Category Archives: Buddhism in America

Donation Approved Letter for IBS // Update Aug.2011 « Buddhist Causes


Donation Approved Letter for IBS // Update Aug.2011 « Buddhist Causes.

Donation Approved Letter for IBS // Update Aug.2011

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Dear IBS Prison Program Supporters,The Chuckawalla State Prison has graciously grant approval to permit the distribution of all of our Buddhist practice materials including books, CD’s, DVD’s, statues of the Buddha, Gong, Dharma bell, etc, to the Buddhist follower inmates.  For that, I would like to confer my sincere gratitude for all the prayers and support to allow this auspicious outcome to come into fruition in such an expeditious manner. Hundreds of our dharma inmates will greatly benefit by being able to learn about the teachings and striving for genuine repentance to acknowledge their past misdeeds in hopes of becoming better societal members.  IBS is honored and extremely grateful to be able to provide all of the materials that are conducive to a diligent spiritual practice and livelihood.On behalf of all of the other prison Sanghas, I would like to once again express our utmost appreciation for your continual support and encouragement without which many of the results could not have happened. IBS also would also like to thank all the supporters in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, as well as those from different states in the US.  As always, IBS vows to continue to do its very best to lead all the prison Sanghas on the path of Buddahood.  May all sentient beings be blessed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.Amitofo,
Xianzhong Shi

ABOUT IBS
International Bodhisattva Sangha (IBS) has been doing prison visitation programs in California for many years. There are hundreds of inmates in the prisons willing to learn and practice the Buddha Dharma. IBS only visits once a month to help and offer the Dharma, but once a month is not sufficient to teach enough information about Buddhism for their daily practice. We did some research about their practices, and it brought us more insight about how to benefit the practitioners. They desperately need library materials.Therefore IBS trying to set up a library in each yard of different state prisons that will be beneficial for those practitioners. If you have any Buddhist books, CDs, DVDs or Buddhist magazines and would like to donate them for the prison library, please contact us.
Thank You,International Bodhisattva Sangha
12584 Sora Way
San Diego CA 92129
Phone: 1+619-450-3699
Fax: 1+858-484-1889
E-mail: zhongibs@hotmail.com
_________________________________________________________________________________________

“There are two kinds of gifts: a gift of material things and a gift of the Dharma. Of the two, the gift of Dharma is supreme.”                                                                                                     Itivuttaka 98

Please visit Buddhist Causes Blog for more information IBS and other Buddhist                                                    run/owned  causes and non-profits


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“What The Buddha Taught” by Rev.Dr. Walpola Rahula Q&A


“What The Buddha Taught” Book Study Group.

Welcome Dharma friends,

I hope you find this Q&A useful , beneficial  and worthy to share with others everywhere on the Path. I have enjoyed working on this project as I have wanted to write a Q&A based on this book for some time. I am convinced that this is the perfect book to learn the necessary fundamentals of Buddhism . I have added links to Suttas and Sutras mentioned in the book, as well as supplemental information that I have personally found particularly helpful. READ MORE>>>

The “Maha Teacher’s Council” “Brad Warner””Rev.Danny Fisher” and my opinion


WARNING! My opinion to follow!  ;P As most of you know I do not think my opinion belongs on a blog aimed at promoting the true, pure Buddhadharma, however  being an American Buddhist , who has been very very lucky to have found wonderful, authentic teachers and didn’t have the burden of wadeing through “Neo-Buddhism” “Feel good Buddhism” “New age Buddhism” “Buddhism without conviction” “Self Serving Mindfulness  and Meditation without Right View ” and whatever else lends itself to this movement of “Feel good Buddhism” , I feel this whole Maha Teacher Council  is just as Brad Warner put it so accurately “Oh nice. A self-selected groüp of important Büddhists get together to decide what’s best for the rest of us.”

Is there really a such thing as “American Buddhism” anyway, or has a “Maha  Teacher Council” , materialism , and egotism created this thing called American Buddhism? Buddhism is Buddhism, the Doctrine is the Doctrine, any thing else falls short.

My only experience with Buddhism is in America, I do not know what it is like in other countries, but I do know when we have councils whose attendees ( where is the entire list of attendees anyway, still looking for it, won’t someone share?)  are less than authentic, ordained Masters of the Dharma what comes out of a council will be less then the entire complete Buddha’s Doctrine, in full, which is the same in Asia, India and America.  I am an American Buddhist, can you tell that from the content in my blog? The Doctrine is the same. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure there were some authentic Master’s there , and I am  certain there were non-Buddhist discussing … well discussing what actually ?!?!? O.0 It still isn’t clear to me , even after reading Rev. Danny Fisher’s    interview with Lama Surya Das .  ( I assume Rev. Danny didn’t attend, was he invited? If not that says alot in itself, he’s an authentic American Buddhist Reverend )

Did they discuss how to raise funds for Dharma propagation in the America ? Fund books, Sutras and Sutta’s for free distribution?

