Monastic Buddhism Summer Course

Here’s more information on an interesting summer practice couse a friend emailed to me. If you’re curious in learning more about Buddhist monasticism in North America, you’ll have a great opportunity this summer with the Dharma Realm Buddhist University course “Monastic Buddhism: Introduction to its Theory and Practice” from July 5 through 15. I’ve reposted the information below.

This summer, the Pacific School of Religion and Dharma Realm Buddhist University present a direct encounter with a living Buddhist tradition dating back to ancient China. Students will have the rare opportunity to experience the daily pace and patterns of a Buddhist contemplative and explore a way of life designed to instill peace, equanimity, and awakening.

The direct immersion in the rhythms of monastic life combines theoretical grasp with direct experience. Participants will read and discuss sacred texts, learn methods of Buddhist meditation (samadhi), traditional chanting, rituals and liturgies, observe a vegetarian diet, and train according to a Buddhist moral code of conduct (vinaya).

This learning “from within”, can spur a process of re-examination—both of oneself and of the assumptions and presuppositions on the nature of religion, the religious community, and the notion of a religious experience.

Course Dates: July 5th to 15th, 2011
Credit Options: 3 credits/4 CEUs

For inquiries, email or

Prof. Martin Verhoeven and Bhikshuni Heng Chih will lead the course which includes monks and nuns from both the Mahayana and Theravada traditions as guest lecturers.

Bhikshuni Heng Chih is a Buddhist nun of over 40 years ordained in the Chinese Mahayana tradition under the guidance of the late Venerable Master Hsuan Hua. She is currently a Lecturer in Buddhist Philosophy at Bond University in Gold Coast, Australia, and holds M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Translation of Buddhist Texts from Dharma Realm Buddhist University.

Prof. Martin Verhoeven is adjunct professor in Comparative Religion at Pacific School of Religion and professor in Buddhist Study and Practice at Dharma Realm Buddhist University. With a M.A. and Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin, he specializes in European and American encounters with Buddhism.

About the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas (CTTB):
Recently named “a sacred site” by National Geographic, CTTB is nestled within 448 acres of orchards, meadows, and woods in Mendocino County, California, just 110 miles north of San Francisco. In addition to being the home of Buddhist monks and nuns, CTTB also houses a university and K-12 school. The quiet countryside landscape and clean air of beautiful Ukiah Valley provide an ideal environment for study, wholesome fellowship, and spiritual growth.

You can get more information on the course at its website.

Meditation Session at St. Cloud

This past event at St. Cloud State University is noteworthy for several reasons.

Sponsored by Ayubowan Sri Lanka Organization, Society of Buddhist Red Lotus and Theravada Buddhist Student Association, a Buddhist discussion and meditation session took place at 4 p.m. on Friday in Voyageurs North of Atwood Memorial Center. […] “[The objective of the session was] to deliver an opportunity for the SCSU and local St. Cloud community to learn, understand and make use of meditation and Buddhist teachings,” Charitha Hettiarachchi, president of Society of Buddhist Red Lotus, said.

It was student-sponsored, meditation-oriented, interfaith, cross-cultural and with Asian American representation! More than that, I’m stunned to hear that there are two Buddhist groups at St. Cloud, the Society of Buddhist Red Lotus and the Theravada Buddhist Student Association. I didn’t have even one Buddhist group to welcome me back when I went off to college. Read more about the event here.

Searching for Students Interned

Reposted from the Angry Asian Man. This is important, so get the word out.

University of California campuses are looking for former Japanese American students who had their studies derailed by being interned during World War II: UC searches for interned Japanese American students.

Ceremonies to award honorary degrees to the former students are set for December and spring 2010. The campuses want to honor as many people as possible and are still seeking potential recipients.

Approximately 700 UC students withdrew from school in 1942 when they and approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans on the West Coast were sent to internment camps. Many never returned to UC to finish their studies. Some eventually earned degrees from other universities, while others never returned to college.

On July 16, 2009, the University of California Board of Regents agreed to grant special honorary degrees to the hundreds of Japanese American students who were enrolled at the University but were forced to leave their studies and never received a UC degree as a result of the internment.

Ceremonies to award the degrees have been scheduled at UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA and UC San Francisco — the four campuses in existence at the time of Executive Order 9066. During the ceremonies, campuses also plan to acknowledge students who were interned but returned to the University to finish their degree.

Former students who may be eligible, their families or friends are encouraged to contact individual UC campuses about receiving an honorary degree. Campus contacts and ceremony information can be found here: UC Honorary Degrees.

UPDATE: San Diego State University is also among the many California colleges that are searching for former interned students to grant honorary degrees: SDSU seeks ex-internee students.

Raise the Profile

Amid my incessant complaining about the marginalization of Asian Americans in the mainstream Buddhist media, various bloggers will pepper me with questions along the lines of: “So what do you suggest?” It’s a valid question. There are a number of “structural” actions we can do to raise the profile of Asian American Buddhists, who are largely sidelined in the dominant media of the very community where we constitute the outright majority. I’ve already mentioned my favorite one: Educate yourself. I’m appalled by the Buddhist Americans who might freely discuss “Chinese Buddhism” and yet who couldn’t tell Teochew from Toisan or Hakka from Hokkien. But here’s the thought for today: include us in your vision of the Buddhist community. If you’re going to make a flier with faces of Buddhists, then maybe you’ll put in more Asian Americans. And while you’re at it, if you run a major Buddhist publication, you might want to set aside more bylines for Asian Americans too.

Power of Education

In response to certain comments, I twittered a quote from Resist RacismPeople of color are not responsible for the education of white people. This quote resonates with me because it conveys the point that if people of privilege want to be educated about racial issues, then there are other (and better) ways to do so without finding a person of color and asking her to set aside a chunk of her life to write up a 30-min summary. One spectacular alternative is self-education. After all, we have ethnic studies for a reason. For Asian American studies, you can check out or order books like the classic Strangers from a Different Shore or the more recently published Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People. For discussion of race issues in the Buddhist community, you might want to flip through the Angry Asian Buddhist Reader (because I must admit my ramblings are neither representative nor coherent). If we are committed to diversity, then we should be committed to educating ourselves and noting the inequities that may very well exist beneath our noses. These disparities aren’t exclusive to Asians or people of color. Gender, class and sexuality are also polarized on scales of privilege—these issues need to be addressed too. I’m not trying to say that I have no responsibility in this discussion; we all must play a part. But shoving the responsibility of one’s education (or ignorance) onto the less privileged is itself a manifestation of this privilege. We can all be better than that.