views updated

Theravada Buddhism

Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery

Ambedkar Mission

Bhavana Society

Buddhasasananuggaha Association

Cambodian Buddhism

Center for Buddhist Development

Dhammakaya International Society of California

Dharma Dena

Dhiravamsa Foundation

Insight Meditation Society

International Organization of Burmese Buddhist Sanghas

International Buddhist Meditation Center

International Meditation Center–USA

Lao Buddhist Sangha of the U.S.A.

Mid-America Dharma Group

Order of Interbeing

Ordinary Dharma

Resources for Ecumenical Spirituality

Saddhamma Foundation

Sri Lanka Sangha Council of North America

Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery

Thai-American Buddhist Association

Tiep Hien Order

Viet Nam Buddhists

Vipassana Meditation Centers

Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery

16201 Tomki Rd., Redwood Valley, CA 95470

Alternate Address

International Headquarters: Amaravati Buddhist Centre, Great Gaddesden, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire HP1 2BZ, United Kingdom.

Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery is a branch of the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, a Thai Theravada Buddhist organization based in the United Kingdom which in turn is related to the Wat Pah Pong and Wat Pah Nanachat, two forest monastic communities in northeast Thailand. International leadership is provided by the Ven. Ajahn Sumedho (b. 1934), an American who studied with the legendary Thai monk Ajahn Chah.

Sumedho had originally encountered Buddhism while in the U.S. Army in Japan. After completing his college work, he went as a teacher to Thailand, where he became a student of Ajahn Chah. In 1974 he founded Wat Paa Nanachat, which like the other wats influenced by Chah emphasizes the whole lifestyle as practice above a special emphasis on meditation. In 1977 he visited England with Chah and remained there. Two years later he founded the Chithurst Forest Monastery in rural Sussex, from which other similar centers have arisen.

Abhayagiri Monastery is the first monastery in the United States to be established by followers of Ajahn Chah, a respected Buddhist master of the ancient Thai Forest Tradition of Theravada Buddhism.

The origin of the monastery can be traced to Sumedho’s visits to northern California in the early 1980s. Over the next 10 years Sumedho developed a devoted following of students. In 1988 they formed the Sanghapala Foundation with the mission of creating a branch monastery of Ajahn Chah’s lineage. In 1990 Ajahn Amaro accompanied Ajahn Sumedho to California and thereafter became the central teacher for the California students.

Efforts to establish the California monastery moved slowly until 1995. Before his death, Ven. Master Hsüan Hua, abbot of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas located in Ukiah, California, instructed his disciples to deed over to Ajahn Chah’s disciples 120 acres of forest in Redwood Valley, 15 miles north of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. On several occasions Master Hua had made a point of stating that it had been the dream of his life to bring the northern and southern traditions of Buddhism back together again. His offering was one of openhearted, ecumenical friendship. It enabled the communities to be physically close and to relate in an atmosphere of mutual respect and harmony.

In choosing a name for the monastery it seemed appropriate to reflect on the kindness of this offering and the spirit in which it was intended. It also felt important to use a name in the Pali language to confirm the sense of allegiance to the Theravada tradition. The name that was finally settled upon, Abhayagiri, means “Fearless Mountain.”The original Abhayagiri Monastery was in ancient Sri Lanka at Anurādhapura. That monastery was most notable for welcoming practitioners and teachers from many different Buddhist traditions. They lived there amicably alongside one another, distinct in their particular practices but not separate as communities. During the fourth century Abhayagiri housed 5,000 monks.

While primarily a monastic community, visitors may stay at Abhayagiri for brief periods, especially if attending a retreat, if prior arrangements are made. Once a month, the monks go into San Francisco for public teaching sessions. There is also an affiliated sitting group in Berkeley.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery. www.abhayagiri.org.

Amaravati Buddhist Centre. www.amaravati.org.

Cummings, Joe. The Meditation Temples of Thailand: A Guide. Bangkok, Thailand: Wayfarer Books, 1990.

Kornfield, Jack. A Still Forest Pool. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1985.

Sumrdho, Ajahn. The Path to the Deathless. Hemel Hempstead, U.K.: Amaravati, 1985

———. Teachings of a Buddhist Monk. Totnes, U.K.: Buddhist Publication Group,

1990.

Ambedkar Mission

9-850 Tapscott, Scarborough, ON, Canada M1X 1N4

The Ambedkar Mission, founded in Toronto in 1979, is an Indian-based Buddhist mission that follows the ideology and social reform program enunciated by Indian reformer Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar (1891–1956). Born into a family of untouchables, the lowest caste of Indian society, he rose in 1947 to a prominent position in the government of the newly independent India. During his younger days he had suffered the humiliation and discrimination common to life as an untouchable and campaigned against it. Following India’s freedom, he was the country’s first minister for law and chair of the committee to frame a new constitution, which he largely wrote and defended once it was presented for adoption in 1948. One passage of the constitution dealt with the issue of untouchability, at least in the eyes of the law.

Before leaving government service Ambedkar began in 1950 to consider Buddhism as a path to help his people. He attended the Buddhist Conference in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1950 and shortly thereafter decided to become a Buddhist. In so doing he felt he was showing the way away from confusion while necessary changes were made in the economic and political life of the nation. Buddhism was an Indian faith. To deal with the problem of untouchability, a way that did not harm Indian culture or history had to be selected (hence his choice to stay away from Islam and Christianity). He formally embraced Buddhism at a ceremony on October 14, 1956. Unfortunately, he died two months later.

