Materialien zum Neobuddhismus


Wilhelm II.: "Völker Europas, wahrt Eure heiligsten Güter!"

4. USA und Hawaii

8. Theravadabuddhismus in den USA

von Alois Payer


Zitierweise / cite as:

Payer, Alois <1944 - >: Materialien zum Neobuddhismus.  --  4. USA und Hawaii. -- 8. Theravadabuddhismus in den USA. -- Fassung vom 2005-07-11. -- URL: -- [Stichwort].

Erstmals publiziert: 2005-06-22

Überarbeitungen: 2005-07-11 [Ergänzungen]; 2005-07-08 [Ergänzungen]; 2005-06-30 [Ergänzungen]; 2005-06-23 [Ergänzungen]

Anlass: Lehrveranstaltung Neobuddhismus, Univ. Tübingen, SS 2005

Copyright: Dieser Text steht der Allgemeinheit zur Verfügung. Eine Verwertung in Publikationen, die über übliche Zitate hinausgeht, bedarf der ausdrücklichen Genehmigung des Verfassers.

Creative Commons-Lizenzvertrag
Diese Inhalt ist unter einer Creative Commons-Lizenz lizenziert.

Dieser Text ist Teil der Abteilung Buddhismus von Tüpfli's Global Village Library

0. Übersicht

1. Einleitung

Hintergrund: der Vietnamkrieg und der Secret War in Laos

Zum Vietnamkrieg siehe:

Payer, Alois <1944 - >: Materialien zum Neobuddhismus.  --  4. USA und Hawaii. -- 7. Vietnamesischer Buddhismus in den USA. -- URL:

"The Secret War (1962-1975) was the Laos front of the Second Indochina War.

After the Geneva Conference established Laotian neutrality, North Vietnam continued to operate in southeastern Laos along the hidden Ho Chi Minh trail, which was barely inside Laotian territory. Deep inside an inpenetrable jungle, the Ho Chi Minh trail was designed for North Vietnamese troops to infiltrate South Vietnam and to aid the Viet Cong.

To disrupt these operations without direct military involvement, the United States Central Intelligence Agency trained a force of some thirty thousand Laotians, mostly local Hmong tribesmen, led by General Vang Pao, a Hmong military leader. This Secret Army, supported by Air America and the Royal Lao Air Force, fought the North Vietnamese, Viet Cong, and their Pathet Lao allies to a standstill, greatly aiding U.S. interests in the war.

Although the existence of the "Secret War" was sometimes reported in the U.S., details were largely unavailable due to official government denials that the war even existed. Despite these denials, however, the Secret War was actually the largest U.S. covert operation prior to the Afghan-Soviet War, with areas of communist-controlled Laos subjected to three million tons of bombing, representing the heaviest U.S.-led bombing campaign since World War II."

[Quelle: -- Zugrif am 2005-06-19]

Zum Beispiel: Laoten, Kambodschaner, Thais, Birmanen in Chicago

"Laotians [in Chicago]

Until the end of the Vietnam War in the 1970s unleashed a massive influx of refugees, few Southeast Asians had migrated to the United States. Millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians, and Laotians fled to refugee camps in Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia after the ascension of Communist regimes in 1975. The plight of these refugees attracted international attention when camps were overwhelmed and had to turn away new arrivals. Canada, Australia, and France began accepting refugees from the camps, and nearly one million entered the United States in the largest refugee resettlement program in the nation's history. Over 230,000 Laotians arrived in the United States between 1975 and 1992, including both lowland ethnic Lao and highland Hmong. Assisted by social service organizations, Laotians settled throughout the nation and have since migrated within the United States, forming their largest communities in California, Texas, Minnesota, and Washington. Between 1975 and 1983, 3,500 Laotians settled in Chicago, primarily in the Uptown and Albany Park neighborhoods, while many more settled in the suburbs of Elgin, Aurora, Rockford, and Joliet, where the availability of refugee programs and services facilitated community growth.

Laotian immigrants have faced a difficult process of adjustment to life in metropolitan Chicago. Many Laotians came from rural backgrounds, spoke little English, and had few transferable occupational skills and limited language skills and education. While a few Laotian businesses, particularly Lao groceries, have been established in areas with large Laotian communities like Elgin, many Laotians have sought factory jobs that do not require English skills. Federal grants and social service agencies such as the YWCA's Refugee Project in Elgin have provided services to facilitate adjustment. In addition, the community has built its own organizations and programs. Drawing on informal networks of mutual assistance, Laotians in Chicago established Lao American Community Services (LACS) in 1984 to assist newcomers and preserve Lao cultural heritage. LACS provides a variety of services, including job training and placement, youth services, English-language instruction, citizenship classes, health care services, and counseling. It also brings the community together through cultural programming like classical Laotian dance classes and activities.

Religious institutions serve important spiritual, social, and cultural needs and are at the center of vibrant Laotian communities in the city and suburbs. Most Laotians are Buddhist, and in Laos the temple, or wat, is the center of village life and Buddhist philosophy an important part of traditional values. Buddhism remains an important part of life in metropolitan Chicago for most Laotians, and Buddhist temples in Elgin, Rockford, and Chicago draw these communities together for holy days, chanting, and meditation. Some Laotians have converted to Christianity and established Lao churches in Rockford and Elgin. These churches serve as centers of small religious communities, offering services to members and creating differences with Laotian Buddhists that are not only religious but cultural. The Lao New Year in mid-April and funerals are the two events that bring together Laotians of all faiths.

"Cambodians [In Chicago]

Although a small number of Cambodians, many of them affiliated with the U.S. military, immigrated to Chicago prior to 1975, most of the Cambodians in Chicago came as refugees in the years following 1975, when the brutal Khmer Rouge regime seized control of Cambodia, killing millions. With the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge by Vietnamese forces in 1979, refugees escaped on foot to camps in Thailand, where international voluntary agencies assisted their emigration. From 1979 to 1985, groups like Catholic Charities, Lutheran Child and Family Services, Jewish Family and Community Service (a local affiliate of Hebrew Immigration Association), Travellers and Immigrants Aid, and Third World Services, along with many family sponsors, helped thousands of Cambodians settle in Chicago.

The 2000 census counted 3,364 Cambodians in the metropolitan area, though community estimates ran to several times that number. Many settled in the economically disadvantaged area of Uptown, which presented its own inner-city obstacles to survival for the refugees. As years passed, others settled in Albany Park, making it and Uptown the two major Cambodian neighborhoods in the city.

The Cambodian Association of Illinois (CAI) was founded in 1976 by a group of Cambodian volunteers in cooperation with the Chicago Office of Refugee Resettlement to assist the war-torn Cambodian refugees, many of whom came alone and almost all of whom had lost family members during the Khmer Rouge regime. Since many were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and had limited education (most educated Cambodians had been killed by the Khmer Rouge), CAI fostered educational, health, aid, and cultural programs to help the refugee community with its ongoing battle for survival. In 1980, CAI was formally incorporated and established its first community headquarters at 1105 W. Lawrence.

Other centers of the Cambodian community were established during the 1980s as refugees continued to arrive. In 1986 and 1989, respectively, the Cambodian Buddhist Association (1228 W. Argyle) and the Kampuchean Buddhist Society (4716 N. Winthrop) were founded as spiritual centers for Chicago's Cambodian community. In 1979, Uptown Baptist Church began to hold services in the Khmer language.

With limited education, most Cambodian refugees sought jobs in factories, crafts, and blue-collar service jobs. English as a Second Language and other educational programs provided at CAI helped Cambodians to adjust to American life, but poverty remained a major problem, with 49 percent of Cambodians in Chicago living beneath the poverty line at the end of the 1990s.

Although relations between Cambodians and other Southeast Asian groups such as Laotians and Vietnamese became increasingly friendly in the United States, the Cambodian community has remained a largely separate group in Chicago. In 1999, CAI moved its headquarters to an expanded facility, located at 2831 W. Lawrence, which continued to serve as the focal point for the Cambodian community. Continuing its aid programs for the immigrants (who in 1999 still constituted 80 percent of the community), the CAI also sponsored youth programs such as the Cambodian Traditional Dance Troupe, the Khmer Future Leaders Project, and Cambodian Youth Council. These aimed to preserve the Cambodian culture among the first generation of Cambodians born in America.

"Thais [in Chicago]

Thai immigration to metropolitan Chicago has mirrored national immigration patterns for this Southeast Asian population group. Few Thais came prior to the liberalization of U.S. immigration laws in 1965, but steady increases since the 1970s made Thais one of the 10 largest Asian groups in the region by the end of the twentieth century with more than 6,000 counted by the 2000 census.

Thai nurses, among the first to arrive locally, hosted community gatherings in their homes during the early years and were instrumental in organizing the first notable public event—commemoration of the king of Thailand's birthday in December 1965. Community leaders founded the Thai Association of Greater Chicago in 1969, which incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1982 and changed its name to the Thai Association of Illinois in 1989. The Thai Association serves both cultural and advocacy functions for the local Thai community, highlighting each year by sponsoring a celebration of the king's birthday.

Three occupational clusters have predominated among local Thai immigrants in recent decades: restaurants, sales and service, and professional fields, especially in medicine. Important professional organizations include the Thai Nurses Association of Illinois (1982), the Thai Engineer Association of Illinois (1988), and a local branch of the Thai Physicians Association of America (1978). Two charitable organizations with specific geographical ties to Thailand have also emerged: the Thai American Southerner Association of Illinois (1975) and the Thai Northerner Association of Illinois (1984).

Most Thais practice Theravada Buddhism, Thailand's national religion. Thai monks, the focal point of Theravada piety, visited Chicago as early as 1972. Local Thai leaders established the Thai Buddhist Center in 1974, which evolved into the first Thai temple, Wat Dhammaram (legally known as the Thai Buddhist Temple, incorporated 1976). Wat Dhammaram occupied a former Christian church in West Town between 1976 and 1983, when it relocated to a former public elementary school near 75th Street and Harlem Avenue in unincorporated southwest Cook County. In the early 1990s the temple opened a striking new multipurpose hall dedicated to Queen Sirikit of Thailand. Four more Thai Buddhist temples have opened since the mid-1980s: Buddhadharma Meditation Center in Hinsdale and Natural Buddhist Meditation Temple of Greater Chicago in Burbank (both established 1986), Wat Phrasriratanamahadhatu in Uptown (1993), and Dhammakaya International Meditation Center of Chicago in Jefferson Park (1997). Two local Thai Christian congregations exist, both of which meet in Forest Park: the Thai Community Church of Chicago (1988) and the Thai Presbyterian Church of Chicago (1992).

As in other U.S. metropolitan regions, Thai settlement has dispersed throughout greater Chicago. Substantial residential presence can be found on the city's North Side and in northern and southern suburban Cook County, with DuPage County claiming the next highest number of Thais. Some Thai physicians have located their practices in nearby states, particularly Michigan, though they maintain ties to the Chicago region.

"Burmese [In Chicago]

Burmese immigrants began coming to Chicago in large numbers in the early 1960s. A nation encompassing three major ethnic groups—Indians, Chinese, and ethnic Burmese—Burma (Myanmar) was overrun by an anti-Communist military dictatorship in 1962. Nationalizing businesses and industry, the military regime prompted thousands of Indians and Chinese to flee to Nepal and Taiwan, from which some eventually emigrated to American cities. In 1964, the military targeted members of the opposing Burmese Socialist Program Party, prompting its members as well as political moderates to flee the country. Human rights violations and political repression continued through 1988, when a major student uprising in favor of democracy was crushed in Rangoon, sending thousands more into exile on the Burma/Thailand border.

By 1967, Chicago had become a destination for Burmese of all ethnicities able to obtain passports through bribery and political connections. Well-educated Burmese immigrants found relatively easy entry to the United States during the Vietnam War era and established a chain migration pattern to the city. In 1991–92, following the student rebellion, several hundred Burmese exiles living in camps in Thailand were granted entry to the United States as refugees. Many received assistance from voluntary agencies and sponsors in Fort Wayne, Indiana, from which some later moved to Chicago.

By the late 1960s, Chicago had a sizeable community of Burmese immigrants, who in 1970 founded two organizations to provide aid and a cultural center for the newcomers. The Burmese-Chinese Association was established in Chinatown, where many of the ethnic Chinese from Burma settled. The Burmese-American Association of Chicago served members of the ethnic Burmese community, many of whom lived on the North Side, though not concentrated in any particular neighborhood. These associations provided the center of the Burmese community through the 1970s. By 1980, there were perhaps 500 Burmese families living in Chicago.

Most Burmese and Chinese Burmese practice Theravada Buddhism. In 1984 the Burmese Buddhist Association was formed. In 1987, the association purchased a building in Elmhurst which became its headquarters. The Buddhist Association grew throughout the late 1980s and early 1990s, maintaining cultural activities and religious holidays like the “Waso” and “Kathina” robe offerings, and the annual “Thingyan” celebration in April, in which the community pays its respects to elders. The Burmese Buddhist Association also continued to sponsor community picnics and social affairs.

In the wake of the defeated 1988 student uprising, some members of Chicago's Burmese community united in a strong political movement. The Burmese Community Development Association was organized in 1989 to send moral support to freedom fighters in the homeland, as well as to apply diplomatic pressure to the U.S. government and promote military intervention. At a conference in Chicago in 1990, the Development Association united with 10 other Burmese Associations from around the world to create the Burma Democratic Council International, which protested the military government in Burma/Myanmar and supported the resistance.

Community leaders estimated approximately 2,000 Burmese of all three ethnicities in Chicago at the close of the twentieth century. Many were working in service industries or in professions and generally considered themselves middle class. Because many hope to return to Burma in the future, close ties remain between the immigrants and the homeland. In 1991, Burmese doctors assembled to form the Midwest Burmese Medical Association. Members collected medical equipment and raised funds to donate to hospitals in Burma, and they traveled to Burma to instruct health care workers there.


Abb.: Vipassana Lineages
[Bildquelle: Rawlinson, Andrew <1943 - >: The book of enlightened masters : western teachers in eastern traditions. -- Chicago : Open Court, ©1997.  -- xix, 650 S. : Ill. ; 25 cm..  -- ISBN: 0812693108. -- S. 593]


Ven. Havanpola Ratnasara kommt aus Sri Lanka nach New York als Delegierter bei der Generalversammlung der Vereinten Nationen. Er ist der erste buddhistische Mönch in einer solchen Stellung.

1962 - 1975

Secret War der USA in Laos.


Gründung des (sri lankischen) Washington Buddhist Vihara, des ersten Theravadatempels in den USA

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-21

"The Washington Buddhist Vihara, founded in 1965, and incorporated as a Society in 1966, under the patronage of Most Venerable Madihe Pannasiha Mahanayaka Thera, with Venerable Bope Vinitha Thera as its first President is a religious and educational center dedicated to presenting Buddhist thought, practice, and culture. It is staffed by resident monks who are available to discuss the various aspects of Buddhism, teach meditation, offer informal courses and by invitation, give lectures and meditation workshops at universities, schools, churches, and community groups.

The Vihara also operates a Buddhist Book Service with a mail order service; a free list of current stock is available on request. The Vihara Library, contains works covering all facets of Buddhism. Every Sunday at 3.00 p.m. there is a devotional service which is followed by Dhamma discussion and meditation. Visitors, regardless of religious affiliation, are invited to participate in Vihara activities as well as come in and browse in the library and Book Service. The meditation room and shrine room are always open for individual meditation and devotion."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-21]


Abb.: Henepola Gunaratana
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-14]

Der Mönch Henepola Gunaratana (1927 - ) kommt aus Sri Lanka in die USA

"Henepola Gunaratana was born on the 7th of December, 1927 in a small village named Henepola and ordained at the age of 12 as a Buddhist monk at a small temple in Malandeniya Village in Kurunegala District in Sri Lanka. His preceptor was Venerable Kiribatkumbure Sonuttara Mahathera. He received his basic Buddhist education at a small monks' school called Vidyasekhara Pirivena, Gampaha. At the age of 20 he was given higher ordination in Kandy in 1947. He received his higher education from Vidyalankara College in Kelaniya and Buddhist Missionary College of Mahabodhi Society in Colombo. Subsequently he was sent to India for five years of missionary work for the Mahabodhi Society, serving the Harijana (untouchable) people in Sanchi, Delhi, and Bombay. Later he spent ten years as a missionary in Malaysia, serving as religious advisor to the Sasana Abhivurdhiwardhana Society, Buddhist Missionary Society and the Buddhist Youth Federation of Malaysia. He has been a teacher in Kishon Dial School and Temple Road Girls' School and Principal of the Buddhist Institute of Kuala Lumpur.

