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Posts Tagged ‘monk’

A little over a month ago, I got an email from Kusala Bhikshu’s Urban Dharma devoted to an article by Bhikkhu Bodhi titled: How will the Sangha fare in North American Buddhism? (You can also link via Abhayagiri.) Now after tearing through a backlog of work and mending a dislocated elbow, here are my thoughts.

First off, I really appreciate Bhikkhu Bodhi’s article because he raises questions that really do need to be addressed, and he did so very respectfully. He asks the question, Are there forces at work that might actually undermine the survival of Buddhist monasticism? While he characterized different approaches and responses as either conservative or liberal, he emphasized that he was not taking a stand with one camp or another.

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So I was surfing the web the other day, looking up information on Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Basically I heard a personal anecdote about him from a friend in Boston, and I had to find out if it was true. Thanissaro Bhikkhu (or “Thaan Geoff”) is a Theravada Buddhist monk who lives at Wat Mettavanaram outside of San Diego. I first met him on a club field trip to Wat Metta in 2004. His writings have had a huge influence on many of my friends. I came across this delightful interview in the Oberlin Alumni Magazine, and I thought I’d share it with everyone: Being a Monk: A Conversation with Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

The interview is great in part because it asks many of the questions that I have always been too ashamed to ask because I know I’m not supposed to ask monks those types of questions. But it’s also always great to hear Thaan Geoff’s perspective on Buddhist practice. Here is one quote that really struck home for me:

The Forest tradition places a lot of emphasis on concentration practice, getting the mind to stay with one object. So that’s a lot of my time. And of course, if you’re sitting for long periods of time, pain is going to come up. Then the mind creates issues about the pain. Dealing with that is the Buddha’s First Noble Truth: There is pain in life. There is suffering in life. I think the reason he focused on that is that if you sit with your pains and suffering, if you have the tools of concentration and mindfulness, you start seeing these issues in your mind.

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