Returning, or “5 meditations on the desert”

A little over a week ago, I packed my bags, spent a night in Missoula, MT, picked up 3 (and then 4) fellow travelers, and headed into the wilds of Utah where we met two more friends. I'm not a seasoned backpacker or hiker, having spent usually only a day or two in the "back country" and six days last year hiking 80+ miles of the Wind River National Wilderness Area with two good friends who are much more knowledgeable than I probably ever will be.However, I am a long-time meditator (over 15 … [Read more...]

Happy Saga Dawa Düchen – Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest day

[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...]

A heart-shaped cloud, passing

   … [Read more...]

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from American Buddhist Perspectives

From all of us to all of you, many wishes of joy, peace, and happiness this holiday season. For many Americans and Europeans, the cultural trappings of Christmas make it a default holiday, even those who have long since given up believing in Santa and Christianity and Consumerism and all of the other things that make the holiday so... special. In my family this is a time for togetherness, and that tends to focus on the dining room table. Whether it's for meals, snacks, coffee, cards, or just te … [Read more...]

Another Lhabab Düchen in Bodhgaya

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

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...]

Malaria, Maoists, and other news from India

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...]