The Ambedkar Mission originally began in Vancouver in 1978 as Ambedkar Memorial Association. After one year Darshan Chaudhary moved from Vancouver to Toronto in June 1979, and Ambedkar Mission was started in the same year with the main objective of propagating the religion and social philosophy of BabaSaheb Dr. Bhim Rao Ambedkar. Yogesh Varhade was the chief organizer at that time. Nasib Sallan was its first president, Ram Parkash Rahul its secretary, Mohan Verdi its treasurer, Jit Lal Jhamat its cultural secretary, and Darshan Chaudhary its joint secretary. Gian Kaura, Mark Vaharade, and Banta Ram Jakkhu were other founding members of the mission. Weekly Buddha puja (service) started at the Toronto Maha Vihara in Scarborough because the mission did not have its own place of worship.

The centers of the mission host monks from India several times annually.

Membership

Not reported. There is an affiliated Ambedkar Memorial Association in Vancouver.

Sources

Ambedkar Mission Canada. ambedkarmission.com.

Dr. Ambedkar Mission International. www.ambedkarmission.org.

Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Bhavana Society

Rte. 1, Box 218-3, Back Creek Rd., High View, WV 26808

The Bhavana Society is an independent Theravada Buddhist organization in the Sri Lankan tradition. The forest monastery was established on May 13, 1982, by the Ven. Bhante Henepola Gunaratana and Matthew Flickstein, offering both novices and advanced meditation students the opportunity to study with Gunaratana and his associate, Bhante Yogacacara Rahula. A variety of retreats are offered monthly, and provisions are made for men and women who wish to eventually take monastic vows.

Gunaratana, the author of Mindfulness in Plain English, has become a popular Theravada teacher, and associated centers have been established as a result of his speaking tours.

Membership

Not reported. There are associated centers in Largo, Florida, and Fairfax, Virginia.

Periodicals

Bhavana Society Newsletter.

Sources

Bhavana Society. www.bhavanasociety.org.

Gunaratana, Henepola. Mindfulness in Plain English. 2nd ed. Somerville, MA: Wisdom Publications, 2002.

Buddhasasananuggaha Association

c/o The Loka Chantha Temple and America Burma Buddhist Association, The Universal Peace Buddha Temple of New York, 619 Bergen St., Brooklyn, NY 11238

The Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw (1904–1982) was born in northern Burma and as a child was recognized for his mastery of Pali Buddhist texts. While still a teenager he was ordained as a bhikkhu (monk). As a monk he pursued further intellectual mastery of the Buddhist texts, to which he added his determination to apply the texts to the practice of meditation. He began a search for an appropriate meditation teacher, which he found in the person of the Most Venerable Mingun Jetavan Sayadaw of Thaton. In 1938 Sayadaw began his own career as a teacher of the intensive practice of satipatthana (mindfulness), directing his work towards lay people, who had had little opportunity to learn the rigorous meditation technique.

He began teaching meditation at a monastery in a village known as Maha-Si Kyaung because of a large (maha) drum (Burmese: si) located there. Those whom he taught gave him the name by which he since has been known, Mahasi Sayadaw (Sayadaw is Burmese for “Great Teacher”). In 1944 Sayadaw completed his best known treatise, The Method of Vipassana Meditation, in which he summarized his view of the process of meditation, in which a consciousness of bodily functions is used to help focus awareness. This type of meditation leads to insight (vipassana) into the impermanent (anicca), unsatisfactory (dukkha), and unsubstantial (anatta) nature of all conditioned (i.e., non-nibbana) phenomena.

Sayadaw died from a heart attack on August 14, 1982. Some years earlier (1947), several Burmese Buddhists had founded the Buddhasasananuggaha Association in Rangoon. Sir U Thwin, its first president, donated a plot of land for the erection of a meditation center and proposed that Mahasi Sayadaw be invited to teach there. The Buddhasasananuggaha Association became the vehicle for the dissemination of the Mahasi Sayadaw meditation technique around the world, and especially in North America since the mid-1960s.

Sayadaw’s approach to Theravada Buddhism and the practice of meditation has been picked up by a number of vipassana centers in the United States, and there are groups of centers especially related to the Buddhasasananuggaha Association, including the Dhammananda Vihara (Half Moon Bay, California), Jetavana Vihara Ky Vien Tu (Washington, D.C.), and the Myanmar Monastery (Columbia, Maryland).

Membership

Approximately one million people worldwide have received formal training in the Mahasi Sayadaw Vipassana technique. There are an estimated several thousand people practicing it in North America. In addition, affiliated centers are found in 39 countries in Asia and Europe.

Sources

Mahasi Sayadaw. Insight through Mindfulness. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication

Society, 1990.

———. Practical Insight Meditation. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 1971 (Excerpt from The Method of Vipas-sana Meditation, 1944). Nyanaponika Thera. The Heart of Buddhist Meditation. York Beach, ME: Samuel Weiser, 1973.

U Sulananda Sayadaw. The Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Boston, MA: Wisdom Publications, 1990.

Cambodian Buddhism

Khmer Buddhist Society of New England, 178 Hanover St., Providence, RI 02907

Significant numbers of Cambodians first arrived in the United States in the wake of the terrors of the Khmer Rouge regime of the mid-1970s, when Buddhism was systematically attacked. Reportedly, of 80,000 monks alive at the beginning of the 1980s, only 800 survived. More than 3,600 temples were destroyed, and more than one-half million Cambodians fled the country. The immigration of Cambodian refugees to the United States peaked around 1982 but continued through the decade.

Most instrumental in the formation of the American Cambodian Buddhist community was the Ven. Maha Ghosananda (b. 1924), a disciple of the former head of the Cambodian Buddhist Sangha, the late Samdech Prah Sangha Raja Chuon Noth. Maha Ghosananda happened to be in Thailand when the worst of the troubles in his homeland began. He had completed his studies and adopted the life of a rural ascetic, when refugees began to flood the quiet area in which he had been living. In 1978 he began to establish Buddhist temples in the refugee camps. In 1981 he went to the United States to head the Cambodian Buddhist community in Rhode Island, which became the base for establishing Buddhist temples in refugee communities around the world. A second office was established in Thailand to bring Buddhist monks to the United States. Between 1983 and 1986 more than 80 monks came to Providence, Rhode Island, and were sent to the 41 temples that were opened in the United States and Canada. Ghosananda personally started 30 of these temples. Some of the temples have prospered, such as the one serving the Washington, D.C., area.

