Category Archives: Spiritual Leadership

Get Out There!

Whenever I go on a trip, whether it be a short distance or long distance, I always take at least a little bit of time and do some people observing.  Most times I’ll learn something new each time.  I still remember one of the teachings that the Venerable Master Hsing Yun taught about spreading Buddhism locally was to just go out there.  He said that in encouragement to the monastic disciples and lay teachers to break out from the temple/monastery setting and serve people that way.  I take that teaching to heart myself and try to break from the comfortable environment and bring the Dharma to the people, or in this case bring spiritual care to the people.

In Half the Sky, the authors Kristof and WuDunn made some recommendations to some young people who asked about how they help address issues like poverty or inequality, and right off the bat the first recommendation was to “get out and see the world.”[i]  I felt like that and what Venerable Master Hsing Yun taught was like two hands clapping together.  Even though I felt a little joyous that east and west have met again in theory, I also felt bummed, because, in order to get out there and discover stuff, I would need resources, especially monetary resources.  Kristof and WuDunn talked about one of the great failings of the American education system is not including studying abroad.  I myself never had any chance to study abroad because my major wouldn’t be able to accept the transfer credits and I just simply did not have enough money.  I already carry a lot of weight for not making time to exercise and I have to carry more weight on my back because I have a lot of student loans to repay when I graduate.  This may be tied back to the capitalism themes in the previous weeks’ discussions but if the economic system allowed for some flexibility or something then maybe I could pursue something like studying abroad or teaching English abroad.  Then again, especially with the new administration, this will continue to be a challenge.

When I read the chapter in Power, Privilege and Difference about the lingo that differentiates men and women, I had this rumbling feeling in my stomach.  I think it is because after reading the chapter I want to find a level that I can connect with women but at the same time, I find it real difficult.  Maybe it is because like what I mentioned previously that I have not been exposed enough to environments where the men are the dominant authority?  Or could it be because I was born and raised and still currently living under female authority that I am almost clueless about what male authority is like?  I’m not sure.  In the book the author states, “[i]n short, men are the cultural standard for humanity; women are just women.”[ii]  I really wouldn’t know how to react.  I know that men are the norm for cultural standards, but to have that out in black and white for me was a little bit of a shock, though I have to agree with it fully because it is the truth.  It is the same in the Buddhist community as well, but luckily that is gradually improving.  Another thought that came up for me in that statement was the professional dress code standard, men are usually in a shirt and tie with slacks and women are also given a the standard with a top and dress which I think has since later evolved into the blouse and slacks in order to be at the same level as men.  I’m not an expert in fashion but I am curious if this will evolve further?

 

[i] Kristof, Nicholas D., and Sheryl WuDunn. Half the sky: turning oppression into opportunity for women worldwide. Page 88. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2009.

[ii] Johnson, Allan G. Privilege, power, and difference. Page 104. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Pub., 2001.

It is women’s issue

MDIV 515: Power Privilege and Difference

Seong Hui Bark(Moogoo)

Reflection Paper

Reflect on your reaction to text or person

We watched Tedtalk about gender. After I finished watching first one titled: ‘Violence against women—it’s a men’s issue’, I really wanted to ask the male classmates like this: ‘How do you feeling about the talk? Whether they agree or not? Do they willing try to change men’s behaviors or not?’ Honestly, I was shocked by the talk since I never thought that men can help to reduce sex abuse or any kind of violence against women by changing their thinking. Can it be possible? I am really doubtful about it since I was only educated by thinking about what women can do to reduce public or domestic sex abuse or violence.

