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Started way back in the 1990s. That what happens when you have 4-kids spanning a 17-year age gap. The only reason I am not contending 27-years is that I think I had a 3-year gap when Matthew was around 8 and no longer needed I to take him around. Then, in 2003 Devanee came around. I have taken kids trick-or-treating in: New Ipswich, Greenville, Temple, Nashua, Gilford and Alton. I can honestly claim, that in 1992, I established trick-or-treating on Route 45 (the shortest marked highway in the U.S.) between Greenville and Temple. This was rural, with minimum 4-acre lots. Houses were far apart and at the end of long (often steep) driveways. You went from house-to-house by car. If you walked you would, at best, in 2-hours, get to 5 houses. So, nobody had done trick-or-treating on that road.
Danielle was three and Route 45 was the nearest road to us. So, I took her, in a Jeep, trick-or-treating. Nobody was expecting trick-or-treaters. It never had been done. Some were very embarrassed and distressed. There were offers of money and dollar bills put into her pail. Others rummaged around. She got a lot of apples — this being prime apple orchard country. But, universally, there was a consensus that we had to come back next year and that they would be ready. And they were. We had fun.
Up until 4pm today I was not 100% sure that I would not be going out. She could still have changed her mind. She didn’t.
I must confess I was glad we didn’t have to go out today. It was raining quite heavily — though the temperature was blamy, in the mid-60s. We would have got soaked.
So, that is that. No more trick-or-treating.
We had two kids, from the same family, turn up. That was it.
But, this year we had more Halloween decorations than ever before — including our first inflatable. I have feeling that that is going to be the new trend. No more trick-or-treating but more decorations.
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Some of the larger of the Sri Lankan Buddhist temples keep one or more ceremonial elephants — typically used in ‘peraheras‘ (i.e., parades) — on site. They serve as a draw — those coming to the tempe like to go and see the elephants. It is like having a zoo within the temple.
That a very senior and distinguished monk, a head monk at that, dying as a result of an accident with a temple elephant is not good PR.
While at least one report claims that the priest was pushed to the grounds — the official line is that the priest had an accident while feeding the elephant. C’est la vie. I think the truth is somewhere in between. Elephants, especially tame ones, are usually very gentle. Unlikely to push an elderly man, a familiar one at that, that violently. But, we will never know. ‘Nit cricket’ for the truth to come out in a situation like this.
Their names are Venerable Utsumi and Sister Denise (who I think is the one on the right in the YouTube video below).
The Sister by definition is not a Buddhist monk. She would be the equivalent of a nun. Not sure whether the other one is a bona fide monk. He is not dressed in the dark saffron robes we normally associate with Buddhist monks.
I could be wrong but I think these two represent Nepalese, Tibetan or Bhutan Buddhism — which is not mainstream Theravada or Mahāyāna Buddhism (my background and expertise being in the former, Sri Lanka considered the spiritual home for that school). I haven’t, as yet, been able to find anything more about these two other than that they participated in Ali’s funeral! IF you can help me here I will be most grateful. [Thanks, in advance.]
Increasingly folks in the U.S. are gravitating towards and identifying with Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhism, and creating the impression that this school represents most Buddhist worldwide. Not so. I happened to look up Buddhist temples in Louisville and discovered that they are all Tibetan-centric. C’est la vie.
One thing ironic that Ali, who is said to have arranged how this service was to conducted, may have overlooked. Tibetan and Nepalese Buddhist have zero-experience dealing with Muslims! Not so if he turned to Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka. Just something to think about.
…by Anura Guruge
President-elect Mitt Romney’s church, viz. ‘The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints‘ (the ‘Mormons‘), is justifiably famous for its ornate, imposing, typically soaring (to pierce the heavens), usually blinding white Temples — such as the one in Boston, pictured above.
I like the look and feel of Mormon Temples. If I am close to one, I make a point of trying to visit it to have a tour. During 1980 to 1983 I used to travel to Tempe, Arizona (suburb of Phoenix) on a regular basis for extended business trips. In the evenings and weekends I would set out to explore, far and wide, in the process forming an abiding love with that amazing State and its native Indian population. One of my discoveries was the Mormon Temple in Mesa, just a few blocks from my favored hotel (‘Fiesta Inn‘) in Tempe. They used to have a very impressive collection of petrified trees. Many evenings I would stop by the Temple, park on the street, and wonder through the immaculately maintained gardens replete with those petrified trees. Yes, I have been to the ‘mother-ship’ in Salt Lake City and the one in Oahu, Hawaii (now called the ‘Laie Hawaii Temple’), which used to be associated with the ‘Polynesian Cultural Center‘ that used to do amazing programs. Though I have never visited it, in all of my time in D.C., I am also familiar with the so called ‘upturned pig‘ Temple in D.C.
There is a likelihood that the Mormon Church, which is continually building new Temples or upgrading the existing ones [e.g., Mesa, AZ], will decide to convert the current unimposing church in Woleboro, 388 Main Street (just above ‘Winter Harbor’) into a full Temple to celebrate Mitt Romeny’s presidency — the 1st Mormon President.
2 related, recent Mormon posts on my ‘Popes and Papacy with Anura Guruge‘ blog:
1/ Mormons Baptized Bl. John Paul II Six (6) Times. Plan To Baptize Benedict XVI. No Wonder Romney Jokes About The Popes.
2/ Mormon Mitt Romney, At Al Smith 2012 Dinner, Disrespects Pope Benedict XVI & Bl. John Paul II; Unnecessary & Insulting.
