The Urban Dharma Newsletter... July 30,
In This Issue:
1. Buddhism Sites Aim for "Right
2. Collaboration among Asian-Americans in
Atlanta cuts across many cultures
3. Book Review- Being Black: Zen
and the Art of Living with fearlessness and Grace
4. Temple/Center of the Week: The
City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
5. Nothing Special... By
Tom (Ksanti) O'Connor
6. Newsletter Archives
1. Buddhism Sites Aim for 'Right Path'
The Moscow Times- Tuesday, Jul. 23, 2002
* The Russian Internet could be your ticket to nirvana.
The Zen.ru ( http://www.zenru.org/
) Internet portal at klein.zen.ru says it aims to help people
find the "right path" by offering more than 1,000
texts on far eastern traditions, "psycho-physical"
training and the latest developments for improving one's psycho-physical
"It is a collection of interesting and helpful information
for those who wonder about how the world is built, how a person
can combine what is saintly and pure inside him with that which
is base in the world, how he can combine his internal universe
with the external and how he can combine understanding and action,"
Alexander Klein, the head of the project, says in his lecture
"The Internet as an Element of the Path."
Zen.ru is part of a larger network of web resources on the Russian
Internet devoted to Zen Buddhism and other Eastern philosophies
and has links to a number of those sites, including Lotus' Site
Much like Zen.ru, Lotus, which bills itself as the "modern
instrument of the seeker," offers a huge library of texts
and other materials devoted to Eastern philosophy. By clicking
on the Lotus section, a number of the author's works -- such
as "The Eight Noble Imperfections of the Modern Seeker"
-- are listed to the right of a large picture of Lotus himself
with what appear to be beams of energy emanating from his forehead.
Visitors to both Zen.ru and Lotus' Site also can find about
the School of the Second Logic, which the sites say offers Internet
conferences "aimed at developing in participants a number
of qualities, abilities and habits necessary for an active and
full life in the modern world." Klein heads the School
of the Second Logic, which is based on what he calls the "technology
2. Collaboration among Asian-Americans
in Atlanta cuts across many cultures.
By SHELIA M. POOLE
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Staff Writer
* Members of the recently formed Governor's Commission on Asian-American
Affairs include Vietnamese, Chinese and Pakistani-Americans.
Both illustrate the complex diversity of the metro area's growing
Asian immigrant population, which reached nearly 136,000 in
2000, according to the census.
Unlike the city's fastest-growing immigrant group -- Latinos
-- community service organizations, businesses and government
officials have found that there's no "one-size-fits-all"
approach to dealing with the Asian-American community.
Latinos share a common language -- Spanish -- and religion,
mostly Roman Catholic.
Indian immigrants alone are adherents of five major religions
-- Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Sikhism. Chinese
immigrants speak seven major dialects and many subdialects.
Mandarin (or Putonghua) is spoken by more than 70 percent of
the population. Non-Chinese languages spoken widely by ethnic
minorities from China include Mongolian, Tibetan, Uighur and
other Turkic languages.
Then there are Japanese and Korean residents, to say nothing
of those from the Malay archipelago in Southeast Asia.
METRO ATLANTA ASIANS
The 2000 census showed 135,959 metro Atlantans are Asian, an
extremely diverse group that includes Indians, Thais, Indonesians
and Japanese. Previously, Pacific Islanders were included in
this category. Here is the breakdown:
Asian Indian: 37,162
Sri Lankan: 152
* except Taiwanese
Source: Census Bureau
The potpourri of languages, cultures and religions make for
an Asian-American community that is as diverse as it is vibrant.
Several organizations have cropped up to try to build bridges
among the polyglot Asians. They have sprung up around politics,
business and professions and social events.
Last weekend, about 10,000 people from Asian-American communities
gathered at the Atlanta Botanical Garden for the ninth annual
Asian Cultural Experience. Mutiara Tan, one of the organizers,
said it was rewarding to see Vietnamese-Americans talking to
Chinese-Americans and IndonesianAmericans talking to Indian-Americans.
Eleven countries were represented, up from two -- China and
Japan -- the first year.
"Our mission is to educate people about the Asian community
and to learn more about ourselves," said Tan, a native
of the Indonesian island of Java and an accounting manager for
Jones Lang LaSalle, a real estate management firm. "I learn
more every time I attend an event. Before I didn't know much
about Chinese and Vietnamese culture."
Jung-Ha Kim, a board member of the Doraville-based Center for
Pan-Asian Community Services, agrees. "There are lots of
different conflicts and challenges," Kim said. "It's
not just a mistake for the dominant culture to lump all Asian-Americans
together. It's impossible."