For example, when I was in the MA program at the University of Dongguk, there were a lot of special lectures or events for BA, MA and PHD students every semester. Sometimes the lectures would be held only for BA or MA students. One day, I saw a banner titled: ‘Sex Education for BA Female Student’. I did not want to attend the lecture since I was 30 years old or something at that time. However, I had a meeting with my lay friend who was an assistant to the instructor who gave the above lecture after the event. I went to the convention hall 20 minutes before the end of the lecture. Outside of the hall, there were no chairs so I decided to enter the room that the instructor was giving her speech. When I just entered the room, the instructor asked to audience: ‘Do you know why women was abused by men?” nobody answered and she said that ‘Because women did not say ‘Do not do that, I do not want it’ and continuously she explained the reason why women did not say it is because they did not have a chance to practice it before this happens for real. She suggested to the audience to repeat what she said loudly at that time such as ‘Do not touch my hip’, ‘Do not touch my waist’, ‘Do not touch my breast’, ‘Do not do that’, and ‘I do not want it’. In the confusion of the moment, I loudly spoke aloud the above statements following the instructor’s statements. In conclusion, she strongly convinced us that ‘Women must change their behaviors in order to prevent sex abuse or violence caused by men.’ I had a really good impression about her lecture I regretted that I did not attend the whole lecture. Because of this lecture, I thought that it is true that if women change and express their feelings of violence, men’s behaviors would be change. However, Violence Against Women—it’s a men’s issue: Jackson Katz makes me think whether it can be men’s issue or not.

Response to your inner/outer reactions

I still wonder how do my male classmates think about the Jackson’s talk whether they agree or not? I should have asked those questions to them in the class because I barely agree that violence against women is a men’s issue. It has to be women’s issue and I have two stories to support this but I think I should use only one since I have written too long these days.

I forgot about the lecture since I did not think it would happen to me in my life. One day, I rode the subway during the day in Seoul and I do not remember where I was heading to at that time. There were not a lot of passengers in my cabin and most of them sat on the seat. I also sat at the edge of the seat and I saw one passenger who sat diagonally from me coming towards me, stood in front of me and started talking about the Bible. I was a little uncomfortable that he was in front of me and talked about religion. After some time, he asked questions why I became a Buddhist nun at a young age and started yelling little at me about my decision to become a nun. At that time, I looked around and found that most passengers around me were men. The man suddenly stepped forward to me and little leaned his head to me. I could feet him threatening me so I said: ‘I do not want to talk about it now’ with a soft voice unlike how I practiced when I was at the sex education lecture. As soon as I finished with what I said, the man who was sitting next to me stood up and blocked the man in front of me using his right arm and the man who was sitting across from me came forward and bump the man’s shoulder and told him that I had said that I did not want to talk about it with him. The man who was threatening me and I were both surprised at that time. I could not clearly understand what was happening at that moment. I guess because of the two men’s angry faces, the threatening man got off at the next station right away. I thanked the two men and show my appreciation. After that, I talked to the man sitting next to me until I arrived at my destination. He first started talking about when he saw the protestant man coming to me, he was really uncomfortable too but he could not say anything because he did not know about my feelings whether I am ok or not. When the protestant man leans in on me, he started hesitating whether to intervene or not. Actually, he wanted to but was not sure at the time until he could hear my voice expressing that I did not want to talk about it. That statement gave him encouragement to do what he needed to do and he knew I was not comfortable with that situation. It seemed like the sex education lecturer was really correct; when I spoke out my feelings, the violence stopped right away.

Integrating the reading for the week

“Be the person at the bus stop that steps in when they see a woman being harassed or be the person on the bus that stands up and says it is not okay because our voices are the loudest when we raise them together.”

