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 … [Read more...]

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

burmese nun4

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...]

Burma (Myanmar) in HD


In commemoration of 8/8/88 I thought I'd post a short video showing the grand, beautiful, and peaceful side of Burma, the side I remember most strongly when reflecting on my short time there. This is shot in gorgeous ultra-HD, 4096x2304 resolution, four times greater than regular 1080p HD. Unfortunately, few of us have monitors that can do much with that, but even at the 1080 HD setting, it is stunning. You can follow the photographer, Jason Schwarz, on … [Read more...]

A Nominee for most outlandish Buddha Statue… ever?


Courtesy China's Global Times (thanks to Tricycle's Emma Varvaloucas, who you can follow on twitter here). The article states: A giant statue of a gold Buddha in Luoyang, Henan Province garnered attention on Weibo recently for sporting a slicked-back hairstyle, jschina.com reported. First posted by Tian Yichen, a social commentator on Sina Weibo on April 22, the statue of the Maitreya Buddha attracted online attention for its conservative haircut more befitting a local official than an … [Read more...]

A Thailand Teaser

Sukhothai, Thailand

My time here in Thailand is winding down. I'm in Sukhothai now, one of the 'Colosseum'-like archaeological sites of Buddhism in Asia. The kingdom that gave rise to the site arose and fell in just about two hundred years, from the mid 13th century to the mid 15th, in central Thailand. After it fell, the capital was moved to Ayutthaya, and then to Bangkok where it is today. The trip has been amazing thus far; due in great part to the people in charge of the International Association of … [Read more...]

Buddha imagery meets the West

maitreya smoking in Taiwan

Dave Webster, who teaches Religion, Philosophy & Ethics at the University of Gloucestershire is at it again with a new tumblr (interactive-blog-type-thing) dedicated to the often odd (some would say "wrong" or offensive) use of Buddhist images in the West. Below is my submission (at http://dispirited-dave.tumblr.com/) I know it's not exactly from "the West," but it was the first image that came to my mind, and it seems to follow the spirit of Dave's tumblr, if not the letter. And … [Read more...]

SOLITUDE is out of fashion

Single Tree - Bristol

So begins a recent article in the NY Times called "The Rise of Groupthink" by Susan Cain, author of the forthcoming book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.” It is an ideal article for me to read at just the right time: only a few hours away from ending my extended vacation with family and friends and returning to my little workspace in Bristol where I ostensibly toil for hours in solitude over a PhD thesis in Buddhist ethics. The article, and no doubt … [Read more...]

Thanksgiving, American Buddhist (in England) Style


I've been away for a while. And in a sense that feels very good. It feels good to get away from the computer, from the constant onslaught of news, status updates, tweets, and emails. Mostly, I have been catching up on real-life projects, spending time with real-life people, and even reading physical books. I was fortunate enough to have a very wonderful visitor and travel companion for a little journey taking us to London, Liverpool, Cork, and Dublin. Thanksgiving was spent in Cork in a … [Read more...]

Smile. Breathe. Repeat., or The Need to Travel

Images from around India and Burma (Fall/Winter 2010-2011), photos by Justin Whitaker

Last Friday in Missoula, at a public talk given by Anam Thubten Rinpoche, a friend asked me what I learned in all of my travels. I hadn't put much thought into such a question, but I immediately answered, "that our lives are unnecessarily complicated." A second insight I had, as I prepare for a little talk/slideshow about my travels, is just how profoundly interconnected we all are. And how the simplest of encounters can alter the direction of our life. Or, a bit less dramatically, these … [Read more...]

Burma (Myanmar): photos and initial thoughts

Fishermen gather on Inle Lake

I'm now in my quaint little room in a hanok (traditional Korean house), sitting on the floor, looking around at gorgeous antique furniture and the total mess that is my luggage. It is the end of a very wonderful day two here in Seoul, and before this was one also wonderful day in Bangkok and before that: Burma. Seventeen days, mostly seeing the "big four" destinations there: Yangon, Inle Lake, Mandalay, and Pagan. Unraveling the full experience of Burma may take some time, but suffice to say … [Read more...]