Did they discuss how to raise funds to build good noble Monasteries in the America?

I really can’t think of anything else more important.

 **if you would like to fund books inquire at any noble Monastery or contact the B.A.U.S. ( Buddhist Association of America, NY ,USA ) . IBS ( International Bodhisattva Sangha  CA, USA ) is also collecting Dharma materials so they can build Buddhist libraries in prisons. Or Dharma Friends Prison Outreach Project   So many good places to fund Dharma propagation. How about supporting a new Monastery, Dong Hung Temple Buddhist Education center is building a new Monastery in Virginia USA, is also collecting books for their new libray and the last I heard Dong Hung also needed a new van as their’s was in an accident , Soshimsa Zen-Center in NJ USA is also needing a new van to be able to continue the many outreach programs planned for the future , or help support Monastics in America such as Dhammadharini “Women Upholding the Dhamma CA USA” and Alliance for Bhikkhunis CA USA and last but not least how can we forget to give back to one of our most noble Masters of the Dharma of our time, Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi’s organization Buddhist Global Relief NY, USA &WORLDWIDE.  There are many noble efforts to donate to, I regret I can not post them all.


I invite anyone who was at the “Maha Teacher’s Council” to put to rest my concerns, please prove me wrong.

In the Dharma,

Melissa Upasika (just a plain old lay person devoted to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha)

I sincerely thank Brad Warner and MADHUSHALA for blogging their thoughts, concerns and insights  and keeping the rest of us who really wouldn’t know about this great “Maha  Teacher’s Council”  informed. I personally would not have known because I don’t read, subscribe, or give any thought to any person or publication that would have mentioned this great “Maha  Teacher’s Council”

Click for Brad Warner’s and MADHUSHALA’s original blogs on this.

Buddhism In America: What Is The Future?. written by Jaweed Kaleen of the HUFFPOST RELIGION

Now for the intent and purpose of me humiliating myself by sharing such strong opinions  I ask serious American Buddhist practitioners please read Teaching Buddhism in Americaby Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi “In my view one of the major errors that is being made in the teaching of Buddhism here in the U.S. (and more broadly in the West) is the fl at identifi cation of Buddhadhamma (the teachings of the Buddha) with meditation, especially with insight meditation. I see the Dhamma as having a much more extensive range. It involves at least three essential components, which I would call right faith, right understanding, and right practice. Th e practical side is also extensive, and might be summed up in the famous verse of the Dhammapada (183): “To abstain from all evil, to cultivate the wholesome, and to purify one’s mind: that is the instruction of the Buddhas.” Th ese three principles, stated so simply, are quite compressed. Th ey can be elaborated in diverse ways at great length. At the very root of all proper Dhamma practice, in my view, is proper faith, which is expressed by the act of going for refuge to the Triple Gem. By going for refuge, one reposes faith in the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha as one’s supreme ideals. Th is expression of faith should be grounded in understanding what the Th ree Gems represent. Th us faith, understanding, and practice are intricately interwoven. “

Two styles of insight meditation by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi “On the basis of this choice, we find that meditators divide into two broad camps. One consists of those who focus exclusively upon the immediately tangible benefits of the practice, suspending all concern with what lies beyond the horizons of their own experience. The other consists of those who recognize that the practice flows from a source of wisdom much deeper and broader than their own. In order to follow this wisdom in the direction to which it points, such meditators are ready to subordinate their own understanding of the world to the disclosures of the teaching and embrace the Dhamma as an organic whole. These are the ones who adopt Buddhism in its religious and doctrinal sense as the framework for their practice.” Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi 

if you are new to Buddhism I suggest reading

What The Buddha Taught by Dr Walpola Rahula and go from there.

Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi on The Kalama Sutta


A Look at the Kalama Sutta 

by Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

The discourse has been described as “the Buddha’s Charter of Free Inquiry,” and though the discourse certainly does counter the decrees of dogmatism and blind faith with a vigorous call for free investigation, it is problematic whether the sutta can support all the positions that have been ascribed to it.  On the basis of a single passage, quoted out of context, the Buddha has been made out to be a pragmatic empiricist who dismisses all doctrine and faith, and whose Dhamma is simply a freethinker’s kit to truth which invites each one to accept and reject whatever he likes. 

