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Vol 5 Issue 4 Rev

Vol 5 Issue 4 Rev

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page 1
Buddhist Correspondence Course Newsletter 
 Volume 5, Issue 4October-December 2009
To avoid all evil, to cultivate good, and to cleanse one's mind — this is the teaching of the Buddhas.Dhammapada, 183 
buddhist correspondence course 
newsletter 
INSIDE THIS ISSUE...
 Articles
Building a Buddha-Box,
 James Davie
Bodhicitta
, Janet
Lawsuit Resumes ConcerningBuddhist Prisoners,
James Newby
My Nature and Yours,
James Halbirt
Poetry
Silent Screaming,
Cliff Marvin Nowell
Dragon,
James W. Bettis
Grow,
James W. Bettis
Eradication Day,
Cliff Marvin Nowell
Love Letters,
Cliff Kathleen Wyatt
What Is, "Is," 
Travis L. Adams
 Art
Zen Art, Travis L. Adams
Letters
Ronald Couch, Jr. James L. HalbirtG. A. Norrell
continued on p. 3
Building a Buddha-Box
 James Davie (Brent, AL)
I
wrote this in hopes that those who can relate to tools and toolboxes will beable to imagine a mental toolbox filled with tools to help them with their mindand relations with others.Have you ever needed to repair something but just didn’t have the right tools? Orused the wrong tools or the right tools in the wrong way and ended up with aneven bigger problem than you started with? Me, too! Plenty of times.Knowing how to use tools properly takes wisdom, knowledge, and hands-on ex-perience. Knowing where to find them takes organization. That’s why the toolboxwas invented. A carpenter, mechanic, electrician, auto body repairman, and soon all use some common tools. They also have specialized tools for their trade.The specialized tools I’m referring to are for the repair and maintenance of themind.The Buddha’s teachings have given us many tools to work with. So many that Ihad to have a larger toolbox to keep them in. Just like an electrician needs to understand ohms, watts, and volts, we need to un-derstand how attachment and desire arise and where emotions come from. Just as my physical toolbox is a large three sectional unit, so is my Buddha tool-box. The tools in my box are based on the Noble Eightfold Path. The top sectionis my wisdom box (panakkandha). It holds tools for right views and right inten-tions. My moral box (silakkahandha) is in the middle section. It contains tools forright speech, right action, and right livelihood. My concentration box (samad-hikkandha) is on the bottom. It holds all my heavy duty tools of right effort, rightmindfulness, and right meditation. You can organize your box as you see fit. Thisis just my personal reference. As sentient beings we all have the same basic problem. It’s called ignorance. We need to understand the nature of our dissatisfied mind. Just as we wouldcheck the oil and radiator fluid in our car, we should make regular checkups to in-vestigate the health of our minds. This is not just philosophy, we need to knowhow the mind functions. We all have the potential for infinite development.Be mindful of your tools. If you think you are lacking tools in any area, ask yourguru or teacher for help and study Buddhist books. The wisdom knowledge you
 
page 2
Buddhist Correspondence Course Newsletter 
continued on p. 8
Bodhicitta
 Janet Get up with Bodhicitta.Eat with Bodhicitta.Go to work with Bodhicitta.Sleep with Bodhicitta.Study with Bodhicitta.Experience problems with Bodhicitta.Die with Bodhicitta.
T
his quote from Lama Zopa denotes how bodhicitta, the union of compassionand wisdom, or the awakened heart/mind, should be all-encompassing andpervasive in our lives, not an ornamental philosophy to espouse and take downfrom the shelf now and then, but an integral part of our thoughts and actions. With our thoughts and actions based on bodhicitta, we can become bodhisat-tvas.Lama Zopa puts the importance of bodhicitta so simply and put it within thereach of everyone:
Our lives are so busy; we are preoccupied by many family and other obligations.When your life is so busy, there is no other refuge than your good heart. Your good heart is the most important thing in which to take refuge. Even though youmight want to do long practices, sitting meditation, many prayers or retreat, your life is usually so busy that you don't have time. You have too many other obliga- tions; you can't do everything that you'd like. If this is the case, your only refuge is your good heart, your compassion, the thought of benefiting others, bodhicitta.If you take refuge in that, if you can practice that, no matter how busy youare—even if you cannot do many hours' sitting meditation, prayers, preliminary practices and so forth—you will have no regrets over lost opportunities, now or inthe future. In this life and in all future lives, you will go from happiness to happi- ness to enlightenment.
 As I write this essay, I never want to forget that the study of Bodhicitta is very im-portant because its purpose is to teach us how to have bodhicitta. When all issaid and done, though, it is the actual practice of bodhicitta (“the Wish-Fulfilling Jewel”) that is ultimately the most important thing.Bodhicitta is made up of the word
bodhi 
signifying “awakened” and
citta
mean-ing (according to your source) “mind,” or “consciousness, “ or “spirit.” The words“essence,” “core,” “foundation,” or “crux” are just some of the words that I thoughtabout to use when speaking of Bodhicitta but the word “heart” is the most appro-priate. Bodhicitta is the heart of Mahayana Buddhism; it is the most apt word be-cause bodhicitta is all about “the good heart.” Everything we study and do is forthis end—the development of bodhicitta and enlightenment, enlightenment for thebenefit of sentient beings. Developing our minds, meditating, reading, and study-ing all lead to this end. If someone were to ask, “Tell me what Buddhism is allabout in just a few sentences,” I would refer to the Four Noble Truths and Bodhi-citta in my answer. At the very least, we should consider the immediate benefit of
The BCCN is distributed at no charge to those taking the Buddhist Correspondence Course. This is your newslet- ter–by you, about you, and for you. You are the major contribut- ors, so send us your questions, problems, solutions you've found to difficulties in practice, thoughts you have on practice, artwork, po- etry, etc. Due to limited space,some editing may be necessary.We also welcome your comments on the newsletter and sugges- tions for ways we might improve it to serve you better.
Please mail all correspondence to:Buddhist Correspondence Coursec/o Rev. Richard Baksa2020 Route 301Carmel, NY 10512
Let us know if we may use your full name or just initials.
 To receive copies of any of theresources listed below, please write to Rev. Richard Baksa atthe address above.• A listing by state of Buddhistgroups that may be able tosend volunteers to your prisonto conduct Buddhist activities.• The "Religious Land Use andInstitutionalized Persons Act of 2000." This guarantees equalaccess for all religions to prisonfacilities for the purpose of reli-gious meetings.• “What is the Religious LandUse and Institutionalized Per-sons Act?” This explains theAct and how it is to be applied.
 
page 3
Buddhist Correspondence Course Newsletter 
gain will be the actual tools you storein your toolbox.Here is a brief example of some of thetools we can have in our Buddha box.Our right view drawer (samma ditthi)can consist of the tools of the FourNoble Truths, and the right views ofthe five aggregates of clinging andsuffering. Another right view to have isof the Noble Eightfold Path as it istruly a way to end dukkha, and theright view of the cause and effect ofkarma.The right intention drawer (sammasankappo) can have tools forunderstanding the intentions ofrenunciation, good will, andharmlessness, plus knowing what ouraim and purpose is in everything wethink and do.In the right speech drawer (sammavaca) we should have tools forunderstanding the reasons forabstaining from idle chatter, false,slanderous, and harsh speech. Wrongspeech can create enemies and startwars. Right speech can give wisdom,heal, and create peace. When usedproperly, speech is silver and silenceis golden.The right action drawer (sammakammanta) can consist of tools forabstaining from taking life, fromtaking what has not been given to us,and from sexual misconduct. There arecounterpart tools for each of these. Forexample, abstaining from taking whathas not been given to us has acounterpart tool of honesty, beingcontent with what we have and thevirtuous tools of generosity.In our right livelihood drawer (sammaajivo) is where we can keep tools forrighteous ways of making a living.The drawer of right effort (sammavayamo) are for tools of mentaldetermination. These are attempts to
Buddha-Box, cont'd from p. 1
Lawsuit Resumes ConcerningBuddhist Prisoners
Rob L. Newby (Teague, TX)
T
he 5th Circuit Court of Appealshas vacated the judgment of the U.S. District Court in Amarillo, Texas,that had dismissed the Buddhist in-mate lawsuit as “frivolous” and for“failure to state a claim”.In a 13-page opinion issued April30th of this year, the Court of Appealsruled in favor of Buddhist inmates onfour of five points finding that a reason-able finder of fact could determinethat the Texas Department of Criminal Justice imposes an impermissible sub-stantial burden on Buddhist prisoners’religious exercise and fails to providereasonable alternatives in violation ofthe RLUIPA [Religious Land Use and In-stitutionalized Persons Act of 2000]and the 1st and 14th amendments theConstitution.stir up the energy in our minds tostrive for what is right.Our right mindfulness drawer (sammasati) should have some tools forcontemplating the body, feelings,state of mind, and phenomena.The right meditation drawer (sammasamadhi) should be filled withconcentration tools. These one-pointedness meditation tools canconsist of tools for establishing ameditation practice, meditations onthe mind, analytical meditations,visualization meditations, prayers andother devotional practices. All of our tools should be chosen withwisdom knowledge and used withlovingkindness and compassion.Better than a toolbox filled with athousand worthless tools is one toolthat brings peace and happiness toall. Gassho.
More specifically, the Court of Ap-peals said that when an outside volun-teer is not available to oversee“regular” meetings, prison officialsmust provide supervision similar to thatenjoyed by Muslim prisoners. Additionally, the Court found that theprison policy requiring malas to beblack plastic, and forbidding inmatesto carry or wear them, was not shownby the state to be the least restrictivemeans of furthering a compelling gov-ernmental interest. The case was re-manded back to the District Court forfurther proceedings.This case was filed May 8, 2005, ad-dressing Buddhist inmates’ rights atthe Roach Unit in Childress, Texas.Consequently, the outcome of this suithas the potential to confer benefitsupon not only Texas Buddhist inmates,but prisoners anywhere that federalconstitutional and statutory rights areprotected.Buddhist prisoners should be sure theirprison record shows their faith to beBuddhism. Prison officials regularly ar-gue that they have less than 1% of theinmate population recorded asBuddhist, and thus should not be re-quired to make special accommoda-tions for them.Details on the developments of thiscase will be provided to the BCCN asthey occur. (Copies of the Court’s opin-ion are available.)For the sake of Dharma, practice.

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