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Monday, May 4, 2015

The Wisdom of Emotions

Extract from a Dhamma talk by Ajahn Sundara

Our emotions can be triggered by something very small: a physical sensation, a passing thought, a sense contact, a feeling. In the context of Dhamma we begin to notice that in fact emotions are constructs: amalgams of thought, feeling, perceptions, past conditioning, trauma, family stories; all these things come together to generate emotions. Sometimes we are in a situation where for no apparent reason we start crying, or we become angry or confused. When we search for a reason but can’t find one, we may think there is something wrong with us, that it’s our fault. We make ourselves miserable because we don’t understand that there is a bigger picture. Being human is like that.

Modern psychology has not been able to define emotion. Decades of brain research have failed to pin down what an emotion is. It fluctuates constantly; it is indefinable. So we may be sitting calmly in meditation, surrounded by a lot of other people, but when somebody else comes into the room our sense of calm changes. We are aware of a new feeling tone, perhaps an emotional charge in the body and we soon realize that letting go of it requires more than just awareness and willingness to let go. It also calls for wisdom, for understanding, so as to see deeply its true characteristics of anicca-dukkha-anattā – that it is impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self.

Monday, April 27, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 6

Bhrikutī & the Appearance of New Non-Bhikkhunī Forms of Women’s Asceticism in Buddhism


Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

Image 2: Bhrikutī Devī, Nepal

In this sixth post in our “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series, we pick up a topic that is only hinted at being possible in Part 5 - the subject of the appearance of non-bhikkhunī/bhikṣuṇī forms of women’s (and men’s) ascetic/spiritual ideals (and practices) in Buddhism.  It is a time in history or her-story when both royal blood and ascetic spiritual power and mastery appear to have become an essential qualification of the deification of the fe/male rulers of the land, often united with or balanced by their co-appearance as either awesome likenesses or living embodiments of the bodhisattvas and buddhas of Mantranāya and Tantrayāna Buddhism, which has been spreading and developing in Java now for a period of more than 500 years (from the 7th-13th century). We look at one such example in the image of Bhrikutī, an apparently royal female ascetic of spiritual power, who appears very close to the most exemplary Śaivite royal female ascetic and consort, Parvatī, and yet is a manifestation of both the Buddhist wisdom of the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, and the fierce form of compassion of the savioress, Bhagavātī Aryā Tārā.

This post is specially dedicated to all those affected by the 25 April 2015 earthquakes in Nepal and the surrounding areas, to all those in need, and to all those who are helping. 

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhunī Ancestors,” this is the sixth part in our “Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” mini-series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia.

Bhrikutī & the Appearance of New Non-Bhikkhunī Forms of Women’s Asceticism in Buddhism


We now move on, following birth and death through the centuries, to the Singasari (Singosari) Kingdom of East Java and to the great Candi Jago (aka Candi Jajagyu) temple at Melang. Singasari succeeded the kingdom of Kederi in eastern Java featured in Part 5.

The great Candi Jago rock temple originally had five peaks above like the Mt. Meru (Sumeru, Kailash) of the Indian continent which was famous from both Buddhist and Hindu texts, as well as from both the five-peaked natural Mt. Meru of Central Java and the five pinnacles of the human-made "Vihāra Mountain" Borobudur. Candi Jago has dark lower chambers unique to Java that are thought reminiscent of the mountain meditation caves mentioned above used by Buddhist and Hindu hermits.

Image 1: Licchavi/Nepalese Princess Bhrikutī
Devi —known to Tibetans as Bal-mo-bza'
Khri-btsun, Bhelsa Tritsun credited with
bringing Buddhism to Tibet

Images from the Amoghapāśa Sādhana meditation text authored by 12th century Kashmiri monk Sakyaśrībhadra [1]depict a new type of ascetic woman who has entered into the Buddhist world (or perhaps an old type who is now manifesting in new ways).  She does not appear as a bhikkhunī/bhikṣuṇī. She is named Bhrikutī (or more proper Sanskrit: Bhṛkutī).

