Zen teacher Barry Magid offered the following observation yesterday. It is a rich passage, a condensation of many trends growing and potentials available in Western Buddhism today: There has been a sea change in Western Buddhism that we are only beginning to acknowledge and come to terms with, a sea change comparable to a Protestant Reformation within traditional Buddhism. As with the Reformation , Western Buddhism has increasingly made daily life the locus of spirituality and practice, has moved away… Read more

Last week Andrea Winn, creator of Project Sunshine, was interviewed on Canadian Broadcasting Radio on the topic of “Allegations of sexual abuse in Shambhala Community.” Joshua Silberstein, Chair of the Kalapa Council, which is the leadership group for Shambhala Buddhism, responded. Silberstein gave the concrete number of 14 allegations and investigations by the Care and Conduct committee of Shambhala International since 2002. This leads one to wonder if it might be helpful for the records of those proceedings to be… Read more

Tomorrow, May 15, Palestinians and supporters around the world will mark Nakba Day, commemorating the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people in the creation of the state of Israel in 1948. From the UK’s Independent paper, we read: The convergence of the 70th anniversary of Nakba Day with these contemporary developments is an opportunity to consider its significance in the past, present and future. The Nakba was the systematic expulsion of Palestinians and destruction of their communities. Over a period… Read more

Life in the 21st century can be overwhelming. Busyness seems to be the buzzword of the day, attached often indirectly by a sense of lack, unfulfillment, anxiety, and fatigue. I’ve felt this strongly in the last year, transitioning fully (at last) out of graduate-student status and into the world of academic (and other) job-seeking, partial employment, travels, writing, moving -twice-, getting engaged -once-, and so on. And I’ve seen it in friends across the globe, whether caught up in personal… Read more

The Project Sunshine Phase 2, discussed recently here, is completing its fundraising campaign today and is currently less than $1000 from its goal. The project’s founder, Andrea Winn, is a survivor of sexual abuse in the Shambhala tradition. She left, spent years working on her own healing which in part led her to a Masters of Education in Counselling Psychology, and has returned to help bring healing to the community. You can read my full interview with her at Buddhistdoor here…. Read more

Earlier this week Rev James Ford, who I find myself admiring more and more as time passes, wrote a post suggesting “Ten Rules for Social Engagement.” There he reflects on the Buddhist life, the tensions between monastic and householder callings, being drawn toward that other-worldly dimension vs this-worldly service, and so on. It is a topic that has been on my mind at least since my early 20s and seems to be a topic of interest to all great religions… Read more

Andrea Winn, initiator and author of Project Sunshine (.pdf), is raising funds for a second phase of her work. Project Sunshine detailed abuse of power in the Shambhala Buddhist community, with hopes that those in positions of power in the community would acknowledge and openly work through issues of abuse in their community. Addressing the need for a second phase, Winn writes: Sexual harms are widespread in Shambhala and have not been dealt with in a safe, transparent fashion.This has led… Read more

While yet another chemical weapons attack on civilians in Syria has spurred both demand for and worry about international military strikes on the Assad regime, many in the Buddhist community are torn between the desire to actively protect innocents there and a conviction that military interventions more often than not fail in both their immediate and long-term missions. On the one hand, people are dying: often women and children caught in the fighting. Compassionate ideals might lead us to want… Read more

Burma continues to be an enigma in the minds of most Americans today. With a population that is nearly 90% Theravadin Buddhist, many Westerners imagine a land of peace and smiles, ancient pagodas, and silent lines of monks and nuns passing on alms rounds. And while these are real aspects of the country, there is much, much more beneath the surface. Stanley A. Weiss writes for the Diplomat about recent military-political factors shaping the country, summarized in a report called… Read more

A difficulty I encounter time and time again when teaching Buddhism or talking about it with friends is the “myth of Buddhist pacifism” and the idea that Buddhists aren’t engaged in politics or worldly matters. As a scholar of comparative religious ethics – looking largely at texts written by elite groups and individuals – I see the side of Buddhism which is, to an extent, “other-worldly” (to use Weber’s category). However, as a scholar of Buddhism as it is lived… Read more

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