Ethnocentric Buddhism continued…

Rohingya and supporters protest in front of the White House in May, 2013. photo via

Coming just off the heals of the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the Rwandan genocide, we are called ever more clearly to understand conflicts in the world that might lead to such horrors. What is happening in Burma today eerily reflects the ethnic divides and hateful rhetoric that precipitated the murder of over 800,000 Rwandans (primarily ethnic Tutsis) in 1994.In addition to attacks in recent years, this January, mobs of (ethnic Rakhine) Buddhists massacred Rohingya Muslims in the … [Read more...]

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche speaks on Universal Responsibility at Harvard Divinity School

dzigar_kongtrul_rinpoche

Earlier this month, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche gave a one-day seminar on the topic of Universal Responsibility to students at Harvard Divinity School. From the video page: In this one night seminar given to students at Harvard University's School of Divinity, Kongtrul Rinpoche explains that not all learning is academic. In fact, the best kind of education shapes our hearts just as much as our minds. Self-reflecting upon experience and coming to see that all beings share the same internal life -- … [Read more...]

Coursera’s Buddhism and Modern Psychology : week three

Buddhism and Modern Psychology - week 3

I'm a bit later than usual posting on week 3 (week 4 lectures have just been posted). Such is life. Part of the reason is that the topic this week was "not-self"(anātman in Sanskrit, anattā in Pāli) in Buddhism and in Modern Psychology, which I am not terribly interested in writing more about at this time.I've written extensively about the topic here, here (on metaphysics),here (comparing with Sartre), and here; along with guest posts at Danny Fisher's blog and (around the topic of purific … [Read more...]

Coursera’s Buddhism and Modern Psychology : week two

Buddhism and Modern Psychology - week 2

It has been a busy week here, with a trip to Cheltenham to lead metta meditation for students in Dave Webster's course on Buddhism and a journey to London to see Professor Ian Harris talk on Buddhism and Politics at Kings College. So I haven't been able to write as detailed a post on week two of the Buddhism and Modern Psychology course as I wrote for week one.This week's lecture looked at "The Buddhist Prescription" - focusing on the 3rd and 4th Noble Truths and meditation in particular. As … [Read more...]

Encountering the 16th Karmapa and living Buddhism in the West today [UPDATED with contributors]

16th karmapa book

Shang Shung Publications, an Italian publisher founded around the teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and of other greats from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, has a new book out called The Miraculous 16th Karmapa: Incredible Encounters with the Black Crown Buddha (Amazon/Shang Shung).I was kindly offered not only an advance copy of the book to read, but also an opportunity to send a couple questions to some of the contributors to this memorable volume. I picked four contributors, all rather r … [Read more...]

Mary Midgely, a Philosopher you should know

Moral philosopher Mary Midgley at home in Newcastle. Photographed for the Observer by Gary Calton

She studied philosophy at Oxford and rubbed shoulders with greats like Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, Elizabeth Anscombe and Mary Warnock, writes books on a wide variety of contemporary moral issues, has as good a wit and charm as any, a penchant for gratitude, and at least at one time, a Buddhist practice. But you probably have never heard of Mary Midgely.That should change.Thanks to the Guardian, you can learn a great deal from a recent interview covering her life and recent work, … [Read more...]

Coursera’s Buddhism and Modern Psychology : week one

Screenshot from a video at Coursera's Buddhism and Modern Psychology course (Mic Jagger and Prof. Robert Wright)

Buddhism and Modern Psychology, a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), started yesterday. So far it is excellent, with Prof. Wright laying out some foundations of Buddhism, trying to narrow the scope of what is used with terms like supernatural (which is excluded) and secular (included) and science (the method of choosing which is which). He also gives overviews of a few psychology experiments that have proven relevant to Buddhist understandings of the first two noble truths.Questions of … [Read more...]

Buddhism without Superstition: with Owen Flanagan, Julian Baggini, and Tim Lott

Julian Baggini, Owen Flanagan and Tim Lott

"Is it possible to take an ancient comprehensive philosophy like Buddhism, subtract the hocus pocus, and have a worthwhile philosophy for twenty-first-century scientifically informed secular thinkers?"This was the quote, taken from Owen Flanagan's recent book (see below), which served to open a discussion last Wednesday at Bristol's "Festival of Ideas". The event re-raised the age old question, "Buddhism, is it a religion, philosophy, or way of life?" (I wrote a bit about this topic last … [Read more...]


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