The famed 7th century Nepalese princess who became the first Tibetan Buddhist queen shares her name—the association between the two not yet entirely clear. As with her great co-contemporary 7th century supporter of Buddhist scholarship, Queen Shima (Simha) of the Javanese kingdom of Kalinga, and the appearance of bhikṣuṇī kalyāṇamitrā Simhavijṛmbhitā “lady of the lion’s roar”in the Gandavyūha or “Entry into the Dharma Realm” text (mentioned in Part 4), one may wonder whether great and leading “real life” kalyāṇamitras and bodhisattvas are being immortalized in Buddhist practice texts as well as images and/or whether it was believed that through the greatness of their sainthood and practice vows, they continued to be accessible.

Image 3: Bhrikutī image from the
Museum of Patan in Kathmandu, Nepal

Nepalese Licchavi Princess Bhrikutī Devī (भृकुटी)—known to Tibetans as Bal-mo-bza' Khri-btsun (བལ་མོ་བཟའ་ཁྲི་བ), Bhelsa Tritsun ('Nepali consort') or, simply, Khri bTsun ("Royal Lady”)—is credited with bringing Buddhism and the tradition of Buddhist bhasa (Nepal: पौभा) aka thangka (Tibetan: ཐང་ཀ་) sacred scroll painting to Tibet in the 7th century, when she married the first Tibetan king Songsten Gampo (srong btsan sgam po) in 632 CE. She and her Nepali craftsmen also built the first form of the Red Palace (now the Potala Palace) and the famous Jokhang Temple in the heart of Lhasa.
In Tibetan, she also may be called Bhrikutī-Tārā, the wrathful or frowning form of Tārā, as “bhrikutī” literally means “wrinkled” of “frowning brow”.






In the Singhasari East Java image of Bhrikutī from Candi Jago, she appears as in this Amoghapāśa Sādhana meditation text. Her image is an interesting mix. She has all of what we now consider to be the “classical Indian ascetic implements:” matted dreadlocks piled atop her head, loincloth, tridaṇḍa ascetics’ staff, kalaśa water container and mālā rosary. She is often depicted with her right hand raised up at face or chest height, open palm outwards in the varada-mudrā gesture of bestowing religious blessings.

Image 5: Sudhana-kumāra standing 
between two lotus plants
Candi Jago, Malang, East Java

Image 4: Bhrikutī standing between two lotus plants
Candi Jago, Malang, East Java
























In the Candi Jago image; however, she is also wearing an elaborate crown and other full regalia—perhaps signifying the highly popular combination of royalty and asceticism, or the deifying of ascetics.[2] Her image is visually very similar, almost a twin, to that of Sudhana-kumāra, who may be familiar to us from the upper Gandhavyūha level of Borobudur; she as he is also, an idealized (male) seeker on the Path who does not become a bhikkhu/bhikṣu.

Image 6: Candi Jago Amoghapāśa form of Avalokiteśvara
dedicated to King Wisnuwardhana
holds virtually identical implements to Bhrikutī,
who is a female emanation

But here Bhrikutī’s image is also perhaps far more similar in appearance to the main Candi Jago image consecrated as “Jina Buddha Vairocana.”  The statuary Candi Jago Vairocana image is portrayed as a manifestation of Śiva-Buddha, that is, a Buddhist Vairocana image that is also holding Indian ascetic implements, the rosary and flywhisk of Śiva.

The famous and important native Javanese poem Kuñjarakarṇa Dharmakathana, translated and published by Teeuw and Robson as Liberation Through the Law of Buddha, is portrayed in stone on Candi Jago walls.  In it, Kuñjakarṇa is a yakṣa who purifies himself through practicing asceticism and receives instruction from Jina Buddha Vairocana. In his instruction, the Buddha and Śiva and other Buddhist and Hindu figures are explicitly co-identified in ultimate reality.

