Happy Saga Dawa Düchen – Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest day

Theravadin monks at Pragbodhi Cave, Bihar, India (2014)

[updated and reposted from June 2014] Saga Dawa is the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, this year falling between May 18 and June 16. 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 … [Read more...]

Phenomenology as a doorway into Indian Philosophy

India, Mughal Art. Photo by Nathan Hughes Hamilton (flickr C.C.)

The Journal of the British Society of Phenomenology has announced a selection of free articles from past issues.Included, along with heavyweights of the Western phenomenological tradition such as Nancy, Lyotard, Gadamer, Sartre, Warnock, Heidegger and Husserl, is J.N. Mohanty's “Phenomenology and Indian Philosophy: The Concept of Rationality”, Vol. 19, No. 3, 1988, pp. 269-281. (direct link here)In the paper Mohanty shows the struggles we face in understanding non-Western philosophies. Th … [Read more...]

Another Lhabab Düchen in Bodhgaya

12 redressing the Buddha inside the stupa

The temperatures have cooled and life has slowed down significantly here in Bodhgaya over the last week or two. Last Friday was the last day for teaching I've since enjoyed a few days of grading, paperwork, catching up with people, and a general, relieved sense of laziness. On Thursday I went out for Lhabab Düchen, one of the most important days of the year in Tibetan Buddhism, and made my way to the Mahabodhi Temple.On that day it is said that one's good or bad deeds are multiplied by 10 mil … [Read more...]

Bodhgaya, Buddhism’s holiest city, in pictures

image050

September is a strange time in Bodhgaya. It's stretched between the hot and muggy monsoon season of N.E. India and the gradual onset of the cool season. Over the three weeks we've been here, the temperatures have gone up and down (highs ranging from around 95F/35C to a cool 85F /29C) but the humidity has steadily dropped from the stultifying 85+% to a merciful 65% during the day.It is still low season for tourists, so we get the city and her 38,000 or so inhabitants mostly to ourselves. Life … [Read more...]

Notes on teaching Buddhist philosophy

buddha with plato and aristotle at the academy

I'm teaching Buddhist philosophy in Bodhgaya, India at the moment, so much of my blogging-life is taken up by activities here. In lieu of all of that (I will post on my usual topics now and then) I thought I'd share notes from my teaching.Teaching Buddhist philosophy to American college students from diverse backgrounds (some with extensive philosophy, some with Buddhism, some with a mix or neither) has been a challenge. To start, I wanted to get them thinking as philosophers, inheritors of … [Read more...]

The Shugden Cult, Dalai Lama Protests, Race, and Genocide

Dorje_Shugden_book_cover

Last month, when the Dalai Lama was in Oslo on the 25th anniversary of his Nobel Peace Prize, he and supporters were confronted with crowds of protesters calling him, among other things, a False Dalai Lama and a persecutor of worshippers of Dorje (or Dolgyal) Shugden, a protector deity associated with the Dalai Lama's Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism.In gathering background on the situation, we looked at two prominent scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, Georges Dreyfus and Robert Thurman (who uses … [Read more...]

India, Pakistan, & a commercial to make you cry with joy

I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and growing ever more nostalgic for India myself (I can't believe it's been 3 years!). But nothing could have prepared me for this:When I was just 21 or 22, a friend lent me Cracking India, a story of the partition as experienced in Lahore. Later I watched Deepa Mehta's film adaptation of the book, Earth (1998), and watched it again, and again (full movie available here). … [Read more...]

“AKONG a remarkable life” – an interview by Lisa Tully

Akong Rinpoche

Many of you may have heard about the recent and tragic death of the Tibetan master Akong Tulku Rinpoche. He set up many Dharma centres around the world where people could learn and practice the principles of Buddhism. In London, a group of filmmakers are in the process of making a documentary about him. They are Chico Dall'Inha, Jörg Wagner and Gerry McCulloch.This project actually began over two years ago and now due to his untimely death is more imperative than ever before. His life was … [Read more...]


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