Thanksgiving is fast approaching! As we gather with family and friends for the holidays, we expect joy and blessings, but sometimes it's hard to avoid friction. The troubles often arise from trivial, but real issues, such as challenging travel conditions over great distances, no space left in the oven to warm up that last dish, and many personalities gathered at the table trying to find safe topics of conversation. How do we skillfully navigate these moments,and how do we resolve them without lingering bad feelings?
Let's talk about how to find "the Dharma in the drama," over the holidays and into the next year.
I'm in Los Angeles for the VegSource.com Healthy Lifestyle Expo and this marks the 10th year of my participation. I gave my first presentation on Buddhist approaches to plant-based nutrition in 1993! My talk tomorrow (9:15 AM at the Warner Center Marriot Hotel in Woodland Hills) is titled, "Deepening Our Connections to All." Hope to see you there! If you can't make it, Jeff and Sabrina Nelson film the events each year and produce outstanding DVDs of all the talks given by the doctors, researchers, nutritionists, athletes and Buddhist monks who attend. Available here!
Truthout.org has a scary article called, "It's Going to Be a Scorcher ... of a Century" that is so worth your while reading. It talks about when climate change will "lock-in" by 2047, and the hottest weather will be the new standard. If I were a couple planning for a family, I would face a major quandry. Kids born this year will be 34 that year. Their kids will be adolescents and they will have to face savage storms, deadly droughts and rising seas. Singapore will reach its temperature "point of no return" in 2028, says the article. The article says,
"Of course, this doesn’t have to happen. The scientists who worked on the Naturestudy estimated that if we cut our CO2 emissions by just a little bit, we can put off that 2047 zero hour by 22 years to 2069. That’s still only 56 years away, but it is a sign that we might be able to avoid permanent damage to the planet if we push for renewable energy right now. If that’s the case, we can avoid passing the climate threshold."
Traveling with Dharma-friends up through Seattle to Vancouver for the Inauguration of Gold Buddha Monastery. We are staying with Dharma Master Heng Lai at Snow Mountain Monastery near Index, Washington. A group of forty folks from Gold Mountain in San Francisco, joined with thirty people from Berkeley for a big photo beneath the white Guan Yin image.
The Berkeley friends took a group photo with Dharma Master Lai.
We also visited with the 80-year old Vietnamese monk Master Ming Zhao, of Vietnam Temple in Seattle. Master Ming Zhao has been a Dharma friend of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas for a decade.
Just returned from my mother's 90th birthday party in Toledo. Her birthday is Nov. 24th, but with Thanksgiving travel and the snowy weather at that time of year, she said, "If the queen of England can decide when to celebrate her birthday, so can I! We're going to celebrate in August!" So 18 family members arrived from points in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and California (me) and had a fine party with music, speeches, a memory book, photos and food. We had two five-month old infants and four generations.
(Me, my mom, Debbie Metcalf, and my sister, Liz Clowery.)
I don't much go for the practice of finding unusual creatures in the clouds, as so many of my Asian Buddhist colleagues do, but this particular critter sure looks like a dragon, don't you think? Dragons are supposed to come around to protect auspicious Dharma-events. Maybe so? (Photo credit: Marion Roberson)
Yesterday, August 9, 2013, twenty-eight men and women received the complete precepts in the Mahayana tradition and became fully ordained Bhikshus (monks) and Bhikshunis (nuns). It was a fine ceremony and a fine day in the Dharma Realm. This was the thirteenth such ceremony since our founder, the late Chan Master Hsuan Hua began ordaining men and women in this country.
Three Masters and Seven Certifiers have to assemble to examine and verify the qualifications of the candidates. Yesterday's assembly of distinguished Sangha members from both the Mahayana and the Theravada tradition included the following venerable monks: (front row from the left) Bhante Seelawimala, of Sri Lanka, Ajahn Pasanno, from the Thai Forest tradition, Rev. Heng Sure, of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, Bhante Shantarakshita, from Sri Lanka, and Rev. Heng Shan, of the CTTB. (Back row from the left) Ajahn Nyaniko, Thai Forest tradition, Ajahn Karunadhammo, Thai Forest tradition, Bhikshu Heng Lyu, Abbot of the CTTB, Bhikshu Heng Lai, CTTB, and Ajahn Jotipalo, Thai Forest tradition.
Inviting senior monks from both Mahayana and Theravada traditions, an historical precedent in the West, was a hallmark of Master Hsuan Hua's ordination procedures.
Here is the group that traveled to the Oregon Coastal Mountains last week to listen to the teachings of Medicine Buddha, to meditate and to live together as a community in the wilderness. Blessings all around!
Tonight, on the Summer Solstice evening, at 7:56 PM, the full moon will rise over California skies. (We will be lecturing on the Avatamsaka Sutraat that moment, so big deal!) For those of you with cameras in your hands, you will want to know the method for capturing that big, round moon, as it makes its closest approach to the earth. Here is a helpful article from CNet Australia that explains the details for getting that eye-popping photo tonight.