Date: 11/12/05 21:53:29
Subject: [CASonline] Ideas / Organs and others
Dear Friends, The beings @ CAS are honoured and glad to be of service to all our fellow Dharma-Friends through whatever ways and means possible: offering of helpful texts / hosting of some of the best Teachers around / boundless prayings and endless dedications / anything else that is of good to [A] the holy Dharma and [B] all mother beings -- We are very grateful for all the many encouragements and support all of you have indulged on us ...... "Amitofuo !!" ============================================================================== By the way, as we received questions and queries on the Dharma from quite a few Friends, especially questions related to Tibetan Buddhism, the tradition that most beings @ CAS are grappling in their practices, we may, in future mailings, attach some of the "Q & A" that will be of help to all -- So, feel free to shoot your "Qs" and we will try to offer whatever good "As" we can ...... !! [ No guarantees on swift replies though !! ] ============================================================================= In the pipeline, too, one "old" being @ CAS may offer his skills in Astrological readings for Friends who may need His assistance .... but then, we are keeping in mind that this is just a "Skilful Means" to benefit all and not, of course, as ultimate work or goal in our spiritual practices !! Actually, we are all deliberating on whether we should "charge" some fee for the rather meticulous and accurate readings.... 100% of which will go into good causes --- All tentative at the moment though !! ============================================================================== In the meantime, with boundless good wishes to all,
bb & other beings @ CAS
______________________________________________________________________________________________ Tricycle: ON LOCATIONORGAN DANAIn Sri Lanka, giving of oneself takes a literal turn. ASOKA BANDARAGE
Asoka Bandarage, Ph.D., has written extensively on Buddhism, Sri Lanka, and international development. She teaches at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.
WHEN MY MOTHER suddenly became ill, I rushed to her side at the hospital in Kandy, the pre-colonial capital of Sri Lanka, where she was being operated on. It was a close call, but thanks to the excellent skills and care of Dr. Harischandra, the country??£¤s leading kidney surgeon, my mother??£¤s life was saved. During that trip, when I spent most of my time in the public hospital, my eyes were opened to a spectrum of human pain, suffering, compassion, and generosity in a more compelling way than during all my previous visits home.
An endless stream of patients and families pour into the kidney unit of the Kandy hospital every day. It is the only hospital in the country that provides free kidney dialysis and transplants; thus, the vast majority of the patients who come there are poor?aso poor that many may forego procedures and medications that require payment. The dialysis patients have to come in several times a week. Too weak to travel alone, they come with family members. Frequently, after dialysis, some patients and their loved ones
sleep together on the hospital floors, as there are not enough beds.
In some countries, selling human organs is a lucrative business. It is reported that in India and Egypt, a poor person can sell a kidney for $10,000 to $15,000. In Sri Lanka, sale of kidneys is officially banned. In order to deter buying and selling, kidney donations are accepted only from relatives and members of the clergy. In Sri Lanka, there is high demand; the prevalence of kidney disease in rural agricultural regions has lead many health officials to suspect a link to the use of certain pesticides already banned in the West. Thus, patients can wait years for a kidney, and many die in great pain before one becomes available.
In response, many Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka have come forward to donate their kidneys. More than fifty monks have donated kidneys in the Kandy hospital alone over the last five years, about twenty-five percent of all donations in that period. These monks are young and healthy males in the prime of their lives. Like most of the Buddhist clergy in the country, they come from relatively poor villages. Yet, as monks, they have received the traditional Buddhist training in the cultivation of nonattachment, compassion, and generosity.
I had the good fortune to speak with a number of these donor monks in my mother??£¤s hospital ward. From our conversations, I learned that the monks themselves go in search of the needy, responding to newspaper ads calling for kidney donors. They choose to undergo the extensive tests and painful surgery without expecting fame or fortune in return.
Max Weber, the German sociologist, wrote that Buddhism is an ???other worldly??¨¤ religion with little relevance to the modern world. The late Pope John Paul II wrote that Buddhism was too concerned with suffering and the negative aspects of life, and contemporary sociologists and anthropologists have frequently presented Sri Lankan monks as ethno-religious fundamentalists, opposed to reconciliation with the secessionist minority Tamils. Even new Buddhists in the West often depict themselves as progressive practitioners as opposed to the ritualistic and dogmatic Asian Buddhists. What is frequently overlooked, however, in these Western reflections on Buddhism in Asia, is the deep acculturation of Buddhist values in the daily lives of the people?aand among the community of monks in particular. In fact, the compassionate and selfless acts of the kidney donor monks in Sri Lanka have become so commonplace that they are now taken for granted, scarcely making the news.
