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Bhikkhunis Articles

Most Venerable Bhikkhuni Shih Jian Yin
The Secretary General of Taiwan Buddhist Association, Secretary General of the World Buddhism Bhikkhuni Association & the Chinese Buddhism Bhikkhuni Association, Abbess of Miau Kuang Chan Monastery, Wan Fa Monastery, Zhi Cheng Monastery, Tai Ming Monastery & Zheng Jue Chan Monastery

The directions of pure mind….

A virtue is a trait or quality deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being. Personal virtues are characteristics valued as promoting individual and collective well-being. The opposite of “virtue” is “vice”. In Buddhist teachings, virtues that are cited include: Generosity, Morality, Renunciation, Transcendental Wisdom, Diligence, Forbearance, Honesty, Determination, Loving-Kindness, and Serenity. Other virtues associated with Buddhist traditions include: Compassion, Enlightenment, Right understanding, Truth, Responsibility, Simplicity, Non-violence, Preventing and Healing Suffering, Harmony, Co-operation. More specific, Buddhist practice as outlined in the Noble Eightfold Path can be regarded as a progressive list of virtues. The purpose of Buddhism is not to rise to a high status in worldly human society; but to develop one’s own virtues, to purify one’s heart and mind and to awaken through or by practicing sīla, samathi and paññā. The objectives are: fi rst to purify oneself, to gain wisdom, and then to help others escape suffering. Initially, Lord Buddha taught all His disciples – men, women, monks and novices – the same basic concepts: the same Four Noble Truths, the same Five Precepts, the same Three Trainings and the same Eightfold Path. He summarized these in the Ovatta Patimokkha as:

“Avoid evil, do good, and purify your heart and mind.” “Sabba papassa akaranam, avoid all evil, Kusalassupasampada, Cultivate the good, Sachitta pariyodapanam, And purify your heart. Etam Buddhanasasanam.” This is the teaching of the Buddhas Avoiding evil means following the Five Precepts: avoiding killing, stealing, adultery, lying, and intoxicants. Cultivating the good means: practicing dana or generosity; sila or morality; and bhavana or meditation. Meditation is the key to purifying the heart and mind, developing spiritual values and living happily by discarding defi lements (kilesa) and developing wisdom. Only after attracting a large group of disciples, did Lord Buddha begin to distinguish distinct rules with different precepts for various groups for living harmoniously in their diverse positions and circumstances. Lord Buddha replied to Venerable Ananda that women could attain enlightenment just like men if they practice well. Now, however, we fi nd fi ve precepts for lay people, eight precepts for nuns, ten for novices, 227 for bhikkhus and 331 precepts for bhikkhunis. It sounds simple, but, it is difficult to maintain virtue rigorously in accordance with such rules. More broadly, Lord Buddha also directs people to follow the Eightfold Path in order to live happily. One should always think, act and speak correctly. This is easy to say, but hard to maintain in practice. One must overcome the hindrances. The key underlying objectives are first to purify yourself, developing spiritual value to be a good person and to gain wisdom and awaken, then extending your help to others. Spiritual values are crucial. If one can maintain pure spiritual values, and awaken through wisdom acquired, one will live contentedly. This is one’s first duty to oneself.

Afterwards, one can extend help to others. Worldly values stress getting ahead, being superior and winning based on personal desires. In contrast, the supra-mundane values of Noble Disciples emphasize resolution, modesty, humility and consideration. The Buddhist path is: training yourself to know yourself, purifying yourself, and making yourself into a refuge unto yourself. “Days and nights fly past, fly past: What am I doing right now?” – The Buddha has you ask that question every day, both to keep yourself from being complacent and to remind yourself that the practice is one of doing. Even though we’re sitting here very still, there’s still a doing going on in the mind. There’s the intention to focus on the breath, the intention to maintain that focus, and the intention to keep watch over how the breath and the mind are behaving. Meditation as a whole is a doing. Even when you practice non‐reactivity or “being the knowing,” there’s a still an element of intention. That’s what the doing is.

That was one of the Buddha’s most important insights: that even when you’re sitting perfectly still with the intention not to do anything, there’s still the intention, and the intention itself is a doing. It’s a sankhara, a fabrication. It’s what we live with all the time. In fact, all of our experience is based on fabrication. The fact that you sense your body, feelings, perceptions, thought‐constructs, consciousness—all of these aggregates: To be able to experience them in the present moment you have to fabricate a potential into an actual aggregate. You fabricate the potential for form into an actual experience of form, the potential for feeling into an actual experience of feeling, and so on. This element of fabrication lies in the background all the time. It’s like the background noise of the Big Bang, which hums throughout the whole universe and doesn’t go away. The element of fabrication is always there, shaping our experience, and it’s so consistently present that we lose sight of it. We don’t realize what we’re doing.

