Tuesday, December 27, 2011

2011 Blog Statistics

As I'll be leaving for Japan tomorrow to celebrate New Year's, here are the statistics for the MWZ Blog for 2011. Blog posting in 2012 will resume on 1/4/12 with highlights and reviews of the top stories of 2011 plus, a preview of upcoming books to be published in 2012. Until then, everyone have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.


Bup Mee Sunim

2011 Blog Statistics:

Total Posts: 375
Average Posts/Month: 31.25
60% increase over 2010!

Total Visits: 25,468
81% increase over 2010!
Total Visits to Date: 31,362

Visits By Country:

USA - 20,060
Canada - 1,290
India - 718
UK - 638
South Korea - 154

Top Referring Sites:

1. Google - 3,954
2. MWZ - 1,065
3. Google India - 530
6. Facebook - 384

Top Search Terms:

1. Starving Buddha - 840
2. Gandhara (Art) - 253
3. Bodhidharma - 45

Top Posts:

1. Gandhara Art Exhibition in Seoul - 2,629

2. Bodhidharma Portrayal Wrong in Film - 269

3. Buddhism: The Most Accurate World Religion - 102

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Dharma

When we see each other again on Christmas Eve for the celebration of Holy Jesus' birth, let us do so in peace and with a good vibration and a happy mind. I think it would be wonderful. To attend the celebration with an angry disposition would be so sad. Come instead with a beautiful motivation and much love. Have no discrimination, but see everything as a golden flower, even your worst enemy. Then Christmas, which so often produces an agitated mind, will become so beautiful.

When you change your mental attitude, the external vision also changes. This is a true turning of the mind. There is no doubt about this. I am not special, but I have had experience of doing this, and it works. You people are so intelligent, so you can understand how the mind has this ability to change itself and its environment. There is no reason why this change cannot be for the better.

Some of you might think, "Oh, I want to have nothing to do with Jesus, nothing to do with the Bible." This is a very angry, emotional attitude to have towards Christianity. If you really understood, you would recognize that what Jesus taught was, "Love!" It is as simple and as profound as that. If you had true love within you, I am sure you would feel much more peaceful than you do now....

Continue reading from Christmas Dharma
by Lama Thubten Yeshe
in Silent Mind, Holy Mind

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dharma Talk - Impermanence and the Existential Crisis

Talk Given By: Hae Doh Sunim
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Duration - 18:28

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Listen to other previous Dharma Talks here.


Kim Jong-il, the leader of North Korea, has died at the age of 69 after suffering a heart attack, North Korean state media has announced.

Kim, known in the communist country as the "Dear Leader", died on Saturday aboard a train during a trip out of Pyongyang, a tearful presenter for the official KCNA news agency said on Monday.

May we all keep the people of the Korean Peninsula (North and South) in our hearts and thoughts as they face uncertainty in this time of change and hope that this transition does not bring any more suffering.

BBC Coverage here.

ABC Video here.

Wikipedia Entry on Death of Kim Jong-Il

CNN Coverage here.

USA Today Coverage

NYTimes Coverage here.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dharma Talk - Words and Language

Talk Given By: Bup Mee Sunim
Sunday, December 11, 2011
Duration - 16:11

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Listen to other previous Dharma Talks here.

Self-Immolation in Tibet

From PRI's The World (12/9):

A former Buddhist monk in Tibet has reportedly died from his burns after setting himself on fire earlier this month.

The announcement came Friday from a Tibetan rights group based in India.

The Chinese government hasn’t confirmed the news.

Activists say the man who died last week was the latest of at least 12 Tibetans who have set themselves on fire this year to protest China’s treatment of Tibet.

Anchor Marco Werman talks to Charlene Makley, a professor of anthropology specializing on Tibet at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Restored scroll painting exhibited at Yeongsanjae Buddhist Ceremony in LA

Korean monks of Kuyangsa Temple in Incheon, South Korea, performed a ceremony combining chants, dance, and music. Also included was an exhibition of a recently restored important Korean Buddhist painting, Buddha Seokamoni (Shakyamuni) Preaching to the Assembly on Vulture Peak.

Watch a fascinating video about the painting and its restoration, and read more about this weekend’s ceremony, below.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

According to Unesco, the ceremony is largely maintained today by the Korean Buddhist Taego Order. Unesco also reports that “Yeongsanjae is held in temples throughout the Republic of Korea to help all beings enter the world of truth by worshiping and admiring the Buddha and his laws and monks. The ceremony serves as an important space for transmission of values and art forms and for meditation, training and enlightenment.”

Source: Shambhala Sun News

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World - Free Audiobook

"Download His Holiness the Dalai Lama's new book (read by Martin Sheen) ABSOLUTELY FREE!! Limited time offer from Amazon/Audible. Even if you don't have the Audible player, you can download that for free too!" -Rev. Danny Fisher

Emmy Award-winning actor Martin Sheen (The West Wing) lends his distinguished voice to this stirring call to move beyond religion for the guidance to improve human life on individual, community, and global levels, including a guided meditation practice for cultivating key human values.
Ten years ago, in his best-selling Ethics for a New Millennium, His Holiness the Dalai Lama first proposed an approach to ethics based on universal rather than religious principles. Now, in Beyond Religion, the Dalai Lama, at his most compassionate and outspoken, elaborates and deepens his vision for the nonreligious way.
Transcending the mere "religion wars", he outlines a system of secular ethics that gives tolerant respect to religion, but, with the highest level of spiritual and intellectual authority, makes a claim for what the Dalai Lama calls a third way. This is a universal code of ethics that transcends religion boundaries, that recognizes our common humanity and advocates for a global human community based on understanding and mutual respect.
Beyond Religion is an essential statement from the Dalai Lama, a blueprint for all those who yearn for a life fulfilled and a better world.
Audible’s production of Beyond Religion is available free through December 20.

Download for free from Audible here.