Everyday sexism: Laura Bates: Ted Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LhjsRjC6B8U&feature=youtu.be

Jackson Katz said that violence against women is men’s issue but I insist it is still a women’s issue. In the case of my encounter in the subway, the two helpful men knew the situation was uncomfortable but they could not interrupt until they clearly felt that I needed help. I mean, the two men did not help until I said something. Secondly, I was educated on how to protect myself in public, to speak up of how I am feeling now which helped me escape the situation, therefore education helped me. Thirdly, if the two men did not help me, I believed that the threatening man would still be shocked because I spoke up for myself and maybe that could have stopped him from asking uncomfortable questions. The sex education lecture changed my behavior in dealing with being uncomfortable in public. Therefore, I assert that it is still women’s issue. At first, women have to be educated about sex, human right, responsibility of life and etc. Second, women confidently have to show their power, wisdom and loving-kindness. Third, when women have both of the above, they should speak out to men who do violence against women; “do not do that”, “I do not want it” are what Laura Bates said but at that time, definitely women do not need men’s power to help themselves since women already have their own power.

A Korean proverb says “It’s the thirsty man who digs the well.” I think men do not need to dig the well since it is the women that thirst for it. Women have to be wise; they should not wait for others to dig the well or think it is men’s work. Women have to take action with subjectivity. When they need to, they just do it and not wait for society to change. If women need to ask for men’s help, they should be allowed to ask for it freely, not having to beg for it. Women have to wake up and speak out for women’s right loudly. In my experience, if women do not change, then nobody bothers to dig the well; so women have to see clearly the reality that it is still women’s issue.

Using a Blog to Gain Mutual Understanding

Mutual Understanding. Conceptual Illustration Royalty Free Stock Photo - Image: 29836205

© Zibedik | Dreamstime.com

This semester, I created a blog, between ignorance and enlightenment. It’s a good opportunity for me to manage my life and thinking, and then condense everything into something that is manageable. Although it is a kind of social platform, I think the greatest benefactor is myself. Throughout our life we are always learning, however, the most important thing is to manage our knowledge and experience, and to give feedback to society. Consequently, this social platform is meaningful.

In the MDIV670 Spiritual Leadership course, many issues related to spiritual leadership and social issues were discussed. I am one talks less and just listens, because my English not quite good enough to express what I want. The other reason is Asian people are less likely to express themselves in public. MDIV670 is a kind of international classroom; there are some students from Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan. Of course, the majority are American. By the project proposal, we shared the same platform, DHARMA DIALOGUE: BUDDHISM IN THE U.S., and created our own platform. Although I have experience to create a blog, the wordpress.com based platform took me several days to understand it. Finally, I am satisfied with my first English version blog. My friend misunderstood that it is another blog I suggested. She told me there are too many words; she only looks at the pictures not the articles. My other classmate told me it had a good design but she did not have time to see it.

By such an opportunity, we uploaded our reflection on skid row visiting. Everyone has a different point of view based on their family environment, experience and nationality. From the other classmates’ article, I knew that although we are unique we have the same spirit. We are willing to see, learn, reflect and improve. The different points of view from different people, helped enlarge my world and encompass more opinions. There is another thing I quite appreciate; we shortened our distance between classmates. Although every time we just greeted by smiling, the article sharing let us understand each other’s philosophy of life and values.

There are a total of 130 viewers till now, May 14, according to the following viewing data. The highest number of views in one day was 30. I am happy that one viewer’s reply to my skid row article, reframing transformation, said, “Yes, the reality of social injustice is there in Skid Row. We can observe it clearly. But the reality of homeless people in Skid Row is not only drug, alcohol, bankruptcy, but also humanity, self-esteem, humor, love and compassion. If we take time to make some contact with them, our view of those people is changed. They have self-esteem. They have love and compassion.” He shared with me the homeless people still have lo2ve, self-esteem and compassion. The comments once again broadened my firm thinking.

I am thankful for having such an opportunity to create our own blog, it’s our baby. It’s just a good beginning to move forward to the road of spiritual leadership. How to keep running suitability our blog and intercommunicate with people is very important.

I also thank my instructor Danny Fisher for introducing many spiritual leader topics, such as Gandhi, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Martin Luther King, for us to discuss. And, I thank my classmates for sharing their values and ideas. Thank you for enlightening my seed of spiritual leadership.

May everybody be a good spiritual leader in your field of life.

