Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The High Price of Materialism

More at
Produced by the Center for a New American Dream

Psychologist Tim Kasser discusses how America's culture of consumerism undermines our well-being. When people buy into the ever-present marketing messages that "the good life" is "the goods life," they not only use up Earth's limited resources, but they are less happy and less inclined toward helping others. The animation both lays out the problems of excess materialism and points toward solutions that promise a healthier, more just, and more sustainable life.

Animation by Squid and Beard:

Learn more at

View the sources for the research at

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Why Violence in Tibet Is Getting Worse

From The Atlantic:

Activists are burning themselves alive, but the Chinese government seems unable to change policies.

Earlier this week a Tibetan monk became at least the 22nd person in the past year to commit self-immolation in protest at the Chinese government's rule in Tibet. Robert Barnett, Director of the Modern Tibet Studies Program at Columbia University, says this is a new type of political protest for Tibetans, one that looks like it may become an ongoing form of dissent if the Chinese government does not change some of its policies in the region.

Asia Blog spoke to Barnett by telephone.

Why are monks and nuns deciding to use this particular form of protest against the Chinese government?

The reasons why they have chosen this method of protest are not exactly clear.
Read the full transcript from the interview here.  

Korea to correct Buddha’s birthplace in textbook

Korea will correct the erroneous information regarding the birthplace of Buddha in a textbook beginning in 2013 in response to Nepal’s request.

“Authors of the book admitted to having described Buddha’s birthplace wrongly and have decided to correct it,” said Kang Hyun-tae, a senior researcher at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. Kang said the corrected version of the book will be released next year as the books for this year have already been printed.

Nepal’s then Ambassador to Seoul Kamal Prasad Koirala called for the correction in a written petition sent to President Lee Myung-bak in December, claiming Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini is a part of Nepal, not India.....

Read the full story from the Korea Times

Cambodian monk helps HIV-affected community

In the heart of Cambodia, many gather in a Buddhist Pagoda to give spiritual support to families affected with HIV and AIDS. Meditation is taught to them to help them cope with dealing with HIV.
“Before these sessions, we felt stressed and ashamed, we did not want to meet any one and felt discriminated against. Now we are a lot more positive” says Ken Chanthy one of the regulars.
The community is also taught about the type of medication they need to be taking in order to live a healthy life, its all part of the “Buddhist Leadership Initiative” and UNICEF.
Ulrike Gilbert a UNICEF HIV Specialist has to say that, the support monks provide is important because they support the spiritual needs of the people and help to mobilize material support for the people. The majority of the people are living below the poverty line.

Everything is Connected to Everything Else

In this fascinating short excerpt from BBC’s A Night With The Stars, Cox turns to the Pauli exclusion principle — a quantum mechanics theorem holding that no two identical particles may occupy the same quantum state simultaneously — to explain why everything is connected to everything else, an idea at once utterly mind-bending and utterly intuitive, found everywhere from the most ancient Buddhist scripts to the most cutting-edge research in biology and social science.

View more at The Quantum Universe

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Ask a Buddhist: My Boss is Stressing Me Out!

Your shoulders bunch. Your jaw clenches. “No!No!No!No!” screams a voice inside your head. "Hello!!" you hear yourself saying – just a little too brightly – "How are you?" 
This sort of reaction to the sight of your boss (or spouse, or anybody at all) might have some real history behind it. Perhaps you've decided that she's a vicious tyrant or a wearying pontificator. Maybe she's the embodiment of everything that drives you nuts about your mom. Maybe she feels exactly the same way about you. 
But however numerous and well-documented your grievances may be, your boss isn't manufacturing your stress – you are. "You have created the stress-inducing boss," says Kadam Morten, a Buddhist teacher in the New Kadampa tradition, founded by Buddhist leader Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, the author of Modern Buddhism. Stress, Kadam Morten suggests, is the result of "uncontrolled mind states" like anger, or a sense of professional inadequacy. Buddhists practice meditation to understand and transcend these states. The point is that whether or not your boss is verifiably horrible, it's up to you how badly she stresses you out. ...

