Friday, July 10, 2009

Venerable Robina Courtin

Venerable Robina Courtin has been a Tibetan Buddhist nun for over thirty years. She is an internationally renowned Dharma teacher who is famous for her no nonsense approach. At the end of 2000 she resigned as editor of MANDALA, international magazine of Buddhism, to increase teaching at Buddhist centers around the world. Since 1997, she has run the Liberation Prison Project for Buddhist Practitioners, which works with people in prisons throughout the US, helping them with their practice and studies by writing them and sending books and tapes and other materials. She visits prisons in California, Massachusetts, Kentucky, North Carolina and Virginia, giving teachings to groups and meeting them one-to-one. Several of these men are on death row or have life sentences, and some have been involved in gangs, both on the streets and in prison.

Venerable Robina was born in Melbourne, Australia and brought up as a Catholic. She studied classical singing until her early twenties, then went to London in 1967, where she lived for four years. She became actively involved in the radical left, working mainly with a London-based support group for black and Chicano prisoners. In the early seventies she became a feminist and returned to Melbourne in 1972 to work with other radical feminists. Robina began studying martial arts in 1974 in her quest for a spiritual path, moving to New York where she studied karate. She continued karate in Melbourne until 1976, when she attended a Tibetan Buddhist course in Queensland given by Lama Yeshe and Lama Zopa Rinpoche. She went to Kathmandu, Nepal, and eighteen months later in November 1977, she left everyting behind and ordained as a Buddhist nun at Kopan Monastery. Nowadays, Venerable Robina Courtin is one of the most popular teachers of Buddhism in the west. Venerable Robina's prison work was recently profiled in an award-winning documentary, Chasing Buddha.
The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Venerable Master Heng Ch'ih

Venerable Master Heng Ch'ih has been a fully-ordained nun in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism for 39 years. She became a disciple of Venerable Master Hsuan Hua in July 1968 during the summer study and practice session when the Master explained the Shurangama Sutra in San Francisco, California. She is a founding member of the Buddhist Text Translation Society and continues to serve actively as a translator, editor, and certifier of canonical Buddhist texts. She is currently monastic co-manager and a member of the Board of Gold Coast Dharma Realm in Queensland. She also resides at Gold Buddha Monastery in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and at the Dharma Realm Buddhist Association’s Women’s Translation Center in Burlingame, California.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Venerable U Vamsarakkhita

Venerable U Vamsarakkhita is a Canadian born Buddhist monk from the Burmese Theravada tradition. He completed a BA in Psychology from St. Francis Xavier University,Nova Scotia, Canada and was a certified as well as registered financial planner. As a young student, Ven U Vamsa was physically active, being involved with various sports. Besides being a student leader (Executive School Council), he was also an athlete and won a University Athletic Scholarship (Basketball). His spiritual life began when he started practising transcendental meditation at age 17. As an adult, he was a self employed financial advisor and a film actor in Vancouver. He was the president of various charities such as Big Brothers and AIDS Vancouver. Ven U Vamsa has had intensive Vipassana/Metta Practice with Sayadaw and has toured with him to assist in teaching Vipasssana and Metta (Loving Kindness) Meditation. As a teacher, Ven U Vamsa is committed to convey the simple everyday usefulness of the Buddha’s teaching while inspiring those around him to explore and experience the Path to Freedom that He so clearly and elegantly lived. Ven U Vamsa has travelled and taught extensively throughout Asia, North America, and Europe both as an assistant to Sayadaw and leader of his own retreats. He spends Rains Retreat (Vassa) guiding monks in meditation at Dhammodaya Meditation Center (Nakhon Pathom, Thailand).
The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Venerable Tejadhammo

Venerable Tejadhammo Bhikku was ordained by Venerable Tanchaokhun Phra Visalsalmanagun in Phuket, Thailand. Bhante has a background in Western Philosophy and Theology, and has studied and taught at Silpakorn University, Thailand. Although ordained in the Theravada tradition, he has also studied with Tibetan and Mahayana teachers and has a commitment to the Dharma that he believes encompasses all traditional expressions of it.

Bhante is the Spiritual Director of the Association of Engaged Buddhists founded in 1993, and senior resident monk at Sangha Lodge, Sydney. The Association aims to foster a more active engagement of all Buddhists within the local community. Apart from teachings and retreat activities, Bhante works with those seriously ill in hospitals, hospices and their homes in Sydney. Bhante is also a founding member of the Australian Monastic Encounter which seeks to promote inter-religious and inter monastic dialogue.