Friday, December 9, 2011

“Religious Hate Crime” Suspect Arrested

“Religious Hate Crime” Suspect Arrested
Suspect states, “Buddha chases me in my dream”

The suspect that vandalized four temples near Haeundae (Busan city) was arrested near Haeundae Bansong region. Haeundae Police Department made a statement on November 26 that Mr. Lee (44 yrs) has been caught as a suspect of vandalism/religious hate crime in Haeundae. On 27th, he was charged for spraying paints and damaging Buddha statues and pagodas.

The Suspected stated that he committed the crime because “The Buddha was chasing him in his dream.
Police suspects that Mr. Lee suffers from severe psychological disturbance according to Mr. Lee’s past psychological assessment. Police mentioned, “Mr. Lee stated that Buddha appeared in his dream and stabbed him repeatedly. Thus he suffered from insomnia, and ended up committing such crime.” Mr. Lee received treatment for the past 1 month, and ‘S’ symbols sprayed on temples are from the shape drawn from a book he saw at the hospital.
The police will investigate further the possibility of deliberate religious hate crime and need to confirm specific facts.

Mr. Lee sprayed red paints on Buddha statues in Gaeun-sa Temple, and broke in to the main Buddha Hall in Jirim-sa Temple by breaking a large window glass. He also sprayed ‘s’ and ‘x’ mark on Buddha statues, Buddhist paintings, and Stupas in November. Approximate amount of damage done through his crime is ~$180,000 US.

From Korean

Muppet Meditation

Right click on the video to watch on Youtube to see the full size video.

Linked from The Worst Horse

Thursday, December 8, 2011

TIME'S Top 10 Underreported Stories of 2011: #1 - The Self-Immolation of Tibetan Monks

It usually takes a U.S. President tweaking Beijing by meeting with the Dalai Lama, or a celebrity-studded Richard Gere fundraiser, to get Tibet into the news these days. Even then, the attention is fleeting. Not so the despair of many Tibetans at their plight under Chinese rule, now in its seventh decade. TIME's Hannah Beech sneaked into Twu in eastern Tibet earlier this year to report one of the most gripping stories out of the region in years: At least eight Tibetan monks, two of them teenagers, have torched themselves this year to protest Chinese rule. Self-immolation is an old and horrifying form of protest that Americans first saw on television during the Vietnam War, and which touched off Tunisia's democratic uprising and the wider 'Arab Spring' earlier this year. Its emergence among Buddhist monks in Tibet illustrates what Beech called a "new, nihilistic desperation [that] has descended on the Tibetan plateau." Despite the efforts of the Chinese authorities to quickly dispose of the bodies in the hope of heading off further protest, Beech wrote, "Monks on fire grab headlines." Hopefully, more attention will be paid.


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Dharma Talk - The Speed of Change

Talk Given By: Bup Chon Sunim
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Duration - 15:55

Subscribe in iTunes!

Listen to other previous Dharma Talks here.

Nahan Jesus

From our friend Dale over at Dale's Korean Temple Adventures Blog:

Seonjisa Temple - 선지사 (Gimhae, Gyeongsangnam-do)

...the real reason Seonjisa Temple has earned such notoriety throughout Korea is for what resides inside the main hall. Uniquely, there are 500 statues of the Nahan seated and standing on the altar inside the hall. Some of the Nahan are Jangyugwansang, Wonhyo-daesa, Dharma-daesa, and Uisang-daesa. This temple is one of the few temples in all of Korea where they worship the 500 Nahan disciples that attained Nirvana (The only other one, at least that I know of, being Geojoam Hermitage in Daegu). What makes these statues so unique is that one of them is a statue of Jesus (Hyansang-jonja). According to the head-monk, Woncheon Sunim, Jesus is the 109th Nahan. This statue of Jesus is to the left of the four Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on the main altar...

Read Dale's whole review here and see all the pictures.

How to be a *good* Buddhist during Christmas

via John Pappas on Dec 19, 2010 for Elephant Journal:

There is a complex love/hate relationship with Buddhists during the Christmas season. On one hand many of us grew up in Christian families and attach many emotions and memories to the Holiday season (both positive and negative). On the other hand, some practitioners just want to fit in culturally during the holiday season so they either meld traditions or superficially celebrate.

Many, as children, waited anxiously to open presents under the tree or traveled to visit rarely seen relatives that lived a distance away. Some loved (and still do) the opportunity to find gifts for others that helped express their joy and thankfulness for those in their lives, sometimes but all too briefly. Others just see the time as a moment to celebrate and reflect or to celebrate and reflect the following morning.

Then, of course, there is the rampant consumerism, the thinly-veiled capitalism and blaring commercialism of the holidays. There is a deep and crusty strata of greed, envy and ignorance that builds a fairly strong wall against the usual Buddhist foci of metta (good will), karuna (compassion), mudita (joy for others) and upekkha (equanimity). The Buddha expressed the importance of these elements (the four immeasurables) in the Kalama Sutta....

Continue reading at Elephant Journal here.

Bodhi Day (Thursday, Dec. 8, 2011)

Bodhi Day is a Buddhist holiday that commemorates the day that the Buddha achieved enlightenment, translated as bodhi in Sanskrit or Pali. Bodhi Day is celebrated on the eighth day of the 12th lunar month. In 2011, Bodhi day is observed on Thursday, Dec. 8.

The Buddha was born as Siddhartha Gautama into a noble, privileged Hindu household. When he was close to 30 years old, he abandoned his material lifestyle and retreated to the forest seeking answers to the problem of suffering, specifically old age, sickness and death. According to tradition, he initially sought bodhi (enlightenment) through meditation, self-mortification and practicing other austerities.

After several years of intense practice, he realized that bodhi was to be found through meditation, but through a Middle Way, away from the extremes of self-mortification and self-indulgence. The story goes that he meditated in Bodh Gaya under a peepal tree (a species of Banyan fig), now famously known as the Bodhi tree, and resolved to continue meditating until he achieved bodhi (enlightenment). It is believed that after 49 days of continuous meditation, Gautama achieved bodhi (enlightenment) at the age of 35. Since then he was known as the Buddha ('enlightened one').

