JKhedrup wrote:I don't remember swearing or making ad homs. Though ZL stated the story from the Ladakhi nuns could be untrue, I have no reason to doubt their honesty, they have nothing to gain by lying to me. These are senior ordained nuns, fluent in Chinese, English, Tibetan and Hindi. Educated kind and thoughtful people- i spent the better part of a week with them.The suggestion (not made by you) that they may have lied, as well as the serious issue of cultural chauvanism, are why I became heated. It feels like blaming the victim, and the easy dismissal if anyone's bad experiences is part of the reason progress cannot be made.
As I stated above, what saddens me most is these problems are solvable. But as ZL stated above, maybe the potential solutions are considered high-maintenance. Still, I am willing to try and speak with anyone interested. And I will not deny certainly my own personal faults are part of the equation here. But there are enough people with similar experiences to confirm to me they weren't the only factor.
All I am saying is that I don't think generalisations about western ordination should be made based upon Ladakhis, whose experience may or may not be typical, and may or may not have multiple versions that we simply haven't heard, and probably will never hear. Speaking for the western experience, I think we can say that while little has been done to adapt the existing structure to western needs, there also hasn't been an actual programme of western ordination in any capacity either. We really don't have any right to claim the right to FGS' accommodation of unfamiliar and culturally alien foreigners. If they want to use their potential for spreading the Dharma in the west, based upon whatever assessments that move is based on, they will. As westerners who may be interested in and like Chinese Buddhism, we can hope this happens, but we mustn't be entitled.
Indrajala wrote:You're implying that several senior nuns who are highly educated and committed to Dharma for life are basically lying. I also know a senior monk in Bodhgaya who told me a number of things about his interactions with FGS and Xingyun, a lot of which was shocking.
Well, my reply as regards whether or not these entities whom I have never met nor know the reputation of, who are essentially literary figures as far as I am concerned at this point, is the same as that I gave to JKhedrup. You really can't expect someone to be convinced of the inherent evil of FGS based upon hearsay on an internet forum. Well, you can't expect me to be. I probably would have been convinced if you told me that when I was 14 years old. But now, I know the world is more complex than X says Y is not good (and of course, every X must be of "good repute").
As regards VM Hsingyun (I shan't give into this ridiculous tendency to use the communist P'in-yin system like Peking wants us to), I've heard all sorts of things like X said something shocking about him, Y said something unbelievable, Z said that he did something so bad I can't utterly reveal it. You really can't convince anyone with that sort of claptrap. You'll find these sorts of statements about anyone, HHDL, Master Hsuan Hua, the Karmapas, etc. To such things my response is more or less that this is sensationalism of the tabloid variety, and that people who expect others to be swayed by such hearsay really have a poor grasp of human judgement. So if you're going to make a claim, please make it. Don't tease others with it's potential to be made.
You can and should make criticism and suggestions for improvement, but when it's meaningless attempts to sway others into hatred with things like hearsay, it's a waste of time. You're not going to win anyone over who isn't already convinced. As for the BMC, certainly your critique might sway some more puritan westerners, but I personally find they misunderstand the nature of Mahayana, upaya, stupas and relics. I'm not being purposefully obtuse. You simply haven't made a very good argument for why FGS isn't a good vehicle for western Buddhism by relying on these sorts of tactics to me
. Can you convince other
westerners? Maybe. But insiders to FGS aren't going to be, especially if they've seen a benevolent side to it on the large part. After all, people are there for a reason. People like it. Laity like it. Otherwise it wouldn't be the largest Taiwanese/Chinese Buddhist organization. As for foreigners, yes, many find their ways odd, but like Ven HF says, specific critiques and specific suggestions are more helpful than this sort of stuff.
Huifeng wrote:If I may quickly respond to this point, at least. At present, for the past 2 yrs or so, behind the Samantabhadra Shrine there is now an International House (NB: not "Western", but international). The Ven. in charge is Ven. Huiju, formerly Malaysian Chinese who spent his teens and twenties in Melbourne Australia (he's an Australian citizen, etc.). Perhaps Zhen Li can comment on this, no doubt knowing more about it than I do.
Yes, the place is very nice, stocked with an English library and amenities. Currently it's being used for international lay visitors. I can certainly see a place like that being the ideal sort of building for training western monastics. I also think Ven. Khedrup's suggestions are very good, and of course these are suggestions that I have also made myself. A corps of western monastics, by no means of intrusive size, whose job is more or less to translate can indeed be nicely incorporated into the present schema without disrupting things too much. As far as the actual function of the house goes, Venerable Huiju does a very good job. However, he doesn't have the sort of pressure one would if one were tasked with teaching Chinese and providing monastic training to western shramaneras.
JKhedrup wrote:Could foreign monks not fluent in Chinese form a community within the community there, rathet than living at the men's college?
The current community at the house is not a monastic community, it is a community of lay volunteers who mostly work on proofing translations, and occasional visitors.
Ven HF can correct me if I am wrong, but, the monastics who live at the college are shramaneras, whereas the ones in the monastic compound are full bhikshus. If you are suggesting foreign shramaneras live
at the house, that is not currently possible, since that would require a discipline master to be present. If you are suggesting they train
there instead of the college, that is also not currently possible. But I can see such a building, one like it, perhaps annexed to the college, being a convenient place for such things. The house is also quite far away from the monastic compound and college, which would make things less convenient for managing it. It would probably make more sense to incorporate it into the present college, since we're not going to be talking about more than one monastic or none at a time right now. Of course, if it became more populated, then a specific training centre might make more sense. Ven HF and I both tended to like the idea of a North American training monastery - then monastics will not have to adjust to a foreign lifestyle alongside learning Chinese, dharma and vinaya. Of course, I think we should keep things small, only one step at a time. Maybe starting by renting a small house or building a small compound on cheap countryside land (since it's not to be geared to lay devotees), gradually expanding. Keeping operating costs low might make this a more attractive to the executives. Perhaps somewhere in rural California not too far from Hsi Lai, but also not in the city where property values are sky high. Just look at the spiritual supermarket of religious orgs that just buy a compound in rural California, it can't be too expensive.
If you are speaking of current fully ordained bhikshus living at the house. That's entirely feasible, and makes more sense to me than lodging them in the Bamboo Garden Lodge, which is where they currently are. The disadvantage to this, is once again the location. The house is quite far away from the main monastery and the bus station, so most visiting monastics would probably prefer the Bamboo Garden Lodge.
JKhedrup wrote:Could some of the monks from Congo be placed thrte to see if it works? (Unless they don't want to move of course)
They're fully assimilated to Chinese culture and are fluent speakers of Chinese, so they probably would see it as pointless and if they're trainees, the issues are the same as above. Currently though, the house is geared to laity. Venerable Hueshou (Austrian) mentioned that he was offered the opportunity to work there in addition to his current job of touring foreigners, but declined because it's too far away and Venerable Huiju more or less doesn't ever seem to have his plate full - the task of managing the house for laity isn't really onerous, since volunteers who work in that area of the monastery take care of most the stuff.