REFLECTION ON PROJECT “TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLE”

REFLECTION ON “TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLE”

One week ago, I proposed the social project on the Caste System in India.  I used Facebook as media platform under the link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Touch-the-Untouchable/609528329076721 in addition to my posts on Dharma Dialogue.

The discrimination in Indian society has really bothered me for the last ten years.  Why has it lasted for centuries?   I witnessed the unfair treatment and unbelievable misery in that country.  In a country, in which the Buddha reached enlightenment and tried to void the caste system, nothing had changed.  I had hoped to use this project to help understand its endurance.  Even the after the Buddha brought the light of Buddha nature to teach the equality in all beings later generations could not do anything about it.  King Asoka had power.  Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi with strong will and voice moved the whole British colony out of India.  So why could they not shake the destructive caste system strongly enough to free the poor?

I really want to dig in this matter.  However, my project only got “likes” from some professors, classmates, friends as supports without any comments that would help me understand this matter of the caste system.  They might agree what I am talking about, but they did not have time to research to help me understand why the caste system has such firm long-lasting history.

I wonder why it did not get much feedback.  Maybe it came in for a short time while the final week of semester coming up.  Maybe it was not good enough to attract other’s discussion because it is an obvious social matter in India due to its long history.  It seems normalized in people’s eyes while there are so many other corruptions occurring in daily lives around us that can danger the whole world.

Anyway, I hope people can assist me to fulfill my wish of helping innocent young generation to have a chance to change their destinies.  Together they might change their society.

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Reflection of the class project

What if one day all of your privacy was deprived 24/7? –Someone always monitors wherever you go, whoever you meet, whatever you do, say, and even think. Moreover, what if one day you noticed this fact, but you were institutionalized at psychiatric hospital by the government just because what you insist sounds schizophrenic? Believe it or not, today’s cutting edge technologies have enabled to do it. Only the matter is who will use it, and who can regulate them.

In March, 2011, The Obama Administration held a public hearing to listen to the victims of allegedly non-consensual human experiments on these technologies. Despite the severity of the problem, the mainstream media did not report the incident. Thus, it is speculated that some people in power may be involved in this issue and sabotage revealing the facts. As one of the victims, I can infer some facts from observation. Unfortunately, however, some facts remain unknown – perhaps only the main perps know.
Nonetheless, we can still share the information which is barely revealed. In fact, I found that sharing the information does help the victims find a way to cope with this difficult problem if not finding a solution.

Therefore, I interviewed two renowned experts in this field, Cheryl Welsh, the representative of Mind Justice, and Derrick Robinson, President of Freedom From Covert Harassment and Surveillance (FFCHS).
I learned from Ms. Welsh the importance of painstaking effort to let people know the imminent crisis through education. I also learned from Mr. Robinson that cooperation among us is more important and effective than confrontation in order to prevent innocent people from being covertly governed.

We know that we cannot change the world overnight. Thus, no one would blame for it. However, if we do not try our best to tackle the imminent issue, we will be blamed by the future generation of people. Therefore, I would like to continue this project until the last victim finds a way to alleviate his or her sufferings.

http://unprecedentedhumanrightsviolations.wordpress.com/

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CALM REFLECTION or OUR INNER PIPELINE, PART TWO

My  social media project involved a new Facebook page entitled Calm Reflection, https://www.facebook.com/calmreflection, and a blog, http://www.calmreflectionblog.com.

The most important thing I learned by completing this project was that I have a lot of stored up knowledge, and some wisdom, and that once I get out from under my own self-doubt, I become quite creative.  And the way I get out from under these feelings of self-doubt is what my project is all about.

All the time I was working on my blog, I kept reminding myself to go deeper than my thoughts like: “What should I write?” or “I’m no good at this.”  And when I did submerge into my true heart, bypassing these fear-based worries, I really began to flow.  I just flowed!