In Cambodia, Buddhism was the religion of the state before the rise to power of the Khmer Rouge, and the chief of state was the head of the Buddhist religious leadership. In the United States the organization of the Buddhist community is undergoing transition as it attempts to reorganize without state support and the larger direct cultural support of the community.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Hein, Jeremy. From Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia: Refugee Experience in the United States. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995.

Whitaker, Donald P., et al. Area Handbook for the Khmer Republic (Cambodia). Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1973.

Center for Buddhist Development

c/o Arizona International Buddhist Meditation Center, 432 S Temple, Mesa, AZ 85204

Alternate Addresses

Calm Village Buddhist Temple, 726 W Baseline, Phoenix, AZ 85041; Los Angeles Buddhist Union, c/o Venerable Bhante Chao Chu, Rosemead Buddhist Monastery, 7833 Emerson Pl., Rosemead, CA 91770.

The Center for Buddhist Development (originally called “Meditation Friends”) began in 1995 with the initiation of meditation sessions for faculty and students of Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. A following developed that included both campus residents and those from the surrounding community, and various sites were occupied until the spring of 1998, when the group moved to its present center, the Calm Village Buddhist Temple in Phoenix. The founder and director of the community is Rev. Kennard-Dhammapala. The widely traveled Dhammapala was ordained as a priest and a monk in the Theravada tradition. He and other leaders in the center have attempted to transcend any particular ethnic Buddhist traditions (e.g., Sri Lankan, Burmese, etc.) in order to focus upon what is considered the “Universal Truths of Sakyamuni Buddha’s Teachings as recorded in the Pali Canon.” In this regard, they are attempting to create an authentically American Buddhism.

The center promotes a program that includes practice in meditation, mindfulness, Dhamma study, and community engagement. Services and classes are offered in English.

Rev. Dhammapala currently serves as a Buddhist minister, ordained by the Sangha Council of Southern California. He leads meditation and discussion groups for English speakers at the Arizona International Buddhist Meditation Center in Mesa and the Calm Village Buddhist Temple in Phoenix. He is a member of the executive committee of the World Buddhist Sangha Council.

Membership

There are three cooperating meditation centers of the Center for Buddhist Development: the Arizona International Buddhist Meditation Center in Mesa, Arizona, the Calm Village Buddhist Temple in Phoenix, Arizona, and the Vipassana Buddhist Church in Jefferson City, Missouri.

Sources

Center for Buddhist Development. aztec.asu.edu/worship/buddhist/.

Dhammakaya International Society of California

865 E Monrovia Pl., Azusa, CA 91702

Dhammakaya International Meditation Center (also known as the Dhammakaya International Society of California) is a Theravada center connected with the Sister of Dhammakaya Foundation of Thailand. It was founded in California in 1992. Since its founding, nine additional branch centers have opened across the United States.

Periodicals

The Light of Peace.

Sources

Dhammakaya International Meditation Center. www.dimc.net.

Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Dharma Dena

c/o Desert Vipassana Center, HC-1, Box 250, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

Ruth Denison emerged in the 1980s as one of the leading Buddhist teachers in North America, and one of the very few female vipassana teachers. She learned meditation in the tradition of Burmese teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899–1971) and founded the Desert Vipassana Center, where she leads a regular schedule of retreats of varying lengths. The center is also open for individual retreats. As a result of her teaching, additional centers have been opened around the United States, including Rocky Mountain Insight in Colorado Springs, Colorado, whose leader Lucinda Green received dharma transmission from Denison.

Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, located in the Mojave Desert in Joshua Tree, southern California, was founded by Denison in 1977. The desert meditation center was blessed by Mahasi Sayadaw and his monks and has served as a zen and vipassana meditation center since the 1970s. Over time, additional buildings and land were acquired. The center has rustic accommodations with a 360-degree view of the mountains and high desert. Students and meditation practitioners come for both formal and self-retreats. Women’s retreats are offered in the spring and fall.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Dharma Dena.dhammadena.googlepages.com.

Dhiravamsa Foundation

1660 Wold Rd., Friday Harbor, WA 98250

The Dhiravamsa Foundation, formerly the Vipassana Fellowship of America, was formed by Dhiravamsa, a Thai monk who went to England in 1964 as chief incumbent monk of the Buddha-padipa Temple. He eventually gave up his monk’s robe, finding it too confining in his work with westerners. In 1969 he went to the United States and began to teach vipassana meditation, the form of meditation traditional to Thai Buddhism. An initial center was established in New England. Dhiravamsa regularly tours the United States speaking, teaching meditation, and holding retreats. Dhiravamsa’s students can also be found in Thailand, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Dhirvamsa. The Way of Non-Attachment. New York: Schocken Books, 1977.

Insight Meditation Society

Pleasant St., Barre, MA 01005

The Insight Meditation Society began offering meditation retreats rooted in the Theravada Buddhist tradition in 1976. The founding teachers were Jack Kornfield, Sharon Salzberg, and Joseph Goldstein, all of whom had spent many years in India and Southeast Asia studying and practicing Vipassana (insight) meditation under the guidance of meditation masters such as Ajahn Chaa, Anagarika Munindra, Goenka, and Dipa Ma, and more recently, several Burmese masters such as Sayadaws U Pandita, Pa Auk, and U Tejaniya. The Insight Meditation Society consists of two centers, the Retreat Center and the Forest Refuge. The Retreat Center offers a yearly schedule of meditation retreats lasting in duration from a weekend to three months. The Forest Refuge is open to experienced meditators for sustained, long-term personal retreats. Stays at the Forest Refuge last from one week to a year or more.

