Urban Dharma Newsletter... November 26, 2002
How to Become a Monk or a Nun ... A First Letter
2. What does a monk do during a typical day?
3. Becoming a Buddhist Monastic in Korea
A Shortcut Through My Life ...Bhikkhu Pajalo (Austria)
Going Forth ...by Karunadhammo Bhikkhu
Book Review: Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction
to the Indian Tradition...
Temple/Center of the Week: The Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist
How to Become a Monk or a Nun ...
A First Letter
are very happy to hear that you are interested in becoming a
Buddhist monk/nun. This is truly a meaningful and worthwhile
way to spend your life, and to be of benefit to others. We are
very fortunate that the monastic tradition started by the Buddha
is still alive today, thanks to the devotion, dedication and
efforts of many thousands of monks and nuns in Asia over the
last 2-1/5 millennia. In recent years a number of westerners
have also taken monastic vows and have found the experience
deeply rewarding, but at the same time very challenging.
start with, in case you are not familiar with the Buddhist monastic
tradition, we thought it might be helpful to let you know a
few things about this tradition that you need to be aware of:
vows of a Buddhist monk or nun are taken for life, therefore
it is important to not rush into taking them, but to spend time
and take great care in reflecting on the various advantages
and disadvantages before making a decision. Some monasteries
in Asia (e.g. in Thailand) offer part-time ordination programs,
usually for men, which allow one the possibility to live as
a monastic for a few days, weeks, months, or years. However,
this is rare in the Tibetan tradition. And although there are
cases of people who take vows and later give them back, returning
to lay life, this is not recommended. The vows should be taken
with the determination to keep them for the rest of one's life.
the Buddhist Teachings
making the decision to take ordination, one should have a thorough
understanding of the fundamental teachings of the Buddha, such
as the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Stages of
the Path to Enlightenment (Lam Rim) and so forth. This normally
requires several years of study and practice under the guidance
of a qualified teacher. Therefore, you need to have a teacher
who is teaching and guiding you, and who can give you permission
to be ordained, and you need to be following one of the Buddhist
traditions (e.g. Theravada, Tibetan, etc.).
that means is that you first need to take refuge and the 5 lay
precepts, and to spend some time living your life in accordance
with Buddhist teachings and practices. If possible, spend some
time – e.g. a year – living in a monastic community
to get a feel for this lifestyle, and that way you can better
know whether or not it is suitable for you.
Part of a Community
a Buddhist monastic means that you are joining a community –
the Sangha – the purpose of which is to study and practice
the Buddha's teachings in order to keep them alive, and whenever
possible, to share them with others. Traditionally, one stays
in a monastic community for at least 5 years after becoming
ordained. If this is not possible, one should at least stay
near one's teacher and follow his/her guidance for this period
some countries – e.g. Thailand, Burma, Taiwan –
when someone joins a monastic community, all one?s needs such
as food, clothing, accommodation, etc. are provided for. However,
in the west, the number of lay Buddhist supporters is quite
small, and there is no central organization that looks after
the needs of western monastics. For this reason, if you wish
to become a monastic in the west, you will need enough funds
to support yourself for at least the first 2-3 years. After
that you may be able to receive some sponsorship. It is contrary
to the Vinaya and generally not recommended that monks and nuns
work at ordinary jobs to support themselves, however, there
are a few cases of monastics who are given permission by their
teachers to work due to unavoidable circumstances.
What does a monk do during a typical day?
go to the community's first meeting of the day at five o'clock
in the morning. I usually get up between four and four-thirty.