Bhante does a great deal of teaching for other Buddhist groups as well as Adult Education groups in Sydney and throughout Australia. Healing Meditation practices are also taught by Bhante to groups and more particularly to individuals needing special assistance.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Venerable David Lungtok

Venerable David Lungtok is an Australian Buddhist monk practising in the Tibetan tradition. Born and raised in Melbourne, he graduated from Monash University Law School in 1978 after which he travelled extensively throughout Asia and India. During this time he developed an appreciation of Eastern philosophy and meditation, an interest which led him to further explore the teachings of the Buddha. After ordaining as a monk in Nepal in 1981 he lived and studied at Nalanda Monastery in France before returning to India in 1986 where for many years he taught Buddhist philosophy and meditation in Dharamsala, Katmandu, New Delhi and Bodhgaya. In 1996 and 1997, Ven. David was the resident teacher at Vajrayana Institute and has recently finished a three-year appointment as Director of Thubten Shedrup Ling Monastery near Bendigo in Central Victoria. He currently resides in Sydney where he is pursuing his practice of meditation.
The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Venerable Sujato

Venerable Sujato (Anthony Best) was born in Perth, Western Australia. Impressed by the profound visions of the world opened up through science, and especially the Theories of Relativity, he rejected his Catholic beliefs while in his teens. After playing rock n’ roll guitar professionally in a successful popular band called Martha’s Vineyard for several years, he went to Thailand in 1992. There, despite having no previous experience of Buddhism, he fell into an intensive retreat at a monastery in Chieng Mai, where he ordained as a Bhikkhu the following year. Besides spending 3 years in Bodhinyana monastery with Ajahn Brahm, he also spent several years in remote hermitages and caves in Thailand and Malaysia. In recent years Venerable Sujato has taught Dhamma and meditation to a varied audience in his local area and internationally, and has spoken at several major international Buddhist conferences and events. His writings explore the earliest Buddhist scriptures, using a comparative and historical approach to illuminate the process of formation of Buddhist ideology and identity; books include A Swift Pair of Messengers, A History of Mindfulness, Beginnings, and Sects & Sectarianism. Having spent nearly ten years studying the canonical Pali scriptures, he became increasingly aware of the outstanding and little-known fact of the existence of thousands of parallel passages in Chinese, Sanskrit, and Tibetan texts. This congruence is regarded as the single most important historical clue to the Buddha's original message, and Ven Sujato has taken the lead in introducing cross-tradition text studies to the Buddhist community. Ven Sujato has become well known for his articulate and passionate support for the fully ordained bhikkhuni lineage, the most pressing controversy within contemporary Theravada Buddhism. A special field of interest is the role of women in Buddhism, and particularly in the revival of the bhikkhuni order within the Theravada tradition. Ven Sujato brings his text-critical faculties to bear on this urgent modern dilemma, in addition to his work in actually establishing a bhikkhuni community at Santi Forest Monastery.

The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Venerable Sister Yeshe Chodron

Venerable Yeshe Chodron is an Australian nun in the Sakya Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. She met Buddhism at the age of 17 whilst travelling in India and Nepal in search of the meaning of life. Ven. Yeshe became a nun at the age of 23 and she has now been ordained for 8 years. Ven. Yeshe is the Director of the Kalyanamitra fund - a socially engaged Buddhist organisation that supports non-Himalayan monastics world wide to study and practice (as there is currently little support for them in the Tibetan tradition). Kalyanamitra is also doing social work with Indian Buddhists, many of whom are from the community previously oppressed and known as 'untouchables', teaching Dharma, offering counselling and lifting people out of grinding poverty by providing them the skills they need to uplift themselves spiritually and physically.
She is the author of 'Everyday Enlightenment' (published by Harper Collins), and has appeared in the documentary Through the Eastern Gate. Sister Yeshe will be on tour in Australia between the 31st July and the 5th August. Her tour will incorporate a screening the documentary, book signings and many great teachings! You can find out more details about her tour on her tour homepage.
The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