Bodhi Day is celebrated in many mainstream Mahayana traditions including Zen and in Pureland Buddhist schools in China, Japan and Korea. Buddhists commemorate this day by meditation, studying the Dharma, chanting sutras (Buddhist texts) and performing kind acts towards other beings. Some celebrate by a traditional meal of tea, cakes and readings.

84000 “Reading Room” presents words of the Buddha via interactive technology

“84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha,” the Tibetan canonical translation project headed up by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, has announced the 84000 Reading Room — a project of the organization, in collaboration with the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC).

As 84000 explains on its website, “Based on state of the art interactive web technologies, the Reading Room will present translations of the Words of the Buddha in a clear, beautiful, and easy to read format. Users who want to read offline can download the translation in PDF format, or share the translation with friends, colleagues or others. Whatever the format, the translation will maintain the beauty it has in the Reading Room, thereby preserving the intent and meaning of the translation.” The Reading Room will also feature Tibetan, Sanskrit, and English glossaries and a subject classification system for the convenience of readers.

You can find out more at

Buddhist temple destroyed in early-morning fire

- A raging fire destroyed a Buddhist temple in a Denver suburb on Monday, CNN affiliate KCNC reports.

One monk was injured in the blaze.

KCNC reported that firefighters tore down walls at the Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado in an effort to save statues of the Buddha and other religious artifacts.

“I’m glad that everybody was still alive and got out in time. That was my main concern this morning,” Temple secretary Fy Khanthathixay told KCNC. “I don’t care — the rest of it. We can rebuild later.”

The temple released a statement on their website saying, "The Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado exists on the generosity of the small Lao community, who will now have to rally together to show that a fire will not put a strain on the community's bond and likewise, will not impact their beliefs - if anything, their bond and beliefs will be stronger."

The fire is under investigation by local and national officials since the blaze took place at a religious institution KCNC reported.

Read the story from Denver Post.

Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 Bhikkhu Ordination

Taego order's Bhikkhu ordination that conducted by supreme patriarch of Taego order. Ven. Hae In (Virginia) and Ven. Myong Ahn (New Jersey) from overseas parish were participated 2011 Bhikkhu ordination

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Lady (2011) Trailer

The story of pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi and the academic and writer Michael Aris; a true story of love set against political turmoil.

Still Burning: Thirteenth Tibetan Self-Immolates in Eastern Tibet

Thirteen Tibetans since 2009, most of them monks or former monks, and most recently (Thursday, 1st December, 2011) a former Buddhist monk, have self-immolated as a form of protest against Chinese rule. Several have died as a result of injuries sustained by the flames, or by subsequent beatings by Chinese police trying to stop these protests.

A former monk from the Karma monastery has set himself on fire in Chamdho in eastern Tibet on Thursday, 1st December and his condition is unknown, reports coming out of Tibet say. Tenzin Phuntsok, who is in his 40s, set himself on fire in Chamdo. He was taken away by the Chinese police and his whereabouts is not known. He and his wife Dolma have two sons and a daughter.

12 Tibetans who self immolated earlier this year have called for religious freedom, Human Rights and the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet to his people.

Reports say that monks from Karma monastery in Chamdho were not allowed to leave the monastery at the time.

The Chinese government has enforced intense security restrictions in Chamdho since the widespread peaceful protests shook Tibet in 2008, a US-based human rights organization said.

In response, Tibetans and supporters around the world have created a series of events to increase awareness and pressure international governments to take action....

Read more from The Tibet Post.

Part 2: Buddhism and Modern Life in Bhutan

The guys in the band are in black, with shaggy hair, and attitudes. They do a sound check in their rehearsal room, and then let it rip.

Guitars shriek through a familiar opening, and then move into a hyper-paced riff on the Pachelbel Canon. This might not be the usual punk rock fare – but then, not all self-proclaimed punk rockers are polite, well-spoken Bhutanese college students.

“Most of our audience is not into hard music, like what we like to play,” says 19-year-old guitarist Ughyen Phuntso, a communications major. “So mostly, we end up playing in my garage.”

Or they play here, at the Youth Development Fund’s youth center in Thimpu, where rehearsal space and instruments are offered free, as an attempt to keep young people off the streets and out of trouble.

“We had noticed there were very few places where the youths could engage productively,” says Dorji Ohm, the center’s program director. “They’d go to the movies or to the bars. In fact, we did a survey and found 500 bars and one library, which was shocking.”

Perhaps it wouldn’t be so shocking in many places, but Bhutan is experiencing growing pains. It has long been a mostly rural, deeply Buddhist, largely isolated mountain kingdom. But in the dozen years since it decided to modernize, and opened up to television, internet and other outside influences, cities have grown and, some Bhutanese fear, mores have changed...

Read the full story from PRI

Do Plants Have Minds?

The guiding idea of this literature seems to be, first, that plants do in fact act, and they act in ways which, when animals act that way, we are disposed to think of as signs of intelligence. Some examples: plants orient and react appropriately not only in response to light, but also wind, water, predators, quality of soil and the volume of available soil, among many other factors.

Granted, by human and animal measures, plants are very slow. But surely it is prejudice to think that only movements and responsiveness that occurs on time scales that seem natural to us count as legitimately expressive of intelligence and mind.

Wittgenstein once remarked that it is only of what looks and acts like a human being that we say that it thinks, it sees, it wants. Wittgenstein was not advocating chauvinism; he was calling attention to the ways in which our conception of intelligence — of mind — is bound up with ways of acting, coping and responding. Indeed, we see this idea at work in discussions of plant intelligence. Scientists are assembling cases that bring out clearly the ways in which plants do look and act like human beings. You just need to look carefully....

