So please don't be discouraged if you email me a tip and don't get an answer right away. Rest assured, I'm working on it! I will investigate all of them eventually.
I got a detailed email from a reader this morning, an email that included the following statement:
"I had intended to visit the Vihara in South Houston until seeing your post outlining their lack of English language programs."
If South Houston Sangha News can be a benefit to people in this way, then all of the time and effort it's taking me to build it is more than worthwhile!
Speaking of the Vihara again and the apparent dissolution of its English Sangha, I thought I'd share this little tidbit with you: forensic evidence that there really was an English speaking group there at some point in the past. The image below is a print that I liberated from a yard sale about six months ago for the princely sum of two dollars. The sellers were offering it for the frame; often times, yard salers buy unwanted framed items not for the artworks they contain, but so that they can strip out and discard the contents and recycle the wooden frames for their own purposes. But this piece happened by strange chance to fall into my hands where it will instead be appreciated and preserved.
It's a beautiful poem, reportedly a reproduction of a hymn in English (see the home-made YouTube clip embedded below) reflecting a strong conservative Theravadin ethic (the Vihara is Sri Lankan, and Sri Lanka is the oldest continously-Buddhist country on Earth, and a Theravada stronghold). For those of you who are not familiar with Buddhist lineages, Theravada is the oldest tradition and it places a greater importance on Buddhist teachings rather than Buddhist teachers. This is in sharp contrast to later lineages of Buddhism, such as the Vajrayana schools, which tend to place stronger emphasis on Tantric practices and master-protege lineages. You can see the Theravadin influence in this piece, where personal responsibility is expressed as paramount, and the Buddha himself is relegated to a "merely" status.