. As fish only know the water, we creatures, born and formed beings, usually have no image of that which is not created. Though it is beyond words, we have the potential to realize it, as the Buddha did. "There is, bhikkhus, a not-born, a not brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-formed. If, bhikkhus, there were no not-born, not-brought-to-being, not-made, not-formed, no escape would be discerned from what is born, brought-to-being, made, formed. But since there is a not-born, a not-brought-to-being, a not-made, a not-formed, therefore an escape is discerned from what is born, brought-to being, made, formed." (Udana 8.3, Transl.: John Ireland, BPS, Kandy 1990) * * * * * * * * {3} BOOK REVIEW by Douglas Durham //Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree// by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu Wisdom Publications, Boston. 1994 $12.50; 150 pages Ludwig Wittgenstein once said: "The aspects of things that are most important for us are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity." I recently observed a Theravadan monk skillfully apply this obvious truth in a seminar for 20 people interested in forming a weekly vipassana (mindfulness) meditation group. On the way there, I asked him how he proposed to explain such a complex subject as Buddhism in just two hours. He commented with a grin: "I'm not going to discuss Buddhism with them. To learn about Buddhism, they should go to a university. I only talk about Dhamma -- the natural law." Like the Buddha, the monk focused on the fundamental principle of quenching of dukkha (dis-ease, unsatisfactoriness). In part because of the simple message, in part because of the personality of the monk, the seminar succeeded -- we formed a weekly vipassana meditation group. I tell this story to make explicit my bias, that "Buddhism" has developed some excessively complicated concepts. These concepts can obscure the basic and familiar teachings of the Buddha -- the arising of dukkha, the quenching of dukkha through avoiding upadana (clinging or grasping). Because of my inclination (one might even say attachment) to the fundamental, I found The Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree an invigorating tonic, entirely lacking any taste of medicine -- a taste found all too often in books with lists of 10 thises, 57 thats and 89 theses, which if swallowed and digested, would somehow make me a "better Buddhist". There is a German proverb which asks an interesting and skillful question: Was hilft Laufen, wenn man nicht auf dem rechten Weg ist? (What is the use of running, when we are not on the right way?) When I am trying to understand the many "Buddhist" concepts, I sometimes feel like I'm running on a treadmill -- working hard, but not going anywhere. When I concentrate on the Buddha's basic message -- how to quench dukkha through non-clinging -- I taste the fruits of the Path to Nibbana. Buddhadasa goes right to this essential teaching on page 15: "I would like to suggest that the heart of Buddhism is the short saying, 'Nothing whatsoever should be clung to.' There is a passage in the Majjhima-nikaya where someone approached the Buddha and asked him whether he could summarize his teachings in one phrase and, if he could, what it would be. The Buddha replied that he could, and he said, '//Sabbe dhamma nalam abhinivesaya//.' '//Sabbe dhamma//' means 'all things,' '//nalam//' means 'should not be', '//abhinivesaya//' means 'to be clung to.' Nothing whatsoever should be clung to. Then, the Buddha emphasized this point by saying that whoever had heard this core phrase had heard all of Buddhism; whoever had put it into practice had practiced all of Buddhism; and whoever had received the fruits of practicing it had received all the fruits of Buddhism." As we all know, giving up clinging is easier said than done, but it is what must be done. Buddhadasa, with this book, can help us do it. In the first two parts of the book, he explains what he believes to be the Buddha's key concept -- //sunnata// (voidness of self), with self being defined as "merely a condition that arises when there is grasping and clinging in the mind." (Page 61) In the third part, he provides specific, practical instructions for lay people to cultivate a mind devoid of self and, therefore, of clinging. How does Buddhadasa define this essential idea? On page 27, he says: "One can, if one wants, describe sunnata in many ways: being void of self, or void of having anything as self or as belonging to self. The word 'voidness' has a whole host of applications. Although the characteristic of voidness remains constant, its expressions are innumerable. That being so, we aim to examine voidness only as absence of dukkha and the defilements that cause dukkha, and as the absence of the feeling that there is a self or