Kim understands the problems firsthand.
She was born in South Korea to North Korean parents. When she
was about 3 years old, the family moved to Japan. For a spell,
Kim said she thought she was Japanese, "but with Kim as
a last name I soon found out differently and I was treated very
differently. In Japan, Koreans and Chinese were treated as sub-citizens."
Even today, the challenges persist.
Recently, the center sponsored a workshop on resolving generational
differences within the family. Organizers had five translators
on hand. They also had to be aware of the cultural nuances.
"It makes the workshop more lengthy," Kim said. "One
needs to work twice or three times as hard to prepare for a
Asian immigrants have landed on U.S. shores since the mid-1700s.
In 1763, officials recorded the first settlement of Filipinos
in America. They escaped from Spanish ships in New Orleans and
fled to the bayous.
The first major wave of Chinese immigration occurred after 1848
after gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California. Most
came as a cheap source of labor to work the mines, railroads
and other industries, according to the Leadership Education
for Asian Pacifics, a Los Angeles-based organization.
Over the next century, Asian immigrants moved to major U.S.
cities such as New York and to the West Coast. But Georgia and
the South didn't see a major influx of Asian immigrants until
the late 1960s, said University of Georgia demographer Douglas
In subsequent years, Asian immigrants and refugees came to the
Southeast as a result of the growing economy and job opportunities,
Lani Lee Wong, chairwoman of the Georgia Commission on Asian-American
Affairs, remembers when she first moved to Atlanta 25 years
ago the community was so small that if she heard someone speaking
Chinese or Javanese, she would automatically go over and introduce
"Now we see so many different people that we just don't
do that anymore," she said.
And with that growth has come greater diversity.
The largest groups are Indians, Koreans, Chinese and Vietnamese.
Many of the Asian-Americans interviewed say those and other
communities remain largely separate, particularly among first-generation
immigrants and refugees, "who tend to stay inside their
own ethnic group," said Steve Choi, who is president of
the Asian American Coalition and of Korean ancestry. The biggest
issue, they say, is language.
Second- and third-generation Asian-Americans tend to have few
barriers separating them, in part because they are either bilingual
or speak English. They've also grown up in America and are more
integrated into the culture.
Even some Asian-Americans question whether everyone belongs
in the same category. Until recently the U.S. Census Bureau
included Pacific Islanders as "Asian." The category
also includes Indians, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis.
Should those communities be included with Koreans and Japanese?
"It's quite unnatural for us in the Asian-American community,"
said Choi, who is also vice chairman of the governor's commission.
"But Indian and Pakistani cultures are just as much, if
not more, foreign to us as American culture. There's almost
Choi's was among the early voices calling for a state commission
to address the concerns of the overall Asian-American community
that would be representative of all ethnic groups and nationalities.
During a recent meeting members listened to an Afghan immigrant
recount problems she experienced on her job because of her dress.
They also heard about an Indian doctor who alleges he was beaten
by police during a traffic stop.
Commission member Farooq G. Soomro said it's in the communities'
best interest to work as one.
"That's where the power comes in," said Soomro, a
director of the Pakistani-American Community of Atlanta. "By
working together you're pooling your resources, your voice,
your vote and your money. There's power in unity. At the end
of the day, we're all Asian-Americans."
3. Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living
with fearlessness and Grace
by Angel Kyodo Williams
In this exquisite primer on Zen Buddhism, author and ordained
Zen priest Angel Kyodo Williams is not trying to convert African
Americans into a new religion. Instead, she is simply presenting
Zen principles and practices that emphasize living a life of
grace and self-acceptance. Having faced the daily challenges
of growing up black in America, she is especially adept at showing
how these Zen principles apply to the African American experience.
"People of color are especially in need of new ways and
new answers to the separation and fear we face each day,"
Kyodo Williams writes. "It wouldn't be a stretch to say
that as black people, more than most groups in this country,
we live our daily lives with the distinct taste of fear in our
mouths.... While the principles offered here are not an antidote
to the underlying reasons for our fears, they can give us a
different way to approach them."
Kyodo Williams offers a savvy yet tender voice as she walks
readers through the basic principles of Zen. It's hard to resist
her invitation to take on the numerous sensible vows that lead
to enlightenment, such as staying true to the warrior spirit
while "committing ourselves to practicing good." The
bottom line is that this is a book about claiming the strength,
compassion, and integrity that dwell within everyone. And although
it speaks to the particular needs and trials of the African
American community, readers of all colors and walks of life
will find this an irresistible invitation. --Gail Hudson
Spiritual Awakening... Amazon.com- Reviewer: A reader from Texas
The book was a gift in every way. Ms. Williams has demystified
the East and made Zen down to Earth. As an African- American
woman, I've been searching in vain for a spiritual home. Thanks
to Ms. Williams, I think that I've found one. I recommend this
book to anyone who is looking for guidance on her/his spritual
4. The City of Ten Thousand Buddhas
Who we are:
We are the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association (DRBA). We are
monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen, elders and kids. The DRBA
is a religious community with members in the United States and
Canada, in Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Europe, Australia,
and elsewhere. The link we share is our connection with our
founder and teacher, the Ven. Master Hsüan Hua (1908-1996).
