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October 12, 2008

Dalai Lama's Surgery Successful

He had some gallstones removed and he's going home. More »
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October 12, 2008

Thousand of Dalits Embrace Buddhism

"Not by birth is one an outcast; not by birth is one a brahmin. By deed one becomes an outcast, by deed one becomes an brahmin." - Sn 1.7, Vasala Sutta "Nearly 10,000" dalits take refuge near the anniversary of Ambedkar's mass conversion. They certainly have the incentive to leave the caste system -- one was killed recently for entering a temple in Bihar. (But in the world's largest democracy, they have the vote.) Are dalits the future of Buddhism? More »
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October 10, 2008

Buddha gets a manicure

This is great. From Barbara's Buddhism Blog by way of Danny Fisher. More »
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October 09, 2008

Threat to Democracy, and "The Snow Leopard" Returns

There's been a lot of talk about all the new voters added to the rolls for November's U.S. election, but: ... for every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some states, election officials have removed two, a review of the records shows. Help others register to vote, or register yourself. No, not the animal itself, but the Peter Matthiessen book. Unfortunately the New York Review of Books article is subscriber-only. The Pico Iyer review says, "If you visit the high plateaus of the Himalaya... you have entered, as The Snow Leopard shows us, a realm of allegory." More »
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October 09, 2008

Dalai Lama Undergoes Medical Check-up (Updated)

His doctors say: "There's nothing wrong." UPDATE: Dalai Lama hospitalized for abdominal pains and may undergo surgery tomorrow. 1.2 million Buddhists are expected converge on Nagpur in central India to commemorate Dhamma Chakra Pravartan Din, Dr. Ambedkar's  conversion of thousands of dalits to Buddhism on October 14th, 1956. Harvard professor Anne Harrington discusses the relationship between Buddhism and the brain sciences. Click here to watch. More »
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October 08, 2008

Troubled Thailand

There's no end in sight to the strife that has torn up the country for three years. It's tycoon and former PM Thaksin Shinawatra versus the traditional elites, with the king (and the people) in the middle. Meanwhile in the south, which has endured an active Muslim insurgency for years, rebels met with the government in Jakarta and seemingly hammered out a deal. But intermittet brutal violence still occurs, such as Tuesday's beheading. More »
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October 07, 2008

Twin Quakes in Tibet

A pair of earthquakes near Lhasa -- Reports indicate 10 killed and 34 injured so far. More »
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October 07, 2008

Online Silliness

You may remember this Slate article from 2003: Why I ditched Buddhism. Top insurer forces employees to study Buddhist teachings. Is saying f*** it the key to happiness? More »
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October 07, 2008

Buddha Chick

This illustration is by Liz Whelan and comes our way thanks to Frank Olinsky, our founding art director. The artist describes Buddha Chick as "one of those people who decides to become a Buddhist because she thinks it's cool." Well, we think Liz and her illustration are cool. Click image to embiggen it. More »
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October 07, 2008

Yes on 2, No to AIDS

If you live in California, vote Yes on Prop 2 to stop animal cruelty. Plus an interestig piece on the history of the AIDS virus going back to the early years of the 20th century. Unfortunately, the virus remains alive and well, all over the world. Speak out, act up. Silence equals death. More »
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October 07, 2008

Bangkok Dangerous

Protests in the Thai capital: In a day of street battles that left more than 100 people injured, thousands of anti-government protesters surrounded the Thai Parliament Tuesday, trapping hundreds of members inside for more than five hours. Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat escaped over a back fence in the morning after delivering a policy address. More »
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October 06, 2008

Woeser, Yogobama, and the Oprahism of Spritual Practice

Danny Fisher tells us new poems by Tibetan writer and activist Woeser are available. Almost unbelievably, Woeser bravely lives and writes in Beijing, beneath the unsleeping eyes of the government. You've seen Obamabuddha (probably) -- now how about Yogobama? And Dogo Barry Graham warns us against practicing Zen without a teacher, in the context of a certain very popular book. His post begins: Dogen says there is no point in trying to practice Zen without a teacher. Dilettantes and hobbyists do not like to hear this,  but it is true. More »
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October 06, 2008

Between a crocodile and a snake: Burma's Muslim minority

Burma's Rohingya Muslim minority, who live mainly in the west of the country by the border with India, are facing extinction according to Cutting Edge News: A few years ago, the UNHCR [Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees] forcibly repatriated at least 230,000 Rohingyas back to Burma, but many have returned, unable to survive in their homeland. One refugee said: “As long as human rights abuses continue in Burma, we cannot go back. We are caught between a crocodile and a snake. Where can we go?” Another expressed their dilemma, and statelessness, equally starkly: “The Bangladesh authorities say we are from Burma. The Burmese regime says we are Bengali. More »
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October 06, 2008

Tibetan Tourism Suffers

Tibet's tourist trade is still feeling the aftershocks of the riots and crackdown despite a government campaign to bring 'em in, according to the International Herald Tribune. (The price tag for visiting the Potala Palace will not go up until May 2009, for example.) Travel analysts, whoever they are, predict big things for China's tourism at some point in the vague and unknowable future (i.e. More »
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October 06, 2008

