Tea House

Daily Perspectives and Stories on Buddhist Trends

Category: Bangla Buddhist

The 15th Sakyadhita Conference in Hong Kong: Women’s Empowerment through Diversity and Plurality

Although gender equality has enjoyed progress in many sectors of our society, we can still see that discrimination against women in varying degrees is a feature of most societies. Gender casts a shadow in ongoing discussions about the re-establishment of Bhikkhuni Order, one of the crucial fourfold assemblies in the Theravada and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions.

Historically, it is evident that the Buddha recognized women’s capabilities in the society of monastics and their spiritual potential in becoming fully ordained nuns. In our time, this concern remains one of the most urgent and defining issues and was recently addressed in a conference on Buddhist women held at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).

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Flying Mindfully by Air France

We had been flying to Madrid from Hong Kong with a layover in Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport. The purpose of our journey was to attend the conference “1st World Encounter Teresian Mysticism and Interreligious Dialogue: Theravada Buddhism and Teresian Mysticism – Meditation and Contemplation Pathways to Peace,” which was held from 27–30 July at the International Centre of Teresian and Sanjuanist Studies of the University of Mysticism in Avila, Spain.

As with many other airlines, Air France seats have a TV screen attached to the back of all seats, and I was browsing through the program for some in-flight entertainment. Although as a monastic, searching for entertainment might go against my conventional spiritual practice, this habit of searching for movies and songs helped me to relax, apart from meditating.

But this time I was astonished to see a clip that invited us to discover the benefits of mindfulness meditation practice via the mind app program. The program consists of twelve guided mindfulness meditations – six for children and six for adults – with corresponding videos for concentration and serenity onboard long-haul flights.

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Balancing Spirituality and Academic Study

BD Dipananda

It has now been 13 years since I balanced the duality of a monastic and a academic life and I have several key observations  to share.

Values of Celibacy As a Monk

First, my on-going celibacy is the most dramatic hall mark of difference in my life amongst the secular laity.

I have come to realize also that it is linked to the tradition to serve the community without reservation.

It is also to expand my spirituality to its utmost limit and fully present the demonstration of the values of the Buddha’s teaching.

Monastic life has a distinctive appeal for me and answers to my inner longings since childhood. As a result, in the beginning of monastic life, choosing to study in college was not an easy decision. I have to weigh up what my master would say, and how the Buddhist community would judge me if I go to college.

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Acclamation from the Buddhist Community: West Bengal Gets a Holiday on the Day of Buddha Purnima

BD Dipananda

On 15 February, Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, India, declared “Buddha Purnima” as a state holiday this year onward. The Buddha Purnima usually falls on the full moon in the month of either in April or May in the Gregorian calibration which marks the important events of the Buddha’s life: his birth, enlightenment and great demise (mahaparinibbana). This year the day falls on 10 May.

The Buddha Purnima is one of the biggest religious festivals of the Buddhist community in the world. Although India has been celebrating this important day for centuries, except the gazetted holiday in all Indian Central Government departments, the celebration did not turn into an official occasion in West Bengal until Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee announced Buddha Purnima as the state holiday.

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Building a Community of Buddhist Studies Students at Fo Guang University, Taiwan

BD Dipananda

Ven. Shi Huifeng delivering the concluding speech at the conference. Photo from the FGU website

On 17 December last year, I travelled with a group of post graduate students and researchers from Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan to a Buddhist conference. This was the 2016 Buddhist Studies Graduates Students’ Conference organized by the Department of Buddhist Studies of the Fo Guang University (FGU), also known as the Buddha’s Light University, situated in a lush hilly terrain of Yilan County in Taiwan.

I learned a lot from the Conference and was able to explore some important aspects of Buddhism development in Taiwan.

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My Journey to Become a Monk

In Bangladesh, a short term monastic experience is highly regarded by every male Buddhist.  Some join the monastic order permanently as a result, while others may give up the aspiration of monkhood to fulfill personal obligations.

In 2003, after receiving permission from my parents, I entered into monastic life at the age of 15.

It was on 25 June 2003 that the Venerable Shilananda, who is a relative of my family, conferred on me the status of a novice. The ceremony was held at a holy Buddhist site called Bura Gosai’s Temple in Chittagong.

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Reflections on a Bengali Community in California

Students of the Dhamma School. Photo from Bangla-America Buddhist Fellowship Facebook

Students of the Dhamma School. Photo from Bangla-America Buddhist Fellowship Facebook

In June this year, I was invited to present a paper to the 10th International Conference on Conflict Education at the Ohio State University in Ohio, USA. En route to my destination, I made a stop to call on the Bengali Buddhist community at Long Beach in Los Angeles, California.

This was on the recommendation of the Founder of the Bangladesh-American Buddhist Fellowship and head of the Buddhist Temple of Sambodhi Vihara in California.

I stayed three days and had an informative and enjoyable visit.

On the first day, I gave a talk to children who are students at the Sunday Dhamma School. Normally, Sunday School is of course held on Sundays! But on this pleasant Saturday, I entered to find to my delight a large number of children and youth chanting devotedly in the shrine chamber of the temple.

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