Protests, Self-Immolation Signs Of A Desperate Tibet

In a monastery on the Tibetan plateau, monks swathed in crimson robes chant under silk hangings, in a murky hall heavy with the smell of yak butter. Photos of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama — seen by China as a splittist — are openly displayed, as if in defiance. But Chinese security forces have tightened their grasp on this region, and monasteries appear to be emptying out, gripped by an atmosphere of fear and loss.
In one town, monks boycotted the usual Chinese New Year celebrations at the end of January as a mourning gesture, refusing to set off fireworks.
"Too many of our people died this year," one monk told me, referring to nearly two-dozen Tibetans who have set themselves on fire as a protest against Chinese repression. Identifying details have been removed to protect those who talked to NPR....

Now offered: Buddhist Track in Masters of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling

In a recent press release, the New York Theological Seminary announced a partnership with the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care to offer a Buddhist track within their existing Master of Arts in Pastoral Care and Counseling graduate program.
The 48-credit degree can be completed within two years and is fully accredited. Click here for more information. You can learn more about the work of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care in Clinical Pastoral Education in this video:

From Buddhadharma 

Jogye Order calls China to cease Tibetan oppression

The central council of the Jogye Order called the oppression of Tibet by the Chinese government “a situation in which we cannot ignore” and was appalled by the Oppression of Tibet and Tibetan people by the Chinese government and urged for the early withdrawal of Chinese troops, release of political prisoners, act of fidelity towards Buddhist monks, and to end forced migration policy.

Tibetan Buddhist translation project “84000″ launches “Reading Room”

“84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha,” the Tibetan canonical translation project headed up by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, has officially opened the 84000 Reading Room — a project of the organization, in collaboration with the Tibetan Buddhist Resource Center (TBRC). The Reading Room offers translations for reading online and download in various formats. It also features Tibetan, Sanskrit, and English glossaries and a subject classification system for the convenience of readers.

Go to the Reading Room here. 

South Korean Buddhist University Suing Yale For $50M In Fake Degree Lawsuit

 A federal judge in Connecticut has rejected a second bid by Yale University to throw out all the allegations in a lawsuit filed by a South Korean university that claims it lost tens of millions of dollars after Yale damaged its reputation.
Dongguk University claims in the 2008 lawsuit that it hired an art history professor after Yale wrongly confirmed the professor earned a doctorate at the New Haven school. Court papers say the professor, Shin Jeong-ah, later had a scandalous love affair with an aide to South Korea’s president.
Dongguk, a Buddhist-affiliated university in Seoul, is suing Yale for more than $50 million, saying it lost that amount in government grants, alumni donations and costs of building a law school the government later refused to approve because of the scandal....

Mindfulness & Awareness in Portlandia

By Patrick Groneman for

I finally had a chance to watch an episode of the much-hyped TV series Portlandia this week.  It pokes funs at Oregon's hipster mecca in a sweet-yet-universal-truth-telling sort of way.
I thought this scene was a pretty hilarious example of our tendency as humans to get sucked into the digital realm.
I also thought it was a great illustration of how "mindfulness" and "awareness" operate, as taught in the Buddhist tradition.  Sometimes in our culture these two words are used interchangeably, but in fact, they have two distinct meanings.
Buddhist Psychologist Mark Epstein defines mindfulness as " being aware of exactly what is happening in the mind and body as it is occurring.”  And awareness as more simply our "bare attention", which notices whatever is going on.
In the scene Fred's attention is jumping from his computer, to his cell phone, to his DVR, with no sense of continuity or intention in his action.   In my experience, this is just what it feels like to be lost in thought during meditation (or lost in anything else for that matter).

Hack Your Brain to Use Cravings To Your Advantage

Think about a munching on a bag of your favorite potato chips. Let that image sit in your brain for a little while. How does it feel? Are you craving chips right now? Sometimes, a single mention of a word is all it takes to trigger a craving, and unfortunately, cravings often entice you to do things that aren't good for you. What if you could change that?
In this post, we'll take a look at how you can rewire your brain and use those cravings to your advantage.
We deal with cravings on a daily basis, but—whether you're craving something as simple as a bag of potato chips or as abstract as a shopping experience—the basic science behind your cravings is the same. Before we can look into how you can use that science to better yourself, we have to understand how cravings work on a physical and psychological level.
To help, I talked with two experts in the field of desire and self control: Assistant Professor Wilhelm Hofmann from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, and Dr. Kelly McGonigal, Stanford University...