From so many different walks of life we each heard the sound
of the "lion's roar" of Dharma and followed our hearts
towards the Path of cultivation taught by the Ven. Abbot.
How to find us:
You will find us at any of twenty-some institutions. Some are
convents, residences for nuns; some are monasteries where men
cultivate the Way. Some large centers, such as the City of Ten
Thousand Buddhas, near Ukiah, California, contain both men and
women monastics, as well as lay families. Soon our webpage will
offer you detailed maps for finding directions to the largest
of our Way-places. You can also find us in our schools which
we devote our time to, in our Sutra translations, and in our
periodicals, magazines and newsletters. More on these below.
How we practice:
We follow the "Five Schools" of the Mahayana style,
1. Precepts, moral rules, called the Vinaya School;
2. Meditation, called the Chan School; our teacher is the 19th
Patriarch of the Wei-yang lineage.
3. Studying Dharma-teachings, called the Scholastic School;
4. Mantras, called the Esoteric, or "Secret School";
5. Chanting the Buddha's name, called the Pure Land School.
We celebrate Buddhist holidays year round, and live a rigorous,
wholesome, ascetic life that has been part of the Sangha's style
dating back to the Buddha's time.
Our normal day:
We get up early! We recite "morning recitation," at
4:00 AM and get to sleep somewhere after 10:00 each night. A
selection of schedules for our individual Way-places is available
to whoever would like.
What we eat:
We are strict vegetarians; some of us are vegans. We take the
Buddha's injunction to be compassionate seriously. We enjoy
pure, nutritious vegetarian cuisine. Our diet is simple, but
visitors to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas report that our
food fills the stomach in a delightful way. In combination with
the unsurpassed flavor of meditation we aspire to "take
the bliss of Chan as our nourishment," and be "replete
with the joy of the Dharma."
What you won't find:
At our Way-places you won't find people asking for money; we
do not charge for our Dharma-events. You won't find hugs and
back rubs, or hot tubs, you won't find bullies or cliques, you
won't find televisions, radios, dancing, gambling, alcohol or
cigarettes. The CTTB is a game preserve, you won't find animals
being killed or eaten. The attitude of cherishing life - - nothing
has died in anger or hatred on the property for twenty-one years
- - makes for a peaceful and secure atmosphere.
5. nothing special ...
by Tom (Ksanti) O'Connor- Dharma Teacher- IBMC
In about six weeks
four of us are to receive our brown robes. It marks a significant
milestone in our practice. And this summer, during our monks
training, I feel that Rev. Karuna has been setting traps to
help us on our journey.
Weve been reading about what monks do, what they experience.
Theres Thich Nhat Hahns Stepping Into Freedom which
is for novice monks (say age 10) and not being that young you
realize just where you stand in the scheme of things. The other
is Roshi Jiyu-Kennetts Zen is Eternal Life.
As a Westerner she too seems to have started late. She asked
her teacher how to go about her studies and he answered, Expect
nothing, seek nothing, just live. For a person who had
traveled around the world to study it did not seem at the time
an adequate answer. But it was a skillful one.
As skillful as Rev. Karunas inviting her students to the
Vesak celebration in Santa Ana. And wear your robes.
We arrived and became part of the procession of monks and nuns.
Hundreds of people were there. Many bows. We were ushered down
to the front.
And I lived out the actors nightmare. Thats the
one where you find yourself on stage, in a play, and have no
idea what the play is, who you are in it, and what your next
line is. I was suddenly in a ceremony, in Vietnamese, on the
altar, on ABC Vietnam (they were filming it) and expected to
just proceed. But all I had to do was chant, bow at the appropriate
times, and bathe Baby Buddha. And because I was at the back
of the line I could pick up what was expected. I got through
And then I figured out the lesson. As a Westerner our minds
work overtime to analyze, criticize, and figure it out. We are
looking for what Chogyam Trungpa calls Credentials. In Santa
Ana I didnt have my credentials in order. But at that
ceremony no one was looking for credentials. That was the lesson.
I was just part of an equation. There was a ceremony to be performed.
