Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Gnosis "Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World"


In this fascinating documentary, historian Bettany Hughes travels to the seven wonders of the Buddhist world and offers a unique insight into one of the most ancient belief systems still practised today. Buddhism began 2,500 years ago when one man had an amazing internal revelation underneath a peepul tree (Bodhi Tree) in India. Today it is practised by over 350 million people worldwide, with numbers continuing to grow year on year. In an attempt to gain a better understanding of the different beliefs and practices that form the core of the Buddhist philosophy and investigate how Buddhism started and where it travelled to, Hughes visits some of the most spectacular monuments built by Buddhists across the globe. Her journey begins at the Mahabodhi Temple in India, where Buddhism was born; here Hughes examines the foundations of the belief system — the three jewels. At Nepal's Boudhanath Stupa, she looks deeper into the concept of Dharma (Dhamma) — the teaching of Buddha, and at the Temple of the Tooth in Sri Lanka, Bettany explores Karma (Kamma), the idea that our intentional acts will be mirrored in the future. At Wat Pho Temple in Thailand, Hughes explores Samsara, the endless cycle of birth and death that Buddhists seek to end by achieving enlightenment, before travelling to Angkor Wat in Cambodia to learn more about the practice of meditation. In Hong Kong, Hughes visits the Giant Buddha and looks more closely at Zen, before arriving at the final wonder, the Hsi Lai temple in Los Angeles, to discover more about the ultimate goal for all Buddhists - nirvana.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Bhikkhu Bodhi introduces Buddhist Global Relief


Introduction by Bhikkhu Bodhi 
to Buddhist Global Relief, 
an organization devoted to 
alleviating hunger in the world.

Buddhism in Action


www.buddhistglobalrelief.org




 
Books by Bhikkhu Bodhi
 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

MEDITATION CLASS EVERY THURSDAY EVENING




A N N O U N C E M E N T

Dear Dhammaseekers & Fellow Yogis,

The Meditation Class 
with Bro. Visu 
on Every Thursday
the time had been 
changed from 
7:30 evening
to
8:00 evening.

A L L   A R E  W E L C O M E!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ask A Monk: Difficulty for Women Monastics

interviewing on 
Monk Radio in Sri Lanka.


Venerable Phalañānī Bhikkhuni born in Duesseldorf, Germany, grow up in Kaarst, Germay, went to school there, went to study in Paris, was actrice and comedian, was married (for very short) was divorced, traveled around parts of the world, lived in Spain, Mallorca, and became a buddhist nun, first Mae Chii, then Samaneri and finally a Bhikkhuni.


Monk Radio 
 
 by Venerable Yuttadhammo

Weekly "radio" broadcast, actually a live video stream, is a chance for Buddhists to renew their determination by formally retaking refuge and precepts, and a chance for meditators to ask questions and receive answers about meditation, Buddhism, and the monastic life. After the formal (optional) recitation and Q&A period, there will be a brief group meditation.

Ask questions at live radio session every Sunday:


or via Question and Answer Forum:

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Revival of BHIKKHUNI ORDINATION in the THERAVADA TRADITION


This is a wonderful slideshow of photographs from the recent Bhikkhuni ordination ceremony at Spirit Rock in California in which Ayyas Anandabodhi, Santacitta and Nimmala received their higher ordination.

This ordination constitutes the cutting edge of Buddhism as is challenges the patriarchal attitudes and history present in many Buddhist lineages. There have always been places for women in the monastic community, but rarely are women given the same monastic ordination as men. This is a topic of great discussion in the greater Buddhist community and is met with a variety of opinions and ideas. This ceremony, which took place on October 17, 2011 at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre CA, had the support of venerable monastics from all the major branches of Buddhism, as well as the support of Bhikkhu Bodhi.


The slideshow by Ed Ritger.

The chanting is of Aggasāvikā Bhikkhunī 
by Melanie Zeiki, 
click link for the text and translation:


by Bhikkhu Bodhi

NEWLY REVISED EDITION 2011


A translation from Pali by Bhikkhu Bodhi of part of a text by The Original Mingun Jetavan Sayādaw of Burma (Myanmar), one of the most respected scholars and meditation teachers in modern times.