What you’re trying to do as you meditate is to strip things down so you can see the very elemental fabrications going on in the mind, the kamma you’re creating with every moment. We’re not making the mind still simply to have a nice restful place to be, a nice experience of ease to soothe our stressed‐out nerves. That may be part of it, but it’s not the whole practice. The other part is to see clearly what’s going on, to see the potential of human action: What are we doing all the time? What are the potentials contained in this doing? Then we apply that understanding of human action to see how far we can go in stripping away the unnecessary stress and suffering that come from acting in unskillful ways.

Virtue Ethics….

Cultivating the Path of the Bodhisattva combines the merits of the Paths of Man, Devas and Self Liberation. This path seeks more than to establish good karmic relationships in the human world. It entails all sentient beings in the ten directions of the past, present and future, as objects of their service, contribution, concern and care. In addition, the performance of wholesome acts is not for the sake of positive karmic results. Mahayana Buddhism always encourages the cultivation of the Path of the Bodhisattva. The path of the Bodhisattva, however, must begin with making wishes, generating vows and fulfilling them. When we train the mind, it’s not just a question of using a meditation technique to bludgeon the mind into the present moment. If that’s our approach, the mind is going to start rebelling, finding ways of slipping around our defenses, because there are times when the meditation technique is right for the situation and times when it isn’t. The times when it isn’t: That’s when the mind is going to rebel if you single‐mindedly use just that one technique and don’t have other techniques or approaches up your sleeve as well.

Meditation is not just a question of technique. In training the mind, you have to remember there’s a whole committee in there. In the past the committee has had its balance of power, its likes and dislikes, and the politics among the various voices in your mind. Each of them has different tricks for pushing its agenda on the rest. So just as these defilements have lots of tricks up their sleeves, you as a meditator need to have lots of tricks up your sleeve, too. One really basic trick is for when the mind says, “I’ve got to do this. I want to do that. I don’t want to meditate.” You’ve got to ask, “Well why?” And play kind of dumb, so that the mind really has to explain itself. It’s like lesson number one in any journalism class: If you really want to get a good interview out of people, you have to play dumb, ask stupid questions, so that they think they have to explain things to you very carefully. And oftentimes they reveal all kinds of things they wouldn’t have otherwise.

It’s the same with your own mind. When greed, anger, and delusion come into the mind, they usually barge in with a lot of force and expect to push you right over. So one thing you have to do is to ask, “Well, why? Why should we follow that? Why should we want instant gratification?” And there will be an “of course‐ness” to their answer the first time around. “Of course you want it this way. Of course you want it that way.” “Well why?” If you’re persistent in being block‐headed like this, all the defilements will start revealing themselves. You’ll see how shabby they are. You’ll be able to get around them more easily. It’s like training a little child. Sometimes you have to be strict with the child, other times you have to offer rewards, patiently explain things. Other times you have to make up little games. In other words, you have to use your full psychology with the mind. But this time around you’re not using it for the purpose of deception, which is what the mind ordinarily does with itself. You’re using it for the purpose of truth and honesty, for what’s really in your own best interest.

What does the wandering mind do for you? It gives a little bit of instant gratification and then that gratification goes, with nothing left to show for itself. If you keep allowing this to happen, where are you going to pick up the skills you’ll really need when aging, illness, and death hit with full force? This is why the Buddha stressed the principle of heedfulness all the time. We can’t just spend our time sniffing the flowers and looking at the sky. There’s work to be done. When the mind is untrained, it causes us a lot of unhappiness. If the mind is well trained, if it’s more tractable, it can bring a lot of happiness our way. In order for that to happen, you have to learn how to psyche yourself into the mood to meditate. Once it starts meditating and begins to see the results, it gets more willing and tractable—most of the time. Then there are times it starts rebelling all over again, totally irrationally. So you’ve got to sit down with it again, work things through with it again, to see exactly what issue got covered up the last time around and is only now getting exposed.

This is one of the ways in which you learn a lot about your defilements. It’s not that you have to wait for a totally solid concentration before you can see the defilements clearly. A lot of learning about the defilements lies in learning how to struggle with them as you bring the mind to stillness. You begin to see: “Oh, this is how greed works, this is how aversion works, this is how I’ve fallen for this stuff before in the past. Well, this time around I’m not going to fall.” Sometimes it’s like a battle. Other times it’s more a question of learning how to work together in a way that’s for your own best interests: how to be a mediator, a negotiator, or a patient teacher. You’ve got to have lots of ways of relating to the different elements in your mind. The times when you can win the defilements over to your side: That’s when it’s best. Your desire turns into a desire to practice. Your hatred turns into a hatred of the defilements. You learn how to use the energy of these things for your own true benefit.