At the invitation of the Sasana Sevaka Society, Bhante Gunaratana came to the United States in 1968 to serve as Hen. General Secretary of the Buddhist Vihara Society of Washington, D.C. In 1980 he was appointed President of the Society. During his years at the Vihara, he has taught courses in Buddhism, conducted meditation retreats, and lectured widely throughout the United States and Canada. He has also pursued his scholarly interests by earning a B.A., an M.A., and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from The American University. He taught courses on Buddhism at The American University, Georgetown University, Bucknell University, PA, and University of Maryland. Also he has lectured at many universities in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand.

He is the author of Come and See, The Path of Serenity and Insight, The Jhanas, and Mindfulness In Plain English (1994 Wisdom Publication's best seller list ). His articles have been published in the U.S.A., Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, England and France.

Bhante Gunaratana was the Buddhist chaplain at The American University, counseling students interested in Buddhism and Buddhist meditation. He is now president of the Bhavana Society and abbot of the monastery in West Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley, about 100 miles west of Washington, D.C. He continues to teach meditation and conduct retreats worldwide."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-14]


Eröffnung des Wat Thai Washington DC (วัดไทยกรุงวอชิงตัน,ดี.ซี. )

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07


In 1971, the new Thai communities of the greater Washington, DC metropolitan area began to realize their need for a religious center. They felt that although their new life in America was rich materially, they faced a spiritual void that could only be filled by a Thai Buddhist Temple (Wat). They also knew a wat would provide the Thai people with a cultural center in the diverse city of Washington, DC. A group of Thai Buddhists in the area formed a group that was originally known as the Assembly of Buddhists. This group made a connection with the Wat Thai in Los Angeles, and monks from this wat visited Washington, DC to perform rituals and spend time with the Thai community. The group formally changed its name in November 1971 to the Buddhist Association of Washington, DC and contained members from the Royal Thai Embassy that served as advisors. The Association began the difficult task of raising funds to build a wat.


The Association decided to use some of the funds they collected to establish a monks' residence. They rented a house, and two monks moved to the Washington area from Thailand. The first ceremony was held on July 5, 1974 and marked the official establishment of Wat Thai Washington DC. The congregation began to grow rapidly and the need for a much larger space soon became apparent. The first relocation of Wat Thai took place in 1980, to a site three times the size of the previous one. It soon became apparent, however, that the community was also going to out grow this space and so the temple moved once again.


This time great care was taken to find a location with enough room for growth and expansion. The wat Thai moved to their present location in Silver Spring, Maryland in 1986. At this time, the Thai community worked with the local government to classify the temple as a place of worship under Maryland law. The main building of the site was built between 1993 and 1995. This building now serves as the main prayer hall for ceremonies and houses meditation and classes down stairs. The temple also consists of the monks' residence and a large kitchen with adjacent rooms. The grounds are also kept impeccably and often function as second dinning room. The site of Wat Thai Washington DC serves the Thai community of the DC area for many different events, and can house over five thousand people. The Buddhist Association in Washington, DC, presently still administers Wat Thai. The Association is divided into two committees in terms of governance of the wat: the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. The members of these committees are representative from the Royal Thai Embassy, Thai scholars, Thai professionals and other elected individuals. The Board of Directors elects the President of the Buddhist Association in Washington, DC, the Chairperson of the Board, and the Vice-Chairperson of the Board. The resident monks serve as the Advisory Committee, and are headed by the Abbott.

Activities and Schedule

The temple offers weekly meditation and study sessions. These classes are open to the public, but are attended regularly by small groups of Wat Thai members. The schedule of these weekly activities is as follows: Chanting (in Pali) takes place daily from 6:00-6:45 a.m. and from 6:00-6:45 p.m.
Meditation and Dhamma Discussion takes place every Saturday from 3:00-5:00pm (in Thai) and from 7:00-9:00pm (meditation) 9:00-10:00pm (dhamma)
Meditation and Dhamma Discussion takes place every Sunday from 2:00-4:00 pm (in English)
Thai Language Classes take place every Monday and Thursday from 7:00-9:00pm
Collecting Alms (Binda-Bata) takes place on the first Sunday of every month at 7:00am
The most popular of these activities is the Saturday night meditation and Dhamma Discussion. This activity is regularly attended by ten to fifteen people and is lead by one of the monks. The same activity is conducted in English on Sundays but is only attended by about four to five people. Music and dance lessons are also taught at the temple, and students attend these classes about four times a week. There is also a large class for Thai music and dance as part of the Sunday school program.      Recently, some of the monks of Wat Thai have established an open discussion session on the Internet. This allows members of the community to ask questions of the monks or express their opinions. Both children and adults participate in this Internet channel which takes place from 7:00pm-9:00pm every evening. The topics for discussion range from Dhamma (Buddhist teachings) for leading life to news in the community.


Every Sunday, Wat Thai runs classes for children. These classes run from 1:00pm until 3:30pm and are designed to teach children born in America the rich traditions of Thailand. The classes cover Thai language, Thai culture, Thai traditions, and the Theravada Buddhism of Thailand. Through these lessons, the children are able to participate in temple services and ceremonies. They are also able to join celebrations by dancing and playing Thai instruments. The Sunday School not only provides Thai children born in the States with an understanding of their heritage, but also provides them with a peer community which is based at the temple.


Wat Thai runs two summer camps, one for the boys of the Thai community and one for the girls. The camp classes are similar to the lessons taught at Sunday School, but are also incorporated with fun activities for the summer. The children learn how to play Thai sports and also enjoy field trips. The summer camp has a religious focus, as the children live together like novices (monks-in-training). The camp, which usually lasts for about fifteen days, forms a community in which Thai children can absorb Buddhism and Thai traditions, while having a great time.

Ceremonies and Rituals

Ordination Ceremony
The ordination ceremony for monks into the Thai order takes place every year. Novices (monks-in-training) must be over twenty years old, be willing to take the two hundred and twenty seven precepts, and have completed the training before they can become ordained. Each year at Wat Thai, there is a training program in the summer beginning with the ceremony of becoming a novice, which involves the acceptance of ten precepts.


Katina Ceremony
Every year, the monks of the Theravada tradition partake in the rainy season retreat. This is a three-month period that was originally designed to keep monks in one place during the monsoon of India. This ritual is still practiced by Theravada Buddhists all over the world, and in modern times, takes the form of a period of retreat and quietness in which the monks do not leave the temple. The end of this period is marked with a ceremony called the Katina Ceremony. At this ceremony, the lay community gives new robes to the monks as a way of commemorating the end of the rainy season retreat and a new beginning. In the Thai tradition, the lay community also makes small model trees with money as leaves and presents these donations to the temple. The ceremony involves a service of chanting (in Pali) and teaching (in Thai), circumambulating of the temple, and the serving of food to the monks before the whole community enjoys a feast.


Birth Rituals
The birth of a child is a time for parents to visit the temple. At Wat Thai, Thai parents are able to make merit for their newborn child. This ceremony involves the giving of gifts to the monks, usually in the form of flowers or food. The monks will begin a session of chanting at 10:30am and then will proceed to be served lunch by the parents of the child at 11:30am. This ceremony is designed to give merit to the new child to build up his or her good karma.


Marriage Rituals
Members of the Thai community get married at Wat Thai in a traditional Thai ceremony. The day begins with the monks chanting in the temple. The monks then give the couple the five precepts of all Buddhists: to not kill, steal, involve in sexual misconduct, lie, or become intoxicated. The couple excepts the precepts and then the monks continue with a service of prayers and chanting. The couple then gives gifts to the monks in order to gain merit, and in return the monks bless them. The couple then serves the monks food, before they sit themselves to enjoy lunch together.


Death Rituals
The family of the deceased invites a monk to pray for the deceased relative at the funeral home. The monk also stays at the funeral home for some chanting. At the temple, there is a merit making ceremony for the deceased. Family and friends bring food and gifts for the monks to gain merit in the hope of a better rebirth for the deceased.

Special Events and Festivals

All Thai Buddhist festivals are celebrated in a similar way with a ceremony that involves chanting, teaching, circumambulating of the temple, and other merit making activities including feeding lunch to the monks.


Dhamma Day is in March and marks the day when 1250 monks were ordained by Buddha. Also known as Macarpoocha, Dhamma day focuses on the teaching of rules for monks and Buddha's discourse on how to teach. The people also learn about the history of Buddha.


Buddha Day (also known as Vesak) commemorates the birthday of the Buddha, his day of enlightenment, and his day of pari-nirvana or death. This is a joyous celebration that involves a dancing and music program as well as chanting, circumambulating the temple, and the giving of food to the monks. The day falls in early May and is an important festival for Buddhists everywhere. It serves as way to celebrate the life and greatness of Buddha.

Sangha day is a festival marking the day of Buddha's first sermon. The community hears the story of the five followers of Buddha that originally doubted him but upon hearing his sermon, they were instantly enlightened by his words. This day takes place in July, nearing the rainy season retreat.


The Songkran festival celebrates the Thai New Year and is the biggest event at Wat Thai. Between five thousand and six thousand members of the Thai community come from all over the region to attend this big celebration. Beginning at 7:00am, the day involves a number of religious activities including the pouring of lustral water to honor the Buddha image and to honor the monks, chanting by the monks, and a sermon given by the Abbot in Thai. The day also involves many cultural events including a Thai music and dance show. Local Thai stores and restaurants come to sell their merchandise and food, creating a fair like atmosphere in the grounds of the temple.

Community Relations

Wat Thai participated in the local celebrations for the King of Thailand's 50th anniversary of his ascension to the throne. They also worked with the Thailand Social Welfare Department to organize a celebration event for the Queen of Thailand's 60th birthday. In July of 1994, Wat Thai were involved in part of a Smithsonian Festival exhibiting Thai culture called "Satid Chevit Thai." Members of the Thai Royal Family were also present at this event. The Royal family of Thailand is of the utmost cultural importance to the people of Thailand, and Wat Thai embraces this tradition.


Wat Thai participates every year in local community events such as the Layhill Community Parade and Festival. Wat Thai promotes keeping good community relations in Silver Spring and friendship in their neighborhood.      


Every year, Buddhist communities form all over the Washington DC area come together to celebrate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha at the International Visakha Festival. The festival attempts to unify all the various forms of Buddhism in their honor of Lord Buddha. The event was held at Wat Thai Washington DC in May of 1999, and was organized by the Buddhist Association of Washington DC in collaboration with the international Buddhist Committee of Washington DC. This Committee is comprised of representatives of the twenty-three religious communities involved in the festival.

The Wat and Thai Buddhism in America

Thai Buddhism has inevitably changed in its American context. In Thailand, the wat is the center of the community and monks are not only spiritual leaders but also community leaders. The monks and the wat are intimately involved in the daily life of the community, and because Buddhism has been in Thailand for over a thousand years, Buddhism is a part of daily life. This is not the case in America, as there are so many other factors to consider. The Thai community in the United States has become secularized to a certain degree, as so much of life is unrelated to the wat of Buddhist practices. Despite this Wat Thai of Washington DC tries to remain as close to the traditions of the Thai wat as possible.      

Wat Thai has also changed in the sense that it now also functions as cultural center for the Thai community. The wat now serves as an educational center for Thai culture and traditions, not just for Buddhism. With most of the children of the Wat Thai community being born in America, great emphasis is placed on this aspect of the Wat. The monks take great care to ensure that children understand Thai Buddhism, and realize that it is flexible and open to them. They feel this a necessary emphasis to create a balance between Thai tradition and American culture.

Date Center Founded

Religious Leader and Title
Phra Maha Surasak Jivanando, Abbot since 1975

Membership/Community Size
over 2200 families in the greater Washington DC area

Ethnic Composition
Mostly Thai, some other South East Asian Buddhists (from Laos, Vietnam, etc) and some Euro-American

Prepared by Student Researcher Clare Giles
Updated on August 9, 2004"

[Quelle: Clare Giles. -- -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07]


Abb.: Teaching Authorization Ceremony, 1979, Barre Mass.
Hinten Mitte Mahasi Sayadaw,
Vorne: Sharon Salzberg, Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, Jacqueline Mandell-Schwarz
[Bildquelle: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. IX, No. 4 (Summer 2000). -- S. 40.]

Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield (1945 - ) und Joseph Goldstein (1944 - ) gründen die Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Massachusetts

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-10 

Abb.: Sharon Salzberg
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-10]

Abb.: Jack Kornfield (links als Mönch in Thailand 1960)

Abb.: Joseph Goldstein
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-10]


Abb.: Ruth Denison
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-30]

Ruth Denison (1922 - ) legt den Grund für das Dhamma Dena Meditation Center

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-30

"Ruth Denison is the founder and resident teacher of Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center in Joshua Tree, California. She is the first generation of women teachers of vipassana in the West, and has been teaching at Insight Meditation Society in Barre since its inception in 1976.  Ruth shared her life story and thoughts with Insight's editors while teaching at IMS in the fall of 1996.

Ruth, you have a fascinating and unusual life story to tell. Can you share some of it with us? How did you get involved in things spiritual?

I was born in a small village in eastern Germany, near the present Polish border, in what used to be called East Prussia. As a child I had experiences of saints and angels talking to me. Since I was raised in a Christian tradition, it is not unusual to interpret them in this light. I took refuge in them without knowing what I was doing. Later, as a teenager, I read about Theresa of Avila and was quite affected by the narration of her experiences.

Prior to the war I was an elementary school teacher. Then, when the war ended, the Russians pushed westward and everyone had to evacuate. There were lines of horse-drawn wagons many miles long, and many people froze to death in sub-zero weather. Eventually I ended up in Berlin in the midst of allied bombing.

In the meantime, I had lost track of my entire family; however we were later reunited. When the Russians occupied Berlin I tried to survive by returning to my home town. Due to lack of transportation I had to hide myself on freight trains. After much hardship I reached my hometown, only to find it occupied by the Russians. I was sent to a forced labor camp with the rest of the civilian population. People in the camps were dying in great numbers from disease and mistreatment.

How did you manage to survive in such conditions?

In the midst of all this, I found solace in my childhood visitations of saints, and came to understand the meaning of prayer. In it you have an object of concentration (I called it God at the time), and trust is developed. You know you have help and think it comes from outside, but even then I also realized it comes from inside.

Like all other young women in the camp, I was subject to repeated rape; however, I found I had no animosity or anger against these occupying soldiers. I had a tacit sense that I was one individual recipient of a collective karma brought on by my entire country. Although I did not personally contribute to its causation, I realized that as a member of that society I must share in experiencing the consequences.

Perhaps you had some precocious understanding of karma at the time?

I was not in touch with that then, of course. I was unaware of the concept. But I somehow knew that if I did not hate anyone God would save me and somehow make my condition better. And it did happen. I got some form of help wherever I went. Its a wonderment when I think back to these difficulties that I am even here now.

In one camp I was assigned to the household of a Russian officer as a domestic servant. I still wanted to get to Berlin, so I escaped from that camp and hid in the undercarriage of a freight car. At one point I was discovered by a Russian soldier and subsequently found myself peeling potatoes for the Russian occupation forces. At this time I became severely ill and was put into a hospital. One of the doctors was very kind to me, but he had thoughts of marriage. I escaped again by jumping from his carriage on a rainy night, and after more hardship and abuse I reached Berlin.

Later I managed to secure a teaching position in West Berlin. Through a teacher's organization I made contact with teachers in America, and after a time I was fortunate enough to have someone offer to sponsor me if I wished to come to the United States. I settled in Los Angeles, went to college, and through a circle of friends in 1958 met the man who would become my husband.

Was it through your husband that you got interested in Buddhism?

Before we married my husband had been an ordained Vedanta monk for some years, but had left the temple. He was a friend of Alan Watts and eventually we both became interested in Zen. Our home became a central meeting point for others with similar interests. It was not uncommon to find a Fritz Perls seminar or Lama Govinda at the house.

And how did you wind up in Burma?

