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...]

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...]

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 uses … [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 c … [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 r … [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...]


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