Sunday, February 27, 2011

Dharma Talk - Addiction

Talk Given By: Hae Doh Sunim
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Duration - 22:45

Friday, February 25, 2011

Why monks wear robes

Why do monastics wear robes? The first and most obvious answer is clearly so that they are not indecently exposed. This may sound banal, but in the Sabbāsava Sutta (M 2), the Buddha gives this reflection as one of a monastic's methods for overcoming defilements for sake of liberation.

A monastic is to reflect on his robes thus:

“Wisely reflecting, he uses the robe: | only for the ward off heat, | for the sake of warding off cold, | for the sake of warding off the touch of mosquitoes, flies, the wind, the sun, and creeping creatures; | for the purpose of covering up the privies, out of moral shame.” (M 2)2

Read more from The Buddhist Channel

Monks in the movies

Whether saints or sinners, tough guys or buffoons, the men in saffron remain a staple of siamese cinema

Tonsured men in saffron robes are a force to be reckoned with—in temples, in life, and in the tricky terrain of Thai cinema.

Buddhist monks have long been cast as characters in local movies, initially as the spiritual force that vanquishes all evils, and later as something more colourful, amusing, disputable and sociologically fascinating. On the screen monks have supplied laughter, tattoos, exorcism, diversion, sermons, morals, manners, even menace, as Siamese filmmakers continue to offer their disparate views of this social figure so inseparable from the fabric of Thai life.

Read more from Buddhist Art News

China calls for renewed fight against Dalai Lama

A senior Chinese leader says Beijing should launch a fresh struggle against the influence of the Dalai Lama in Tibet.

The comments were made by Jia Qinglin, who sits on the standing committee of the Chinese Communist Party's powerful politburo.

He said China also needed to raise the living standards of Tibetan people.

The call comes nearly three years after riots and unrest in Tibetan areas which China blamed on the Dalai Lama.

Continue reading from the BBC

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Buddhist Teachers Behaving Badly

The latest dustup over John Tarrant’s Shambhala Sun obituary for Robert Aitkin Roshi provides us with yet another opportunity to examine the issue of bad sexual behavior on the part of some Buddhist teachers. Unfortunately, this kind of examination is always timely. In the past year we’ve seen scandals surrounding Eido Shimano Roshi and Dennis Gempo Merzel, but over the years scandals within the Buddhist community have become sadly familiar. We should take these scandals as opportunities to explore ever relevant questions concerning sex, power, and Enlightenment.

The Third Lay Buddhist Training Precept states “I undertake the training rule to abstain from sexual misconduct.” (Kāmesumicchācāra veramanī sikkhāpadam samādiyāmi). The precept emphasizes the prevention of harm to sexual partners and concerned third parties. The precept is vague, however, about what constitutes sexual misconduct. The precept is usually interpreted in the light of the prevailing customs and mores within each distinct Buddhist community.

Read the full article from The Existential Buddhist

Another 1080 Bows for Welfare of the People

Jogye Order Administration’s monastics and employees as well as other Buddhists offered another 1080 Bows at Nakdan Dam of the Nakdong River for the preservation of Korean culture and the welfare of the people on February 18. Over 300 began bowing around noon and finished around 4 p.m. with the Four Great Vows. This is the second time 1080 bows have been offered for the welfare of the people. The first time was on January 10 at Cheongyecheon Stream in Seoul.

The participants resolved to do their best to contribute to the preservation of the Korean culture, as well as self-introspection and reform. The Director of the Committee for the Preservation of Korean Culture, Ven. Jangjeok said, “In order to preserve Korean culture and reform, we Buddhists must change ourselves. It is an aspiration to go forth on the path of the Mahayana with society and the Korean people. The participants here resolve to walk together with the Korean people and uphold Korean Buddhism correctly with the wish to do better.”

This practice meeting was held to repent of the lack of participation by Korean Buddhism in society in the past and for the restoration of democracy for the happiness and safety of the Korean people. In addition, this meeting was held for the preservation of Korean culture and to pray for interreligious harmony. The participants resolve to personally preserve and uphold the Korean culture.