That’s when you can be said to be a discerning mediator. You can’t gain insight simply by following the rules. Somebody says, “For insight you need to do one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven. So you do one, two, three, four, five, six, seven without any thinking, without any reflection on what you’re doing, and yet that doesn’t give you any true insights. It gives you pre‐programmed insights sometimes, but the actual startling new understandings that can come through the meditation don’t happen because you’re too busy following the directions. The directions are there for you to apply to the mind and then to observe, to look at what happens, to reflect on what happens, to make adjustments. Make the meditation your own and not just somebody else’s bulldozer running through your head. After all, the big issue is how you relate to yourself, how you relate to the body, how you relate to feelings, perceptions, thought‐fabrications, and consciousness. Thatʹs the area where you’re causing yourself suffering, so that’s the area where you’ve got to gain sensitivity and insight. Nobody else can get into your head and straighten these things out for you. You use the techniques of meditation to see what they reveal about the mind. Then you build on those lessons so that the meditation becomes your own.

Buddha’s Teachings for our life….

When we hear a Dharma talk or study a sutra, our only job is to remain open. Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing. If we read or listen with an open mind and an open heart, the rain of the Dharma will penetrate the soil of our consciousness. According to Buddhist psychology, our consciousness is divided into eight parts, including mind consciousness (manovijñana) and store consciousness (alayavijñana). Store consciousness is described as a field in which every kind of seed can be planted — seeds of suffering, sorrow, fear, and anger, and seeds of happiness and hope. When these seeds sprout, they manifest in our mind consciousness, and when they do, they become stronger.

While reading or listening, don’t work too hard. Be like the earth. When the rain comes, the earth only has to open herself up to the rain. Allow the rain of the Dharma to come in and penetrate the seeds that are buried deep in your consciousness. A teacher cannot give you the truth. The truth is already in you. You only need to open yourself — body, mind, and heart — so that his or her teachings will penetrate your own seeds of understanding and enlightenment. If you let the words enter you, the soil and the seeds will do the rest of the work. The transmission of the teachings of the Buddha can be divided into three streams: Source Buddhism, Many-Schools Buddhism, and Mahayana Buddhism. Source Buddhism includes all the teachings the Buddha gave during his lifetime. One hundred forty years after the Buddha’s Great Passing Away, the Sangha divided into two Schools: Mahasanghika (literally “majority,” referring to those who wanted changes) and Sthaviravada (literally, “School of Elders,” referring to those who opposed the changes advocated by the Mahasanghikas). A hundred years after that, the Sthaviravada divided into two branches — Sarvastivada (“the School that Proclaims Everything Is”) and Vibhajyavada (“the School that Discriminates”). The Vibhajyavadins, supported by King Ashoka, flourished in the Ganges valley, while the Sarvastivadins went north to Kashmir.

Even during the Buddha’s lifetime, there were people such as the monk Arittha, who misunderstood the Buddha’s teachings and conveyed them incorrectly. It is also apparent that some of the monks who memorized the sutras over the centuries did not understand their deepest meaning, or at the very least, they forgot or changed some words. As a result, some of the Buddha’s teachings were distorted even before they were written down. Before the Buddha attained full realization of the path, for example, he had tried various methods to suppress his mind, and they did not work. In one discourse, he recounted: Arittha Sutta (Discourse on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake), Majjhima Nikaya Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a SnakeI thought, Why don’t I grit my teeth, press my tongue against my palate, and use my mind to repress my mind? Then, as a wrestler might take hold of the head or the shoulders of someone weaker than he, and, in order to restrain and coerce that person, he has to hold him down constantly without letting go for a moment, so I gritted my teeth, pressed my tongue against my palate, and used my mind to suppress my mind. As I did this, I was bathed in sweat. Although I was not lacking in strength, although I maintained mindfulness and did not fall from mindfulness, my body and my mind were not at peace, and I was exhausted by these efforts. This practice caused other feelings of pain to arise in me besides the pain associated with the austerities, and I was not able to tame my mind.

Mara – The Tempter, the Evil One, the Killer, the opposite of the Buddha nature in each person. Sometimes personalized as a deity. From time to time the Buddha refused to answer a question posed to him. The philosopher Vatsigotra asked, “Is there a self?” and the Buddha did not say anything. Vatsigotra persisted, “Do you mean there is no self?” but the Buddha still did not reply. Finally, Vatsigotra left. Ananda, the Buddha’s attendant, was puzzled. “Lord, you always teach that there is no self. Why did you not say so to Vatsigotra?” The Buddha told Ananda that he did not reply because Vatsigotra was looking for a theory, not a way to remove obstacles. On another occasion, the Buddha heard a group of disciples discussing whether or not he had said such and such, and he told them, “For forty-five years, I have not uttered a single word.” He did not want his disciples to be caught by words or notions, even his own. Samyutta Nikaya – When an archaeologist finds a statue that has been broken, he invites sculptors who specialize in restoration to study the art of that period and repair the statue. We must do the same. If we have an overall view of the teachings of the Buddha, when a piece is missing or has been added, we have to recognize it and repair the damage.

The recognize of suffering….