Membership

The society is not a membership organization. In 2008 the society reported 19,000 adherents in the United States, 1,183 in Canada, and an additional 1,157 worldwide.

Educational Facilities

Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, Barre, Massachusetts.

Periodicals

Insight Newsletter.

Sources

Insight Meditation Society. dharma.org/ims/.

Fronsdal, Gil. “Insight Meditation in the United States: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”In The Faces of Buddhism in America, ed. Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Goldstein, Joseph. The Experience of Insight. Boulder, CO: Shambhala, 1976.

———. One Dharma: The Emerging Western Buddhism. New York: HarperCollins, 2002.

Kornfield, Jack. Living Buddhist Masters. Santa Cruz, CA: Unity Press, 1977. Kornfield, Jack, and Paul Brieter. A Still Forest Pool. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical

Publishing House, 1985.

Salzberg, Sharon. Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness. Boston: Shambhala, 1995.

———. Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience. New York: Penguin Putnam,

2002.

———, ed. Voices of Insight. Boston: Shambhala, 1999.

International Organization of Burmese Buddhist Sanghas

c/o Burmese Buddhist Association, 15 W 110 Forest Ln., Elmhurst, IL 60657

Throughout the 1970s, people from Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) began to arrive in the United States. The visit of the Ven. Taungpupu Kaba-Aye Sayadaw and several monks, who were on a goodwill tour in 1979, played an important role in the organization of these new U.S. residents. U. Silananda, one of those monks, decided to remain in the United States to provide leadership for Burmese Buddhists. He founded the Dhammananda Vihara in Daly City, California (serving primarily Burmese Americans), and the Berkeley Vipassana Center (serving primarily non-Asian students). Throughout the 1980s a number of teaching centers emerged, such as the Burmese Buddhist Association in suburban Chicago, founded in 1987. These centers associated with each other in the International Organization of Burmese-Buddhist Sanghas.

Membership

Not reported.

International Buddhist Meditation Center

928 S New Hampshire, Los Angeles, CA 90006

The International Buddhist Meditation Center was founded in 1970 by Thich ThienAn (1926–1980), a Vietnamese monk and scholar who had come to the United States in 1966 as a visiting professor of languages and philosophy at the University of California Los Angeles. Although he had intended to return to Vietnam in 1967, he stayed at the request of a group of students who wanted him to become their teacher. In 1973 he started the College of Oriental Studies as an education enterprise adjacent to the center. Following the fall of Saigon and the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, as one of the few Vietnamese scholars in the United States, Thien-An was called to serve a unique function. His energies began to be directed toward meeting the needs of the masses of war refugees, especially those resettling in the United States. He provided, in part through bilingual monks he had trained, both secular and religious services for the new immigrants. He was especially known for having founded most of the Vietnamese Buddhist temples established in the 1970s in the United States, and was recognized during the last years of his life as the patriarch of Vietnamese Buddhism in America.

Thich Thien-An was of the Lieu-Quan Zen School, which dates to its founder Thiet-Dieu Lein-Quan (d. 1743) in the eighteenth century. It is one of several popular Buddhist schools in Vietnam. However, in the United States, Thien-An began to emphasize a nonsectarian approach to Buddhism that slowly moved toward an indigenous American expression of Buddhist life and thought. As an expression of the nonsectarian approach, Buddhist leaders from a wide variety of national backgrounds and diverging lineages have been invited to teach at the center, and different Buddhist groups have been granted use of the center facilities for their own retreats and teaching sessions. The training of monks has followed a similar pattern, with monks from various traditions serving as preceptors for those in training, and with ordination services borrowing from several traditions.

The Sunday worship service reflects the syncretic nature of Buddhism practiced at the center. Chanting in English, along with the more common chanting in Pali, Sanskrit, and Japanese, forms part of the daily service. Special chantings in Pali, Japanese, and Vietnamese are done in special ceremonies, and then repeated in English. Wedding ceremonies are a blend of eastern and western elements.

The center was conceived as a place where practice and education would integrate to produce the total practitioner. It strives to be one location that combines Sunday services, daily meditation, monthly retreats, and a full range of evening classes to provide both spiritual and educational experiences for the devotee.

The center serves as a residence for 40 members and a training center for both males and females leading to full ordination in the Order of Bhiksus and Bhiksunis. In this regard, it has been the site of a number of historic events in the Buddhist community: the first Grand Ordination Ceremony for Bhiksus in July 1974, the first Grand Ordination for Bhiksunis in August 1976, and the first traditional Grand Ordination in the English language in August 1981. It provided all of the monks who worked as Buddhist chaplains in the three major U.S. refugee camps set up to process Southeast Asian refugees after the Vietnam War. During the five years when the American Vietnamese Buddhist community and the immigrant community functioned as one, the center itself housed 60 refugees and raised the funds to purchase and renovate properties to establish two Buddhist temples in Los Angeles, California.

Thien-An trained and ordained seven monks who are leaders in Buddhist work around the world. Leadership of the center passed to Dr. Karuna Dharma, who has by her own accomplishments during the 1980s emerged as one of the most important leaders in the American Buddhist community. She was one of the moving forces in the foundation and maintenance of the Buddhist Sangha Council of Southern California, and one of the major organizers of the American Buddhist Congress founded in 1987 (she served as a national president of the congress). And she has been the spokesperson for Sakyadhita, the International Association of Buddhist Women, whose headquarters were originally at the center.

In 1994 the center held the first ordination where they ordained bhiksunis in both the Theravada and Tibetan forms of Buddhism.

Membership

In 2002 the center reported approximately 300 members in one center served by seven priests.

Educational Facilities

Thien-An Institute of Buddhist Studies, Los Angeles, California. • College of Buddhist Studies, Los Angeles, California.

Periodicals

Monthly Guide.

Sources

International Buddhist Meditation Center. www.urbandharma.org/ibmc/.

