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.

Alternative Spring Break: Buddhist Retreat

This just in from an old friend about the Spring Break Guan Yin Practice Retreat at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas—a practice retreat perfect for college students in a beautiful monastic setting tucked away in the hills of Northern California.

Spring Break Guan Yin Practice Retreat
March 19–27, 2011

In the Surangama Sutra, Guan Yin Bodhisattva teaches: “Return the hearing to hear within.” This was hailed as the foremost contemplative practice for people of our time. Who is Guan Yin Bodhisattva? How does one cultivate the Guan Yin practice? What does it mean to be mindful of Guan Yin Bodhisattva? This March, take a break from the bustle of student life to live out these questions with the Dharma Realm Buddhist University Alternative Spring Break Program. For one week, immerse yourself in the Guan Yin practice and life at a Buddhist monastery. This spring break, tap into a living embodiment of an ancient Mahayana Buddhist tradition at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas.

  • Explore the methods of Guan Yin recitation, contemplation, and meditation.
  • Study from Buddhist sacred texts the methods of practices related to Guan Yin Bodhisattva.
  • Train according to the Buddhist moral code of conduct.
  • Engage in discussions with practicing monks, nuns, and teachers.
  • Meet other students interested in exploring Buddhism.
  • Try out a vegetarian diet.

$275 [registration, course fee and room+board]

For more information, contact

Participants of all backgrounds [religious and non-religious] are encouraged to apply. Financial aid available.

Another youth workshop for young Buddhists (21–39ish) is happening the week before—check out TechnoBuddha at the Jodo Shinshu Center in Berkeley!

The Great Blog of Ksititgarbha Bodhisattva

Via @yueheng, I learned about The Great Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva blog. The most recent post talks about the condition of being pressed by ghosts in your sleep.

Ever experienced being pressed by ghosts in sleep? Common symptoms are:

you wake up in the middle of your sleep

you are stationary and however you struggle you cannot move

you may open your eyes and look around but you can’t turn your head/neck

you open your mouth to scream but no voice comes out

Ghosts were a core part of the Buddhist milieu I was raised in, but they’re something I spend very, very little time thinking about these days. I am little affiliated with either Mahaynist or Chinese Buddhist institutions, but I enjoy learning more about other traditions. I’m also keen on learning Chinese too.

Old School Buddhism

The Dharma Mirror blog presents a snapshot contrast between Theravada and Mahayana. There is one particular sentence that stands out for me, and which I deeply appreciate:

It is often thought that Mahayana developed out of the Theravada tradition, but this view is not quite accurate, as both traditions have developed over history.

The reader is then pointed to an article by Ron Epstein, “Clearing Up Some Misconceptions about Buddhism.” I’ve generally considered myself a non-denominational Buddhist, but I realize that this term has loaded connotations. As a result of both historical/cultural accident and personal affinities, I’ve mostly grounded myself in the Theravada tradition. I like to translate Theravada as “Old School Buddhism.” Far from the most appropriate translation, but it definitely appeals to my local English dialect and also to an age-old Theravada tradition, where we like to see ourselves as upholding the timeless customs of the Enlightened One. The truth behind this sentiment is very much open to debate. Sometimes “being traditional” is itself a practice of reinterpretation.