Happy Saga Dawa Duchen – Tibetan Buddhism’s holiest day

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Saga Dawa is the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, this year falling between May 29 and June 27. It is the holiest time of the year for Tibetan Buddhists.  The middle of the month, the full moon day, is the most important. On that day the fruits of one's karma (actions) are said to increase one billion (1,000,000,000) times or more. It is the day that Tibetan Buddhists celebrate the birth, awakening, and death of the Buddha. That day, known as Saga Dawa Duchen, is today, Friday, … [Read more...]

The Shugden Cult, Dalai Lama Protests, Race, and Genocide

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Last month, when the Dalai Lama was in Oslo on the 25th anniversary of his Nobel Peace Prize, he and supporters were confronted with crowds of protesters calling him, among other things, a False Dalai Lama and a persecutor of worshippers of Dorje (or Dolgyal) Shugden, a protector deity associated with the Dalai Lama's Geluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. In gathering background on the situation, we looked at two prominent scholars of Tibetan Buddhism, Georges Dreyfus and Robert Thurman (who … [Read more...]

Dalai Lama Awakening, a Q&A with Director Khashyar Darvich

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Last night I attended a cozy screening of "Dalai Lama Awakening", an extended director's cut of the earlier film "Dalai Lama Renaissance."  The film follows forty scholars and intellectuals who were invited to a 1999 meeting with the Dalai Lama to forge a strategy for solving the world's problems. Enormous task? Yes. And the enormous egos of a few of these folks clearly didn't help. The arc of the movie focuses on a few key individuals as they struggle with India's notoriously difficult … [Read more...]

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche speaks on Universal Responsibility at Harvard Divinity School

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Earlier this month, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche gave a one-day seminar on the topic of Universal Responsibility to students at Harvard Divinity School. From the video page: In this one night seminar given to students at Harvard University's School of Divinity, Kongtrul Rinpoche explains that not all learning is academic. In fact, the best kind of education shapes our hearts just as much as our minds. Self-reflecting upon experience and coming to see that all beings share the same internal life -- … [Read more...]

Encountering the 16th Karmapa and living Buddhism in the West today [UPDATED with contributors]

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Shang Shung Publications, an Italian publisher founded around the teachings of Chögyal Namkhai Norbu and of other greats from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, has a new book out called The Miraculous 16th Karmapa: Incredible Encounters with the Black Crown Buddha (Amazon/Shang Shung). I was kindly offered not only an advance copy of the book to read, but also an opportunity to send a couple questions to some of the contributors to this memorable volume. I picked four contributors, all rather … [Read more...]

Prof. Robert Thurman on Tibetan Buddhism & Michael Roach’s “cult” – Dateline NBC

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Last fall I found out that someone at NBC was trying to get in touch with me about the Geshe Michael Roach story (links to all of the background are below). It turns out that NBC NY producer Anna Schecter was piecing together a story for Dateline and had come across some of my writing here on Patheos. She and I spoke for some time. I told her about my background, how I was sort of a student of GMR in the early '00s and traveled with friends from the UK to Ireland when he and (then 'Lama') … [Read more...]

Tibetan Sky Burial (photos) UPDATED: Propaganda vs Scholarship

In 2012 I found and shared some images of a then-recent Tibetan Sky Burial (original post is here). Over the years I have received a fair amount of feedback on the post, mostly of the "wow" and "thank you for sharing" nature. However, one commenter, using the handle @Tibetans at twitter, has repeatedly asked that I remove the post. In his/her own words, a recent tweet reads: "@Buddhistethics Again please stop promoting Chinese propaganda against Tibetan in occupied #Tibet, be human. #Buddhism … [Read more...]

Tibetan Prayer Flags mark the “World’s Scariest Bridge”

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BBC News reported today from the "World's Scariest Bridge", otherwise known as the Titlis Cliff Walk in Switzerland. The suspension bridge, Europe's highest, has been open for over a year, but this is the first video I've seen with the newly added Tibetan Prayer flags. Perhaps they have a calming effect on some visitors who are not so interested in "a high-adrenaline kind of new adventure " as a spokeswoman described it. Have a look: Tibetan prayer flags are believed to date back to … [Read more...]


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