In 1960 my husband wanted to experience other approaches to meditation. We spent some time in Japan at Zen monasteries, and then continued on to the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore, and eventually Burma. In Burma, we practiced at the Mahasi Sayadaw monastery. I discovered that I had a natural affinity for staying in touch with my body. Even though I suffered from back problems which made sitting extremely painful, I was able to stay in touch with my bodily sensations and began to enjoy ever deeper levels of concentration.

After leaving the Mahasi Sayadaw monastery we went to the meditation center of U Ba Khin, who spoke English and could provide a more comfortable learning situation. He became my teacher. At this time I was experiencing a lot of resistance to being in Burma. I was worried that my husband would become a monk again, and I innocently felt also that I was satisfied with my inner life and I already knew the things U Ba Khin was teaching (I had previously had sensory awareness training with Charlotte Selver.) But I did persevere and my meditation practice with U Ba Khin was a breakthrough experience. U Ba Khin emphasized awareness of bodily sensations. I opened to a deeper level of samádhi [concentration] and to a more correct understanding and comprehension of what was happening in the mind-body system, as well as to the genuine purpose of meditation.

Did you stay long with U Ba Khin?

We stayed about three months (visa restrictions did not allow a longer stay), then we went to India. We stayed at the Ramakrishna temple complex in Calcutta where I enjoyed devotional practice. When we returned to Los Angeles I became very involved with Zen practice as there was no opportunity to carry on vipassana practice; it was, for the most part, unheard of in the West.

In the mid-60's we returned to Japan and stayed a year, training more seriously with Yamada Roshi and Soen Roshi, and also with Yasutani Roshi.

How did Zen practice suit you?

Although the sessions were quite rigorous, I grew to like the discipline they required. I found the concentration on the Mu koan disconcerting. Concentration was very forceful and led to temporary states of separation between me and my body. Soen Roshi encouraged me to return to my vipassana practice. He taught me shikantaza ["just sitting"] practice, which balanced my energy and healed my condition.

When I then returned to Los Angeles a rich period of spiritual practice began. I kept in close touch with Maezumi Roshi's Zen Center, and with Sasaki Roshi who was starting a zendo. I offered my house for fund raising benefits to build those zendos and also as a place for spiritual teachers to hold darshans, pujas, and lectures. I found myself often in the role of cook and hostess. My living room became a great birthplace for spiritual investigation.

And what about vipassana?

I continued with my vipassana practice during the hours of sitting in the Zen Centers. I returned to Burma three or four times after my initial practice with U Ba Khin, but could only stay for short periods. Once I stayed for six days and that was a deepening experience for me. My teacher died in 1971.

Did you ever get some formal transmission from him?

Yes. U Ba Khin had founded an international meditation center. At the time I was there, he gave transmission to teach to only four or five Westerners, and of those, to only one woman. I was that woman. He wrote me a letter as a formal document for receiving the seal of Dharma to teach. I remember him touching the tip of my nose as I was leaving and saying, "May this be your best friend."

At that time I didn't really know how to acknowledge the transmission. I felt I needed more training. U Ba Khin encouraged me to proceed and told me not to worry, that I was "a natural," and that the practice would guide me.

And so you started teaching...

In the early 70's I was in Switzerland, attending a Krishnamurti seminar. While there I got a message from Robert Hover, who had also been given transmission by U Ba Khin, inviting me to teach a retreat with him in Frankfurt. I subsequently was asked to teach in France, England, and Switzerland. Then I did a number of courses all over Europe, from Spain to Norway and Sweden. For the next four years, I was on the road teaching non-stop. Looking back I realize that I started vipassana in all those countries, and really did the ground breaking for all that followed.

At what point did your center, Dhamma Dena, come into existence?

I never intended to have a retreat center, let alone in the middle of the desert. In 1977 I purchased a cabin on five acres outside of Joshua Tree, California. I often used it as an escape from Hollywood. My students just followed me there and it began to grow.

At one point, Mahasi Sayadaw came with his retinue of monks and gave his blessing to the center. At that time the zendo was an old garage with a sand floor. Over time we acquired additional buildings and land. We now have comfortable but rustic accommodations and a 360 degree view of mountains and desert. We also have several small cabins that can be rented. Students may come for formal or self-retreats.

As we grew, occasionally other teachers would also use the facility. We host a month-long Zen sesshin each year. Since I do not travel to Europe much anymore, I live at Dhamma Dena full time. We have six to eight people who live as a sangha. There are always a few students from Germany, and a number of students have bought houses or cabins nearby, so there is an extended sangha.

You do not seem to teach Vipassana in the usual way, silent sitting and walking with an occasional Dharma talk. Can you say anything about your methods of teaching?

As I mentioned earlier, U Ba Khin (my teacher) stressed awareness of bodily sensations. Each of the teachers in his or her own time develops their own emphasis within the awareness of bodily sensations. Some stress hearing, others sight, etc. Some teachers utilize only sitting. U Ba Khin taught and practiced the development of awareness only in strict sitting with only very short informal periods of walking meditation.

The longer I taught, the more I realized the difficulties that the meditators displayed in their meditation; they did not have the cultural and religious background for the ability to simply sit and pay attention to their own living process, body-mind sensations. In focusing so intently on the breath and body parts for long periods of time, people would try too hard.

So I expand the selection of body sensations to keep the meditators engaged, and to foster softness and gentleness within themselves. I experiment with the application of mindfulness to body, breath and sensations in body positions other than just sitting. What evolves is meditation while standing, walking, running, jumping, lying down, rolling on the grass meditation in the entire scope of body's mobility and expression, in yoga ásanas, in dance and laughing, in sound, touch, taste, sight or imitation motions such as crawling like a worm, etc.

 But let me stress that what I do is strictly within the prescribed bounds of Buddha's teachings using the body and its sensations as a vehicle for mindfulness training, for developing awareness for clear comprehension of the present moment, of correct understanding of life's living and dying.

By using such variety of sensations for developing awareness students learn how to apply their practice in situations other than simply sitting on a pillow. Often students do not know how to carry practice home with them after a retreat. But awareness developed in such a wide scope of meditation pattern, as I teach it, becomes gradually a natural state, and for that reason it is effortless and not easy to lose.

The kinesthetic sense is corrected by means of movement, the focusing ability more easily strengthened than in strict sitting, and ease and relaxedness in body and mind is naturally invited. Often, however, students fail to recognize the fact that these psychological exercises or meditation in expression are actually part of the First Establishment of Mindfulness [in the Satipathána text]. So, in truth, I am not teaching a different version of Vipassana meditation. I feel it is rather the extended edition.

And you offer your students more guidance than is usual, don't you? I believe the IMS course description refers to "sustained and on-going verbal teacher instruction throughout the day."

I do feel that this description of verbal guidance is slightly exaggerated and misunderstood, for I do give or allow sufficient time for the meditators to practice by themselves, on their own, and without instruction. As we know, there are many obstructions and difficulties in our meditation practice. So my so-called "ongoing verbal instructions" are one way of alleviating or easing these difficulties the students suffer in their sitting meditation. So instead of insisting upon the traditional meditation pattern of sitting for a full hour with only a few moments' interruption, I include verbal support during quiet sitting practice as a natural reminder for returning from daydreaming or lost- thought-processes to mindful attention to the meditation object proper.

I provide verbal support during the sitting meditation also for the purpose of perhaps quicker recognition of the student's alertness or sleepiness, or for realizing and knowing what is happening in one's emotional or thinking level.

Clear comprehension, a mental ability to discern and know the present situation clearly and fully is part of mindfulness and therefore very much enhanced through verbal assistance during the quiet practice as well as during any kind of practice in motion. In this way, as one student told me, "self-correction and self-observation can occur on the job."

I also use verbal assistance as encouragement for perseverance in the Vipassana practice, or as reminders for self-examining the quality of attitude and effort.

Practicing in these various modalities within the Vipassana meditation features an outstanding quality, "Never a dull moment," and a demand for total participation from the students and the teacher. This in turn cultivates a wonderful spirit of genuine communion.

Most of all, I encourage people to go into their difficulties and to cope with the change that's taking place even as they are paying attention to it. Our life is nothing but change and it is to this change that I bow deeply. I bow to this change, I bow deeply to life itself.

The article above originally appeared in the Spring 1977 issue of Insight Magazine"

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-30


Abb.: The Cambodian Buddhist Society
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-22]

Gründung von The Cambodian Buddhist Society in Silver Spring, Maryland, dem ersten kambodschanischen Tempel in den USA

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-22

ca. 1982

Gründung der Khmer Buddhist Society in The Bronx, New York

"Cambodian Buddhist Monks Maintain A Presence In The Bronx

by Dean Meminger, NY1, The Bronx, May 20, 2005


New York, USA -- One Asian community in the Bronx has been assisting New Yorkers of Cambodian descent for several years. In the following report, Dean Meminger profiles a small group of Buddhist monks who have made quite an impact in Bedford Park in a short time, as NY1 continues its coverage of Asian-American Heritage Week.

A Cambodian Buddhist monk checking out the Bronx scenery is not a common site, but it does happen. A group of monks live on Marion Avenue, assisting fellow Cambodians living in the borough.

They say it's interesting being in the Bronx.

“Living here is comfortable and great,” says Vetaur Torn of the Khmer Buddhist Society. “The neighbors, everyone is nice to each other.”

The monks live at the Khmer Buddhist Society. The organization was established at its Bronx location more than 20 years ago after many Cambodians fled their war-ravaged communist homeland.

Sovann Tim is the secretary of the society, and has lived in the Bronx since 1982. He says this small temple has become an important meeting place for Cambodians.

“Since we build up the community, people come to join together and we celebrate and are happy to see each other,” says Tim.

According to the U.S. Census Department, the Cambodian population in the Bronx has dropped over the years. In 1990 a reported 1,600 lived in the borough, but in 2000 only 1,082, a 32-percet drop.

“Most people move out from the Bronx. They move to Philadelphia, or they move to Connecticut,” says Tim.

Many of the Cambodian monks have only lived here for a few years, and they have a great interest in learning English.

“The most interesting [thing] for me is education,” says monk Kandaal Tuoch. “I can go to school freely and I can work for my Cambodian people.”

Although the monks live a pretty sheltered life, when they do venture out in the Bronx they encounter some interesting situations.

“They ask me, ‘You come from China? Can you teach me kung fu?’” says monk Sambath Suon. “I say, ‘No, I cannot teach you because I am a Buddhist monk from Cambodia.’ They say, ‘Oh, you look like Chinese.’ And sometimes I'm surprised by them when they say, ‘I want to be girlfriend with you.’”

The monks say they will continue to share information about their culture while learning about others."

[Quelle:,00000001205,0,0,1,0. -- Zugriff am 2005-06-23]


Henepola Gunaratana (1927 - ) gründet die Bhavana Society in West Virginia

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-22

"Vision Statement

The Bhavana Society was created to preserve the Theravada forest meditation tradition within the context of Western culture.

Our vision is as follows:

  • To provide a forest monastery where ordained monks and nuns can live while cultivating Sila (morality), Samadhi (concentration) and Panna (wisdom)
  • To provide training to suitable lay candidates who are seeking ordination and to ordain those candidates at the end of the training period.
  • To provide opportunities for monks and nuns to become future Dhamma and meditation teachers.
  • To offer organized meditation retreats on a regular basis to members of the society and to the general public.
  • To provide space for a limited number of lay people, who will assist in the running of the center, to live as long-term residents.
  • To provide facilities for a limited number of lay people to undergo private long-term retreats.

The retreats and monastic training will be determined and run by the senior monastic residents. The Board of Directors' function is to assist and support the monastery and monastics in the continued realization of our vision.

Formalized in July 1988"

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-22]


Abb.: Watlao Phothikaram
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08]

Gründung von Watlao Phothikaram in Cherry Valley, Illinois

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08

"Wat Phothikaram was established in 1982 by the Laotian communities of Rockford, Elgin and other cities in Illinois under the leadership of Phra Maha Khamsene Phanthavong, coordinated with Phra Achan Maha Bounmy Kittithammavanno. This Buddhist Center serves the Laotian community and helps maintain and preserve Laotian culture. (This temple was the subject of a well-produced documentary, "Buddha and Blue Collar," shown on national television.) Wat is the Laotian word for a walled compound with its temple and related buildings. Phothikaram means shelter where monks stay. "

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08]


Jacqueline Mandell wendet sich vom Theravadabuddhismus wegen dessen Frauenfeindlichkeit ab.

"In Rangoon, Burma, on the day of the full moon in January 1980, to the accompaniment of rhythmic chanting by hundreds of devout onlookers, a small thirty-two-year old American woman whose long dark hair had just been shorn received ordination for three months as an eight-precept Buddhist nun. She had been practicing vipassana meditation intensively for eight years under the guidance of eminent masters in India and Southeast Asia, including Sri S. N. Goenka and the Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, who in 1979 had given her formal authorization to teach. For some years she had been practicing and teaching in the United States, particularly at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, where she had become one of the principal guiding teachers. Now, having returned to Asia for the renewal and deepening of her practice, wearing fresh saffron robes, she was led through the ceremony of renunciation by her preceptor, Mahasi Sayadaw.

The newly ordained young woman was Jacqueline Mandell. Today she remembers, "I was joyous when I had my head shaved. Nothing was extraneous. I was right there in full being. There was nothing to pay attention to but the present moment." For two months she practiced intensively at the Thathana Yeitktha meditation center in Rangoon and then was provided with a translator for a three-week pilgrimage through upper Burma, visiting affiliated monasteries and traditional Buddhist holy places.
In tiny villages she would find herself surrounded by clusters of nuns living a simple, meditative life.

Less than two years later, back in this country, at the invitation of Venerable Taungpulu Sayadaw, another Burmese master then living in the United States, Jacqueline ordained for the second time. At the Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery in Boulder Creek, California, she took ten precepts, and once more in robes and with shaved head she practiced intensively for two months. At the end of her stay, Jacqueline was asked by Taungpulu Sayadaw to teach a retreat at his monastery the following year. She did so in the spring of 1981 and is the only Western woman to have received such an honor.

Jacqueline taught full-time at IMS for six years beginning in 1977. During this period she studied with many of the important teachers who visited there, including Dipa Ma, Achaan Cha, and Rina Sircar (with whom she also co-led a number of retreats). She also attended many Zen sesshins, working intensively with Joshu Sasaki-roshi on koan practice for several years.

It was therefore no small matter that, when I first met her in the fall of 1983, Jacqueline had just resigned from her teaching position at IMS. She told me, "I can no longer represent Thera-vada Buddhism because it oppresses and discriminates against women. At birth, women are already seen as lesser, not equal. Within the monastic tradition, a woman who has been a nun all her life, and fully enlightened, must bow down to a monk of one day. In the scriptures, women are primarily seen either as seductresses or as lesser suffering beings who have to give birth. In the Therigatha, descriptions of women's lives seem pretty horrible."

[Quelle: Friedman, Lenore.: Meetings with remarkable women : Buddhist teachers in America / Lenore Friedman ; photographs by Catherine Allport. -- Boston : Shambhala ; [New York] : Distributed in the U.S. by Random House, 1987.  -- xi, 288 S. : Ill. ; 23 cm. ISBN: 087773366X. -- S. 255f.. -- {Wenn Sie HIER klicken, können dieses Buch  bei bestellen} ]


Gründung von Wat Promkunaram (วัดพรหมคุณาราม) in Waddell, Arizona

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07


Wat Promkunaram is a Buddhist temple, monastery and cultural center created with the help of the Thai government by three Thai monks in 1983. At first a very small temple located in the Phoenix metropolitan area, the community purchased five acres of isolated farmland in 1985 and opened a new temple in the rural, far west Valley city of Waddell in 1989. The temple was stunned by the massacre of six monks, a nun and two other temple affiliates in 1991 (a tragedy that remains Arizona's largest mass murder) but has recovered to become a vital center for local Theravadin Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese and Cambodian Buddhists, as well as serving Mahayanist Buddhists and non-Buddhists.

Activities and Schedule

Open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., the main prayer hall (sala) is available to the public for prayer and meditation. The monks maintain a structured schedule of daily activities from 6 a.m. until 11 p.m., including prayers and meditation, work on the temple grounds and counseling, preaching and teaching in scheduled classes or when guests visit. The Wat operates a Buddhist Sunday School for Thai-American children but it is also open to any interested community members. The center also holds Thai language classes, classical dance lessons, instruction in meditation, and special merit-making ceremonies for marking particular family milestones such as births, marriages and deaths.
Connected with its role as a community center, the Wat annually hosts eight major Theravadin Buddhist festivals. Many of these festivals, such as Loy Krathong or Magha Puja Day, display regional traditions distinctive to Buddhist communities in southeast Asia.


