Double Dalai Lama or none: Buddhist leader contemplates ending reincarnations

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This week the Dalai Lama is grabbing international headlines and as usual, Stephen Colbert's commentary is a great one to start with: on point, historically accurate, and highly entertaining. Colbert has it right that a major worry is that when the current Dalai Lama passes away, China will likely appoint its own successor, in effect leading to a secular, communist state endorsing the Tibetan Buddhist belief not only in rebirth, but in the specific 'tulku' system whereby individuals of … [Read more...]

Malaria, Maoists, and other news from India

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I've once again found myself in rural India, Bodhgaya to be precise, teaching Buddhist Philosophy to American undergraduates. I was here in 2010, early in the days of my PhD, and coming here again as I near the end of this colossal project seems fitting.I remember when I first arrived in England for my MA all those years ago, marveling at how much history surrounded me: pubs dating to the 1600s, churches from the 14th century and before, castles, paths, and crossings all seeing centuries of … [Read more...]

Contentious Tibetan Buddhist deity worship discussed in London panel

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In what may have been a first-of-its-kind event, representatives of the International Shugden Community joined academics, a Geluk Buddhist monk, and a former member of the New Kadampa Tradition to discuss the history and current status of Dorje Shugden. Shugden, in short, is a 'protector deity' historically associated with the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. His supposed power has led to great devotion by a number of esteemed Buddhist teachers, foremost among them Pabongkha Rinpoche, whose … [Read more...]

Sand castles: Buddhist advice on what holds us back in life

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I stumbled across this sutta the other day and appreciated the fact that the Buddha, 2500 years ago, was talking about sand castles (or 'dirt houses'). The images of amazing creativity, wonder (perhaps infatuation), and impermanence of such structures couldn't have been very different from what we see and think of today. This is especially true for those who know of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of creating, and then destroying, beautiful sand sculptures like the one above (see the video below … [Read more...]

Korean nuns rap the Heart Sutra

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From the HuffingtonPost: More than 300 nuns and monks convened in a Seoul temple on Thursday to participate in a prayer competition hosted by the Jogye Order, Korea's largest Buddhist organization. While most recited traditional prayers, several brave nuns took to the stage with rap and hip hop performances.A group of three nuns performed a variation on the classic Heart Sutra, beating on traditional drums and rapping their own lyrics: "Great wisdom, perfect wisdom. Buddha's teachings that s … [Read more...]

A Make-up tutorial with a surprisingly Buddhist message

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A make-up video as a topic for Buddhist reflection? That probably won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I'd say give it a watch, or skip right to the reading below it.The description of the video, published last month, reads "The power of make up is incredible, but the power of you is cray cray." And since I came across this via the wonderful Full Contact Enlightenment page on facebook, I gave it a watch.While much of it is the sort of feel-good, youthful optimism we either love or hate, … [Read more...]

Petition created for the United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) to allow Ajahn Brahm’s gender equality paper in 2015

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Last month, Ajahn Brahm, one of the world's best known Theravadin monks, was scheduled to give a talk on gender equality (and lack thereof) in Buddhism in Vietnam at the annual UN Day of Vesak conference. However, at the last minute his talk was canceled.Here Ajahn Brahm talks about why:Now you can sign a petition, launched today in the UK, asking the UNDV conference to allow his talk to be given next year. According to the petition site at Avaaz:We, the undersigned, are astounded … [Read more...]

Happy Saga Dawa Duchen – Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest day

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Saga Dawa is the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, this year falling between May 29 and June 27. It is the holiest time of the year for Tibetan Buddhists.  The middle of the month, the full moon day, is the most important. On that day the fruits of one's karma (actions) are said to increase one billion (1,000,000,000) times or more. It is the day that Tibetan Buddhists celebrate the birth, awakening, and death of the Buddha.That day, known as Saga Dawa Duchen, is today, Friday, … [Read more...]


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