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!

Is Time An Illusion? From The Buddha To Brian Greene

From NPR blog 13.7 - Cosmos and Culture by Adam Frank:

Can time be stopped, captured or even known? Does it exist, or is it all just an illusion?

Is time real, or is change just a kind of optical illusion resting on a deeper unchanging reality?

As finite creatures, with death hovering just out of our sight, the true nature of time haunts all our endeavors. Tomorrow, physicist Brian Greene tackles time's illusion in his Fabric of Reality PBS series. Science, however, is just one way we ask about the reality of time.

In the domains of spirituality, humans have also asked if there is more, or less, to time than ticking clocks or the march from birth to death. It is often the "now" which takes precedence in spiritual endeavor.

Buddhists, with their emphasis on meditation, have long seen the unspooling of time as an artifact of the mind. In Zen Mind, Beginners Mind, Shunryu Suzuki tells us:

"You may say, 'I must do something this afternoon' but actually there is no 'this afternoon' ... At one o'clock you will eat your lunch. To eat your lunch is, itself, one o'clock."...

Continue reading here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

This Is What Compassion Looks Like: A Buddhist View of Occupy Wall Street

Original Post from Roshi Joan Halifax, from The Huffington Post, on 10/14/11:

It started 28 days ago, with a ragtag group of people who called themselves "Occupy Wall Street" planting themselves at Liberty Square Plaza (aka Zuccotti Park) in New York City, under the shadows of skyscrapers.

They gathered together to call attention to the disproportionate influence that the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans have over our political and economic system. Using the phrase "We are the 99 percent," they drew a circle of inclusion around the myriad forms of structural violence and suffering that so many of us are experiencing these days.

The Buddha would probably agree with their analysis. Numerous Buddhist texts point out that poverty is not any individual's fate or karma, but rather exists in a web of causes and conditions. The Buddha also noted that the way to build a peaceful society is to ensure equitable distribution of resources.

In a more contemporary rendering of Buddhist teachings, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh offers this precept: "Do not accumulate wealth whilst millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life, fame, profit, wealth or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy and material resources with those who are in need." Bernie Glassman Roshi says: Do not foster a mind of poverty in yourself or others. ...

Read the full story here.

2011 Lotus Lantern Autumn Vol 47

2011 Lotus Lantern Autumn Vol 47

Street Dharma: Teaching Meditation to the Homeless

..."Our main aim of working with the homeless is just being with them. It is about everyday interactions. And those who ask for meditation instruction will gladly get it.

"Like most of us, the homeless have been listening to the same negative thoughts in their heads for years. 'I'm so stupid.' 'I'm such a mess.' 'I can't do this anymore.' 'I wish I were dead.' Everyone has this negative mental chatter going on all the time and we don't even recognize it.

But once the 'monkey mind' is revealed through meditation -- once we start being present with our thoughts as the observer of them -- old thought patterns get broken and things begin to change in our lives.

This is as true for the homeless as it is for anyone else. Whether or not you have a roof over your head has nothing to do with quieting your mind, getting to know yourself and being fully awake."....

Read the full article at Huffington Post.

Learn more about HMP Street Dharma here.

Western Buddhism: The 50 Year Lessons

By Lewis Richmond:

It's been about 50 years since the bulk of the Asian meditation masters arrived here -- Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Vietnamese and so on. Many of us have spent our whole adult lives trying to practice and absorb what they taught us. I've been thinking recently about the "50 year lessons" that we have gleaned during this time.

Some of the lessons have been transformative, others disappointing. Many of the lessons we learned the hard way -- by making mistake after mistake (which is what my teacher Suzuki Roshi characterized as the basic quality of Buddhist practice, even for teachers). In this and the next post I want to present my 50 year lessons, at least those I have thought of so far....

Read the full article at Huffington Post.

Embodied Cognition: Why You Are Not Your Brain

Embodied cognition, the idea that the mind is not only connected to the body but that the body influences the mind, is one of the more counter-intuitive ideas in cognitive science. In sharp contrast is dualism, a theory of mind famously put forth by Rene Descartes in the 17th century...

...Cognitive science calls this entire philosophical worldview into serious question on empirical grounds… [the mind] arises from the nature of our brains, bodies, and bodily experiences. This is not just the innocuous and obvious claim that we need a body to reason; rather, it is the striking claim that the very structure of reason itself comes from the details of our embodiment… Thus, to understand reason we must understand the details of our visual system, our motor system, and the general mechanism of neural binding....

....our cognition isn’t confined to our cortices. That is, our cognition is influenced, perhaps determined by, our experiences in the physical world....