The monks resident at the center are predominantly Thai, though also including Euro-American Buddhist monks. The community served -- mostly Thais in the Valley in some cases for over three generations-- spans a number of different age groups. The modern monastic population is all male, while at worship services women may have slightly outnumbered the men present.


The center complex was placed in a distant rural setting that, over the years, has become less remote as the Phoenix metropolitan area has expanded. The main prayer hall building has living quarters for the monks and offices in the back-- it includes a small library. A large community hall is nearby on the grounds, and is attached to a kitchen and dining hall. It is used for receptions, parties and other social events. The buildings are surrounded by gardens which the monks maintain, and the garden contains various small shrines (including one dedicated to the victims of the 1991 massacre).
Date Center Founded
Founded in 1983, at present location since 1989.

Religious Leader and Title
Venerable Pramaha Winai Booncham (4th Abbot of Wat Promkunaram)

Membership/Community Size
Approximately 2,500 people in the community.

Ethnic Composition
Mostly Thai, but with significant representation among Valley Laotians, Cambodians and Vietnamese.

Prepared by David Damrel
Updated on May 23, 2003"

[Quelle: David Damrel. -- -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07]


Gründung von Ordinary Dharma in Venice, CA

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07

"Ordinary Dharma and Manzanita Village


Ordinary Dharma is a Buddhist Community rooted in the meditation traditions of Vipassana and Zen and committed to the teachings of Deep Ecology, Nonviolence, Engaged Buddhism, and movements for social justice. Based in Southern California, Ordinary Dharma offers meditation instruction, workshops and trainings, retreats, tapes and CDs, Aikido and Iaido training, Hypnotherapy, and Counseling. Retreats and workshops are held at Ordinary Dharma’s rural retreat center, Manzanita Village, in Warner Springs, as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and various other North American locations. Manzanita Village is located on nineteen acres of land west of the Anza Borrego desert in San Diego County. Surrounded by National forest and public land, Manzanita Village offers a remote and wild setting for retreats, and the resident teachers—Caitriona Reed and Michele Benzamin-Miki—consider the land itself to be a teacher. The teaching and practice at Manzanita Village are rooted in the belief that spiritual practice is inextricably related to issues of social, economic and environmental justice. Workshops and retreats integrate traditional Buddhist teachings and mindfulness practice with deep ecology, social justice, nonviolence, peace-making, and the creative arts. As well as traditional approaches to Buddhist Meditation, other practices geared towards awakening a sense of connectedness with the earth include: contemplative bowing called “touching the earth,” earth-centered Gathas (short poems to support mindfulness) for walking meditation, and deep ecology process work. The retreat center has a strawbale hermitage for personal retreats as well as room for approximately thirty-five formal retreat participants and serves organic, vegetarian, and non-genetically modified food.


Ordinary Dharma began as a Vipassana Buddhist meditation group in Venice, California in 1983, but gradually opened to other spiritual traditions including: Zen, deep ecology, and Engaged Buddhism through teachers such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Joanna Macy. Ordinary Dharma coordinated the Los Angeles chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship from 1987–1992. In 1993, Manzanita Village was established in Warner Springs as the rural retreat center of Ordinary Dharma with Caitriona Reed and Michele Benzamin-Miki as the resident teachers. In 2002, the Five Changes Foundation was formed as a nonprofit, educational foundation dedicated to non-violence and community renewal with a special emphasis on youth empowerment. A forty day winter retreat was reinstated at Manzanita Village in 2003 and program planning continues apace with the newly formed Five Changes Foundation.

Partner Organizations

Ordinary Dharma works closely with the Five Changes Foundation, a collective of activists working for social justice within different spiritual/artistic contexts, providing training and workshops in various areas for children, youth, and adults. Offerings include workshops for unlearning racism; workshops to develop mindfulness in the workplace; retreats in deep ecology, systems theory, and related subjects for youth activists; and retreats for homeless gay and transgendered youth. "

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07]


Gründung des Watt Samaki Temple in Portland, Maine


Most of the Khmer who came to Portland, Maine were farmers in Cambodia who fled the Khmer Rouge terror that began in 1975. In Cambodia they lived in small villages where the central institution was the Buddhist wat, where the monks lived and people gathered for worship. By 1984 the eight hundred or so Khmer in Portland established a nonprofit organization called the Watt Samaki, "Unity Temple," to raise funds to purchase a building.

The community located a promising site for its new temple-a large, abandoned chicken barn located on five acres some miles west of Portland. The community elders hired a lawyer to research the deed and appropriate variances, and they set up meetings with local churches to introduce themselves and their plan. The meetings went well, so they thought, and the Cambodians submitted a request for a special variance to turn the chicken barn into a "church".

The neighbors, however, were astounded and disturbed based their objections on local zoning ordinances. More than seventy towns-people showed up for the hearing. The Portland media began covering the story, intensifying the debate in newspaper and on television. The ethos and worldview of the Cambodian Buddhists was not at all suited to such controversy. They did not like the publicity, even the well-intentioned supporters, and they were embarrassed and distraught by the charges of those who opposed them and did not want them as neighbors. New immigrant communities often adapt, not by standing up for their rights through the process of litigation, but by seeking a more harmonious and less combative way. The Cambodians withdrew their application for a zoning variance and forfeited their $1,500 deposit. Meanwhile, a few churches in the area became concerned about the plight of their new neighbors, and donations of over $800 came in to offset the loss.

Six months later the community found a small two-story house in Portland. The local Quaker meeting loaned them $10,000 to help with the down payment, and the gray house was dedicated as the Watt Samaki Buddhist Center. At last the community could pour its energies into creating a Buddha Hall for worship and festivals. Supporting a monk, however, became a huge financial commitment, and after the community's monk left, the small temple remained empty except for weddings, New Year and ancestor festivals, and frequent fund-raisers.

In August 1993 Pirun Sen, a leader of the community who was a nurse and former monk, received a call from the Portland police notifying him of vandalism at the Buddhist center. Electronic equipment had been stolen, but the most sickening sight was the writing on the wall: "Dirty Asian, Chink, Go Home."

A few weeks later, Pirun Sen spoke of his feelings in an interview with Julie Canniff, a Pluralism Project researcher. Fortunately, the media had not discovered the story, he confided, expressing the mixture of shame and rage that victims of violence so often feel about attacks upon them. "You know our center is not a luxurious place, but we love it, take care of it as our heart and soul. It is the only place that can bring all of us together to love, to care for one another, to pass on the Khmer culture to the youngsters. This is why my tears keep dropping when I talk about the vandalism of the Watt Samaki with friends and caring people. These tears are for my people who are the foundation of the Watt Samaki and people who have passed away. It is a small house, but these people reminded me to take care of Watt Samaki as if it were diamond and gold."

The police were not successful in locating the vandals or the stolen equipment, but the neighbors, who up until this time did not know the purpose of the little house, pledged their support and watchful vigilance from then on. But as a result of this tragedy, many members of the community relived the nightmare of the Khmer Rouge and the unspeakable persecution they suffered. Repairing the damaged temple was only part of a much deeper process of repair that needed to take place in the wake of this attack. Despite all the difficulties, this is a community of survivors-first in Cambodia and now in Portland, Maine.

Taken from: Eck, Diana, L., A New Religious America: How A "Christian Country" Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation. San Francisco, California: HaperCollins Publishers, 2001. pp 314-316.

Ancestor Ceremony

Cambodian people are like other people in developed countries-we have our own traditions for recognizing our heritage. The National Ancestor Ceremony (Spirit’s Commemoration Festival) is celebrated by all Cambodians and is carefully planned because it is both a religious holiday and a holiday of Cambodia. Before the celebration, children give money and food to their parents and grandparents to make the celebration joyful. Pre-festivities begin after the full moon in the month of Patro-bott (a lunar month in late September or early October), and end on the 15th day of that month, the Bonn Phchum-ben. During the pre-festivities, which take place from September 1st through the 14th, people from many districts and villages take turn of bens or offerings of food to the monks before 12 noon and soft beverages in the afternoon and evening. Everyday, beginning at 6:00 a.m. people can hear the beautiful, rhythmic chanting of Buddhist doctrine called the Parapavasotra. After 7:00 a.m., you can hear the Pin-Peat Ensemble perform, which enhances this festivity. At the Temple, each hall functions as a Ceremony Hall where people can see the Crocodile flags called the Tong-kro-peu fly high beside the National flag and the religious flag.

One day before the National Ancestor Ceremony, every Cambodian family prepares different kinds of cylindrical cakes called Ansorm (a sticky rice cake wrapped by banana leaf with either pork or banana in the center). Other special cakes include the Pyramidal or Korm cake, Round or Jeal cake, bott cake, and the lom-Orng-Romjake cake. Every family is required to make these cakes to donate to the Buddhist monks, share with friends, and save some for a gift to the dead or departed souls. These are all traditional cakes that have existed for a thousand years. The Cylindrical and Pyramidal cakes are also used for Cambodian weddings. Without one or both a couple may not have a child.

The day of the National Ancestor Ceremony begins in the early morning on the 15th day of the Patro-bott month. The traditional people devote most of their time at the Temple and bring buy-ben (special rice made specifically for early morning ceremony) and also sticky rice frosted with coconut milk and shaped into small, egg-sized treats. Another type of buy-ben is called buybet-tbo, which is served on a fancy, decorated plate covered by banana leaf. On top of the leaves sits a few candles.

Everyone in the pre-sunrise ceremony shares buybet-tbo after donating to the monks and souls. According to belief, the people always donate buy-ben and buybet-tbo to Buddhist monks, called bang-sukol, for the death in the morning before the sun rises. This rice is shared specifically with relatives and friends who were born in Hell (the departed souls) who have been released once a year only in Pchunben ceremony to receive this gift. These departed people are known as the Prats or Pata. They are souls with no clothes to cover their bodies; they are shy when the sun rises and they would not come to eat these meals. As soon as the sun rises, one could see many people in groups standing along the stupas (tower serving as a Buddhist shrine). Bone fragments are kept in the stupas and temple. The villagers clean and decorate the stupas with flowers and invite the Buddhist monks to honor the departed soul and bless them to be well and reborn into the best life as soon as possible.

Traditional people dress in hol, (a woman’s long skirt made of silk with gold or silver decoration), pamoung, (a traditional Khmer cloth worn by men and women), and a kro-mar-sotre (scarf around neck). They use one of their hands to hold the food container in place as they carry it on their head. The older people carry a bouquet, a candle, and incense to the ceremony hall. By 10:30 am, the temple is full of people chanting Bung-sukol by the Buddhist monks, followed by the offering of the food to the monks.

of food, snacks, cakes, and togetherness between brothers, sisters, and friends, who live nearby and far away. It also celebrates our connection to the souls of loved ones who passed away recently or a long time ago. This celebration is one of the greatest in Cambodia.

Cambodian tradition says that only one group of Prats are released to look for their children and grandchildren in the Buddhist temples in order to receive buy-ben to stop their hunger. If those departed souls who pray cannot locate their children in any of the seven Buddhist temples, they will angrily insult and curse their relatives and friends and hope for misfortunes because they are so suffering and hungry. This is the only celebration during the year where the Prats are released to come and accept the gifts of their children and grandchildren.

It is true that the ancestor always has mixed beliefs, but the value of the nation's character, which has been understood clearly for thousands of years, makes this an enduring celebration that is never forgotten by its people. The character of this celebration tells you that Cambodia is different from all other nations.

The Cambodian celebration has been planned for this year. To observe this ceremony, call the Buddhist temple at 207-797-8554.
This piece was written by Pirun Sen.

Cambodian-English Dictionary, V1&V2. Robert K. Headley Jr. The Catholic University of America Press, Washington, D.C. 1977.

Dictionnare Cambodgien Tome 1 & 2. Venerable Preah Buddhaghosachar. CHOUN-NAT. Edition De L'Institut. Bouddhique, 1968.
Khmer Culture for Family. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Refugee Education Center. Khao-I-Dang, Sakeo and Panatnikom, Thailand.
Prepared by Colleen Rost-Banik
Updated on March 4, 2004"

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08]


Abb.: Sanghikaram Wat Khmer
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07]

Gründung von Sanghikaram Wat Khmer in Lynn, Massachusetts


With more than 4,000 Cambodians, Lynn is a North Shore center for the region's Cambodian community. Many came to Lynn between 1975 and 1979 and in the early 1980s. In 1984, the newly-arrived residents began to raise money for a temple, and in 1985 the group acquired a former church, Calvary Baptist, which is located in the middle of the city's Cambodian community, and converted it into a temple.

Description and Activities

The temple has since acquired a house across the street that is now a monastery residence for three monks. This year, three monks live at the temple as well. The monks officiate at ceremonies and celebrations of the temple, such as the Buddha's birthday, the New Year's celebration in the spring, the beginning and end of the rainy season retreat, and the annual fall robe-offering ceremony in which laity express their support of the monks by presenting new robes.
Meetings take place daily at 5:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M.

Contact Name and Title
Poli Podhi, English-speaking monk who resides at the temple

Contact Phone/Fax Number
Chestnut Street: (781) 581-7266 or (781) 595-7907 or Story Avenue: (781) 593-4987

Date Center Founded

Membership/Community Size
Variable; 50-60 regular participants and 300 for large ceremonies

Ethnic Composition
Primarily Cambodian

Updated on June 20, 2002"

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07]


Gründung von Triratanaram Temple in North Chelmsford, Massachusetts

"Description and Facilities

The Cambodian Buddhist Society began meeting in an apartment in North Chelmsford in the early 1980s. The present temple was founded in 1985 by the Ven. Sao Khon, under the sponsorship of the Ven. Maha Ghosananda. Triratanaram is one of two Khmer Buddhist temples serving the estimated 25,000 Cambodians in the Lowell area. The temple, housed in a former Knights of Columbus Hall, has recently been upgraded and now has a large temple room, a kitchen and dining room, a library, and a monks' residence, as well as a stage for open-air worship and a playground. The name of the temple refers to the "three jewels" of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Dharma (teachings), and the Sangha (community of monks).

In addition to its two permanent monks, the Ven. Sao Khon and the Ven. Seng Savann, six monks from Cambodia are currently on a long-term visit. Their presence signals the forging of stronger links between the temple and Buddhist institutions in Cambodia. The language of worship is Khmer, with formal prayers often in Pali. The temple maintains ties with other Cambodian Buddhist temples in the region, and with Protestant and Catholic churches in Lowell.

Activities and Schedule

Every day before lunch, around 11 A.M., there is chanting, prayer and the offering of food to the monks, who are supported by the laity. There is also a daily session of chanting alternating with meditation that begins at 7 P.M. Special services, such as for the Buddha's Birthday or to celebrate the New Year, are held four to five times throughout the year, and draw as many as 600 people.


The Temple is open daily from 7:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M.. Daily food offering and Service takes place at 11:00 A.M. and daily chanting and meditation at 7:00 P.M.


Contact Name and Title
Sieng Sak, President

Contact Phone/Fax Number
(978) 251-1198

Date Center Founded

Membership/Community Size
Variable; 100 regular participants, 500-600 for special services

Ethnic Composition
85% Cambodian, plus Vietnamese-, Laotian- and Thai-American

Updated on June 20, 2002"

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07]


Es erscheint der Dokumentarfilm Blue Collar and Buddha / von Taggart Seigel

"This dramatic documentary sensitively explores the dilemma of a community of Laotian refugees, torn between preserving their cultural identity and adapting to their new life in America. Re-settling in Rockford, Illinois, they find their working class neighbors resent their economic gains.

