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September 02, 2015

10 Steps to a Mindful Wedding

These two Buddhists just got married. Here's what they learned. Alex Tzelnic
On July 25th my fiancée, Courtney, and I got married. It was truly incredible, partly because now I never have to say the word fiancée again. While other people said girlfriend or boyfriend, husband or wife, for 14 months we used this flowery French term that made it sound like we were constantly one-upping everyone. “Oh, you got married in a hotel? My fiancée and I are getting married in a barn in Vermont.” Even the mundane began to sound pretentious: “My fiancée and I had cereal for breakfast.” (And of course we used Dom Perignon instead of milk.) More »
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August 31, 2015

A Gleeful Foreboding

Why we secretly crave severe storms Clark Strand
It’s strange how much modern people secretly crave weather-related disasters—the blizzard that shuts down a city, bringing travel and commerce to a halt, the tropical storm that knocks out power, leaving millions in the dark. People of earlier centuries rightly feared such events and earnestly prayed to be delivered from them. Now there's an excitement that begins building the moment we hear of such a storm.  More »
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August 27, 2015

Actualizing The Fundamental Point

"To study the self is to forget the self."  Eihei Dogen
As all things are buddhadharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The Buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread.  To carry the self forward and illuminate myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and illuminate the self is awakening.  More »
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August 26, 2015

12 Things You Should Never Say to the Sick

Much of the way we talk about disease is terribly flawed. But we can change that.  Toni Bernhard
Even the most well-intentioned people often don’t know how to talk to the chronically ill. This is because we live in a culture that treats illness as unnatural. As a result, people have been conditioned to turn away in aversion from those who aren’t healthy, even though it’s a fate that will befall everyone at some point in his or her life.  The consequences of taking this unrealistic view of the realities of the human condition is that many people feel uneasy and even fearful when they encounter people who are struggling with their health. I admit that this was true of me before I became chronically ill. Now I find it as natural to talk to people who are chronically ill as I do to people who are the pinnacle of health.  More »
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August 25, 2015

The “Problem” of Religious Diversity

We need a less theological—and more spiritual—defense of religious diversity. Rita Gross
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August 20, 2015

Conscientious Compassion

Bhikkhu Bodhi on climate change, social justice, and saving the world Raymond Lam
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August 18, 2015

5 Reasons I Haven't Settled on a Buddhist School

In search of Buddhism’s most immaculate vehicle Brent R. Oliver
What do you look for in a Buddhist tradition? What draws you in and makes you feel like one specific approach is your home? A charismatic teacher? Pragmatic meditation techniques? Elaborate rituals? Fancy man-dresses and sparkly beads? The opportunity to kung fu your enemies? Want to know what I look for? Probably not, but here goes.            I look for perfection. Utter, complete, sublime perfection. For the past 16 years or so I’ve been on an elaborate, grueling search for Buddhism’s immaculate vehicle, the tradition or lineage that will slingshot me to enlightenment without ruffling any of my admittedly messy feathers, the one that suits me to a T. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. More »
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August 16, 2015

The Disrobed Monk Who Provides Safe Haven to 85 Children

An innovative community in India and its dedicated founder are transforming troubled children’s lives. Joan Duncan Oliver
Lobsang Phuntsok, founder of the Jhamtse Gatsal community, with Tashi For years, Lobsang Phuntsok, a Tibetan Buddhist monk, dreamed of creating a safe haven for unwanted children in Arunachal Pradesh, the remote Himalayan region where he was born in 1971. Now Jhamtse Gatsal—Tibetan for Garden of Love and Compassion—is home to 85 children age 5 to 15, rescued from poverty, abuse, and neglect. Under Lobsang’s fatherly care, they are thriving in a family environment that offers love, compassion, and a first-rate education. More »
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August 13, 2015

Don't Worry, Be Angry

Anger can clarify and energize our commitment to social change.  Thanissara
Buddhists often shame each other for expressing anger. But getting in touch with our anger is vital. If we aim to engage destructive social structures, as we must, our efforts will bring us into direct relationship with anger and outrage. At its worst, anger burns us up, injures others, or, when we repress it, collapses us into depression. In the spiritual realm, it can also become passive aggression, which either internalizes as the hyper-energized inner critic or projects out onto those who are "not following the rules.” More »
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August 10, 2015

Ken Jones, Welsh Author and Activist, Dies at 85

David Loy
Ken Jones, a dharma teacher with the UK-based Western Chan Fellowship and an important voice in socially engaged Buddhism, left this dew-drop world Sunday, August 2, after a long illness, at the age of 85. His professional career was in higher education, supplemented by many years as a peace, ecology, and social justice activist. His Buddhist practice began when he realized that it was not enough to work for social emancipation: inner liberation was also necessary. More »
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August 07, 2015

Why Are Myanmar Nuns Not Granted the Same Respect as Monks?

