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June, 29, 2016

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Buddhist thanks Taiwan patrons for generosity

I am from the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, but now spend most of my time in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, where I work and study under Tibetan Buddhist teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. I first came to Taiwan in 2008, when I came to visit the Taiwanese woman who is now my wife.

Coming from a country that has a heavy Vajrayana Buddhist background, I was well aware of the vital role that Taiwanese students play in the propagating of the Buddha dharma in South Asia. Countless monasteries and temples in Bhutan, Nepal and in many parts of India have continued to thrive today because of the sheer generosity of their Taiwanese friends. Hundreds of thousands of monks, nuns and lay practitioners depend on Taiwanese generosity for their livelihood.

Because of the roles, Taiwanese disciples are commonly referred to as "jindags," which beautifully translates to "the giver of livelihood" or patrons. The Taiwanese jindags should actually feel proud of this.

If we look back at the history of Buddhism, we know it as a religion or philosophy that has always had to depend on patrons. Patrons were always held in high regard, simply because Buddhism is based on a philosophy that calls for renunciation for the sake of the truth. For there to be Buddhism, there always had to be patrons.

Taiwanese people being in this circle and being able to play the role of patrons of Buddhism is the collective karma of both the Buddhists who are able to study and practice because of the patrons but also because of the positive karma of the Taiwanese themselves. You have to have a lot of merit to be in a position to give. The practice of generosity is one of the foundational practices in Buddhism and is even the first paramita in the practices of a Boddhisattva.

However, I also feel that with the role of being a patron also comes a sense of sacred responsibility. A duty to perform the act of generosity with a combination of wisdom and method. To provide for the needy in a wise way so as not to make them too dependent. There are many cases were the recipients seem to have become spoilt and intoxicated by the offerings of the Taiwanese, that they have come to think that they are entitled to the offerings.

To end this commentary on a positive note, the generous funding from the patrons of Taiwan have contributed immeasurably to the popularity Buddhism enjoys in the world today. In my own country of Bhutan and my adopted home of India, new monasteries and temples have been constructed, religious rituals are being performed for the benefit of all sentient beings, and many people from economically challenged backgrounds are able to pursue their aspirations for a life as a nun or a monk. For these acts of generosity I have only gratitude and appreciation.

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Pawo Choyning Dorji

Nationality : Bhutanese

Occupation : Photographer

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