Like a Lotus, Thich Thien-An. Los Angeles: International Buddhist Meditation Center,

[1981].

Thien-An, Thich. Buddhism and Zen in Vietnam. Rutland, VT: Charles E. Tuttle, 1975.

———. Zen Philosophy, Zen Practice. Berkeley, CA: Dharma Publishing, 1975.

International Meditation Center–USA

4920 Rose Dr., Westminster, MD 21158

The International Meditation Center–USA, founded in 1988, is the U.S. branch of the International Meditation Centers, a worldwide Theravada Buddhist organization that grew out of the teachings and practice of Burmese lay teacher Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899–1971), who started teaching in 1951 while still working as an accountant. From 1948 to 1953 he was the accountant general of Burma, and the year before his retirement he founded the International Meditation Center in Rangoon. His teachings emphasized intense practice over theoretical understanding as the road to enlightenment. The International Meditation Centers are currently under the guidance and leadership of Sayamagyi Daw Mya Thwin, chief disciple of Sayagyi U Ba Khin.

Membership

In 2008 the IMC–USA reported 150 members and two resident teachers for the center in Westminster. There are five affiliated centers in Burma, Austria, Australia, and the United Kingdom.

Sources

International Meditation Center–USA. www.ubakhin.org.

Coleman, John E. The Quiet Mind. London: Harper and Row, 1971.

Sayagyi U Ba Khin. Dhamma Texts. Rev. ed. Heddington, U.K.: Sayagyi U Ba Khin Memorial Trust, 1999.

Webu Sayadaw. The Way to Ultimate Calm. Kandy, Sri Lanka: Buddhist Publication Society, 2001.

Lao Buddhist Sangha of the U.S.A.

c/o Wat Lao Boubpharam of San Diego, 205 South 65th St., San Diego, CA 92114

Like other Southeast Asians, Laotians have come to the United States in significant numbers since 1965, and particularly since the end of the Vietnam War. The number of new immigrants quadrupled during the period from 1980 to 1985, and the religious scene was in great flux with new work only beginning to become stabilized in each Laotian community. Temples have been established in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Hein, Jeremy. From Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia: Refugee Experience in the United States. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995.

Stuart-Fox, Martin. “Laos: From Buddhist Kingdom to Marxist State.”In Buddhism and Politics in Twentieth-Century Asia, ed. Ian Harris. London: Pinter, 1999.

Van Esterik, Penny. Taking Refuge: Lao Buddhists in North America. Tempe, AZ: Arizona State University, 1992.

———. “Ritual and the Performance of Buddhist Identity among Lao Buddhists in North America.”In American Buddhism: Methods and Findings in Recent Scholarship, ed. Duncan Ryuken Williams and Christopher S. Queen. Richmond, U.K.: Curzon Press, 1999.

Mid-America Dharma Group

455 E 80th Terr., Kansas City, MO 64131

The Mid-America Dharma Group is an umbrella organization uniting members of vipassana sitting groups in Missouri, Kansas, and Iowa. Though independent, it has close relationships with the Insight Meditation Society, from which it borrows teachers.

The organization’s web site contains a variety of practice resources, including listings for retreats throughout North America and local practice groups. It also offers a number of study resources and a newsletter to keep people up to date on its offerings.

Periodicals

Mid America Dharma News.

Membership

In 1997 there were three groups in Missouri, four in Kansas, and one in Iowa.

Sources

Mid-America Dharma Group. www.midamericadharma.org.

Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Order of Interbeing

Community of Mindful Living, c/o Deer Park, 2499 Melru Ln., Escondido, CA 92026

Among the best known figures to emerge during the Vietnam War was Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926), a Buddhist monk who has traveled the world in his advocacy of peace. Nhat Hanh has been a Buddhist monk since his teenage years. He became a professor at Saigon University, where he was located when the Vietnam War developed. As the war heated up through the 1960s, he became the leader of a group of Buddhists committed to ending the conflict and bringing peace to their land. His efforts were recognized in 1967 when he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In moving out of their isolation into the public sphere, Nhat Hanh and his monastic associates began to articulate what they termed “Engaged Buddhism.” Engaged Buddhism is an attempt to bring Buddhism into contemporary issues— issues that range from helping the victims of war to critiquing government war policies. In this endeavor, at the beginning of 1966 Nhat Hanh founded the Tiep Hien Order and developed its guidelines. The first members were received on Wesak, the Buddha’s birthday.

Nhat Hanh called for members of the order to loosen their attachment to particular doctrines and views, concentrate on realization drawn from direct experience, center themselves on appropriate teaching, and employ skillful means to guide people in their practice of Buddhism. The 14 precepts of the order called upon members to find means of assisting those who suffer, to avoid the accumulation of wealth, and to separate from anger, discord, and untruth. At the same time, he encouraged them to remain centered and not allow the chaos of their environment to dissipate their efforts.

Immediately after the order was founded, Nhat Hanh began to travel the world promoting the peace process in Vietnam. He found ready acceptance among anti-war activists in the United States, an early expression of which was his dialogue in 1975 with the Catholic priest Daniel Berrigan (b. 1921). He also attracted many people who wanted to begin practicing his form of Buddhism, developed from traditional Vietnamese Buddhism that brought together Theravada and Zen in a complex mixture.

Through the 1980s especially, numerous groups sprang up as a result of people being inspired by Nhat Hanh; they exist as a loose network of Buddhist sitting groups and communities. Meanwhile, Nhat Hanh continued to travel throughout the United States and Europe conducting lectures and retreats that directed at both English-speaking and Vietnamese audiences. Exiled from Vietnam for many years, he was allowed to return for trips in 2005 and 2007.

Membership

Groups are found across the United States and in various countries of Asia and Europe, including Norway, France, and Switzerland. There is a core community of approximately 400, of whom 250 live in the United States and 25 in Canada. The larger fellowship includes some 10,000 persons, of whom 8,000 live in the United States and 1,000 in Canada.

