The second season of “The Story of God”(airing January 16th on National Geographic) is about “chosen ones”. It purports to be about people who were chosen by God (for example: Moses), but that doesn’t make much sense in a Buddhist context. The first segment of the first episode of the season starts with a Buddhist family. Morgan Freeman goes to visit a family of Tibetan immigrants in Minnesota. The only child in this family is a nine year old boy… Read more

photo by Hartwig, Flickr cc Ikkyu is a big inspiration to me. He didn’t settle down. The Zen culture in the 1400s in Japan may have been different than the Zen culture here and now, but maybe in a lot of ways it was the same. He burned his Enlightenment certificate because he saw people in the temples who seemed fake, just going through the motions, just trying to get the most promotions and the best temple positions, instead of… Read more

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Bodhi, or awakening, is present in all of us. In a sense it could be said that we’re all Bodhisattvas, or Enlightenment beings, because we all have this awakening as our true nature. In the case of most of us our minds are obscured by delusion and ignorance, so we don’t see our true nature as Enlightened. When we start to penetrate this delusion and recognize our true nature, stages of actualization appear. Bodhicitta is where it starts. This is… Read more

The Lotus flower is a beautiful plant. It lives in the water. It often comes out of water that’s muddy and unclean. But with great beauty, it blooms. This is a common symbol in Buddhism. You can see it all over the place in Buddhist art. It’s really common for images of Bodhisattvas to be seen sitting on giant lotus flowers, and maybe holding small ones too. One of the most well known mantras “OM MANI PADME HUM” means “the… Read more

His holiness the 14th Dalai Lama is celebrating his 81st birthday in Dharamsala today. Formerly both the spiritual and temporal leader of the Tibetan people, he fled to India in 1959 to escape the Chinese occupation of Tibet. He is the leader of one specific school of Tibetan Buddhism, but since the exile he has done his best to represent all of the Tibetan people. He is an advocate for nonsectarian approaches to Buddhist practice. Since his exile he has… Read more

The First Noble Truth is that Life is Suffering. I think a lot of us convert Buddhists come to the path because we suffer. It’s not that Buddhism can be reduced to a simple self help program, it’s just that sometimes people that are having a hard time are drawn to it. Of course, we all have a hard time in life sometimes. But I think Buddhism has something special to offer in that regard. Part of the Buddha’s story… Read more

Zen is said to be a method for overcoming the five hindrances: Sensation desire, hatred, sloth, anxiety, and doubt. These are described as the mental factors that hinder our progress, not only in the spiritual path but in daily life as well. That’s really what we’re training to do when we engage in zen practice. Sensation desire refers to the type of wanting that tries to get our desires fulfilled through the five senses. Hatred refers to all kinds of… Read more

I tell two different stories about how I discovered Buddhism. One of them is that I started meditating to relieve anxiety and came to Buddhism just from learning more about meditation. The other is that I learned about Buddhism when I took a class in college and something about it inspired me to become a Buddhist. I’ll tell them both here. If I’m honest, I have to tell you that I don’t remember which one is true. As a kid… Read more

The Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama said he didn’t teach religion. Maybe he wasn’t trying to start a religion at all. He said he only taught suffering and the way out of suffering. You see, his childhood, as the story goes, was different from most. He was born in a very wealthy family. His father was told by a fortune teller that his son would either grow up to be a great king or a great spiritual teacher. His father wanted him… Read more

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