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...]

Happy Saga Dawa Duchen – Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest day


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...]

photographing a meteor over SW England


I haven't posted much photography lately, but this is a worthy one. Saturday evening I went on a walk with my girlfriend into the Leigh Woods just south of Bristol across the Clifton Suspension Bridge. On our return journey we were on the east side of the bridge when I set up my camera for a couple shots (I wound up taking a 1-second exposure). Just as I got the camera positioned and set up, I saw a bright green flash of light moving across the sky, both above and reflected in the Avon river … [Read more...]

2014 Fo Guang Buddhist Montastic Retreat

2014 Fo Guang Buddhist Monastic Retreat

The Fo Guang Buddhist Monastic Retreat program, hosted at Fo Guang Shan Monastery in southern Taiwan, is accepting applications for its 2014 summer Buddhist monastic retreat program.  The program runs from June 26th to July 24th and includes two weeks of introduction and classes, followed by a seven day intensive retreat, a International Youth Seminar on Life and Chán, and a tour of Taiwan. They will accept 50-60 university / college students (or graduates within 3 years after graduation aged 18 … [Read more...]

Buddhists in Pink, a look at nuns in Burma/Myanmar

Burmese nuns on alms rounds, Burma 2011

The NY Times recently posted a video taking us briefly inside the world of female monastic life in contemporary Burma. Have a look:They report that, "Enrollment is rising at the Aung Thawada Nunnery School on the northern border of Yangon. The nuns, whose ages range from 9 to 94, join for a variety of reasons, including to escape poverty or abuse."It was great to see that the reporter, Chelsi Moy, is a young woman from my home town of Helena, Montana and I even remember her … [Read more...]

Growing up in India and My Kolhapuri Chappal

Kolkata rickshaw driver

Today would have been the 144th birthday of Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi. His principled stand for nonviolent solutions to injustice continue to inspire and instruct. I hope all of you can spend some time reading and pondering Gandhi's words and actions. In addition to celebrating the life of the Great Soul, I am again sharing some of the work of Naga R Dhoopati, whom you may remember from her article Femicide published here in March. In addition to two of her poems, Naga has put … [Read more...]

Finding Happiness, one photo at a time


There is an old zen story that I'll happily pass on (albeit perhaps in a disfigured form) for you: A monk is wandering in China and comes across a royal caravan. The king, seeing the monk, stops the caravan in order to question him."Who is your teacher?" asks the king from his carriage."My teacher is Gautama, the Awakened One," replies the monk without looking up."What is his teaching?" asks the king."Cease to do evil. Cultivate good. Purify the mind," says the monk."This … [Read more...]

A delicate blend of science and art (photography)

As a lover of photography and the sheer sense of awe and wonder that arise in contemplating "the starry heavens above" I have always been drawn to photos of celestial objects. My parents had a photograph of a solar eclipse from the early '80s hanging in the living room; and where I grew up, one didn't have to get away from anything to lie outside in darkness under a canopy of stars.And my photography a consistent theme has always been the sun, the moon, and the clouds. But this... This is … [Read more...]