As the participants offered bows to the stone Buddha, it was a time of self-reflection on how they could not stop the environmental damage done by the Four Rivers Project of the government. It was a time to resolve that they will do their best to preserve Korean culture.

These practices are a part of the 100 days of practice for the welfare of the people and preservation of Korean culture. There will be another 1080 bows at the end of the 100 days, which will be March 23.

See more pictures here.

Tibetan Chants

The charge of money laundering against Karmapa Ugyen Trinley Dorje brings the politics of the Tibetan community in exile into the spotlight.

THE questioning of the Tibetan spiritual leader Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa Lama, by the Himachal Pradesh Police in the last week of January and the arrest of seven of his close aides on alleged money laundering charges have brought the politics of the Tibetan community in exile back into the media spotlight. It took the Indian authorities more than two weeks to absolve the Karmapa Lama finally from the more serious charges levelled against him. In the first week of February, there were reports in the Indian media that the Central government was contemplating the arrest of the Karmapa.

On February 11, the Himachal Pradesh government ruled out the possibility of arresting the Karmapa in connection with the seizure of foreign currency from his Gyuto monastery, located near Dharamsala, the headquarters of the Tibetan government in exile. But the Himachal Pradesh authorities have not withdrawn the case under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act against his aides.

Read the full story from Frontline here.

Education for Zen Students on Misconduct in Sanghas: Studying Personal, Interpersonal and Transpersonal Levels

By: Abbess Myoan Grace Schireson, Empty Nest Zendo

In studying the recent revelations of the Zen Studies Society (Rev. Eido Shimano) and Kanzeon Zen Center (and the apology of now disrobed Genpo Merzel), we see similar actions, sangha reactions and harm to students and communities. My view is that we cannot count on either the teacher or the sanghas where the misconduct has occurred to explain to us what has gone wrong with their Zen practice. Rather we need to study ourselves, our own sanghas and the way Zen transforms our awareness to look for explanations and more importantly, to find ways to prevent this harm where we practice. I have been studying three levels of interaction between Zen students and Zen sanghas and wanted to share my views.

Excerpt copied from Sweeping Zen. Read the rest of the story here.

Raising Children Buddhist

My little girl is nearly 4 years old now and her communication skills are much stronger now than they were six months ago, and she is more aware of the world around her. This includes the subject of religion.

For her, the temple is called “Namu Namu“, which I mentioned back in a much older post. It’s actually from the phrase “Namu Amida Butsu” where “Namu” is means “praise to” and derives from Sanskrit originally. But I digress, for her the temple is Namu Namu, and she goes there and sees a bunch of adults chanting, bells struck, and sometimes talking long-winded speeches. It’s funny because she likes to imitate this at home now, where she makes up her own “service” and I am required to sit and participate while she bangs on the bell a lot and pretends to chant long, incoherent syllables. Lots of fun to watch.

This also includes Sunday School, which is something unique mostly to the Buddhist Churches of America. While I personally have given up on the Jodo Shinshu Buddhism in particular a while ago,1 my wife is a devout follower, and I do like the temple community and am still happy to go, so it’s our usual Sunday routine. Having a sense of structure and routine is very helpful with kids and makes them feel more secure, less agitated. I have to say overall, she is a bright little girl and well-behaved, so something’s working right.

Read more at Japan Life and Religion and at In Culture Parent.

Also... check out a photo gallery of Korean Children monks here. Cuter than 1 million puppies and kitties.

Hope for "genuine" democracy

In a program aired on Feb. 11, Aung San Suu Kyi discusses forgiveness, the importance of being concerned more for others than for oneself, and the benefits of meditation.

Read the interview from Radio Free Asia.

