The Dalai Lama Continues to Push Secular Ethics Over Buddhism

Last week the Tibetan spiritual leader offered talks to three groups of students at his residence in Dharamsala, India. The students came from the U.S., Canada, and 25 students from the Tong Len [Tibetan for 'giving and taking'] charitable trust based in North India.Rather than pushing traditional Tibetan teachings or verbatim scripture, the Dalai Lama urged students to pursue peace in the coming century. He emphasized the importance of cultivating reason and the basic human capacity for … [Read more...]

Daniel Clarkson Fisher offers a “People’s Buddhism” – and B.R. Ambedkar revival

In an excellent article at Political Animal Magazine, Daniel Clarkson Fisher calls for a renewed investigation into the Buddhist liberation theology of the Indian reformer, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. In the article, Fisher points out the rise in progressive social movements in recent years, from Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street to the recent boosts to organizations like the ACLU and the Democratic Socialists of America.Given this, and the rising attention on the religious left, Fisher … [Read more...]

In the Obituary of a Tibetan Buddhism scholar, some ominous words

The obituary for Elliot Sperling begins as most do, noting the peaks of the man's life: 66 years of vitality, a MacArthur (genius) Fellowship, and a reshaping of our understanding of Sino-Tibetan relations. Of particular note, the obituary's author Tenzin Dorjee, writes: Through his seminal writings on Tibet’s relations with China during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, he became arguably the first historian to extensively use both Chinese and Tibetan sources to bring to light the separation a … [Read more...]

Buddhist Activism in an age of neo-fascism and “alternative facts”

I sit in a basement cafe in downtown Seattle. I worry a bit about finances here, or class sign-ups there. But I'm okay. And odds are, so are you. Who is next? We're in the midst of something, though, that could change all of that. There is a range of wise view on just how quickly that will happen and how severely, from the oft-quoted "we're screwed" to the increasingly pollyannish "wait and see."Already, if you're one of estimated 100,000 people who had your visa revoked due to the recent … [Read more...]

“Korematsu! We stand up for what is right!”

Fred Korematsu is an American hero worth celebrating. And California is doing just that today, with their seventh annual Fred Korematsu Day. Google, too, is getting in on the action with their "doodle" honoring him, surrounded by cherry blossoms and the bars of the American flag.Fred was a Japanese American minding his own business on a day in late may, 1942. His family, along with tens of thousands of other Japanese Americans had already been rounded up for internment camps, as per an … [Read more...]

Women’s March on Montana in Photos (UPDATED)

I have seen the future. And the future is WOMEN. Today, women and allies from across the state (and no doubt beyond) descended on Helena for a sister-march in solidarity with the Women's March on Washington. It was one of hundreds of marches around the world, gathering an estimated 2.5 million people globally. Facebook 'registrants' were up to around 5400 at the time of the march and organizers estimated 10,000 were actually there. Further details on that as they become available. I had the … [Read more...]

The Arc of the Moral Universe, January 20, 2017

The local store is out of White Poster Board. Hmmm... I wonder where it all could be. The quote, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice" is often attributed to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It is thanks to him that the phrase has become part of our American lexicon. Yet the exact wording predates his use of it by around half a century, and the origins go back further still to the Unitarian minister Theodore Parker.Theodore Parker, born 1810, was a minister … [Read more...]

Buddhists in a Democracy: Be Political, but not Partisan

This year's election and the impending inauguration of Donald Trump have drawn out some heated discussions about the role Buddhism ought to be playing in our political system. Two articles that come to the forefront, in part for espousing different views on the topic, are Jiryu Mark Rutschman-Byler's article Buddhism is Apolitical? (Or, Stop Trying to Wiggle Out of the Damn Koan!), updated at Lion's Roar as Isn’t Buddhism Supposed to Be Apolitical? and Brad Warner's Should Plumbing Be Politic … [Read more...]