The Vairocana image here is one of two buddha images originally enshrined at Candi Jago that are dedicated to King Wisnuwardhana.  The first statue, already mentioned, is the Śiva-Buddha image. The second, housed in a hidden sanctum at the central peak of the temple later struck by lightning, lost and now found again, was of the Amoghapāśa form of Avalokiteśvara, who also holds ascetic impliments.


At Candi Jago, Bhrikutī’s companions in the Amoghapaśa Sadhana were also found: Green Tārā and Sudhana-kumara on the one hand, with Bhrikutī and Hayagrīva on the other—a pentad to go with the five sacred peaks.  It is unknown whether the Candi Jago Bhrikutī image above is a portrait image of King Śrī Jaya Wishnuwardhana’s queen consort Waning Hyun, regnal name Śrī Jayawardhanī. It was through her that Singasari received the royal lineage of her grandmother Ken Dedes (to be explored in the next post) which was passed on through their heirs from Singasari to the glorious Majapahit Dynasty which followed. Considering Wishnuwardhana’s strong association with the Amoghapāśa form of Avalokiteśvara, it would follow that his queen Jayawardhanī would either have been portrayed as Bhrikutī or as Green Tārā.

In the older Hevajra Tantra Bhrikutī appears in a triad as a companion to some form of Avalokiteśvara (here Amoghapāśa) who stands in the center, and Green Tārā, who stands on the other hand.  In this tantra, Tārā represents the manifestation of the karuṇā—the compassion, and Bhrikuti the prajñā—the wisdom of Avalokiteśvara.

Image 7: Hevajra Tantra Avalokiteśvara, Green Tārā, Bhrikutī triad from the Central Java period

Image 8: Candi Jago female dhyāni buddha Malakī
This is a distinction between the representation in the Hevajra Tantra, and in the Amoghapāśa Sādhana, where Bhrikutī and Hayagrīva represent the ferocious side of compassion as balance to its softness. As a pentad, they are surrounded by the five dhyāni buddhas in both their male and female forms.

There is an explicit balancing of male and female on both sides, with representatives of both genders portrayed as tenderly and fiercely compassionate.





Image 9: Bhrikutī depicted seated on lotus in
“royal ease” posture at Ellora’s Cave 10
Returning to Bhrikutī—curious about the entry of this non-bhikkhunī woman ascetic into Buddhism, and interested in how she changed over time—we may look back at Bhrikutī’s historical development in India. The famous rock-cut cave temple of Ellora in western India proves to be an ideal place.  Cave 6 at Ellora represents the earliest type of Bhrikutī, in which she stands alone or in a mediating position with regards to the grouping of figures at a Buddhist shrine, and she is represented purely as an ascetic. This type of representation appears in and does not persist beyond the 7th century CE, the same century that the Nepalese princess Brikhutī Devi came to Tibet, as mentioned above.

In the second type of image found at Ellora—as in the Hevajra Tantra and Mañjuśrīmūlakalpa—together with Green Tārā,[3] she has become companion and assistant to, and an emanation of, the compassion of Avalokiteśvara.  In a way, it seems that she, once a non-Buddhist ascetic or alternative form of Buddhist ascetic, has been welcomed in and “converted” or assimilated into mainstream Buddhism.  In another way, in her form as the Nepalese Tibetan queen consort, it was she who did the introducing and converting to the form of Buddhism with which she was familiar. Either way, she serves as a form of medium and mediator.  This second form, appearing at Nālanda[4], Sarnath and Orissa (Odisha)[5], persists into the 8th century at Ellora.

Image 10: Bhrikutī image (viewer’s left) dressed in Tibetan royal silks seated next Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo (center) and Chinese princess Wengchen (right)

Over time, she shifts from the viewer’s left to the right. Note that in classical Indian iconography, normally the right-hand position (at the viewer's’ left) is of the foremost rank or importance, so this could indicate a relative increase in the historical/political importance of Wencheng (文成公主), the Tibetan king’s Chinese second queen consort and their relationship, or an increase in the popularity and importance of the form of Tārā with whom Wencheng was associated.