Educational Facilities

Buddhist Institute at Plum Village, Loubes-Beancec, France.

Periodicals

The Mindfulness Bell.

Sources

Order of Interbeing. www.orderofinterbeing.org.

Berrigan, Daniel, and Thich Nhat Hanh. The Raft Is Not the Shore. Boston: Beacon Press, 1975.

Kotler, Arnold, ed. Engaged Buddhist Reader. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 1996.

Nhat Hahn, Thich. Interbeing: Commentaries on the Tiep Hien Precepts. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press, 1987.

———. The Miracle of Mindfulness. Boston: Beacon Press, 1975.

———. Zen Keys. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.

Ordinary Dharma

c/o Manzanita Village, PO Box 67, Warner Springs, CA 92086

Ordinary Dharma, founded by Caitriona Reed in 1982, is an independent organization that grew out of the “Engaged Buddhism” generally associated with the Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926), from whom Reed received Dharmacarya transmission. Practice is in the Vietnamese tradition, which combines vipassana and Zen traditions. Practitioners are also called upon to engage in socially relevant activity, especially around issues of peace, deep ecology, and mindfulness in everyday life. Informal relations are maintained with the Spirit Rock Center and the larger vipassana community. Ordinary Dharma, located in Santa Monica, California, maintains Manzanita Village, a rural retreat center.

The Santa Monica center regularly schedules monthly one-day retreats, classes, meditation sessions, study groups, and classes in aikido. Manzanita is home to three annual 10-day retreats and a variety of retreats of shorter duration.

Membership

In 2002 the organization reported 500 members.

Periodicals

Ordinary Kind.

Sources

Ordinary Dharma. www.manzanitavillage.org.

Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Resources for Ecumenical Spirituality

RES Main Office, PO Box 85, Forest Lake, MN 55025-0085

Resources for Ecumenical Spirituality (RES) is a Theravada Buddhist group that was begun to spread interfaith understanding through shared spiritual practice and dialogue. RES offers several retreats, all of which are inspired by the teachings of the Carmelite mystic St. John of the Cross. The retreats integrate Theravadan Buddhist Insight Meditation (vipassana) techniques with St. John’s teachings as a way to practice contemplative prayer. RES sponsors retreats, colloquia, workshops, publications, meditation classes, and other projects related to spiritual practice and study.

Major retreat offerings include Buddhist-Christian Insight Meditation, 12-step Program Insight Meditation, and Loving-kindness (Metta).

Membership

Not reported. In 2008 RES’s web site listed nine active teachers.

Sources

Resources for Ecumenical Spirituality. resecum.org/default.aspx.

Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Saddhamma Foundation

350 Sharon Park Dr. R-1, Menlo Park, CA 94025

The Saddhamma Foundation is a Buddhist nonprofit organization formed in the early 1990s to support the Ven. Sayadaw U Pandita in his efforts to encourage and support the teachings of the Dhamma throughout the world. Sayadaw U Pandita is considered to be one of the leading authorities in the practice of Satipatthana as taught by his instructor, the late Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw. He possesses extensive knowledge in both the theory and practice of samatha and vipassana meditation.

Sayadaw U Pandita serves as the spiritual advisor to retreat centers, monasteries, and Buddhist organizations throughout the world. Since 1951 he has traveled to many countries to lead meditation retreats. Formerly the head “abbot”of Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha, in 2008 he was the Ovadacariya Sayadaw (head “abbot”) of Panditarama monastery in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Saddhamma Foundation has facilitated retreats for Sayadaw U Pandita in the United States and Myanmar (Burma) and since 1995 has developed the Panditarama Forest Meditation Center outside Yangon, Burma. These efforts culminated in the 1998 International Inaugural Retreat. There is a 60-day winter retreat given each year at the center.

Each year, more than 100 meditators from more than 20 countries attend the annual retreat.

Membership

Not reported.

Sources

Saddhamma Foundation. www.saddhamma.org.

Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Sri Lanka Sangha Council of North America

c/o Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, 1847 Crenshaw Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90019

The Sri Lanka Sangha Council of North America (also called the Sri Lanka Buddhist Sangha Council of the United States and Canada) was formed in 1987 by a group of Sri Lankan monks. It grew out of the needs of the burgeoning Sri Lankan Buddhist community that had developed quickly in North America during the 1980s. The American-Sri Lankan community continues the tradition first introduced in the United States by Anagarika Dharmapala, a Ceylonese Buddhist who addressed the World’s Parliament of Religion in 1893. Inspired by his visit, a U.S. chapter of the Maha Bodhi Society was organized, but no permanent Ceylonese Buddhism was established.

Then in 1964, while visiting the United States, the Most Ven. Madihe Panneseeha, Maha Nayake Thera of Ceylon, became aware of an interest in Buddhism and the lack of a center for Theravada Buddhism in the United States. (At that time there was only one small U.S. Theravada Buddhist center, a Thai-inspired center in California headed by Douglas Murray Burns.) Acting upon his suggestion, the Sesana Sevaka Society of Maharagama, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), sent the Ven. Thera Bope Vinita to Washington, D.C., in 1965. The Washington Buddhist Vihara Society was founded that year with assistance from the Ceylonese embassy. In 1967 Vinita was succeeded by the Ven. Pandita Mahathera Dick-wela Piyananda, who was succeeded in turn in 1968 by his assistant, the Ven. Mahathera Henepola Gunaratana, the present (2008) head of the vihara. For many years, it was the only Ceylonese Buddhist center in the United States.