Read the full article from NPR blog 13.7

Mumbai attacks survivors preach forgiveness

On the third anniversary of the start of the deadly attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that left 165 people dead, the BBC's Rajini Vaidyanathan reports on some of the survivors who are preaching forgiveness in a newly published book.

The Mumbai 25 - as they were known - were in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 as part of a meditation retreat.

Two members of the group were killed in the attacks, but the survivors hope that showing compassion will bring something good from a terrible tragedy.

It was a last-minute cancellation that led Linda Ragsdale to travel from the US to Mumbai in November 2008.

She was part of the meditation retreat with 24 others from the US, Canada and Australia - on a programme organised by the Virginia-based Synchronicity Foundation for modern spirituality....

Continue reading from the BBC

Forgiving The Unforgivable: The True Story of How Survivor s of the Mumbai Terrorist Attack Answered Hatred with Compassion [Amazon]

Fears for ancient Thai temples as floods recede

The ruined temples of Ayutthaya have survived centuries of tropical heat and rain, but experts fear some have been weakened by Thailand's devastating floods and may be at risk of collapse.

Unusually heavy monsoon rains caused a deluge that swept across much of central and northern Thailand from July, leaving more than 600 people dead and damaging millions of homes and livelihoods.

Ayutthaya, around 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Bangkok, was in one of the worst-hit parts of the country and dramatic aerial images last month showed its temples as islands in a vast lake of floodwater.

The structures spent weeks swamped by the murky waters and now fresh cracks have appeared in some of the pagodas that dominate the historic capital, a major tourist attraction and UNESCO World Heritage site.

As the waters retreat, visitors have been warned not to climb onto the structures in case they collapse.
Chaiyanand Busayarat, director of Ayutthaya Historical Park, estimated at least 650 million baht ($20 million) worth of damage had been done, but said the full consequences of the floods were not yet known....

Continue reading here.

Finding Balance: Buddhism And Modern Life In China

Wutaishan, in the mountains of China’s northern Shanxi province, has long been a sacred site for Buddhists. They hike mountain paths, and visit temples dating back to the 8th century.
On one mountain path, a group of middle-aged guys hang a rainbow of prayer flags between two trees, and watch, satisfied, as they flutter in the breeze.

One declines to be interviewed. He’s a government official, and wants to keep his practice of Buddhism private. The other, former pharmaceuticals salesman Zhang Jiankun, 42, is downright loquacious.

“I used to smoke, drink, gamble, fight and chase women. I used to like to do all this all day,” he says. “And then, by the time I was 30, I had money – but I also had hypertension, and liver damage from all the drinking. I’d take clients out, so I’d drink every day. And I was fat.”....

Continue reading from PRI

A Victim Treats His Mugger Right

A old story from 2008 that recently appeared on my Facebook news feed:

Julio Diaz has a daily routine. Every night, the 31-year-old social worker ends his hour-long subway commute to the Bronx one stop early, just so he can eat at his favorite diner.

But one night last month, as Diaz stepped off the No. 6 train and onto a nearly empty platform, his evening took an unexpected turn.

He was walking toward the stairs when a teenage boy approached and pulled out a knife.

"He wants my money, so I just gave him my wallet and told him, 'Here you go,'" Diaz says....

Read the whole story here.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Art as a Weapon

An upcoming documentary, ‘Art as a Weapon,’ will allow viewers access into the closed country of Burma, and illuminate the intersection of street art, Buddhism and democracy. The project, spearheaded by director Jeff Durkin, began when he witnessed Shepard Fairey painting a 30 ft. mural of a Buddhist monk in his hometown of San Diego. The mural intimately enmeshed three distinct notions: religion, human rights and art. From there, Durkin embarked on his journey to explore the overlap of these three staples of human existence, using Burma as a case study.

More info here at Kickstarter.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Crazy Wisdom - A film by Johanna Demetrakas

“Any perception can connect us to reality properly and fully. What we see doesn’t have to be pretty, particularly; we can appreciate anything that exists. There is some principle of magic in everything, some living quality. Something living, something real, is taking place in everything.”

The Website for Crazy Wisdom here.

New Translation of Lankavatara Sutra

The Lankavatara Sutra played an important role in the development of Zen Buddhism and, according to legend, Bodhidharma passed on his personal copy to his dharma heir, Hui-k'o. As I understand it, this sutra is important for teaching that consciousness is reality itself. Further, it provides a detailed analysis of consciousness, heady reading for an unconscious fellow like myself.

Red Pine is known for his translations of the Diamond, Heart and Platform Sutras. This new translation looks fully annotated with notes and references, making it especially valuable for those of us who might not grasp its teaching....

From the Lankavatara Sutra:

Mahamati, words are not ultimate truth, nor is what they express ultimate truth. And how so? Ultimate truth is what buddhas delight in. And what words lead to is ultimate truth. But words are not ultimate truth. Ultimate truth is what is attained by the personal realization of buddha knowledge.

Pre-Order at Amazon here.

Tibet's Next Incarnation

He has never been to Tibet, never breathed the thin air of the high plateau, nor spun a prayer wheel in the shadow of the great Buddhist monasteries. Yet on Aug. 8, 43-year-old Lobsang Sangay was sworn in as the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile. Born in a refugee camp in India and educated in the U.S., Sangay holds no passport or nationality, only a travel certificate. He expresses homesickness for a place that exists in the foreign mind as an otherworldly haven, and in the Tibetan one as an occupied homeland. "Like all of us in exile, I will never be completely at peace until I go to Tibet," he says when we meet in Dharamsala, a scruffy settlement in the Himalayan foothills of India where the Tibetan refugee community coalesced five decades ago. "The question is: How do we get there?"

Read more:,9171,2095608,00.html#ixzz1fEFrPauE

Monks Help Teens in Brooklyn Detention Center

View more videos at:

News 4 Government Affairs Reporter Melissa Russo takes us inside a Brooklyn juvenile detention center for this exclusive report on how monks are helping troubled teens.