I also learned that social media is a viable way to connect to others, although my long-term goal will be developing a website and doing what I need to do to show up on page one of Google.

I received some good comments on my PART ONE blog post.  One comment was especially supportive, saying that my post beautifully expressed a wonderful intention.  And a close friend of mine, Paul Fetler, who is an Ananda Minister, really validated my ideas, and I had asked him to be honest so that I could learn from him.  Paul has been teaching Yoga and Meditation for quite some time.  So when he found my ideas and presentation positive, this was very encouraging.

Another friend who I worked with on my last job became excited saying Calm Reflection was something he needed to learn.  I hope he keeps checking in.

In conclusion, my first sojourn into cyber-space brought me home safely, so I think I’ll start planning my next trip.

A Reflection on Water, Health, and Compassion

Water pollution

Water pollution (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

H2OcomesPassion is my Pinterest title. Before I started creating this page, I thought of using the name Water, Health, and Compassion. However, upon doing research for this project, I felt that I have been passionate on the issue of water. The more understand about water, the more passion I put into this project. My passion is not only to understanding water, its benefits, and its composition in the human body and in the whole universe, but also learning to appreciate the benefits that water brings and the advantages I have living in U.S., where I can access fresh, clean water everyday. My passion also turns into Compassion. I feel empathy for people who live in drought areas, for people who day by day use polluted and contaminated water for drinking and for cooking. Water has affected me to the point where I consciously feel empathy when reading news about polluted water, and where I share my joy when people have an opportunity to enjoy fresh, clean, water from a new well. I have joined a group of volunteers in Facebook  which volunteers to do fundraising for building wells in Africa. I have learned how this group connects people together to do this charity work and how they devote their lives for the benefits of others.

Counting from the time I posted my proposal, I have received 7 comments. Two comments, from Anonymous and Thaitriplegem, confirm my purpose by saying that water symbolizes compassion and harmony. If one makes oneself to be like water, then one is easy to be with people because water adapts to its environment.

One stated, “Without water we will die, without heath we will painful and without compassion this world would looks like hell.” This helps me understand the main function of water, is nurturing. Water nurtures life, and it is itself a source of compassion.

Thesilverbodhisattva gives me a wonderful source relating to water: water has memory. It helps me understand more about the other sources I have posted on my Pinterest, which is water in prayer and practice.

Mettadharma commented, “Water is symbol of the purity. It is clear, cool, and calm. If people can make their mind like water, it will be very useful.”

Dawn made her comment on my proposal and Pinterest page, and she suggested adding a “Call to Action” board. My thanks to her for a great idea, but I forgot to do that. I didn’t have a specific board to list practical things people can do to better the situation of water.

Minh Tu also suggested that I should have a “water recycling” board. I think his suggestion and Dawn’s are similar. I will create a board named Call to Action, which includes water cycling, and water conserving.

Both Dawn and Minh Tu like the experiments of Dr. Emoto. However, Dawn brought up the point that this work hasn’t been proven by scientists; whereas, Minh Tu emphasized water’s ability of being purified by spiritual practices.

Back to my project on Pinterest, my purpose is to raise people’s awareness of water’s benefits on body, mind, and spirit. I have created so far 12 boards and 173 pins. The titles of my boards are:

  1. Information
  2. H2O resources
  3. Water in Reality: Drought and Contamination
  4. Benefits of Water
  5. Tips in Using Water
  6. Prayer and Practice
  7. Charity Work
  8. Organizations in Action
  9. Video & Movie
  10. Books
  11. Call to Action
  12. Others

This page has been in existence about three weeks and I have 5 followers and 10 people following. With what I have gotten so far, I am not sure that using social media such as Pinterest can help me spread out the message of water to everyone. Based on my observation of my Facebook account, I believe that in order to influence more people of using water appropriately and of helping others, I should take an action by participating in a group consisted of individuals who have the same passion. Although my Pinterest has few followers, I believe that I myself have changed during this project, and at least some others also have changed to be more mindful of using water.