We start the meeting by lighting candles and incense on the
shrine, then bowing to the shrine three times. We then do about
thirty minutes of chanting and then sit in meditation for about
an hour. The chanting is in the Pali language which is a very
ancient tongue not used these days for anything other than the
Theravada Buddhist religion. Some of the chanting is devotional,
reflecting on the beautiful qualities of the man that was the
Buddha: kindness, compassion, wisdom, morality. Some of it is
contemplative, reflecting on some of the things that the Buddha
taught. The meditation is in silence. At the end of the meditation
the senior monk rings a little bell and we bow to the shrine
three times to finish the meeting. It is now six thirty. After
the meeting I do some tidying up in the publications office
where I work during the day. At seven-fifteen I go to the main
hall and have a cup of porridge and drink some tea. Everyone
is here and members of the community can make announcements
about jobs that need doing and help that is required, as well
as any other community business. Sometimes, after we have finished
our drink, the Abbot gives a talk about the Buddhist teachings.
about eight-thirty until ten-thirty I have free time. I do lots
of different things, like type this letter, or maybe do some
laundry, or go for a walk, or sit and chat with a friend or
just sit. At ten thirty the main bell is rung and we all gather
for the meal. We just have one main meal and it should be finished
before mid-day. I put on my robe, take my alms bowl and go to
the hall. There are two rows of mats on the floor. I bow to
the shrine and sit. All the food is offered to the monks and
I can put what I need in my bowl. We then do some chanting which
is the traditional way of saying thank you to the people who
gave us the food. I wait until the senior monks have started
eating and then I quietly eat my food. After the meal I wash
my bowl and take it back to my room. It is now about twelve
o'clock. Now, I may have a rest for a while.
about one-thirty I usually do some publication work. Print this
letter, type out some information leaflets, scan and edit some
pictures. I spend quite a bit of time on the computer. I take
a break every now and then and just go for a bit of a walk and
look at the trees and the sky and listen to the wind and the
birdsong. At five-fifteen I try and leave the work for the day
and go and have a cuppa with my fellow monastics - these are
my friends. Sometimes it's difficult to stop work. Do you get
absorbed in doing things that you enjoy? I work at what I like,
so I enjoy my work, so my work is not work but play.
seven-fifteen the big bell is rung and I put on my robes and
go to the main hall for the last meeting of the day. We do some
chanting for about half and hour and then meditate for about
an hour. Sometimes, after we have finished this, the Abbot gives
a talk about the Buddhist teachings. It is now about nine o'clock.
I go back to my room, maybe read, write a letter, sit and look
out of the window, sit and look in the window (of my mind) or
just go to sleep.
is the full-moon day and we begin a retreat period. I shaved
my head yesterday (I do this every two weeks) and this afternoon
all the monks will gather and there will be a recitation of
our rules - all 227 of them, in Pali. It takes about 45 minutes
of fast chanting and is done from memory. It takes a long time
to learn and remember all that chanting.
did you decide to become a monk and why choose the Theravada
have lived many different lifestyles - lots of money, no money,
married, family, travelling etc., and each one kept giving me
the feeling that somehow all those things were not quite enough
- I wanted more. More what? Looking back now, what I wanted
was not more things but more peace of heart, peace of mind.
So I tried looking at philosophy and religion and finally decided
to become a Buddhist monk. I don't feel that I 'chose' this
particular school of Buddhism. I think there is something organic
about life and it often only seems that we freely 'choose'.
Like with meeting people and making friends; you meet people
in all sorts of odd places and some you like straight away.
Why is that? It was a bit like that for me with Buddhism; I
met a couple of monks in Western Australia and it all just felt
right. It was eight years before I went to live in a monastery
but somehow I knew from that first contact that this was the
thing for me to do.
you ever wish you were not a monk?
used to think 'I'd rather be taller. I wish I was older, richer,
stronger,' and on and on like this. What is this feeling of
wanting things to be different, this feeling that things are
not quite right? If you look at the Four Noble Truths you will
see the second one is about craving, wanting. This is the cause
of suffering (dukkha ). When I get this feeling I often think
of the weather and how stupid it is to get angry wanting the
weather to be how I want it to be. When I am tired, bored, unwell
or just fed up, I sometimes think 'if only I was . . .', in
other words 'I don't want to be a monk, I want to be something
else'. And then I ask 'what?' . . . I know really that what
I want is to be content - and most of the time this life supports
drugs, sex and alcohol ever pose a temptation?