The Feast

Sometimes when I think things are going my way, they aren’t. And when I fail to notice this it’s usually because I’m not paying sufficient attention. It’s much better to keep watch over events as they unfold than to form doubtful impressions of them. That way I’m given a chance to notice that things aren’t necessarily the way I think they are. The fact is that life refuses to be shaped into conformity with my own hopeful version of events. There’s humility, gentleness, even wisdom that comes with the discovery of personal limits. I know all this, and yet I sometimes forget that my happy imaginings exercise no necessary influence over the way events actually unfold. That’s when I’m most likely to think I have things under control, failing to notice indications that suggest otherwise. For three years now, I’ve served as Senior Buddhist Chaplain at High Desert State Prison, a maximum-security prison in Susanville, California. The Buddhist inmates at the prison had been without a teacher for more than four years at the time, and so I was asked if I would please come. I had my plans pretty well mapped out at the time and didn’t really want to undertake another responsibility. Furthermore, High Desert State Prison is on the east side of the Sierra Nevada Range, a two-and-a-half-hour drive from the west side town of Chico where I live. I said I’d think it over. The decision was taken out of my hands the day I first laid eyes on the prison complex and met the first of my potential students, most of whom are serving life sentences. After passing through the outer perimeter of the prison with its lethal web of electrically charged wiring and after negotiating a seemingly endless series of electronically controlled gates that opened and shut behind me, I finally arrived on a catwalk outside cell C5–218 where I peered through a thin slit of a window at the face of a nineteen-year-old Asian boy who was serving a sentence for first-degree murder and wouldn’t even be considered for parole until he was in his mid-fifties. I told him who I was and what I’d come for. At first he seemed confused by the information, wondering what my appearance at his cell meant for him. But then, he suddenly brightened, a smile breaking out on his face, and he asked, ”Are you my teacher?” And without a thought for the consequences, I said, “Yes, I’m your teacher,” “Are we going to have Buddhist services?” “We’ll have services,” I told him. And so for all my plans to the contrary, life had turned me in a direction the difficulties and blessings of which I could never have foretold. More »
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October 01, 2008

The Image(s) of Tibet

The Epoch Times (founded by members of Falun Gong; here's their About Us page) has just concluded its four-part talk with Ms. Zhu Rui, a Han Chinese woman who has spent time in Tibet. It's called "The Distorted Image of Tibet". Don't expect perfect impartiality, but it is interesting: When we arrived in Tibet, I found that everything was different: the language, the clothing, the buildings, the religious sites—and I liked them all. As I was strolling down Barkhor Street—the busiest shopping street in Lhasa—I was totally absorbed. The earthen jars, the stringed flags, thang-ga paintings, turquoise necklaces, and costumes all amazed me. More »
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October 01, 2008

Slow Recovery in Cyclone Zone

Aid is dwindling for victims of the cyclone who remain extremely vulnerable to another catastrophic storm: It is five months since Cyclone Nargis tore across the Irrawaddy delta and the city of Rangoon. On the face of it, the catastrophe has been brought under control. After early obstruction by Burma's military Government, a large international aid effort has relieved the worst effects of the disaster and begun the job of rebuilding. Food, medicines and shelter are flowing into the delta, with no secondary disaster from hunger or disease, as many had feared. Outside Burma, the catastrophe is a fading memory; after a surge of donations in the early weeks, new funds for aid groups have dwindled to a trickle. But the cyclone is still doing its damage — to livelihoods, education and health, as well as through the terror lingering in the minds of those who survived it. More »
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September 30, 2008

Burma calls sanctions unfair and immoral, then makes more arrests

Burma says the sanctions leveled at it are unfair and immoral: Burmese foreign minister U Nyan Win told the United Nations General Assembly yesterday that Burma could enhance regional energy and food security if sanctions against the country were lifted. Nyan Win told the assembly during its annual general debate that it was the most vulnerable people, such as women and children, who were worst affected by the sanctions. “Unilateral sanctions are also against international law,” a UN statement quoted him as saying. Meanwhile Amnesty International calls out the junta for re-arresting people released just days ago, such as U Win Htein, a 66-year-old close associate of Aung San Suu Kyi. More »
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September 29, 2008

Dharma Combat!

The Worst Horse points us to another round in the Hardcore Zen - Big Mind knockdown drag-out dharma combat. Brad's post here. More »
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September 29, 2008

Buddhist Leaders Urge You to Get Political

[Names added 9/25/08, 9/26/08, 9/29/08, 10/20/08] When a society comes together and makes decisions in harmony, when it respects its most noble traditions, cares for its most vulnerable members, treats its forests and lands with respect, then it will prosper and not decline...” - Mahaparinirvana sutra Whatever your political beliefs, your active informed citizenship is a part of a wise household practice. We are at a critical juncture in American history, with major decisions to make about the global environment, economics, foreign policy and social justice, decisions that will deeply affect all of us for generations ahead. We urge you to engage, respectfully, and to act on your values: register voters, go to work in swing states, support what you believe to be wise social action and enlist others to join you in your work. More »