With shocking clarity Rockford's blue collar workers, many unemployed, voice their hatred of the newcomers, whom they confuse with their former enemies in Vietnam. When the Laotians build a Buddhist temple, the monks are subject to terrorist attacks. Town officials and clergymen respond to this crisis, some with indifference others with concern. The Laotians, for their part, have no other options but to stay in Rockford, working hard to make a better life for their children."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-14]


Abb.: Dhamma Yaung Chi Ceti (Light of the Dhamma Pagoda)
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-20]

Gründung des International Meditation Center USA in Westminster, Maryland

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-20

"The International Meditation Center USA was founded in 1988 to provide facilities for the instruction and practice of Theravada Buddhist Meditation. Along with the four other International Meditation Centers in the West, it is a direct offshoot of the International Meditation Center of Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma), which was founded by Sayagyi U Ba Khin. In addition to being a highly respected meditation teacher, Sayagyi U Ba Khin was the first Accountant General of Burma after Independence in 1948."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-20]

Abb.: Mother Sayamagyi, die geistliche Leiterin des Center 
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-20]


Gründung des Wat Lao Buddharam in Charlotte, North Carolina

"Wat Lao Buddharam was founded in 1989 to serve the growing Laotian population of Charlotte.  Besides providing them with access to their traditional Theravadin Buddhist practices and beliefs, it serves like many Asian-American temples as a cultural center, where Old World language and customs can be preserved and transmitted to new generations.

Wat Lao consists of several buildings on about thirty acres of land in suburban Charlotte, with a moderate-sized pond.  The land was cleared by the community to make way for the temple compounds.  The main temple is a colorful building with a traditional-style roof and serpentine nagas (elemental dragon spirits) leading up to the entrance.  Inside the rectangular building there is a large open space for gatherings, with an altar area on one end dominated by a large golden Buddha.  The walls are covered with original paintings depicting incidents in the life of the Buddha.

The grounds also include a smaller temple that is used by the monks for meditation, a stage and barbeque area for social gatherings, and a small house where the monks live.  The monks' residence has a receiving room, a kitchen, bedroom, and a small shrine where daily practice takes place.  Much of the monks' time is spent in this room offering prayers and meditating.  The grounds are also graced with several beautiful stupas, large statues of the Buddha, and small huts which serve as memorials for deceased loved ones.

Wat Lao Buddharam doesn't have official members--local Laotian-Americans attend regularly or not as they see fit.  The primary religious gatherings occur roughly every other Sunday morning, when people gather at 10:00 a.m. to pray, make offerings, and listen to one of the monks deliver a sermon.  Such events last until one or two in the afternoon and are followed by food and socializing.  Usually fifty to one hundred people will attend on any given Sunday, but special occasions bring out a thousand or more attendees.

Another common religious ritual is offering food to the monks, who are only allowed to eat food prepared for them by others.  In Laos they would go on begging rounds to get their meals, but in Americalaypeple, usually women, make their meals and bring them to the temple.  The monks must finish eating before noon, as they are not allowed to eat after twelve o'clock, in accordance with ancient Buddhist monastic rules.  Formal meditation is not usually performed by the laity, though some older members do meditate with the monks for an hour or so on Sunday evenings after their prayers.

The monks who stay at the temple are all from Laos or Thailand, and live at Wat Lao for a year or more before moving on to another American temple, while others take their place.  Thus, the religious leadership of the American Theravadin community slowly rotates around the country, exposing the laity to many teachers and the monks to many ways of American life.  Usually from one to three monks are living at Wat Lao at any given time.  Their English tends to be minimal, and services are alaways conducted in Laotian, with collective rituals in the Pali language. 


[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08]


Abb.: Metta Forest Monastery
[Bildquelle. -- Zugriff am 2005-06-16. -- Zugriff am 2005-06-16]

Ein wohlhabender Bürger von Massachusetts stiftet Metta Forest Monastery nordöstlich von San Diego.

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-16

"Metta Forest Monastery grew from an aspiration expressed by Phra Ajaan Suwat Suvaco (Phra Bodhidhammacariya Thera) that America should have an international forest monastery in a tranquil setting devoted to the practice of the Buddha’s Dhamma and Vinaya, in the style of the Thai forest tradition of Phra Ajaan Mun Bhuridatta Thera (1870-1949). Although intended first and foremost as a monastic residence and training ground for monks, the monastery would also serve as a retreat center for a small number of lay students to practice meditation and deepen their understanding of the Buddha’s teachings.

This aspiration became a reality when, in 1990, an American student donated the funds to purchase a 60 acre avocado grove along Muutama Lane at the foot of Mt. Pala in Valley Center, San Diego County, California. When the land was purchased, a group of Thai and Laotian supporters in southern California, together with monetary support from Thailand, built temporary quarters for monks to stay on the land in time for the Rains: six Thais and one American. At the end of the Rains, the monastery received a royal kathina donation from Her Majesty, the Queen of Thailand.

In 1993, Ajaan Suwat appointed Ajaan Geoffrey Thanissaro to be abbot of the monastery. Two years later, Ajaan Geoffrey was authorized to be a preceptor by the Dhammayut Council in Thailand.

Abb.: Thanissaro (1949 - )

In March of 2000, the monastery purchased an adjoining parcel of land, 80 acres of chaparral bordering on the west of the original property, in order to ensure the quiet atmosphere of the monastery well into the future. Thus the monastery is currently situated on a 140 acre tract of land.

This year seven monks are residing at the monastery for the Rains: two Thais, three Americans, one Canadian, and one Taiwanese.

Located in an avocado orchard on a hill surrounded by the mountains and chaparral of northern San Diego county, Metta Forest Monastery offers the opportunity for lay people to come and stay for individual retreats of long or short duration. Although Metta is primarily a monastery, part of the hill is set aside for lay visitors who want to come on individual retreats and follow our daily schedule.

We also offer group retreats on occasional weekends from May through October, during which we add an extra group meditation session -- held in our "outdoor hall" under the trees on the west edge of the orchard -- during mid-afternoon."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-16]


Abb.: Spirit Rock Meditation Center
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-23]

Das Hauptgebäude des Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodcare, California wird fertiggestellt. Geschätzte Kosten: $6.000.000.

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-23

"Spirit Rock Meditation Center is dedicated to the teachings of the Buddha as presented in the Theravadan vipassana tradition. The practice of mindful awareness, called Insight or Vipassana Meditation, is at the heart of all the activities at Spirit Rock. The Center hosts a full program of ongoing classes, daylong, and residential retreats."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-23]

"Spirit Rock Meditation Center


Spirit Rock Meditation Center, is a nonresidential Vipassana retreat center that sits on a four hundred-acre plot of land in the San Geronimo Valley, north of San Francisco. A great deal of the land surrounding the Center is privately owned, sparsely populated, and largely undeveloped. Based on its vision of serving as a “living mandala,” Spirit Rock Meditation Center has continued to expand the ideals of “right relationship” and “service” to include all Earth-beings. Building on ancient Buddhist traditions from Southeast Asia, teachings and practices at Spirit Rock incorporate ecological appreciation and land stewardship in various ways. Gratitude for the land is expressed through attentiveness to practice and a meditation of loving kindness. Ecological awareness is cultivated through outdoor walking meditations and pilgrimages, while dharma teachings include the plants, animals, and topographical features of the wider land community. The ideals of simplicity and low-impact living are borne out in the Center’s commitment to vegetarianism, hermitage principles, and ecologically sensitive land development, use, and management.


As a result of growing interest in Vipassana meditation in the United States in the 1970s and the establishment of Insight Meditation centers in Boulder, Colorado and Barre, Massachusetts, a group of Californian practitioners founded the West coast based Spirit Rock Meditation Center in the San Geronimo Valley in 1986. The land was largely undeveloped when purchased, and building the Center has been a gradual process, requiring fundraising, careful planning, negotiations with local groups and regulatory agencies, and ongoing labor efforts. In 1990, trailers were brought in to serve as temporary meditation and office space areas, and in 1995 a dining hall was constructed. The following year Spirit Rock received official approval of a design plan for various residence structures, a meditation hall, parking facilities, a Council House, and a hermitage. Expansion efforts currently under consideration require careful planning and focus on impact monitoring reports and additional habitat assessment projects.

Listed Partner Organizations

San Geronimo Valley Planning Group Long-Term Goals To carry out design and development plans in an ecologically responsible fashion in order to establish Spirit Rock as a residential retreat center that fosters interconnectedness through retreats, right relationship, hermitage, daily life practice, service, and study. "

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07]


Abb.: Sombun Athitano (พระครูสมุห์สมบุญ อธิฏฺฐาโน)
[Bildquelle: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. X, No. 2 (Winter 2000). -- S. 60.]

Der Mönch Sombun Athitano (พระครูสมุห์สมบุญ อธิฏฺฐาโน) gründet in Stockton, California Wat Chanasisamakidham (วัดจันทร์ศรีสามัคคีธรรม)

"Abbot Sombun Athitano stands on the balcony of Wat Chansisamakidham and looks out over the parking lot. With his arms akimbo and his expression deeply serious, he resembles a mythic hero, keeping a vigilant watch over his protectorate.

He is remarkably calm for a man accused of heresy. His confident stance and his unshakeable poise make it impossible to tell that he is the central figure in a controversy that has divided his temple's constituency and threatens to destroy his life's work.

From his position on the balcony, he surveys his domain with tactical scrutiny. In the near distance, he sees downtown Stockton, one of northern California's most notoriously blighted urban neighborhoods. Junkies roam South Hunter Street desperately seeking a fix, while drunken men and women lay unconscious on the sidewalks. Every window is behind bars, and every accessible vertical surface is marked with gang graffiti.

It's hard to imagine why a Theravada monk from rural Thailand would establish a temple in a place like this. But as Abbot Sombun shifts his gaze to the foreground, he receives a vivid reminder of the purpose behind his mission.

The temple parking lot is teeming with kids. The younger ones are playing in a sandpile, while a group of older girls blasts the sounds of a Laotian pop group through a portable stereo. They range in age from two years to late adolescence. Most are Laotian-American, though some are of Thai, Hmong, or Cambodian descent. They come to the temple to worship and play, but mostly they come for a much-needed refuge from the violence of the streets.

"We established this temple with the kids in mind," explains Abbot Sombun. "There are all kinds of dangers in this neighborhood—guns, drugs, gangs. By keeping them off the streets, we're keeping them from harm."

But not everyone agrees with the abbot's methods. On May 16, 1999, a group of protestors—all former members of the abbot's constituency—stormed the temple and demanded a change of leadership. Abbot Sombun, they claimed, had become too familiar with the ways of the world. In his efforts to reach out to the children of his neighborhood, he and his fellow monks had violated the time-honored codes of monastic non-attachment. Monks should be ritual practitioners and models of quiet reflection, say the abbot's accusers, not referees and guardians to a temple full of streetwise kids."

[Quelle: Bob Easton Waller: Mean street monks. -- In: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. X, No. 2 (Winter 2000). -- S. 61.]


Die sechs Mönche, ein Novize, eine Maechee und ein Tempelangestellter von Wat Promkunaram (วัดพรหมคุณาราม) in Waddell, Arizona werden von zwei Teenagern ermordet.

"The slaughter was discovered when a worker showed up early to prepare a meal for the monks. The bodies were found in a sea of blood on a carpeted floor near the living quarters.

The slain monks were Pairuch Kanthong, 36, the temple abbot; Somsak Sopha, 46; Sian Ginggaeo, 35; Surichai Anuttaro, 33; Chalerm Chantapim, 31; and Boonchuay Chaiyarach, 37.

Also gunned down were Foi Sripanprasert, 75, a temple nun; her grandson, Matthew Lee Miller, 17, a monk-in-training; and Chirasak Chirapong, 21, a temple helper.

Evidence shows that Doody, then 17, and Garcia, then 16, armed with a 20-gauge pump shotgun and .22-caliber rifle and wearing military clothing and gear, showed up at the temple on a Friday night, Aug. 9, 1991, at about midnight.

Both were enrolled in the Air Force ROTC program at Agua Fria High School and shared an interest in military operations. At a base store at Luke, they purchased clothing and gear used in the robbery, including snow boots, camouflage hats, scarves for their faces, military belts, goggles and battle harnesses on which to carry knives and flashlights.

They also constructed a homemade silencer for the rifle, but it failed when they were testing it in the White Tank Mountains.

Later, Doody's lawyer would attempt to portray the massacre as a "war game" that went horribly awry.

However, a prosecutor described Doody as a "stone-cold killer," who had plotted with Garcia for two months to rob the temple and eliminate the witnesses.

Doody's younger brother, David, a temple novice, unknowingly may have fueled the scheme by telling Doody and Garcia that there was gold at the temple and that some of the monks kept money and guns in their rooms, court records show.

At Doody's trial, Garcia testified that he and Doody "talked about it every day," discussing how to carry out the robbery.

"At first, it was just robbery. Then eventually, it turned into basically, 'Let's go ahead and shoot them,' " Garcia told jurors.

Garcia, who pleaded guilty and testified against Doody at Doody's trial, told jurors that after ransacking the temple, the two arranged the unresisting victims on the floor. Then, he said, he and Doody exchanged glances. Then they started to fire.

Garcia testified that he wanted to leave without harming anybody, but Doody told him, "No witnesses."

Experts said all nine victims died of .22-caliber wounds to the back and side of the head. Some also suffered shotgun wounds.

Doody, who did not take the stand, was convicted largely on Garcia's testimony and on Doody's admission to investigators that he was at the temple during the massacre.

Garcia struck a deal with prosecutors that allowed him to escape the death penalty in return for his testimony against Doody.

Doody avoided a death sentence after a judge said he couldn't conclude beyond a reasonable doubt whether it was Doody or Garcia who fired the .22-caliber rifle that killed the nine. The judge said another factor was the plea bargain struck with Garcia that spared him from death.

"It is only these rather unique set of circumstances . . . that saves this defendant (Doody) from a death sentence," the judge said in his ruling.

Doody is incarcerated in a prison at Florence. Garcia was placed in an out-of-state prison that the Arizona Department of Corrections won't identify. "

[Quelle: Brent Whiting. -- -- Zugriff am 2005-06-09] 


Abb.: George Mumford

Phil Jackson (1945 - ), Zen-Meditierer und Coach der Basketballmannschaft Chicaco Bulls, stellt den Vipassana-Lehrer und Sportpsychologen  George Mumford als Meditations-Coach für die Chicago Bulls ein. 1999 gehen beide in denselben Funktionen zu den Los Angeles Lakers. 2004 verlässt Jackson die Lakers.

"Introducing George Mumford

The L.A. Lakers basketball team won the 2000 and 2001 NBA Championships under the leadership of Head Coach Phil Jackson. One of Phil Jackson’s secret weapons is George Mumford, who coached the Lakers (and the Chicago Bulls) on the Inner Game. George is a Vipassana teacher, former Board member of Spirit Rock and IMS, and sports psychologist who teaches retreats nationally.

One of the most thrilling sights was the Lakers moving down court as a single organism. Shaq and Kobe’s Superstar egos had simply disappeared. He got ‘natta! For many young African-American males, basketball represents freedom of movement, mastery and money. Yet, it is the Game of Life that most Black men get to play. In this interview, George talks about how mindfulness practice liberated him from drug addiction and the difference the Dharma can make if properly introduced into inner city African-American communities.

How did you come into Buddhism?

I was in suffering and recovering from addiction. I had chronic pain but couldn’t use pain medication because that could play into addiction. Dr. Joan Borysenko, specialist in mind-body response, suggested meditation as an alternative and referred me to an IMS retreat. I read every book on their syllabus of Buddhist books. It took all my energy o purge the drugs and alcohol. My life depended upon meditation practice, residential retreats, Buddhist readings and teachers. That was the first time I felt I had a sense of control in my life.

How could Dharma practice make a difference in inner-city lives?

I think the main benefit to African Americans from meditation is impulse control. The inner city is a pressure cooker, full of tension and anxiety. It’s easy to go off or to reach for something to ease the pain. Meditation helps people understand the operation of their mind and emotions. It teaches us how to detach ourselves from outside provocation and from our habitual patterns of reaction.

Are there practices that are "unattractive" at first blush, to African Americans?

Facing your own dukkha. But that’s probably true for everyone. Folks will keep coming until the dukkha is too strong. Then they leave. The thinking is "If I don’t come, I won’t feel it." It takes awhile to appreciate the insight that the only way out of dukkha is through.

As a sports psychologist who works with sports teams, I often find I want the players to get it more than the players do. But that’s the boundary, they have to want it more than you or anyone else. You just keep the doors open and make the teachings available.

Many Buddhists of Color have stayed away from mainline centers like Spirit Rock or IMS or visit once, never to return. What are the reasons for this?

