June 14, 2010

An evening with Ven. Metteyya at New York Insight

metteyya, sharon salzberg, metta school, sakyadhita nunnery, lumbini, nepal
From left: Bodhi (Ven. Metteyya's attendant), Sharon Salzberg, Ven. Metteyya

Lumbini, Nepal, is the birthplace of the Buddha. It is also the birthplace of the Venerable Metteyya, an upper-caste Brahmin who chose to become a Buddhist monk in primarily Hindu Nepal. Metteyya, who recently appeared in the PBS program The Buddha, has committed his life to social work, serving as spiritual advisor to the Sakyadhita Nunnery, a "haven for Lumbini girls who would otherwise be married as young as 10 years and face a life of no education, poverty and labor," according to the organization's literature. It is also in good part because of Metteyya's tireless efforts at the Metta School, also in Lumbini, that many boys and girls who are otherwise too poor to buy the necessary supplies to attend school can receive an education for free.

Metteyya practices in the Vipassana tradition, although above, he wears robes that were a gift from a Tibetan monastery, where he is learning about the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. I met Ven. Metteyya yesterday at New York Insight, where he will teach tomorrow evening. If you're in the area, here's more information.

The small gathering yesterday was organized so that American vipassana teacher Sharon Salzberg could have a chance to meet Metteyya. Metteyya referred to Joseph Goldstein, Jack Kornfield, and Sharon, all co-founders of the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, as a "trinity of Buddhism" in the United States. Afterwards he presented Sharon with a katha—a ceremonial scarf—and a statuette of the Buddha.

The Ven. Metteyya will visit Tricycle's offices today for a brief interview.

To learn how you can support Ven. Metteyya's work to improve the lives of children and women in Nepal, write to servelumbini@gmail.com or visit the organization's website.

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Metteyya Brahmana's picture

Ven. Metteyya appears to be doing good work with his Sakyadhita Nunnery, although escaping marriage should never be the basis for entering monastic life - it should be a sincere commitment to the teachings of the Buddha as contained in his dhamma and a commitment to one's monastic vows as a bhikkhuni.

What we don't want to do with Ven. Metteyya or anyone else (including myself) with the name "Metteyya" is promoting him around the world as the future Metteyya Buddha predicted by the Buddha in the Cakkavatti Sutta (Digha Nikaya 26; PTS D iii 58). In this sutta, the Buddha made plain that the future Metteyya Buddha would not appear in the human realm until humans were able to live lives averaging 80,000 years. We have a got a long way to go with world life expectancy of only 69.6 years! In this same sutta, the Buddha also tells us to not seek any external refuge in another person, and only have yourself and the dhamma as your refuge.

It should also be stressed that this non-canonical prediction that the Metteyya Buddha will come from an upper-caste Brahmin family needs to be seriously questioned in light of the Buddha's express rejection of caste as a spiritual measuring stick. From the last chapter of the Dhammapada - Brahmana - the Buddha tells us that it is specific spiritual traits that make one a "Brahmana", not hereditary birth into an upper caste. The Buddha gave numerous discourses rejecting caste as significant in spiritual matters. The most complete rejection of caste is found in the Assalayana Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 93; PTS M ii 147) in which the Buddha indicates that members of upper Brahmin castes are just as prone to do evil or good as any other caste members, including Outcasts. Those who wish to introduce caste consciousness into Buddhism are therefore in direct conflict with well established core teachings of the Buddha.

Unfortunately, we have far too many people in the sangha who are looking for someone to follow rather than fully embracing the Buddha's teachings in the dhamma and engaging these teachings in a meaningful way to remove all 10 fetters that bind us to samsara. This "waiting for the (upper caste) Metteyya Buddha to lead us" is just a part of the "follower's complex" that is doing great damage to the Buddha's central cause that we free ourselves from the sense clinging, mental fabrications, and individuation (greed, hate, and delusion) which makes us suffer.

Spanish Verbs – Conjugating Venir in the Past Tense | Teach 's picture

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brijesh and sumita's picture

thanks tricycle for the valuable information...... @ venerable metteya... good work. we are with you.