It needed monks and nuns. A statue of Buddha. And a congregation.
Since I was in robes, I was a monk. Anything more was my own
concern, they had what they needed.
Nothing special. Just do it. Just live.
Right. Easier said than done. At least in Western mode. Chogyam
Trungpa talks about credential sickness and just
being aware of it. Because the practice does require living
differently. But different doesnt make it special. As
soon as we think its special it becomes a credential and
loses its value as a part of the practice. The cushions, mats,
robes are just part of the world of the Zendo. Just the way
In Stepping into Freedom there are sixty-eight Gathas, sixty-eight
short verses to be recited with everyday activities. Things
Taking the First Steps of the Day
Walking on the Earth
Is a miracle!
Each mindful step
Reveals the wondrous Dharmakaya.
Every activity is given attention. We are to become mindful,
become aware of the reality of the activitywhich is very
different from the way most of us live. Anyone driving in LA
sees the multi-tasking of the commutecell
phone calls, coffee, shaving, while making a left hand turn.
We spend our lives individuating. Making me, ME and you, You.
Separate and distinct. Creating the story of MY life with me
as the star and everyone else supporting players. And we create
references and categories. The You I know does this, makes this
much (or little), knows these people (or doesnt), came
from here, is going there. We conceptualize and categorize for
easy use and handling.
Not very Zen-like.
The Hsin Hsin Ming attributed to Seng Tsan, the Third
Chinese Patriarch, has this to say about that:
Trusting In Mind
The Great Way is not difficult,
Just dont pick and choose.
If you cut off all likes and dislikes
Everything is clear like space.
Make the slightest distinction
And heaven and earth are set apart.
If you wish to see the truth,
Dont think for or against.
This doesnt mean to not see whats there. It means
to see what is therewithout filtering it through words,
It ends with:
Trust and Mind are not two.
Not-two is trusting the Mind.
Words and speech dont cut it,
Cant now, never could, wont ever.
So where does that leave one? With the practice. With sitting
Zazen. Joko Beck says it is just sitting there. Its not
about seeing colored lightsalthough that can happen. Its
not about having nice feelings, or becoming calmand that
can happen. Or becoming spiritual whatever that
means. It really is just about sitting there. Hearing the sounds
around you. Noting what is going on. Observing. Experiencing.
Being here. Thats all.
But we dont really have much interest in Being Here.
Our minds wander off on their own. Much of our practice is just
noting where it went. Into some kind of fantasy. It depends
on our particular bent. Movies a la James Thurber.
Conversations with absent friends. Or enemies. Righting wrongs.
Revenge. Afternoon dalliances. Almost anything is better than
sitting on a cushion. But that is what is, what we are doing,
what life is at this moment.
And that is what we can always trust. Perhaps the only thing
we can trust. Life is what it is. We just have to accept it.
Nothing special, just what is. We can always rely on that and
rest in that. If I became ill could I rest in that? I must because
that is what is.
Of course, it only works if we can take the I out
of it. Take the ego and non-existent self out of it. The I
demands that the bad go away and good stay forever. The I
wants this and doesnt want that. The I makes
the emotional investment. Our practice is to observe how the
investment is made. Rev. Jhana had us create an emotion during
one of his Dharma talks. We sat here and conjured up an emotion
from nothing and then got rid of it.
We should note our thoughts and try to step back from them.
Put a label on them. See that they are just an energy fragment.
Joko Beck feels that if we persistently label any thought
the emotional overlay begins to drop out and we are left with
an impersonal energy fragment to which we need not attach.
The practice is to work with this until we know it in
When we know it in our bones then we can act from reality. Without
the delusionsdeluding passions are inexhaustable,
I vow to end them allwe can experience life as it
The moons the same old moon
The flowers are just as they were
Yet now I am
The thingness of things.
A questioner asked the Buddha: I would like to know about
the state of peace, the state of solitude and of quiet detachment.
How does a person become calm, independent, and not wanting
to grasp at anything?
A person does this, replied the Buddha, by
eradicating the delusion of I am. By being alert
and attentive, he begins to let go of cravings as they arise.
But whatever he begins to accomplish, he should beware of inner
pride. He must avoid thinking of himself as better than another,
or worse or equal, for that is all comparison and emphasizes
The person should look for peace within and not depend
on it in any other place. For when a person is quiet within,
the self cannot be found. There are no waves in the depths of
the ocean, it is still and unbroken. It is the same with the
peaceful person. He is still, without any longing to grasp.
He has let go the foundation of self and no longer builds up
pride and desire.
So we just live and act and do what needs to be done. Nothing
special. Just like the haiku:
An old pond
A frog jumps in,
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