After realizing complete, perfect awakening (samyak sambodhi), the Buddha had to find words to share his insight. He already had the water, but he had to discover jars like the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path to hold it. The Four Noble Truths are the cream of the Buddha’s teaching. The Buddha continued to proclaim these truths right up until his Great Passing Away (mahaparinirvana). The Four Noble Truths as “Four Wonderful Truths” or “Four Holy Truths.” Our suffering is holy if we embrace it and look deeply into it. If we don’t, it isn’t holy at all. We just drown in the ocean of our suffering. For “truth,” the Chinese use the characters for “word” and “king.” No one can argue with the words of a king. These Four Truths are not something to argue about. They are something to practice and realize. The First Noble Truth is suffering (dukkha). The root meaning of the Chinese character for suffering is “bitter.” Happiness is sweet; suffering is bitter. We all suffer to some extent. We have some malaise in our body and our mind. We have to recognize and acknowledge the presence of this suffering and touch it. To do so, we may need the help of a teacher and a Sangha, friends in the practice.

The Second Noble Truth is the origin, roots, nature, creation, or arising (samudaya) of suffering. After we touch our suffering, we need to look deeply into it to see how it came to be. We need to recognize and identify the spiritual and material foods we have ingested that are causing us to suffer. The Third Noble Truth is the cessation (nirodha) of creating suffering by refraining from doing the things that make us suffer. This is good news! The Buddha did not deny the existence of suffering, but he also did not deny the existence of joy and happiness. If you think that Buddhism says, “Everything is suffering and we cannot do anything about it,” that is the opposite of the Buddha’s message. The Buddha taught us how to recognize and acknowledge the presence of suffering, but he also taught the cessation of suffering. If there were no possibility of cessation, what is the use of practicing? The Third Truth is that healing is possible. The Fourth Noble Truth is the path (marga) that leads to refraining from doing the things that cause us to suffer. This is the path we need the most. The Buddha called it the Noble Eightfold Path. The Chinese translate it as the “Path of Eight Right Practices”: Right View, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

The Pali word for “Right” is samma and the Sanskrit word is samyak. It is an adverb meaning “in the right way,” “straight,” or “upright,” not bent or crooked. Right Mindfulness, for example, means that there are ways of being mindful that are right, straight, and beneficial. Wrong mindfulness means that there are ways to practice that are wrong, crooked, and unbeneficial. Entering the Eightfold Path, we learn ways to practice that are of benefit, the “Right” way to practice. Right and wrong are neither moral judgments nor arbitrary standards imposed from outside. Through our own awareness, we discover what is beneficial (“right”) and what is unbeneficial (“wrong”). Siddhartha Gautama was twenty-nine years old when he left his family to search for a way to end his and others’ suffering. He studied meditation with many teachers, and after six years of practice, he sat under the bodhi tree and vowed not to stand up until he was enlightened. He sat all night, and as the morning star arose, he had a profound breakthrough and became a Buddha, filled with understanding and love. The Buddha spent the next forty-nine days enjoying the peace of his realization. After that he walked slowly to the Deer Park in Sarnath to share his understanding with the five ascetics with whom he had practiced earlier. When the five men saw him coming, they felt uneasy. Siddhartha had abandoned them, they thought. But he looked so radiant that they could not resist welcoming him. They washed his feet and offered him water to drink. The Buddha said, “Dear friends, I have seen deeply that nothing can be by itself alone, that everything has to inter-be with everything else. I have seen that all beings are endowed with the nature of awakening.” He offered to say more, but the monks didn’t know whether to believe him or not. So the Buddha asked, “Have I ever lied to you?” They knew that he hadn’t, and they agreed to receive his teachings.

The Buddha then taught the Four Noble Truths of the existence of suffering, the making of suffering, the possibility of restoring well-being, and the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to wellbeing. Hearing this, an immaculate vision of the Four Noble Truths arose in Kondanñña, one of the five ascetics. The Buddha observed this and exclaimed, “Kondañña understands! Kondañña understands!” and from that day on, Kondañña was called “The One Who Understands.” The Buddha then declared, “Dear friends, with humans, gods, brahmans, monastics, and maras as witnesses, I tell you that if I have not experienced directly all that I have told you, I would not proclaim that I am an enlightened person, free from suffering. Because I myself have identified suffering, understood suffering, identified the causes of suffering, removed the causes of suffering, confirmed the existence of well-being, obtained well-being, identified the path to well being, gone to the end of the path, and realized total liberation, I now proclaim to you that I am a free person.” At that moment the Earth shook, and the voices of the gods, humans, and other living beings throughout the cosmos said that on the planet Earth, an enlightened person had been born and had put into motion the wheel of the Dharma, the Way of Understanding and Love. This teaching is recorded in the Discourse on Turning the Wheel of the Dharma (Dhamma Cakka Pavattana Sutta). Since then, two thousand, six hundred years have passed, and the wheel of the Dharma continues to turn. It is up to us, the present generation, to keep the wheel turning for the happiness of the many.