Part of the reason are teachers. Teachers get use to teaching the same type of folks for years all over the country. Many get comfortable with their pattern, because teachers are still people after all. Teachers are revered and placed on a kind of pedestal. It’s easy for us to inattentively become unavailable.

Suddenly, there are yogis of color, but we don’t adapt our teaching style, our examples or our words. So, we lose them. It starts to seem like Buddhism is for college educated white folks only.

What can we at Spirit Rock do, as sangha members, teachers, staff and Board members to change this?

Pay attention. Be mindful. Communicate.

Take Joseph Goldstein, for example. He’s been teaching People of Color retreats at Vallecitos, New Mexico for years. Yogis of color don’t know who he is and he’s not revered as he usually is by white yogis. Joseph gets questioned at those retreats. He gets confronted. But Joseph sticks with it, listens and comes back. Why? Because Joseph is sensitizing himself. He’s raising his ability as a teacher, to spread the dharma to new audiences.

In other words, Joseph is being a Buddhist. He’s being in the moment, as it is. He’s being sensitive, making adjustments. He’s dropping parameters and getting out of his comfort zones. He’s willing to go into the fire. Jack Kornfield is another teacher like that.

Anyone can learn about African Americans and other communities of color. You can read books and attend plays about people of color. You can volunteer in an inner city center. For teachers, you can find or create opportunities to co-teach before different audiences. Prepare yourself as much as you can.

Many Buddhists of color have family who are drug addicted, in jail or otherwise on the margins. How do we deal more effectively with our survivor’s guilt?

Yeah, that’s a hard one, because you care and you can’t figure out why you’re making it and they’re not, even though you’re from the same place. You’re isolated. You emotionally swing one of two ways: "You don’t deserve what you have" or "You’re all that, but you have to fix it all." Yeah, there are core issues of feeling personal responsibility for everyone.

We have to cultivate non-attachment. Notice I didn’t say detachment, but non-attachment, because you are connected. They’re family. The first step is to clearly face your own helplessness. Control is an illusion. Come to accept that you have no control over their behavior or the consequences, as hard as that is to do. We want it for them more than they do.

Create an environment in which they can succeed—once they have had enough of the Dukkha. An inner-city Dharma Center creates an environment, a physical place of refuge and resources. But I mean an attitude of staying open to them, letting them know you may not like certain behaviors and may even get disappointed. But stay available and share the dharma and the practices when they’re ready to hear it.

Drug addiction especially is a tough one. Slipping back into using is such a big part of recovery. But for those of us who have used meditation as a way out of addiction, it works. Meditation takes us to the place of pain, the underlying dukkha that leads us to addictions. Then, it helps us to heal, become free and lead new lives.

You can tell them about me. Tell them my story.

There is planning of an independent Dharma Center in the East Bay, which may have a limited affiliation with Spirit Rock. Oakland, California is the likely location, with a large population of African Americans. What would motivate African Americans to come to the Dharma?

Dukkha. Dukkha will motivate African Americans to come through the doors, when you’re through the denial of dukkha in your life.

Accessibility. Make sure the center is easy to get to . . . and to go home from. People would see it as a resource, a quiet refuge and a place to get in touch with themselves. Eventually, they may be able to see the strong positive impact on their lives.

A lot of folks’ initial motivation is to get an edge—to beat the pain and the stress like myself, or to go pro. But this experience can open the door into a deeper practice. The best pathway for an inner-city Dharma Center is to set the table and invite all to come and sup with us. Keep it simple and make the teachings available."

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-10]


"Dharma in Dixie

North Edgefield Baptist Church stands in a residential neighborhood in Nashville, Tennessee. The church looks much the same as it did when it was first constructed in 1892: stained glass windows, crosses, and other icons of Christian faith still decorate the worship hall. On the altar in front of the old baptismal tank, however, rests a six-foot brass Buddha brought from Thailand—an arresting symbol of new contributions being made to American religious pluralism by ethnic Asian communities.

The church was purchased for $87,000 in 1981 by Dr. U Win Myint, a professor of mathematics at Tennessee State University. Myint came to the United States in 1954 from Burma, earning college and postgraduate degrees in engineering. Although raised in a Theravada Buddhist family, he became an active member in a number of Methodist, Baptist, and Unitarian congregations during his first years in America. Always remaining a "Buddhist in the heart," Myint explained that the Christian congregations helped alleviate his feelings of alienation from his new surroundings.

The violence and civil conflicts that wracked Southeast Asia in the seventies provided Myint with a community of his own religious heritage. Displaced soldiers and their families—nearly two thousand unskilled and uneducated refugees from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam—were resettled in Nashville. To help promote economic self-sufficiency among the refugees, in 1975 Myint founded the International Market, a restaurant that serves authentic Southeast Asian food and provides jobs for many refugees.

Hoping to help provide a source of spiritual guidance as well, Myint embarked on an even more ambitious venture six years later, purchasing the North Edgefield Baptist Church and converting it into Nashville's first Theravada Buddhist temple. The original goals of The Buddhist Temple were lofty: Myint hoped that monks from Southeast Asia would take up residence in the old church and eventually establish a monastery. More important, he envisioned the temple as an international Asian cultural center with two educational goals: to preserve the integrity of the refugees' Buddhist heritage while providing educational services designed to help them become integrated into American society.

Unforeseen difficulties, however, have challenged Myint and the Nashville temple. In accordance with Myint's original plan, nearly thirty monks were sent to Nashville by the Sasana Council in Thailand during the early eighties. It soon became apparent, however, that the monks had their own agenda distinct from the dual educational goals of the temple; instead of applying their teachings toward helping the refugee community, the monks sought to transform the temple into a sectarian monastery for members of the Dhammayuttika sect of Theravada Buddhism. Myint believed that a sectarian Thai monastery would compromise the temple's multicultural and ecumenical charter and create strife among the various refugee groups. After a year of turmoil, the Thai monks were dismissed. "We were afraid that the international nature of the temple would be lost," Myint explained. "There were hard feelings in the minds of some of the Thai Buddhist monks."

Additionally, many refugees were at first reluctant to attend the temple for fear of offending their "hosts"—the Refugee Resettlement Agency organized by the Catholic Church. According to Myint, agents from the resettlement organization visited the homes of refugee families shortly after the temple was established, warning them against attending services there.

Recently, the temple was burglarized, prompting fear among its members. The Buddhist Temple is located in what Myint terms "a fairly rough neighborhood," and the new monks and lay practitioners have become increasingly apprehensive about their safety. Myint plans to move The Buddhist Temple to a Nashville suburb, closer to the homes of the refugees. "Our efforts will be more successful in the future," he says optimistically. "We'll be able to do a much better job for the refugees once we have moved into a new building." It remains to be seen, however, if the challenges confronting Myint are the result of the center's poor geographical location or the product of deeper cultural divisions among the various refugee groups in the community.

Myint's struggles at The Buddhist Temple highlight an important tension in contemporary American religious life: the difficulties inherent in transplanting a foreign religion—with its attendent rituals and values—to another culture. While the temple has succeeded in attracting two new monks from Laos and Burma and developing weekly dharma talks, meditation groups, prison outreach programs, and lectures at local Vanderbilt University, fundamental problems remain. Perhaps the most disturbing challenge—one that strikes at the very heart of the temple's cultural and religious mission—lies with the youth of the refugee community: many second-generation refugee children have abandoned their Buddhist heritage, opting instead to immerse themselves in popular American ' lifestyles. "Older people have maintained their strict Buddhist culture," Myint asserts, "but the majority of the new generation are drifting away. They do not even think about religion. They do not become Christians, they do not become devout Buddhists. They want to have shiny cars and listen to nice music."

[Quelle: Douglas Winiarski. -- In: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. III, No. 1 (Fall 1993). -- S. 85f.]


Gründung des Wat Lao Asokaram in Rochester, New York


History   Perhaps no one at Wat Lao Asokaram is better qualified to review the history of this Buddhist temple—one of three ethnic Asian Buddhist temples within Rochester City limits—than one of its key founders, Mr. Oupekha Keomuongchanh. It was Oupekha, or “Sam” as he prefers to be called, who greeted me warmly on a typically overcast March day as I met him in the temple’s immaculate office. He currently serves as the Vice-President of the temple board and is a veteran Math instructor at one of Rochester’s city schools.

Sam had originally visited the United States in 1963 when he was invited to fly from Laos, where he was a regiment commander in the Lao Royal Army, to Fort Benning, Georgia for the Infantry Officer’s basic course. In 1975, Laos was taken over by the Communist regime and, like tens of thousands of others unable to continue to live under war and oppression, Sam and his family took refuge in Thailand. In 1976, under the aegis of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, the family won sponsorship and with their seven children and only one piece of luggage, the family arrived in Rochester to reconstruct their lives in a new land.

But the Keomuongchanhs were not the only refugees. To assist other Laotians arriving as immigrants, Sam was pivotal in the creation of the Lao Association of Rochester which met at St. Paul Lutheran Church on St. Paul Street in the City. Just as Sam and his family had been sponsored by Brighton’s Atonement Lutheran Church, so St. Paul’s Lutheran Church provided a temporary umbrella for dozens upon dozens of arriving refugees. Sam helped with the mountains of paperwork, employment networking and adult education. His efforts drew the praise of New York Assemblywoman Pinny Cooke.

“Everywhere we go, we Laotian people bring our culture and our religion,” Sam explained to me as we sat in the Temple office. I asked him how one goes about establishing a Buddhist temple in urban Rochester. “We had to meet in many different places before we found this spot on Galusha Street in 1993. We had to tear the huge five-bay garage down so we could build our temple where it once stood,” he said.

In response to my curiosity about zoning problems or other confrontations with unfamiliar bureaucracies, Sam said the founding committee successfully navigated through the paperwork required by the City ; everyone was happy when the City School okayed one of its nearby parking lots to accommodate fifty cars for temple parking on weekends.

“We can say that now we have no debts and no loans!” Sam announced, a touch of pride and accomplishment in his voice. “And although our by-laws allow us to operate a restaurant or a food cupboard, we are not currently doing these things.”

When asked how Wat Lao Asokaram obtained its first resident monk for the temple, Sam said “We get our monks directly from Laos or Thailand; Phra Khammy Nosavanh was our first, a refugee monk who came directly from Thailand in 1993 and he’s still with us.”

Like most Buddhist temples in America, Wat Lao Asokaram witnesses a succession of resident monks. Senior monk Phra Nosavanh was joined in 2002 by Phra Boonchuay Thongthae.

Wat Lao officially opened in 1994 in a colorful ceremony called Somphot Phra, with 48 monks in attendance. Three heavy much-awaited golden Buddha statues had arrived from Thailand, having made most of their journey by boat. These were donated by various Thai temples but cost of transporting the precious statues was borne by Wat Lao.

Presidents of Wat Lao Association are as follows:

1993-1996 Mr. Bounheuang Manivong (now residing in New Iberia, Louisiana)
1996-2003 Mr. Khamsy Phongsavanh

Elections are held every three years on May 28.


Demographics   Temple membership is drawn primarily from members of the Laotian, Thai and Vietnamese communities residing in the Greater Rochester metropolitan area. Some commute to the temple ceremonies from as far as a hundred miles away. Major temple ceremonies are conducted primarily in Pali, with dhamma talks delivered by the monks in Laotian.

Those attending range in age from small children with their families to temple elders. It is considered traditional for women to be seated a respectful distance from the dais where the monks sit; men are customarily seated to the front of the temple, as they must assist the monks as need be and pass food and other offerings to the monks. All are expected to sit on the many colorful carpets.

Visitors to the temple or those in any way handicapped are accommodated in comfortable chairs. As in any Buddhist temple, shoes are to be removed upon entering. Coat racks are available.

Physical Description of the Center   Wat Lao Asokaram occupies an urban lot 66’ x 130’ and is located one block east of busy Saint Paul Street, which runs along the eastern escarpment of the Genesee River gorge in downtown Rochester, New York. The temple compound is bordered by two post-1900 private homes and is within easy walking distance of an Adult Learning Center operated by the City of Rochester Public Schools on Hart Street. Wat Lao’s resident monks may attend classes at the school located in this enormous building; two monks are currently availing themselves of this resource.

The temple compound itself consists of a monk’s house separate from the temple, which is located to the rear of the property at the end of a handsomely paved driveway. The latter is lined on one side by a linear flower garden tended by the monks. The temple itself can hold 220 people and its eye-catching roof line is adorned with red and gold dragons. The doors are embossed with life-sized golden figures (Sanskrit: apsaras). Visitors are greeted by a large “Welcome to Wat Lao Asokaram” sign. All embellishments have been conceived and executed ny either temple members or local artisans. This includes two striking murals inside the temple depicting, respectively, Buddha’s parinibbana (on one mural) and (on another), a colorful image of Wat That Luang, the oldest temple in Laos and a venerated Laotian landmark.

Key documents related to the formation of Wat Lao as a community institution hang here and there on interior temple walls. These include the original temple charter and framed photographs of various monks who have served Wat Lao. Sparkling crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling and a large colorful canopy hangs above the monks as they are seated at the feet of Buddha.

Naturally, the chief object of veneration is the large golden statue of Buddha on the main altar, flanked by golden images of his two disciples, Sariputta and Mogallana. At each ceremony. Before each ceremony, pulsating strings of colored lights are turned on and further illuminate these statues. Numerous vases of flowers offered by the laity add even more color. To one side of the main altar, a smaller shrine room is dedicated to the telling of horoscopes. A large golden throne-like chair, or dhammasana, is stored here for use by visiting abbots. There’s even a small library housed in small bookcases nearby.

Just inside the temple’s main entrance stands a water-cooler and shelves for food-preparation materials, ritual containers, large woven food trays, etc. A large, heavy table serves as a focal point for small meetings while two large gongs (Lao: khong) brought from Thailand stand at the front and rear of the temple interior so they may be easily struck at appropriate times during ceremonies.

The monks’ house (guthi) serves a variety of functions and can be accessed by any member of the temple community. It offers a dormitory for the monks, contains the temple office, a basement kitchen and main food-preparation area, a general carpeted assembly hall (where temple services may occasionally be held) and provides a reception area where members of the laity may consult with resident monks. Lavatories for general use and notice-boards are also available in this house. It is worth noting, that, during the summer of 2002, the monk’s house received a new roof, with labor donated at no cost to the temple by a local Laotian-owned roofing team. A new ramp affords easy access to the house by the handicapped or infirm.

The temple building proper occupies the former site of a large garage which was torn down so that the new temple—one meeting all Rochester-City codes—could arise on the site. Ample parking is available in large lots close to the temple, thus avoiding the problem experience elsewhere of city streets clogged with cars."


External Relations   Temple officers at Wat Lao are quite proud of the harmonious relations that exist with their neighbors on this wholly residential street. The street is not blocked by members’ vehicles as there is sufficient parking in nearby lots.

The temple participated in the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery’s World Food Show for several years and young girls from the temple have demonstrated traditional Laotian dances at the Gallery and at Rochester’s School of the Arts. These events were coordinated by temple member, Ms. Sarith Phommavanh in the years from 1987 to 1997.

The temple publishes a monthly newsletter in the form of a small magazine, Sengtien (“Candlelight”) in Pali and Lao. The magazine contains articles on various aspects of the dhamma, sacred art and social topics. In addition, the temple publishes handbooks and manuals on chanting (in Pali and English). Many announcements are printed up during the year and mailed by the temple Board to its membership keeping them abreast of upcoming festivals, ceremonies and retreats.

The generosity of temple members is often reflected in donations made during times of civic or national crisis. Shortly after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers on 9/11, members of Wat Lao raised $2000. A check for this amount was hand-delivered to the headquarters of the Rochester chapter of the American Red Cross."

