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August 27, 2007

Nepal Watch

If you're looking for info on Nepal you can't do much better than Mikel Dunham's blog. Frequent updates, in-depth articles, great photos, and even info for tourists planning to visit the country -- for Nepaloholics, this site has it all. More »
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August 24, 2007

Eat Your Goji Berries

A lot of Buddhists have become interested in yoga in recent years. Many meditators have expressed a need to "get in touch with their bodies," while others, not so interested, find enough in the Satipatthana Sutta to keep them going for a lifetime. If you are the stretching type, you might want to check out a few cautionary tales in yesterday's New York Times. A lech with a yoga mat may just get your leotard in a twist. More »
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August 23, 2007

Still Looking for the Ox under Sacred Mountains

I've always liked the Ten Oxherding Pictures, and I came across these beautiful ones recently, from an artist named Tim Jundo Williams (©2001) on pages belonging to the Boonville One Drop Zendo. This one is the first, Looking for the Ox. Click the picture to see more. The style reminds me of the paintings Tolkien did for the The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. More »
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August 22, 2007

Painkillers, IPU, India - China - Japan - Burma

Many people live with chronic pain with no hope of relief. But others have apparently had better luck relieving their suffering. Some notes on Vicodin and that family of painkillers from the AP: More than 200,000 pounds of codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and meperidine were purchased at retail stores during 2005, the most recent year represented in the data. That is enough to give more than 300 milligrams of painkillers to every person in America. I don't really know how much 300 milligrams is in terms of painkillers per person, but it sounds like a lot. I think the average dose is around 5 or 10 milligrams? No word on whether Rush Limbaugh was included in the counting. If so that might explain why the figures skew so high. More »
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August 21, 2007

Newly comment-able: Buddhism butts heads with the status quo

When this blog started it received as its first visitors a rampaging horde of spambots -- this led to the restricted comment policy (only people with WordPress accounts could post) which led to the dearth of comments here, which bothered some people. Well, the gate is now lifted. Welcome, human commentors! Picture the armies of spambots doomed to troll the web eternally, looking for open doors. Are there 10 spambots for every human on the web? More? More »
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August 17, 2007

Jodo Shinshu, the Khampa Festival, and NRO

Interesting posts on D.T. Suzuki and Jodo Shinshu and Other-Power over at The Buddhist Nerd Haven, and a good article on China's (stage) management of Tibet courtesy of the New York Times. Also, the National Review takes note of the controversy over making Buddhism the state religion in Thailand. Funny, the NR telling Thailand, a country with an active and virulent Muslim insurgency within its borders, to exercise patience and discretion in dealing with a terrorist threat. Physician, heal thyself. More »
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August 15, 2007

Two Takes on Thich Nhat Hanh

The current issues of two Buddhist publications contain articles about the eminent Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. The Shambhala Sun, founded by the pioneering Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche (his son and heir, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, is now the publication's president), devotes sixteen pages to Nhat Hanh and features his photo on the cover. Inquiring Mind, “a journal of the vipassana community,” which this year celebrated its 20th anniversary, has an intriguing piece by Arnie Kotler, once Nhat Hanh’s editor, publisher, disciple, and assistant, that discusses the painful dissolution of their long and close relationship. More »
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August 14, 2007

Buddhists vs. Environmentalists in New Jersey and the Kalinga War Revisited

Members of the Amitabha Buddhist Society, a Pure Land sect, released various fish, reptiles and other critters destined for dinner plates in New York's Chinatown into the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey this past Sunday. Well, someone told New Jersey and the state apparatus may be irked to the point of issuing a $1,000 fine. The Amitabha folks, many of them strict vegans, were doing their part to spare the animals some extreme suffering, but the state remembers those freaky walking snakehead fish (see pic, courtesy the U.S. Dept. More »
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August 13, 2007


As pointed out by the Worst Horse, here's a cool article on Team Tibet, a group of protesters who attended 11 major league games in early August. A depressing article on cage-free eggs: cage-free doesn't mean cruelty-free. The message of the article is, people in the egg industry think consumers looking for cage-free eggs are basically idiots -- but we're idiots who may be willing to pay more -- for a label that ultimately means little. Cage-free: At some point we have to take people's words for things, even if by "people" we mean a corporation. Otherwise we'll all be hopelessly cynical. It's about meaningful standards -- "organic", "natural", etc. -- and holding companies and people to those standards. Animal cruelty. More »
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August 11, 2007

Weekend Open Thread

A hundred birds brought flower offerings to Fa-yung in his cave on Niu-t'ou Mountain. More »
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August 08, 2007

Buddhists at War

Danny Fisher reminds us of Hiroshima, sixty-two years (and now two days) ago. What is there to say but to wish for peace and hope that all of us may be free from suffering? Speaking of Buddhist chaplains, check out this and this. And, here's a review of a book by a Buddhist at Abu Ghraib. Tricycle ran an interview with another Buddhist at Abu Ghraib in our summer issue. [Unfortunately, the interview is behind a paywall. More »
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August 07, 2007