Asia Society Opens in Hong Kong

Traffic was diverted and uniformed guards were on patrol as several hundred guests got a private preview of Asia Society’s fortress-like Hong Kong headquarters earlier this month.
The opening exhibition is “Transforming Minds: Buddhism in Art,” a modest but well-curated show tracing the religion’s past and present. It matches 13 artifacts from the Rockefeller Collection of Asian Art with six contemporary works.
The pieces, which range from a pair of marble Chinese bodhisattvas from 570 A.D. to an 18th-century Korean scroll, were chosen to track the evolution of Buddhism and, in particular, how its symbols and beliefs crossed cultural and national boundaries.
One gem is a deceptively simple 8th-century Thai bronze sculpture of Maitreya, a young bodhisattva chosen to become a future Buddha. It shows a boyish, almost pre-adolescent slender figure with the elegance of a young David....

The Impact of One

From The Atlantic;

A great interactive visual depiction of our true interconnectedness and an illustration of how wide and far-reaching one's actions may go.

The Impact of One

Monday, February 20, 2012

Journalism and Compassion

From APM's "On Being" (2/9/12):

Journalism can make us care — or it can numb us to human suffering. Nicholas Kristof's columns in The New York Times wrap hard news inside human stories with broad appeal. He discusses the lessons of his life covering some of the worst atrocities in the world, and how he draws on insights of neuroscience to pierce through compassion fatigue.

Visit "On Being" here for links to listen to the story.

The Simpsons and Religion

A fairly dated post but one that caught some new light recently and worth the share.

Over the years, The Simpsons has become known for its sharp-edged satire. But, as Kim Lawton reports, there’s also a surprising focus on spirituality.
They’re silly, often irreverent, and sometimes downright wicked. But The Simpsons also may be one of the most interesting examinations of religion in pop culture today.
Bart’s sister Lisa has been through her own spiritual explorations. For most of the show’s run, she was the voice of mainline Protestantism, the Social Gospel, a skeptical believer but a believer. And finally, when her church became sort of too seeker sensitive, too commercial, she went on a faith journey, and she ended up being a Buddhist, with the help, of course, of the actor Richard Gere.

Friday, February 17, 2012

MWZ 2012 Lecture Series Kicks Off This Weekend!

Just a reminder for all interested, the 2012 Muddy Water Zen Lecture Series will be opening this Sunday, following the 10 AM Morning Service at MWZ in Royal Oak.

The Lecture is titled, "An Introduction to Korean Buddhist Temples."

The Lecture is free and open to all, attendance at the morning service is NOT required however.

Check out the attached flyer for more info and other topics this series will explore throughout the year!

Lecture Promo Poster PDF

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Simply stunning: 33 incredible Korean temples


There are some 900 traditional Buddhist temples in Korea -- and around 20,000 in total. A visit to any of these local places of worship -- many of them centuries-old -– can be a humbling, calming or uplifting experience.
Many of them can be found nestled in the countless mountains throughout the country, usually in locations believed to have the best pung-su (feng shui) of the area.
But despite the endlessly beautiful and endlessly numerous temples, even the most serious pilgrim need not visit all 900. The 33 temples below -- 33 as in Buddha's 33 steps to enlightenment -- are simply breathtaking. 

Monasticism 101

By KATHY MATHESON, Associated Press

 Looking for a wild-and-crazy time at college? Don't sign up for Justin McDaniel's religious studies class.
The associate professor's course on monastic life and asceticism gives students at the University of Pennsylvania a firsthand experience of what it's like to be a monk.
At various periods during the semester, students must forego technology, coffee, physical human contact and certain foods. They'll also have to wake up at 5 a.m. — without an alarm clock.
That's just a sample of the restrictions McDaniel imposes in an effort to help students become more observant, aware and disciplined. Each constraint represents an actual taboo observed by a monastic religious order.
The course, which focuses primarily on Catholic and Buddhist monastic traditions, stems in part from McDaniel's own history. An expert on Asian religions, he spent a portion of his post-undergraduate life nearly 20 years ago as a Buddhist monk in Thailand and Laos and says he's both a practicing Buddhist and a practicing Catholic.

McDaniel stresses he's not advocating for a total lifestyle change. He uses technology as much as the next person and is now married with children.
But if someone is forced to just listen for a month, he is more aware of how he speaks, McDaniel said. If someone can't talk while she's eating and has to count each chew, she'll think more about her food, he said.
"It's not about individual restrictions," said McDaniel. "It's about building hyperawareness of yourself and others."