Since 1965, and especially since the late 1970s, Buddhists from Sri Lanka have moved to the United States and settled along both coasts. Monks have arrived to provide leadership for the growing number of Buddhist temples that have emerged. Among the most prominent centers are the Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara in Los Angeles, California, the California Buddhist Vihara Society in Berkeley, California, and the American-Sri Lanka Buddhist Association in New York City. Among the most important of the scholarly leaders of the American-Sri Lankan community is David J. Kalupahana, a professor of philosophy at the University of Hawaii. Sri Lankan Buddhism in North America remains primarily an ethnic religion, though the number of non-Sri Lankans is growing. Assisting in that growth, which is common to Buddhist communities, are the very popular writings of Walpola Rahula, especially his basic introductory text to Ceylonese Buddhism, What the Buddha Taught (1974).

Membership

Not available.

Periodicals

Washington Buddhist. • New York Buddhist.

Remarks

During the twentieth century the Ceylonese Buddhists have been among the most open to potential converts from Western countries, and they have placed considerable emphasis upon the publication of English-language books on Buddhism. Important to any collection of English-language Buddhist literature are the Wheel Publications of the Buddhist Publication Society of Candy, Sri Lanka. Beginning in the 1950s, several hundred titles have appeared and have had a measurable effect in spreading Buddhism in North America.

Sources

Buddha Vadana. Los Angeles: Dharma Vijava Buddhist Vihara, 1985.

Gunaratana, Henepola. Come and See. Washington, DC: Buddhist Vihara Society, n.d.

———. The Path of Serenity and Insight. Delhi, India: Banarsidass, Motilal. 1985.

Kalupahana, David J. Buddhist Philosophy, A Historical Analysis. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1976.

Maha Sthavira Sangharakshita. Flame in Darkness, the Life and Sayings of Anagarika Dharmapala. Pune, India: Triratna Grantha Mala, 1980.

Rahula, Walpola. What the Buddha Taught. New York: Grove Press, 1974.

Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery

18335 Big Basin Hwy., Boulder Creek, CA 95006

The Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery is a center for the teaching of Burmese Buddhism; it was founded in 1981 by the Ven. Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Sayadaw, a Burmese monk then on a goodwill tour of the United States. Dr. Rina Sircar, a long-time student of Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Sayadaw and cofounder of the monastery, serves as the resident meditation teacher. The monastery offers periodic retreats for those already versed in vipassana meditation, the form of meditation most common to Theravada Buddhism. Sircar is also a member of the faculty in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. There is also a second center, Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Meditation Center, in San Francisco.

Membership

Not reported.

Educational Facilities

The center has a cooperative arrangement with Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, by which it accepts students in a quarterly or semester work-study program.

Sources

Sayadaw, Mahasi. Purpose of Practising Kummatthana Meditation. Silver Spring, MD: Burma-America Buddhist Association, n.d.

Thai-American Buddhist Association

c/o Council of Thai Bhikkhus in the U.S.A., 110 Rustic Rd., Centereach, NY 11720

Alternate Address

Wat Thai of Los Angeles, 12909 Cantara St., North Hollywood, CA 91506.

The general unrest in Southeast Asia and the rescinding of the Oriental Exclusion Act in 1965 combined to increase immigration from Thailand to the United States in the late 1960s. Significant Thai-American communities emerged on the West Coast and in several urban areas further inland. Assisted by leadership from Thailand, the new immigrant communities began to organize their predominantly Buddhist religious life. In 1970, at the invitation of the American Thais, the Ven. Pharkhru Vajirathammasophon of Wat Vajirathamsathit toured the United States. During his visit, the Thai-American Buddhist Association was formally organized in Los Angeles, and plans were initiated to build the Wat Thai of Los Angeles, a temple complex that would serve the largest of the Thai communities in the West. Later that year, three priests arrived to take up permanent residence.

The 1971 visit by the Ven. Phra Dhammakosacharn, a leading Thai Buddhist priest, was followed by the incorporation of the Wat Thai as the Theravada Buddhist Center and the beginning of a fund-raising drive. In 1972 the U.S. government invited the supreme patriarch, Phra Wannarat of Wat Phra Jetuphon, and a group of Thai priests to make an official state visit. During this visit, the presentation of the land-title deed for the future site of the Wat Thai was held in the office of the consul general in Los Angeles. The cornerstone was laid and construction commenced. The wat was finished in stages, and in 1980 the statue of Buddha in the main temple was consecrated.

While work on the complex in Los Angeles proceeded, other wats were being organized in other cities, from San Francisco and Denver, Colorado, to Houston, Texas, Washington, D.C., and New York. In June 1976, monks from the several existing Thai temples in the United States gathered in Denver and organized the Council of Thai Bhikkhus in the U.S.A. The Council is assigned the tasks of keeping the monastic practices of the member monks up to standards and of building a sense of unity between monks in the United States and those in Thailand. The Council meets annually.

A major practice of Theravada Buddhism is insight meditation, described as the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the observation point arrived at by the meditator from which he or she can truly understand mental and physical phenomena as they arise. In general, Theravada Buddhists are among the most conservative of Buddhists in their adherence to the oldest traditions. They use the Pali-language texts of early Buddhism, as opposed to the Sanskrit texts used by the Mahayana Buddhists.

Membership

There are approximately 150,000 Thais in the United States, of whom some 50,000 reside in southern California. As of 2008, there were 93 Thai temples/wats scattered across the United States, along with 7 in Canada.

Periodicals

Duangpratip.

Sources

Council of Thai Bhikkhus of the U.S.A. www.thaitemple.org/.

Hamilton-Merritt, Jane. A Meditator’s Diary. New York: Harper & Row, 1976.

Jumsai, M. L. Manich. Understanding Thai Buddhism. Bangkok: Chalermit Press, 1973.

Narasapo, Phra Maha Singhathon. Buddhism: An Introduction to a Happy Life. Bangkok: Preacher’s Association, Wat Phrajetubon, 1969.

Tiep Hien Order

c/o Parallax Press, PO Box 7355, Berkeley, CA 94707

Alternate Address

International Network of Engaged Buddhists, PO Box 1, Ongkharak, Nakhorn Nayok, Thailand.