that there are things which are the possessions of a self. This is voidness as it relates to our practice of Dhamma." Another view of sunnata -- its traditional Theravadan definition -- can be found in the Buddhist Dictionary by Nyanatiloka (3rd edition), page 175: "As a doctrinal term it refers, in Theravada, exclusively to the Anatta doctrine, i.e., the unsubstantiality of all phenomena: 'Void is the world... because it is void of a self and anything belonging to a self' (//sunnam attena va attaniyena va//; Samyutta Nikaya XXXV, 85)." What is the anatta doctrine? It is the intuitive recognition of the profound truth that in this world there is only the arising and passing of physical and mental phenomena. As Nyanatiloka says on pages 12-13 of the Buddhist Dictionary: "This is the central doctrine of Buddhism, without understanding of which a real knowledge of Buddhism is altogether impossible. It is the only really specific Buddhist doctrine, with which the entire structure of the Buddhist teachings stands or falls. All the remaining Buddhist doctrines may, more or less, be found in other philosophic systems and religions, but the Anatta-Doctrine has been clearly and unreservedly taught only by the Buddha, wherefore the Buddha is known as the Anatta-vadi, or teacher of impersonality. Whosoever has not penetrated this impersonality of all existence, and does not comprehend that in reality there exists only this continually self-consuming process of arising and passing bodily and mental phenomena, and that there is no separate Ego-entity within or without this process, he will not be able to understand Buddhism, i.e. the teaching of the 4 Noble Truths (sacca, q.v.), in the right light." If reading that makes you want to "penetrate the impersonality of all existence," the third part of this book can help you to develop your practice in order to achieve that very insight. Buddhadasa's suggestions are simple: "We can contemplate dependent co-origination, we can observe impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and not-self in all things; and we can see the illusoriness of feelings. We apply our practice in 'ordinary times' during moments of sense contact, and at the moment of death." (page 110) The specific instructions are for laypeople during their daily lives. Experienced vipassana (insight) meditators can follow them easily. Those who are just beginning would benefit from discussion with a monk on how to incorporate these ideas into their practice. Beginners might also read (or re-read) What the Buddha Taught by W. Rahula, Grove Weidenfeld, New York, 1974, especially chapter six on anatta, which also covers dependent co-origination, and the translation (pages 99-105) of the Sabbasava Sutta (Getting Rid of all Cares and Troubles). If you would be interested in a detailed review of the original sunnata doctrine, you should read pages 82-109, in Concept and Reality in Early Buddhist Thought, by Nanananda, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, 1986. You might also read the Cula Sunnata Sutta of the Majjhima Nikaya. In making these suggestions for further reading, I do not mean to burden you. This book is very useful for attaining the ultimate goal of freedom from dukkha. My intent is solely to encourage you to look at these basic concepts of sunnata and anatta and dependent co-origination from two other perspectives and in the Buddha's words (as translated) in order to deepen one's understanding of them. In fact, my only criticism of this book would be to suggest to the publishers that, if it is not too costly, they should print in the next edition, translations of the suttas referred to by the author to support his position. Many readers, myself included, would find it valuable to be able to read these key lessons from the Buddha in full. From the discourses, as from Buddhadasa's Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree, we can learn how to quench dukkha by relinquishing clinging and achieve nibbana here and now. I'd like to close with a poem by Basho (1644-1694 CE), a Japanese Zen poet. The images strongly evoke impermanence. I find that concentrating on impermanence, leads to lessened clinging. Summer grasses, all that remains of soldiers' dreams. * * * * * * * * {4} NOTES AND NEWS TRAVEL ~~~~~~ At the invitation of the Buddhist society of Western Australia and Buddhist Society of Victoria Bhante Gunaratana went to Australia for 25 days. He left The Bhavana Society on the 29th of June and returned on the 25th of July. His first stop was Melbourne where he stayed from the first to eighth of July giving Dhamma talks and participating in meditation at the Buddhist Temple. He left Melbourne on the eighth and went to Perth. There were almost three hundred people at the Wat Buddhayana Temple to listen to Bhante's Dhamma talk on