Monday, September 16, 2013

Buddhism, a New York monastery, and a trip back in time

This weekend I traveled to one of my favorite far-away places, a beautiful Buddhist temple in New York called Chuang Yen Monastery.

You can check out more pictures by clicking here.

The monastery is a place of real joy and calmness for me, and not just because of the beautiful landscape or the big Buddha statues. I received my first Buddhist teachings here in the form of weekly meditation lessons and group discussion from a Buddhist priest. In nice weather we would all sit on those very benches you see in the picture above, and talk. His name was Venerable Wisdom, and he's still teaching in Danbury, CT.


The teachings were often very practical in nature, and he would answer questions from the group such as, "How do I deal with my angry neighbors?" Other times, they were more about the teachings of the Buddha. I remember telling him, "I read something about Buddhism and women - that women could not reach (the ultimate goal of Buddhism) enlightenment." I asked him what he thought of that.

He told me that everyone makes their own effort towards enlightenment. It takes time, sometimes lifetimes to accomplish. Some of those lifetimes may be lived as women, some as men. "Why not focus on the gains you can make now, in this life, rather than worrying about someday?"

I still try to reach my goals a little at a time.


Now I come back here with my kids, to walk the grounds and to give my mind a chance to be calm again. It feels really, really good. I'm doing a little something toward my goal of a being a happier and more peaceful person.



SL said...

I prefer the Jewish point of view: that women are by nature holy. That is why we are exempt from the rituals that apply to men.

Janet said...

Do you like to be exempt?

SL said...

I appreciate anything that makes my schedule easier. That's why I went to work, to school and took care of kids all within a two block area!