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

December 13, 2018

Only then can they put it to rest. A guest post by Ayya Yeshe Anger is so demonized in Buddhism. I have felt quite angry myself over the years because as a Western nun I was completely abandoned by the Tibetan hierarchy and the lay community. I also started to understand the power of channeling moral outrage into social justice. But I now also see that there is a time when we must negotiate. If the energy that builds up… Read more

December 12, 2018

Recently the term “feudalism” has crept into widespread discourse about Tibet. On this blog it can be found in a mention of the “feudal system” by the Dalai Lama (2017) in reference to recent exposure of leading teachers’ misconduct. The Guardian published an article by Sorrel Neuss on “What we don’t hear about Tibet” (2009) stating that “Sexual abuse in monasteries and oppressive feudalism in traditional Tibetan society has been factored out of the argument against China’s occupation, oversimplifying it. And Secular Buddhist pioneer Stephen… Read more

December 8, 2018

December 8 is the day that Japanese Zen schools celebrate Rohatsu, also known as the Buddha’s enlightenment day (Japanese: Jōdō-e, 成道会). Many Zen Buddhists mark this day often the week leading up to it with diligent practice, as James Ford (from Monkey Mind) did in 2013; and here’s his post-Rohatsu sesshin post from that year as well as his post from 2015 in which he recounts the awakening of the Buddha thus: So, Gautama decides if there is truth to be known, it must be found in… Read more

December 5, 2018

Note: this is the first in a planned series on the topic of “Progressive Buddhism.” That term is admittedly vague, despite a blog being devoted to the topic since 2007 and a facebook group since 2015 (both  administered by yours truly at present). I hope in the coming months to develop a set of principles and ideals to guide thinking around and discussion of Progressive Buddhism, and to point out “heroes,” or people who embody some of those principles and… Read more

November 27, 2018

Below is a rather extraordinary video featuring Dr. Sushma Jansari of the British Museum.* It is remarkable in part because it depicts the oldest datable depiction of the Buddha in human form, as the title indicates. And it is also remarkable because Dr. Jansari suggests that this is “one of the most important objects in the entire British Museum.” The item described is the “Bimaran casket,” a gold cylindrical object approximately 4 inches tall. It was found with coins that… Read more

November 15, 2018

Remember the internet of the late ’90s and early 2000s? Before Facebook, before Twitter? Back then I was in my late teens and early twenties; and I had developed a case of militant atheism. It wasn’t pretty. For the most part, my life looked normal. But once I stepped inside an internet chatroom: look out.  As a relatively newly converted atheist, I was ready to take on the power structures that had oppressed my people for centuries. It turns out, I… Read more

November 15, 2018

Recently I have been turned on to ideas of “Buddhist economics” through a class I am teaching on Buddhist ethics in Hong Kong. The idea of “Buddhist economics” is a relatively new one, like Buddhist ethics and, well, Buddhism. All arise in the modernist milieu of the mingling of Buddhadhamma and Western ideas and concepts. That’s not to say that Buddhist economics isn’t real or isn’t based in longstanding historical traditions. But it does mean that whatever it is, it will… Read more

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