While western people look for meaning and essence of life to the wisdom of eastern culture particularly Buddhism, we are increasingly trying to copy western culture. Look at the food our people eat, the clothes we wear and our desperation to look different with makeup and weird hairdos and with all these we also see violence, drugs, smugglings, thefts, robberies, frauds, corruptions and many other evil offshoots of those cultures taking roots in our society.
Just the other day, I was watching a BBS programme. It was a discussion programme with two monks, one was a Khenpo and another was a doctor-turned monk. Both were insisting on the need for lay people to take a break from their works and take vows of the sangha for a short period to get better perspectives of life. I did not realize such a provision exists and it is indeed a wonderful opportunity for lay people to take monastic vows for any period of time they wish and partake in the daily routines of a monastery or a nunnery like regular monks and nuns.
I couldn’t agree more with the doctor that this could in fact be a potent antidote for the insatiable desires of our mind that leads people to take evil paths ultimately bringing them more sufferings. I think this is a wonderful opportunity for people to get their perspectives on the right track and will contribute tremendously to the ideals of a compassionate and caring society. I don’t see why government and corporations should not allow their workers short leave from their jobs for this kind of retreat. I am sure when they rejoin their work they will become more productive and also become positive influence on their peers.
I was also struck by the truth of their assessment of how our society is increasingly transiting from traditional value based and caring society to a more self centric and artificial one trying to copy alien cultures. One basic example is the way we celebrate our children’s birthday today. It is not just in towns and cities that families celebrate their children’s birthdays the western way, this culture is even making inroads in rural countryside where people with little education and understandings are trying to imitate birthday celebrations with cakes, candles and balloons like their cousins do in the towns, setting a less then desirable trend in the villages. If we really observe deeply, we are making the auspicious birthday of our children with everything inauspicious. We have birthday cakes with names of our children on them. When we cut the cake, we cut the name of the child which is quite inauspicious in our culture. We blow out candle and that is extremely inauspicious representing something like blowing out life and then poke balloons with needle while others clap.
I share the panelists’ view that we can celebrate birthdays in our own auspicious ways. We can have cakes adorned with Tashi Delek written on them and placing it on the altar as offerings first. It would be a good idea to invite a monk and perform a short cleansing ceremony (Lhabsang Thruesoel) and recite long life prayer (Tshedrup) for the child and do something good and wholesome in your child’s name like saving a life of an animal or donating something to a more needy ones around us. This way we instill values in our children right from the young age and they will grow up to be a more compassionate human being.
Like what the monks said we must encourage our children to say Apa to father and Ama or Aie to mother rather than Daddy or Mommy which are not our language in the first place and phonetically inauspicious. Daddy sounds like (Dredre) which means separation and Mommy sounds like (Ma Mey) no mother. These may sound trivial but, for Bhutanese there is nothing as important as Tendrel which is the custom of believing in the importance of auspiciousness in everything we do and it would certainly make sense to care about small things closer at home than trying to emulate things we hardly understand from far away.
August 30, 2015