September 19, 2018

Last month I covered the revived discussion amongst Buddhists in North America about psychedelic drug use. One fascinating aspect of this work was seeing the various forms of reasoning used by those involved in the debate. In the study of ethics, forms of reasoning are important. If the Buddhists had focused heavily on the intentions of the psychedelic drug users, they might have had what we’d call deontological moral frameworks. If the Buddhists had focused on the character development of those... Read more

September 11, 2018

In the ongoing rounds of Buddhist #MeToo work, survivors and allies of abuse at the hands of Buddhist teachers have created a video and petition in hopes that the Dalai Lama will accept their invitation to meet during his visit to the Netherlands this week (September 14-17). The survivors of the abusive Tibetan teacher, Sogyal Lakar, and others hope that the Dalai Lama will continue his activities to promote secular ethics and women’s rights. As they say, however, the Dalai... Read more

September 10, 2018

Today I have some early thoughts on a topic that I hope I will return to, perhaps again and again, over the months and years to come. I live and work currently in Hong Kong, which some might mistakenly say is “part of China” or might also mistakenly say is “not part of China.” The confusing middle ground is best exemplified by the phrase, “one country, two systems.” But that just scratches the surface. The first system is, of course,... Read more

September 5, 2018

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’ll be starting (today) a semester-long position as a Visiting Lecturer at the Centre of Buddhist Studies at Hong Kong University. I will teach courses on two of my favorite topics: Buddhism in Contemporary Society and Buddhist Ethics. As it turns out, the readings on the two have a relatively large amount of overlap (largely because Peter Harvey’s great Introduction to Buddhist Ethics has great material for both). For the Buddhist ethics class I’ll also be... Read more

September 3, 2018

The recently reviewed book, Private Government: How Employers Rule Our Lives (and Why We Don’t Talk about It) by Elizabeth Anderson comes at a perfect time: Labor Day Weekend. The book’s title also points to a central problem in employment today: our lack of discussion of the terms of our work. Just as the rise of “Bullshit” jobs has given rise to resentment and envy, a lack of discourse around employment has given rise to dictatorship by employer. Through dozens of quick... Read more

September 1, 2018

As allegations continue to surface against Sakyong Mipham and the leadership of Shambhala International, it is worth looking a bit more into the structures of a Tibetan Buddhist organization where widespread physical and sexual abuse was recently exposed. Rigpa (Tibetan for “wisdom” or “knowledge”) is a large Tibetan Buddhist organization founded in 1979 by Sogyal Lakhar. It has grown to be one of the largest single organizations dedicated to Tibetan Buddhism in the world with groups and centers in 41 countries... Read more

August 27, 2018

As letters of condolence and kind words for Senator John McCain flood in from politicians across the U.S. political spectrum, H.H. the Dalai Lama likewise had a few words to offer to his wife, Cindy McCain. “I offer my condolences to you and all the members of your family at this sad time,” he wrote. “I had the pleasure of meeting your husband in 2008 in Aspen after long admiring his many years of dedicated service to the American people.... Read more

August 23, 2018

A new report detailing widespread sexual abuse, criminal sexual assault, and community complicity in Shambhala has been published today by Andrea Winn’s Buddhist Project Sunshine.* The report is 46 pages long and addresses a number of questions that have arisen since the second report. It also features new findings from Carol Merchasin, an independent investigator invited to look into allegations against Shambhala leadership and in particular Ösel Rangdröl Mukpo (aka Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche). Mukpo/Sakyong is the son of Chögyam Trungpa, the charismatic... Read more

August 22, 2018

Sixteen hours of travel and four hours of sleep left me particularly jet-lagged and head-achy as I arrived in Hong Kong on Monday. I am starting a semester-long position as a Visiting Instructor at the Centre of Buddhist Studies at Hong Kong University. I will be teaching courses on two of my favorite topics: Buddhism in Contemporary Society and Buddhist Ethics. As it turns out, the readings on the two have a relatively large amount of overlap (largely because Peter... Read more

August 15, 2018

With a steady stream of abuse allegations against senior leadership and well-known teachers, many Shambhala Buddhists are asking the obvious question: should I stay or should I go? Before the Project Sunshine report, published in February 2018, Shambhala International had maintained a relatively low-key profile in the American religious scene: a somewhat questionable but charismatic founder in the 1970s, mostly (?) standard Tibetan Buddhism teachings, plenty of drama but, perhaps, stability in its second generation… I have gotten to know... Read more

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