Tuesday December 10, 2013
A couple of days ago I wrote about an Irish Buddhist monk ordained in Burma sometime before 1900, while Burma was part of British India. It seems the monk got into trouble for making anti-colonial speeches. But Buddhism and anti-colonialist activism were joined in other parts of Asia as well.
Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933) of Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) was a lay Buddhist who headed Buddhist revival and Sri Lankan independence movements. I've written about Dharmapala before, and how he influenced first impressions of Buddhism in the West by framing it as a pro-science spiritual tradition. I think he's one of the most interesting figures of recent Buddhist history.
Monday December 9, 2013
Yesterday my Zen center held a most-of-the-day meditation retreat honoring Rohatsu, the commemoration of the Buddha's enlightenment. This was followed by a Jukai ceremony, in which five students received the Precepts and made public their commitment to the Buddha's path. It was a lovely and heartfelt event.
After, some of us chatted about how grateful we were to have a place to practice with such a strongly committed group of people. Some talked about the difference practice had made in their lives. Still, it strikes me that this great place is still mostly unknown in our community. Zennies don't proselytize, although we have done a bit of community outreach now and then.
People do seem to find their way to the dharma when they are ready. Mosf of our stories about how-I-found-Buddhism are stories about what happened that caused us to be ready. It's important to trust that. (And, anyway, what would we advertise? Attain Nothing! Not very promising.)
Saturday December 7, 2013
Here's a bit of history trivia for you. The BBC has a feature story about a man believed to be the first western-born Buddhist monk. And he didn't exactly fit the mold of a scholarly romantic searching for an idealized religion, as many of the first western Buddhists were.
Laurence Carroll is thought to have been born in Dublin in 1856. He left Ireland as a teenager and traveled to America. Carroll got work on a San Francisco/Yokohama shipping line, but he was fired -- reportedly for drunkenness -- and left stranded in Japan. He made his way to Burma, which at the time was a province of British India, and found employment with a logging company.
Thursday December 5, 2013
For the past few years us "converts" have been debating how to incorporate Buddhism into family life, especially child raising. Some data revealed that "dharma brats," children of Buddhist convert parents, rarely take to Buddhism themselves. This is not necessarily a problem, because I don't think everybody has to be Buddhist.
But I was taken aback by a series of articles I found on "how to raise an enlightened child." The actual advice given wasn't bad, but my first bit of advice would be "don't try to raise an enlightened child." Maybe just aim at raising a kind child. That's do-able. But nobody can be conditioned into enlightenment.