Friday, July 3, 2009

Venerable Mudita

Born in 1974, in Geraldton, W.A., as Michael Percy, Venerable Mudita attended Wesley College in South Perth from 1986 – 91. He graduated from U.W.A. with a B.A. (1st class Honours) in 2000. At age 19 he discovered he was a Buddhist after talking with a Buddhist friend and reading Dharma books. From 1995 to 2000 he studied Zen meditation with Ross Bolleter Roshi and the Zen Group of W.A. After meeting Ajahn Brahm in 2000, he decided to take robes “for the ending of all suffering and for the realization of NibbĂ€na”. Ven. Mudita ordained at Bodhinyana Monastery, on Dec. 26 2002 as a bhikkhu, after completing 18 months of preliminary training as an 8 precept anagarika and as a 10 precept novice. Since this time he has served as Ajahn Brahm’s secretary for 3 years, taught meditation at Karnet Prison Farm, led funeral services & marriage blessings, taught meditation classes at Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre in Perth, and assisted with the administration & maintenance of Bodhinyana Monastery. Since late 2007 he has been teaching vinaya (monastic discipline) to the junior monks, novices and postulants at Bodhinyana.
The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Venerable Shravasti Dhammika

Bhante Shravasti Dhammika was born in Australia in 1951 into a Christian family, and converted to Buddhism at the age of eighteen.

In 1973 he went to Thailand with the intention of becoming a monk then to Laos, Burma and finally to India. For the next three years, he traveled around India learning yoga and meditation, and finally ordaining as a monk under Venerable Matiwella Sangharatna, the last disciple of Anagarika Dharmapala. In 1976 he went to Sri Lanka where he studied Pali at Sri Lanka Vidyalaya, and later became a co-founder and teacher of Nilambe Meditation Centre in Kandy. Since then, he has spent most of his time in Sri Lanka and Singapore.

Bhante  Dhammika had written over 25 books and scores of articles on Buddhism and related subjects and his most popular book Good Question Good Answer has been translated into 26 languages.  He is also well-known for his public talks and represented Theravada Buddhism at the European Buddhist Millennium Conference in Berlin in 2000. Apart from Buddhist philosophy and meditation, he has a deep interest in the historical topography of Buddhism and the tradition of pilgrimage and has  traveled widely in India and other Buddhist lands. His others interests include Indian history, art and botany. Currently, Bhante Dhammika is the spiritual advisor to The Buddha Dhamma Mandala Society located in Singapore.

Click here to read Bhante Dhammika's blog, Dhamma Musings. He has also created the online "Guide To Buddhism A To Z"

The Mitra Youth Buddhist Network

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Everybody, it seems, is a Buddhist now

by Douglas Todd, Canwest News Service, April 27, 2009
Vancouver, Canada — Have you noticed more friends and acquaintances quietly suggesting they have become Buddhists? I’m picking up the trend everywhere.
I take Buddhism very seriously as one of the great religions. There are important truths to explore in Buddhism. It is a profound and challenging system of belief.
But right now I just want to remark on how struck I’ve been by the way many North American searchers are making Buddhism their spirituality of choice. It is currently very cool to be a Buddhist.
Buddhism gets good media coverage. The Dalai Lama. Thich Nhat Hanh. Jack Kornfeld. These caring and charismatic men are high profile. Many Hollywood stars are also into Buddhism, spreading the word.
Unlike some of the world’s two billion Christians, Buddhists are not linked in the public’s mind with extremism or war or aggressive proslytizing (even though, believe it or not, there are Buddhist militants).
In contrast, it is definitely not cool now to be Christian, especially in Canada, despite the diversity of the faith.
And it’s still not really socially acceptable to be a follower of Jesus in Canada despite Barack Obama being a liberal Christian.
Even Judaism, Sikhism, Hinduism and in some quarters Islam seem to be more cool these days. Yet nothing seems to touch the popularity of Buddhism as its been adapted to the West. I think many are drawn to a Buddhist-flavoured allure of meditation, inner calm, psychological insight and apparent open-mindedness. I recently interviewed the rock-and-roll/punk singer Bif Naked. A smart woman, Bif has been noticing how young North Americans, as well as the not so young, are drawn today to "exotic" religions, and that typically means from the East.
A Vancouver yoga studio owner says, "Everybody’s a Buddhist now." She also knows a few things about Buddhism. But, like me, she wonders how so many people can so casually say they’re Buddhist.
Do they attend a Buddhist temple? Have they studied Buddhism, beyond a few books or articles or taking some meditation classes? What do they think about Buddhist basics, such as the Four Noble Truths? The Eightfold Path? Which stream of Buddhism do they follow?
There are so many different schools of Buddhist thought — and they are incredibly complex, both philosophically and in their spiritual demands. I suspect some new Buddhists don’t know the answers to these questions.
It’s true that followers of many religions don’t really know much about their tradition. And despite raising these concerns, in some ways I celebrate these new Buddhists’ interest in this spiritual path. Maybe they’re at the beginning of something creatively transformative for themselves, and even society.