Archive for July, 2011


Friday, July 29th, 2011

Here is something quite interesting to watch:

A smile can go a long way can it not?

When I first watched this, all I could think of was how one person could change the overall demeanor of another so easily and without any effort at all. These merely simple acts modify the mood of the people so quickly and efficiently, and if everyone in the world gave one compliment once a day, imagine what the world would be like…


Don’t Jump Over the Cliff

Saturday, July 23rd, 2011

I had just recently taken an SAT practice exam a couple days ago and I came across an interesting essay topic:

Passive acceptance of the teacher’s wisdom is easy to most boys and girls. It involves no effort of independent thought, and seems rational because the teacher knows more than his or her pupils; it is moreover the way to win favor of the teacher unless he or she is a very exceptional person. Yet the habit of passive acceptance is a disastrous one in later life. It causes man to seek and to accept a leader, and to accept as a leader whoever is established in that position.

Can the passive acceptance of the teacher’s authority and knowledge lead to disastrous consequences?

As I was writing this essay, I remembered a story from “Saffron Days in L.A.” by Bhante Walpola Piyananda. The short story was titled The Disciple Who Jumped Over the Cliff.

It was about a Buddhist monk’s encounter with an interesting situation. One day as he was reading, an upset woman came crying to him and asked for his help. Her name was Kamala and she was a resident of the meditation center. She had just been kicked out of the meditation center, and didn’t know what to do!

Kamala had always been a follower of this popular Indian guru. And a couple days prior to this situation, she had asked him for advice on how to lose a little weight. He told her to have sex as often as possible; morning, noon, and night. Her teacher said not to think of it as sexual misconduct, but as a way of exercising to lose her unwanted weight. Although this idea may sound absurd, she truly thought that this was for her own good. So Kamala made bright yellow posters to put up around the meditation center. They each said ‘Anyone who needs sex, please contact me. Kamala.’ This greatly upset the abbot, and he wanted Kamala to move out immediately!

Bhante was shocked! He then asked her, “Kamala! Would you jump off a cliff if your teacher told you to? you have to think for yourself!”

She put all her trust in her guru and was convinced to follow whatever he told her to do. Bhante helped Kamala cope with her situation and explained to her that passive acceptance of a teacher’s wisdom is not always good. It is absolutley foolish to follow another’s wisdom without the judgement of his or her own understanding.

The Buddha says “You should do your own work for, for the Tathagatas only teach us the way.” Your emancipation depends on your discovery of Truth, for you must be the one to see; no one else can see for you. The Buddha also taught that in using your own rational mind, if you see that a teaching is wholesome, then accept it wholeheartedly; if it is unwholesome, then discard it immediately.

Kamala eventually realized her foolish mistake. In the end, she developoed a very analytical mind and decided not to follow in the footsteps of her guru. To this day she is a devout, practicing Buddhist.

Oneself is one’s own protector;
What other protector can there be?
With oneself fully controlled,
One obtains a protection, which is hard to gain.
Do not follow mean things.
Do not dwell in negligence.
Do not embrace false views.
Be watchful.
Be not heedless.
Follow the Law of Virtue.
The virtuous live happily in this world now and also hereafter.


The Adventures of Monk Baldy Part III

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

If I Ever Need a Reminder

Sunday, July 17th, 2011


This post is dedicated to B.L. on the occasion of his 22nd year of life (this lifetime anyway). May you continue to grow in joy, loving-kindness and wisdom, and helps others to do the same. May you be free from suffering, and one day realize the supreme peace of Nibbana.

The following is a slightly revised version of an old journal entry written on Friday, August 13th, 2010:

“If I ever need a reminder of how my being a Buddhist monk is somehow helping other people, or somehow making a positive difference, I don’t have to look very far to find it. I simply need to bring them to mind – T., C., P., S., D., H. and now B.. Seven amazing young people, bright, kind, open-minded and open-hearted, sensitive, intelligent, curious, and very endearing.

For about four hours today, I sat outside in the patio near the kitchen talking with D., S., P., and S. and P.’s big brother B., who I had the honor of finally meeting for the first time today. It was a lovely summer evening in Southern California, with a nice cool breeze, kittens playing down the way from us, and a dinner of instant noodles, bread, and cream cheese  (for them, not for me of course), courtesy of the kind laypeople at the monastery and joyfully received and eaten by the young people.

