Two appeals from Buddhist Relief Mission, July 13, 2007

This is not spam. Nor is it a proper report. Instead, it is an up-front appeal for help, actually two worthy causes for the price of one.

The first cause is one dear to our hearts. Ven. Pannasila is ordaining four young Dalit boys as novices with the hope of bringing them here to Sri Lanka for study. As most of you know from our reports, particularly Journey to the Center of India, Parts 1- 4, <>, Dalits are India's Untoucables.

These boys are all from families who have abandoned Hinduism and converted to Buddhism. If they had remained Hindu, they would have been forbidden to take water from the same well as upper caste Hindus, forbidden to enter ordinary temples, and discriminated against in a myriad of other ways. By converting to Buddhism, they have reembraced the religion of their ancestors and can stand in solidarity with other Buddhists around the world.

The greatest obstacle now facing the revival of Buddhism in India is the scarcity of educated, properly ordained, properly trained bhikkhus. The country is enormous, the number of converts is growing tremendously, and those few monks who are well versed in Dhamma, well disciplined in Vinaya, and dedicated, are overworked and exhausted by all the invitations, requests, and demands on their time. As we have often observed first hand, Ven. Pannasila, as a prime example, is involved in many committees, invited to innumerable ceremonies, called to many meetings, and committed to officiate at many functions.

These four novices are about twelve years old, so, after they have studied here in Sri Lanka for eight years, they can receive higher ordination. After some more training as monks, they will be ready to return to India to teach. It is exciting! There is no real bhikkhu training center in India. One of the reasons is that there are not enough well-trained monks to teach. This is a start.

In order for this project to materialize, Buddhist Relief Mission needs some monetary assistance. The training in Sri Lanka basically costs nothing. The training centers are well-funded by local donors and devotees. Buddhist Relief Mission, however, must help Ven. Pannasila with the expenses in India. The biggest expense is (1) transportation for the novices from Maharashtra to Chennai (train) and from Chennai to Colombo (plane); and (2) passports for the novices. Here is the breakdown of expenses:

Ordination and training for 4 will take:

(INR = Indian rupees; SLR = Sri Lankan rupees)

Passport, 2500 INR X 4 = 10,000 INR

One-way air ticket, Chennai - Colombo, 8000 INR X 4 + 32,000 INR

Train ticket, Maharashtra - Chennai, food, and lodging, 1000 INR X 4 = 4000 INR

Training in Satnur before leaving - 1000 INR X 4 = 4000 INR

TOTAL - 50,000 INR = 136,604 SLR = 1,223.92 US Dollars

All contributions to this project will be receipted and are deductible for US Income Tax purposes. No donation is too small (or too big!).

How to donate:

1. Check, pay to Buddhist Relief Mission

send to: Smith Barney , P.O. Box 320590, Flint, MI 48532-0011,U.S.A.

2. PayPal, <>

In either case, we would appreciate an email message informing us of the donation, its amount, and your intention. Please include mailing address, so that we can send a receipt.

The second worthy cause is the "Third Annual Intensive English Course" for monks and nuns which will be held at Bodhisukha Monastery and School in rural West Bengal, on the outskirts of Kolkata, India. The course runs from mid-March to mid-April. Next year, we expect about sixty-five students. For a description of the course, including classes and working conditions, visit: <>.

We have taught the course for two years. This year we were joined by Visakha's cousin Cam from Utah and Dushy from Colombo. We need teachers for next year. It is a completely volunteer position, but the reward in teacher satisfaction and gratification is greater than any salary!

Above: Cam, Dushy, Ken and Visakha

Left: Almost all students and staff after the Closing Ceremony

Click photo at left for a larger view.

This is being written in Kandy, Sri Lanka. We returned in late-April. Since then, we have been working on Jataka Tales of the Buddha. We hope to have the complete manuscript finished by the end of the year. We have been at it for many years, and Buddhist Publication Society has published five small volumes of the tales. Now, we will "retell" about 175 tales for a book. We have never before had the leisure time to work as intensively as we are now. Kandy is a wonderfully productive environment for us. Lily prepares our meals, cleans house, and washes our clothes. We only teach four hours a week–one class each at two novice training centers. Most of every day is spent sitting in front of our laptops, doing research, preparing for classes, and writing. It is a joy!

(1+2) Ganga and Ranga and their families; twins whom we sponsored in school about 16 years ago; both working now; this was the first time to meet them.
(3) Barbara becomes Ven. Susila in an ordination ceremony at Subodharama.
(4) Girl's puberty ceremony at a tea estate.
(5) Interviewing Ven. Sathi for Buddhist TV channel.
(6) Flower in our garden.

Click each image for larger view

Remember, however, we always have time for guests, and the sites/sights in Sri Lanka are magnificent!

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