[Quelle: David Day. -- -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08]


Abb.: Einbandtitel

Es erscheint:

Numrich, Paul David <1952 - >:Old wisdom in the New World : Americanization in two immigrant Theravada Buddhist temples. -- Knoxville : University of Tennessee Press, c1996.  -- xxiv, 181 S. : Ill. ; 24 cm.  -- ISBN 087049905X. -- {Wenn Sie HIER klicken, können Sie dieses Buch direkt bei bestellen}

Analyse des thai Wat Dhammaram (วัดธัมมาราม), Chicago [Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-30] und des singhalesischen Dharma Vijaya Buddhist Vihara, Los Angeles [Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-30] 

"This book breaks new ground in a number of ways. Most previous studies of the experience of Asian immigrants have ignored (or at least minimized) the religious factor, due in large part to the Marxist-oriented and socially activist context within which the field of Asian American Studies was born. Previous publications on Buddhism in North America, by contrast, have largely elided the experience of Asian Americans, privileging instead the meditation-centered Buddhism of first-generation, mostly Caucasian, converts. Finally, there have been no studies at all of the interactions between Asian and non-Asian Buddhists. In all of these respects this book moves well beyond the bounds of previous scholarship; it is a timely and welcome contribution.

Based on field studies carried out in 1987-1991, Numrich chronicles the attempts of a Thai temple in Chicago (Wat Dhammaram) and a Sri Lankan temple in Los Angeles (Dharma Vijaya) to put down roots in North America. Both have been involved in schisms, resulting in part from differences of opinion about the desirability of "Americanization." An additional factor in both schisms was clearly the presence of class differences among the membership, which Numrich alludes to (but does not pursue) when he reports that "medical doctors from the suburbs" were instrumental in founding breakaway temples in both cities (p. 30).

Numrich offers a rich description of the history of these two temples and the challenges they have faced in attempting to adapt Theravada Buddhist traditions to the North American environment. Students of other immigrant religions will find much that is familiar, as these Thai and Sri Lankan Buddhists debate whether to conduct services in English or an Asian vernacular, deal with potentially hostile neighbors, and worry about whether the second generation will carry on the traditions of its parents. Other challenges, however, are specific to Buddhism. Above all, the fact that a celibate monastic clergy plays a central role in all Buddhist countries but Japan, while most North Americans - whether Asian or non-Asian in ancestry - find little attraction in the celibate life, poses a serious obstacle to the recruitment of an American-born leadership.

The most novel contribution in Numrich's study is his documentation of the phenomenon of "parallel congregations." While many Buddhist groups in the United States consist exclusively of Asian immigrants or of non-Asian converts, both Dharma Vijaya and Wat Dhammaram have drawn a dual clientele that includes members of both constituencies. These two groups have not, however, merged to form a single community; traditional rituals are attended almost exclusively by Asian members, while non-Asians predominate at meditation sessions and lectures on doctrine. The result is an anomalous situation in which two distinct congregations meet at separate times, albeit under the same roof.

In the complex religious landscape of post-1960s America, Numrich suggests, such anomalies are simply to be expected. But the fact remains that - with rare exceptions - such dual communities have emerged only within Buddhist organizations. Numrich opines that the presence of resident Asian monks willing and able to offer an attractive alternative to non-Asian seekers "provides the explanation for why the parallel congregations phenomenon has not surfaced in other immigrant religious institutions" (p. 146). But, surely, there are clergy in other immigrant religious groups who would also welcome American converts. To explain why a potential convert might drive past a mosque but stop to visit a Buddhist temple, it is necessary to take into account the status of Buddhism as a "prestige tradition" among many college-educated members of the baby-boom generation. Indeed, one wonders if succeeding age cohorts will take any interest in Theravada Buddhism at all, for Numrich notes (but does not elaborate upon) the striking fact that virtually all non-Asian members of both temples are over the age of thirty-five (p. 109).

The implications of this skewed demographic profile for future non-Asian participation, the possibility that shared socio-economic status will bridge the ethnic gap between upper-middle class Asian and non-Asian members, and the impact of class differences within the Asian membership of the two temples are all issues that would have benefited from more detailed analysis. But these minor shortcomings aside, this an important and groundbreaking work that offers much food for thought to students of immigration history, Asian American Studies, and the history of Buddhism in North America."

[Quelle: Jan Nattier, Indiana University. -- -- Zugriff am 2005-06-30] 


Abb.: Wat Buddharatanaram Khmer Buddhist Temple, Inc.
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08]

Gründung des Wat Buddharatanaram Khmer Buddhist Temple, Inc. in Rochester, New York

"Activities and Schedule  

Most activities at the temple combine social and religious dimensions. Members arrive each Sunday morning during the year at about 10 a.m. for socializing and regular ceremonies. Services last until about 1 p.m.. The Cambodian word for these regular services is “samsel;” a key component is the presentation of food (prepared by the women of the temple) to the resident monk(s). At the discretion of the monk there may be a dharma talk, the functional equivalent of a Christian sermon.

Wat Buddharatanaram observes the typical festivals of the Buddhist ceremonial calendar. These include:

Maha Parinibbana February
Buddhist New Year April
Buddha’s birthday (Visakha) May
Beginning of Rains Retreat July
End of Rains Retreat (Khmer: Phichum Bin) September
New Robes Ceremony (Kathin) November

According to the Theravada Buddhist calendar, the New Robes ceremony occurs in the autumn of each year at the end of the traditional monsoon season. According to ancient monastic rules, monks should not travel from mid-July to about mid-October and are to engage in intensive study and meditations. As the season draws to a close, when the monks are regarded to be at the height of spiritual purity, the laity present them with “new robes” (kathina) and other goods; acts such as this bestow merit on the donors, or, in what amounts to a “transfer of merit," to the donor’s deceased relatives. It is widely believed that, of all the Theravada festivals, Kathin is the one that best expresses the key reciprocal relationship between the laity and the sangha, or community of monks. In this, the monks provide spiritual advice through their commentaries on the dharma and by leading exemplary lives, in their own way, an image of that led by Buddha himself. The people, in turn, give the monks material sustenance in the form of food and appropriate material commodities. Significantly, this ceremony carries over to Buddhism’s new home in America’s cities and towns with as much fervor as one might find in Southeast Asia.


The following brief history of Wat Buddharatanaram was elicited during an interview with Temple President (2003) Mr. Chhap Leng in a small room adjoining the shrine room of the temple. This particular interview began after the two of us made three prostrations before the central Buddha statue. Normally, candles and incense sticks would be lighted but on this night, the automatic fire-starter refused to ignite; technology failed us, so we adjourned to a comfortable table.

Like so many of his countrymen who fled the Khmer Rouge and the Killing Fields of the Pol Pot regime, Mr. Leng’s own arrival in the United States was a remarkable adventure as well as a test of endurance.

Before the Pol Pot takeover, Mr. Leng had been an officer in the Cambodian Navy from 1970 to 1975 and was based at Kompong Som, a port on the southwestern coast of Cambodia. With others who had decided to flee their homeland, he was taken in a small Khmer naval vessel across the Gulf of Siam to Kota Baharu, Malaysia and then inland, across Malaysia to its capital, Kuala Lumpur. Later, he and others made the lengthy, three-month voyage East to the Philippines and then finally to the United States. His first stop was Pennsylvania where he spent seven years as a machinist with Bethlehem Steel before the company’s momentous closing. On a trip to Canada, Leng recalls passing the signs for “Rochester” on the New York State Thruway and seeing just a tiny bit of Rochester, thinking to himself, “maybe I might live there…” He ultimately arrived with his family in the Rochester area settling eventually in the suburbs.
Mr. Leng gradually became familiar with other Cambodians recently immigrating to metropolitan Rochester and, with the advice of some monks, began to offer members of the Cambodian community some of the all-important Buddhist calendrical observances and funeral ceremonies. These were held in various rented church halls in the area.

The temple’s current location in a former private home, was purchased by Mr. Leng and his small circle of co-founders in 1996 from the City of Rochester. The first ceremonies were held to coincide with the Buddhist festival of Kathin in 1999, with guest monks attending from Philadelphia, Hamilton, Ontario and even faraway Alabama. Of special significance was the arrival of a monk who would lay the sacred stones (Saymaa) at each of the four corners of the temple’s foundation as an auspicious blessing of the temple itself.

The temple’s central object of veneration, the golden Buddha statue, was specially-commissioned by the trustees; it was personally collected in Washington, D.C. from its craftsman by Mr. Leng, who transported the heavy, gold-painted, clay image back to Rochester in his van.

It has not been easy for Wat Buddharatanaram to attract a permanent resident monk and the trustees are troubled by what appears to be a shortage of available monks; this is made more difficult by tough immigration regulations for those coming from Southeast Asia. As a result, the temple is currently without its own resident monk and members are therefore deprived of the everyday services a monk can provide, unless and until a visiting monk appears. Mr. Suchit Sieng, the temple’s youthful second monk, served the temple membership ably in 1998. Recently, however, he has voluntarily “dis-robed” as a monk in order to search for a job outside the world of the Buddhist temple. Meanwhile, the temple trustees are eagerly searching for a replacement.

Wat Buddharatanaram’s board consists of 24 members, all of whom currently reside within the Rochester metropolitan area. The Board votes on trustees every two years immediately after the Buddhist New Year celebration. Besides President Leng, other officers are Mr. Reath Keo, (Acchanh, or liturgical leader), Mr. Suong Hay (Vice-President), and Mrs. Sichhun Chhim (Treasurer).


Members of Wat Buddharatanaram are largely middle-aged Cambodians and most are families with young children. Only about 2% are elderly. Children and teenagers attend often with their parents and enjoy socializing , listening to the music tapes played during festivals’ lighter moments and “hanging out” with their friends in little cliques within the temple compound.

Physical Description of the Center  

Laser Street (on which the temple is located) is a purely residential side street off busy Joseph Avenue just North of downtown Rochester, New York. It is a neighborhood of very modest homes currently (2003) selling in the $25-40,000 range. The lots are small, the street narrow and the homes densely packed. Wat Buddharatanaram sits half-way down the block and consists of two city lots.

When the temple purchased the property, it contained a single-family home in poor condition. The temple members have, through hundreds and hundreds of hours of donated labor, transformed the derelict property into an immaculate compound; there’s a spacious driveway, (part paved and part patterned brick to conform to a neighbor’s request), new entryway steps, an emergency exit door, freshly-painted exterior, handsome two-car garage (used for a variety of ceremonial and storage purposes) and attractive garden (maintained in Spring and Summer by monks and laity). A large kitchen and utility rooms accommodate the mountains of food brought in at festival times and on most weekends. The temple also owns a sizable tent (for use in inclement weather) , outdoor barbecue units and numerous folding chairs.

One enters the temple through a vestibule where shoes are commonly removed. There’s a bulletin board here with notices for all to browse. To the right, the kitchen is visible. The central shrine room was constructed from the house’s front parlor and, of course, now holds the golden Buddha image, with many supporting Buddha statues and other ritual objects, incense, candles and vases of flowers. Over Buddha’s head hangs a canopy suspended from the ceiling; at the canopy’s center is a crystal chandelier bathing the entire room in its glow. Behind the Buddha is a wall-sized mural depicting a park-like setting in which the Buddha delivered so many of his sermons. An Ithaca, New York artist executed the mural. In effect, the giant statue is seen to be seated underneath the large painted Bodhi tree. To one side of the main shrine is a doorway leading to the monk’s quarters.
There is a plan to frame colorful pictures depicting important scenes from the life of Buddha and hang them on temple walls, especially as learning devices for the children. A small temple library is maintained in an overflow room.


Temple announcements in the form of fliers are sent out every month to the membership informing them of budget updates and various temple activities. These are all prepared by the Treasurer, Mrs. Sichhun Chhim.

For about a year after its founding, the temple listed itself in the Rochester Yellow Pages, but it was later found to be too expensive and the listing was withdrawn.


After the lethal attacks of 9/11, Temple President Mr. Leng and Mr. Suchit Sieng delivered a check representing generous donations from the membership to the Rochester Red Cross headquarters for victims of the terrorist strikes. "

[Quelle: David H. Day. -- -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08] 


Abb.: Sitagu Buddhist Vihara
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08]

Gründung des Sitagu Buddhist Vihara in Austin, Texas

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08

"Sitagu Buddhist Vihara, and the Theravada Dhamma Society of America were founded in 1996 by the Venerable Ashin Nyanissara, Sitagu Sayadaw of Burma.  Sitagu Vihara was founded to provide a center for the practice of Theravada Buddhist meditation and Dhamma study in the United States in a traditional monastic context.  The Theravada Dhamma Society of America (TDSA) was founded as a lay organization which lends both financial and volunteer support to the efforts of Sitagu Vihara, and provides for the support and well-being of its resident monks.

Fully ordained Buddhist monks are in residence at the Vihara who are very learned in both the Dhamma and meditation practice.

At present the Vihara is in the inital stages of its growth.  The present monastery consists of two mobile homes, a  dining facility and three meditation cottages.  In the near future, construction will begin on a large Dhamma Hall, then a Burmese style stupa (a memorial shrine containing Buddha relics and sacred images), a Monastery Residence, a Dining Facility, several Meditation Cottages, and Lavatories.  When construction is complete, Sitagu Vihara will be able to house as many as ten meditators on retreat and will be the residence of at least four monks.  The stupa that will be constructed will be a scale reproduction of the Shwe Zigon Pagoda in the Pagan, Burma. 

Currently the Vihara conducts weekly meditation sessions as well as classes for both adults and children on the Dhamma.  If you have an interest in learning about Buddhism, or are looking for a place to strengthen your current meditation practice, please consider visiting us.  You are always welcome. ´"

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-08]



"The Five What?

The International Meditation Center (IMC)—a Buddhist center in the Burmese tradition located in Westminster, Maryland, and founded by Sayagyi U Ba Kyin— allegedly turned away a student last May because he is HIV-positive.

Madison Jones, a vipassana practitioner, tried registering by telephone ; for a retreat at IMC, which is near his home. He requested to be permitted to sit in a chair and to sleep eight hours a night. Michael Kosman, the resident teacher, indicated that this should not be a problem. Jones then explained that he was making the requests because he was HIV-positive. Shortly afterward, Kosman telephoned Jones back to say that he had been instructed that Jones could not attend if he was HIV-positive. When questioned later by Jones's legal counsel, Kosman stated that he had not told Madison that HIV was a factor and that a "personality conflict" was the reason Jones was not welcome. However, according to Jones, his answering machine had accidentally recorded the earlier conversation, during which Kosman had stated that HIV was the reason for turning him away. When informed about the tape, the IMC board agreed to allow Jones to attend future retreats, but subsequently rescinded the offer.

Since most retreat centers do accommodate participants with HIV and other disabilities, Jones, along with his legal counsel, requested that IMC adopt a nondiscrimination policy and provide accommodations if necessary to enable a person with a disability to participate in a retreat, but the center refused. IMC replied in a letter that admitting and accommodating persons with physical illnesses and other disabilities "conflicts with the requirements of the Buddhist meditation process.... The Five Elements of Effort, or 'Padhaniyanga' . . . are Faith, Health, Sincerity, Energy and Wisdom." When Tricycle contacted IMC, we were told that Buddhist meditation can be physically stressful and can call up many difficult emotions, thus good health is a requirement."

[Quelle: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. VI, No. 2 (Winter 1996). -- S. 83f.]

Webpräsenz des IMC: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-06


"Residents of Yorba Linda, California, objecting to Asian architectural style and potential crowds, have quashed the efforts of the Myanmar Buddhist Society of America to build a monastery there. Members of the Society said they believed the city council, which rejected the building proposal, had tried to discredit their sangha. Residents near the proposed site tried to link the group to other Buddhist temples in southern California that have used meditation centers to host political gatherings, and to one temple that neighbors call an "eyesore."

One resident, Jack Majors, objected to the size of the building and its proposed design, saying, "You have before you a project that compares to the Taj Mahal." Another resident, Georgina Campbell, maintained that the architecture would draw crowds and cause traffic. Local clergy, meanwhile, defended the project. John Dalton, president of the Church of Latter Day Saints, who lives next to the proposed site, said he welcomed the Burmese Buddhists as "gentle people our children can look up to and learn from." The only other building project to have been barred in recent years was a pool hall."

[Quelle: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. VII, No.1 (Fall 1997). -- S. 17.]


Abb.: Anzeige in Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. VII, No. 4 (Summer 1998). -- S. 14f.


In Portland, Oregon halten die Mönche des laotischen Buddharam Tempel in einem U-Bahn-Tunnel eine Zeremonie ab, um die Geister zu beschwichtigen, die dadurch aufgebracht sein könnten, dass eine neue U-Bahn-Linie unter einem Friedhof durchführt.


