March 30, 2018

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

March 27, 2018

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

March 26, 2018

Acclaimed Buddhist monk Ajahn Brahm (or Ajahn Brahmavamso) has resigned from his position as the Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. The Buddhist Society of Western Australia has existed since 1973 and Ajahn Brahm has acted as the Spiritual Director since 1995. He is still the Abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery, in Serpentine, Western Australia and manages several other leadership positions. The news release, in full, reads: Dear Member I wish to inform you that at tonight’s Society Annual General… Read more

March 15, 2018

Signed by the Dalai Lama, with contributing authors Robert Thurman, Heather Stoddard, and Jakob Winkler and the beautiful photography of Thomas Laird, this book is clearly unique. Add a $12,000 price tag and you can be sure not everyone on the block has a copy. The book brings murals from the Himalayan region to you for just a few thousand dollars more than if you went to each of them. (Slight) joking aside, Managing Editor Florian Kobler explains that these printed images… Read more

March 5, 2018

The Dalai Lama has many interests. As a child in Tibet’s Potala Palace he studied Tibetan philosophy, meditation, and politics. He was, after all, being groomed to be the religious and temporal leader of the Tibetan people. A keen student of Tibetan Buddhism will remind you that there were several branches or schools of Buddhism there at the time, so the Dalai Lama’s leadership in that sense was not Pope-like. And a keen student of Tibetan politics will tell you… Read more

February 22, 2018

Religion Dispatches (RD) posted an interview last week with Matthew Walton discussing his book on Buddhism and politics in contemporary Burma. Walton is the Aung San Suu Kyi Senior Research Fellow in Modern Burmese Studies at St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford. His research has focused on religion and politics in Southeast Asia. He is the founder of the Oxford based blog/website discussing contemporary Burma: Tea Circle. The Moral Universe The book, Buddhism, Politics, and Political Thought in Myanmar, was… Read more

February 20, 2018

A guest post by Robertson Work Anyone who is awake today is aware of the many dangers and possibilities facing our country and world in this make-or-break year and decade. Here are some of my reflections and advice for you sensitive and responsive ones, taken from my new book, A Compassionate Civilization: The Urgency of Sustainable Development and Mindful Activism. “After I had been a UNDP staff member for many years, people would sometimes ask me if I had just… Read more

February 15, 2018

That is the start of the recent Reuters investigative story, released late last week. Two of the journalists involved spent months in prison for their work, a testament to the cost of seeking out truth in this still quite brutal military dictatorship (with its veneer of democratic rule). “At least two were hacked to death by Buddhist villagers” according to the Reuters story, which “draws for the first time on interviews with Buddhist villagers who confessed to torching Rohingya homes,… Read more

February 11, 2018

His Holiness the Dalai Lama turned to twitter on Friday to restate a message which has become central to him in recent years: we must act. The full tweet reads: Although I am a Buddhist monk, I am skeptical that prayers alone will achieve world peace. We need instead to be enthusiastic and self-confident in taking action. — Dalai Lama (@DalaiLama) February 9, 2018 This is not to say that mental training is useless. His other tweets (and much of… Read more

February 8, 2018

“Taiwanese computer and technology firm Acer is set to launch a new smart product: Buddhist prayer beads that automatically count the number of times a mantra is recited and transfer merits to a social media platform,” reported the Hong Kong Economic Journal last week. The original article in Chinese is here (no press release from Acer itself could be found). Acer has reportedly received “tens of thousands” of pre-orders for the beads, which look identical to traditional beads (or malas)… Read more

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