If you’re from one of the reddish areas, Happy New Year!
My first post was a similar new year greeting nearly four years ago. Since then I’ve gone off to be the Angry Asian Buddhist and let my own writing here die down as my talented co-bloggers John, Oz and kudos have taken up some of the slack. There is so much that I have learned about writing and the Buddhist community in these past four years, from my earlier writing on Buddhist Americans to what turned out to be Dharma Folk’s most popular post ever.
Hopefully in this new year I will make more time to write here. There is much that I’d like to share about my practice and my community. For example, this year’s New Year was the most exciting new year that I’ve perhaps ever enjoyed, and being replete with Buddhist themes, it’s an experience I would love to share on this blog. But before then, we Dharma Folk might focus our energies to apply a more unique theme to the site.
Most of my early meditation education happened in the shade of a tree. But in place of lotusly postures, I was sprawled, my legs some variety of akimbo. My body was emanating wavy lines in the summer heat, and I was covered in painful yellow cartoon lightning bolts.
I had just experienced my first yoga class. My car was a mile walk up a steep hill, and I was not going to make it.
I wouldn’t meditate in a serious way until a year later when I went to university, but the first day of laying in a destroyed heap was an underline beneath the lesson I would learn over the coming months: breathing mattered. Read more
Members of my generation will remember from their childhood the Power Rangers. In fact, the American television series is still with us as I recently found out the original season was being broadcasted last year, and that there are plans to renew the show with a 19th season.
I loved the Power Rangers. I recall watching the show at every chance, eagerly anticipating the two movies as they premiered, and reenacting scenes with my companions. Most tangibly, I remember playing with my Green Ranger action figure. Readers of my generation may disagree, but the Green Ranger was the most badass of them all. Originally conceived as a foil to the five rangers (Red, Blue, Yellow, Pink and Black), he eventually overcame the wickedness gripping through his mind and joined the group in combating evil.
Playing with my Green Ranger figurine meant hours of fun, either by myself or with my friends as we joined forces. This was cool. Even when not playing with the toy, I arranged it to strike a pose as we waited until the next time.
It’s been quiet around this blog lately. Last month was the
first second in over two years that none of us bothered to post anything. Not for any lack of material—it’s just that other priorities won out.
When we began this blog, we did so figuring that we had unique perspectives to offer the online Buddhist community. All of us are young Buddhists who’ve been highly engaged in the community on the ground—each in our own way, and in ways you’re unlikely to find elsewhere on the Buddhist blogosphere. Our posts may not directly reference this involvement, but it’s hard to overstate how much these experiences guide our writing.
The flow of posts has slowed precipitously over the past year. The initial pull that brought us online has diminished, and so most of us have come to prefer sharing our practice offline. For my part, I’ve funneled my scant spare time and energy into “Angry Asian Buddhist” topics on the eponymous blog.
In the past few months, several Buddhists have approached me offline to encourage us to post more often. They have all been Asian Americans with an interest in deepening their practice and understanding of Buddhism. They have found little inspiration in many of the institutions they’d investigated, and were interested in hearing more from voices of young people like them. My goal for this coming year, then, is to publish at least once a month on my thoughts and experiences surrounding my personal practice in the context of being an Asian American Buddhist.
I hope my cobloggers join me as well. I deeply miss their posts—and their writing is much more eloquent and insightful than my own.
But that’s not all. We could use more writers. I’m especially interested in the voices of young Asian American Buddhist women. The community is seriously lacking our sisters’ voices in the discussion! I’m happy to publish guest posts as well. If you’d like to contact us, just leave a comment, and we’ll get back to you.
I’d like to revamp the site too—but that may be for another year.
May you all have a happy and peaceful new year!
Yesterday I found out that a man we will call Dr. G suffered a stroke. He lived, though he has lost a great deal of mobility and his doctors are unsure how much he will recover.
Dr. G had been my mother’s employer for over twenty years and occupied a space in our family that I think few families have, and that is filled by a scant number of people. I have never shared a meal with Dr. G, though he has mussed my hair and gave me a sincere congratulations when I was admitted to university. Though I know the man, I know little of the content of his past. I know that he grew up in the midwest to parents of modest means and played football in his youth. I know that he did not play golf. Read more
This weekend I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Lancaster, the brilliant and pioneering professor of Buddhist Studies, who gave a lecture at Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights. The title of his talk was “How Religions Learn,” though in the same way as many of my favorite speakers he used the talk as an opportunity to weave together his most recent thoughts and questions.
But Dr. Lancaster’s topic is a point of interest for me. It points to an uneasy contradiction in any religion’s self-composed history: religions must learn and change to respond to the spiritual needs of the people, but one of these fundamental needs is to have an absolute and unchanging truth to anchor ourselves to.
I worry that this contradiction is becoming increasingly insurmountable, and that religion is entering a place where it can no longer learn.
Over on Dharma Mirror, Trang Tran writes about the grief surrounding the passing of the family dog Tony.
Paradoxically, his death brought to life the impermanence of our existence and how the greatest and truest love that you could ever give to anybody is in their darkest moment—the moment when they need you the most. Whether it’s your children, parents, or even a dog that you love and cherish with all your heart, you carry that love and compassion with you into your next life.
It’s a touching and topical post for me. When I was younger I remember being told of how we are all just shadows briefly passing over the earth. In that short time, it’s really up to us whether we decide it to be filled with love and happiness, or with anxiety and frustration. It’s why we should never miss the opportunity to share our metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha.
Due to a cruelly prolonged illness, my aunt made the decision that upon her death, there would be no viewing, no funeral. Straight to the crematorium she’d go. In illness, there are plenty of things that other people can do to make your life easier. But when you die, you’re dead. Maybe. Buddhist tradition provides a number customs to help the deceased, but I had no idea what they were.
I’ve been blogging with the assumption that I could always find time to sit down for thirty minutes and blog, even if it meant copying a paragraph from a news story and adding some inane commentary. Even with the onslaught of budget deadlines that cannot be fudged (without the loss of flesh and blood), I can usually find the time to stack up posts for the week. Add in a death in the family, and my blogging goes on hold.
I spent this weekend Obon hopping, and it wasn’t until tonight when I popped open my email client that I read that Michelle Maykin had passed away. You probably haven’t heard of Michelle. You probably haven’t heard of her husband Van, who started Project Michelle, an outreach program to find the one bone marrow donor who could save Michelle’s life. This program focused on education, outreach and bone marrow registration drives, all motivated by Michelle’s story and by the unparalleled enthusiasm of her family, friends and even people who never knew her. Her story and struggle have reminded me of the incredible positive impact we can have in our short lives. After all, at the age of just 27, Michelle could claim credit to inspiring four individuals who donated their stem cells, 15 others who are currently being tested for other patients and 110 more who have been identified as possible matches. Not to mention the thousands of others who joined the National Marrow Donor Registry because of Project Michelle. She helped save lives. She raised awareness of the urgency for Asian Americans to contribute to the national Marrow Registry, where Asian Americans and other minorities are vastly less likely to find the necessary exact donor match than their White counterparts. For mixed race Americans, the chance of finding this perfect match is roughly zero. Please help celebrate Michelle’s life by joining the National Marrow Donor Registry if you haven’t already. You can even order a home kit in the mail, which is free if you are a minority. You might just save a life. May her memory be a blessing.