Exploring a new Buddhist America

Earlier this month we set out a home-work assignment of sorts for those interested in exploring more of the rich diversity in contemporary American Buddhism. That assignment was to get Diana Eck's 2001 book A New Religious America: How a “Christian Country" Has Become the World’s Most Religiously Diverse Nation and read/discuss the chapter on Buddhism.Eck begins this great book by drawing attention to a shift that has occurred in her lifetime as a baby-boomer: The religious landscape of Amer … [Read more...]

Buddha in the Classroom: A little Zen for the Workplace

Subtitled: “Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers,” this is a book filled with much more than just “Zen” wisdom and it will surely inspire pretty much anyone who reads it. “The Burned-Out Professor.” To be fair, some of my appreciation for the book is purely selfish: the book feels like it was written specifically for me. The author, Donna Quesada, is a philosophy professor in California, a Buddhist, a yoga instructor, a connoisseur of world-wisdom, and a watcher of good movies. She tells us the … [Read more...]

Buddhist-Christian meditation in Zimbabwe

A few months ago I came across a remarkable writer from Zimbabwe. She found me through twitter and directed me to her site, https://hamamaoko.wordpress.com/, specifically her poem, Cherish the Present Moment, which concludes with these lines, wonderfully expressing a major part of the Buddha's teachings:The present moment; Gives you all. It orders everything sweetly; Showering material and hallowed gifts over your head. Sadly, man is full of wishes, plans and expectations. Cherish the … [Read more...]

Jesus & Buddha: Practicing Across Traditions, a review

I sat down over the weekend to watch (for a second time), this short documentary, joined by two fellow PhD students, one a Theravadin Buddhist, the other a Roman Catholic. At just 44 minutes in length, it is brief, but perhaps it is the perfect length for a high school or university class on Comparative Religions or a faith group to watch over tea and cookies. The film features three people who are intimately familiar with both traditions:Father Robert Kennedy, a Jesuit priest and Zen … [Read more...]

Kumare: Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoga, and more

Kumare, or Kumaré (or Kūmāré), is a movie about American spirituality on the fringe. However, the more we look into American spirituality, the more we see that the 'fringe' is growing. Fast. The old stalwarts of American religion: the Catholics and the Protestants, are increasingly disenfranchising their members, thus steering themselves into a future of ineffectual obscurity. Denying women's rights, protecting child-molesters, blaming the deaths of children on homosexuality, the list could go on … [Read more...]

Free book from H.H. the Dalai Lama

Yes. For another week or so, you can get a free download of the Dalai Lama's latest book, read by Martin Sheen, "Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World."I've been listening to the first part of it over the last couple days and all I can say is, "wow, did the Dalai Lama read Kant?" Ethics going beyond religion? Based on some more fundamental aspect of humanity that makes us all perfectly equal? Huh? Yea, it's good.Even better than the free audio book, I'll have a physical copy to give … [Read more...]

Review of A Force of Nature

In 1.5 of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle observes that there are three types of life thought to be happy: the life of enjoyment, the political life, and the life of contemplation.  The life of enjoyment is a hedonistic life focused on conventional pleasures. The political life is the life of a states- person. It may aim at despotic power, or be lived for the sake of winning public honors, but in its most proper form its aim is the exercise of moral virtue and political and practical wisdom in … [Read more...]

Review of Crazy Wisdom

Recently I was sent two DVD Screeners, this one, about the life and times of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and another called "Force of Nature" about the Japanese-Canadian scientist and environmentalist David Suzuki. I will review the Suzuki movie later this week, and today I'll write a bit about the Trungpa flick.Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who was born in Tibet prior to the Chinese invasion, lived, quite frankly, a crazy life. Yet his charisma in teaching the Dharma and ability to motivate a … [Read more...]