Can Western Appropriation of Buddhism, Mindfulness, and Yoga be Good?

As Buddhism continues to mature in the Western world, we are currently seeing an explosion of one particular aspect of the religion: mindfulness. As we look at the growth of mindfulness practice today, along with its relationship to various forms of Buddhism in the West and around the world, it is often helpful to look at a similar "Eastern" practice that has taken up roots in the West: yoga.I put "Eastern" in scare quotes because some writing has recently suggested that what we c … [Read more...]

Buddhism, Christianity, and an Emerging Superpower: An Interview with Michael Wood from “The Story of China”

This month I have the wonderful opportunity to share with you a review of The Story of China and an interview with the documentary’s narrator, Michael Wood. If you have not been watching the program as it has aired on PBS in recent weeks, you can still catch the finale this week (check listings) and of course there will be DVDs and streaming options available.I highly recommend watching all of it; but history buffs interested in just one period or another can easily choose one of the show’s s … [Read more...]

Re-Fleshing Mindfulness with Buddhism, Dr. Miles Neale

My earliest academic Buddhist teacher, Alan Sponberg, had the apt Dharma name Saramati, "one who gets to the pith of things."I remember an exercise he gave to a group of students early on. He had us write down the Buddhadharma in three words. I scribbled something like: "Buddha, Dharma, Sangha."Not bad, I suppose, but still on the surface of things.Dr. Sponberg suggested, "Just. Let. Go."Often, when teaching a new idea or practice, it helps to try to boil it down to its es … [Read more...]

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...]

U.S. Congress re-introduces “Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act” amidst rise in tensions over the Dalai Lama’s travels

In the long shadow of the recent Trump-Xi meeting lingers a bill in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate that seeks to guarantee open access to Tibet for American citizens. Introduced just before the meeting early last month, the bill seeks greater access to the region for U.S. officials, journalists, and other citizens. The bill finds that, despite claims of openness by the Chinese government, heavy restrictions and frequent denial of travel documents has been observed, … [Read more...]

Confronting Our Demons: Courage as the Essence of Buddhism

A guest-post by Tom Clements. There is no nobler vision than a willingness to voluntarily encounter the unknown. As human beings, we are designed to go beyond what’s comfortable in order to grow and to develop. This growth is measured in large part by how bravely we face suffering in the forms of conflict, disagreement, disappointment and grief.Our conscience tells us when we need to do something we feel is right and our nervous systems are attuned to know and tell us that what we are doing … [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...]

Karmapa Thaye Dorje, one head of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, gets married

Trinley Thaye Dorje has abandoned his monastic life to marry a childhood friend. The ceremony was carried out in private on March 25 and announced today in New Delhi, India.It is not uncommon for Tibetan monks to marry, which is allowed in some sects, or to disrobe. What makes this instance particularly noteworthy is that Thaye Dorje has lived at the center of a dispute in the Kagyu school over its true leadership. The other candidate for the title of "Karmapa" is Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the … [Read more...]