This October (6th-8th), you can join me and others at a beautiful lakeside retreat center on Flathead Lake in NW Montana. The retreat will offer an opportunity to step out of our busy, noisy, hectic every-day lives for two nights to quiet the mind and simply look within. The idea of a “retreat” goes far back in both Eastern and Western religious and philosophical traditions and we will draw from both, but primarily Buddhist thought and practices (sitting and walking… Read more

Occasionally, I am invited to do an interview about Buddhism, Buddhist ethics, Buddhist philosophy, etc. Here, you can find me speaking with the good folks at Voice of Islam radio (based in London). It was 8am my time and due to a little error, I was expecting them at 9am, so I wasn’t nearly as caffeinated as I should have been. That said, you can find me answering questions about Buddhist beliefs in the afterlife (from at mainly Theravadin point… Read more

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

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

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 That is out of date.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

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

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

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

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

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

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