Three points characterize this sutra. The first is the teaching of the Middle Way The Buddha wanted his five friends to be free from the idea that austerity is the only correct practice. He had learned firsthand that if you destroy your health, you have no energy left to realize the path. The other extreme to be avoided, he said, is indulgence in sense pleasures — being possessed by sexual desire, running after fame, eating immoderately, sleeping too much, or chasing after possessions. The second point is the teaching of the Four Noble Truths. This teaching was of great value during the lifetime of the Buddha, is of great value in our own time, and will be of great value for millennia to come. The third point is engagement in the world. The teachings of the Buddha were not to escape from life, but to help us relate to ourselves and the world as thoroughly as possible. The Noble Eightfold Path includes Right Speech and Right Livelihood. These teachings are for people in the world who have to communicate with each other and earn a living. The Discourse on Turning the Wheel of the Dharma is filled with joy and hope. It teaches us to recognize suffering as suffering and to transform our suffering into mindfulness, compassion, peace, and liberation.

The Real Loving Kindness….

The right view is important for all of us. As one analysis of the path says, three qualities circle around every factor of the path. One is right view. The second is right effort. The third is right mindfulness. So try to make sure that these three qualities are circling around your practice right now. There are basically four truths covered by right view. First is the truth of suffering or stress; dukkha is the Pali term. Sometimes we’re told that the first truth is that “life is suffering” or “everything is suffering,” but that’s not the case. The Buddha basically said that “there is suffering.” It’s one of four things you’re going to encounter in life that you should pay attention to. You could argue with the idea that life is suffering, but you can’t argue with the idea that there is suffering. You see it all around you. You see it inside you as well. The Buddha’s simply asking you to take it seriously. To take suffering seriously means that you should learn how to comprehend it. To do that, you have to put yourself in a position where you can watch it, to see how it comes, how it goes, what comes and goes along with it. The coming and going along with it: That’s essentially what the word samudaya—usually translated as “cause” or “origination”—means. You want to see that every time there’s real suffering in the mind, it’s accompanied by craving—any one of three kinds of craving to be specific: craving for sensuality, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

For forty-five years, the Buddha said, over and over again, “I teach only suffering and the transformation of suffering.” When we recognize and acknowledge our own suffering, the Buddha — which means the Buddha in us — will look at it, discover what has brought it about, and prescribe a course of action that can transform it into peace, joy, and liberation. Suffering is the means the Buddha used to liberate himself, and it is also the means by which we can become free. The ocean of suffering is immense, but if you turn around, you can see the land. The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy. When one tree in the garden is sick, you have to care for it. But don’t overlook all the healthy trees. Even while you have pain in your heart, you can enjoy the many wonders of life — the beautiful sunset, the smile of a child, the many flowers and trees. To suffer is not enough.

Please don’t be imprisoned by your suffering. If you have experienced hunger, you know that having food is a miracle. If you have suffered from the cold, you know the preciousness of warmth. When you have suffered, you know how to appreciate the elements of paradise that are present. If you dwell only in your suffering, you will miss paradise. Don’t ignore your suffering, but don’t forget to enjoy the wonders of life, for your sake and for the benefit of many beings. Without suffering, you cannot grow. Without suffering, you cannot get the peace and joy you deserve. Please don’t run away from your suffering. Embrace it and cherish it. Go to the Buddha, sit with him, and show him your pain. He will look at you with loving kindness, compassion, and mindfulness, and show you ways to embrace your suffering and look deeply into it. With understanding and compassion, you will be able to heal the wounds in your heart, and the wounds in the world. The Buddha called suffering a Holy Truth, because our suffering has the capacity of showing us the path to liberation. Embrace your suffering, and let it reveal to you the way to peace. Buddha was not a god. He was a human being like you and me, and he suffered just as we do. If we go to the Buddha with our hearts open, he will look at us, his eyes filled with compassion, and say, “Because there is suffering in your heart, it is possible for you to enter my heart.”

However, Buddhism is a religion by any definition of that indefinable term, unless one defines religion as belief in a creator God. The great majority of Buddhist practice over history, for both monks and laypeople, has been focused on a good rebirth in the next lifetime, whether for oneself, for one’s family, or for all beings in the universe. The famous phrase “four noble truths” is a mistranslation. The term “noble” in Sanskrit is aryan, a perfectly good word meaning “noble “ or “superior” that was ruined by the Nazis. Aryan is a technical term in Buddhism, referring to someone who has had direct experience of the truth and will never again be reborn as an animal, ghost, or hell being. The four truths of suffering, origin, cessation, and path are true for such enlightened beings. They are not true for us; we don’t understand that life is suffering. So the term means the “four truths for the [spiritually] noble.” The Buddha said, This Dhamma is for one who wants little, not for one who wants much; This Dhamma is for the contented, not for the discontented; This Dhamma is for the secluded, not for one who is fond of society; This Dhamma is for the energetic, not for the lazy; This Dhamma is for the mindful, not for the confused; This Dhamma is for the composed, not for the flustered; This Dhamma is for the wise, not for the unwise; This Dhamma is for the precise and the one who delights in exactness, not for the diffused or the one who delights in diffusion.