Stop Eating, You're Destroying the Planet

Put down that Chicken McNugget / carrot / wild mushroom. No matter what you're eating, no matter how healthy or environmentally-friendly it's supposed to be, by eating it, you're destroying the planet. Nothing's safe, or sacred. "Food miles fly to top of consumer worry list," screams one headline (of course, that's in England, where with the whole foot-and-mouth thing they have to be more mindful of their food than Americans do.) Well, hold everything, food miles mean nothing, says some crank in the New York Times. More »
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August 03, 2007

We're all on the spectrum

A very interesting online test here for Asperger's Syndrome that got me thinking. It seems that more and more we learn (or, if you prefer, are told by so-called experts) that things like autism and pervasive developmental disorder are spectrum disorders, and that sexuality is a spectrum between the two poles of purely heterosexual and purely homosexual. Some would even say that gender itself is a spectrum between male and female, and few or none of us are 100% one or the other. Is this merely soft relativism or something grander, like transcending duality? - Philip Ryan, Webmaster  More »
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August 02, 2007

Buddhists Blown Up in Thailand and a Blow-up Buddha in New York

The title of this post is very dark, but that's just because this situation in Thailand could use more attention. Here are some brief notes from around the infobahn: The powers that be in Gujarat have decided that Buddhism and Jainism are not merely branches of Hinduism. This ruling happened because of the recent and continuing conversions of dalits. The nationalist Hindu government wanted to say that the conversions weren't actually conversions. But maybe the law saying that Buddhism didn't exist would paradoxically protect Buddhists from persecution? Funny how India keeps trying to swallow up its problem child. “If Buddhists are treated as part of Hinduism, then all its followers in China, Japan and much of South-East Asia become Hindus,” said Girish Patel, a noted social activist. More »
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July 24, 2007

The Thing with the President and Meditate While You Commute

People have been asking about the Bush / Bodhisattva thing, so I'll link to the Dharma-Burger Drive-Thru (not to be confused with the drive-by media) who's got it covered. More »
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July 23, 2007

HorseFest and "Big-boned Buddha"

Bored and wealthy? Rush over to central Asia and check out the Qinghai Horse Festival This link is from the travel website Diverse China. You might expect the Chinese government to crush this kind of "expression of diversity" but Communist governments like to publicly celebrate their minorities even while brutally repressing them away from the cameras. Recall the Soviet Union's frequent joyful proclamations of the many nations of people within its vast borders, and all the while various nationalities were being relocated or extinguished at the whim of Moscow bureaucrats. (The entire nation of Chechnya was forcibly relocated to Kazakhstan in 1944, because Stalin believed they were conspiring with the approaching -- but never quite arriving, in Chechnya -- German army. They got to come home after Stalin died.) But this horse thing looks very cool. More »
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July 20, 2007

Happier = Smarter

A pretty interesting article on JewBus in the Jewish Journal. Two illustrative quotes: "Liberal Judaism is the child of German rationalism," wrote Rabbi Lawrence Kushner, author and scholar in-residence at the Congregation Emanu-El of San Francisco. "Our liberal predecessors dismissed East European Jewish mysticism as unenlightened, irrational, and superstitious." "Buddhism is part of a greater trend," [Rabbi Miles] Krassen explained. "The bigger picture: evolving American spirituality that's going to be a smorgasbord of all these religious dishes." Krassen's goal: "to ensure that the delicacies of Judaism will be served at the table." Krassen is a former professor at Naropa. More »
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July 19, 2007

The formation of an independent council of elders

By Historic speech Today I received news of something I have been wishing would happen for a long time: an independent council of intelligent, well-meaning elders who can advice on how to improve this world. Such a group has just been formed, and you can watch or read about it on The Elders. I feel this endeavor is admirable and deserves our support. Welcome Despite all the ghastliness that is around, human beings are made for goodness. The ones who ought to be held in high regard are not the ones who are militarily powerful, nor even economically prosperous. More »
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July 18, 2007

Custodians of our Shared Heritage

The Asian Classics Input Project is working hard to locate, catalog, digitally preserve, and rapidly disseminate Tibetan and Sanskrit manuscripts. Here's a pdf describing their work. The website is cool, too. They have a lot of stuff from the Bhagavad Gita and Rig Veda in addition to loads of Buddhist material for those of us with a scholarly bent. Climate change may be changing the course of rivers in Tibet and reducing their flow, according to the China Daily (a government-controlled newspaper.) So the government of China is marginally more aware to the reality of human-caused climate change than the U.S. government. More »
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July 17, 2007

Inquiring Mind, Jet Li, and the Buddha's Tooth

Happy birthday, Inquiring Mind! The Bay Area journal is throwing a daylong 25th anniversary party / benefit at Spirit Rock on July 21st, according to the Berkeley Daily Planet. There'll be music, auctions, a lot of great guests, and all kinds of stuff, so if you're in Marin County, swing by and help celebrate a great publication. More »