The writing comes from his edition of the Milindapañha Aṭṭhakathā which was published by the Haṃsāvatī Piṭaka Press, Rangoon, Burmese year 1311 (=1949), pp. 228-238.


The work sounds a little technical at the beginning because of the repetition, but it is well worth trying to understand, as the Sayādaw’s separation of two phrases in the Vinaya is cruical to understanding the correct position on this matter.

M I S C O N C E P T I O N S
about the Bhikkhuni Order

 by Barbara Yen
(Malaysia, 17 September, 2011)

Introduction

September 17 is designated as International Bhikkhuni Day. On this day, let us remember and honour the courage of the five hundred women, led by Mahā Pajapati Gotamī who were so determined to renounce that they shaved their heads, donned the robes and walked about 350 miles barefoot, from Kapilavastu to Vesali to seek permission from the Buddha for ordination. 


The Buddha believed that women were capable of being enlightened but is reported as being initially reluctant, if this was so he may have felt that the social and cultural climate of India at that time and the constraints in his young ministry were challenging factors for their going forth.

Ultimately, did the Buddha regret making this decision? From the facts of the case, it does not appear to be so. From these bhikkhunis, the Buddha singled out thirteen outstanding ones, all of whom were Arahats, to be foremost in various aspects in Buddhism.

M I S C O N C E P T I O N S
about the Bhikkhuni Order

Through the ages, some misconceptions or myths have crept in over the Bhikkhuni Order in various countries and cultures, particularly in Asia. Many genuinely believe them to be true. Some of these myths are:

MYTH 1: 
The Bhikkhuni Sangha 
had gone extinct after 
the Buddha’s parinibbana as 
no bhikkhuni was mentioned 
in any of the Buddhist Councils. 
    
We do not have to look very far. Even in our daily speech or in written word, there is gender bias in that the masculine gender is often used (he, his, mankind, man-power) to depict both genders. Our descendents could also be mistaken and believe that there are no women existing in this century!
King Asoka's Edicts
Yet bhikkhunis and lay women found in King Asoka’s Edicts; they were often mentioned to be donors of viharas and stupas; and the Chinese pilgrim, Fa Hsien, noted that there were thousands of monks and nuns in Sankasya, India in the fourth century CE.

A Portrait of Fa-hsien
 In Amaravati, India, which is considered a centre for Theravada Buddhism, the word ‘bhikkhuni’ was mentioned in about 18 sites and dates back to the 11th century CE which shows that both sanghas survived till then and were probably wiped out by the Muslim invasion in that period.


MYTH 2:
Ven. Sanghamitta, 
daughter of King Asoka, 
is the last of the bhikkhunis.

Sanghamitta Theri
In fact there was even doubt that she brought enough bhikkhunis for the ordination of Princess Anula, King Tissa’s sister-in-law in the third century BCE. However, the Sri Lankan Chronicle, Mahavamsa 17.1 recorded Sanghamitta Theri came with ten other bhikkhunis to ordain her. Recent archaeological findings discovered an area between Anuradhapura and Mahintale, where Ven. Anula and her five hundred followers had their nunneries. The royal families also built aramas for the bhikkhunis.

In 433 CE, Ven Devasara of Sri Lanka led a group of bhikkhunis in a ship called Nandi and gave ordination to three hundred Chinese women in the Southern Forest Monastery in Nanking, China. (see Edward Conze: Buddhist Texts Through the Ages).

Dr Hua Chee Min, a Chinese professor, in his book written in Sinhala, Theravada Buddhism in China, cited 40,000 Theravada Buddhists from 5,000 temples, many of which were in Yunnan. The lineage therefore has not been broken and it later spread to Korea, Japan and Taiwan. In the Mahavamsa bhikkhunis are still mentioned up and till the 10th century.

In 1988, Fo Guang Shan of Taiwan organized the First International Ordination for women at Hsi Lai Temple, LA, USA and helped give the bhikkhuni lineage back to Sri Lanka, which was the country they got it from.