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Proposal – Between Ignorance and Enlightenment

Between Ignorance and Enlightenment

http://otherhalfoflife.wordpress.com/

I propose an educational social media project called “between ignorance and enlightenment”. A meaningful life is a journey from ignorance to enlightenment. Ignorance comes from delusion. Martin Luther King Jr. said that “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscious stupidity.” How we come to see our delusion and transfer it to self-awareness is an art. We suffer because we are bewildered by delusion. I find Buddhist wisdom helps me change from “ignorance” to “enlightenment”.

This term of topic comes from Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s book, “Between Ignorance and Enlightenment”. I found many inspirations when I read this book. There is a proverbial saying that lookers-on see most of the game; it means those who are not participating are able to take an overall view. The difference between ignorance and enlightenment are thought and concept. Most of us think that to lose one thing, such as money or sight, is a real lost. Andrea Angel Bocelli is an Italian tenor, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He lost his sight and became blind at the age of 12. His father encouraged him, “This world belongs to everyone. Although you cannot see the world, however you can let the world see you.” He went on to become both the most popular Italian and classical singer in the world. His feedback society is by participating in charity benefit concerts in different countries for different charities, such as in New York City for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Bocelli lost his sight but won a colorful life. He is an enlightening person who changed his inferiority to superiority, and transformed knowledge to wisdom.

Consequently, I will create different units as follows:

  • Buddhist Books on Ignorance and Enlightenment
  • Other Books, magazines, articles on Ignorance and Enlightenment
  • Wisdom Quotes, e.g. Venerable Master Hsing Yun
  • Graphic Quotes
  • Video on Ignorance and Enlightenment
  • Reflections on Ignorance and Enlightenment
  • Story sharing with Buddhism wisdom, e.g. Bird and Water Dance Ensemble
  • The everlasting light: Dharma thoughts of Master Hsing Yun
  • Music

I hope the “Between Ignorance and Enlightenment” sharing space will create opportunities by gathering resources for those people who try to find resources to help them transform and enlighten from the Buddhist wisdom and quotes.

A Reflection on my Social Media Project about AIDS and the Five Precepts

AIDs in Thailand

I created my Midterm Project this semester using social media. My project is called “Helping Those Living with AIDS.” I got eleven comments from people who participated. Some people  just agreed with my project and gave me advice on how to improve  the article such as the comment from thesilverbodhisattva who said,

“Another point to consider is that some people can acquire the disease through means unknown to them, in cases of unintentional contamination. Without proper medical precautions or sanitation in a variety of medical fields, an aid has the possibility to spread through transfusions, shared needles, and even instances of dental operations. There is also the possibility for those who are born HIV positive.”

This comment reminds me and other people to be careful when we use syringes because penetration and blood transfusion can put people at risk for contracting the AIDS virus.

However, I want those who have not been infected with the AIDS virus to be aware of this point as well. There are many other ways of being at risk of contracting the AIDS’s virus. The AIDS’s virus is a serious issue for the homeless and those on skid row. When society or families ignore people who have AIDS, they end up on the street, become homeless, and live on skid rows throughout the country. Therefore, the Thai monks of the Phrabatnumpu Temple are helping the people who have the AIDS’s virus in Thailand. The abbot organized the temple by himself and it is supported by donations. He provides food, clothing, shelter, and medicine for people with AIDS. The important thing is he has instructional media for people who do not have AIDS. He is teaching about Buddhism and offering counseling for individuals and groups concerned about AIDS. He teaches the way we use precept training to protect sangha from AIDS. He talks about the Five Precepts as a very good way of reducing one’s risk of contracting AIDS. A comment from SmartDC was,

“AIDS is one kind of serious diseases in the world. One of the solutions is to avoid from sexual misconduct and honestly observe Five Precepts (Sila). Taking the Buddha’s teachings into practice, we will be happy without any trouble.”

