World Compassion and Vegan day – via the Jain eLibrary

Bodhgaya cow 2010

One of my favorite non-Buddhist religions to teach and to study is Jainism, which is a bit like Buddhist asceticism on steroids. Jains also share a deep respect for non-human animals and generally act on that in compassionate ways that put most other religions to shame. The religion is small, limited mostly to India, though there are Jains all over the world, so they rarely get much press. Yesterday I received the following newsletter from a Jain list I am on and I thought I'd pass it on to you … [Read more...]

16 Guides to a healthy, eco-consious, non-harming 2014 from the Jain eLibrary (Videos)

Members of the Jain Education Committee ( have suggested the following list as a guide to life, well, mainly eating, in 2014.For those who don't know, Jainism (pronounced Jane-ism or more often Jine-ism or something like Ja-een-ism) is something of a brother-religion to Buddhism, the major founder (or re-founder) being an older contemporary of the Buddha himself. Both religions branched off from Brahmanism (or proto-Hinduism), becoming separate chapters in our … [Read more...]

Two more must-reads on Buddhism and Aaron Alexis/the Navy Yard Shooting

As with any human tragedy of this kind, there are countless angles or perspectives from which to view and discuss the shootings earlier this week. In this post and the next I'll highlight four that I found particularly useful. The first two draw our attention to our religious stereotyping of both Buddhism and Islam:Navy Yard shooting puts Buddhism in spotlight: Column by Stephen Prothero. Prothero is a professor in Boston University's religion department and author of several books on … [Read more...]

Mea culpa? On “Buddhist Terrorist?” and Reactions

In blogging, as in academia, and in life, one of the great things we have is the opportunity to have our mistakes pointed out to us and the ability to try to make them right.So, about that last post... Buddhist Terrorist? First, I should say that the post came together over an 18 or so hour timeline, which is common enough for blog posts. But because our understanding of the situation changed slightly in those hours, the post ended up a bit disjointed. It started with an observation by a … [Read more...]

The First American Buddhist Terrorist?


Thirteen people are dead as of this writing. Our understanding of what happened is still unfolding (including an NPR story stating that this was not deemed an act of terrorism), but one twist in yesterday's events revolves around shooter Aaron Alexis's religion, which turns out to be Buddhist.As Buddhism has spread in the West, it has put forth and maintained an image of being a peaceful religion. This is a myth that still holds fast among many, if not most, Western Buddhists and it is one I … [Read more...]

Buddhism and Mental Illness

clifton suspension bridge bristol 2013

President Obama has declared May "Mental Health Awareness Month." At the announcement the President said (thanks to Adrian Warnock for posting this): “Today, tens of millions of Americans are living with the burden of a mental health problem. They shoulder conditions like depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorder — debilitating illnesses that can strain every part of a person’s life. And even though help is out there, less than half of children and adults with diagn … [Read more...]

Are you a Buddhist Wanker (Jerk)? – (Humor)

Self-described Spiritual Wanker Mark Walsh takes us through diagnosing a spiritual wanker and some potential cures. It reminded me a bit of my recent review of the wonderful book, Dispirited (blog here). Walsh criticizes 'spiritual' people for using insider language, dropping Tibetan, Sanskrit, (and he even mentions Pali!), when common English terms would clearly suffice, and more importantly, the normal English terms would be understood by everyone.I like the video because he is humble … [Read more...]

Share this if you’ve ever lost someone…

to a smoking-related death:My family breathed a big sigh of releaf last fall when my father finally quit smoking, after nearly 40 years as a smoker. As a kid in the 80s, both of my parents smoked and so did most of their friends. In the 90s my mom quit but my older brother and sister both started and then so did I.I remember tobacco companies advertising the 'coolness' of cigarettes with big cartoon smoking action figures. I remember collecting 'Camel Cash' with friends to send in for … [Read more...]