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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2010 54 Dharma 2.0 A new generation of practitioners waits to take the reins from their baby boomer elders. AnDreA Miller profiles six young Buddhists bringing new issues, styles, and passions to the dharma. Jessica Morey Clean energy analyst, Washington, D.C. “I see that as the work of our generation: integrating dharma into everyday life, into our jobs and relationships.” Jessica Morey, based in Washington, D.C., wants to continue working in renewable energy policy and be a dharma teacher. “that’s a lot to want,” she says, “but many of my friends want to be in the world, yet deeply rooted to a spiritual practice. i see that as the work of our generation—integrating dharma into com- munity, into everyday life, into our jobs and relationships.” “Becoming a nun was what i was thinking about through col- lege. My attraction to ordination, though, was that it was a kind of running away. sometimes it’s hard to be in the world. i start to want stuff, like fancy houses, and i get frustrated when i’m not being mindful. now i’m comfortable with the lay life. i feel a Jaed Coffin Writer, DeerfielD, MassaChusetts “My mind is best off in a state of unknowing and ambiguity. That’s when I feel most free.” Jaed Coffin’s mother grew up in thailand in a house that sits on temple grounds. his father was an american soldier. Coffin, now thirty, says, “ethnic identity is, like most faces of identity, an abstraction and social construction. through medi- tation, one can undo these constructions and find someone more authentic on the other side. that said, there’s no easy way to feel normal if you’re a half-thai kid growing up in Maine.” there was no thai temple in his new england town, yet Buddhism was woven into his daily life. it was in the way he and his family ate, the simplicity of their household, and in his mother’s demeanor. it was also very much present during vis- its to thailand, where Coffin relished the warmth of temples. as he describes it, “even when i was young and couldn’t under- stand what anyone was saying, as long as i was sitting next to my grandfather or mother, i felt right.” But then his grandfather died and his family stopped making trips to asia. years passed and, against the backdrop of classmates calling him “Chinese freak” and mimicking his mother’s accent, Coffin grew wrapped up in the puzzle of his ethnic identity and increas- ingly nostalgic for his thai village temple. in high school he be- gan reading about Buddhist thought; in his junior year of college as a philosophy major, Coffin decided to return to his mother’s village and take temporary ordination. in thailand, temporary ordination is something approximately 80 percent of young men do and Coffin feels it’s important to have this ritualized time to step away from society. in america, says Coffin, we like to be financially stable before raising a family. thais, on the other hand, believe a man should be philosophically and ethically stable first, and that this stability can be gained at a temple. Coffin continues: “My mother often reminds me, when i’m acting younger than my age, ‘since you’ve been a monk, you’re now expected to behave like a man!’ “i found my time as a monk difficult in this regard. afterward, photoByWillieDavisphotography