…by Anura Guruge
Address of the temple: 162 Old Upton Road, Grafton, MA 01519
(just off Route 140, south of Grafton center)
Tel: 508-839-5038 & 646-897-8951
I am no longer a Buddhist. More on that later. This is the first time I had been to a Buddhist temple since 1992. But, it was definitely worth going and we all really enjoyed the experience. Suffice to say it was an all time first for Deanna and the kids.
This temple was founded by my first cousin, my mother’s oldest brother’s, youngest daughter. It is the 14th Buddhist temple, in 14 separate states in the U.S., that she has founded in the last 14 years! She, for obvious reasons, eschews publicity so I am not going to say anything more about her, other than that she is pretty amazing. I have about 16 cousins from my mother’s side and all of them are mega successful luminaries; I am the dud.
I had not seen her in 40 years! That was a primary motive for making the 120 mile (each way), 2 hour trek. I have interacted more with her older sister, and she even visited us from Texas 7 years ago. She called me up two weeks ago and told me that I should go and surprise my cousin. That is what we did, but she recognized me right away (the sister having told her that there might he a surprise).
There were at least 31 Buddhist monks and 1 Buddhist nun from all over the U.S., Illinois, Ohio, Maryland, D.C., Staten Island, Long Island. I was impressed.
I had expected to find 5 monks at that and possibly 150 people. Even the Sri Lankan Ambassador to the U.N., resident in New York City, drove up to the event.
I knew that there would be a lot of food but even that exceeded expectations. We got there around 10:30 am and left at 4:25 pm. They did 4 separate food servings in that time and there was still food left over.
There were 200 people or more. I was amazed.
The weather did not cooperate. It was awfully humid we had some heavy downpours. But, the weather did not impede proceedings. There was a large tent and everybody could fit in it.
So, it was good. Lot of nice people. I spoke with some; also with some of the Buddhist priests (the fact that I can no longer converse in Sinhalese being an embarrassing impediment, though I can still understand much of what is said to me in Sinhalese). Speaking with Buddhist priests used to be daily part of my life, sans exception, until we left Ceylon in 1967 – a week before my 14th birthday.
Deanna and Devanee were impressed. Teischan, as ever, was difficult. Not sure whether we will be going back. We might.
So, me and Buddhism, especially with me spending so much time and effort as a papal historian.
I was born a Buddhist to an awfully devout Buddhist family, my father even then a noted Buddhist scholar and activist — as he still is. If you don’t believe me start with this link or check Amazon (for ‘Ananada Guruge’). My young life was a total immersion in Buddhism. Buddhist priests visited the house, without fail, every day of the week — mainly in the morning, but sometimes at night as well. I had to go to Sunday school. But, during the rest of the week we could end up going to a temple a couple of times a week — not for religious purposes necessarily, but because my father had to meet with one or more monks about the various initiatives they were up to. One of them involved creating a Buddhist university. I was probably 8 around that time. Given that I got dragged to so many of the meetings I became quite involved with it! So, Buddhism was very much an integral part of my life.
People ask me, even today, whether I no longer follow the Buddhist way of life. Well, within reason, of course I do. The Buddhist way of life was never too onerous, though I used to get grief about the large number of eggs I ate (which explains my super high cholesterol). There are no commandments in Buddhism. Only precepts, and you only have to follow 5 of them. Three were never really a problem — given that Buddhism is somewhat ambivalent about meat eating. Plus from all I know, and remember I knew plenty, the precepts tell you to ‘TRY and REFRAIN‘. Yep, I do that. I try and refrain, always have, all my life. (As Oscar Wilde said: ‘I have great willpower. I can resist anything but temptation‘.) Plus, not sure that my 1/2 a glass of diluted red wine, strictly for medicinal purposes, counts anyway. So, my abandonment of Buddhism when I was about 18 years old (which was 40 years ago) had nothing to do with ‘way of life’.
It had everything to do with the AFTERLIFE. You talk to Buddhist in America and they start waxing lyrical about meditation. That is like saying Catholicism is all about confession. Meditation played no role in my life growing up as this model Buddhist, in Ceylon, the supposed cradle of pure Buddhism, in a family noted as exemplary Buddhist. I actually asked my father about this, on camera, earlier this Summer. He admitted that meditation did not play much of a role in the Buddhism we practiced in Ceylon.
To be Buddhism was, and still is, all about reincarnation. Those that have seen some of my work know that I am a pedantic devil that likes to mull about very arcane topics. Well, when I was in College, among other things, I did a lot of thinking about reincarnation. When I was about 15, after a funeral, at a large family gathering at one of my uncles houses, with quite a few heavyweights from the Ceylon Buddhist scene, I asked all present: ‘per Buddhism, when does reincarnation of a human ‘soul’ start, at the moment of conception or when the baby is born?’ There was a stunned silence. The uncle whose house it was, had a brother. He was the Secretary General of the ‘Ceylon Buddhist Congress‘. I still can remember the look on his face. He was a lifelong bachelor. I was asking about conception and Buddhism. His jaw dropped. Actually I never got an answer. I still haven’t, over 5o years later.
I cannot, for the world of me, reconcile reincarnation. To me, if I do not believe in reincarnation I couldn’t and shouldn’t be a Buddhist.
I explained that to my father. He understood. He is a scholar. His only issue is what do I believe in IF I don’t believe in reincarnation. Aaahhh.
Well, life permitting, I plan to write a book someday about ‘Growing Up Buddhist in Ceylon in the 1960s‘. But, before that I have two other titles I would like to get done — life permitting, and yes, one of them has to do with popes, now that I have gone a whole full year without publishing a pope book!
But, bottom line, we are glad we went to the temple opening (consecration) today. It was good to see my cousin. It was good to see all those people. Thanks.