I did lots of that stuff as part of experimenting with different
lifestyles. I still get the thought that I might like to do
more, but having lived this life for about eight years now I
know that it would only bring short-term satisfaction - the
quick hit, the cheap thrill. The peace that comes from investigating
the mind and nature of truth is much more satisfying and longer
lasting; mainly because it isn't dependent on anything. Things
like drugs are basically ways of distraction. An expression
used about taking drugs is 'getting out of it' ('it' being the
mind). Another expression when something is really excellent
is that it is 'unreal' or 'extraordinary' - as if the real or
the ordinary weren't particularly worth noting. The emphasis
in the monastery is to be with it (the mind), to observe the
real (which is the present moment) and take note of the ordinary.
Drugs are a fairly extreme form of distraction but there are
many forms 'temptation' can take, even in a monastery - reading,
writing, chatting, sleeping, drinking tea. Not that these things
are 'bad' but they can just be time fillers, distractions. Like
flicking through a magazine - not really reading it, just letting
the mind be 'tickled' by the images and a few words here and
there. The result, of both drugs and the magazine mentality,
is a dull mind. Without some good 'exercise' the mind gets flabby
and often depressed. Getting stoned is dependent on having the
drugs whilst peace is not dependent on any 'thing'. Resisting
temptation does require effort. Bit of a drag really, but well
do you have only one meal a day?
the easiest answer is that it is simpler. We usually have about
fifty people at the meal and just getting everyone together
is difficult. Not having to cook and wash up in the evening
leaves that time free for study or meditation. For the lay people,
because we are alms mendicants, this means that they only have
to think about offering food in the morning which is simpler
for them. Also one's mind isn't cluttered with dinner thoughts:
'hmmm, maybe there'll be cake, or . . .whatever'. Food can be
quite a distraction for some people. There is also the factor
of renunciation, working with non-attachment. There is nothing
wrong with eating in the afternoon but it is possible not to.
For those who have greed around food, having limited access
to it acts like a mirror to greed. You can't indulge it, so
best learn to understand it and let it go. If you aren't sure
whether you are addicted to something then try going without
it for a month.
the one meal a day offering affect your health in any way?
that I have noticed. I don't weigh any less but I don't do as
much physical work either. The rule about not eating in the
afternoon limits eating to between dawn and midday, so because
of the colder weather in the Western monasteries we now have
a simple breakfast to compensate for the extra energy needed.
There are some things classed as medicines or tonics which can
be taken in the evening like sugar, bean extracts (e.g. miso),
soya milk, cocoa, meat broth.
do monks shave their heads?
is a traditional symbol of one who has left the life of the
householder - see the shaven pate of Friar Tuck. It is a sign
of renunciation; giving up a significant part of one's self-identity;
putting aside vanity. The religious life is very much about
not being selfish - letting go of ego, singularity, uniqueness.
(This doesn't mean the dissolution of personality). It also
makes for simplicity - if I'm going out I don't need to think
how to do my hair when I haven't got any.
many hours each week are spent in solitary confinement?
word 'confinement' suggests being shut up in a room somewhere.
Our life is based on contemplation and reflection - these are
individual, solitary pursuits but don't involve physical confinement.
Theravada Buddhism was set up by the Buddha in such a way (specifically
in relation to the need to collect alms food), that monks practising
in isolation are not common; there is always some relationship
with the laity and other monastics. In the monastery I live
in we have a period of silent retreat during January and February
(winter) when the whole community devotes a lot of time to formal
practice. Quite a lot of this time I would be on my own - in
my room or sitting in the temple or going for a walk. In a sense
I am 'confined' within my own body and mind in that I don't
engage socially with others.
you feel that the monastic life is introvert and world-denying?
Buddhism we say that 'the world arises right here, in this body
and mind'. All your experiences are totally personal and are
of 'the world'. Denying the world is denying your own existence.