MYTH 3:  
Women cannot come into 
contact with the robe. 
Her menstruation will soil it.

This is a Brahministic cultural and social belief. The Buddha was trying to discourage this kind of thinking. It is a biological process without which humans will go extinct. Not only are nuns ordained during the Buddha’s time but there was a nun who was pregnant. The Buddha called a royal commission to investigate the case with Ven Upali and a lay woman Visakha in the committee. When it was found that she was pregnant before she was ordained, not only was she not required to disrobe, she was allowed to go through with the pregnancy and breast feed her baby, whom she named Abhaya (Fearless) until he was one year old. The bhikkhuni’s is known as Abhayamata (the mother of Abhaya). The other nuns shared their alms food with her. Such was the compassion and deep understanding of the Buddha. Abhaya who was adopted by a prince, was later ordained as Ven. Kumāra and became an Arahat. His mother also had a similar attainment.

Uppalavaṇṇā, a beautiful woman was raped by her cousin who was one of her many suitors. She did not need to disrobe as the Buddha disclosed that she was already an Arahat and was beyond sensual pleasures. She is the most prominent bhikkhuni in psychic powers and one of the two Great Female Disciples.

This incident reminds me of an unfortunate case of a Tibetan nun who was raped by Chinese soldiers. She disrobed, thinking that she was defiled and not worthy of wearing the robes.

The recent case of the Nepali nun who was raped by a bus driver and his companions is another example of ignorance about the Order and its rules. She was apparently disowned by a Nepali Buddhist organisation for similar reasons which caused an international outcry.

MYTH 4:   
A Burmese woman once told me that 
women are of lower birth, and 
have to be born as men to be  
able to achieve Buddhahood.

There is a seed of Buddhahood in everyone one of us. It depends on whether we want to nurture it and how we nurture it. According to Ven. Anandajoti, “in the early sangha anyone who attained Arahatship was also called a Buddha, only later was the term restricted to a Sammāsambuddha. In line with the original interpretation of the word, therefore, males and females could be Buddhas.

But according to tradition only males become Sammāsambuddhas, this is based on mythological thinking, which says that what happened in the exemplary case is the way it always happens. We don't really think in this way anymore, and I personally can't see any reason why women couldn't become a Sammāsambuddha.” 


MYTH 5:
With the ordination of women, 
the life of the Dhamma will be 
shortened by 500 years.

If it is true, the Dhamma would have disappeared around 1st CE. If the Buddha had foreseen this with his divine vision, He would certainly not have agreed or have given in to Ven. Ānanda’s pleas.

In fact, the Buddha said, 
“The good Dhamma declines 
when Four-Fold Assembly 
(Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, laymen and laywomen) 
dwells without respect for 
the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha, 
the Training, Samādhi & Mindfulness”.
  (Aṅguttara Nikāya)


MYTH 6:  
Ordination of women needs  
the Dual Sangha.

The Dual Sangha Ordination was first introduced when the bhikkhus in a single Sangha Ordination, asked a nun to answer the questions about the obstructions to ordination which are areas related to a monastic’s sexuality which might be obstacles to ordained life. She was embarrassed to answer and upon consultation with the Buddha, senior nuns were requested to ask these questions. This really reflects the Buddha’s sensitivity, compassion and flexibility in difficult situations. Nevertheless, the Single Sangha Ordination by Bhikkhus was never abolished.


MYTH 7:   
Ordination of women done in 
the Mahāyana tradition is 
not valid.

The ordination for both Sanghas is based on Vinaya rules which are similar in all three traditions. The difference is in the Dhamma, not the Vinaya, which is what the lineage is all about. Even in this, the difference is in the letter, not in spirit.


MYTH 8:  
Ordination is a sign of failure  
especially for  in social life women 
whose countries prohibit full ordination. 
Their status as eight or ten preceptors is
low and they often serve as 
helpers in temples.

This perception is slowly changing especially in Thailand where some of the maechees have doctorates in Buddhism and teach in universities or nuns' colleges. Some live as nuns in the forest tradition and one of them literally brought the forest back by planting about ten thousand trees to the amazement of the community and the state. After the 12th Sakyadhita Conference in Bangkok in June, 2011, a few of us had the opportunity to visit this peaceful hermitage. 

