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Archive for the ‘Buddhist Youth’ Category

As a Buddhist Sunday School teacher one issue of great importance to me is that my students see Buddhism as part of their lives, rather than a packaged and defined category that exists for a few hours on Sunday morning and then vanishes in a puff of smoke. So when I have the chance to relate Buddhism to something that is already a part of their lives, I take it. Last Sunday I talked about how Halloween secretly teaches awesome Buddhist principles.

Think about it: Halloween is the only holiday celebrated in the US in which we do not give exclusively to our family or loved ones, but to complete strangers. We give unconditionally. This is carried even further in the symbolism of Halloween through the use of costumes, for even if our loved ones arrive at our doorstep to trick-or-treat they would be shrouded in disguise. I talked about how giving was the first thing the Buddha taught as part of the gradual training, and how giving even the smallest thing teaches us how to help others and let go.

The next day no trick-or-treaters came to my door. This bummed me out significantly. (more…)

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I spend much of my time as a Buddhist Sunday School teacher trying to fit my lessons to the specific personalities of the class. For the three years I’ve been teaching each group of students has been so different that I seldom use a lesson twice. One exception, which I eventually try with any and every group is called the Red Green Game. I love it, and there is almost nothing on the internet about it, so I shall describe it for our lovely readership.

I first played the game in a Psychology class at a community college, and its magic works just as will with third graders as it does with back-to-school Moms: It is a game designed for you to lose, and to have no one to blame but yourself. (more…)

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This post has little to do with Buddhism, except that Michelle Maykin is a temple kid. She participates in Thai dance at the Berkeley Thai Temple. She also has acute myeloid leukemia.

Michelle MaykingFor a couple years now I’ve been aware of Project Michelle through various emails in the Vietnamese American community. Michelle is an incredible 27-year old who was diagnosed with AML in February 2007. Her amazing husband Van set aside grad school and started Project Michelle to find a bone marrow match. Through Wat Mongkolratanaram’s facebook group, I was recently alerted to the news that Michelle had relapsed after her cord blood stem cell transplant.

This was a reminder for me to sign up for the National Marrow Donor Registry, something I haven’t yet done.

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One of my recent general observations about religion is that its role in the lives of the younger generation has been deteriorating. While I do not have the numeric data that my fellow blogger arunlikhati is so skilled in collecting to support my claim (I tried to sort out some PEW stats but gave up…), I think many readers will agree with my claim just through each of their personal experiences with the youth, namely children up until high school. I am well aware that this is not the case for all youth and each of us can easily come up with children who do hold their faith close to their hearts. However, I do think that in a society where people share their latest thoughts and status with Facebook and Twitter more often than God, where money and power have become society’s determining factor for success rather than morality, and where Miley Cyrus has become a more influential icon for children than most religious figures, religion certainly has much more competition nowadays especially in finding a place among the youth.

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I recently had a talk with a monk who helped me reconcile a problem I have had with Buddhism for a long time, at least ever since I really started to learn about it.

My exposure to Buddhism started as a child, passed down through temple visits, chanting, praying, incense-burning – all of which can be roughly categorized as the devotional practice of Buddhism. These traditions have been passed down to my parents by my grandparents, and this chain of religious inheritance probably goes several generations back. Many of these practices seemed to originate from culture, meshing with folk traditions and superstitions to create a mixed approach to Buddhism (e.g. burning paper money for ancestors).

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Many thanks to Dan who posted a link to Making the Invisible Visible in the comments from the Angry Asian Buddhist post. (Another worthwhile article is Stories We Have Yet to Hear: The Path to Healing Racism in American Sanghas by Mushim Ikeda-Nash.) I still have a little bundled up stress from the last post, but reading this booklet was a real weight off my shoulders. You hear this all the time, but I have to say it again: It’s good knowing that I’m not alone.

My Angry Asian post was about how I felt a core demographic of the Buddhist community was being ignored. This core demographic is the next generation of Asian American Buddhists.

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I was asked to speak to a group of teenagers later today at a ‘Buddhist Family Night’ and, for a good long while, I was long about what to talk about.

Though I have worked with a few different programs targeted at Buddhist Youth, I have found a good number of roadblocks along the way. It seems that the concerns of Buddhism, that life is fundamentally unsatisfactory, that living a good life requires restraint and patience, are counter to a lot of what being young is about. I wondered if Buddhism really is applicable to young people, or if the role of these programs is instead to integrate people into the community so that, when problems do arise, they know where to turn to.

…Then I remembered, “Wait, being a teenager sucked.”

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