Image 11: Bhrikutī at Ellora’s Cave 12 depicted seated to the viewer’s right (at the
 left hand) of the central Avalokiteśvara on double lotus in “royal ease” posture

By Cave 11, Bhrikutī is fully ornamented as a queen or goddess, as if the convention of portraying her as an ascetic is nearly forgotten (or perhaps it is the sense of her ascetic fierceness that has passed). By Ellora’s Cave 12, she has become just one of a complete set of twelve female deities flanking the antechamber of the shrine, although to the left of the central aisle, she is again depicted in triad. In her antechamber image, she still holds her ascetic implements, but she also wears an elaborate headdress and complete set of jewels.  It is this final form of Bhrikutī that we have seen in the Javanese Candi Jago images. Scholars speculate that Parvati’s asceticism in association with Śiva could have carried over into the Buddhist representation of Bhrikutī.[6]

Image 12: Parvati depicted as a meditating ascetic
Image 13: Parvati depicted as an ascetic queen with her sons Ganesh and Kartikeya

There is an open question of how much these images represent a transformation in the actual practiced forms of women’s asceticism in Buddhism along the lines of those developed in Śaivism. A further question is whether the practices related with such images were largely or exclusively for royalty, or were more mainstream. As we continue, we may gain clues to the answer.

Further reading on Bhrikutī:


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Image credit:
Image 1: Courtesy of Chinese Buddhism Encyclopedia, web: http://www.chinabuddhismencyclopedia.com/en/index.php/Bhrikuti
Image 2: Courtesy of Photographer Jeremy Villasis, web: jeremyvillasis.com
Image 3: Courtesy of "Sur les traces du sacré", à la rencontre de Bhrikuti, web: http://www.paulo-grobel.com/05_expes/Fiches_PDF/mustang/blog_tirawa/blog_mustang_bhrikuti.htm
Image 4: Courtesy of the Museum Volkenkunde, web: http://volkenkunde.nl/en/node/1417
Image 5: Courtesy of the Museum Volkenkunde, web: http://singosari.info/en/node/1386
Image 6: Courtesy of Singosari Info, web: http://singosari.info/sites/default/files/09a-RMV-2630-1-photo-RMV_0.jpg
Image 7: Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, web: http://www.metmuseum.org/collection/the-collection-online/search/39036
Image 8: Courtesy of Jononmac46 on Wikipedia, web:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jago_Temple#mediaviewer/File:Chandi_Jago_Goddess_(BM).JPG
Image 9: Courtesy of paulo-grobel.com, web: http://www.paulo-grobel.com/05_expes/Fiches_PDF/mustang/blog_tirawa/blog_mustang_bhrikuti.htm
Image 10: Courtesy of Wikipedia, web: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhrikuti#/media/File:SongstenGampoandwives.jpg
Image 11: Courtesy of elloracaves.org, web: http://elloracaves.org/caves.php?cmd=search&words=&cave_ID=12&plan_floor=2&image_ID=381
Image 12: Courtesy of Lotus Sculpture, web: http://www.lotussculpture.com/8bc9.html.
Image 13: Courtesy of Fæ on Wikipedia, web: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parvati#mediaviewer/File:Lalita_statue.jpg.

Footnotes:
[1] The sādhana is based on a vision of Sakyaśrībhadra’s when he visited Bodhgaya. Schoterman has suggested that during the exodus of Buddhist monks at the end of the thirteenth century the Amoghapāśa Sādhana was taken to Java, where it was used by sculptors there. Reichle (2007:116, f 34).
[2] Or perhaps an assimilation/amalgamation of Nepalese-Tibetan Princess-Queen Bhrikutī Devi into herself.
[3] This unique entirely feminine 8th century Indian Madhya Pradesh Bhrikutī triad attributed to Kumaradeva features Green Tārā in the center, with Bhrikutī and White Tārā attending on either hand: Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), web: http://collections.lacma.org/node/248694
[4] Nalanda image here at the Henan Museum: http://english.chnmus.net/Exhibitions/2007-02/14/content_52690.htm
[5] Ghantasala image here on right: http://i.ytimg.com/vi/dpv5ZPLLb_g/0.jpg.
[6] Hockfield’s Unfolding A Mandala: The Buddhist Cave temples from Ellora (1993: 93-95)
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Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhuī (sans diacritics Ayya Tathaaloka)