But does the Kalama Sutta really justify such views? Or do we meet in these claims just another set of variations on that egregious old tendency to interpret the Dhamma according to whatever notions are congenial to oneself – or to those to whom one is preaching? Let us take as careful a look at the Kalama Sutta as the limited space allotted to this essay will allow, remembering that in order to understand the Buddha’s utterances correctly it is essential to take account of his own intentions in making them.

The passage that has been cited so often runs as follows: “Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon tradition, nor upon rumor, nor upon scripture, nor upon surmise, nor upon axiom, nor upon specious reasoning, nor upon bias towards a notion pondered over, nor upon another’s seeming ability, nor upon the consideration ‘The monk is our teacher.’ When you yourselves know: ‘These things are bad, blamable, censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,’ abandon them. When you yourselves know: ‘These things are good, blameless, praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.”

Now this passage, like everything else spoken by the Buddha, has been stated in a specific context – with a particular audience and situation in view – and thus must be understood in relation to that context. The Kalamas, citizens of the town ofKesaputta, had been visited by religious teachers of divergent views, each of whom would propound his own doctrines and tear down the doctrines of his predecessors. This left the Kalamas perplexed, and thus when “the recluse Gotama,” reputed to be an Awakened One, arrived in their township, they approached him in the hope that he might be able to dispel their confusion. From the subsequent development of the sutta, it is clear that the issues that perplexed them were the reality of rebirth and kammic retribution for good and evil deeds.

The Buddha begins by assuring the Kalamas that under such circumstances it is proper for them to doubt, an assurance which encourages free inquiry. He next speaks the passage quoted above, advising the Kalamas to abandon those things they know for themselves to be bad and to undertake those things they know for themselves to be good. This advice can be dangerous if given to those whose ethical sense is undeveloped, and we can thus assume that the Buddha regarded the Kalamas as people of refined moral sensitivity. In any case he did not leave them wholly to their own resources, but by questioning them led them to see that greed, hate and delusion, being conducive to harm and suffering for oneself and others, are to be abandoned, and their opposites, being beneficial to all, are to be developed.

The Buddha next explains that a “noble disciple, devoid of covetousness and ill will, undeluded” dwells pervading the world with boundless loving-kindness, compassion, appreciative joy and equanimity. Thus purified of hate and malice, he enjoys here and now four “solaces”: If there is an afterlife and kammic result, then he will undergo a pleasant rebirth, while if there is none he still lives happily here and now; if evil results befall an evil-doer, then no evil will befall him, and if evil results do not befall an evil-doer, then he is purified anyway. With this the Kalamas express their appreciation of the Buddha’s discourse and go for refuge to the Triple Gem.

Now does the Kalama Sutta suggest, as is often held, that a follower of the Buddhist path can dispense with all faith and doctrine, that he should make his own personal experience the criterion for judging the Buddha’s utterances and for rejecting what cannot be squared with it? It is true the Buddha does not ask the Kalamas to accept anything he says out of confidence in himself, but let us note one important point: the Kalamas, at the start of the discourse, were not the Buddha’s disciples. They approached him merely as a counselor who might help dispel their doubts, but they did not come to him as the Tathagata, the Truth-finder, who might show them the way to spiritual progress and to final liberation.

Thus, because the Kalamas had not yet come to accept the Buddha in terms of his unique mission, as the discloser of the liberating truth, it would not have been in place for him to expound to them the Dhamma unique to his own Dispensation: such teachings as the Four Noble Truths, the three characteristics, and the methods of contemplation based upon them. These teachings are specifically intended for those who have accepted the Buddha as their guide to deliverance, and in the suttas he expounds them only to those who “have gained faith in the Tathagata” and who possess the perspective necessary to grasp them and apply them. The Kalamas, however, at the start of the discourse are not yet fertile soil for him to sow the seeds of his liberating message. Still confused by the conflicting claims to which they have been exposed, they are not yet clear even about the groundwork of morality.

Nevertheless, after advising the Kalamas not to rely upon established tradition, abstract reasoning, and charismatic gurus, the Buddha proposes to them a teaching that is immediately verifiable and capable of laying a firm foundation for a life of moral discipline and mental purification . He shows that whether or not there be another life after death, a life of moral restraint and of love and compassion for all beings brings its own intrinsic rewards here and now, a happiness and sense of inward security far superior to the fragile pleasures that can be won by violating moral principles and indulging the mind’s desires. For those who are not concerned to look further, who are not prepared to adopt any convictions about a future life and worlds beyond the present one, such a teaching will ensure their present welfare and their safe passage to a pleasant rebirth – provided they do not fall into the wrong view of denying an afterlife and kammic causation.