Therefore, the Five Precepts, especially, the third precept, are a very important way to reduce the prevalence of AIDS virus infections. Just like this comment from Humble Monk:

“There is reason to blame the people who’ve gotten infection, but there are many reasons to blame the people who knew AIDS and didn’t protect themselves. Sexual desire is one aspect of desires caused suffering. Being honest with one’s couple under sexual conduct isn’t enough to stop AIDS completely. The way how to completely stop AIDS is to stop one’s desires.”

This is a very good comment and I agree with his comment. If all of us practice the five precepts, especially the third one, I think we can live without fear and worry as well.

Finally, I would like to thank you very much for all of the comments from both people whom I know and I do not know. Your comments helped influence my work and my ideas. I hope my social media project will help our society in many ways. For instance, by helping people become aware of AIDS and understand the victims of AIDS too. More than that, I hope we can stay happily together. Without loving-kindness and compassion our society would be like Hell.

May all being be happy and peaceful in body and mind,

Dhammakaruna.

Please visit my Facebook Page and my original post here at Dharma Dialogue.

AIDs patient and Theravadin Monk.

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A REFLECTION ON MY EDUCATIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA PROJECT: Spiritual Leadership

Image

Spring 2013

Time flies! The semester has almost ended. I think that all students must be very busy with paperwork or final exams just like I am.  During the Spring Semester of 2013, I had a good chance to learn and a good opportunity to create a personal blog posts under the user name “thaitriplegem. These personal blog posts were something that I have never made before. I also contributed a couple posts here at “Dharma Dialogue” such as my “Skid Row Reflection,” in which I give a reflection based on my trip to Skid Row. My personal blog post was on the topic, “What Does the Theravāda Buddhist Religion Have to Say about the Poverty on Skid Row?”  This reflection considers the poverty of Skid Row from the perspective of Theravada Buddhism. In my previous blog post, I said the following:

If our religion means anything in today’s society, it must be able to address in a significant way the conditions of the poor in places like Skid Row.  What follows is divided into two parts.  First there is a consideration of the Theravāda Buddhist teaching of kamma.  Second, the divine abodes (brahma-vihāra) of loving-kindness and compassion are discussed.

These projects are for the Spiritual Leadership Class taught by Professor Danny Fisher.

The Midterm Proposal Project is my Educational Social Media Project, which I have posted on the same website and created a Facebook group for named “Healthcare Needs to Improve in Thailand.”  In this group I presented information about the healthcare system in Thailand, the problems that it has, and what you can do to help change it.  My media project can be found on my Facebook page.  I am very happy to see all your feedback.  And I would really like to see the healthcare system in Thailand be more like the Healthcare system in European countries.

My personal blog, “thaitriplegem,” has a post on the topic, “What Does the Theravāda Buddhist Religion Have to Say about the Poverty on Skid Row.” It has received seventeen comments as of May 15, 2013. I think this is a very important way to use social media or the Internet in the right way. We should employ right thought and right understanding when using social media in the modern world, a world without borders. At the same time, we can propagate Buddhism worldwide, too. All of your comments have been encouraging for me. Now I feel confident to share more on the Buddha’s teaching.  And all the comments were very helpful for me and my blog posts. They have even been of help to the people who read or who will read my blog posts, too. More than that, the comments also helped me to improve my way of thinking and writing for future blog posts. I would like to share what I have learned from the comments on the blog. These comments encouraged me to write and share more about the teachings of kamma, or in English what we call causes and effects, which the Buddha showed us more than 2,600 years ago.

First, on April 1, 2013 at 8:19 PM, I got the first comment from my classmate named 3ratna3kaya, who said, “Thank you for your teachings, Venerable. Your explanation of kamma was very clear and insightful.”