The Buddhist Way of Being Present to Suffering

From Bernie Glassman:

Doing service for others as a spiritual practice is a way to be in the world without separation. In the Buddhist tradition, we call this recognizing that everything is an expression of emptiness. The Heart Sutra says:

Form is no other than emptiness, Emptiness no other than form; Form is precisely emptiness, Emptiness precisely form.
Sensation, perception, reaction and consciousness
Are also like this.
All things are expressions of emptiness.

Form is the world of phenomena: spiritual teachings, individuals and ideas. Emptiness is the oneness of life, which means life as it is, without any distinctions. We get confused when we see others as separate from us, when we take form alone for reality. However, to see that "all things are expressions of emptiness" means to recognize that each one of us is totally affected by every other person. We are mutually interdependent. The part is the whole and the whole is the part. If we see that we are all interconnected, we can break down the barrier between Self and Other and experience that we are all One.

Continue reading from the Huffington Post

Buddhist Group Claims Discrimination Behind Zoning Problems


A Johnson County Buddhist church has outgrown it's building, and they have a new place to worship picked out. But so far they have been denied the right to use it, and a metro Buddhist leader says that zoning isn't the reason why they can't move in.

The Lao-Buddhist Association is trying to move it's Olathe temple to a location along 119th Street in Olathe. But the Johnson County Board of Commissioners has so far denied the group a conditional use permit. Neighbors say that the area the Buddhists have chosen is zoned residential, but Lama Chuck Stanford of the Rime Buddhist Center says that discrimination is the real reason behind the opposition.

"This is clearly just ugliness of ethnic and religious prejudice," said Stanford.

Continue reading here.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Haein-Sa Dharma Drumming

Monk brings global view to Buddhism

After 18 years as head of Zen monastery in U.S., Issho Fujita now provides help around world

At some point or another, a child nibbles at the world of questions: "Why are we here, where did we come from, how did the world start?"

Zen monk Issho Fujita poses in front of his home in Hayama, Kanagawa Prefecture. KRIS KOSAKA
Most children swallow down partial answers and move on to soccer balls or Barbie dolls, but for Issho Fujita, 56, a Soto Zen monk, these questions have shaped his entire life.

"At the age of 10, I had an unexpected spiritual experience. It is not easy to describe, since I had no vocabulary at the time to explain such an experience, but I was struck by a big question mark, about everything, the universe and myself, too. Many people do not stick with these questions for a long time, but these feelings guided me."

Read the full article from The Japan Times

Is Science the Answer for Global Peace?


Read the article from Seed

Friday, February 18, 2011

The dharma search engine

What does Google real time search engine have in common with Buddhism? For computer security system designer Prinya Hom-anek, there is one important feature: both put stress on the "present moment".

"Google should perhaps pay Buddha a copyright fee", chuckled Prinya Hom-anek, founder of ACIS Professional Centre, Thailand's first information security consulting firm. In fact, the 42-year-old adds, the more he learns and practices dharma, the more he perceives that the development of technology, even one at the very top of the line, still lags far behind the profound teachings of Buddha.

Read the rest of the interview from The Bangkok Post

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Does religion make people happier?

Some researchers are so confident that religion makes people happier, and healthier, that they want it to be prescribed by doctors (1). In an earlier post, I debunked the health claim: the seeming benefits of religion can be attributed to social support, health behavior, and other secular factors. Now I want to question the claim that religion makes people happier.

One of the best-known findings is that religion protects people against depression. According to a 2003 meta analysis (2) that combined the results of 147 different studies, religiosity explains less than 1% of the differences in vulnerability to depression. If religion has such small correlations with depression, it may not be a huge factor in happiness either.

Continue reading here.

The Tripitaka Koreana was a “fake.”

Scholar Oh Yun-hee made waves when he claimed in his recently published book that the Tripitaka Koreana was a “fake.”

But the former director of the Tripitaka Koreana Research Institute says he has good reason for making such a controversial remark.

Oh has been researching the Korean version of the Buddhist scriptures for the past 20 years and believes that Korean pride in housing the oldest extant version of the text prevents people from seeing its value.