Link here.

What Would Gandhi Occupy?

GANDHI has been all over New York lately. First he appeared at Occupy Wall Street as a patron saint of sorts, inspiring the protest’s nonviolent tactics. (The demonstrators even named a lane for him.) Then he emerged at the Metropolitan Opera as the star of Philip Glass’s opera “Satyagraha.”

But with the Zuccotti Park encampment removed, and the opera closing on Dec. 1, is that it for Gandhi in New York? Or is it worth asking, what would Gandhi do in the world today?

First, Gandhi would reject the division between the 99 percent and the 1 percent. Gandhi did not believe in enemies: he worked on the premise that solutions emerged only from cooperation. This truth is often lost in discussions of his political tactics of noncooperation and civil disobedience. Noncooperation is best understood as an invitation to cooperate. “We are the 100 percent” may not make for a dramatic slogan, but from Gandhi’s perspective, it is the only way to achieve true and lasting change in society....

Continue reading at NYTimes here.

Also read, Occupy Buddha: Reflections on Occupy Wall Street

Monday, November 28, 2011

Dharma Talk - Mind Filled With Dukkha

Talk Given By: Bup Chon Sunim
Sunday, November 20, 2011 (Evening)
Duration - 16:31

Subscribe in iTunes!

Thai Monks Struggle to Keep a Flooded Temple Open

At the Glass Lotus Temple in northeast Bangkok, the Buddhist monks know how the flood inundating their country affects everything in daily life—even death.

Central Bangkok is mostly dry, but in some pockets of the city, floodwaters are still making life difficult for locals, including monks at the Glass Lotus Temple. WSJ's James Hookway reports.

The waters have disrupted all sorts of ceremonies at the temple. The monks' main hall is under water, so they meditate or perform ritual chants in small groups elsewhere instead. Many potential novices—all Thai Buddhist men are ordained at some point in their lives - have postponed their initiation service, leaving a skeleton crew running the temple while they help out their families. Eight monks have left the temple to seek drier accommodations.

Worst of all, perhaps, is the impact on their day-to-day handling of the dead. Persistent floodwaters makes cremating the bodies - the local custom - almost impossible....

Continue reading on Buddhist Channel.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Continued Vandalism in Buddhist Temples

Four temples near Haeundae (Busan city) have been vandalized in the early morning of November 21st, enraging many Buddhist communities throughout Korea.

Vandalism was reportedly to have taken place on the 21st, between 12am and 4 am. The suspected culprit is assumed to have entered Busan Gaeun-sa Temple and Jirim-sa Temple and sprayed red paint on important Buddha and Bodhisattva statues enshrined within the temple.

The vandal sprayed red paints on Buddha statues in Gaeun-sa Temple, and broke in to the main Buddha Hall in Jirim-sa Temple by breaking a large window glass. The culprit sprayed ‘s’ and ‘x’ mark on Buddha statues, Buddhist paintings, and Stupas. Moreover, they even sprayed on Moktak (Wooden Fish) and Buddhist Scriptures before they fled.

The Abbot of Jirim-sa Temple, who first discovered the problem when he entered the main Buddha hall for the Morning Prayer, stated that the culprit must have entered the temple after he fell asleep after midnight.
The Haeundae police investigating the case stated that the similar case which took place on November 16 and 17 matches the crime of Jeokjo-am Temple and Wono-sa Temple, thus it is most likely that the temples were vandalized by the same person.

Haeundae Police Department stated, “The culprit is deliberately trying to undermine Buddha statues, and the crime have been planned intentionally,” and added “scientific investigation and CCTV analysis will narrow down the investigation. To prevent further damage to the nearby temples, more guards will safeguard the temples.” However, vandalism taken place on the later date occurred despite the strengthened police patrols, therefore concern for safety is growing among Korean Buddhist community.

On November 22nd, Ven. Mokjong (Chairman of Buddhist Monastery, Haeundae Police department), Ven. Boun (Director, Department of Regulation in Beomeo-sa Temple), and Ven. Gwangjin (President, Haeundae Temple Alliance) met with the Chief of Police, Mr. Jeongjingyu (Haeundae Police Station) to state their position, “We hope that the police department will come up with definite crime prevention measures to avoid such indiscriminating vandalism in the future.”

From Korean

Why Is American Buddhism So White?

Our panel looks at the problem of “whiteness’ in American Buddhism and what can be done—and in some cases is being done—to make it more diverse.

Introduction by Charles Johnson

I would wager that every Buddhist enjoys the story about Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch of Zen, who presented himself as a poor “commoner from Hsin-chou of Kwangtung” to the abbot of Tung-shan monastery in the Huang-mei district of Ch’i-chou in hopes of study, and was rebuked by the abbot with these words: “You are a native of Kwangtung, a barbarian? How can you expect to be a buddha?” Hui-neng replied, “Although there are northern men and southern men, north and south make no difference to their buddhanature. A barbarian is different from Your Holiness physically, but there is no difference in our buddhanature.”...

Continue reading at The Buddha

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What to give your favorite Buddhist blog editor this holiday season? The ASUS Zenbook!

For that special Buddhist monk in your life, no better gift than the ASUS Zenbook!

Social Networking Encourages Generosity

Researchers at Harvard University have created a computer game that mimics online social networks. Using a standard measure of generosity, they found that selfish behavior quickly spreads throughout a group and that, if given a choice, generous people will choose to dissociate themselves with the mean ones. The more often selfish individuals were shunned from the social group by generous ones, the more likely they were to change their behavior and be more giving.

What's the Big Idea?

Social research demonstrates that humans initiate relationships by being generous until the other person shows a mean streak. Then both individuals begin to hoard their resources. This is called the tit-for-tat phenomenon, known all too well to anyone who has cohabitated. But unlike tit-for-tat, social retaliation can influence the behavior of selfish people who do not want to be excluded from a larger network of friends and associates and who are willing to share a little more to have more friends....

