Sunday, 29 March 2009

What's it like to be an American Buddhist in London. How is the practice the same and how is it different.

Being a Buddhist in London is not any different from being a Buddhist
in America. Remember that saying," you can run but you can't hide."
You carry your karma in a suitcase so it's with you wherever you go.
The Buddhist in London are lovely. Very well mannered. We have to sign
a log in book whenever we go to a Center. They want to keep track of
all the members, just in case there is a disaster or in London's case
a fire. Before meetings there is, what I call in case of a fire pep talk.
" Ok, just in case there is a fire everyone is to meet on the corner
of Hunter Street and Handel Street". I found it quite interesting and thought it was certainly because of the great fire of London in 1666 that wiped out most of the city. But when I had asked at a meeting everyone laughed and explained
to me it's most certainly not because of the Great Fire but
because of the Law. So there you have it.

Also, when the members get together to clean the centers. They do it in a very organized fashion. We put on uniforms and carry little carry all cases fully
supplied with rubber gloves, pine sol and sometimes eco friendly products
to clean our centers. Supposedly, cleaning the centers is a metaphor to cleaning one's karma. And, also a way of eradicating our ego and arrogance
that blocks us from achieving success in life. Nothing like cleaning the
toilets !I really look forward to it ! Seriously! It's quite humbling,
but it really feels great.

A thing I found most interesting is that our Monthly Kosen Rufu Gongyo sometimes takes place in people's homes or at a local community center.
Where in America we have big huge Kosen Rufu gongyo's where sometimes
up to a hundred people attend. In London it's quite different.
I went to Kosen Rufu gongyo at someone's house in Swiss Cottage-London, only to find only 4 people showed up.

The members in my group have visited me in my home and chanted with me.
The members in my Bayswater group have been quite supportive
and helpful. The Buddhist activity is called Keibi. The equivalent
of Byakuren( Young Women's Division- behind the scenes) are the Lilacs.
The Lilacs are quite diligent about giving you water as soon as your done drinking one glass they are their to serve you another one.

Being a buddhist in London is quite different from America.
I had to assimilate of course to fit in. There are Buddhist
members from all over the world in London. In the end, we are all the same
in our fight for happiness of ourselves and others.

Monday, 23 March 2009



The rain is gone, the grey skies are gone. The snow is definitely and
has been definitely gone. Now, spring is here and you can see it
in the flowers, the sun is shining again. All the londoners are enjoying
the outdoors and are taking full advantage of the great spring
after a long cold winter.

On Sunday March 22,2009, I went for a jog in Hyde Park and it was a good thing I brought my camera along. I definitely enjoyed seeing so many interesting people having a good time, enjoying the park and the freshness of Spring.


Stay Tuned for more

Monday, 16 March 2009

The Differences between America and England

When I first came to London I never expected
so many huge differnces. I always say, "same language,different culture."

I actually think it's a different language.
There is American -English and then there's
English- English.Some of those differences are of course the
language. I spent my first month or two
hardly understanding the British accent.
And, often going to the store to have people
tell me " I am sorry!" because they also couldn't
understand my English. (Well mostly, it's because
there such a large immigration populationg
that many immigrants don't speak English well.
That's another story. For another blog.)

First of all, it's true what they say
that the British are very polite.
It's reflected in the behavior and demeanor
of working class people.
I find the people working at the tube
station are extremely kind and helpful.
You could go to any one of them lost
and say to them excuse me I need to get to such and
such place. They always very patiently
tell you you must go this way and that
way. All very charmingly done while
saying "Darling","Love" or "Dear".
These cutesy words are mostly
used by the working class, but who
doesn't want to be called darling.

Another big difference is people seldom tip.
It's just not in the English culture. If you go to
a restaurant the service charge is already
implied in the bill. You can always
add more if you need to improve your
karma that day or what not (LOL !).
But, my British friends when we go out
to eat always tell me don't leave anymore
Sabrina.I always like to leave a little
extra and imagine that the waiter could
be my sister or my friend trying hard to
earn a living. Waiters often get
rubbish pay in England way below the minimum wage.
Many of the cabbies are often shocked
when I give them a few dollars
extra. They just aren't used to people
tipping them.

Another big difference is that Sundays
are sacred in England. London is such
a big bustling cosmopolitan city, but
on Sundays everything closes early.
Good luck if you want to see a late
night movie or want to go to a restaurant,
because many restaurants are closed.
Or if you want to buy groceries, you can forget it.
Everything closes by about 5 pm.