Known as “Palman Daejanggyeong,” the Tripitaka Koreana was carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392) and was modeled after the original Chinese version of the text that was created during the Song Dynasty in 983. It is the only complete edition of the Buddhist canon extant on the Asian mainland.

An improved edition of the Tripitaka Koreana was crafted in 1094, but both Korean versions were destroyed during a Mongolian invasion in 1232.

The current version of the text that is housed at Haein Temple in South Gyeongsang is actually the second edition from Korea and the third edition in the world if the edition from China is counted.

Many Koreans, however, incorrectly believe that the text originated in Korea.

In his recently published book, “Tripitaka Koreana: A Vessel Embracing the Wisdom of a Thousand Years,” Oh attempts to correct this perception while also providing new insight into the ancient text.

Read more here.

Tibetan Buddhist monk visits Korea for first time before three-year retreat

Dubbed the “world’s happiest man,” best-selling author and master Buddhist teacher Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche was in Korea for the first time last weekend, offering his take on how to be happy.

The Tibetan monk participated in a groundbreaking study of brain activity in 2002, where scientists found that advanced meditation increases mental happiness.

What is happiness to him?

“My idea of happiness is an experience of calm, peace and joy which is non-dependent on outside circumstances,” Rinpoche told The Korea Herald over a vegetarian lunch in Insa-dong, Seoul.

For 35-year-old Rinpoche ― who is to go on a three-year retreat in May ― solitary reflection develops inner happiness, unaffected by the stresses, temptations and complications of modern life.

Read the rest here.

Rapper, Musician, and Buddhist: Born I Music

Excellent interview, highly recommended.

Washington DC-based rapper and musician Born I Music (aka Born Infinite) is notable not just for his talent but for the way he smartly mixed rap and spirituality during his tenure in the rap duo known as Shambhala.
Now Born has gone solo and is trying new things musically — but his study and practice of Buddhist meditation still informs his work, both in his songs and in his life outside the studio and stage.
Born talked to me about it all, and his new album, Tomorrow is Today, in this new Shambhala Sun Audio clip.

Click through here to listen.

The accidental Grammy nomination

I know the Grammy Awards are already past and links aren't always posted in a timely fashion but still an interesting read...

WORLD music brings together the most unlikely combinations of talent.

Four Buddhist monks from Tibet were performing on the north coast of NSW when they were approached by a German musician and producer who owns a studio near Mullumbimby. The monks and the producer record some ancient chants for sale at their concerts and the producer decides to send a copy to a company in New Mexico he has recorded for, New Earth Records.

New Earth decides one of its releases, a collection of Christian and Buddhist prayers featuring Tina Turner, might stand a chance of winning a Grammy....

Read the rest here

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dharma Talk - Ignorance

Talk Given By: Rev. Hye Kyong Bup Sanim
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Duration - 12:48

Subscribe via iTunes!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sharon Salzberg on Meditation

Watch the full episode. See more Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

On Getting Rid of Possessions and Taking Stock

“HOW ABOUT $2600?”

“It’s all yours, man,” I say without hesitation.

As we walk inside, I am surprised by how easy the last words came out of my mouth. I feared I would not be able to pull the trigger when the time came. We sit down to sign the paperwork. I want to make sure I am giving away a piece of my life to a decent guy, so I make small talk with him. He tells me that between two jobs, school, and the impending rainy season, having a car will make life easier. His answer satisfies me and, without him asking, I let him know that I am selling the car because I will be traveling soon.

The mention of travel gets his attention. “Actually, I’m getting rid of almost everything I own before I leave. Do you need anything else?” I sound like a salesman, I think to myself.

Travel is not the only reason I’ve decided to get rid of my things. I have other reasons: freedoms from the space, time, money, and energy these possessions occupy in my life. I want to limit myself of the comforts and easy solutions that they offer, forcing myself to be resourceful with what’s in front of me, finding comfort from within, not externally. Lastly, by trimming down, I hope to see what is truly necessary in my life.