Read more here at The Economist.

HBO has been 'Enlightened'

From the Huffington Post:

Laura Dern is one of the most respected and versatile film actresses in America. Her roles have included portrayals of "the every woman" to "the woman on the very edge." In her new character, Dern portrays an every woman named Amy who, very publicly, swerves all the way off the edge.

“Enlightened,” the tragically and comically misnamed series on HBO, is the story of Amy’s long and bumpy road toward self-realization and spiritual awareness –- and her determination to drag everyone up with her.

I first became aware of the series by seeing what is becoming an iconic poster for Enlightened that juxtaposes Dern’s face -- mascara streaked and contorted with rage -- with the show’s title promising the ultimate spiritual goal. The tension inherent between pain and salvation struck me as deeply funny, tragic and true, which are good ways to describe the series that Dern envisioned and in which she now stars.

I spoke to Laura Dern over the phone about Amy’s determined desire for enlightenment (especially for everyone around her), the danger of dogma and the importance of holy anger.....

Read the full interview here.

Dalai Lama questions wisdom of self-immolations (VIDEO)

The Dalai Lama speaks exclusively to the BBC about his worries for Tibetan monks and nuns

The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says he is very worried about the growing number of monks and nuns setting themselves on fire to protest against Chinese rule in Tibet.

He told the BBC he was not encouraging such actions - saying there was no doubt they required courage, but questioning how effective they were.

There have been 11 cases of self-immolation so far this year.

Most have resulted in death - the latest a 35-year-old nun two weeks ago.

"The question is how much effect" the self-immolations have, the Dalai Lama said.

"That's the question. There is courage - very strong courage. But how much effect?

"Courage alone is no substitute. You must utilise your wisdom.".....

Watch the video interview and piece here at BBC.

The No New Gifts Holiday Challenge

Post written by Leo Babauta for ZenHabits

Are you ready to participate in the mad shopping frenzy that we partake in every year, not only on Black Friday but all holiday season long?

Are you ready for an incredible burst of spending, for racking up credit card debt, for the stress of buying things for everyone on your list?

Are you ready to consume an insane amount of resources, to have a huge impact on the environment, to work long hours to pay for all that?

Yep, it’s the holiday season again, and with it comes the worst season for consumerism ever.

I say, let’s opt out.

My family and I are issuing a challenge to all my wonderful readers, to the world: The No New Gifts Holiday Challenge....

Continue reading here and find out some strategies on how to participate in the NO GIFTS CHALLENGE.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Report tracks explosion of religious lobbying in Washington

Lobbying and advocacy by religious groups in Washington have exploded in recent decades, increasing fivefold since 1970 to become a nearly $400 million industry, a new Pew report finds.

More than 200 groups are doing faith-related lobbying and advocacy in the nation’s capital, compared to fewer than 40 in 1970, according to the report. Put together, the groups employ at least 1,000 people.

The report, released Monday by the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion and Public Life, found that religious groups spend $390 million a year to influence U.S. domestic and foreign policy.

...many smaller U.S. religious groups, including Baha’is, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs, also have established advocacy organizations in the Washington area,” the report said.

From CNN Belief Blog.

Buddhism and the Internet, Friends or Foes?

The Internet is a many-headed beast. A many-headed beast that sometimes seems like it's eating everything, my free time being the first item on the menu. Websites like YouTube, StumbleUpon, Facebook and Twitter are so addictive—and some of the time, so mindless—that they can suck even the most seasoned Buddhist practitioner into a vortex of websites, blogs, and profiles, where the most profound of insights lose out to...are those pictures of baby animals?

But the many-headed beast isn't many-headed for no reason. Since Buddhism and the Internet combined almost two decades ago, overall their relationship has proved to be one of harmony, allowing for easier access to the dharma and a widening community of Buddhist practitioners and teachers who can interact from thousands of miles away....

Read the full article from Tricycle here.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holy Monk Kung Fu Firefighters

It would seem that Shaolin monks wear many holy hats in their quest for physical, psychological and spiritual harmony.

Shaolin monks are renowned throughout the world for their kung fu skills. They have also been highly regarded in popular culture via television and other media, which have helped to keep their age-old traditions alive and very much kicking.

Recently, they have been put to a new sort of test, involving challenges with other Buddhist sects from Hangzhou and Zhejiang provinces in eastern China for the role of best firefighters.

Garbed in their traditional orange robes, which ironically match the color of the flames they are in haste to extinguish, the monks were very serious about achieving the honor of being the fastest at putting out the blaze.

These tests of speed were meant as an unveiled challenge to the slow, unreliable governmental response to fires. The monks are determined to protect the sacred Buddhist temples lit by thousands of candles.

“By the time they get there, it would be too late, so we have to take the Buddha’s will into our own hands,” said one firefighter.

Since their regimen demands that they keep physically fit, and these holy warriors perform brutal daily training to develop strength and resilience, they easily conquer the fires.

Shaolin monks are dedicated and powerful in their resolve to keep their rituals and beliefs alive and “burning” in the hearts of all those who embrace them.

Source: Weird Asia News

Your Brain Is Severely Delusional

LET there be no mistake: nothing that you remember, think or feel is as it seems. Your memories are mere figments of your imagination and your decisions are swayed by irrational biases. Your emotions reflect the feelings of those around you as much as your own circumstances.

In What Makes Your Brain Happy, author David DiSalvo takes us on a tour of all the mind's delusions. In fact, nothing we remember, feel or think is as it seems. "Your memories are mere figments of your imagination and your decisions are swayed by irrational biases. Your emotions reflect the feelings of those around you as much as your own circumstances." But DiSalvo's discussion of happy brains has nothing to do with joy and well being. Instead, he discusses what are the brain's natural tendencies.

