From US Marine to Zen Monk (Video)

A commonplace in the discussion of Buddhism as it is taken up by Americans and other Westerners is the flattening out and commodification of the practices. And indeed this is happening and will continue to happen. Zen and mindfulness have become buzzwords that are used to sell soft drinks, potato chips, jewelry, and stationary, among other things. And don't get me started on tantra. Words like 'Theravada' and 'vipassana' are just a bit too difficult on the American tongue to find their way onto … [Read more...]

Luke Wilson gives Jimmy Fallon the Shambhala pocket Chögyam Trungpa

Not exactly exuding praise, Wilson tells a story of stumbling across a little self-help shop in Canada, finding the book and ultimately being glad to get it off his hands: "I have had to read it a couple times... when I ran out of Sports Illustrated and stuff like that."Fallon offers us part of the entry, "Smile at Fear" (which, in full, is): When you are frightened by something, you have to relate with fear, explore why you are frightened, and develop some sense of conviction. You can … [Read more...]

3 shirts, 4 pairs of pants, 150 total belongings: inspired by Zen philosophy

Years ago, a Buddhist teacher of mine told me that "you don't own stuff. The stuff owns you."Every thing you have costs you an attention tax, a worry tax, eventually a loss tax, as you waste precious energy on the objects around you that could be used in activities and in caring for people and the world.As I wrote about my recent time in the desert, there is a kind of simplicity developed there that makes clear the great cost of having so much stuff. That cost is … [Read more...]

Mindfulness and Self-Care: Why Should I Care?

A guest post by Edwin Ng with Ron PurserEditor's note: this is the second in a two-part series by Edwin Ng and Ron Purser, part one can be found at the Huffington Post here.Part One considered the current hype surrounding workplace mindfulness against the dubious history of management science. Part Two here considers the use of critical mindfulness in experiments with ethical self-care.Though we are skeptical about celebratory claims, we actually do hope that mindfulness might bec … [Read more...]

Buddha Beer?

So, recently I found this at the local supermarket:To be honest, I felt this was in poor taste because:It uses a lot of Asian and Buddhist stereotypical clichés. The Buddha warned against “consuming intoxicants” as part of the Five Precepts. The “fat Buddha” isn’t even a Buddha. However the website does include a nice explanation clarifying this.Anyhow, I don’t necessarily want people to boycott the company because its employees depend on it for their livelihood, but I wish the … [Read more...]

Mindfulness: the single most impactful aspect of Buddhism in America

In an intriguing recent lecture, scholar of Western Buddhism Jeff Wilson makes the claim that mindfulness is, in fact, Buddhism's largest single impact on North America. The evidence is more than compelling: from books by Congressman Tim Ryan (A Mindful Nation) and Google's "Jolly Good Fellow" Chade-Meng Tan (Search Inside Yourself) - shown meeting President Obama - to news reports in nearly every major media outlet and new movements to get mindfulness practice into schools, medicine, police … [Read more...]

Australia’s Next Top Guru (Parody)

The English-speaking world loves their gurus and Eastern mysterious wisdom and enlightenment and all that stuff. And while (I hope I'm not being too optimistic in saying) we're collectively growing out of our most infantile--and destructive--phase of interacting and mingling with "the East", there is still a long way to go. Colonialism's dual projections of "dark evil" and "mysterious goodness" continue to play out in popular culture. But both rely on obscured vision of the place(s) and people … [Read more...]

David Suzuki, Force of Nature (reposted for Earth Day)

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...]