Due to patriarchy, nuns have to struggle to live with dignity. Ei Cherry Aung
A young Buddhist nun rides Yangon's circular train in June 2015. Born of Buddhist parents and raised in a Buddhist environment, I grew up as a typical Myanmar Buddhist girl. Under the care of my grandmother, it was hammered into my brain that we should worship and pay the utmost respect to Buddhist monks in all circumstances. My grandmother instructed me, for example, to never sit on the same level as monks, but place myself at their feet. Yet in all the years of my childhood she never said a word about how to behave in front of Buddhist women who had become nuns. More »
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August 05, 2015

Black, Bisexual, and Buddhist

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel is not afraid to embrace who she is.  Kimberly Winston
OAKLAND, Calif. (RNS) When Zenju Earthlyn Manuel goes to teach somewhere for the first time, she often sees surprise in the faces of the students as she is introduced. She doesn’t look like many of them expect. She isn’t Asian. She isn’t a man. And she isn’t white. And getting them to acknowledge that her body—her “manifestation,” as she calls it—is different and a part of her experience is crucial to her teaching. If our bodies are sources of suffering, then we ignore them at our peril. “When I have held and embraced who I am, how I am embodied, it has become a source of enlightenment, of freedom,” she said from a sunny corner window seat in her living room. Draped in a black monk’s jacket, she is a stark contrast to the white walls and white upholstery of the rest of the room. More »
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July 31, 2015

Making the First Move

The Buddha said that friendship is the whole of holy life. To accomplish it, we need only overcome our fear of reaching out to one another. Kate Johnson
Saddled with backpacks, duffle bags, and pillows, the teens shuffle up to the table one by one to register for their weeklong meditation retreat. Their eyes flicker with hope and fear as they alternately scan their peers and stare at the floor, shifting their weight from side to side. It is hard to watch their discomfort, but even harder not to. There's something beautiful about the sincerity of their wish to connect with each other and something heartbreaking about their transparent efforts to conceal that wish. More »
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July 30, 2015

The Light Is Always There

A Tibetan Bon practice for finding refuge within Tenzin Wangyal
There is no better protection than the refuge of unbounded sacred space, infinite awareness, and genuine warmth. Any external source of refuge is ultimately unreliable. Looking for refuge in money or material possessions cannot protect you from the pain of loss, because everything you have will be lost to you someday. No matter how good your health insurance is or how healthy your lifestyle, sooner or later you will suffer from injury or sickness; eventually you will die. Finding your perfect soul mate cannot protect you from someday losing your beloved through separation, divorce, or death. More »
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July 28, 2015

In Pursuit of Bird Poop

When you stop seeking, you might just find what you’re looking for. Leath Tonino
I graduated from college in the spring of 2008, just as the economy shuddered, gasped, and died. Not that the fatality mattered much to me at the time. Having spent the previous four years reading philosophy—Plato, Kant, Hume, and more Derrida than is likely healthy for a developing brain—I was borderline unemployable anyway. Or so I’d been told by the jerks in the Econ. Department.  More »
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July 23, 2015

The Long, Strange Trip

A new wave of psychedelic research rehashes the age-old question of drugs in Buddhist practice. Don Lattin
Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics (2nd edition) Edited by Allan Badiner Synergetic Press; May 2015 304 pp.; $38.95 (Cloth) It was something I noticed back in the early 1980s, when I was working as a newspaper reporter and interviewing longtime members of San Francisco Zen Center. I’d ask them how they got interested in Buddhism, and I’d keep hearing about “the long, strange trip.” “Well,” the answer would go, “I guess you could say it started with that first acid trip back in 1965.” More »
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July 22, 2015

Meditating at the Edge of Nowhere

A householder poem from El Paso, Texas Bobby Byrd
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July 21, 2015

The Zen of Not Knowing

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s there are few.” Zenkei Blanche Hartman
Beginner’s mind is Zen practice in action. It is the mind that is innocent of preconceptions and expectations, judgments and prejudices. Beginner’s mind is just present to explore and observe and see “things as they are.” I think of beginner’s mind as the mind that faces life like a small child, full of curiosity and wonder and amazement. “I wonder what this is? I wonder what that is? I wonder what this means?” Without approaching things with a fixed point of view or a prior judgment, just asking “What is it?” More »
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July 15, 2015

Across the Expanse

Anne C. Klein on the transmission of Tibetan Buddhism
This interview with the scholar-practitioner Anne Carolyn Klein was originally published in the July–December issue of Mandala, a magazine run by the nonprofit organization Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition. We are republishing it here because of its excellent discussion of transmission, the secularization of Tibetan Buddhism as it has come West, and other ideas that speak practically and directly to the experiences of Western dharma practitioners. —Eds. More »
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July 14, 2015

The Ground under Our Feet

Living with uncertainty in earthquake country Leath Tonino
The ruins of San Francisco after the 1906 earthquake When I first moved to California it seemed like no matter where I went or with whom I spoke, the same three-word phrase kept finding its way to my ears. Down on the Santa Cruz coast, beside glinting silver waves: The Big One. Up in Napa Valley, red wine on the tongue: The Big One. Even at the breakfast table in my new home, a friend’s apartment in San Francisco: The Big One. “It could happen at any moment.” “We’re long overdue.” “It’s just a matter of time.” More »