However, for those whose vision is capable of widening to encompass the broader horizons of our existence. this teaching given to the Kalamas points beyond its immediate implications to the very core of the Dhamma. For the three states brought forth for examination by the Buddha – greed, hate and delusion – are not merely grounds of wrong conduct or moral stains upon the mind. Within his teaching’s own framework they are the root defilements — the primary causes of all bondage and suffering – and the entire practice of the Dhamma can be viewed as the task of eradicating these evil roots by developing to perfection their antidotes — dispassion, kindness and wisdom.

Thus the discourse to the Kalamas offers an acid test for gaining confidence in the Dhamma as a viable doctrine of deliverance. We begin with an immediately verifiable teaching whose validity can be attested by anyone with the moral integrity to follow it through to its conclusions, namely, that the defilements cause harm and suffering both personal and social, that their removal brings peace and happiness, and that the practices taught by the Buddha are effective means for achieving their removal. By putting this teaching to a personal test, with only a provisional trust in the Buddha as one’s collateral, one eventually arrives at a firmer, experientially grounded confidence in the liberating and purifying power of the Dhamma. This increased confidence in the teaching brings along a deepened faith in the Buddha as teacher, and thus disposes one to accept on trust those principles he enunciates that are relevant to the quest for awakening, even when they lie beyond one’s own capacity for verification. This, in fact, marks the acquisition of right view, in its preliminary role as the forerunner of the entire Noble Eightfold Path.

Partly in reaction to dogmatic religion, partly in subservience to the reigning paradigm of objective scientific knowledge, it has become fashionable to hold, by appeal to the Kalama Sutta, that the Buddha’s teaching dispenses with faith and formulated doctrine and asks us to accept only what we can personally verify. This interpretation of the sutta, however, forgets that the advice the Buddha gave the Kalamas was contingent upon the understanding that they were not yet prepared to place faith in him and his doctrine; it also forgets that the sutta omits, for that very reason, all mention of right view and of the entire perspective that opens up when right view is acquired. It offers instead the most reasonable counsel on wholesome living possible when the issue of ultimate beliefs has been

put into brackets.

What can be justly maintained is that those aspects of the Buddha’s teaching that come within the purview of our ordinary experience can be personally confirmed within experience, and that this confirmation provides a sound basis for placing faith in those aspects of the teaching that necessarily transcend ordinary experience. Faith in the Buddha’s teaching is never regarded as an end in itself nor as a sufficient guarantee of liberation, but only as the starting point for an evolving process of inner transformation that comes to fulfillment in personal insight. But in order for this insight to exercise a truly liberative function, it must unfold in the context of an accurate grasp of the essential truths concerning our situation in the world and the domain where deliverance is to be sought. These truths have been imparted to us by the Buddha out of his own profound comprehension of the human condition. To accept them in trust after careful consideration is to set foot on a journey which transforms faith into wisdom, confidence into certainty, and culminates in liberation from suffering.

source   

link to The Kalama Sutta translated from the Pali byThanissaro Bhikkhu

link to The Kalama Sutta Translated from the Pali by Ven. Soma Thera 

The New Improved Buddhist Council [now with more enzymes, lather and added vitamins] written by MADHUSHALA // Another MUST READ for Western Practitioners


The author writes so well what my biggest gripe is within the American Buddhist community, which in my opinion *( and this is the first time ever my opinion is on my blog, I do not think MY OPINION belongs on a Blog aimed at promoting the BUDDHA’S DOCTRINE, opinions lead to such “committees” and erroneous thinking, such as “The New and Improved Buddhist Council”) This sort of ‘council’  adds to the commercialization of Buddhism,adds to the erroneous notion that the Buddhadharma as taught by The Blessed One is “a feel good philosophy” and the element of white/well to do/ elite shaping Buddhism in the West is disturbing and will only lead to the decline of the Buddha’s Doctrine as it should be practiced if one’s wishes is to break the cycle of birth and death**. I could go on and on, but won’t , just read her article , make your own judgement and check back often as I will post related links and updates.

