What we're about

I still love the term Americanayana I coined, I am changing the name of this meetup to Buddhism4Happiness, hopefully more catchy, and to remind us that Buddhism is a set of practices that leads to true and stable happiness.

Welcome new and old friends. This meetup has a long history with amazing organizers and interesting events and meditation practices. This meetup was originally called Orlando Buddhism Meetup Group eons ago, well it feels like it but it was only back in 2002. But more recently it had an odd name of Americanayana, pronounced "Americana yana" to dare suggest there could arise a distinct lineage Buddhism tailored and made by and for Americans. But now let's go back to basics and call it Buddhism4Happiness, and encourage folks to develop a disciplined practice of meditation. So let's come together to meditate, chant, discuss, study wisdom literature from masters, and live joyfully. For now I don't have much of a plan, but I hope to schedule and introduce some on going classes including some guided Buddhist meditation in various centers and reserved public rooms around town, in places I have frequented. I welcome suggestions and seek assistant organizers to help make folks in this area be aware of where to get together to practice being aware. May this meetup benefit the community and the world and, of course, all sentient beings.

Assuming there is such a thing as American Buddhism, I am going to write enough to make folks believe it may exist, or that it could exist if we believe hard enough. Forgive me as I dare label such a branch of Buddhism as "Americanayana" Buddhism. If I write about it enough, this term I coined, "Americanayana," may eventually get added to a reputable and scholarly dictionary of Buddhist terms, some day, and then I'd be famous just for coming up with the name. Not likely, as there's all kinds of problems with that name. Take a look at it. Break it down. Americanayana, made up of American and yana. I was unfortunately suggesting America is synonymous with the United States of America, or the US only, excluding South Americans, Central Americans, Canadians, and Caribean people. But to be politically correct and more inclusive we could include all the Americas, North and South America and everything in between. However, being that this meetup serves Orlando Florida, at best Central Florida, and that I don't know much about what is going on in South American with the scattered pockets of Buddhists that have sprung up there, then I may be forgiven for suggesting that for now we are going to focus only on the US. Another problem with the name, is that if we are going to focus only the Buddhists that surround me in Florida and the rest of the US, then why not call it US Buddhism, or USayana Buddhism? Why did I go with American and Americana-yana, instead of USA-yana or something like that? Well, it might not sound so romantic, nor easy to say out loud, to call this new branch of Buddhism, "US Buddhism," and there's the chance that it may be pronounced just as written, making it sound somewhat narcissistic kind of Buddhism, as if we were calling it a Buddhism all about us and not them. I suppose periods would help, as in U.S. Buddhism, then people would read out United States Buddhism. But still American Buddhism and Americanayana sounds better, I thought.

The idea for the name Americanayana came from two thoughts. Bob Dylan and his band had been touring with the title of "Americanarama" and when there is a vehicle and a form of Buddhism, it is considered a vehicle towards enlightenment, and the title given ends with "ayana" so I replaced the "rama" with "yana", or, in other words, combined "Americana" with "ayana" to get the word "Americanayana" to suggest American Buddhism distinct from the other better known expressions such as "Vajrayana", "Mahayana", and "Hinayana". Well, actually "Maha" means "greater" or "larger", and "Hina" means "lesser" or "smaller", and so we may start off with "Hinayana" because we seek personal benefits right away from Buddhism. But when we do Buddhism for the benefit of others then we are doing "Mahayana" Buddhism. And I would say that Vajrayana is like an "esoteric" form of Mahayana Buddhism. Actually, Vajrayana means the Diamond Way or Vehicle, where the diamond refers to the indestructible nature of the mind [of enlightenment], or our true nature.

Anyway, here follows somewhat of a history of American Buddhism, or Americanayana Buddhism, the Buddhism for folks in the U.S. the one you most likely run into, if one could say such an organized and presentable Buddhism could exist.


Americanayana Buddhism actually started back with the soil tilled by the American Transcendentalists such as Thoreau and Emerson, and others, and planted by the seeds of ethnic people immigrating to America Chinese, Korean, and Japanese forms of Buddhisms that have come to us by way of the Asian immigrant folks. And let us not forget the veterans who came back from far eastern countries with their interest to explore Buddhism. Also it is important to mention the "hippies" from the sixties who ventured to India and Tibet in search of wisdom and the sciences of enlightenment. More recently we have obtain powerful seeds from Tibetan Buddhism which has flourished due to the efforts of teachers such as Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama, since the Tibetans have had to escape from their lands of snow. Recent Hollywood movies have helped bring back meditation and other practices and ways of thinking through some thought provoking movies such as "What the Bleep Do We Know" and "The Secret", but even way back in the 70s there was the odd TV show "Kung Fu" with Buddhist Shaolin Priests and special profound moments with the student-master relationship of Kwai Chang Caine (or Grasshopper) and his teachers, and with that we got an introduction to Chinese philosophies and practices such as the Tao, Confuciusianism, Buddhism, mental and physical discipline and training, and sitting meditation.