While we have historically thought of our brain as the rational organ, opposed to the heart's emotional pull, today we understand that our gray matter is not automatically suited to a thoughtful dissection of the facts. Instead, it tends to choose the path of least resistance. "When explaining confirmation bias, for instance, DiSalvo cites brain scans showing that we treat conflicting information as if it is a physical threat. As a result, we choose the 'happier' option of ignoring details that don't fit our views."

What Makes Your Brain Happy and Why You Should Do the Opposite @ Amazon.

Famed Buddhist temple shows no love to yakuza group

A prestigious Buddhist temple has informed Japan's largest yakuza crime syndicate, the Yamaguchi-gumi, that it will no longer accept visits by its members, a temple official said Saturday.

Enryakuji temple in western Shiga prefecture -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a 1,200-year history -- houses Buddhist tablets carrying names of the dead, including those of late yakuza bosses, the official said.

"The temple has accepted pilgrimages from direct family members as long as it is a small group," said the unnamed official.

"But we have seen visits by people who are obviously not family members. We concluded that it would not be preferable if their group's visits became a regular practice."

In April 2006, Enryakuji held a major memorial service for the late bosses.

A total of 90 gang members from across the country reportedly gathered, sparking calls from police to cancel such events, which funnel funds to the group.

The temple had continued accepting visits by small groups of family members but came to the latest decision, backed by the increasing trend in Japanese society to reject the influence of the yakuza, the official said...

Continue reading at Asahi Shimbun

Buddhism plays role in China's battle against AIDS

"Chen Fen," a 43-year-old woman who has been fighting HIV for 16 years, projects an image of energy and vitality, despite being weakened by her affliction. The source of her strength isn't a new pill or medication, but an ancient religious belief.

"I simply practice what the Buddhist monks suggest: to keep a peaceful mentality and never make futile efforts to worry about the future," she says.

Chen lives in the Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan province. The province registered 83,925 HIV carriers and AIDS patients as of the end of last year, the most of any Chinese province or region.

In Xishuangbanna, more than 300,000 residents, most of whom belong to the Dai and Blang ethnic groups, believe in Theravada, a prevalent school of Buddhism. The prefecture has a total of 1,784 HIV/AIDS patients, and the number is expected to rise in coming years.

Chen and other HIV/AIDS patients in the region have benefited from a local program in which Buddhist monks have been mobilized to provide care for patients and promote knowledge of the disease in order to curb new infections.

The "Home of Buddha Glory" program was launched in 2003 with funding from the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund and the assistance of the prefecture's Buddhist association.

Through the program, hundreds of HIV/AIDS patients, including both Buddhist believers and non-believers, regularly gather to listen to the preaching of monks and chat with each other at Zongfo Monastery, located in Xishuangbanna....

Read more at Want China Times.

Buddhist organizations thrive during the debt crisis

Here we are stuck in an economic downturn, with the threat of a financial tsunami gathering momentum in the eurozone and with pundits telling us it can only get worse. You might expect people to be careful about their budget priorities – and that nonessential expenditure like spiritual teachings would be put on hold.

Evidence suggests, however, that the opposite is true – especially if you happen to be Buddhist. It seems that in this period of acute financial stress, Buddhists are still willing to part with their pounds, dollars, roubles and rupees in order to sustain their meditation practice. Because meditation calms the mind and generates insight, this is a predictable response – but what does come as a surprise is the amounts of money involved.

Take the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, for example. A young, high-profile Tibetan Buddhist lama with a romantic history of escape from Tibet after dodging Chinese security. Confined for several years under conditions resembling house arrest in India, he eventually managed to visit the United States for the first time in 2008. About 2,000 people gathered at a monastery in Woodstock to catch a glimpse of him. They paid $200 each. Roughly $400,000 (£250,000) hit the coffers and after expenses, the monastery had enough left over to embark on an extensive building project....

Read more at The Guardian.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Dharma Talk - An Empty Journal

Talk Given By: Dae Yong (Candace Palopoli) - IBS USA/MWZ Dharma Student
Sunday, November 13, 2011 (Evening)
Duration - 16:29

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Would the Buddha Buy? : 2011 Holiday Shopping Guide

From The Jizo Chronicles:

There are all kinds of ways to deal with the upcoming holiday shopping season. One is to buy nothing on the day known as “Black Friday,” an action pioneered by Adbusters. Gary Gach gives a dharma perspective on “What Would Buddha Buy?” (the answer: not too much, not too little).

Another approach is to take part in the cycle of giving and receiving, but to do it in a way that may be of benefit to others. Generosity is, after all, one of the basic Buddhist virtues. (Find descriptions of each link at Jizo Chronicles)

• Adopt a Monk or Nun from Burma’s Saffron Revolution

• Sponsor a Tibetan Nun

• The Fifth Annual Shambhala Sun Auction

• Seva Foundation’s Gifts of Service

• Changing the Present

• Equal Exchange

If living beings knew the fruit and final reward of generosity and the distribution of gifts, as I know them, then they would not eat their food without giving to others and sharing with others, even if it were their last morsel and mouthful.
~ Avadana Jataka

Adbusters: What Would Buddha Buy?

Also, from the NYTimes last year, “The Gifts of Hope,” by Nicholas Kristof

Werner Herzog Goes 'Into The Abyss' of Capital Punishment

Werner Herzog’s new film, Into The Abyss, opens with a shot of the Reverend Fred Lopez, chaplain of the “death house,” in Huntsville, Texas, standing in front of a field of crosses in a cemetery. There are no names on the concrete crosses, just numbers, signifying those who have been executed by the state of Texas. Herzog interviews Lopez an hour before he’s set to preside over yet another execution. “Why does god allow capital punishment?” Herzog asks Lopez. “I don’t know the answer,” Lopez responds.

How did you get interested in this particular story?

I was always fascinated. In particular, of course, death row inmates differ from us in one aspect: We do not know when we will die and we do not know how we will die, but they know. And it’s very fascinating to talk to these people about life, about time, about the passage of time, dreams, or all sorts of things.

