http://www.UrbanDharma.org ...Buddhism for Urban America


The Urban Dharma Newsletter... June 3, 2003


In This Issue:

2. The Boy Monk ...Anh Do and Teri Sforza
3. Waiting for the Right Time
...Upasaka Guy Rom
A Letter to a Friend Considering Ordination ...Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron
5. Temple/Center/Website- of the Week:
Mahayana Zengong
6. Book Review:
Qigong Empowerment: A Guide to Medical, Taoist, Buddhist, Wushu Energy Cultivation
...by Shou-Yu Liang, Wen-Ching Wu


2. The Boy Monk
...Anh Do and Teri Sforza

Read The Boy Monk newspaper article @


WHAT: Free screening and question-and-answer session with writers/producers of "The Boy Monk," a series and video documentary produced by reporters Anh Do and Teri Sforza of The Orange County Register.

WHEN: Thursday, JUNE 5, 7-8 p.m.

WHERE: UCLA campus, Franz Hall 1260- See UCLA.edu for map

The Boy Monk is a 30-minute documentary about the remarkable journey of Donald Pham, a gifted teenager from Orange County who moved to a monastery in India to become a Buddhist monk and pursue his ultimate goal: to become the first Vietnamese-American geshe, the most learned of Tibetan Buddhist monks.

Known now as Konchog "Kusho" Osel, the boy monk is the youngest at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, run by the Tibetan Government in Exile. The series examines a monk's sacrifices including vows of silence, chastity and feelings of abandonment and Don Pham's personal battles with physical illness and devastating homesickness.

The 'Boy Monk' series explores Pham's family's background, whether the decision to go to India was entirely his own, how the family is dealing with the transition and whether the family is ultimately accepting Don Pham's journey of faith.

Reprints of the 4-part newspaper series and DVD copies of the documentary will be available for sale at the event.

3. Waiting for the Right Time
...Upasaka Guy Rom


I would like to share my experience while encountering the Dharma. What I say may seem obvious to many Dharma practitioners, but if it clarifies something for just one person, then that is enough.

When I first met the Dharma, my mind was racing. I had a strong instinct for the teachings, and I was fascinated and excited by them. I had a strong desire to become a monk as soon as possible, to practice intensely, and to become a Buddha quickly. Luckily, my teacher would not allow me fall into my own trap. Becoming a monk at that time in my life would have been disastrous for me. This was because, unbeknownst to me at the time, my understanding of the Dharma was intellectual. My desire to be ordained was simply a desire of the ego; there was little Dharma motivation from the heart. Consequently, taking ordination would have made me feel pressured, instead of bringing peace and happiness, which are the real purpose of practicing the Dharma and keeping the precepts. I would have been in constant internal conflict as I tried to live up to my ideal of a perfect monastic, instead of accepting myself and working with what I am at present.

After some time, I realized my faulty motivation. I came to my senses, or more accurately, I left my senses and discovered a tiny drop of Dharma in my heart. As I practiced more, self-acceptance began to arise in my heart. I stopped pressuring myself with my idealistic, intellectual understanding of the Dharma and the expectations it produced. Dharma is beautiful, and we have to have a long-term view in order to find it within ourselves. It will take a long time to practice and develop Dharma qualities. As His Holiness the Dalai Lama says, '"'The longer the practitioner is willing to practice, the quicker he or she will achieve the goal.'"' Joyous effort means being peaceful and happy with the practice and willing to spend a long time at it. When we have this, then we are truly practicing. Dharma now means to me becoming a better human being, caring for others, trying to develop a kind heart. It does not mean being intellectual, uptight, and pushing myself.

I hope to be ordained when I am confident to keep the precepts purely in a peaceful, happy state of mind. Then being ordained will benefit my practice and that in turn will benefit many other people as well. In the meantime, I will try to live according to the precepts while wearing lay clothes and having long hair, and practice being a monastic before actually becoming one.