This meetup had several other names before I attempted to name it with the coined term Americanayana, it was formerly known as 'Buddhism in Central Florida' and before that it went by the name 'The Orlando Buddhism Meetup Group: "American Beat" ' for some four years, and before that simply The Orlando Buddhism Meetup Group, probably since it started back in 2002, and it had an address of Buddhism-85. Previous great organizers and funders of this meetup have included Marc IronBuddha, Scott, Ani Chime, and way back in history, Ricc Bishop who started this meetup back in 2002 and handed it down to a lady who handed down to IronBuddha, who handed it down to me, then I dropped it and it was saved by Scott, but then he handed it to Ani Chime, who after a great run had to move away, so she handed it back to me. I have barely been able to come up with funds to keep it alive, and I occasionally publish some interesting meetups. So if you browse the photos and pages and discussions you will see that we have made some history for Buddha Dharma in Central Florida. May there have been some long lasting virtuous impressions made on the minds of our folks in the area. The meetups that have been announced here have benefited many in Central Florida. At least a few of us here met some great teachers such as Venerable Ani Konchok Chime (aka Angela Harkavy), Drupon Thinley Ningpo Rinpoche, and others. Recently we had several meetups or gatherings not as a result of this meetup but due to the organizational efforts of Diane Carty Bevis who helped to form a sangha and center of Tibetan Buddhism called Losel Rime Ling of Orlando with website at http://www.loselrimeling.org/ with a mission to "open a gateway to the Dharma (Buddhist teachings). By cultivating wisdom and compassion, we not only benefit ourselves and each other, but our community and the world at large. Inner transformation is the path to peace.It is our hope to connect like minded people who are interested in Buddhism, by sharing our knowledge and by hosting qualified teachers to the Central Florida area." Events organized through Losel Rime Ling were and are being promoted here.

Upcoming events (5+)

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If you visit frequently you will notice the name change. Loong time ago this meetup used to be called The Orlando Buddhism Meetup Group: and then one member added the suffix "American Beat" to it. It had the URL http://www.meetup.com/Buddhism-85 way back then, from 2002 to around 2010. Then some years ago I changed it to Buddhism in Central Florida for a while. I made the URL quite a bit longer but clearer: http://www.meetup.com/BuddhismInCentralFlorida/ But lately up until today in February 2016, it goes by the name Americanayana Buddhism meetup or something like that. I tried to add Central Florida at the end with the "CFL" to the URL, but now I simplified it a bit and the URL is simply http://www.meetup.com/Americanayana/ Now I can't remember how long it's been Americanayana. Perhaps only five years. Another change that I made with the name change to Americanayana is that any member can make changes to the suggested meetup. So you could suggest a date now, or suggest a place now, and so forth, but this is really not a meetup to be published. I use this in order to make you notice the name change. I hope this isn't too confusing or out of place. Thanks. Compassion, Jairo

Listen to teachings from a Rinpoche from Tibet
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Rinpoche means precious, and a Rinpoche is considered an incarnation of some past lama. In San Antonio Florida anybody will be able to listen at the feet of a master. Listen to teachings from His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche. He was imprisoned by the Chinese for 20 years, he practiced meditation those 20 years, came out of prison in 1979. Came to the US in 1997. Rinpoche is a master of dzogchen, the fivefold practice Mahamudra, the six yogas of Naropa, and the preliminary practices. Schedule of teachings at http://www.meetup.com/ratnashri-83/ or at http://www.dnjus.org/ I won't put the date or time, as these can be found in the links I just gave. But the teachings are happening beginning Tuesday April 23, 2013. And I am guessing they run all week every day and end Sunday, but don't take my word, you will have to click on those links and investigate. Compassionately, Jairo