Eröffnung des Georgia Buddhist Vihara in Lithonia, Georgia

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07


Before they opened this center, the community used to worship in their homes, at a local Thai temple, or a Cambodian temple nearby. Because most of the monks at these other temples did not speak english, the Sir Lankan community would invite Sri Lankan monks to come talk in their homes or arrange special visits at the other Theravadan temples.

At some point a Sri Lankan monk came from California to the area to train other Theravadan monks. He knew a Sir Lankan family from Texas who wanted to establish dhamma centers throughout the United States and had already established a Sri Lankan Buddhist temple in Tampa. He told them about the Atlanta community and they decided to donate land and a building to establish a center in the Atlanta area. They bought a house and land in Lithonia in March 2000 and the community in Georgia began to renovate the house.

The community invited two Sri Lankan monks who moved into the temple in May 2000 before renovations had been completed. The Buddha image the community had ordered from Sri Lankan arrived and they opened the Vihara on June 3, 2000 with visitors from across the country including Tibetan, Sri Lankan, and Cambodian monks and Chinese monks and nuns.


The center is open to everyone although they expect that the majority of temple visitors will be Sri Lankan. Most of these Sri Lankans speak both English and Sinhalese. The sermons will be in Sinhalese or English and the prayers, as in other Theravadan traditions, will be in Pali.

Most visitors at the temple opening came as families with couples ranging from late twenties to sixties and their children from infants to mid-twenties.


The center used to be a private residence. Although the Vihara currently sits on at least two acres, the previous owner had sold off part of the property earlier for a new subdivision. The main structure on the center's property is a house that had required renovation before the two resident monks could move in. The community painted the outside of the wooden house white. There is a porch in the front of this one-story structure that leads to the main shrine room. As you walk in you face the large, golden sitting Buddha who is about five feet tall. A few windows line the wall on the right and two doorways on the left lead to the monks' rooms. A passageway behind and to the left of the Buddha leads to the kitchen and dining area. The kitchen contains a bulletin board with community information (including a renovation schedule), an island countertop, a refrigerator, stove, and oven. The kitchen opens to the dining area that, at the opening ceremony, was able to accomodate at least four long tables along which all of the monks and nuns sat as they were fed.

The bathroom and a few other rooms that may have been storage areas are off a hallway behind the kitchen. A door on the left of this hallway opens to the backward that had been arranged with tables to service food, a podium and folding chairs for ceremonies later in the day, and an open tent to provide shade on this hot afternoon.

A few other buildings sit on the property: a run-down barn, and a wooden bathhouse with a public restroom next to an empty pool. Off to the right of the property (if you face the front of the house) is an open grassy area on which most of the cars had been parked.

Center Activities

Because the center is so new the community has not yet developed a schedule. A member told me that as people in the community want to arrange regular meetings and worship, the Vihara would schedule them. Because the monks live on the property the temple is open at any time and people are welcome to walk in.
The one activity the community has planned is a Sunday school class for the children.

Again, my contacts stressed that the temple is open to anyone who wants to learn about Theravada Buddhism.

Researcher: Jennifer B. Saunders, June 14, 2000
Date Center Founded
June 3, 2000

Religious Leader and Title
Venerable P. Wajirabuddhi and Venerable K. Wipulasara

Membership/Community Size
Unsure how many people will use the facilities because it is so new but members estimate anywhere from 300-500 people.

Ethnic Composition
Mostly Sri Lankan but everyone is welcome.

Prepared by Gary Laderman
Updated on April 8, 2004"

[Quelle: Gary Laderman. -- -- Zugriff am 2005-07-07]


Ein Leserbrief:

"I thank Bob Easton-Waller for his article, "Mean Street Monks" (Winter 2000). From a historical perspective (or from a moral or dharmic perspective) there is nothing wrong about the action of the Thai abbot of Wat Chansisamakidham [วัดจันทร์ศรีสามัคคีธรรม] in Stockton, California, who kept adolescent gang members off the streets by opening the doors of the temple to them. Yet some of Abbot Sombun's lay supporters have accused him and his fellow monks of becoming too familiar with the ways of the world. Such accusations are often brought forward when lay people can't control their monks, for whatever reasons.

To this historian, what happened at Wat Chansisamakidham is another example of how people have misunderstood "traditional" Thai Buddhism. The temple's constituents think the abbot has deviated from "traditional" Buddhism, that monks should be ritual practitioners and models of quiet reflection, not referees and guardians to a temple full of street kids. In fact, what the Thai (or the Lao and Cambodians) today identify as the "traditional" role of an abbot or the "traditional" function of a wat is a role or function that was "corrected" by the 1902 Sangha Centralization Act. This was a political tool for the building of the nascent Thai nation-state and had little to do with dharma or strengthening Buddhism.

What Abbot Sombun did is what revered local abbots in Theravada Buddhism had been doing for centuries before the 1902 Sangha Act: that is, serving as community leaders and being socially responsible. Abbots and monks of the local traditions always had close relationships with young people in the community. In traditional Southeast Asian villages, local monks not only imparted dharma and practical knowledge but also helped mold the characters of the children they taught. They knew all the kids. In fact, the role of monks in local Buddhist traditions in Southeast Asia was more like that of Catholic parish priests today than that of the Theravada monks after the 1902 Sangha Act.

In the 1950s, when I was a child my grandparents lived right next door to a wat in a small town east of Bangkok. The wat was my playground. There were no amusement parks, no playgrounds. Kids usually played on the streets and risked getting hit by trucks. Monks as well as parents preferred that kids play in a temple ground. I don't remember the monks ever yelling at us kids for making too much noise, climbing trees, or running around in the wat. The monks allowed us to be kids.

Kamala Tiyavanich

[Quelle: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. X, No. 3 (Spring 2001). -- S. 9f.]

2002-04 bis 08

Abb.: Inserat für S. N. Goenka's Amerikatour
In: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. XI, No. 3 (Spring 2002). -- S. 1.


Sucinta Bhikkhuni und Sudhamma Bhikkhuni gründen in Greenville, South Carolina das Theravada-Nonnenkloster Carolina Buddhist Vihara

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-07

"Ven. Sucinta Bhikkhuni, from Germany, took initial vows 1991, later becoming a novice under Ven. Bhante H. Gunaratana at Bhavana Society in WV, USA. In 1998 she received ‘higher ordination’ in Bodh Gaya, India, becoming one of the first modern bhikkhunis of Theravada school of Buddhism. She joined us from Germany in June 2004.Ven.

Sudhamma Bhikkhuni, from Charlotte, NC, became a novice nun in 1999 at the Bhavana Society, also under Bhante Gunaratana. In early 2003 Ayya Sudhamma traveled to Sri Lanka, where she became the only American-born woman to gain Theravada bhikkhuni ordination. She joined us from Sri Lanka in July 2003. "

[Quelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-07]

"Activities and Schedule

The Vihara hosts nightly meditations Monday through Friday from 7-8:30 p.m. In addition, day retreats are offered for all members during special events such as the Buddhist New Year, Wesak celebrations, guest lectures and panel discussions. One Sunday every month the Vihara holds classes for children of all ages that they call the Youth Program. During these classes, children engage in an assortment of activities ranging from meditations and chanting to Buddhist history lessons and discussions. The members of the Vihara are also encouraged and invited to attend meetings and programs sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance of Greenville.


The Carolina Buddhist Vihara was informally founded in the early 1970s with a small core group of about 40-50 members from the states of South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee who met once a month in the various homes of members. On occasion, monks from New York would visit to lead the members in spiritual meditation and retreats. For these special occasions attendance at the meetings could reach upwards of 60-70 individuals. One of these New York monks, the Venerable Bhante Dhammaloka Thero, saw the need for the presence of a monk in a fixed location in the Carolina region.

The present group of members steadily increased in numbers until December of 2000 when enough donations and funding were received in order to establish a formal center of worship in Mauldin, SC, on the outskirts of Greenville. At this time, two ordained monks, Bhante Thero [?] and the Venerable Bhante Jagara Dhammatook, up residence at the Vihara.

In the summer of 2002, shortly after the departure of Bhante Thero, and Sri Lankan monk (the Venerable Bhanti Rathanapala) came to reside at the Carolina Buddhist Vihara. Bhanti Jagara Dhamma and Bhanti Rathanapala lead a congregation of over 100 followers from four states.

Leadership of the Carolina Buddhist Vihara was later passed on to two female Bhikkunis. In the world today there are about 350 Theravada bhikkhunis (women who received higher ordination as monks). Most stay in Sri Lanka; only five Theravada bhikkhunis have come to the USA. Two of these female monks now reside at the Vihara. Ven. Sudhamma Bhikkuni, the only American-born woman to gain Theravada bhikkhuni ordination, joined the Vihara in July 2003. From Charlotte, NC, she became a novice nun in 1999 at the Bhavana Society under Bhante Gunaratana and was ordained in early 2003 in Sri Lanka.

In 2004 Ven. Sudhamma Bhikkuni was joined at the Vihara by Ven. Sucinta Bhikkhuni, from Germany. Ven. Sucinta Bhikkhuni took initial vows 1991, later becoming a novice also under Ven. Bhante H. Gunaratana at Bhavana Society in WV, USA. In 1998 she received ‘higher ordination’ in Bodh Gaya, India, becoming one of the first modern bhikkhunis of Theravada school of Buddhism.


The membership of the Carolina Buddhist Vihara consists of Sri Lankan, Indian, Burmese and American followers. The main languages spoken include Pali, Singhala and English. In terms of age groups at the center, there are between 10-15 children under the age of 15 while only about 5-6 senior citizens.


The Carolina Buddhist Vihara is located in a residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Greenville. It is a single-family, ranch-style home with a lotus flower painted on the front door. Members enter through a side kitchen door where they proceed to take off their shoes. Upon entering the kitchen, the shrine room is located immediately to one's right in what would be a dining or family room. In this shrine room, there is a five-foot statue of the Buddha elevated on a platform with seating cushions around it, upon which the two monks meditate and chant. Facing the shrine and the monks are five rows of two cushions where the participants sit for worship. Toward the back of the room and on the right are a series of shelves which contain a small library filled with books that any member of the Vihara can check out. Behind the Vihara is a large yard which includes an oval-shaped walking meditation path that all followers are able to use.


The two residing bhikkhunis at the Carolina Buddhist Vihara live entirely off donations from their followers, whether in the form of money to pay the rent and utilities of the building or food and other basic necessities. Members of the Vihara even transport the bhikkhunis to and from any destination that is not within walking distance.

Visitors to this site are always welcome, but as a courtesy, please call the Vihara beforehand so the monks will be able to prepare for your visit properly.

Researcher credits

Marcus Fresia and David Vendt, 2002
Furman University, Greenville, SC
Updated by Heather Barclay, 2005

Date Center Founded
Informally started in the early 1970s; center established in 2000

Prepared by Furman University Student Researcher
Updated on March 18, 2005


Abb.: Faith Adiele's Haare werden vor der Ordination zur Mae Chee geschoren
[Bildquelle: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-21]

Es erscheint:

Adielé, Faith: Meeting Faith : the forest journals of a black Buddhist nun. -- New York ; London : Norton, ©2004.  -- 288 S. : Ill. ; 25 cm.  -- ISBN: 0393057844. -- {Wenn Sie HIER klicken, können Sie dieses Buch direkt bei bestellen} 

Webpräsenz: -- Zugriff am 2005-06-21

"Faith Adiele's Meeting Faith tells a beautiful tale of time and transformation in a Thai forest temple, from struggling college student to emergent Buddhist nun. Adiele engages the reader with multiple narratives: her course of spiritual discovery; her memories of conflicts negotiated for so many years, as a child of an African father and a mother of Scandinavian heritage; her understanding of the cultural, racial, and gender issues that surround her act of seeking faith. "

[Quelle: -- Zuriff am 2005-06-21]


Ein Leserbrief:

"I found the interview with Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon Salzberg {"Through Good Times and Bad," Winter 2004] thoughtful and interesting, but also somewhat disappointing. It's curious and disconcerting that these three prominent American Buddhist leaders make no reference to their common Jewish roots. Are we to believe that these three leaders have "transcended" their religious and cultural upbringing? Jews and Christians, and others in America, have work to do in terms of integrating their chosen adult path with their childhood experience.

The problem, I believe, is that these intelligent and experienced leaders do not hold integration as an important value. A frank discussion would greatly benefit people who struggle silently with identity questions such as: Who am I? A Christian, a Jew, a Buddhist?

Perhaps it's the job of the next generation of leaders to address the issue of integration in a more direct and open fashion.

George Cohen,
LCSW ElCerrito. CA


Interest in integrating religious traditions seems to vary greatly from person to person. Our childhood religious training is not at all uniform, so we bring very different feelings of connection with it (or not) to our present-day experience. Personally, I feel more connected to the cultural roots of Judaism than I do to the religious ones; obviously, other people feel differently. So rather than look to all teachers to explore this integration, I would suggest you work with those for whom this is an active interest in their lives. It certainly holds tremendous potential for cross-fertilization of values and teachings."

[Quelle: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. XIV, No. 3 (Spring 2005). -- S. 8.]


Ein Leserbrief und Thanissaro's (Ajahn Geoff's) (1949 - ) Antwort:

"I disagree with Thanissaro Bhikkhu's assertion in "It's Not Buddhism, It's Buddhisms" [Fall 2004} that the three different Buddhist traditions are separate Buddhist religions. The ocean of Buddhism includes many traditions, reflecting the different streams of practice in different cultures and societies.

Within the first two hundred years after Shakyamuni Buddha's death we had the development of up to eighteen sects of Buddhism, many with different canons and therefore different sources and views. Nevertheless, even with major differences of texts and interpretations, it was one Buddhism with many streams coexisting, though some privileged their tradition and interpretation or claimed to be more authentic.

Practitioners from the Nikaya, Mahayana, and early Vajrayana traditions studied and practiced together in the Indian Buddhist monasteries and universities. This pattern existed up until about the eighth to tenth century C.E., when these monasteries and universities were destroyed by the Muslim invasions.

As the different streams moved geographically across Asia and were cut off from each other, especially with the destruction of Indian Buddhism, the lines of separation hardened. This is especially evident as forms (often culturally determined) adapted and changed. Thus we find aspects of one tradition that seem to be "radically different" from those of other Buddhist traditions.

A thorough exploration of Buddhism vs. Buddhism(s) would need much more than just a letter. Suffice it to say that there is much evidence against Thanissaro Bhikkhu's assertion that the various Buddhist traditions are different Buddhist religions. Though each stream is unique, each stream is the ocean. Entering a stream is entering the ocean.

Elihu Genmyo Smith
Champaign, Illinois


Would Zen practitioners dismiss Mahayana beliefs about innate Buddha-nature and the nonduality of nirvana and samsara as superficial cultural accretions? Would Vajrayanists do the same for beliefs about the efficacy of Tantric ritual in accessing the power and knowledge of Cosmic Buddhas and bodhisattvas in the Vajradhatu? The Theravada tradition doesn't accept these beliefs as genuine dharma at all. These differences among us date from the heyday of Indian Buddhism, when texts such as the Prajnaparamita Sutras, the Lotus Sutra, and the Yogini Tantras openly repudiated earlier teachings at the very root. The Lotus, for instance, maintained that the Buddha never entered nirvana, the dharma he taught his arhat disciples was a mis-representation, and the arhats were not fully enlightened.

When contradictory Buddhist teachings spread to other lands, people there had to find some way to make sense of them, and the three major Buddhist traditions formed when each chose a different set of texts as the Procrustean bed into which other teachings were stretched or chopped off in order to fit. Because these core texts differ so radically, even such basic concepts as "Buddha," "nirvana," "emptiness," and "skillful" differ radically from tradition to tradition. To treat these traditions as amorphous bodies of water is to miss their inner coherence and integrity.

The differences among the these traditions are at least as radical as those among Jews, Christians, and Muslims concerning which prophets carry the definitive message of the God of Abraham. We may think that the polite, enlightened way to approach our differences is to deny their importance, but this interferes with actually understanding them. Our unwillingness to admit them tells us less about Buddhism than it does about our own Western ineptitude in treating religious disagreements with respect. Better to allow the integrity of each tradition as a separate religion, and to learn from our Buddhist predecessors how to be honest about real differences and yet live together in peace."

[Quelle: Tricycle : the Buddhist review. -- ISSN 1055-484X. -- Vol. XIV, No. 3 (Spring 2005). -- S. 10f.]