A Monk Amok: Buddhist Military Chaplaincy

Venerable Gyatso over at A Monk Amok has a very interesting short commentary on Buddhist Military Chaplaincy.  In part, he says:

What I don’t see is equal questioning of Buddhist chaplains in prisons. If we accept that thieves, rapists, murderers and child molesters need spiritual care, how can we question the provision of spiritual care for soldiers, sailors, airmen and women, and marines?

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Monastic Basketball

Also via Kenley Neufeld, check out this really wonderful short video of a Monastic Basketball game:

(“Playing basketball on Lazy Day at Deer Park Monastery in mid-June.”)

Critters (Long one, sorry!)

American RoachI was delighted to find Gabriel Cohen‘s article “Night of the Cockroach” on Shambhala Sun‘s website.  It appeared in the July 2009 issue, but as magazines are a luxury purchase at the moment, I only stumbled upon it a few days ago.  It’s a quick read, and I recommend it.  If you want to read it with “ambiance” – read, cockroach photos all over the page – check out Cohen’s .pdf of the original article on his website.

Cockroaches and other small critters have definitely played their part in the daily Practice of my life, and it’s good to bump into other people thinking about the potential struggle they provide.

Let me tell you a little bit about my house, and I’ll explain what I mean. Continue reading

On Death…

When ordinary people die they are out of control. Because they have not trained themselves during their life, they are overwhelmed by the experience of death and bewildered as their bodily elements go out of balance and cease to function harmoniously.

~ Lama Thubten Yeshe

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This quote inspired such an amazing moment of awareness and compassion in me.  On a lot of levels, I already knew what the Venerable Lama Yeshe said, but it was good to read and think on this separately.   (Especially as, one of these days, as soon as I can, I want to get involved in hopsice work.  It’s a place I genuinely feel I could help.  And it sort of “runs in the family.”)

Being Where I Am

You Are Here

So, life continues to be interesting.  I struggle with how I feel about the difficulties that keep cropping up.  We are well off, by whole world standards, but not well off by American (US) standards.  (I’ll spare you the details, but I do not think I’m being false by saying lots of things are a current struggle.)  It is difficult to feel comfortable in my own skin right now, so I have whittled down my practice to simply trying to accept where things are and to be joyfully mindful of being alive.

Indeed, What IS in a name?

Kunzang had some interesting thoughts on names the other day.  Well, she always posts interesting blog entries, but this one in particular I had already been thinking about.

Like Kunzang, I have a more unusual name, though you’d think my (married) last name wouldn’t cause so many difficulties.  My name is Dwan Tape.  Just eight letters, but they can cause a lot of consternation amongst others, especially over the phone.  There is also a sizable contingency of folks who want to either confirm that I am misspelling my name (“It’s ‘Dawn,’ right?”) or that I’m unsure of my gender (I once had someone argue that my name was actually pronounced Duane, and that I was, therefore, male.).  I was teased alot when I was young about my name.  Believe me, I’ve heard them all – “Da-Doo-wan-wan,” “Dwan, Dwo, Dwee, Dwour” and so on.

Once, when I was about seven or eight, my class stopped by the ruins of an abbey on the way back from a field trip (My Dad was stationed in England at the time.).  I remember walking around the grounds of this abbey’s skeleton – it was dark and misty and fabulously mysterious.   Anyway, I was looking down at the grey ruins of a wall rising up out of the wet grass when one of the parent chaperones asked me – for the zillionth time – what my first name was.  I was a bit exasperated, but once again related my name and it’s four letter spelling.  She then asked my middle name, and when I complied she said – “Your name is TOO hard.  I can’t remember it.  I am going to call you [XD keeping my middle name a secret here – but it’s a more common name….].  That’s so much EASIER.”  [Emphasis hers.]

Suffice it to say, I’ve had a lot of food for thought when it comes to names and how they affect our place in the world.  There are difficulties when it comes to having a more unusual name, but on the other hand – I have never in my life had someone call my name across a crowded room and had more than just me turn my head.

My husband also has an unusual name, though less so, and we gave all three of our kids unusual names.  We got a lot of flack about that – about how having an unusual name would just be horrible for them – until we pointed out that we thought we knew better than most how that works out for a kid.  And as they have all three grown older, they really have grown into their names – I’m very glad we named them as we did.  (Forgive me for not mentioning their names – internet safety and all that….)

However I feel about it, though, my name can cause some awkwardness.  When I correspond with people who are not being perfectly mindful in their email reading, etc., I will often run into folks assuming my name is Dawn.  It is a bit of a struggle for me to decide what to do about this.  I tend to want to just let it work out on its own, but either way there’s going to be a small amount of embarrassment surrounding it.  Still – I like my name and feel that it is exactly who I am.  So I tend to want to correct the situation.

The question is – how much our names is essential to who we are?  Am I grasping, or being egotistical?  I know that the ordained of Buddhism take up new names with their new lives.  I understand that, I think – both the idea of being someone new and renouncing something old.  I understand Dharma names too, I think.

Still – I wonder – what might be a best practice be when it comes to names.  What does your name mean to you?  How important is it to you?  How important SHOULD a name be?

Equanimity

If this embed doesn’t work, and you’ve yet to see Susan Boyle‘s performance (it went viral this weekend on the ‘net) – please click here and watch this all the way through:  YouTube – Susan Boyle – Singer – Britains Got Talent 2009.  (You could also click on the image above to get to it.)  I think you’ll be glad you did.

From from chapter 22, “The Four Immeasurable Minds,” of Thich Nhat Hanh‘s The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching:

The fourth element of true love is upeksha, which means equanimity, nonattachment, nondiscrimination, even-mindedness, or letting go.  Upa means “over,” and iksh means “to look.”  You climb the mountain to be able to look over the whole situation, not bound by one side or the other.  If your love has attachment, discrimination, prejudice, or clinging in it, it is not true love.  People who do not understand Buddhism sometimes think upeksha means indifference, but true equanimity is neither cold nor indifferent.  If you have more than one child, they are all your children.  Upeksha does not mean that you don’t love.  You love in a way that all your children receive your love, without discrimination.

Upeksha has the mark called samatajñana, “the wisdom of equality,” the ability to see everyone as equal, not discriminating between ourselves and others.