Continue reading on Matador Network

From stressed-out cop to Buddhist teacher

For Cheri Maples, enlightenment began in a chiropractor's office. It was 1991, and the Madison, Wisconsin, policewoman needed treatment for a back injury- - she'd been hoisting a stolen moped out of a car trunk; in the waiting room, Maples flipped through a copy of Being Peace, by the Buddhist monk and activist Thich Nhat Hanh.

"It was so simple, so no-nonsense," she recalls. "He described what mindfulness and meditation actually look like in day-to-day life. It gave me the desire to know more."

Seventeen years later, Maples had traded her crisp police blues for earth-toned robes when Nhat Hanh ordained her as a Buddhist dharma teacher.

Read the full story here about the cop who became a Buddhist teacher.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Groupon Superbowl ad trivializes the suffering of the Tibetan people

From Wildmind

Groupon, an outfit that offers discount coupons online, ran what it no doubt thought was a witty little ad during the Superbowl (apparently some kind of US sporting event in which massive numbers of people celebrate physical excellence by sitting in front of TV sets for hours, consuming large quantities of calories washed down by alcoholic beverages).

The ad begins with what appears to be a serious tone, with the actor Timothy Hutton saying: “The people of Tibet are in trouble, their very culture in jeopardy.” This is of course, true. Since the Chinese occupation began, Tibetan culture and religion has been oppressed. Many Tibetans have fled the country in order to escape persecution. Monasteries have been dynamited. Buddhist scriptures have been destroyed. Ethnic Han Chinese have flooded into Tibet, outnumbering the native population and overwhelming the culture. Most seriously of all, many Tibetans have been imprisoned and tortured for trying to practice their Buddhist religion.

But then Hutton switches to a more “jovial” tone, noting that Tibetans are still able to “whip up a great fish curry”, and that “since 200 of us bought at, we’re each getting $30 worth of Tibetan food for just $15.”

Never mind that “fish curry” is not a Tibetan dish, the switch in tone inevitably conveys the message, “Who cares about all that suffering! Save money with Groupon!” It’s an appallingly cynical use of the suffering of the Tibetan people. Groupon appears to be saying “Tibet doesn’t matter. Their suffering is a joke.” The company’s defense of their ad actually just reinforces that impression. Groupon’s founder, Andrew Mason, is quoted in the UK’s Telegraph as saying:

“So what if we did a parody of a celebrity-narrated, PSA-style commercial that you think is about some noble cause … but then it’s revealed to actually be a passionate call to action to help yourself?”

More here:

Missing the Mark… Groupon’s Tibet Superbowl Commercial

Super Bowl ad considered offensive - PRI: The World

Sorry, Groupon: This One Goes to 11 on the Badly Misguided Meter, Not the Funny Meter

Groupon’s Super Bowl Ad Quickly Draws Backlash

Groupon's Tale From Tibet: Bad Taste, Pure and Simple

Groupon CEO’s Non-Apology Apology Letter For Super Bowl Ad

Meditation class helps lower violence at AL prison

Deep inside an overcrowded prison with a reputation for mayhem, convicted killers, robbers and rapists gather in a small room. Eyes closed, they sit silently with their thoughts and consciences.

Their everyday life is just outside in the hall - a cacophony of clanging steel doors, yelling and feet shuffling along cold concrete floors. The noise never really ends; peace is at a premium in Alabama's toughest lockup.

Despite a history of violence at the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility, which is named for a slain corrections officer, the prison outside Birmingham has become the model for a meditation program that officials say helps inmates learn the self control and social skills they never got in the outside world.

Read more from The Washington Post...

Another story today from NPR's Morning Edition

At End-Of-The Line Prison, An Unlikely Escape

Deep in the Bible Belt, an ancient Eastern practice is taking root in the unlikeliest of places: Alabama's highest security prison.