the eighth evening. After another Dhamma talk there he went to the forest monastery in Serpantine. He enjoyed the hospitality of the monks at that center and gave a couple of Dhamma talks there. He conducted a retreat between 15 and 24 of July at a center in the north an hour away from Perth. The next day he returned from Australia. NEW MEDITATION GROUP IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On July 16, 1994, Bhante Rahula led an introductory seminar in Herndon, Virginia for over 20 people interested in joining a weekly mindfulness meditation group. (See the 2 page announcement of this group in the last newsletter.) As a result of success of the seminar, we have decided to conduct regular meetings from 7-9 PM every Monday, starting on October 10, 1994. Either Bhante Gunaratana or Bhante Rahula will lead the group once a month. The new meeting place is yet to be decided. We will inform in early October those of you who came to the July meeting where the new meetings will be held. If you weren't there please contact Douglas Durham at 703-391-6884 between 9 AM and 4 PM., Monday to Friday. The first purpose of the group is to deepen our understanding of Dhamma, as taught in the Theravada tradition. Our second purpose is to deepen our Vipassana meditation practice by joining with other like-minded individuals. Our third purpose is to learn to use Vipassana to achieve clear comprehension of our daily behavior, then to alter that behavior to achieve significant change towards greater patience, joy, compassion and wisdom. YOUTH RETREAT ~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The third Youth retreat organized by Dr. Arvoranee Pinit was held at the Bhavana Society meditation center between 18 and 21 of August. It was attended by 29 young people between the ages of 12 and 20. The last two retreats were held only from Friday evening till the lunch time on the following Sunday. This year, however, because of the participants' favorable response in the past, we decided to hold it from Thursday evening till lunch time on the following Sunday. Everybody seemed to enjoy the retreat. Everyone at the Bhavana Society in High View, West Virginia would like to thank Dr. Arvoranee Pinit, Dr. Boonrak (Ben) Tantisira, Mrs. Ratana Tantisira, Mrs. Pornthip Achalabun, Mrs. Suwanna Phoo, Dr. Aurapin Sukanich, Mr. Jerry Parr, and Dr. James Cook for making this wonderful Youth Retreat a great success. Dear participants! We hope that all of you received enough information and teaching of meditation and Buddhism to continue practicing on your own. You may find that this practice can help you find peace and tranquillity in your every day struggle to carry on. You will start receiving our quarterly newsletter if you are currently not getting it. You may find many articles answering some questions you may have thought of after you left the retreat. If you live with your parents who receive the newsletter, please read it. If you are away from your parents staying in school/college dormitories and like to have the newsletter for yourself, please let us know. We would be glad to see to it so you will get one. The receipt for donations to Bhavana Society will be mailed out at tax time next year. Please inform us of any change of address. Once again, thank you for helping our retreat be as successful as we had hoped. We hope to see many of you next year. With Metta, The Bhavana Society Meditation Center. VASSA OBSERVATION ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The resident monks and nuns at the Bhavana Society meditation started their annual rainy retreat observation on the full moon day of July. It will be ended on the full moon day of October. People who invited monks to observe vassana rain retreat and their friends will make the Kathina robe offering on Saturday, October 29, 1994. This also is the day many people bring numerous other requisites to monks and nuns. Some times it is very difficult for them to decide what items they should bring to offer to the center. To make this difficult decision easy for them, we would like to make the following list of some of the items that the center would appreciate. FOOD: Raisins, nuts (low in salt) sugarless or law sugar cereals, jam and jelly, granola, bananas, brown rice, fruits, herb tea, Horlicks, hot chocolate, and vegetables (fresh or canned). Please note: The WV. Health department has informed us that, according to the FDA regulations, we should not serve imported canned food. All canned foods should be canned in the United States. General household items: Toilet paper, paper towels and napkins, laundry detergent, dish washing liquid, double-edge shaving blades, large sponges, disinfectant, garbage bags, meditation cushions, tents, stamps. Also, Our used clothes washing machine donated by a friend of the Bhavana