For Sharing of Loving-Kindness, May I be well, happy, peaceful and prosperous. May no harm come to me; may no difficulties come to me; may no problems come to me. May I always meet with success. May I also have patience, courage, understanding, and de termination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life. May my parents be well, happy, peaceful and prosperous. May no harm come to them; may no difficulties come to them; may no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life. May my teachers be well, happy, peaceful and prosperous. May no harm come to them; may no difficulties come to them; may no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

May my family be well, happy, peaceful and prosperous. May no harm come to them; may no difficulties come to them; may no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life. May my friends be well, happy, peaceful prosperous May no harm come to them; may no difficulties come to them; may no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life. those unfriendly to me be well, happy, peaceful and prosperous. May no harm come to them; may no difficulties come to them; may no problems come to them. May they always meet with success. May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life. all living beings be well, happy, peaceful and prosperous. May no harm come to them; may no difficulties come to them; may no problems come to them. May they always meet with success May they also have patience, courage, understanding, and determination to meet and overcome inevitable difficulties, problems, and failures in life.

The Bhikkhunis….

The tradition of the ordained monastic community began with the Buddha, who established an order of Bhikkhus. According to the scriptures, later, after an initial reluctance, he also established an order of Bhikkhunis. However, according to the scriptural account, not only did the Buddha lay down more rules of discipline for the Bhikkhunis he also made it more difficult for them to be ordained, and made them subordinate to monks. The Bhikkhuni order was established five years after the Bhikkhu order of monks at the request of a group of women whose spokesperson was Mahapajapati Gotami, the aunt who raised Gautama Buddha after his mother died. The historicity of this account has been questioned, sometimes to the extent of regarding nuns as a later invention. The stories, sayings and deeds of a substantial number of the preeminent Bhikkhuni disciples of the Buddha as well as numerous distinguished Bhikkhunis of early Buddhism are recorded in many places in the Pali Canon, most notably in the Therigatha and Theri Apadana as well as the Anguttara Nikaya and Bhikkhuni Samyutta. Additionally the ancient Bhikkhunis feature in the Sanskrit Avadana texts and the first Sri Lankan Buddhist historical chronicle, the Dipavamsa, itself speculated to be authored by the Sri Lankan Bhikkhuni Sangha.

According to Peter Harvey, “The Buddha’s apparent hesitation on this matter is reminiscent of his hesitation on whether to teach at all”, something he only does after persuasion from various devas. Since the special rules for female monastics were given by the founder of Buddhism they have been upheld to this day. Buddhists nowadays are still concerned with that fact, as shows at an International Congress on Buddhist Women’s Role. In Buddhism, women can openly aspire to and practice for the highest level of spiritual attainment. Buddhism is unique among Indian religions in that the Buddha as founder of a spiritual tradition explicitly states in canonical literature that a woman is as capable of nirvana as men and can fully attain all four stages of enlightenment. There is no equivalent in other traditions to the accounts found in the Therigatha or the Apadanas that speak of high levels of spiritual attainment by women.

In a similar vein, major canonical Mahayana sutras such as the Lotus Sutra, chapter 12, records 6000 Bhikkhuni Arhantis receiving predictions of Bodhisattvahood and future Buddhahood by Gautama Buddha. The tradition flourished for centuries throughout South and East Asia, but appears to have lapsed in the Theravada tradition of Sri Lanka in the 11th century C.E. It survived in Burma to about the 13th century, but died out there too. Although it is commonly said to have never been introduced to Thailand, Laos, Cambodia or Tibet, there is substantial historical evidence to the contrary, especially in Thailand. However, the Mahayana tradition in China, Korea, Vietnam, Taiwan and Hong Kong has retained the practice, where female monastics are full Bhiksunies. In 13th century Japan, Mugai Nyodai was ordained the first female abbess and thus the first female Zen master. Prajñātārā is the twenty-seventh Indian Patriarch of Zen and is believed to have been a woman.

The Chinese Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association, established already 20 years ago, has not only garnered success in Taiwan, but has also received the highest affirmations from both governments and the Buddhist community and is broadly known in the religious world across greater China. On this basis, the Chinese Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association declared 2016 the year of internationalization, recognizing Bhikkhunis around the world that have quietly made important contributions to the Buddhist community, spreading the Dharma across the world with humility and gratitude. So it was decided to bestow the Global Bhikkhuni Award every three years to Bhikkhuni who made outstanding contributions to Buddhism.

