In which I announce a new bibliography on Buddhism and Nature.
Dear fellow students,
Vesak is the annual, Buddhist holiday in which we celebrate the life of the Buddha: his birth, enlightenment and final quenching. Lay Buddhists (and monastics alike) may take this day as an opportunity to recommit themselves to the ethical precepts, rekindle or extend their meditation practice, listen to or read some words of Dharma, or maybe even visit their local, Buddhist temple.
The holiday is typically celebrated on the full moon of May, but it seems that, this year, Thailand is even more “behind the times” than usual: we’re finally celebrating Vesak today!
So, whether you’re as slow as we are or have celebrated Vesak already, I’d like to wish you a Happy Vesak and to offer you a new section of our library dedicated to:
In it you’ll find a variety of essays, suttas, and talks to help you think through and learn about how Buddhists relate to the natural world and perhaps the works there may even inspire you to get Back to Nature yourself! (Yes, that’s a Dhamma talk link;)
So far this calendar year OBU has also added over 200 other new items to our existing library and I’d like to share five of them here:
Particularly charming to me was Trent Walker’s thesis on the ethereally beautiful Cambodian Dharma Song tradition which he’s called “Stirring and Stilling” after his translation of samvega and pasada. Not only does his website contain recordings of the traditional, Cambodian performances, but it even includes his own rendition of the songs in English!
For those keen to start their own daily chanting practice in the Theravada tradition, Dhamma Puja offers an online “karaoke” version of the Abhayagiri daily chants in Pali and English which you may find supportive. Daily chanting, especially upon waking up and before bed, can do a lot to set the mind in the right direction, and it’s no wonder that it’s been a staple of monastic life for centuries.
To continue practice even into sleep itself, Ann Heirman has this article on monastic sleep regulations which is surprisingly inspiring, demonstrating well how the Vinaya is better thought of as a spiritual aid than as a set of “laws”.
Indeed, even the worldly legal system may be thought of as codifying our collective aspirations, and it was with this in mind that I recently (actually) read The UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We have a long way to go before its ambitions are realized, but it’s moving to know that (at least on paper) the governments of the world were able to come together and agree, “wouldn’t it be nice if…”
It gives me hope to see so many people coming together to celebrate what is “worthy of respect” and I hope you’ll join me this Vesak in praying for a bright future for us all.
Wishing you all the peace and happiness of Nibbāna this full moon night,
Chief Librarian @ OBU