Society some years ago, does not work now at all. The residents and visitors of the Bhavana Society would very much appreciate it if someone would kindly donate another washing machine. NEW MEDITATION HALL ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ After clearing and leveling the land, we have dug the foundation for the new meditation hall. Now we are waiting for our beloved Mother Nature's co-operation! As soon as she starts her support we will resume the building. We trust everyone who has benefited from the serene and peaceful atmosphere would continue to support this wonderful project. We plan to build as donations come in. Whenever we run out of funds we will stop the work and wait till sufficient funds build up again to resume the work. In other words we plan to build this hall in stages. The sooner we receive funds the sooner the building will be complete. (See drawing on inside back cover) EAST WEST DIALOGUE ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ East-West dialogue will be held on Friday, October 21, 1994 at Lord Fairfax Community College. Bhavana Society will be represented by Bhante Yogavacara Rahula and Ven. Sister Sucinta. This conference is open to the public. However, advance reservation is necessary to attend the conference. For further information please call (703) 869-1120. REGULAR DONOR PROGRAM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We wish to thank all those who joined our Regular Donor Program. If you wish to join, please fill the DONATION FORM near the last page. This program is for those who wish to donate on a regular basis and would like to be reminded. We will send you a stamped and addressed return envelope on a regular basis (decided by you). You simply have to put your donation check in the envelope and put it into a mailbox. INTRODUCTORY CASSETTE COURSE ON THE BUDDHIST PATH ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ We are pleased to offer a ten tape course narrated by Bhikkhu Bodhi (editor, Buddhist Publication Society). It covers: The Buddha, Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, Dependent arising, Rebirth, Kamma, Nibbana, and the Sangha. For more details see Tape Collection in this issue. WANTED: BOOKS ON MEDITATION AND BUDDHISM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Do you have any used (or new) books you would like to donate to libraries? We had requests for books from public libraries, meditation groups and even a prison library. * * * In the past year we began to offer you several things in addition to our meditation retreats. They, like our retreats, are all available for FREE; donations are of course welcome to cover cost of disks, packaging, postage, etc. Here is a brief summary of what we have: SUGGESTED READING LIST describes books on meditation and the Buddhist path and where to get them. TAPE LIST has audio and video tapes on meditation and the Buddhist path. It is updated regularly since we often release new tapes. BUDDHIST DICTIONARY has clear explanations of all key Theravada terms and doctrines accompanied by textual references. It is an indispensable aid for the serious student of Buddhism. DHAMMADISK is a set of four floppy disks (3.5 inch) for your IBM or Mac (tell us which one you have). Its contents include Dhamma discourses, meditation instructions, previous Bhavana newsletters, directory of vipassana sitting groups, dozens of articles, and entire books. Computer users can also connect to a Dhamma bulletin board, for information on how to do it ask for our pamphlet //Dhamma From Your Computer//. * * * * * * * * {5} BHAVANA SOCIETY TAPE COLLECTION Sounds from the Forest Monastery Only newly released tapes are listed, for previously released tapes ask us to send you the Tape List. Tapes are not sold but a donation of $4 per tape is suggested unless noted otherwise. Tapes are listed in alphabetical order:-- title, tape number, speaker, date, tape contents. (BR)- Bhante Rahula (BS)- Bhante Sukhacitto The Buddha's Teaching As It Is ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAPE 181-190 (10 tapes in set) $35 including shipping. An introductory course narrated by Bhikkhu Bodhi (editor, Buddhist Publication Society) covering the fundamentals of the Buddha's teaching. Consists of ten cassettes in an attractive vinyl binder, accompanying written materials, and two books: What the Buddha Taught by Ven. Walpola Rahula and Buddhist Dictionary by Ven. Nyanatiloka. For more details see the NOTES & NEWS section. Causes and States of Mental Conditions ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAPE 150 (BS) 7/4/94 Going beyond the view of "I want to get something from this retreat". Right understanding necessary to develop a practice of mental cultivation. Five aggregates of clinging explained. Using the body as a mindfulness anchor. Dhamma-The