Read the full synopsis and interview from The Nation.

UPDATE: Premieres Friday, November 18 at the Maple Art Theatre!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Meditators arrested in Occupy Oakland protest

OAKLAND, CA - NOVEMBER 14: A protestor meditates as police move in to arrest him at the Occupy Oakland encampment on November 14, 2011, in Oakland, California. In the wake of violent confrontations with police, vandalism and the recent shooting near the encampment, Oakland mayor Jean Quan and city administrators issued eviction notices to protesters at the Occupy Oakland encampment.

Read more at Wildmind.

Bodhidharma portrayal wrong in film

Who is Bodhidharma? The question, popularised by the Telugu movie ‘7th Sense' is shrouded in mystery, and director A. R. Murugadoss has attempted to bring back the forgotten chapter into public gaze after a ‘thorough' background research.

But, the founder of Sailum Zen Monastery in Bangalore, Babu T. Raghu disputes the ‘historical' account on ‘Bodhidharma' in the movie and terms it as ‘completely erroneous'.

“The life and legend of the 28th Zen Patriarch Bodhidharma was distorted to suit the requirement of the movie script, and hence, the character of the monk suffered extensively. None of the ‘historical' aspects as shown in the movie are correct,” he argues....

Continue reading here at The Hindu

Friday, November 11, 2011

Difference and Harmony: An interview with Zenju Earthlyn Manuel

Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel's new book, Tell Me Something about Buddhism: Questions and Answers for the Curious Beginner, is a simple yet uncommon introduction to the Buddha's teachings. Manuel, an African-American Zen priest, takes a direct and personal approach to the dharma. "What does Buddhism have to do with black people?" she recalls her younger sister once asking her. In Tell Me Something about Buddhism, Manuel reflects on the ways in which being black has informed and enriched her understanding of Buddhism. "The practice is to make companions of difference and harmony, see them both as oneness itself," she writes. "We cannot take the teaching of harmony to serve the desire for sameness and comfort."...

Read the full interview at Tricycle.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Religion and Obesity

The nation's churches and synagogues have a weight problem.

The multiple health benefits of an active faith life tend to stop at four-course Shabbat meals and church supper tables groaning with fried meat, biscuits and gravy, new research shows.

In one study of some 5,500 women and men ages 45 to 84, participants were more likely to be obese the more religiously active they were. Each step of the way, from those never attending worship to those attending weekly, greater religious activity was associated with significantly higher rates of obesity....

Continue reading the full story at Huff Post: Religion

Study links regular religious service attendance, outlook on life

A new study shows that attending religious services regularly can mean a more optimistic, less depressed, and less cynical outlook on life.

In a follow-up to its 2008 report that found that attending services increases life expectancy, the Women's Health Initiative observational study based this report on a survey of 92,539 post-menopausal women over 50. The participants made up an ethnically, religiously, and socioeconomically diverse group.

According to the report, to be published this week in the Journal of Religion and Health, those who attend services frequently were 56% more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don't and were 27% less likely to be depressed. Those who attended weekly were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, compared with those who did not report any religious service attendance....

Continue reading here at CNN Belief Blog

Senior exiled Tibetan urges end to immolations

(Reuters) - One of Tibet's most senior exiled Buddhist leaders, the Karmapa Lama, appealed on Wednesday for Tibetans in China not to set themselves on fire, saying he hoped they found more constructive ways to advance their cause.

The Karmapa Lama fled Tibet in 2000 and lives in exile along with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala in northern India, the centre of the self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile.

The Karmapa Lama said the 11 Tibetans who have set themselves alight so far this year in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan were "brave," acting in desperation "against the injustice and repression under which they live."

"The situation is unbearably difficult, but in difficult situations we need greater courage and determination," he said in an emailed statement.

"Each report of self-immolation from Tibet has filled my heart with pain," the Karmapa Lama said....

Continue reading here.

Connecting Korea, Germany through art

Maya Stiller, a visiting German researcher on Korean art, praised the natural elegance and practicality of Korean design, saying it is gaining more interest in Germany, as interest in Koreanology heightens.

“Chinese art strives for perfection, while Japanese tends to be decorative. However, Korean art has a balance between practicality and refinement,” the researcher said.

Stiller said Koreanology is booming in Germany, but there are few people who can teach it. “Korean studies, which has some 50-year history in Germany, was very exotic. After the 2002 World Cup, the interest in Korea soared combined with K-pop and Korean soap operas. There is high demand for Korean studies in German universities, but for instance, only one professor teaches some 120 students at Freie Universitat Berlin,” she said....

Continue reading from Buddhist Art News

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Gwaneum-jeon: Hall of Avalokitesvara (Dale's Korean Temple Adventures)

From my friend Dale over at Dale's Korean Temple Adventures:

One of the most popular halls you’ll find at a Korean temple is the Hall of Avalokitesvara (or Gwaneum-jeon, in Korean). This hall is dedicated to Gwanseeum-bosal, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. So who is Gwanseeum-bosal, and why is she so important to Korean Buddhism, and where does she appear in Korean temples?...

Continue reading here.

Check out all of Dale's special entries on Temple Architecture and Artwork here.

From Bup Mee Sunim;

Dale has done an amazing job of profiling, reviewing, and artistically capturing the beauty of a diverse range of Korean Buddhist temples. His photography is done with great skill and gives us a window into the magnificence of the rich history and culture of Korean Buddhism. Dale also offers an abundant amount of information on the different aspects of Korean Buddhism and helps demystify a lot of the symbolism. I had the great pleasure to chat with Dale online about a week or so ago and I hope all of you visit his blog and find it to be as much of a captivating resource that I have. Definitely one of the top blogs under my radar and with his generous permission, you can find short excerpts of some of his postings here as well as links taking you directly to his blog to find his full write ups and explore all of his eye popping photos. Enjoy!