Dalai Lama appoints American as monastery abbot

October 6, 2012

Via NPR.

Michel Martin: if you wanted to predict just who the Dalai Lama might select to lead one of the faith’s most important monasteries, you probably wouldn’t think about a boarding school educated, globe-trotting New York photographer whose grandmother was one of the most celebrated fashionistas of her time, but that’s just who the Dalai Lama did select, saying his, quote, “special duty is to bridge Tibetan tradition and the Western world,” unquote.

Nicholas Vreeland is the new abbot of the Rato Monastery in India and he joins us from there now. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

NICHOLAS VREELAND: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here.

MARTIN: Now, in my … Read more »

Ancient Buddhist temple found in China’s Taklimakan desert

Xinhua: The ruins of a Buddhist temple dating back 1,500 years ago have been discovered in China’s largest desert, offering valuable research material for historians studying Buddhism’s spread from India to China.

The temple’s main hall, with a rare structure based around three square-shaped corridors and a huge Buddha statue, has been uncovered after two months of hard work in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, Dr. Wu Xinhua, the leading archaeologist of the excavation project, said Monday.

“The hall is the largest of its kind found in the Taklimakan Desert since the first archaeologist came to work in the area in the 20th century,” said Wu, also head of the Xinjiang archeological team of the Chinese … Read more »

Penn class teaches students how to live like monks

February 11, 2012

Associate professor Justin McDaniel’s religious studies class on monastic life and asceticism gives students at the University of Pennsylvania a firsthand experience of what it’s like to be a monk.

Students participating in the class are required to observe disciplines drawn from various monastic traditions, including refraining from using any technology other than electric lighting, quitting coffee and alcohol, avoiding physical contact and prolonged eye contact, and eating only unprocessed foods.

Students also have to follow a dress code, with males wearing black shirts and females wearing white shirts, and males and females have to sit on opposite sides of the classroom.

That’s not all.

No makeup, jewelry or hair products. Laptops are prohibited; notes

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Forest monks portrayed in photo exhibition

September 6, 2011

Venerable Ajahn Cagino, 43, lives in a cave with two snakes and eight bats. The cave is 2km from the nearest village in Mae Hong Son in northern Thailand. Nestled in a deep valley hemmed in by high mountain ranges that border Myanmar, Mae Hong Son is isolated from the outside world and is covered with mist throughout the year.

“I’ve had enough of wandering,” says the Malaysian monk of Thai Forest Tradition, which is a branch of Theravada Buddhism.

For 12 years, Cagino had been walking through the remotest jungles of Thailand, before settling…

Read the rest of this article…

See also a slideshow of the exhibition below.

Monks in their midst

November 10, 2010

In a stretch of suburban Raynham, a community of ascetics is planning what may be the largest Thai Buddhist temple in the hemisphere

A quiet neighborhood along Raynham’s South Street East is slated to have an unlikely addition soon to its mix of modest homes and small businesses: an ornate Thai Buddhist wat, or temple, the likes of which won’t be found anywhere outside of Thailand, according to its principal designing architect.

The temple, to be called Wat Nawamintararachutis, or NMR Center, will celebrate the life of Thailand’s current monarch, who was born in a Cambridge hospital in 1927. Because of the Boston area’s connection to the king, the project has generated great interest both … Read more »

Act Normal: The making of…

Act Normal: A Documentary by Olaf de FleurRobert T. Edison was born and raised in Nottingham, England. When he was fourteen years old he began to practice Buddhism. At eighteen he became a monk and went to Thailand where, for a decade, he spent his time in monasteries as Bhikkhu Dhammanando.

He became the first Buddhist monk in Iceland when he moved there in 1994 and founded a Buddhist sect.

Here director Olaf de Fleur talks about the 10-year making of his documentary, Act Normal, as he followed the progress of Robert/Dhammanando from monasticism to lay life and back again.

Act Normal: The cultural confusions of an English monk in Thailand

Act Normal: A Documentary by Olaf de FleurRobert T. Edison was born and raised in Nottingham, England. When he was fourteen years old he began to practice Buddhism. At eighteen he became a monk and went to Thailand where, for a decade, he spent his time in monasteries as Bhikkhu Dhammanando.

He became the first Buddhist monk in Iceland when he moved there in 1994 and founded a Buddhist sect.

In the title sequence from the documentary, Act Normal, directed by Olaf de Fleur, Dhammanando shares an amusing story about mistaking the Thai national anthem for an advertisement.

Act Normal can be purchased from Poppoli Pictures.

Act Normal: The origin of suffering

Act Normal: A Documentary by Olaf de FleurRobert T. Edison was born and raised in Nottingham, England. When he was fourteen years old he began to practice Buddhism. At eighteen he became a monk and went to Thailand where, for a decade, he spent his time in monasteries.

He became the first Buddhist monk in Iceland when he moved there in 1994 and founded a Buddhist sect.

In this clip, from the documentary, Act Normal, directed by Olaf de Fleur, Edison, at that time a monk in Thailand, contrasts the Buddhist explanation of the cause of suffering with the explanations from theistic religion.

Act Normal can be purchased from Poppoli Pictures.

Act Normal: Is Buddhist monasticism escapist?

Act Normal: A Documentary by Olaf de FleurRobert T. Edison was born and raised in Nottingham, England. When he was fourteen years old he began to practice Buddhism. At eighteen he became a monk and went to Thailand where, for a decade, he spent his time in monasteries.

He became the first Buddhist monk in Iceland when he moved there in 1994 and founded a Buddhist sect.

In this clip, from the documentary, Act Normal, directed by Olaf de Fleur, Edison, at that time a monk in Thailand, is asked whether his life is escapist.

Act Normal can be purchased from Poppoli Pictures.

Act Normal: A Search For Love

Act Normal: A Documentary by Olaf de FleurA Buddhist monk decides to disrobe and get married after sixteen years of monkhood. This documentary, directed by Olaf de Fleur, took ten years to film.

Robert T. Edison was born and raised in Nottingham, England. When he was fourteen years old he began to practice Buddhism. At eighteen he became a monk and went to Thailand where, for a decade, he spent his time in monasteries.

He became the first Buddhist monk in Iceland when he moved there in 1994 and founded a Buddhist sect. Five years later Robert decided to “disrobe” and get married. After sixteen years of celibacy Robert had to deal with being “normal” – getting employment, paying his bills and … Read more »