Way Things Are ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAPE 345 (BR) 7/3/94 An explicit, detailed explanation of what is meant by The Way Things Are. Options we have and results of choosing. Effectiveness and results of mindfulness training. Establishing and maintaining a safety zone. The First Noble Truth and the Dhamma ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAPE 347 (BR) 7/6/94 Levels and aspects of dukkha explained. Three classifications of dhamma practice which overcome levels of suffering. The necessity and benefits of precepts clarified. Using the peaceful concentrated mind to develop wisdom. The function of insight. The Paramis and Destroying the Kilesas ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAPE 151 (BS) 7/8/94 Investigating the source of defilements. Reflections on believing, disbelieving or keeping an open mind. Paramis as an antidote to the kilesas and leading to the Buddha mind. Characteristics of existence discussed. Reading from Discourses of the Buddha ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAPE 348 (BR) 7/7/94 Discourse on what is to be followed and what is not to be followed. Right effort one of the most critical factors in dhamma practice. Bodily, vocal, mental conduct. Bases of indolence and energy. The Retreat Experience ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAPE 344 (BR) 7/2/94 Description of what one might experience during a retreat. Expectations compared to reality. Understandings and insights developed during a retreat. Necessary attitude towards body/mind process. Gross to subtle levels in the cultivation of awareness. The Second Noble Truth and Self ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ TAPE 346 (BR) 7/5/94 Relationship of sense of self and thinking explained. Effect of deep meditation on the "I am". Why desires can never be satisfied. Basis of ignorance described. Three causes of pain and conflict. --------------c-u-t----a-l-o-n-g----t-h-i-s-----l-i-n-e------------ TAPE REQUEST FORM BHAVANA SOCIETY Rt. 1 Box 218-3 High View, WV 26808 USA Tel: (304) 856-3241 Fax: (304) 856-2111 Name_________________________________________________________________ Address:_____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________ City_____________________State_______Zip.________ +~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~+ |Qty | Tape title (give first two words only) | Tape | Donation | |~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~| | | | | | |~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~| | | | | | |~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~| | | | | | |~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~| | | | | | |~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~| | | | | | |~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~| | | | | | ~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~|~~~~~~|~~~~~~~~~~| Packaging and mailing cost | | |~~~~~~~~~~| Any (additional) donation to Bhavana Society | | |~~~~~~~~~~| Total | | |~~~~~~~~~~| Suggested donation: $4 per tape unless noted otherwise. How to calculate packaging and mailing cost: U.S.A. and Canada: 75 cents per tape Overseas: $1.00 (surface) or $2.50 (air) per tape Any (additional) donation to Bhavana Society is optional and will be used by the Bhavana Society for the offering of meditation retreats, lecture tours, and other ways of spreading the Dhamma. Please make checks or money orders payable in U.S. dollars to BHAVANA SOCIETY. --------------c-u-t----a-l-o-n-g----t-h-i-s-----l-i-n-e------------ * * * * * * * * --------------c-u-t----a-l-o-n-g----t-h-i-s-----l-i-n-e------------ BHAVANA SOCIETY DONATION FORM BHAVANA SOCIETY Rt. 1 Box 218-3 High View, WV 26808 USA Tel: (304) 856-3241 Fax: (304) 856-2111 Yes, I would like to help Bhavana Society's community of enlightenment, and its transmission of the Buddha Dhamma. Enclosed is my contribution: REGULAR DONOR PROGRAM ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I wish to donate $_______ every_____________weeks/months send me the first donation reminder on this date___________________ (we will send you a stamped envelope a few days before each donation due date -- for your convenience) I wish to make a one-time donation of $_________ Please make check or money order payable to the Bhavana Society, Inc.. Contributions to the Bhavana Society are tax deductible in the United States. Thank you! 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If you find this work of value, please consider sending a donation to the author or publisher, so that these works may continue to be made available. May your generosity contribute to the happiness of all beings everywhere. DharmaNet International, P.O. Box 4951, Berkeley, CA 94704-4951 [end]


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