Journey to Mindfulness: The Autobiography of Bhante G.
Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
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Bhante Gunaratana - Bhante G., as he is affectionately called - has long been among the most beloved Buddhist teachers in the West. Ordained at twelve, he would eventually become the first Buddhist chaplain at an American university, the founder of a retreat center and monastery, and a bestselling author. Here, Bhante G. lays bare the often-surprising ups and downs of his seventy-five years, from his boyhood in Sri Lanka to his decades of sharing the insights of the Buddha, telling his story with the "plain-English" approach for which he is so renowned.
to a time when the Sangha, or order of monks, had dwindled to its lowest numbers due to British rule in Ceylon, and because of Dutch and Portuguese missionaries. There were many novices, but not a single bhikkhu left who had received higher ordination and was observing the 227 precepts—and thus could ordain others. A novice Ceylonese monk traveled to Siam, as Thailand was then called (or “Siyama” in Pali), to receive higher ordination as a full bhikkhu. Then he returned to Ceylon and
Young people are simply not allowed to express their opinions. Nowadays, many young monks disrobe and leave the temples out of frustration over such treatment. A few old monks are left to struggle along and keep the temples going, all because of the wrong kind of management style, not giving fair treatment to both young and old. When I was a boy, we could never talk back to our parents. Never. We were supposed to keep our mouths shut out of respect for our elders. Not once in my whole childhood
fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. They asked me to come to their house and chant for him. I went, but found him lying in bed, facing the wall, his back to me. He would not speak to or even look at me. Nevertheless, I did the chanting and tied a traditional blessing string around his wrist. He didn’t resist, but he never said a word. A few days later, Mister Albert’s physical and mental condition had improved. Moved by my kindness or perhaps having recovered from the effects of his fever, he phoned
generosity, but it certainly didn’t happen every day. So I taught myself how to cook. As a monk living in Asia, I had been waited on much of my life. Never did I expect to come to America and be a manual laborer and a cook and a repairman. To tell the truth, I was quite angry. But of course, I couldn’t turn around and go back to Asia. There was nowhere to run to, and I had planned on staying in America for good. Luckily, the sheer physical exercise and effort involved in fixing up the house
Buddhist,” she snapped. “I just found out.” “Well, what made you think he was a Christian?” I asked. “Because he’s kind and polite. He’s very patient and he always treats me respectfully.” I often ran up against that kind of discrimination. Not long after my arrival at the base, a strongly worded editorial appeared in the local newspaper. How could the U.S. government use taxpayers’ money to bring a pagan to help the poor Vietnamese refugees at the camp? If those miserable people don’t become