Reality of the Begging Bowl

September 29, 2009 § 1 Comment

Nepal Buddhism

In the majority of Buddhist countries, monastics are supported by the lay community. Offerings are made either directly to the monasteries, or to the ordained, to provide for living expenses and needs. Although we are ordained and renunciates, we still have needs to be met: shelter, food, study materials, travel expenses at times, retreats, etc.

Here in the West, however, a different situation is present. The majority of monastics (in the Tibetan tradition) that I know here in the States have to work. We try to limit the amount of work we do to a couple of days a week so we are free to focus on our practice and study of the Buddha Dharma. That’s the reality of the monastic community here. Most of us work in fields that are supportive to our practice, or at the least at a job that doesn’t contradict our vows. The Dharma is still so new here, and we are making the best of the situation in preparation for those to follow us in the future. The ordained community must start somewhere. I make aspiration prayers that someday we will be able to have more monasteries here in the States where the western ordained can live.

Personally, I a nurse. I just got an incredible new nursing job last week! I start in 3 weeks. I will work 2 to 3 days a week, with the option of picking up more shifts. My schedule will be very flexible. Each month I fill out a form, stating my available days to work, and the scheduler fills those days for me on the work schedule at the medical facility. How wonderful! And because of the way my schedule works, if I’m not available for a few months because of retreat, no problem. I simply let them know when I return to town. I’m actually in a bit of shock. Sounds too good to be true. I can work a few days a week with control over my schedule, and never have to miss summer retreat at the Palyul temple in upstate New York. Wow!

I feel very lucky for my new position. Nursing work has added a lot to my life. I get to sit with people whose bodies are crumbling, some on the mend, some dying, some going home. Has taught me a lot about the Dharma, about impermanence, and about the preciousness of the human rebirth. Has shown me places in my own mind of which I was previously unaware. How ready am I for death? How steady is my meditation?

With each patient, I am offered the opportunity to care for a sentient being that was previously one of my mothers. I treat each of them as a manifestation of my Guru, to repay the kindness of the profound teachings I have somehow been able to receive in this life.

This is the first job I’ve had in about 2 years. The new position begins on the 13th of October, with orientation being the 13th through the 15th. I will then be put on the schedule for the following week. At first it sounded so great, as my teacher HH Karma Kuchen Rinpoche will be giving teachings at a temple in the DC/Maryland area on the weekend of the 17th and 18th of October. So I thought I would fly to DC after my orientation, see him for at least a few days, receive teachings from him, and then fly back to Colorado the next week to tend to patients. Yet I don’t think it’s going to work out exactly as I had planned.

Although I have the time to see him (the last chance I have before he leaves the country), I’m lacking $300 worth of karma for the air ticket. Ahhh! Oh well. I have the karma for the time, but not for the airfare.

It’s still possible I might go. A friend of mine is trying to get the funds to send me, even though he presently doesn’t know where or how he’ll get them that quickly. Anyone with $300 worth of airfare karma who cares to share, or several people with smaller amounts, let me know!  I’m not too proud to beg! The history of monasticism is based on the begging bowl, isn’t it?

But really, it’s okay. I’m praying to see Rinpoche one more time before he leaves the States, but I also must recognize my limits. Everything occurs based on causes and conditions. At the moment, all I can do is continue to make aspiration prayers that somehow the trip will be sponsored, by one or multiple individuals. If I can’t see him in  a few weeks, I can always continue to plan on seeing him at some point next year.

If anyone is interested in assisting some way, allow me to thank you now, with much humility and gratitude for your aspirations of generosity. Feel free to contact me at:

rigpasramblings (at) ymail (dot) com



A Day of Study

September 26, 2009 § 1 Comment


I’m committing to a day of intense study. One problem: there’s just too much to choose from! I pulled out a stack of books to start with (in no particular order):

  • A Comprehensive Manual of Abhidharma (Bhikkhu Bodhi, ed.)
  • A Garland of Immortal Wish-fulfilling Trees
  • The Vision of Dhamma (Nyanaponika Thera)
  • Uttaratantra (Maitreya)
  • Deity, Mantra and Wisdom (Jigme Lingpa, Patrul Rinpoche, Getse Mahapandita)
  • Calm and Clear (Lama Mipham)
  • Kindly Bent to East Us (Longchenpa)
  • The All-Pervading Melodious Sound of Thunder: The Outer Liberation Story of Terton Mingyur Dorje
  • Ways of Enlightenment (Nyingma Institute)
  • Approaching the Great Perfection (Van Schaik)
  • Mipham’s Beacon of Certainty
  • The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism (Dudjom Rinpoche)

Is it entirely wrong to speed read through some sections of the above texts? To be honest, sometimes I do. I tend to speed read through sections that are familiar to me, and then focus in on the sections that are new, reading more slowly, to fill in the gaps in my education. The problem is, however, that the sections I have to focus in on tend to outnumber the parts that are familiar!

Somehow I don’t think I’ll make it through the entire stack today ….. especially since I still need to review my Tibetan language lessons at some point.

Where Am I?

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