Second, on May 10, 2013 at 10:52 PM, Anonymous said, “What an interesting topic! I believe the readers must have some idea about the Theravada Buddhist religion on the skid row in order to easily clearly understand what it’s all about the article. However, I have to thank you for providing this useful knowledge in a friendly way.”

And third, on May 11, 2013 at 2:09 AM, there was a very interesting comment from

Du Wayne Engelhart, who stated, “Thank you for the discussion about kamma. What you say can be seen in a wider context. There is not only, roughly speaking, white kamma (with good effects for actions done), black kamma (with bad effects for actions done), and black and white kamma (with mixed effects for actions done). As the Buddha teaches us, there is also no kamma at all. No kamma at all is the state of Enlightenment. I think many times we worry too much about getting the effects of good kamma (in this lifetime or in future lifetimes) for the good actions we perform. We should, however, not worry too much about simply good kamma. We should try to reach the state where we are beyond kamma–where we are enlightened. We can reach this happy state by letting go of everything in the world, and that means everything–even letting go of trying to get the results of good kamma.”

Next, my project proposal titled, “Healthcare Needs to Improve in Thailand” has received fifteen comments as of May 15, 2013. I have gotten comments both in Thai and in English.   In the project proposal, many people agreed with my opinion on the subject.  For instance, on May 10, 2013 at 8:22 AM, Saranya Kim said, Yes, I agree with you. I had an experience about this ‘Only wealthy families can afford health insurance. If the average Thai becomes sick, unfortunately they have to pay their medical bills by cash. If they have to go to the hospital, they would have to wait in line for a long time before seeing the doctor. If a wealthy person needed to go to the hospital, on the other hand, they would just pay extra to see the doctor right away.’” This must be painful situation for the oppressed group because of privilege and poverty in Thai society. Also, Wattana Suriyawararak agreed with my project and said, Yes, I am sure that someday Healthcare in Thailand will be better! (Someday, I do not know not how long.) This comment comes with the hope that good healthcare will improve in Thailand someday.

I wish her dream will come true soon.

Also on May 10, 2013 at 11:53 PM, Daniel Terestenyi, my good Dhamma friend who just moved to Europe made a comment. His comment helped me get more understanding about the healthcare system in Europe. He said, “Andrew, you might consider being specific to one country in Europe, rather than the whole of Europe. Mainly, because healthcare does change some radically from country to country, and is not based upon EU law. France has an extremely good healthcare system, which I have used while living there.” Thank you very much, Daniel, for your information.

Lastly, Facebook’s group page still does not get many comments or much feedback. I am not sure if the members have enough time to read it all. Mostly, they just click on the “Like” button, but that made me happy enough. I got a nice comment from Anonymous that I would like to share. People should understand about the healthcare system in Thailand more, because many people like she or he just hear the news from friends who have enough money to go to get good treatment in Thailand. The comment from Anonymous on May 11, 2013 at 1:51 AM says: Thank you very much for the information in your Facebook group. I thought what you said was very informative. It is a good idea to make information available about the health care system in Thailand. I did not really have a good understanding of the situation. I thought the system was much better than what you describe. I didn’t really know: I based my ideas on what I heard from Thai friends waiting to go back to Thailand to have dental work done or to get glasses. I thought the health care was pretty good and the costs low. Now I understand that many Thais are not able to participate in the health care system. Now I understand the need for reform. Thanks for the information.”

Once again, thank you very much for all the comments that I have received on my Skid Row Reflection, my Project Proposal, and also on my Facebook page. All your comments were a very good source of encouragement for me. Thanks again for all the comments made by family members, my classmates, friends, professors, and also from people I do not know.  You can find my blog posts and my Facebook page at these URLs:

https://dharmadialogue.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/what-does-the-theravada-buddhist-religion-have-to-say-about-the-poverty-on-skid-row/#comments

https://dharmadialogue.wordpress.com/author/thaitriplegem/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/273506612786732/

With much Metta,

Palms together,

thaitriplegem

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