You're Becoming a What?

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  • Saijun
    • Jul 2010
    • 667

    You're Becoming a What?

    Hello friends,

    I just came across an essay by the Ven. Thubten Chodron on being a Western monastic. It's an interesting read and, while not necessarily 100% applicable to lay practice, or to our Bodhisattva Priests and priests in training, addresses what I think are important issues arising in the spreading of the Dharma to the "West."

    Also in the essay are the following few sentences; in the spirit of the upcoming Jukai, I thought I'd bring them to the fore:

    Having vows is not restricting. Rather, it is liberating, for we free ourselves from acting in ways that, deep in our hearts, we do not want to. We take the vows freely, nothing is forced or imposed. The discipline is voluntarily undertaken.

    Full text can be found at ... st-nun-ve/

    Thank you, and much metta,

    To give up yourself without regret is the greatest charity. --RBB
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39459

    Re: You're Becoming a What?

    Hi Perry,

    Thank you for posting a lovely article. I would not much agree with the writer that necessarily "Reincarnation and karma explain how we got here." They may or may not and, in any event, I try to live this life now in a gentle way, avoiding harm. Also, as we are discussing on that other thread ...


    ... I do not think that all forms of Christianity or Judaism are as she describes her experiences, and some folks can open their hearts and minds wide enough ... beyond barriers and self imposed obstacles ... to find richness in many traditions, and to build on common ground. In fact, the closed mindedness, superstition and lack of realistic answers she paints describes just as easily certain flavors of Buddhism that I know.

    I also do not think that divorcing one's spouse and becoming a cloistered nun or monk is necessarily the best or only path for most people, although it certainly is the path for some people whose heart may lead them in that direction. For others, we can practice with husbands, wives, children, jobs and daily responsibilities ... experiencing the 'Buddha-light' that shines through and as each and all.

    I did very much appreciate this passage ...

    Some Westerners feel that if they adopt Asian cultural forms, they are practicing the Dharma. Some assume that Asians--being from far away and therefore exotic--are holy. Meanwhile, other Westerner practitioners grew up with Mickey Mouse like everyone else, and seem ordinary. I am not saying that Western practitioners are equal in realizations to our Asian teachers. There is no basis for such generalizations, because spiritual qualities are completely individual. However, fascination with the foreign--and therefore exotic--often obscures us from understanding what the path is. Spiritual practice means that we endeavor to transform ourselves into kind and wise people. It is not about idolizing an exotic teacher or adopting other cultural forms, but about transforming our minds. We can practice the Dharma no matter what culture we or our teacher come from; the real spiritual path cannot be seen with the eyes for it lies in the heart.
    also this:

    Similarly, the Western emphasis on individuality can be both an asset and a hindrance to practice. On one hand, we want to grow as a person, we want to tap into and develop our potential to become a Buddha. We are willing to commit ourselves to a spiritual path that is not widely known or appreciated by our friends, family and colleagues. On the other hand, our individuality can make it difficult for us to form spiritual communities in which we need to adapt to the needs and wishes of others. We easily fall into comparing ourselves with other practitioners or competing with them. We tend to think of what we can get out of spiritual practice, or what a spiritual teacher or community can do for us, whereas practice is much more about giving than getting, more about cherishing others than ourselves. His Holiness the Dalai Lama talks about two senses of self: one is unhealthy--the sense of a solid self to which we grasp and become pre-occupied. The other is necessary along the path--the valid sense of self-confidence that is based on recognizing our potential to be enlightened. We need rethink the meaning of being an individual, freeing ourselves from the unhealthy sense of self and developing valid self-confidence that enables us to genuinely care for others.

    Gassho, Jundo


    • Tb
      • Jan 2008
      • 3186

      Re: You're Becoming a What?


      Thx for that one.
      I'll print it out and read it today.

      Life is our temple and its all good practice