Buddhism Monthly Newsletter

November Newsletter: No Such Thing as a Buddhist Priest

November Newsletter

Dear Bodhi&Bass family,

Since the October “Newsletter” ended up being quite successful, and seemed to have connected many people with a practice community, I thought I’ll keep it going with a monthly newsletter. Especially considering the huge amount of news I have to share with you this time around.

*If you’d like to get the newsletters right to your email, use the “Subscribe To Email” button on the sidebar.


Let’s start with organizational news:

First of all, I’ve received ordination in the Dharma Winds Zen Tradition, from my dear teacher YaoXin Shakya. So now I’m a novice Zen Priest in the Order of HsuYun. What exactly this means, remains to be discovered, since non-monastic clergy is a relatively novel concept in Chan Buddhism (in fact, my ordination coincides with the 20th anniversary of the order).

Portrait of an Ass
Portrait of an Ass

My understanding of it is that I make a commitment to dedicate my life to serve the community and society by sharing the Buddhist teachings (and acting in accordance with them), and yet still live as part of the lay world. As one teacher once told me: “It should not be apart from your daily life, yet transcending the mundane. Your life is your practice.”

So that’s what I’ll try to do. And my ordination announcement is simple:

Yesterday an ass; today no sign of improvement. 

Secondly, I would like to announce a new affiliation of this Hermitage. The Bodhi&Bass Hermitage, is now a European Affiliate of the Chan Cosmos Community. This is the community of my dear teacher Ven. Beishi Guohan, a heir of Master Sheng Yen, and an incredible teacher. I am honored to be tasked with spreading the Suddenness Chan Dharma to the extent I can.

Here is an example of a teaching from Ven. Guohan to brighten your day:

🔴 In〈The Essentials of Chan Investigation〉, Chan Master XuYun (Empty Cloud, 1839-1959) advises all Chan/Zen/Seon/Thien practitioners:No automatic alt text available.

“In Chan Investigation, the most important thing is to have an earnest determination and to generate a persevering mind to transcend samsara. Only if there is a persevering Chan mind of earnestness, then the discrimination, attachment and vexations will come to an end by themselves. When the time comes, the ripening melon (referring to the realization) will naturally depart from the vine. ”

🔴 Guohan’s Humble Commentary :

 All Chan/Zen/Seon/Thien practitioners should generate a Chan mind of perseverance and earnestness in order to fulfill the prerequisite of Investigating Chan, “putting down all conditions, letting not one thought arise.”

 Meanwhile, for fulfilling the Chan Path, all Chan practitioners should keep on earnestly and perseveringly piloting the Chan shuttle with ordinary mind of non-abiding awareness at every moment in daily life.

 After Chan realization, the Chan shuttle will continue to progress with spontaneousness and effortlessness. Moment by moment, Chan practitioners are naturally manifest “the selfless function of great wisdom and effortless action of great compassion.”


So now some good news about the development of Bodhi&Bass:

Ordinary Mind Meditation is now available as a guided meditation on Insight Timer. I can’t recommend this app strongly enough, as it has played a key role in my own establishing of a daily practice. For some completely irrational reason, getting those little stars for consistency make it so you don’t miss a day even in the worst times. And as we know, with meditation consistency is key! As Master Nan used to say: “know when and know how much!”. Check it out here: Insight Timer

Also, we’ve reached 1000 members in our Facebook community, which is where I share all the updates about the website, podcast and meditation group. Thanks to everyone who has joined and shown their support to this humble endeavor! Feel free and encouraged to join and, if you feel so inclined, leave a review. Your support is greatly appreciated.

Lastly, we’ve been awarded the Top 20 Global Buddhist Blogs award from coupon.co.th (only in Thailand would a coupon website have a list of best Buddhist Blogs!). Here are the nice words editor Lisa Kok said about us: top 20.png

“Yes: music and Buddhism can indeed mix, and in Bodhi & Bass, this mix is achieved quite perfectly. Bodhi & Bass is a blog that combines elements of music with lessons from the Buddha himself. Through the blog, you will surely be able to appreciate how much music has to do with mindfulness, and how you can actually help yourself to become more mindful in your everyday affairs.”

 

Thank you Lisa!


Finally, here’s a recap of all the cool content you might have missed this month:

The epic final episode of the Birdseye View podcast series was about Enlightenment. Who doesn’t want that? So if you haven’t listened to it, now’s the time, before the next series starts:

 

I’ve also written an article that seemed to have hit close to home for many people. It was all about the Buddhist understanding of suffering and how actually, we’re all addicted. Don’t believe me? Check it out: “Once An Addict”

There were also a few Buddhist Bits episodes that came out, with many bite sized tips for using Buddhism in daily life. I think my favorite one was the one about dealing with restlessness, which is a tricky affliction to control. Listen now, it’ll only take 3 minutes:)

 

Finally, this month I finally finished a very long project, a free booklet about the Chan Buddhist practice of Hua-T’ou. This is a really all encompassing practice, a difficult one, yet one that has the potential to truly lead the practitioner beyond suffering. That’s a big promise, I know. But nothing less can be expected of the central practice of the Chan Buddhist sect. Check it out here: Hua-T’ou Chan.

So now you’re up to speed on everything. Thank you for all your support everyone!

May all be content and at peace!

Amituofo!

 

My first major influence was my grandmother Chaviva Dimenstein, who taught me violin. Even when I switched to guitar, because the violin was annoying to me, and finally to double bass, she still spent many hours every day helping me get better at music. In addition to her, I was blessed to study with many more great teachers, a rare thing to find. Most of them were not bass players at all, but supreme musicians who showed me the most important thing- we don’t learn music in order to play an instrument; we learn an instrument in order to play music. When I started to study Buddhism, I soon found out the same principle applies. Meditation cannot stand apart from daily life. I have been practicing Buddhadharma since about 2008. I started out in a Theravada context, again learning from outstandingly inspiring teachers, then I practiced some Zen, and now I study and practice Vajrayana (Kagyu) and Chan Buddhism (Linji Lineage of HsuYun). My highest aspiration and greatest inspiration is the actual pursuit of happiness- that means my own happiness as well as that of all others.

2 comments on “November Newsletter: No Such Thing as a Buddhist Priest

  1. Fuu Miyatani French

    Congrats and best wishes on both items. I have studied some with Gouhan Shifu and visited the temples in Taiwan . Excellent

    Like

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