March 10, 2019

In 2009 I traveled to China to experience Chinese Buddhist monastic life and learn about the practice, philosophy, and history unique to Chan/Zen Buddhism. Back then, it was focused mostly on graduate students in Buddhism or Chinese culture/religion/history but it has since grown in size and scope to look a bit like the program that was then run separately at Fo Guang Shan monastery in southern Taiwan. My experience with the 2009 program was so positive that I applied for and participated in… Read more

February 27, 2019

Some time in the winter of 2017, Gary Gach reached out to a number of friends and colleagues about reviewing his -then in rough draft- forthcoming book. By mid-spring I replied that I would be very grateful to receive an advanced copy. And by June I was actually sitting down to read it over. As I told Gach by email early into my reading of the draft, “It’s direct, fluid, and wise; a beautiful mix of story-telling and dharma pushing.”… Read more

February 19, 2019

I am sometimes happily reminded that Buddhism in the West or the world isn’t just quiet private practices punctuated by occasional scandals. It’s worth being cognizant of the idea, propagated by evolutionary psychologists, that we need about five good interactions with something or someone for every bad one. The idea is that we are hard-wired to over-react to negative stimuli because that is what we’ve needed in order to survive. So just one bad interaction with a person after one… Read more

February 17, 2019

A thirty-five page letter was issued yesterday by six of the closest attendants of Mipham Mukpo (Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche) detailing their experiences of verbal, physical and sexual abuse in vivid detail. Recollections include female students being “pushed to rationalize [sex] as a generous offering to their revered teacher”, stories of Mukpo hitting his attendants and forcibly biting people, students crying in a circle in their underwear, a culture of fear, and this is just the first of the six stories…. Read more

February 13, 2019

Or “Looking for Love (advice) in all the Wrong Places”* I once had the occasion to oversee a study on the topic of “Buddhism and Love.” The question, pondered my student, was “what is the ideal Buddhist romantic relationship?” At hand we had: books written by and for contemporary Westerners about Buddhist practice tons of historical material and scholarly works, and actual Buddhists from various backgrounds to talk with about the subject. The contemporary books had plenty of relatively good, if not platitudinous,… Read more

February 11, 2019

In “Life in Red – A Journey from Sydney Suburbs to Nagpur Slums” Tibetan Buddhist nun (or Bhikkhuni in Pali), Ayya Yeshe speaks of her journey into Tibetan Buddhism, her disillusionment with what she describes as “internalized patriarchy, [not] just our bad karma [as nuns or females]”, and her move to India, where she found it easier than Australia to live as a monastic. In a beautifully filmed video, Yeshe offers us an insider’s view of what a woman might… Read more

February 8, 2019

An online petition asking for local Shambhala Buddhism centers to be split from the inner circle of followers of Osel Mukpo (a.k.a Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche) has been created. It is directed to the Shambhala Interim Board, Shambhala International, Osel Mukpo, Local Shambhala Centers, Local Leadership, and the Shambhala Press Team. They cite the recently released investigation into Mukpo, which affirms likely sexual misconduct, as a “third strike” on the leadership after numerous alleged abuses on the parts of Thomas Rich and… Read more

February 2, 2019

Can we “Marie Kondo” our Facebook feed? Last month, my wife and I sat down to watch some of the Netflix show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. We made it about 60% through an episode before giving up. The premise, based on the practice of KonMari, is great, but the reality show format became a bit much. My sister worked in reality TV for a number of years and gave me some insight into the way that they ‘skilfully’ manufacture outrage and… Read more

January 23, 2019

A person who claims to know the inner workings of the current Shambhala leadership, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and his advisory board or “Kalapa Council” has opened up an ongoing AMA (Ask Me Anything) on the reddit site devoted to discussion of Shambhala Buddhism, saying, in part, “I know his teachings as well or better than anyone currently involved with shambhala” and “I am definitely trying to help others get out of shambhala. That is my only intention here. I wish… Read more

January 17, 2019

Those who follow this space might have noticed a steady decline in posts in 2018. Part of this is due to very positive developments in my personal life (getting engaged and getting married), and a larger part has been due to the abundance of work I have taken on. In fact, I started the year with no stable job and little promising work on the horizon. But, as luck would have it, just two weeks after setting a fall wedding… Read more

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