A Letter to a Friend Considering Ordination ...Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron


Dear Dharma friend,

I received your letter. You want to be a monastic! You sound both happy and nervous about this. It is very worthwhile to be a monastic, and the more prepared your mind is for ordination, the easier the transition from lay to ordained life will be. Therefore, I will write some questions for you to reflect on in the hopes that they will help you to think deeply and thus eliminate potential obstacles in your mind. When I requested my spiritual master for permission to be ordained, he said, '"'Yes, but wait a while.'"' He made me wait nearly a year and half. I was impatient to ordain and did not want to wait, but looking back on it now, it was very good that I did. During that time I repeatedly contemplated the topics outlined in these questions. This helped me considerably, so now I would like to share them with you. When you contemplate these questions, it is important to be as honest as you can and use them as a tool to discover your own thoughts and feelings. Sometimes your truthful answer may not be what you would like it to be or what you think your spiritual teacher would want it to be. However, there are no right or wrong answers here. The better you know yourself, with all your strengths and weaknesses, the better you will be able to prepare for ordination.

1. Why do you want to become a monastic? What is your deepest motivation, your deepest reason for wanting to take ordination? What does ordination mean to you? Are there difficult relationships, situations, or emotions that you are trying to be free from? Is ordination a way of avoiding those or a way of facing them?

2. Where does being ordained fit into your Dharma practice? How will it help you? What things about being ordained will be difficult for you?

3. One of our precepts is to follow the Dharma advice of our abbot (abbess) or teacher. Is there a teacher with whom you have a strong connection? It is important to train under the guidance of a qualified and skillful teacher, not just to move around going wherever your fancy takes you. Are you willing to discuss your plans with your teacher and follow his or her Dharma instructions, or do you like to do what you want to do?

4. As sangha members, we are part of a larger spiritual community. We sit in order of our ordination and respect those ordained before us. We also should listen to the advice and suggestions of the senior monks and nuns because they have more experience as monastics. Is there a part of you that has difficulty with respecting and listening to those who are senior? How can you work with that attitude so you can value their guidance and reap the benefit from their experience and concern?

5. Which of the Buddhist traditions will be your principal practice? Theravada? Chinese? Tibetan? It is important to know which direction you will take in your practice; otherwise you could end up doing a mixture of things and not get anywhere.

6. In order to be able to keep our ordination, we need living conditions conducive to spiritual practice. Where will you live after taking ordination?

7. There is no large organization that supports and looks after Western monastics. We are responsible for our own finances, health insurance, and so forth. Worrying about these things can distract us from practice, so it is better to have these firmly in place before ordination. Will you have an income or financial support? Do you have health insurance?

8. Do you have any social obligations to clear up before ordination (debts, divorce, caring for aged parents or children)? Do you have any serious health problems that will influence your ability to practice, to live in community, or to keep the ordination?

9. We have years and lifetimes of conditioning behind us. It is important to look at this closely and resolve it. Thus, the next sets of questions deal with societal values and goals that previously have been inculcated in us. Do you wish to be successful in a career? Imagine meeting your old friends after several years. They have good careers, success, a comfortable life, and reputation. How will you feel? Will you feel like a useful member of society even though you have not produced anything tangible that is valued by society?

10. Ordination entails developing our ability to handle our own emotions without seeking emotional support from a partner. It also involves managing our sexual energy. How do you feel about married and family life? Would you like a life-long companion to share your life with? Is it difficult for you to control your emotional or sexual attraction for others? Even if marriage and family do not seem so interesting now, how will you feel when you are older? Often women in their middle or late thirties and men in their late forties undergo a crisis, thinking, '"'If I want to get married and have children, I have to do so now. Otherwise, my age will make having a family difficult.'"' Imagine yourself at that age and investigate how you might feel.

11. How will you feel when you are old if you have no children, grandchildren, home, security, and so forth? What could your old age be like as a nun or monk? as a lay person?

