Bhikkhu Bodhi

Climbing to the Top of the Mountain – An interview with Bhikkhu Bodhi

Posted by Theravada Dhamma on April 05, 2012
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You have lived in a forest monastery in Sri Lanka for many years, Bhante. What brings you to America?

I originally came to the U.S. to visit my father and sister. But for twenty-five years I have been afflicted with a chronic headache condition, which has resisted every type of treatment I have tried to date. My father suggested I arrange a consultation at The Headache Institute of New York, a clinic in Manhattan. Thus for the past few months I have been taking treatment at this clinic.

Is it true that you have decided to re-settle in this country?

I originally intended to stay in the U.S. only as long as necessary to treat the headache and then return to Sri Lanka. Over the past few months, however, two thoughts grew increasingly compelling in my mind: first, that I should be closer to my father in his old age; and second, that I might be able to contribute more to the Dhamma here in America than in Sri Lanka. At the beginning of this year I formally retired as editor for the Buddhist Publication Society, and thus I no longer felt obliged to reside in Sri Lanka.

During my first six weeks in the U.S. I had been staying in the crowded and bustling New York Buddhist Vihara. In July I met by chance an old Chinese Dharma master and his translator, a young Chinese-Canadian monk, who invited me to visit their monastery in New Jersey. I expected it to be a busy devotional temple in a run-down urban ghetto, but to my pleasant surprise it turned out to be a serious study monastery located on quiet and spacious grounds in rural New Jersey, with wooded hills all around and herds of deer grazing on the lawns. Master Jen Chun and I took an immediate liking to each other, and he invited me to stay as long as I wish.

So you will live as a Theravada monk in a Chinese Mahayana monastery?

In ancient India it was not rare for monks of different Buddhist schools to dwell peacefully in the same monastery. I have found Master Jen Chun to be one of the most admirable monks I have ever known: vastly learned, with profound understanding of Buddhism, yet utterly simple, humble, and selfless; strict in discipline yet always bubbling with laughter and loving kindness. He is, moreover, an authority on the Agamas, a body of literature in the Chinese Tripitaka that corresponds to the Pali Nikayas. Thus I find his approach quite congruent with my own. He has asked me to give teachings at the monastery on the Pali suttas and the Pali language, and the resident monks and many lay followers are keen to attend both courses. We hope to make the monastery a place where well-disciplined monks of any authentic Vinaya tradition can reside and live together harmoniously. The place, incidentally, is named Bodhi Monastery, but it is sheer coincidence that I wound up at a monastery that bears my name.

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Bhikkhu Bodhi – Aims of Buddhist Education

Posted by Theravada Dhamma on Januar 19, 2012
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Ideally, education is the principal tool of human growth, essential for transforming the unlettered child into a mature and responsible adult. Yet everywhere today, both in the developed world and the developing world, we can see that formal education is in serious trouble. Classroom instruction has become so routinized and pat that children often consider school an exercise in patience rather than an adventure in learning. Even the brightest and most conscientious students easily become restless, and for many the only attractive escape routes lie along the dangerous roads of drugs, sexual experimentation, and outbursts of senseless violence. Teachers too find themselves in a dilemma, dissatisfied with the system which they serve but unable to see a meaningful alternative to it.

One major reason for this sad state of affairs is a loss of vision regarding the proper aims of education. The word “education” literally means “to bring forth,” which indicates that the true task of this process is to draw forth from the mind its innate potential for understanding. The urge to learn, to know and comprehend is a basic human trait, as intrinsic to our minds as hunger and thirst are to our bodies. In today’s turbulent world, however, this hunger to learn is often deformed by the same moral twists that afflict the wider society. Indeed, just as our appetite for wholesome food is exploited by the fast-food industry with tasty snacks devoid of nutritional value, so in our schools the minds of the young are deprived of the nutriment they need for healthy growth. In the name of education the students are passed through courses of standardized instruction intended to make them efficient servants of a demeaning social system. While such education may be necessary to guarantee societal stability, it does little to fulfill the higher end of learning, the illumination of the mind with the light of truth and goodness.

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Bhikkhu Bodhi – What Does It Mean To Be Enlightened?

Posted by Theravada Dhamma on März 18, 2011
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The word “buddha” was already known and in circulation before the Buddha appeared on the Indian scene. The word means “enlightened,” and spiritual seekers would commonly discuss the question “Who is a Buddha? Who is enlightened?” Once an aged brahmin named Brahmayu heard that the ascetic Gotama, the man rumored to be a Buddha, had arrived in his town and he decided to pay him a visit. When the old brahmin arrived, the Buddha was in the midst of a discussion with many people. Since the old brahmin was highly distinguished, when he came into the midst of the crowd, everyone gave way to him. The Buddha too realized that this was a highly respected brahmin, the teacher of several generations of pupils, so he asked Brahmayu to come right up to the front of the assembly and to take a seat beside him.

Brahmayu then said to him, “Honorable Gotama, I would like to ask you some questions.” The Buddha invited him to ask what was op his mind, and the brahmin phrased his questions in a four-line verse, the basic point of which was, “How can one be called a Buddha, an Enlightened One?” The Buddha responded in verse:

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Bhikkhu Bodhi – A New Undertaking

Posted by Theravada Dhamma on Dezember 06, 2010
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Bhikkhu Bodhi’s – A New Undertaking – which was Bhikkhu Bodhi’s initial Newsletter, in 1985, explaining the purpose underlying the mission of the Buddhist Publication Society to make available to the world the Dhamma of the Buddha, which still has as much meaning in the world, today, as it did when the Buddha decided to teach the Dhamma

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Bhikkhu Bodhi – A Note on Openness

Posted by Theravada Dhamma on Dezember 05, 2010
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Bhikkhu Bodhi’s essay – A Note on Openness – which tempers the trend towards an openness towards throwing-out the traditions of the past, with a warm but stern warning that such an openess should be accompanied by concentrated, mental-heedfulness concerning the dangers accompanying what pops-up out of such a newly-opened Pandora’s Box.

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