Read the full article at Scientific American here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

More Latinos Choose a Less Travelled Road to Spirituality

An article featuring Taego-jong Overseas Parish's own Mooh-Sang Sunim (So Shim Sa, NJ)

Ruben Lambert was educated in Catholic schools and grew up as a faithful Roman Catholic. As he grew older, the first generation Cuban-American decided to adopt a religion more rooted in meditation and enlightenment.

Now he follows the practices of Zen Buddhism and has assumed the name Venerable Mooh-Sang Sunim.

Like Lambert, many Latinos are shedding their traditional spiritual beliefs for non-traditional, non-Christian religions. Whether it involves praying five times a day or forsaking a suit and tie for long robes, these people are firm believers in the doctrines of their chosen convictions....

At first, it was like anything new and my family was reluctant to except it. The idea of a Buddhist monk is not an idea my parents expected me to become. So, taking those factors to account, there was a natural resistance.

Read the full article from FOX News Latino

Bourgeois Buddhists: Do Americans Miss the Point of Buddhism?

By Dr. Owen Flanagan, written for The Huffington Post:

... What kind of Buddhists are American Buddhists? Buddhism is first and foremost a complex philosophy about the nature of reality, the self and morality. Philosophically what is interesting is the connection between understanding that I am no self and that I have reason to be maximally compassionate and loving to all sentient beings. Do most American Buddhists know about the philosophy or enact the moral message of Buddhism?

In my experience the answers are "no." Most Americans who say that they are Buddhist mean they meditate, possibly regularly. The code for this is to say that one "practices." If you ask why a person who "practices" practices, typical answers involve vague new-agey and self-satisfied slogans about "centering," "mind clearing," serenity -- possibly, if they are really bullshiting that they are "getting in touch with their Buddha nature." If you ask what kind of meditation they do, most only know about mindfulness meditation, which unlike lovingkindness meditation, is almost entirely self-centered....

Read the full article here.

Dharma Talk - The Seeker

Talk Given By: Hae Doh Sunim
Sunday, November 6, 2011
Duration - 16:02

Subscribe in iTunes!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Tibet is Burning: Is the Freedom Movement Entering a New Phase?

Since March 2011, at least nine Tibetans, most of them teens and some in their early 20s, have set themselves on fire. The self-immolation by young Tibetans has triggered outrage and protests by exiled Tibetans around the world—a Global Day of Action is scheduled for November 2.

Why are Tibetan youth dousing themselves in kerosene and setting themselves alight in such large numbers? It is quite clear that the situation inside Tibet is pretty grim. And it has been bad for a long time.

The “Arab Spring” has galvanized freedom movements around the world and Tibet is no exception. If things could change so fast in Egypt or in Libya, then why not Tibet? Even as China has been clearly intensifying its crackdown on religion, Tibetans are ramping up their campaign to raise awareness and bring attention to their predicament....

Read the full story at Religion Dispatches

In China, tensions rising over Buddhism's quiet resurgence

SERTHAR, China – Breathless but beaming, Sheng Zisu sounds confident after five months in a maze-like Buddhist encampment high on the eastern Tibetan plateau, nearly 400 miles of bad road from the nearest city.

"Look around. They could never find me here," Sheng, 27, says of parents so anxious about their only child's turn to Tibetan Buddhism that they have threatened to kidnap her.
Sheng is far from her home — and from the bars where she used to drink and the ex-boyfriends she says cheated on her. She is here with 2,000 other Han Chinese at the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute in Serthar, Sichuan province, the rain-soaked mountainous region of southwest China.
The province is far from the central government in Beijing and a traditional gateway to Tibet, where Tibetans have practiced Buddhism for centuries — and where, for decades, China's Communist Party has suppressed Buddhists, sometimes brutally.
Holy chants and red-robed devotees spill down hillsides blanketed by red wooden cabins, where monks, nuns and disciples spend hours in meditation. More than 2 miles above sea level, Larung Gar is among the largest Tibetan Buddhist academies in the world, with about 10,000 mostly Tibetan students....

Read the whole story at USA Today.

Steve Jobs' private spirituality now an open book

He considered moving to a Zen monastery before shifting his sights to Silicon Valley, where he became a brash businessman.

Steve Jobs believed Zen meditation taught him to concentrate and ignore distractions, according to biograper Walter Isaacson.
He preached about the dangers of desire but urged consumers to covet every new iPhone incarnation.
"He was an enlightened being who was cruel," says a former girlfriend. "That's a strange combination."

A relative recounted his last words for The New York Times. A new biography traces his early quest for enlightenment and lifelong appreciation for Zen Buddhism. Everyone from ABC News to India Today has pondered the link between his religious interests and business acumen....

Continue reading at USA Today.