Among the topics that came up during our discussion: life in high school, peace as boring and the monastery as a “peaceful library”, the Buddha as the “most perfect human being”, the joys and challenges of life as a) a monk, and b) a young person, and also the possibility of enlightenment and liberation in this mad world of ours. It was a positive and wonderful gathering on a summer evening to remember, in the heart, as the five of us shared with and listened to each other.

How inspiring it is to be around these young people, and this seems to be just the beginning.”

~Guest post by ST




Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

In Buddhism, desire, or craving, is considered the main source of suffering. This is due to the impermanent nature of all things. We may get what we hoped for, but as with anything, it cannot satiate us forever, and we risk falling into a cycle of desiring-having. Or, we may not get it, and be disappointed.

Desire is a strange thing. We want something, for one reason or another, and more often than not, we don’t realize why we want it, and how craving it affects us. From the simplest cravings, such as for a particular type of food, to the strongest ones, as in a crush, an ambition, or an idea, we sometimes just appear to be puppets of desires. If we can pause, and observe them, we can better understand their effect on us, and see what is the best path to go forward with. Or just put them on a leash!

- T


Good Friendship

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011


Note: The following quotes are from the handout that inspired the awesome discussion we had during our April 9th gathering on “Good Friendship, Wise Communication.”

This post is dedicated to S.L. and H.L., two courageous members of the YWP who will be temporarily ordaining as novice monks this weekend. We are happy for and proud of them and wish them all the best on their mission!


In the suttas, the direct teachings of the Buddha and his disciples recorded in the ancient scriptural texts, we can see that the Buddha placed great importance on friendship. Few suttas said it more simply and clearly than this:

“With regard to external factors, I don’t see any other single factor like noble friendship as doing so much.”  (Itivuttaka: 1.17)

The Buddhist path is a gradual one and having good friendship is the best way to make sure we help keep each other walking on the path.

In addition to the above quote, the Buddha had also given many other discourses on friendship. In the Mitta Sutta, the discourse on friendship, the Buddha stated the “gold standard” of what constitute a good friend:

“A friend endowed with seven qualities is worth associating with. Which seven? (1) He gives what is hard to give. (2) He does what is hard to do. (3) He endures what is hard to endure. (4) He reveals his secrets to you. (5) He keeps your secrets. (6) When misfortunes strike, he doesn’t abandon you. (7) When you’re down and out, he doesn’t look down on you. A friend endowed with these seven qualities is worth associating with.” (Mitta Sutta: AN 7.35)

Another very famous sutta that focuses primarily on lay Buddhists provides ways we should behave when interacting with our friends:

“There are five ways in which a person should treat his friends and companions: (1) by gifts, (2) by kind speech, (3) by being helpful and looking after their welfare, (4) by treating them like himself, (5) by sincerity and keeping his word.”

There are five ways in which friends and companions thus treated by a person will reciprocate: (1) they look after him when he is careless, (2) they look after his property when he is careless, (3) they become a refuge when he is in danger, (4) they do not desert him when he is in trouble, (5) they show consideration and concern for his family.”(Sigalovada Sutta: DN 31)

In yet another sutta, the Buddha laid down “four grounds for the bonds of friendship”:

“There are these four grounds for the bonds of friendship. Which four? Generosity, kind words, beneficial help, and consistency. These are the four grounds for the bonds of friendship.” (Sangaha Sutta: AN 4.32)


Source: based on friendship post from “Handful of Leaves” blog:

Wheel of Karma

Monday, July 4th, 2011

There are many times in our lives when we feel as if someone is unnecessarily rude to us. What we do after that situation has more consequences than we think. I ran into this video while surfing the internet with my sister. Here, Larry David is confronted by a man for using the handicapped stall. The “disabled” man gives Larry a hard time. The scene then cuts to the next part in which Larry runs into the same “disabled” man using the normal stall. Larry then gives the people he encounters every scene after that a hard time. After Larry encountered the man in the wheelchair in the first scene, he had a choice to discontinue the anger directed at him, but instead Larry choose to continue the anger the man directed towards him and direct it towards other people. If Larry showed the disabled man in the second scene kindness instead of anger, the anger started by the disabled man would have stopped. Instead, more people were unnecessarily exposed to the distasteful situation. This is just something to think about the next time a person gives you a hard time.