Ven. Tathālokā Bhikkhunī is an American-born Theravada bikkhunī, Buddhist monastic scholar and teacher. She is the co-founder of the non-profit NGO Dhammadharini (Women Upholding the Dhamma), the North American Bhikkhuni Association and Aranya Bodhi Hermitage, as well as a senior monastic advisor to Sakyadhita USA and the Alliance for Bhikkhunis. She was a recipient of the 2006 Outstanding Women in Buddhism Award and a presenting scholar at the 2007 International Congress on Buddhist Women's Role in the Sangha on her special areas of scholarship: Bhikkhuni Sangha History and Bhikkhuni Vinaya.  Ayyā Tathālokā served as preceptor for the historically significant bhikkhuni ordinations held in Western Australia and in Northern California between 2009 and 2014. She is currently working with the Dhammadharini support foundation to establish a permanent monastery/vihara for the Dhammadharini Bhikkhuni Sangha in Northern California north of the San Francisco Bay Area (see dhammadharini.net).

Monday, April 20, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 5

The Mystery Story of Devi Kili Suci ~ the 11th Century Vanishing Crown Princess Bhikkhunī Hermit & Her Selomangleng Goa Cave


Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

Image 1: Putrī Sanggramawijaya/
Devi Kili Suci
In this fifth post in our “History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia” series, we skip over the Borobudur period ahead in time to the 11th century, to a time when royals’ renunciation of the throne for monastic life appears almost commonplace, and the Indonesian mountain hermitages and grottos are frequented by both male and female hermit ascetics of various faiths. Mantranāya/Vajrayāna Buddhism has been spreading in Java since at least the end of the seventh century and has grown strong. We explore the still-popular legendary story of one crown princess turned kili/wiksuni/bhikkhunī/mahāsiddhā, and visit the cave where she lived, practiced, and mysteriously vanished from corporeal existence.

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhunī Ancestors,” this is the fifth part in our mini-series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia.

The Mystery Story of Devi Kili Suci ~ the 11th Century Vanishing Crown Princess Bhikkhunī Hermit & Her Selomangleng Goa Cave


Although records of Buddhist women renunciates become scarce in India after the 8th century, and rare in Sri Lanka after the 10th century, they continue to be found in 11th century Indonesia.

Image 2:The Pucangan aka
“Calcutta stone”inscription 
in Old Javanese and Sanskrit.
Born of a dynastic marriage between Bali and the Eastern Javanese Isyana Dynasty kingdom of Medang, Airlangga—“He Who Crosses the Waters,” was raised by the Queen Mother of Bali, and returned as a teenager to Java, where his wedding had been arranged. The “Calcutta Stone” inscription records that at age sixteen, on his wedding day, during the wedding itself, his mother’s brother the Medang king Dharmawamśa and his entire family were attacked by surprise and killed, the palace sacked and burned. Somehow he escaped unharmed. He spent several years in retreat at Vanagiri Forest Hermitage, and then emerged to make peace with Śrīvijāya and found a new Javanese kingdom named Kahuripan.

Airlangga married a Śrīvijāyan princess who had escaped to East Java after her father was taken prisoner and their kingdom raided by the Indian Cholas . According to the Baru inscription, he named her to the role of Parameśwari—Premier Queen Consort.

