Dismantling Buddhist Patriarchy and Denial From the Inside

The Dalai Lama’s message was clear: you defend Buddhism by calling out abusive people, not by defending them, not by remaining silent. Read more

The merit of pointing out abuse in Buddhism: Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

A common teaching in Tibetan Buddhism suggests that, “if a lama or rinpoche says something wrong, you MUST point it out as wrong.” They might be pure beings, perfect Buddha’s etc, but right there, right then, they were, “manifesting an opportunity for you to correct them.” This and similar teachings permeate the Buddhist tradition, which is built upon harmonious behavior, careful instruction, reflection, reason, and debate. With that in mind I point at a few things in Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s recent… Read more

Dalai Lama Speaks Out on Buddhist Teacher Misconduct

In the video below, from his teachings in Ladakh on August 1, 2017 the Dalai Lama states: I feel, that some of these lama institutions [have] some sort of influence of feudal system. That is out of date. It must end. So with some feudal influence, then eventually the lama institution creates lama politics [laughing]. So, that is very bad. Lama politics… Lama individual disgrace, doesn’t matter. But very bad impression about monastery or monk – very bad. So we must pay… Read more

Abusive Tibetan Buddhists: Continuing the Conversation

Tibetan Buddhism will always have a special place in my heart. As I embarked on my studies in (Western) philosophy in college, I found a treasure trove of philosophical brilliance in the Buddhism of this Himalayan region. In particular, the works of one man: Tsongkhapa. I studied his works closely, along with Sakya Pandita and Atisha and others before him and the current Dalai Lama. My M.A. in Buddhist Studies consisted mostly of Mahayana and Tibetan Buddhism courses before turning… Read more

Detroit: Intimacy with Racial Hatred and the Suffering it Causes

Director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal have teamed up twice before, on The Hurt Locker (2008) and Zero Dark Thirty (2012). It is tempting, then, to see Detroit as the climax of this team’s war trilogy, where the war comes home. The film brings us to the city in the summer of 1967. It is set off with a series of images drawn from Jacob Lawrence paintings showing the rising racial segregation of the city, the promise and failure of… Read more

Buddhism, Patriarchy, Abuse, and Violence: We Need to Talk

What may surprise some Western Buddhists is that many of the same beliefs and structures that led to and continue to support abuses in the Catholic Church and American police forces also exist in many Buddhist communities. Read more

On the Death of a Teacher: A Buddhist Teaching

The early Buddhists texts contain a treasure trove of teachings. I have not read them all, and perhaps never will. For they are like a great set of tools, to be used as needed. One can touch or handle all of them but understand the depths or purpose of none. The Buddha famously gave teachings specific to the hearer, suggesting that at least some of the teachings should not be taken as universal in their application. It is better, in… Read more

Can Western Appropriation of Buddhism, Mindfulness, and Yoga be Good?

As Buddhism continues to mature in the Western world, we are currently seeing an explosion of one particular aspect of the religion: mindfulness. As we look at the growth of mindfulness practice today, along with its relationship to various forms of Buddhism in the West and around the world, it is often helpful to look at a similar “Eastern” practice that has taken up roots in the West: yoga. I put “Eastern” in scare quotes because some writing has recently suggested that… Read more

Buddhism, Christianity, and an Emerging Superpower: An Interview with Michael Wood from “The Story of China”

This month I have the wonderful opportunity to share with you a review of The Story of China and an interview with the documentary’s narrator, Michael Wood. If you have not been watching the program as it has aired on PBS in recent weeks, you can still catch the finale this week (check listings) and of course there will be DVDs and streaming options available. I highly recommend watching all of it; but history buffs interested in just one period… Read more

Tibet Women’s Soccer Team to Play in Vancouver After U.S. Visa Denial

The Tibetan Women’s Soccer team was denied entry into the United States as reported here in February. As I wrote then: Tibet Women’s Soccer team, the “Snow Lionesses,” has been denied visas to come to the U.S. They were planning to join in an upcoming tournament. The team, based in India and coached by New Jersey native Cassie Childers was told that they “have no good reason to visit the U.S.” In March, a pair of Republican congressmen from New Jersey… Read more

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