12. Two of our precepts are to abandon the signs of a lay person and to take on the signs of a monastic. This entails shaving our head, wearing robes, and keeping our precepts wherever we are and whomever we are with. Are you easily influenced by what other people think of you--be they strangers or family and friends? How will you feel if people on the street stare at you because you wear robes? How will you feel if your family and friends say that you are escaping from reality or wasting your life by being a monastic? How will you feel if your parents are upset because you are not living a '"'normal'"' life?

13. Have you told your family and close friends that you are considering becoming a monastic? Are you comfortable with the way they reacted, or do you feel guilty, hurt or angry? It is very important to work out these emotions. Also, it is important to give your parents love. They often fear that their child is rejecting them, or that they will never see their child again if he or she takes ordination. We have to be sensitive to their needs, to reassure them that we love them, and yet not feel pulled by their emotions or wishes. What meditations can you do to help you overcome the attachment or anger you may have towards your family?

14. Are you prepared to live in a community? This involves giving up doing what you want to do when you want to do it. You have to follow the discipline of the community. You have to live and work with people whom you may not normally choose as your friends. How do you feel about having your ego confronted like this?

15. Which is your strongest disturbing attitude: attachment, anger, ignorance, jealousy, pride, doubt? If it goes unaddressed, it will cause problems in your practice and make you doubt your ordination. Know which one is the strongest and start applying the antidotes in your meditation now.

16. To actually receive the ordination during the ordination ceremony, you must have developed to some extent the determination to be free from cyclic existence and to attain liberation. To be able to keep the ordination after receiving it, you have to constantly cultivate this motivation. Do you regularly meditate on the disadvantages of cyclic existence and its causes, or is there a part of your mind that is resistant to thinking about that? The eight worldly concerns are some of the chief obstacles to developing the determination to be free. We are attached to 1) money and material possessions, 2) praise and approval, 3) reputation and image, and 4) pleasure from the five sensual objects. We have aversion to 5) not receiving or losing our money and possessions, 6) blame or disapproval from others, 7) bad reputation or image, and 8) unpleasant sensations from our five senses. Which of these are the strongest for you? Are you familiar with the antidotes for them? Do you apply those antidotes? Do you feel that giving up those eight mental states would make you unhappy?

17. How do you feel about going through the hardships of ordained life? How can you strengthen your spiritual goals and make them more heartfelt and central to your life? Ordained life, like lay life, is not always easy. There will be problems, ups and downs. When the down times come, people are tempted to blame their ordination, thinking '"'My ordination is the problem. If I were not a monastic, I would not have this problem.'"' What are the benefits of ordination? Do you have deep conviction in them? It is important to have a clear understanding of these things beforehand, and to be courageous in facing physical, emotional, and spiritual difficulties in your life.

18. Is there a part of your mind that is seeking respect from others because you are ordained? Do you expect others to treat you well? to give you things? to show you respect? Or are you willing to be the servant of others, thus cultivating the altruistic intention?

19. What are your needs and concerns after ordination? What resources do you have--internal and external--to help you meet those? What things do you feel confident about? What things do you feel shaky about?

These are some things to think deeply about. Each point has several questions, and it could be helpful to write down your responses. Put them aside for a few weeks. Then reread them and make adjustments. Reflecting on these questions again and again over time will help remove unclarity in your mind and possible obstacles in your ordination. They will help you go through the emotional high of wanting to be a monastic and to understand your mind better.

I wish you all the best on the path to enlightenment and pray that your wisdom, compassion, and skill grow so that you may spread happiness to many beings.

Yours in the Dharma, Thubten Chodron

5. Mahayana Zengong


1. The True Understanding and Realization of Buddhism

To swiftly attain full enlightenment and see the true Buddha nature.

To escape the cycle of rebirth and transcend the three realms.

2. The Health and Well-beings of Everyone

To quickly obtain peace of mind and a healthy body.

To perform remote-healing using the Mind Energy.

To be able to perform remote-healing using the Super Mind Energy.