British drink way more than Americans
and it's an absolute national past time.
You can see people drinking at all hours
of the day. I can't believe
people start drinking around 12 pm.
I have never liked to drink that early
as it makes me very sleepy and just
useless. Also, The pubs close very early.
They close around 11 pm.And, so called Off Licence
stores stop serving liquor at 11 pm.

The English are very polite often apologizing
for the slightest thing. Even if you are the one to
bump into them they'll apologize to you, " Oh, sorry!"
They are quite nice saying, " thank you and please". S
orry I didn't want to offend. Basically, there politeness
comes from a sensibility to not want to offend
anyone. This is very noble virtue in my eyes.
But, on the other hand there is a lot of beating
around the bush.

For the moment, these are a few of the things
that I can think of that reflect the differences
between America and England. That's all I can think of
for the moment, but trust me there will be alot more
commentary on this matter. In my opinion, the fact that England is
so different from America makes it all the more intriquing
and inspring.

Whats it like to be an American in London

What's it like to be an American in London
So far it's been fun and easy being an American in London.
I have not heard any negative feedback. When you are travelling
and living in youth hostels and hotels, you get a chance to
meet so many different people from all over the world.
In my travels I have befriended people in London that
I have never had a chance to meet in America.
I became friends with a girl from Malta, Azerbijan,
Cyprus, Iraq, Bangledesh, Pakistan.

The common question wherever you go in London is where are you
from? Often when people ask me where I am from I often say with
great glee and pride in my voice, " I am an American."
or depends on my mood, " I say from California."
Never have I been so proud to be an American since
Obama got elected. So, when I tell people this
many people look at me wide-eyed really an American.
When I tell them I am California. They always
say," Wow California." I really want to go there.
Americans and Californians are popular in London.

But once in a while, you get some wanker or tosser,
that's English Slang that bad mouths my America.
Oh he doesn't know who he said that to the wrong
person.One time near a tube station, I got
oh Americans have no culture, no history.
It's the same old story people abroad think
Americans have no history, no culture, nothing to
be proud of. I hear, " Oh it's such a young
country, because it's only 200 years old."
Wait a minute, I tell him. America has culture!
Look at the great Music that has come out of
America. Look at Blues. Hey Blues Movement
has inspired the likes of The Rolling Stones
and Led Zeppelin. Both groups were inspired
and copied the styles of Muddy Waters, John Lee
Hooker. Need I say more. And as far as History
is concerned. Has not America shed blood on its
land for the rights of others. Look at the
Civil Rights Movement.Look at Martin Luther King.
And now look at Barack Obama. Certainly, Martin
Luther King set the stage in the sixties for the
possibility for a black President to be elected.
I don't think we are going backwards.
Obamas election was monumental because it symbolized
the American dream. That dream was not just
heard in America but all over the world.

At Breakfast at my hotel,( I don't go for breakfast
that much because all they serve is eggs, eggs,eggs
with this gross white bread, but I love the diniing
room so sometimes I just go for the tea.)
I met a Danish woman she was pining over going to Italy
and she was saying how much culture Italy
has. Then when I told her I was American
she tells me America doesn't have that much
history compared to Italy. Duh, of course it doesn't.
But comparing Italy to America is impossible.
It can't be done and it's futile and a dumb pursuit to
even try. It's like comparing Rock n Roll
to Opera. Both are wonderful and monumentally inspiring.
But, you can't compare them.You can appreciate
the art forms but they are different so you have
to respect their charms on their own without comparison.

So what if America is only 200 years old.
Just look where we will be 500 years from now.
Now a Black Man President, maybe 50-100 years from
now there will be a Black Woman President.

Americas actions finally speak louder than words.
America stands for freedom, opportunity
and the great dream of liberty, truth and justice for all.

Another thing is I was watching a British TV show
it showed that Americans Health Care system
is rubbish. But, they didn't show that many
people like myself get really good health care
in America. In Berkeley, everytime I needed to
go to the Doctors, I didn't have health
insurance but I would always go for a doctors
visit and just pay $15.
That was it. I am positive there are gaps in American
Health Care system but not everyone suffers in America
from poor health care. I don't, ok so if the BBC News
is reading this you can contact me and Interview me
about the great Health care I have been receiving.

How dare anyone talk shit about my America.
I just tell to Bugger off!


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