Contemplation of one's experience - and this is inward looking
- is a contemplation of the world. The word 'introversion' tends
to have negative, sometimes psychotic overtones. What we mean
by 'the world' is the relationship between all things - people,
bus timetables, countries, customs. A true monastic life is
a fully open and honest investigation of the world - which is
often carried out in solitude.
you ever feel lonely?
there any social aspect to monastic life?
in a big community is like living in a big family. We are drawn
together through our common love of truth rather than any kind
of personality compatibility and we come from over twenty different
countries so it is a real mixture. We didn't choose each other
just like one doesn't get to choose brothers or sisters or parents,
but we get on pretty well. Obviously some people will get on
better with some than with others and friendships form quite
easily. I find that even with those I feel quite neutral about
a real bond of affection forms over the years. There aren't
any strictly social 'events' during a week but I might go for
a walk with someone or have a cup of tea with them. We have
an annual gathering in March (Magha Puja) when monastics gather
from all of the branch monasteries in Europe and the US and
that is a pretty social time. With so much emphasis on kindness
and compassion it is difficult not to feel loved.
you plan to be a monk for the rest of your life?
this tradition we don't take lifetime vows so I can disrobe
any time I like and become a monk again if I want (up to seven
times). After eight years I am feeling more comfortable with
the life and really starting to appreciate the benefits of this
style of practice. I pushed my heart about quite a bit in the
past and it has taken quite a while to see some of the wrinkles
shifting out. When I first took my vows the thought of 'getting
stuck' as a monk worried me but now it doesn't so much. Time
do you hope to achieve as a monk?
a personal level I would like to think that I get to be a little
wiser than I am now; a bit less suffering. I try and always
keep the possibility of enlightenment alive and close by, without
making it into some kind of bulls eye I have to keep taking
shots at. On a general level I hope to develop some educational
resources (like this booklet) and make this way of practice
more available to those who are interested. I enjoy teaching
and hope to do a bit more of that. Generally I like the idea
of relaxing - taking it easy - both internally and externally.
Work but no sweat.
anyone become a monk?
have to be a human being, male, debt free, free of civil duties
(like military service), over 20 years old, have your parents'
permission, your wife's permission if you are married, free
of contagious diseases. In this tradition there is a two year
noviciate when the teacher and the community have a chance to
see if you are suitable - and vice versa. Apart from that anyone
can get in. Staying in is not quite so easy!
all 227 of the monk's rules really necessary?
not. Because they were compiled 2500 years ago a few of them
mention objects that don't even exist today. What we try and
do is get a sense of what the spirit of the rule is - what was
the Buddha pointing to? For example, the rule about money is
literally about 'not handling gold and silver'. So, say the
cheeky ones: 'paper money is OK, and, credit cards even better'.
The spirit of this rule is about giving up the power that money
offers; this challenges desires and my sense of independence.
With any system of rules different people always have different
views and opinions but we have these 227 and rather than waste
time debating them I can just get on with the system wer have;
some might be a bit odd but they work well enough. It is also
useful to consider the rules as part of a personal system of
training, based on restraint and renunciation, rather than just
some legal system to keep the monks in line. Most of the rules
are not moral judgements but more suggestions on how to live
together harmoniously. There are certainly loopholes one can
'wriggle out' through but I figure why take up this monastic
training if I just want to get out of it. There are four rules
that involve expulsion; thirteen that involve a penance and
the rest are relatively minor offences.
is there so much chanting in Buddhist temples?
chanting originated because in the time of the Buddha paper
was not common and all his teachings were memorised in chant
form by the monks and nuns. The teachings were passed on in
this way for 400 years until they were finally written down
about 80 BC in Sri Lanka. We still chant for many reasons. Tradition
is one. Memory/mind training another - it is hard work learning
even some of the chants but it really focuses and calms the
mind. In learning the chants one also learns various aspects
of the teaching and filling the mind with some of the basic
concepts - like the chants on compassion - in this repetitive
way it is very energising. With public rituals and ceremonies
it can be very powerful, especially if everybody is familiar
with the chants, even if they don't know them off by heart.