One night, toward the end of her stay in the hospital, my mother??£¤s ward was transformed into a spiritual abode. A young monk was awaiting kidney removal surgery the next morning, and several monks from his temple arrived to chant pirith, or traditional Buddhist blessings. Sitting on chairs covered with white cloth, the monks chanted sutras melodiously; the patients listened, lying on their beds while the hospital staff and patients??£¤ families lay on the floor. After the chanting, a white thread was cut into small pieces and bound around our wrists, a symbol of our human connection and the protection that comes from living by the dharma.
If all my friends were to jump off a bridge,
I wouldn't jump with them,
I'd be at the bottom to catch them.
Disrupting the faith?
Interview - Alexander Berzin -
George Wehrfritz ()
13 January 1997
Mongolian Buddhism barely survived under decades of Stalinist
repression. Now, more than five years after the collapse of the
Soviet Union, Mongolia's religions traditions could be facing
another threat: an invasion of Christian missionaries. Or so says
Alexander Berzin, 52, a prominent American Buddhist and a research
fellow at Columbia University. He recently toured Mongolia to
deliver a series of lectures on the country's ancient faith, a
journey that he says allowed him to witness the impact of foreign
evangelists. Berzin shared his observations with Newsweek's George
Wehrfritz in Beijing.
Wehrfritz : What prompted you latest visit?
Berzin : I was invited by the National State University of Mongolia
to deliver a series of lecture on Buddhism. The background is that
since the fall of the communist regime, there has been a very large
influx of American Christian missionaries to Mongolia from various
denominations. They are exerting tremendous pressure on the
population, particularly the young people, to convert to
Christianity. This is extremely disruptive to the process of trying
to re-establish Mongolia's traditional culture and religion.
How are missionaries disruptive?
For Mongolia to adapt to a new market economy and democracy, it is
very important that people feel self-confident. This sense of
self-worth comes from being rooted in one's own culture. So if you
take away the former Soviet culture, and in addition take away
Mongolia's traditional culture and values, which the missionaries
are trying to undermine, people are left with nothing. they feel
they are not worth-while, that everything they've spent their lives
on is garbage.
How, specially, do missionaries undermine Mongolia's traditional
They come and say that Mongolia's poverty and backwardness are due
to Buddhism. This is simply preposterous when one looks at the
development of Buddhist societies in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, South
Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. But many Mongolians believe it because
they don't have much information about the outside world. Also, the
missionaries come in the guise of English teachers. They print free
Christian literature in colloquial Mongolian and in English, which
attracts language students. They give money, computers to
universities, scholarship to children of influential officials.
They buy their way in. The Buddhists can't compete.
They are still trying to re-establish themselves. Their monasteries
were destroyed some 700 during the Stalin period. The communist
government allowed only one Monastery to stay open. Now they have
restarted 155 monasteries. But the old monks who survive are only
able to teach the young monks rituals. They don't have money for
printing or translation to colloquial Mongolian. And then, of
course, they missionaries have parties for young people, with music
and free food-and a heavy hit of proselytizing.
What are they trying to accomplish?
The missionaries sincerely believe that they are saving the souls
of these people and bringing them to heaven. In the long run, they
could destroy Mongolian society.
How might the Buddhist community respond?
There are various steps. I am involved in a project to translate
texts from either Tibetan, English or classical Mongolian into the
colloquial language. The other thing which is being done is that
His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been sending teachers from India to
help re-establish a Buddhist educational system. Mongolia received
its form of Buddhism from Tibet, starting in the 18th century. So
there is a very long relationship.
Another strategy is to send in American Buddhists like yourself,
The missionaries are American, so Mongolian youth get the
impression that their Christian zeal is the backbone on Western
culture. It isn't as effective for Mongolian or Tibetan Buddhist
teachers to challenge this. But as an American, my presence sends
another message; that not every American has this missionary zeal,
that there are many other religions in the United Stated and that
we draw out strength from many factors besides Christianity.
It there a place for Christianity in Mongolia?
I'll give an example. The Dalai Lama and the pope have had a great
deal of contact over the years. One of the things they arranged was
an exchange of monastics. A number of Catholic monks came to
Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in India to learn meditation
techniques, in particular how to improve concentration. Likewise,
the Dalai Lama sent monks to Christian monasteries to study how
they set up orphanages, old-age homes, schools and hospitals. In
Tibet the village and family traditionally tool care of these
things. but in exile in India you don't have the structure anymore,
so monasteries need to do this. The Christian become Buddhists, nor
did the Buddhist monks become Christians. But they were able to
learn from each other to enhance their own religions and societies.
This type of exchange on the basis of mutual respect has a place in