Among the more well-known figures to emerge during the Vietnam War was Thich Nhat Hanh (1926–), a Buddhist monk who traveled the world in his advocacy of peace. Nhat Hanh had been a Buddhist monk since his teenage years. He was a professor at Saigon University as the Vietnam War developed. As the war heated up through the 1960s, Nhat Hanh became the leader of a group of Buddhists committed to ending the conflict and bringing peace to their land. His efforts were recognized in 1967 when he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

In moving out of their isolation and into the public sphere, Nhat Hanh and his monastic associates began to articulate what they termed “Engaged Buddhism.” Engaged Buddhism is an attempt to bring Buddhism into contemporary issues— issues that range from helping the victims of war to critiquing government war policies. In this endeavor, at the beginning of 1964, Nhat Hanh founded the Tiep Hien Order and developed its guidelines. The first members were received on Wesak, the Buddha’s birthday.

Nhat Hanh called for members of the order to lose their attachment to particular doctrines and views, to concentrate on realization drawn from direct experience, center themselves on appropriate teaching, and employ skillful means to guide people in their practice of Buddhism. The 14 precepts of the order called upon members to find means of assisting those who suffer, to avoid the accumulation of wealth, and to separate from anger, discord, and untruth. On the other hand, he encouraged them to remain centered and not allow the chaos of their environment to dissipate their efforts.

Immediately after the order was founded, Nhat Hanh began to travel the world on behalf of the peace process in Vietnam. He found a ready acceptance among antiwar activists in the United States, an early expression of which was his dialogue with Catholic priest Daniel Berrigan in 1975. He also attracted many people who wanted to begin practicing his form of Buddhism developed from traditional Vietnamese Buddhism that brought together Theravada and Zen in a complex mixture.

Through the 1980s, numerous groups formed as a result of people being inspired by Nhat Hanh, and now exist as a loose network of Buddhist sitting groups and communities. Meanwhile, Nhat Hanh travels through the United States and Europe in a constant series of lectures and retreats that are directed at both English-speaking and Vietnamese audiences. Worldwide, work is carried on through the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, headquartered in Thailand.

Membership

Not reported. Groups are found across the United States and in various countries of Europe, including Norway, France, and Switzerland.

Periodicals

Mindfulness Bell. • Seeds of Peace. Available from the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, PO Box 1, Ongkharak, Nakhorn Nayok, Thailand.

Sources

Berrigan, Daniel, and Thich Nhat Hanh. The Raft Is Not the Shore. Boston, MA: Beacon,

1975.

Nhat Hahn, Thich. Interbeing: Commentaries on the Tiep Hien Precepts. Berkeley, CA:

Parallax, 1987.

———. The Miracle of Mindfulness. Boston, MA: Beacon, 1975.

———. Zen Keys. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.

Viet Nam Buddhists

c/o Congregation of Vietnamese Buddhists in the U.S., 863 S Berendo, Los Angeles, CA 90005

Because of the resettlement of the many Vietnamese Buddhists who entered the United States after the Vietnam War, Vietnamese temples far outnumber the temples of other Southeast Asian groups, and they may be found in all sections of the United States. The temples serve first-generation Vietnamese Americans, and services are conducted in Vietnamese. Vietnamese Buddhism is distinctive in the way it has merged Theravada and Zen. Among the leading spokespersons for Vietnamese Buddhism is Thich Nhat Hanh (b. 1926), who became known to Americans during the Vietnam War as a peace advocate. He works closely with the Fellowship of Reconciliation.

Membership

Not reported. There are an estimated 900,000 Vietnamese in the United States, concentrated in southern California. Although a large number of them are Roman Catholics, the majority are Buddhists. Centers are found across the United States, including several located in Los Angeles and Orange County in California.

Sources

Barber A. W., and Cuong T. Nguyen. “Vietnamese Buddhism in North America: Tradition and Acculturation.”In The Faces of Buddhism in America, ed. Charles S. Prebish and Kenneth K. Tanaka. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998.

Fields, Rick. Taking Refuge in L.A. New York: Aperture Foundation, 1987.

Hanh, Thich Nhat. The Miracle of Mindfulness. Boston: Beacon Press, 1976.

———. Zen Keys. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1974.

The Presence of Vietnamese Buddhists in America. Los Angeles: Vietnamese Buddhist

Temple, 1981.

Vipassana Meditation Centers

386 Colrain-Shelburne Rd., Shelburne, MA 01370-9672

The Vipassana Meditation Centers have grown out of the teachings and practices of the Buddha as taught by Satya Narayan Goenka (b. 1924), a prominent Burmese meditation teacher. Formerly a businessman, Goenka had turned to vipassana meditation as a means to cure migraine headaches. The meditation not only cured him but also led him to drop his business career and become the student of Sayagyi U Ba Khin (1899–1971), with whom he studied for 14 years. In 1969 he moved to India and conducted his first classes that same year. He established the Vipassana International Academy near Mumbai, India, in 1976.

The first U.S. center, in Shelburne, Massachusetts, was founded in 1982, and subsequently 11 other centers have been opened, in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Goenka’s work has spread around the world with 80 centers in 25 countries.

Membership

Not reported. In 2008 there were 10 Vipassana Centers found across the United States and Canada and one in Mexico.

Sources

Vipassana Meditation Center Dhamma Dharā. www.dhara.dhamma.org.

Vipassana Meditation International. www.dhamma.org.

Goenka, S. N. The Gracious Flow of Dharma. Igatpuri, India: Vipassana Research Institute, 1994.

Hart, William. The Art of Living Vipassana Meditation as Taught by S. N. Goenka. San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1993.

Morreale, Don. The Complete Guide to Buddhist America. Boston: Shambhala, 1998.

Theravada Buddhism

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article