Be well,

Melissa Upasika 
* Cycle of birth and death :I also must choose my words carefully as people love to debate that Buddhism is or isn’t a religion, that Buddhist practice can be practiced by any religion, philosophy and so forth, the answer is yes Buddhist concepts can be practiced by anyone, with or without the conviction of the truth that the Buddha expounds in his doctrine, HOWEVER, to break the cycle of birth and death, once must practice the Doctrine in it’s entirety, with conviction in the Triple Gem, anything else falls into the category of a “feel good, self help philosophy” and is not everlasting and will not lead the practitioner to Nirvana.

The New Improved Buddhist Council [now with more enzymes, lather and added vitamins] written by  MADHUSHALA

Just like in the old days…

From Buddhadharma News: Teachers gather to discuss the future of Western Buddhism:

The conference, known as the Maha Teacher Council, is by invitation only.

It also was not announced more than a week prior to the event and the participants are a secret.

How does that strike you?

It strikes me as very odd.

Why is this any of our business? Why not just ignore it?

Maha Teacher Council sounds like something official. Some of the most prominent Buddhist teachers and book authors are going to be present. It involves some of the big Buddhist magazines. They shape the message that the masses will receive regarding the Buddhadharma. They have authority in terms of lineage, Buddhist practice, ownership of Buddhist properties such as centers, mass production of English language Buddhist information and of course media reach.

This affects the atmosphere of Buddhist practice for many of us. It possibly affects the direction some future Buddhist endeavors take. It further consolidates a power base for a select group of individuals to determine the mainstream Buddhist message.

And there’s more.

Brad Warner wrote in the comments on a Facebook mention of this item:

Oh nice. A self-selected groüp of important Büddhists get together to decide what’s best for the rest of us.

Gatherings like this worry me a lot. It’s pretty obvious what their intentions are.

The intent is to create a unified sense of what Buddhism ought to be. It’s like trying to create a unified sense of what art ought to be. Very Soviet sounding to me.

And yes, I will even admit to being bothered at not being invited. Because someone needs to take a stand against that attitude, which is starting to take over Buddhism in the west and will, I believe, win in the end.

[a commenter pointed out that there was no list of attendees or agenda published] I can’t find a list either. Which is also intriguing.

But I do think someone needs to question this kind of thing openly. I’m only sorry (and annoyed) that has to be me.

[When Brad makes a blog post about this it will go here. 6.8.11 And here it is Brad Warner’s Hardcore Zen: Uninvited to the Buddhist Party on Suicide Girls][In case he doesn’t you can always read mine]

Well Brad isn’t the only one with concerns about these conferences and self-appointed decision makers. Several other commenters had some issues with this though many dismissed it as rather unimportant in a self-important sort of way. I want to go through some of the issues that were brought up as well as some of the dismissals. READ MORE
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RELATED BLOGS and Discussions

Brad Warner vs. The Maha Teachers

Posted on June 9, 2011 by David Chapman

Brad Warner has just blogged about the Maha Teachers Council. He thinks it’s a problem that he was not invited—not because his ego’s offended, but because it means the conference organizers are actively excluding what he represents.

I think he’s right. In fact, I suspect the conference is all about what he represents, and that is why he wasn’t invited. But his piece doesn’t explain what that is and why they are excluding that. Here’s my theory. READ MORE HERE 

LATEST by MADHUSHALA

Brad’s Invitation was Lost in the Mail…or something like that.

Last update..maybe..  

APPOLOGIES TO THE GARRISON INSTITUTE

POSTED BY BRAD WARNER AT 7:46 PM

Last weekend I was contacted by Erin Koch of the Garrison Institute, the people who put on the Buddhist Maha Teacher Council I wrote about on Suicide Girls. She said:

“I respect and appreciate the teachers I have worked with for the past year I also respect difference and open communication. I am very sorry you did not receive your invitation. I have a record of your invitation (Dec. 9).

“I do wish you had corrected your blog and facebook page to reflect the truth. Criticism of the event aside, you were invited and your contributions would have been welcome. Noah Levine asked me to invite you which I did on Dec 9. I think of you as sangha and I want the dharma to be of benefit to us all.

“I feel that your post has given the Garrison Institute a negative appearance to many people who had not previously heard of us and this is upsetting to me. Critiquing the event would have been fair and interesting, but suggesting we are closed network that excluded you is just not correct. Even if you had not been invited, you could have contacted us. Many teachers that were unintentionally excluded from the invite list asked to come and none were turned down.

“I wish you and your students all the best and harbor no bad feeling.”

So first off, I apologize to Erin Koch and the Garrison Institute for unintentionally misrepresenting them. READ MORE HERE

 

While he apologizes we don’t forget the main reason why he and other’s posted in the first place.