The recipients of the first Global Bhikkhuni Award are: Master Bhikkhuni Pu Hui Abbess of Taiwan’s Shen Zhai Tang, Master Cheng Yen of Taiwan’s Jing Si Abbess, Bhikkhuni Ming Zong Abbess of Taiwan’s Lingyin Temple, Bhikkhuni Da Ying Abbess of Taiwan’s Cishan Temple, Bhikkhuni Hong An Abbess of Taiwan’s Miao-Chiung Temple, Bhikkhuni Xiao Jing Chair of Korea’s Eleventh Qing Lin Council, Bhikkhuni Siou Neng Abbess of Taiwan’s Ling Shan Temple, Bhikkhuni Thubten Chodron Abbess of Sravasti Abbey in the US, Bhikkhuni He Jing Abbess of Korea’s Mingfa Temple and Bhikkhuni Xiu Xun Abbess of Taiwan’s Jinshan Temple. Bhikkhuni Shao Hong Abbess of Taiwan’s Haishan Temple, Bhikkhuni Sudarshana of Sri Lanka Abbess of Samadhi Buddhist Meditation Center in the USA, Bhikkhuni Guang Zong Abbess of Taiwan’s Gushan Temple, Bhikkhuni Liu Wen Abbess of Korea’s Baekheung-am Hermitage of Eunhae-sa Temple, Bhikkhuni Wu Yin Dean of Taiwan’s Luminary Buddhist Institute, Bhikkhuni Jue Hua Chairperson of the Tainan Buddhist Association, Bhikkhuni Ru Yi Dean of China’s Sichuan Bhikkhuni Buddhist Institute, Bhikkhuni Zhen Yu Abbess of Taiwan’s Taichung Buddhist Assembly Hall, Bhikkhuni Rattanavali Chairperson of Thailand’s International Women’s Meditation Centre and Bhikkhuni Hui Zhuang Admiistrator of Taiwan’s Mingshan Temple.Bhikkhuni Dr. Zhiru Professor of Religious Studies at California’s Pomona College, Bhikkhuni Jing Ding Abbess of Taiwan’s Yuanzhao Temple, Bhikkhuni Dr.Kuang Seng Head of Thailand’s Kuan – In Bodhisattava’s Hall, Bhikkhuni Dr. Pannavati Abbess of Embracing Simplicity Hermitage in the US, Bhikkhuni Xiu Zhang Abbess of Taiwan’s Xinglong Temple, Bhikkhuni Xing Yi Abbess of South Korea’s Shinheungsa Temple, Bhikkhuni Xiu Jing Abbess of Taiwan’s Lingshan Temple, Bhikkhuni Dun Yan Supervisor of China’s Taishan Temple and Bhikkhuni Zhi Shan Abbess of Taiwan’s Ciyin Abode.

Bhikkhuni Kammatthana Abbess of Cambodia’s Maha Panna Vihara, Bhikkhuni Shang Ding Abbess of Taiwan’s Miao Jue Temple, Bhikkhuni Pema Chodron Abbess of Gampo Abbey in the US, Bhikkhuni Ru Dao Chairwoman of Hai Ming Temple in the US, Bhikkhuni Ru Jun Abbess of Taiwan’s Fuzhi Temple, Anandabodhi Bhikkhuni Abbess of Aloka Vihara in the US, Bhikkhuni Che Zong Abbess of Taiwan’s Xinche Chan Temple, Bhikkhuni Sing Kan Abbess of Malaysia’s Sam Poh Thong Buddhist Temple, Bhikkhuni Chang Deng Abbess of Taiwan’s Zhengzing Chan Temple, Bhikkhuni Zi De Abbess of Taiwan’s Bao Shan Chan Temple, Bhikkhuni Ji Zun Abbess of Malaysia’s Hui Lin Yuan, Bhikkhuni Jing Zhi Abbess of Taiwan’s Ciyuan Chan Temple, Bhikkhuni Santacitta Abbess of Aloka Vihara in the US, Bhikkhuni Fa Zhao Abbess of Taiwan’s Xiangyun Temple, Bhikkhuni Chang Lu Abbess of Taiwan’s Tzu-Lung Temple, Bhikkhuni Hong Yuan Abbess of China’s Guanyin Chan Temple, Bhikkhuni Wu Ren Director of Taiwan’s Ching Jou Orphanage, Bhikkhuni Xian Du President of Taiwan’s Huayen Lotus Association, Bhikkhuni Xiu Yi Abbess of Taiwan’s Miao Quan Temple and Bhikkhuni Ming Yu Abbess of Taiwan’s Fuen Lotus Association.

With the trend toward globalization, Buddhism must diversify in the future to remain connected with the world and attract people from different walks of life to accept Buddhism and to progress from their initial faith to gradually becoming devoted followers of Buddhism. For this reason the Association decided to confer this award to recognize Bhikkhunis who have made outstanding contributions in the areas of education, academics, arts, charity, medicine, etc. Regardless of nationality or denomination, let the quiet and hard-working receive recognition for their work so their courage may continue to soar without bounds, drawing others to practice the Buddha dharma. This is the goal of awarding this honor. The World Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association was established on November 22, 2016 by first forming an organization in Taiwan. With nearly 100 Bhikkhunis from around the world signing a memorandum of understanding regarding the association’s establishment, this undertaking was not only a major event in the Buddhist world; it was an unprecedented event in the Bhikkhuni community.