Monday, April 13, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 4

International Buddhist Networking, Bhikkhunīs and Women’s Leadership in the 5th-7th Century Indonesian South Seas 


Ayyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī

This fourth post in our "History of Women in Buddhism" series examines the International Buddhist networks that became well established between India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and China.  
This post specially coincides with Songkran/Saṃkrānti--the South and Southeast Asian Solar New Year in April, a time in which the sun appears to reach its zenith in the sky and maximum strength. We cover a time period when Buddhism rose in Indonesia, and International Buddhist networks and scholarship rose to a point of fluorescence. Powerful women leaders patronized Buddhist scholarship and the Bhikkhunī Sangha was widespread and well-established. 

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors,” it is the fourth part of the series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia. [Also: read about worthy historical places to visit, the ancient terminology, and the journey of an Indian nun ]

International Buddhist Networking, Bhikkhunīs and Women’s Leadership in the 5th-7th Century Indonesian South Seas 


Although it is extremely likely that both Buddhist teachings and monastics reached the Indonesian islands up to nearly 1000 years earlier given the active Maritime Silk Road and known Buddhist monastic travels along these routes by sea, it is not until the second to fifth centuries of the Common Era that we find visual evidence of this in the Indonesian statuary and archaeological remains which still exist today.

Image 1: Bronze Buddha from Western
Celebes in the Amaravati or 
Anuradhapura style, 2nd-5th century. 
Second to fifth century statuary bronze Buddha images have been discovered on the Indonesian island of Sulawesi (Celebes) which are considered to be of either Indian Amaravati or Sri Lankan Anuradhapura style.

These images further illustrate early Indonesian connections with South India and Sri Lanka, as mentioned earlier in the legendary story shared in the previous post here, “Bhikkhunī Manimekalai Travels to Java.” As known at a glance when looking at Maritime Silk Road maps, Indonesia had active maritime connections with South, Western and Northeastern India, Sri Lanka, China and Korea.

According to his memoirs, when the Chinese bhiksu pilgrim Fa-hsien (Fǎxiǎn, 法顯/法显) visited an island somewhere in the Indonesian archipelago when his ship was blown off course traveling between Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and China in the early fifth century, he was only able to see a few Buddhists, although there were some. It is not known surely which island he landed on, but thought perhaps to be somewhere on Jawa-dwipa—the big island of Java.  He may have missed an encounter with the 3rd to 5th century Javanese kingdom of Tarumanegara (Dharmanagara)[1] at Batujaya (east of Jakarta), where stupa-shaped structures and Buddhist votive tablets have been found.[2]

Monday, April 6, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: Part 3

South Indian Bhikkhunī Manimekalai Travels to Java


Article author: Āyyā Tathālokā Bhikkhunī
Introduction to this segment: Tathālokā Bhikkhunī and Ādhimuttā Bhikkhunī 

Image 1: Manimekalai distributing food to the needy
with her magic bowl. In contemporary South Indian 
paintings, of which there are many as she continues 
to be a legendary folk hero, she is almost always 
depicted more in appearance like a modern Hindu 
sannyāsinī than a Buddhist monastic.
This third post in our "History of Women in Buddhism" series records the dramatic and inspiring life story of a Buddhist woman saint, Manimekalai, second century South India’s Buddhist Mother Theresa.[1] It examines marks of the status and the mobility of ancient South and Southeast Asian Buddhist women monastics, their environmental and social justice ethics, their rights of self-determination, relationship with politics, and how Buddhism was proactively compared with regards gender issues and women’s rights to other faiths, doctrines and religions of the period. 

This post especially coincides with the Sri Lankan Buddhist observance of Bak Poya on the full moon of April, the commemorative date of the Buddha’s visit to the Isle of Manipallavam aka Nagadipa, which figures so prominently in the life story of Manimekalai.  

Extracted from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors,” it is part of the series leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, Indonesia. [Also: read the worthy historical places to visit and about the ancient terminology]

Part 3: South Indian Bhikkhuṇī Manimekalai Travels to Java


Image 2: Manimekalai book cover
Manimekalai (Maṇimēkalai, Tamil: மணிமேகலை), a highly-revered Tamil-Language Buddhist epic poem, is one of the five great epics of Tamil Literature, and the only one of the formerly-glorious collection of Tamil Buddhist writings of the period to survive.