Although many of the chants have been translated we still use
the Pali language as there are many words that don't have a
good English equivalent.
Becoming a Buddhist Monastic in Korea
Lotus Lantern... November, 1999
monk is a practitioner who discards mundane life in search of
the Truth with the ultimate goals of becoming enlightened and
then relieving the suffering of others. But how does one become
a monk in Korea? Following a reformation movement in 1994, the
Korean Buddhist Chogye Order set up a new system for such. It
includes a Haengja or novice period (at least 6 months) before
first ordination; the Sami (male) and Samini (female), or novitiate,
basic education period (four years) after initial ordination;
and then full ordination as a Bhikku (male) or Bhikkuni (female).
The Chogye Order has distinctive attire to distinguish people
along different stages of the process.
is renunciation? When a person enters a temple to be a monastic,
he or she should be admitted as a disciple under a teacher,
a fully ordained monk. As a novice, he or she usually works
in the kitchen and learns the preliminaries of temple life.
A Sami or a Samini is a person rid of lust; renunciation is
having severed thoughts about worldly life; and a novice is
a person who is beyond worldly fame, profit, and desire, and
who has entered the supra-mundane life.
learn and are disciplined in basic precepts and Buddhist ceremonies,
and study Buddha's basic teachings, and through these disciplines
set a foundation for the powers of furthering Bodhisattva ideals.
going through basic training, novices enter a 23-day special
education course which is held twice a year, but before doing
so they must pass rigid physical exams and meet strict qualification
standards. Novices who pass these participate in the opening
ceremony which signals the full-scale beginning of the course.
During the course, novices review the behavior and practices
learned earlier at the temple and take many other courses to
make certain that their basic knowledge and behavior are adequate
to eventually become a fully ordained monk. For example, they
study the Sami precepts and a book on developing an enlightenment-
and compassion-oriented heart. Practices to strengthen their
resolve, faith, understanding and abilities include IlboIlbae
(one prostration after each step), SamboIlbae (one prostration
after every three steps), Wullyok (the power of cooperation),
Chonggun (concentration/meditation) and Ch'amhoi (repentance).
Most novices complete the full course while strictly keeping
the precepts in their daily activities.
is an old saying that the initial yearning for Truth is itself
the mind of enlightenment, and so the faith and willpower developed
during the novitiate course become the nourishment in ordained
life. Consequently, the memory of hard practice and discipline
during that time is very meaningful. The spirit of the novitiate
is precisely that of the mind giving forth to the Truth without
concern for the self. Isn't that the closest approach to Nirvana?
the course, the novices take their first ordination, the precepts
of Sami for males or Samini for females. This brings them one
step, albeit a long one, closer to becoming a monk. The preliminary
stage is a process before the fully ordained Bhikku or Bhikkuni.
As mentioned, Sami or Samini must complete four years of education
and training and also wear befitting robes which include added
stripes on the neck and sleeves.
four-year education institutes include the Kangwon (for Sutra
study), Kichosonwon (basic Zen meditation center), the Central
Sangha College, and the Buddhist Division at Dongguk University.
There, Sami and Samini study Buddhism and all related culture
necessary to lead a good fully ordained life later. After the
first two years, Samini must take additional Sikchamanani precepts,
since in full ordination there are more precepts for Bhikkuni
than for Bhikku.
Takes on New Dimensions
year, about 600 novices completed their initial course at Chikjisa
Temple, a major training site, in Kyongbuk Province. This number
is about average for any given year. At the Spring education
course, 228 Sami and Samini attracted attention by signing up
in the drives for organ donation and cremation. And at the Autumn
course, which ended in September, the temple master and teacher
of each participant were invited to the completion ceremony
to congratulate them on their first ordination. It is expected
that parents will also be invited to the completion ceremony
next year, reflecting the changing picture of renunciation ceremonies
in modern Korea.
this lengthy and hard course in becoming an ordained monastic,
it is regrettable that there still is no standing education
institute for novices, a problem that should be resolved as
soon as possible. Although the issue was brought up several
years ago, it was put on the back burner due to more pressing
problems. But most people in Korean Buddhism will not hesitate
to admit that the education and development of the Sangha is
the most important issue facing the Chogye Order for its future.
A Shortcut Through My Life ...Bhikkhu
was born in 1969 in Austria, a small country in the heart of
Europe. I grew up in a village close to the beautiful scenery
of the film «Sound of Music».
parents gave me the name 'Florian', which means 'flower'. My
father is a doctor and my mother is a medical assistant. I have
an elder brother who is also a doctor and an elder sister who,
after studying art history is now the owner of a gallery of
modern art in Vienna.
mother inspired me through her religious interest - first as
a Catholic and later as a Buddhist. In my early teens I got
interested in philosophical and spiritual books, which made
me aware of the problems around me caused by a materialistic
way of life.
passed the higher examination in a Catholic Private School,
the 'Heart of Jesus Missionaries'. After my civil service, I
had no interest of studying in a university. I had, and I still
have, the inclination to encounter life more directly.
I decided to go to America, where I worked on biological farms
travelled extensively for nearly two years.
that time I encountered different difficulties, which 'helped'
me to look for a solution in Buddhism in a very serious and
eager way. I spent several months in a Buddhist centre in Austria
and in a monastery in Switzerland.
I was 22 I started my journey to the East with the uncompromising
of becoming a monk. In 1992 I got my novice-ordination and later
my higher ordination in a forest-monastery in Northeast Thailand,
where I spent 2 years. In 1995 I came to Sri Lanka and since
then I have been living here in meditation-centres, forest monasteries,
temples, forests, caves and other places.
more I got to know the people of this paradise-like Island,
the more I
their language, shared their lives and understood their problems,
and the more I understood myself, the stronger I felt the need
to become spiritual and socially active. In 1999 I founded the
project “Simple Wisdom”. Since then, besides doing
my own meditation and going on retreats, I use most of my time
for children (programs in schools, printing and free distribution
of Buddhist children’s books, etc.) for prisoners (meditation
and discussions in jails, support through spiritual books, necessary
medicines and hygienic articles), and for writing and publishing
texts as an inspiration for a spiritual and harmonious life
in a world full of difficulties and contradictions.
is just a quick glance at my life.
Going Forth ...by Karunadhammo Bhikkhu
I took ordination as an anagarika two years ago, I had a pretty
strong sense that I'd be taking full bhikkhu ordination in a
couple of years, though my "line" to myself and everyone
else was, "I've only committed to do this for a year."
I guess I'd learned through experience that making grand statements
of intention can be a set-up for disappointment. As we all know,
everything changes, and we shouldn't make any plans beyond our
next breath. Right.
two years later -- a very fast two years -- I found myself asking
for upasampada, and being told "OK." For a while,
it didn't really sink in, and I would tell myself, "I can
still back out. No harm done." It wasn't until the date
of the ceremony appeared in the last newsletter that I thought,
"Whoa, this is really going to happen!"
mix of emotions in the two months prior to ordination was incredible.
Mostly, I felt a tremendous amount of joy and gratitude that
this opportunity is available. It is truly a rare combination
of circumstances that arise, internally and externally, to make
it possible to ordain as a Buddhist monk 2,500 years after the
Buddha created the Sangha, particularly in this country (USA)
with its strange mix of materialistic seeking and spiritual
soul-searching. Over the years, I have benefited in so many
ways from the Teachings. To find myself now in the middle of
a community devoted to the Dhamma is a true blessing.
though this sense of rightness pervaded the whole preparatory
time, there were some intensely challenging moments. Doubts
would arise: "Is this the best community to take ordination
with? Is this the right time? Maybe I should give myself another
year. What's the rush? I was able to actually help people in
some way when I was an R.N. in Seattle. Of what use am I now
as a monk? Maybe I shouldn't ordain at all! I miss my old friends!