Buddhist "Bibles"
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Buddhism has no official "Holy Bible" that all Buddhists can refer to, but it has a set of essential teachings that most Buddhists can agree upon, such as the Four Noble Truths which are said to contain all the teachings in a compressed form. So if you are studying Buddhism in a scholarly fashion expect to see many variations and versions of the teachings, not to mention the interpretations and commentaries. Even though the technology of writing at the time of the Buddha was available, the "paper" on which one wrote did not do well to last long, the Buddha preferred that his followers exercise their memorization skills and that is why so much chanting is done in Buddhism. And this managed to work, as what we know of what the Buddha said comes from the chanting across the centuries by monks dedicated to preserving the words. The preservers of the oldest versions of the teachings of the Buddha, the Theravadins, now situated mostly in the Island of Shri Lanka (but also in countries such as Burma and Thailand) is a lineage or tradition of Buddhism that always chanted all of the teachings, and it was only in the first century before the common era that they finally thought it might be a good idea to write the words down more as a back up plan and to help in memorization, transmission, and porting of Buddhism to other countries. So the first language used for saving the words of the Buddha came to be known as Pali, and that language is similar to Sanskrit, but was not used by the scholars of the Vedas, instead Pali was used by the common people of India. But eventually, the scholars also wanted a version of Buddha's words to be set in the Sanskrit language. And when Buddhism spread into China, the Buddha's words were all translated into Chinese. And in Tibet the words were also translated into Tibetan language which had (by the 8th century) developed a writing system based on the Sanskrit characters, but adapted to the sounds of the Tibetan language at that time and region. Here is some information on the Pali canon of Buddhism: The Tripitaka (Sanskrit for "three baskets"; "Tipitika" in Pali) is the earliest collections of Buddhist scripture. There are several versions, the oldest and most complete of which is called the Pali Canon because it is in the Pali language. It is believed the many texts within the Tripitaka are the words of the historical Buddha as memorized and chanted by generations of monks. It was not written down until about the 1st century BCE. Read more at http://buddhism.about.com/od/abuddhistglossary/g/tripitaka.htm Now Tibetan Buddhists do not use the Pali canon. Tibetan Buddhism uses a set that is similar but it is obviously written in Tibetan. The amazing thing is that this set has not yet been translated into English. There is an organization called 84000 (in reference to the 84,000 teachings the Buddha gave) that is working on that and here is the link: http://84000.co/about/vision/ And here is their about page information: The Buddha taught more than 84,000 methods to attain true peace and freedom from suffering. Of these teachings, only 5% have been translated into modern languages. Due to the rapid decline in knowledge of classical languages and in the number of qualified scholars, we are in danger of losing this priceless legacy. 84000 aims to translate all of the Buddha’s words into modern languages, and to make them available to everyone. The Tibetan Buddhist "canon" consists of two parts, the Kangyur and the Tengyur. Here follows information taken from http://84000.co/facts-and-figures-about-kangyur-and-tengyur/ What is the Kangyur? The meaning of “Kangyur” is “the translated words (of the Buddha)”. It is the entire collection of texts regarded as buddhavacana or “Buddha-word”, translated into Tibetan. The texts considered to be “Buddha-word” are the records not only of the Buddha’s own discourses, but also of teachings and explanations given by others––often by his close disciples with his approval, or by other enlightened beings. Also included are systematic compilations of the Buddha’s pronouncements on particular topics, e.g. the rules of monastic discipline in the Vinaya texts. What is the Tengyur? The meaning of “Tengyur” is “the translated treatises”. It is comprised of the Tibetan translations of works written by Indian Buddhist masters, explaining and elaborating on the words of the Buddha. What are the source languages of the Kangyur and Tengyur? Most of the texts were translated from Sanskrit and a few from other Indic languages; there are also texts that were translated from Chinese. Are the Kangyur and Tengyur canonical scriptures, like the Bible and the Koran? The Buddhist scriptures, unlike those of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam, are not seen as a closed, defined set of sacred revelations granted to humans by a divine being––the usual definition of a “canon”. However, the texts in the Kangyur and Tengyur (like those in the Chinese and Pali collections) are often described as “canonical” in the sense that they are accorded a special, authoritative status. Their authority and sacredness derives partly from their provenance, but also to a large extent from their perceived transformative power. This second, less formalised aspect helps to explain why the collections (with the exception of the Pali Canon) have not been treated as completely immutable and closed to further additions. Another difference is that the various genres within the canonical collections are accorded different levels of sacred authority: the sutras (and tantras in some cases) the most, then the vinaya texts, followed by the abhidharma, and the treatises. Now if you want to read online some teachings from Tibetan Buddhism a great place to start would be the Berzin archives at http://www.berzinarchives.com/web/en/index.html If you want to learn Buddhism based on a Tibetan Buddhist lineage and presented in a way that makes for great progress without having to learn Tibetan language and writing and customs then a good place to start would be to visit the kadampa website at http://kadampa.org/ and the local "chapter" in Orlando at http://MeditationInOrlando.org Thanks for your patience in reading this far. As for a meetup, I am open to ideas.