During the meeting, Bhikkhuni Ru Yi, Dean of the Sichuan Bhikkhuni Buddhist Institute in China, nominated the highly respected Venerable Pu Hui, Chairwoman of the Chinese Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association, to be the first president of the World Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association, which was unanimously endorsed by masters from many countries and passed with the applause of all the masters in attendance, a moment that could be described as the light of Taiwan. Venerable Pu Hui stated that because of the fateful event of the 1st Global Bhikkhuni Awards of outstanding Ceremony organized by the Chinese Buddhist Bhikkuni Association, Bhikkhunis from twelve countries around the world had experienced the rare opportunity of gathering together in one place. Each of the award recipients, Dharma masters distinguished as valuing both doctrine and application and as great Bhikkhunis for their sacrifices and contributions to Dharma work, formed a global organization to unite Bhikkhunis from around the world into a collective force. It was an important cause for cooperation that required no hesitation. Hence, the main work of the World Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association in the future is to take active measures to invite Bhikkhuni groups or monasteries like WBBA or that have plans with similar missions as the WBBA from every country around the world to join us in perpetuating the wisdom of the Buddha and spreading the Dharma to all parts of the world. The future purpose of the World Buddhist Bhikkhuni Association is to unite global Buddhist Bhikkhunis, promote the Dharma, protect the Triple Gem, purify people’s minds through the Dharma, carry out charitable works, Buddhist culture and educational activities to benefit the whole world. The headquarters and the main office will be located in Taiwan.

Heightening the Mind….

The Buddha concluded one of his most important talks with the phrase, “adhicitte ca ayogo”, commitment to the heightened mind. What this means is that we lift the mind above its ordinary concerns, as when we come here to practice meditation. Our normal cares of the day—looking after our own bodies, feeding them, looking after other people, being concerned with what other people think about us, how we interact with them, all the concerns of the day—we put those down, lift our mind above them, and bring it to the meditation object. When you look at the affairs of the world, you see that they spin around just as the world does. There’s a classic list of eight: gain and loss, status and loss of status, criticism and praise, pleasure and pain. These things keep trading places. You can’t have the good ones without the bad ones. You can’t have the bad ones without the good. They keep changing places like this, around and around, and if we allow our minds to get caught up in them it’s like getting our clothes caught up in the gears of a machine. They keep pulling us in, pulling us in. If we don’t know how to disentangle ourselves, they keep pulling us in until they mangle our arms, mangle our legs, crush us to bits. In other words, if we allow these preoccupations to consume the mind, the mind gets mangled and doesn’t have a chance to be its own self.

We don’t even know what the mind is like on its own because all we know is the mind as a slave to these things, running around wherever they force it. So when we come to meditate, we have to learn to lift our mind above these things. All thoughts of past and future we put aside. We just bring the mind to the breath so the mind doesn’t have to spin around anymore. It simply stays with the breath coming in, going out, and gains at least some measure of freedom. From this heightened perspective we can look at our normal involvement with the world and begin to realize that, for the most part, it doesn’t go anywhere. It just keeps spinning around, coming back to the same old places over and over and over again. All that gets accomplished is that the mind gets more and more worn out. If we allow the mind to rise above these things so that it doesn’t feed on them, doesn’t run after them, we’ll begin to get some sense of the mind’s worth, in and of itself. As the mind gets still, things begin to settle out. Like sediment in a glass of water: If you allow the water to stay still for a time, whatever sediment is in there finally settles out and the water becomes clear.

This is what happens when you let the mind separate from its ordinary concerns and simply stay with its meditation. Even when you go back into your normal activities, you’ll have a sense of the mind, your awareness, as something separate. This sense of “separate” is a very important part of the practice. It’s part of the day‐to‐day work of practicing the Dhamma. We all come to the practice hoping that some day some really great experiences are going to hit us while we’re meditating. Well, they’re not going to hit unless you do the day‐to‐day practice. This is why the Buddha insisted that there are four noble truths, not just the truth of the cessation of suffering, but also the tasks of understanding suffering, abandoning its cause, and developing the path. These are all very important parts of the teaching. They’re all noble truths.

The development of the path is largely two things. One, developing qualities that enhance the mind’s ability to know, to be aware. And then, two, learning how to let go of things that are burdensome to the mind. This is what it means to heighten the mind. Once you let go of the burdens, the mind gets lighter and begins to rise above things. Learning how to do this in all activities is very important because when the really Technicolor experiences hit in the meditation, if you can’t rise above them you’re just going to fall for them, too. And they eventually lead you back into the world again. Your attachments lead you back.

 

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