Behind a double electric fence and layers of locked doorways, Alabama's most violent and mentally unstable prisoners are incarcerated in the William E. Donaldson Correctional Facility outside Birmingham. Many of them are here to stay. The prison has 24 death row cells, and about a third of the approximately 1,500 prisoners are lifers with no chance of parole.

"You're dealing with the worst offenses that have been committed by humans in the state of Alabama," says Gary Hetzel, the warden at Donaldson.

Read more here and listen to the audio version of the story...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Touch and Go

Touch and Go Part One from Chronicles of Chogyam Trungpa on Vimeo.

Chogyam Trungpa’s first book, Born in Tibet, originally published in 1966, is a classic story of a great escape. It is an autobiographical account of Rinpoche’s upbringing in Tibet and his forced departure from the country in 1959, leading a group of 300 refugees trying to reach India. Now, more than fifty years later, Grant MacLean has created a movie for the internet that brings the reality of the escape to life. Using technology from Google Earth and Flight Simulator, Touch and Go makes you feel that you are — if not on the journey — then certainly witnessing it close at hand.

If Chogyam Trungpa had not been successful in reaching India, what would have become of Buddhism in America and throughout the West? When you see how close he came to failure and how extraordinary his success was, it might give you pause. [More, including complete video of the movie as it stands, and how YOU can help bring it to the big screen.

Read more from Shambhala Sunspace

How Perception Reveals Brain Differences

Perceptual psychology and the brain sciences emphasize the communality in the way that people experience reality. Leaving aside cases of brain damage or mental disease, we all see the sun rise in the east, enjoy the scent of a rose and experience a jolt of fear when we are woken up in the middle of the night by the sound of breaking glass.Yet as we know from our own life, each one of us has his or her own preferences, likes and dislikes. Some people are acutely sensitive to flashing lights, some have perfect pitch, some cannot see in depth...

Continue reading from Scientific American

Buddhism and Islam in America

Heated rhetoric continues to swirl around the proposal to build an Islamic community center a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. Historians say this sort of debate has many precedents in American history. Historian Scott Kurashige sees a parallel between the controversy over the community center and efforts to block Japanese immigrants from building Buddhist temples and shrines in the decades surrounding World War II.

Listen to the story or read the transcript from PRI's The World

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Deflating Lust

From the Bharadvaja Sutta (SN 35.127)

“Great king, this was said by the Blessed One who knows and sees, worthy and rightly self-awakened: ‘Come now, monks: with regard to women who are old enough to be your mother, establish the attitude you would have toward your mother. With regard to women who are old enough to be your sister, establish the attitude you’d have toward a sister. With regard to women who are young enough to be your daughter, establish the attitude you’d have toward a daughter.’ This is one reason, this is one cause, great king, why young monks — black-haired, endowed with the blessings of youth in the first stage of life — without having played with sensual pleasures nevertheless follow the lifelong chaste life, perfect and pure, and make it last their entire lives.”

Read commentary from Japan Life and Religion

BBC Horizon "What is Reality?"

A truly remarkable and thought provoking documentary. Not to be missed.

The Virtual World is a Real World

Watch the full episode. See more Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

The topic of virtual worlds and religion have been brought up before, here.

Buddhist Seminary Presence in Second Life

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Monks as Social Workers: How Buddhism Helps Development

Since founding Buddhism for Development 20 years ago, Heng Monychenda has trained hundreds of Cambodian monks, nuns and community members in conflict resolution and social change. Katherine Marshall talks to him about using Buddhist teaching to contribute to Cambodia's reconciliation and development.

What are some of the key Buddhist teachings that you draw on as a motivation for social engagement?

The Buddha's first order, given five months after his enlightenment was to go out and reach the people, to proclaim the Dhamma, the way of life for the people. The Buddha taught that people could not find peace if they did not listen to the Dhamma. We encourage the monks to search out this original intention of the Buddha: That means getting the monks out of the pagodas, teaching and reaching out to people. We need to reflect carefully on the principles and laws of the Buddha that truly allow monks to do far more for the society within their daily lives.

Read more of the interview from the Huffington Post