The venerable Manimekalai’s life story was recorded and popularized between the second and third centuries CE.  From it, we recognize not only the international freedom of mobility of the early south Indian and island nations’ Buddhist bhikkhunīs (Skt: bhikṣuṇīs), but also the esteem which the greats among them held as leading monastic teachers, realized practitioners and saints.  

Monday, March 30, 2015

RAIN: Working With Difficulties

Tara Brach

About twelve years ago, a number of Buddhist teachers began to share a new mindfulness tool that offers in-the-trenches support for working with intense and difficult emotions. Called RAIN (an acronym for the four steps of the process), it can be accessed in almost any place or situation. It directs our attention in a clear, systematic way that cuts through confusion and stress. The steps give us somewhere to turn in a painful moment, and as we call on them more regularly, they strengthen our capacity to come home to our deepest truth. Like the clear sky and clean air after a cooling rain, this mindfulness practice brings a new openness and calm to our daily lives.

I have now taught RAIN to thousands of students, clients, and mental health professionals, adapting and expanding it into the version you’ll find in this chapter. I’ve also made it a core practice in my own life. Here are the four steps of RAIN presented in the way I’ve found most helpful:

R   Recognize what is happening
A  Allow life to be just as it is
I   Investigate inner experience with kindness
N  Non-Identification.

RAIN directly de-conditions the habitual ways in which you resist your moment-to-moment experience. It doesn’t matter whether you resist “what is” by lashing out in anger, by having a cigarette, or by getting immersed in obsessive thinking. Your attempt to control the life within and around you actually cuts you off from your own heart and from this living world. RAIN begins to undo these unconscious patterns as soon as we take the first step.

Monday, March 23, 2015

History of Women in Buddhism - Indonesia: 2

Indonesian Bhikkhuṇīs & Women Ascetics: A Historical Introduction & Survey of Terminology


Article by Tathālokā Bhikkhunī  
Intro by Ādhimuttā Bhikkhunī

This second part of History of Women in Buddhism series, leading up to the 14th Sakyadhita Conference in Borobudur, is an extract from Ayyā Tathālokā’s paper “Light of the Kilis: Our Indonesian Bhikkhuni Ancestors.” It provides an overview of the Indonesian terminology and a brief historical overview. It explores something of what is known of the ancient Buddhist women monastics and ascetics of the Indonesian archipelago through the travelogues, local oral traditions, dedicatory inscriptions, monuments and statuary that remains of them within their cultural and historical context."

Wikunis and Kilis: A Summary of Indonesian Terminology for Women Ascetics, Teachers & Sages

Wikuni in Bahasa[1] is the Indic-origin Indonesian word for bhikkhunī in Pali and bhikṣuṇī in Sanskrit. The male form of the word is wiku,[2] a bhikkhu/bhikṣu. However, this word also appears in our Indonesian texts as in Indic texts,[3] to be used both for male monastic ascetics as well as for both male and female monastic ascetics collectively.  Wikuni is contemporarily translated into Indonesian Bahasa as pendeta Budha (a “Buddhist pandit”), which is, in turn, translated into English as “Buddhist pastor” or “preacher.”

Photo 1: Bhikkhuṇīs engraved in stone
Old Indonesian languages and texts are rich with words describing such religious women ascetics. The word kili might be best known among them.  Words are often doubled to form plurals in Indonesian Bahasa, so kilis are also known as kili-kilis. Some scholars say that kili is a purely and originally Indonesian word.

Others speculate that it may be related to the Indic giri, which means “mountain,” and is also used as an nominative appellation in Sanskrit for ascetics in India. Mountains, mountainous rock formations and caves have a very long history of being held sacred to Indonesians, and in indigenous gender cosmology, the mountain is female. Kilis are most often associated with retreat to ascetic hermitages in the mountains, so often that they are regularly called female hermits or hermitesses.