I want to go home!"
these thoughts would circulate in my mind; sometimes I would
fall for them, and other times I could see them as just thoughts
and emotions arising and ceasing. Finally, one day when the
doubts seemed particularly relentless, it suddenly occurred
to me, "Mara doesn't want me to ordain. It upsets his plans
too much." Miraculously, the doubts disappeared. Though
they were to return in different ways, they never had quite
the same punch. Whether it was an external minion of Mara plugging
those doubts into my ears or an internal Mara of my own creation,
I don't really know, and it doesn't really matter. What I learned
is that the light of truthful recognition brings peace.
course, other "opportunities for learning" also arose
during this period. People asked, "Oh, aren't you the first
person to take ordination (in the Ajahn Chah tradition) in this
country?" Pressure mounting. I'd feel simultaneously honored,
maybe a little self-important, and definitely like crawling
under a rock. "Gee, Karunadhammo, lots of people will be
there. Does that make you nervous?" "Well, yes,"
I'd think. When I would start feeling anxious, though, I could
always turn to sewing my robes, a very soothing practice. It
must have been designed that way. The perfect antidote -- spending
countless hours sewing straight lines in complicated patterns.
in a moment of reflection on my periodic anxiety, it came to
me: "I get anxious because I think this ordination has
something to do with ME. It really has nothing to do with ME."
It's both simply a series of thoughts, feelings, and emotions
wafting through consciousness, and it's everybody's ordination.
Everyone has had his or her own part in this process, and it
couldn't have happened any other way. It became apparent that
I was a small cog in a very big wheel. I felt like a twig floating
downstream in a river of metta.
the day of the ordination started to draw near, the long inhalation
began: firing the alms bowl; dyeing the robes (I am now the
proud owner of a two-toned sanghati, the outer robe);
family members, friends, and monks from sister monasteries all
arriving; chanting practice sessions. Still floating on a river
Day" finally arrived, and everything seemed to happen so
easily. (Of course, I didn't have to help in the kitchen). The
meal was offered, and afterwards small groups headed up the
hill to the beautiful ordination site. People sat in the grass
surrounding the platform where the monks gathered to perform
and loving-kindness were all around. I tried my best to feel
a little nervous, but it just couldn't get through -- it had
no place being there. The chanting began, and within a short
period an ordination had taken place.
was a moment when time stood still. My brother Bill, sister
Gail, and friend Debbie offered my bowl and robes. So much space
opened up, and everything else just stopped to witness. It all
ended gently as we trooped back down the hill to enjoy the rest
of the afternoon. I gathered all the belongings to be specially
marked and determined as my own -- part of a monk's ritual to
establish mindfulness around ownership and to encourage simplicity
in the number of possessions.
that the ordination is over, I realize that the real work begins.
I feel a tremendous amount of gratitude to be able to be here,
in this monastery, with such excellent teachers and companions.
As I had been told in the beginning, the real ordination is
the one that takes place inside one's own heart.
Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition
...by Paul Williams, Anthony Tribe
know of no more lucid expositor of Indian or Buddhist philosophy."
Thought guides the reader toward an understanding and appreciation
of the central concepts of classical Indian Buddhist thought,
tracing their development fromt he time of Buddha, and opening
up the latest scholarly perspectives and controversies.
single volume on the history of Buddhist philosophy, June
Brian C. Holly from Pittsburgh, PA United States... Williams
trumps his masterful classic "Mahayana Buddhism" with
an even better book. This is vastly superior to any previous
effort (David Kalupahana, eat your heart out!). Williams has
a superb talent for explicating difficulty ideas with clarity
and simplicity, and his prose has a pleasant and inviting tone.
He is also completely up to date on the state of current specialized
scholarship, so even those readers already endowed with a good
grasp of the development of Buddhist philosophy will find an
abundance of interesting material here. This book is destined
to be a classic.
overview by recognized author, April 24, 2002
thordane from Vancouver, B.C. Canada... I'll be brief.