Islamic extremists destroy priceless Buddhist statues in the Maldives

In the Maldives, a tiny Indian Ocean nation of 1,200 islands, a group of men stormed into the museum last Tuesday and ransacked a collection of coral and lime figures, including a six-faced coral statue and a 1 1/2-foot-wide representation of the Buddha’s head. Officials said the men attacked the figures because they believed they were idols and therefore illegal under Islamic and national laws, according to the New York Times.
The Maldives were Buddhist from around 250 BCE until the 12th century, when the king converted to Islam.
The vandalism is reminiscent of the Taliban’s 2001 destruction of the giant statues of the Buddha at Bamiyan, in Afghanistan.
According to a Maldives news source, the destruction included a coral stone head of Lord Buddha which was one of the most significant pieces at the museum. “Other pieces vandalised include the Bohomala sculptures, monkey statues and a broken statue piece of the Hindu water god, Makara, while the two five faced statues discovered from Male’ were also damaged – the only remaining archaeological evidence proving the existence of a Buddhist era in the Maldives.”
Ali Waheed, the director of the National Museum, which was built by China as a gift to the country, said on Monday that officials might be able to restore two or three of the damaged statues, but that the rest were beyond repair. “The collection was totally, totally smashed,” Mr. Waheed said. “The whole pre-Islamic history is gone.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Seven Wonders of the Buddhist World

Video packed Valentine's Day here at the MWZ Blog!

In this fascinating documentary, historian Bettany Hughes travels to the seven wonders of the Buddhist world and offers a unique insight into one of the most ancient belief systems still practised today.
Her journey begins at the Mahabodhi Temple in India, where Buddhism was born; here Hughes examines the foundations of the belief system - the three jewels, and later also travels to Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong and finally Los Angeles, where she visits Hsi Lai Temple. 

Look for this title in the Buddhist Film Collection (BFC) also soon!

"Creation of Heaven" - Robot Monk

Two acclaimed Korean directors unfurl three unique stories of human self-destruction in the modern high-tech era. In a hope to restore the humane compassion in the insusceptible modern age, the film displays an alternative form of genuine humanity. And thus you are stepping into the world of future, where a series of unexpected stories awaits you. All these stories originate from the earth. From the very earth you live on.

Creation of Heaven ("Chunsangui Pijomul") - A robot, which works at a temple, finds enlightenment. A robot repair man named Park Do-Won (Kim Kang-Woo) and a Bodhisattva Hye-Joo (Kim Gyu-Ri) then try to protect the robot from the robot company. 


Window on Korean Culture #19 - Buddhism

Recently uploaded on Youtube. Produced by the Korea Foundation.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Dharma Talk - The Peanut Butter Attachment

Talk Given By: Bup Seong (Heather Emerick) (Formerly known as Chin Bool)
Sunday, February 5, 2012 (Evening Service)
Duration - 8:24

Subscribe in iTunes!

Listen to other previous Dharma Talks here.

Dharma Talk - Breaking Resolutions

Talk Given By: Dae Sahn (Jason Jay) IBS USA Seminary/MWZ Dharma Student
Sunday, January 15, 2012 (Evening Service)
Duration - 10:10

Subscribe in iTunes!

Listen to other previous Dharma Talks here.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Mindful Eating as Food for Thought

TRY this: place a forkful of food in your mouth. It doesn’t matter what the food is, but make it something you love — let’s say it’s that first nibble from three hot, fragrant, perfectly cooked ravioli.

Now comes the hard part. Put the fork down. This could be a lot more challenging than you imagine, because that first bite was very good and another immediately beckons. You’re hungry.
Today’s experiment in eating, however, involves becoming aware of that reflexive urge to plow through your meal like Cookie Monster on a shortbread bender. Resist it. Leave the fork on the table. Chew slowly. Stop talking. Tune in to the texture of the pasta, the flavor of the cheese, the bright color of the sauce in the bowl, the aroma of the rising steam.
Continue this way throughout the course of a meal, and you’ll experience the third-eye-opening pleasures and frustrations of a practice known as mindful eating....

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

2011 Lotus Lantern Winter Vol. 48

2011 Lotus Lantern Winter Vol. 48

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Invitation to Korean Buddhism

A great Intro video to Korean Buddhism that was just uploaded to Youtube.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Way

Program: Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly

Episode: The Way

Actor Martin Sheen says his new movie about the Camino de Santiago is ultimately about "a journey of the spirit as well as the flesh" as well as a search for ritual and transcendence.

Watch The Way on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.