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Lions Roar : May 2019
or dark blue, they are from Zen or another Japanese school. Brown often signifies Vietnamese Buddhism, including Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village monastic tradition, while gray is common in Korean Buddhism. But no matter what the color or cut, all Buddhist monastic dress signifies one important thing: that the wearer is an honored member of the monastic community founded by the Buddha himself, the oldest continuous institution in human history. That’s a cool thing to contemplate in an American airport. What is one-pointedness? “One-pointedness” is one of the names given to the practice of concentration. Oth- ers include mindfulness, calm abiding, and shamatha. One-pointedness is both a medi- tation practice and the quality of mind it develops, as in “one-pointed mind.” One-pointedness or concentration is one of the two basic steps of Buddhist medita- tion: First you develop a stable mind that can rest on an object of concentra- tion. Then you focus your mind one-pointedly on the nature of reality in order to develop insight. You practice one-pointedness by focusing the mind on an object of con- centration like the breath, then gently returning the mind to the breath when you realize it has wandered. In its strictest form, you could focus 100 percent of your attention on the object of concentration, while in a more spacious practice you can balance a lighter focus on the breath or other object with simultaneous awareness of the environment around you. Can you recommend some Buddhist books for kids? Buddhist children’s literature offers parents a fun, gentle way to share dharma concepts and practices with their kids. For babies and tots, check out Baby Pres- ent (Parallax), inspired by the teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, and The Day the Buddha Woke Up, written by Lion’s Roar’s Andrea Miller and illustrated by Rima Fujita (Wisdom). Preschoolers and kids in elementary school will enjoy Everything Is Con- nected, written by Jason Gruhl and illustrated by Ignasi Font (Bala Kids); Steps and Stones, written by Gail Silver and illustrated by Christiane Krömer (Plum Blossom Books); The Buddha’s Apprentice at Bedtime by Dharm- achari Nagaraja (Watkins); and Mindful Monkey, Happy Panda by Kerry Lee MacLean (Wisdom). Finally, for young adults, try Wide Awake: A Buddhist Guide for Teens, by Diana Winston (Perigee), and the novel Zen and Gone, by Emily France (Soho Teen). ♦ WHO WHAT WHERE Tell us what you’d like to know about Buddhism and meditation at email@example.com VENERABLE BHANTE SUHITA DHARMA BHANTE SUHITA DHARMA (1940-2013) was the first African American to ordain as a Buddhist monk. A Trappist monk in his youth, he was also one of the few monastics to receive ordination in three different branches of Buddhism—Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. Born in Texas, Bhante Suhita grew up in a Catholic family before entering a Trappist monastery in Oregon at age fourteen. Encouraged to travel and learn, he left cloistered life and spent several years in Nepal studying Buddhism. In 1974, Thich Thien An—the first patriarch of Vietnamese Buddhism in America—ordained Bhante Suhita at the International Buddhist Meditation Center in Los Angeles. Revered for his deep commitment to both the contem- plative life and social justice, Bhante Suhita was a long- time activist who worked with refugees, the homeless, migrant workers, ex-offenders, and disaster victims in low-income neighborhoods. He founded Metta Vihara, a hospice for people with HIV/AIDS in Richmond, California, and co-created the Coming Home Project for the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, which helps ex- offenders adjust to life outside of prison. Bhante Suhita was one of the first members of the Zen Peacemakers Order founded by Roshi Bernie Glassman. Toward the end of his life, he established a hermitage and sangha, The Seeds of Compassion Buddhist Center, in Juarez, Mexico. Throughout his fifty-eight years as a monastic, Bhante Suhita Dharma was loved and respected by many. His presence was filled with compassion and understand- ing as he sought to help those who often went unno- ticed and misunderstood. MAXAIRBORNE LION’S ROAR | MAY 2019 33 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE