Double Dalai Lama or none: Buddhist leader contemplates ending reincarnations

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This week the Dalai Lama is grabbing international headlines and as usual, Stephen Colbert's commentary is a great one to start with: on point, historically accurate, and highly entertaining. Colbert has it right that a major worry is that when the current Dalai Lama passes away, China will likely appoint its own successor, in effect leading to a secular, communist state endorsing the Tibetan Buddhist belief not only in rebirth, but in the specific 'tulku' system whereby individuals of … [Read more...]

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...]

Trans*Buddhism, an interview with the creators of transbuddhists.org

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I am honored this month to share an interview with the creators of transbuddhists.org and a guide to trans*competence (links below). Please read on and visit their website to find out more about how you can make Buddhism more inclusive.Who counts as "trans*" and why is it important for Buddhists today to understand the term?We use trans* ("trans" or "trans-star") as an umbrella term to describe anyone who's had an experience of their internal understanding of their gender not matching the … [Read more...]

Contentious Tibetan Buddhist deity worship discussed in London panel

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In what may have been a first-of-its-kind event, representatives of the International Shugden Community joined academics, a Geluk Buddhist monk, and a former member of the New Kadampa Tradition to discuss the history and current status of Dorje Shugden. Shugden, in short, is a 'protector deity' historically associated with the Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. His supposed power has led to great devotion by a number of esteemed Buddhist teachers, foremost among them Pabongkha Rinpoche, whose … [Read more...]

Vegetarianism and Animals in Early Indian Buddhism

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In this presentation, University of Toronto graduate student Sean M. Smith discusses the relationship between humans and other animals in the psychological and cosmological teachings of early Buddhism.I knew I would like the talk after the first 30 seconds, when he said: As a philosopher I am not interested in contingent historical details. I'm interested in truth, and I think Buddhist Philosophy, and especially Buddhist Philosophy in its early Indian guise - sometimes called the Theravadin … [Read more...]

Buddhist abbot Ajahn Brahm says that it is ‘Unacceptable’ that religion has been so cruel to LGBTIQs

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Before a large audience in Singapore in June, the outspoken Theravadin Buddhist monk cited the Buddha's call for compassion toward all sentient beings as a starting point for a Buddhist position on the LGBTIQ community. He said he was very proud to be able to perform a gay marriage in Norway. He continued:"There is nothing in the sutras, in the teachings of the Buddha, which discriminates against anybody no matter what race, religion, or sexual orientation. I do ask all Buddhists to please sh … [Read more...]

Sand castles: Buddhist advice on what holds us back in life

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I stumbled across this sutta the other day and appreciated the fact that the Buddha, 2500 years ago, was talking about sand castles (or 'dirt houses'). The images of amazing creativity, wonder (perhaps infatuation), and impermanence of such structures couldn't have been very different from what we see and think of today. This is especially true for those who know of the Tibetan Buddhist practice of creating, and then destroying, beautiful sand sculptures like the one above (see the video below … [Read more...]

Korean nuns rap the Heart Sutra

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From the HuffingtonPost: More than 300 nuns and monks convened in a Seoul temple on Thursday to participate in a prayer competition hosted by the Jogye Order, Korea's largest Buddhist organization. While most recited traditional prayers, several brave nuns took to the stage with rap and hip hop performances.A group of three nuns performed a variation on the classic Heart Sutra, beating on traditional drums and rapping their own lyrics: "Great wisdom, perfect wisdom. Buddha's teachings that s … [Read more...]


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