Ven. Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
video 
 AL JAZEERA: EVERYWOMAN
Buddhist Nun (first part)
— interview with Dhammananda Bhikkhuni
and second part on Hijab Fashion

Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, a former professor in Buddhism in Thammasat University, received full ordination in Sri Lanka in 2003 and is now Abbess of Songdhammakalyani Bhikkhuni Arama, willed to her by her mother. She teaches Dhamma and conducts samaneri and temporary novitiate ordinations each year. On 24 June, 2011, she has five fully ordained bhikkhunis with her.

Ven. Tenzin Palmo

In 2005, she was among four Buddhist nuns to be selected for the 1,000 Peace Women nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. The others are Ven. Tenzin Palmo (UK), Ven. Rurui Shih (China) and Maeji Pratin Kwan-On (Thailand).

Perhaps the person who inspired her most is her mother, Ven. Voramai Kabilsingh who braved all odds to be the first woman in Thailand to be fully ordained in 1971, which she obtained in Taiwan after being a Maeji for 15 years, and afterwards she built her own monastery.

On this day, we also salute bhikkhunis for their strong perseverance and courage like Ven. Santini and Ven. Susilvati of Indonesia who braved strong opposition, and to Sara Narin (Thailand) and Saccavadi (Myanmar) who faced imprisonment. The former was kidnapped in 1928 and the latter disrobed in 2005 and is now married and resides in the USA. 


MYTH 9:   
Women can only disrobe once.

For a detailed discussion of this belief, please refer to Ven. Sujato’s chapter: Can a Bhikkhuni Ordain Again? in his book on Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies.


MYTH 10:   
Women are obstacles to 
the purity of the bhikkhus.

Evidence from other traditions in Taiwan, Vietnam, France, USA, Australia and others shows an ever expanding and healthy dual sangha, both joyfully working side by side to serve the community and spread the Dhamma.



Conclusion

These myths, if allowed to perpetuate from century to century, will not only be a great hindrance to the progress of Buddhism but they reflect very negatively on the religion which claims to enable us to achieve wisdom and liberation. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we can use all this energy instead to spread the Buddha Sasana?

We need to deconstruct these myths and the tools for it are facts, information and wisdom. It is the responsibility of all Dhamma protectors and propagators to help disentangle this web of delusion and remove this shroud so that the light of Truth can shine through and illuminate the world.


References
  • Dhammananda Bhikkhuni (Dr. Chatsumarn Kabilsingh), Women Strengthening Buddhism, Buddhasavika Foundation. Published by Thai Buddhist Centre, Bangkok, 2010
  • Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, A Different Voice, Buddhasavika Foundation. Published by Thai Buddhist Centre, Bangkok, 2010
  • Dhammananda Bhikkhuni, Bhikkhunis In Thailand, Buddhasavika Foundation, 2009. www.thaibhikkhunis.org. 
  • Edward Conze: Buddhist Texts Through the Ages, Harper & Rows
  • Dr Hua Chee Min, Theravada Buddhism in China, Colombo
  • Sujato Bhikkhu, Bhikkhuni Vinaya Studies: Can a Bhikkhuni Ordain Again?

    Other titles by Bikkhu Bodhi

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    What is the Method?

    I remember a short conversation between 
    the Buddha and a philosopher 
    of his time.

    "I have heard that Buddhism is 
    a doctrine of enlightenment. 
    What is your method? 
    What do you practice everyday?" 

    "We walk, we eat, 
    we wash ourselves, 
    we sit down." 

    "What is so special about that? 
    Everyone walks, 
    eats, washes, sits down..." 

    "Sir, when we walk, 
    we are aware that 
    we are walking; 
    when we eat, 
    we are aware that 
    we are eating...
    When others walk, eat, 
    wash, or sit down, 
    they are generally not aware of 
    what they are doing." 


    ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Keys

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    MEDITATION CLASS DEC 2011 — MAY 2012 with VISU


    @ House of Inward Journey
    14 Phuah Hin Leong Road
    off Burma Road
    10050 Georgetown
    Penang, Malaysia


    Contact: 
     Sunanda Lim 012 4302893
    Inward Path 04 2262893

    Tuesday, December 6, 2011

    Meditation May Help Brain Tune Out Distractions

    Study Helps Explain 
    Why Meditation 
    Improves Concentration

    by Jennifer Warner
     

    WebMD Health News
       Reviewed by  
    Laura J. Martin, MD

    source: www.webmd.com

    Nov. 21, 2011

    People who meditate may be able to use their brain in ways others can't to tune out distractions and focus on the task at hand.

    A new study shows that experienced meditators may have less activity in parts of the brain associated with daydreaming and distraction while meditating and in their day-to-day lives.

    Researchers say this brain network, known as the "default mode network," has also been linked to anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and Alzheimer's disease.
    ANXIETY is a normal human emotion that we all experience. But when panic and anxiety symptoms escalate into anxiety attacks and panic attacks, it may be an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety, and panic disorder. There is excellent treatment for anxiety attacks, as well as panic attack symptoms, including medication and psychotherapy.
    ATTENTION DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER (ADHD) and ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER (ADD) have symptoms that may begin in childhood and continue into adulthood. ADHD and ADD symptoms can cause problems at home, school, work, and in relationships.
    ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE is the most common type of dementia. Symptoms of Alzheimer's, including early-onset Alzheimer's, include problems with memory, judgment, and thinking, which makes it hard to work or take part in day-to-day life. As the stages of Alzheimer's progress, memory loss and other signs of Alzheimer's become more apparent. Many people find help with Alzheimer's drugs, but there is no cure for this form of dementia.

    "The default mode is when you ruminate, think about yourself, or daydream," says study researcher Judson Brewer, MD, PhD, medical director of the Yale Therapeutic Neuroscience Clinic. 

    "Everybody has it, but experienced 
    meditators have a different type."

    Brewer found that people who meditate are able to link up other parts of their brains to monitor activity in the default mode network that tell them to get back on task when distractions arise and be present in the moment.

    The study is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    Experts say the results help explain the benefits of meditation on concentration and open the door to future research using meditation to treat and potentially prevent a variety of psychiatric and neurological disorders.


    Meditation Modifies 
    Brain Networks


    In the study, researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to analyze brain activity in 12 experienced meditators (more than 10 years of experience practicing mindfulness meditation) and 12 novice meditators. The scans were done as they practiced three different types of mindfulness meditation as well as at rest.

    The results showed that experienced meditators 
    had less activity in the default mode network
    regardless of the type of meditation they practiced.

    In addition, the scans showed that when the default mode network was active, other brain regions responsible for self-monitoring and thought control were also activated in experienced, but not novice meditators.

    "This new default mode in meditators 
    has these other components 
    that are monitoring and telling you 
    to get back on task and be present," 
    Brewer tells WebMD.


    More Benefits of Meditation

    Experts say the findings build on previous studies that have shown meditation can alter brain structure by increasing gray matter density and brain activity to improve concentration.

    "The finding sheds light not just on meditation's effect on the brain but on some basic brain operations that may have implications beyond meditation," says Catherine Kerr, PhD, director of translational neuroscience, contemplative studies initiative, Brown University. She has studied the effects of meditation on brain wave activity.

    Kerr says the brain has two networks, the attentional network and the default network. The attentional network is usually focused on something external, such as a manual task. The default network is involved in internal chatter and daydreaming.

    Usually these networks work exclusively of each other. When one is on, the other shuts down, Kerr says.

    "But meditators are using this default network 
    in unusual and novel ways," 
    Kerr tells WebMD. 

    "People who meditate don't get lost 
    in mindless negative chatter. 
    Meditation protects you from 
    repetitive negative thinking, 
    which puts you at risk for depression."

    Kerr says meditation may work like a spotlight to bring the mind's attention away from internal distractions and back to the task at hand.

    Sara Lazar, PhD, associate scientist at Massachusetts General Hospital, says the study is also interesting because it distinguishes meditation from rest.