The quintessence of the Mahayana Zengong consists of ten great qualities and virtues. The Unity of the Ten Greatnesses is inseparable from the unification of the Ten Dharma Realms, the ten great liberations and the Ten Immeasurables. It is beyond description, imagination, duality, and discrimination. All sentient beings inherently embrace and possess the intrinsic Ten Greatnesses. Due to our deluded and ignorant Minds, we could not realize and apply these qualities. As we attain the fruit of Buddhahood we shall spontaneously actualize the Unity of the Ten Greatnesses.

1. The Greatness of the True Nature -- The mind and the material world are inseparable. The emptiness and existence are inseparable. The body and mind are inseparable. The true nature of the Mind is the Buddha nature.

2. The Greatness of Appearance -- The sameness and difference of all phenomena and appearances of the Form and Formless Realms are unified and is called Oneness. This is because the self and others are inseparable.

3. The Greatness of the Primordial Wisdom -- The true nature of the Mind pervades the past, present, and future and is thus omniscient.

4. The Greatness of Virtue -- All phenomena and the body and mind are inseparable. Engaging in the emancipation and liberation of sentient beings with love and compassion is the ultimate virtue of Oneness. That is the Way of Bodhisattvas.

5. The Greatness of the Ultimate Truth -- The ultimate truth encompasses immeasurable teachings and boundless heart essences and treasures.

6. The Greatness of the Performance -- The actualization of the Six Paramitas and constantly turning the Wheel of the Dharma is to liberate sufferings and bring joy to sentient beings. The effort of such performance is ceaseless and timeless.

7. The Greatness of the Energy -- The energy of mind, the body, and the universe are all oneness. One is immeasurable. Immeasurable is one. Energy and mass are mutually equivalent. The energy of the mind pervades the Dharmadhatu and is thus omnipotent.

8. The Greatness of the Accomplishing Activities -- The accomplishing activities of great compassion can be in aspects of activity, quiet, the imperceivable, and openness. The Dharmadhatu is endless while the numbers of sentient beings are immeasurable and unimaginable. It is necessary to turn the great Wheel of the Dharma since the true nature of mind fully pervades the Ten Directions and the Three Times.

9. The Greatness of Time -- To the enlightened beings there is no concept of time such as the past, present, and future (the Three Times). The enlightened ones are always at ease even when the time changes from the short kalpa into the long kalpa, and vice versa. However, for the sentient beings there exists the concept of time because they differentiate changes, measures, and durations.

10. The Greatness of Emptiness -- To the enlightened beings there is no difference between singular and plural or big and small since they are all inseparable. However, for the sentient beings they have the solidified concept of shape, size, change, and appearance so that they have the idea of emptiness, existence, and space.

6. Qigong Empowerment: A Guide to Medical, Taoist, Buddhist, Wushu Energy Cultivation
...by Shou-Yu Liang, Wen-Ching Wu


Book Description

Qigong Empowerment is the most unique and complete volume ever written in the English language on Qigong (Chi Kung), the attainment of energy. It is a volume that you can refer to over and over again for all your energy studies. This book includes all the major energy training schools in ancient China: 1. Medical Qigong theories and training methods to strengthen the organs and to rejuvenate overall health. 2. Taoist Qigong cultivation and training outline, from the basic to the most profound methods, to foster Essence, Qi, and Spirit. 3. Buddhist Qigong empowering methods to develop the Esoteric Abilities of the Body, Speech, and Mind. 4. Emitting, Absorbing, and Healing Qigong to develop your healing ability. 5. Wushu (martial arts) Iron Shirt, Iron Palm, Iron Fist Qigong for developing your ultimate physical potential.

Amazon.com- Reviewer: andy_taiji from Martinsburg, WV United States... By far the best book I have found to date on Chinese Qigong. Its strength is in the many exercises described within its pages. The authors provide plenty of pictures to assist their written directions. The book also provides many exercises for beginners to build a foundation in qigong basics and methods of practice for more advanced students.

The value of this book is immeasurable. It gives the average student of qigong access to information that would take an individual years to acquire in study with many qigong teachers.


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