An Urgent message and opinion from a Buddhist to all Buddhists and others

Essentially, Buddhism is no Román Catholic Church and is quite decentralized, so when it is attacked there is little way to retaliate. Imagine if terrorists were to attack the Vatican, there would be action from Catholics around the world and quite noticeable. But when sacred site for Buddhists was attacked recently, I bet only 20% knew about it, the media did not mention it. But the author of the following message reminds Buddhists not to fall for revenge and forget about compassion, i.e. don't do like the US did with 9/11. Buddhism and conflict in south Asia Http://sujato.wordpress.com/2013/07/08/buddhism-and-conflict-in-south-asia/ Yesterday we had the incredibly sad and disturbing news that a series of bombs had been set off in Bodhgaya. The heart of Buddhism, where the Buddha was enlightened, and the destination for millions of Buddhist pilgrims, had been subjected to a terrorist attack. It seems that there were around 11 bombs planted, of which 4 went off in the temple complex itself, five elsewhere, and two were defused. Two monks were injured, and I don’t know how many others. Bizarrely, this episdoe has been almost ignored by the international press. I can’t find a reference to it on the ABC, the SMH, or the Guardian; and only one minor article in the New York Times. The only major media oitlet with good coverage seems to be the Times of India. Why is this being ignored by the Western media? What would happen if Mecca, or the Vatican was subjected to multiple bomb blasts? Buddhists, get out there and make a noise! Don’t let this happen again! BUT, and here’s the important part: make the right kind of noise. The blasts were, it seems, planted by a group called the Indian Mujahadeen, an Islamist group that is responding to the persecution of the Mulsim Rohingya people in Myanmar. This is part of an extremely disturbing pattern of Muslim/Buddhist violence throughout virtually every major country in the region: Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and now India. Recently I was in Canberra and I raised this issue repeatedly, both directly to the Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, and to the Attorney General’s Human Rights Forum. I emphasized that the Australian religious community, both Buddhist and Muslim, want peace, and we want our government to do everything it can to settle this dangerous situation before it spirals out of control. The Foreign Minister told me that they strongly supported granting citizenship for the Rohingya and that he was planning a trip to Rakhine province next month to emphasize the issue. I just hope the Government doesn’t get so embroiled in its own problems that they forget about the rest of the world. In any case, this is one practical step that that we should all support: grant citizenship to the Rohingya. This is absolutely necessary, and an essential starting point. If this does not happen, the persecution in Myanmar will get worse, and the repercussions through the region will continue to escalate. Of course, there is much more to be done. There is, and has been for some time, an insidious paranoia in the Buddhist community. There is always a tendency to look to conspiracies and blame the other. “It’s the Tamils!” “It’s the Christians!” “It’s the women!” “It’s the West!” “It’s…” and you can fill in the blanks here. Now, the cry is, “It’s the Muslims!” All this comes from a sense of weakness, from a lack of confidence in the Buddhist world. Look at how the Buddha responded in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, when asked about Ajatasattu’s chances of invading the Vajjians. As long as the Vajjians kept strong and unified, and lived well, they would not be overcome. Only by treachery and division would Ajatasatu succeed. And this is the message that the Buddha stated, quite explicitly and repeatedly: Buddhism is not threatened by forces from outside, but by weakness from within. When the Buddhist community stops paying attention to the Dhamma, stops living in the way taught by the Buddha, it will be easily overcome. We need to begin our response, not by blaming others, but by asking ourselves, “How can we be stronger in the Dhamma?” The Buddhist world needs to begin some serious and long-overdue reforms. Here are a few urgent priorities: Provide a good education in actual Dhamma (not traditional fairy stories) to all Buddhists Sever the terrifying and toxic links between Buddhism and nationalism Retire the sectarian, nationalist, and ossified leadership of the Sangha, and let the Sangha operate by consensus, according to the Vinaya Toss out the ridiculous rituals and superstitions that serve only to perpetuate wrong view and obscure the Dhamma Provide living examples of how Dhamma creates and nourishes compassionate, wise, and peaceful people. It’s a crazy, scary world out there. As the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Sometimes people actually do bad things, and sometimes they do bad things to Buddhists. The Tamil Tigers were evil, murderous thugs. But that doesn’t mean that “Tamils” are like that. Likewise, some Muslims are stupid, violent, dogmatically-crazed jerks, and we need to protect people from them. But that doesn’t mean that “Muslims” are like that. Look at America. After 9/11, reason and compassion went out the window. I remember reading a little article, just after 9/11, where one of the al-Qaeda leaders was interviewed. He said that they will just keep lighting fires. It’s easy for them to light them, and hard for the US to put them out. They don’t care how much they lose, or how long it takes. They will just keep lighting the fires until the US exhausts itself. A decade later, and it’s plain as day, this is exactly what is happening. And its working. The very purpose for which the US is fighting, the beloved freedoms and democratic rights, have been systematically eroded and jettisoned in an ever more deranged crusade, which has caused orders of magnitude more harm than even the 9/11 attacks themselves. Don’t, as Buddhists, make the same mistake! Remember the Buddha’s words: hatred is never overcome by hatred, it is only ever overcome by love. The more you think about and go over the harms and damages to Buddhism, the worse it will get. The thing to do, the only thing to do, is to love. To forgive. To move forward. To overcome all hatred, whether it is in the heart of a Buddhist, a Muslim, a Tamil, or an American. It is hatred that is the enemy, not Muslims.

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