This book is for readers interested in a good, relatively short,
readable and useful book on the basics of Indian-tradition buddhism,
which also touches on the confluence of Buddhism and Western
philosophy. That said, it is an introductory work, and so it
cannot cover everything.
Williams is one of the finest writers on Buddhism and philosophy,
and here he has written a wide-ranging book that -- while being
devoted to doctrinal and practical and historical matters --
also touches on philosophy. The book is informed by his learning,
and that of his co-author too (Tribe is responsible for just
the one chapter.) I recommend it, and encourage readers to have
a glance at Paul Williams' other books, and those of David Harvey
the best short-and-sweet introduction to Buddhism must surely
be Damien Keown's little book entitled Buddhism: A Very Short
Introduction. And should the reader want to move to the other
extreme and tackle philosophically weightier, cutting-edge topics,
he or she should pick up works by Jay Garfield or (especially)
The Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist Center
of Mission and Purpose
Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist Center was established to provide
an opportunity for the practice and study of Tibetan religion
and culture. The basic meaning of Ewam is the integration of
method and wisdom, compassion and voidness. Choden simply means
"possessing the dharma". We feel that the union of
compassion and wisdom is especially relevant for this age.
Ven. Lama Kunga, Ngor Thartse Rinpoche, is the founder and resident
lama of Ewam Choden Tibetan Buddhist Center. Rinpoche was born
into the Shuku family in Lhasa in 1935, the son of Tsepon Shukupa,
the former Financial Minister of the Dalai Lama's government.
At the age of 7, he was recognized as the reincarnation of Sevan
Repa, a Heart Disciple of Milarepa, the great 11th century yogi
and poet of Tibet. Rinpoche entered monastic life when he was
8 years old and lived in Western Tibet, primarily at Ngor Monastery,
in the Sakya tradition. Before he left Tibet in 1959, Rinpoche
served as Vice Abbot of Ngor Monastery. Since coming to the
United States, Rinpoche has taught in New Jersey, Washington,
D.C., Wisconsin and California. He has authored two translations
of Milarepa's work: Drinking from the Mountain Stream and Miraculous
Journey. Rinpoche, with his quick insight, gentle presence and
endless patience has touched and benefited the lives of many
Choden has been visited by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and
the heads up three other major schools of Tibet, as well as
many other lamas. We continue to expand our practice on numerous
levels. Students are involved in translating Tibetan texts into
English, and Rinpoche has worked diligently in this area. Several
students have developed skill in creating traditional Buddhist
ritual objects and images. The Center is also extremely interested
in maintaining close relations with the Tibetan community in
India and in the United States.
at the Center include:
Meditation: Sunday mornings at 10:00AM and other times.
Classes and seminars on Buddhist teachings and practice: As
Empowerments: As announced.
Marriage ceremony: For those who are interested in Tibetan
Buddhism, Rinpoche is certified to perform the traditional Tibetan
Buddhist marriage ceremony.
Language classes: As announced.
Private interviews: As scheduled with Rinpoche.
Lama Kunga Thartse was born into a noble family in Lhasa
in 1935, the son of Tsipon Shuguba, Treasurer in the Dalai Lama's
the age of 7, he was recognized as a reincarnation of Sevan
Repa, a heart disciple of Milarepa, Tibet’s great 11th
century poet-saint. Rinpoche entered Ngor Monastery at eight
and was ordained as a monk at sixteen. In 1959, he was Vice-Abbot
of Ngor Monastery, in the Sakya Tradition, but fled Western
Tibet with his countrymen at the time of Chinese invasion.
1972 Rinpoche came to America and established Ewam Choden
Tibetan Buddhist Center in Kensington California. Lama Kunga
has also taught in New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Wisconsin,
Oregon, Florida, Utah, Minnesota, and Arkansas. A skilled and
compassionate teacher, Lama Kunga Rinpoche’s students
feel blessed with his close relationship to the Buddha Dharma.
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