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Buddhadharma : Spring 2010
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 10 58 Bhikkhu Bodhi: Not really. Of course there’s a tendency for the Asian Buddhist population in the U.S. to center around mon- asteries, but there is also a significant portion of the American community drawn to the monastic way of life. RoBeRt thuRman: Is that so? Bhikkhu Bodhi: Yes. ayya tathaaloka: Yes, there is definitely interest in monasti- cism among American Buddhists. Here in northern California it’s growing tremendously. Many lay Buddhists have called for there to be a monastic presence. Before I moved to the Bay Area, when I would visit, people would ask, “Why do you have to leave? Why can’t we have a monastery for women here?” When the number of people reached critical mass, we went ahead with establishing a monastery here. Some of the lay- people also wanted to be able to train and ordain here. At that time, there was a men’s monastery, Abhayagiri, in California. But women also wanted to train in their home country. They didn’t want to have to go abroad and deal with the huge costs, the visa difficulties, and the health challenges. teachings. They want to learn the dhamma broadly, as well as in a way that applies to their own life. The other track is what is now called the Vipassana com- munity. They were originally attracted not so much to Bud- dhism itself but to the practice of meditation, almost as a self-sufficient discipline. They follow teachers who teach Vipassana meditation. In their discourses they draw upon sayings from the Buddha, but the teachers themselves are not intent on establishing a Buddhist presence in the U.S. but rather are teaching a particular practice of meditation for the immediately visible benefits that come from that prac- tice. Their style of teaching is usually not grounded in the doctrinal framework of Buddhism, including the teaching of kamma, rebirth, the full exposition of the four noble truths, the full exposition of dependent origination. Rather, it draws selectively from teachings of the Buddha that contribute to the practice of Vipassana meditation. RoBeRt thuRman: Those who support monastics are generally Asian American and those who practice Vipassana are gener- ally Euro-American, no? A Shuso Hossen ceremony at Zen Mountain Monastery in Mt. Tremper, New York. unknownmountainsandriversordernationalbuddhistarchives