    Lazar, who has studied meditation's effect on brain structure, says the increased brain connectivity found in experienced meditators in this study is consistent with the structural changes she has documented.

    Lazar and Kerr say more research is needed to determine if meditation may be beneficial for those at risk for mental illnesses or with early signs of Alzheimer's disease.
       


    Books on mindful meditation brings therapeutic benefits

    Friday, December 2, 2011

    24 Hour Metta

    Did u know? http://24hrmetta.alokafoundation.org/ - Have u signed up? Join me, on 31 Dec 2011, to welcome 2012 in a whole new way and dimension. For world peace, stability, and harmony. Vickey with metta.
     

    Thursday, December 1, 2011

    Meditation May Reduce Pain


    Brain Imaging Shows Impact of 
    Brief Mindfulness Meditation Training  
    by Salynn Boyles
    WebMD Health News
    Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

    Source: www.webmd.com

    April 6, 2011 

    Even very brief instruction in meditation appears to help people cope with pain, and a newly published brain imaging study may explain why.

    After just four, 20-minute instructional sessions in mindfulness meditation, most participants in the small study experienced big reductions in pain intensity and unpleasantness when subjected to painful stimuli.

    Prior to learning the meditation technique, brain imaging showed significant activity in a key area of the brain when the participants were subjected to intense heat, but this activity was reduced when they were meditating.

    This is the first study to show that 
    only a little over an hour of 
    meditation training can 
    dramatically reduce both 
    the experience of pain and 
    pain-related brain activation,” 
     said researcher Fadel Zeidan, PhD, 
    who is a postdoctoral fellow at 
    Wake Forest University School of Medicine.

     
    Meditation Helped Block Pain

    The researchers recruited 18 healthy young adults who had never meditated prior to joining the study. 

    Over the four, 20-minute training sessions, the study participants were taught a meditation technique known as focused attention, which involves paying close attention to breathing patterns while acknowledging and letting go of thoughts that distract from this practice, Zeidan says. 

    Before and after mindfulness meditation training, brain activity was measured using a special type of magnetic resonance imaging that captures longer-duration brain processes, such as meditation, better than standard MRI. 

    While the MRIs were being performed, a device was placed on each participant’s right calf that delivered 120 degrees of heat — a temperature that most people find painful. The heat was kept on the skin for 12 seconds and then taken off the skin for the same amount of time over a total of 5 minutes. 

    Even though the MRI was very loud, most of the participants were able to successfully block out the noise and the pain from the heat source and focus on their breathing. 

    Pain intensity ratings were reduced after meditation by an average of 40%, and pain unpleasantness rating were reduced by 57%. 

    Meditation was shown to reduce activity in key pain-processing regions of the brain. 

    The study appears in the April 6 issue of the The Journal of Neuroscience.

     

    Meditation 101: 
    Accept the Distractions

    The study confirms that mindfulness meditation can have a real and measurable impact on the experience of acute pain, even in people with very little formal training, Wake Forest associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy Robert C. Coghill, PhD, tells WebMD. 

    He says meditation could prove useful for the management of postoperative pain and in other acute pain settings. 

    It remains to be seen if the brief instruction can help people with chronic pain. 

    Meditation has been used to 
    treat chronic pain for a long time, 
    but patients tend to 
    have a lot more training,”
    he says. 

    “It is not clear if the brief 
    training sessions like 
    the ones used in this study 
    would be useful for these patients.” 

    Zeidan says meditation distracts the mind and reduces the emotional response to pain. 

    In the training phase of the study, the participants were instructed to close their eyes and focus on the changing sensations of their breath and they were told to bring their consciousness back to their breathing each time their minds wandered. 

    “Usually this happens within the first minute when people first start meditating,” he says. “It is perfectly normal.” 

    He says the goal is to acknowledge these distractions, accept them for what they are and simply let them go by gently bringing the attention back to the breath without any judgment. 

    “Many people think they are doing something wrong at first because their minds keep wandering,” he says. “But becoming aware of how busy the mind is is part of the process.”


    Books on mindful meditation brings therapeutic benefits