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Western Buddhist Monastic Conference Great Success

     Between September 27 and October 1, 2004, the (10th) the Western Buddhist Monastic Conference was held at the Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel, CA which is near Santa Cruz. There were 32 monastics (18 women and 14 men) ordained in Tibetan, Japanese Zen, Chinese Zen and Pure Land, Sri Lanka and Thai Theravada, and Vietnamese Zen traditions, which made for a very colorful gathering. It It was interesting to note all the different nationalities: German, Scott, English, Ecuadorian, Chinese and so on. Also that our length of time as ordained monastics ranged from one year to thirty seven years with a total of 500 years between us.

    Each day we started with an hour of meditation. The program on Simplicity was done in two parts each day. Talks by monastics from different traditions were heard both morning and afternoon after which smaller groups discussed what they had heard. The sessions gave everyone something to think about. We found great encouragement, energy and support both from the programs and from the time we were given to talk with each other. Those who have to make a living out in the world to survive, those who have to practice alone or without a teacher, and those who are otherwise isolated received terribly needed support. 

During the week: 
     We got to interview the renowned yogi, scholar and master, the Venerable Choden Rinpoche. He spent a year as a prisoner of the Chinese and then spent twenty years living in one room on a solitary retreat before leaving Tibet. 
     We took the water from the altars and used it to give a Water Offering and Water Charity in the Tibetan tradition at a dock where a large broken hull of a ship was half immersed. 
     Full moon day fell during the conference so the Bhiksus and Bhiksunis met separately for recitation of the Pratimoksa Sutra. It was the first time I had heard the precepts recited in English. Up to now I have only heard them in Vietnamese.
     And we had a pretty good (?) earthquake.