Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Buddhist Education in Primary Schools

Jesus & Buddha Practicing Across Traditions

New in the Old Dog Documentaries series
Robert Kennedy, Chung Hyun Kyung and Paul Knitter lead us on an adventure through spiritually nourishing terrain where Christian and Buddhist paths meet, moving beyond the struggle and confusion of a preoccupied life to a life of joy and gratitude, compassion and service.

Buddhist film festival in Thailand seeks to win over the young, the busy, the jaded

Religion can be a tough sell nowadays, so instead of waiting for disciples to make their way to temple, some promoters brought 36 films with Buddhist themes to the heart of modern Thailand earlier this month.

The International Buddhism Film Festival was an effort by the government and private religious groups to popularize Buddhism among the younger generations.

“It’s like prescribing medicine to children, you have to add a little sweetener there,” said Somchai Seanglai, the permanent secretary of Thailand’s Culture Ministry. “City dwellers or our young people are not used to the traditional way of practicing Buddhism, so we insert Buddhist dharma into art and culture that people love to consume.” Dharma refers to the Buddha’s teachings on the meaning of existence.

Initiated by the California-based Buddhism Film Foundation, the movie festival came to Bangkok for the first time this year since its debut in Los Angeles in 2003, and pulled in 3,700 visitors.

“Now many youngsters think of Buddhism as a religion for old people, so the film festival is trying to engage Buddhism with the contemporary world,” said Santi Opaspakornkij, executive director of the Buddhadasa Indapanno Archives, an education center dedicated to promoting Buddhism through new channels in Thailand.

About 90 percent of Thailand’s population is Buddhist, but many view the religion simply as a rough guide to social do’s and don’ts, with vague notions encouraging good behavior.

Read the full story from The Washington Post

Bodh Gaya - Center of the Buddhist World

The Seven Tengu Scrolls: Evil and the Rhetoric of Legitimacy in Medieval Japanese Buddhism

Cloth – 224pp. April 2012
This is a study of visual and textual images of the mythical creature tengu from the late Heian (897–1185) to the late Kamakura (1185–1333) periods. Popularly depicted as half-bird, half-human creatures with beaks or long noses, wings, and human bodies, tengu today are commonly seen as guardian spirits associated with the mountain ascetics known as yamabushi. In the medieval period, however, the character of tengu most often had a darker, more malevolent aspect. Haruko Wakabashi focuses in this study particularly on tengu as manifestations of the Buddhist concept of Māra (or ma), the personification of evil in the form of the passions and desires that are obstacles to enlightenment. Her larger aim is to investigate the use of evil in the rhetoric of Buddhist institutions of medieval Japan. Through a close examination of tengu that appear in various forms and contexts, Wakabayashi considers the functions of a discourse on evil as defined by the Buddhist clergy to justify their position and marginalize others.

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly - Buddhist Abbot Nicholas Vreeland

Program: Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly
Episode: Buddhist Abbot Nicholas Vreeland

"I am a human being, I’m a Buddhist monk, I am a Westerner," says this sophisticated photographer, and the Dalai Lama has also asked him to lead one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most important monasteries.

Duration: (8:39)
Premiere Date: 06/15/2012
Episode Expires: Never
TV Rating: NR

The Self Illusion: How the Social Brain Creates Identity

When a newborn baby's eyes scan a room, Hood writes, the infant does not decide where to focus. Instead inborn cognitive mechanisms respond to the environment and focus the baby's attention. Later in life, the child develops self-awareness and the conviction that he consciously controls his body and brain. Yet what if this belief does not reflect reality?
In The Self Illusion, Hood argues precisely that. After exploring various definitions of self--a soul, an agent with free will, some essential and unique set of qualities--he concludes that what we experience as a self is actually a narrative spun by our brain. To see why, consider an experiment in the 1980s by physiologist Benjamin Libet. He showed that neural activity reveals what an individual will do before that person becomes conscious of having made a decision. Perhaps our sense of free will is just a way for our brain to organize our actions and memories, as Harvard University psychologist Dan Wegner has argued. Building on Libet's and Wegner's work, Hood proposes that our sense of self is an after-the-fact organizational trick for the brain. As with a just-so story, our brain synthesizes the complex interactions of biology and environment to create a simplified explanation of who we are....

TED: Embracing otherness, embracing myself


Actor Thandie Newton tells the story of finding her "otherness" -- first, as a child growing up in two distinct cultures, and then as an actor playing with many different selves. A warm, wise talk, fresh from stage at TEDGlobal 2011.

"If we're all living in ourselves and mistaking it for life, then we're devaluing and desensitizing life.”

Buddhist Psychology Audio Course

Open Culture's List of Free Online Courses  recently listed a course in Buddhist Psychology.

It was taught by Eleanor Rosch of UC Berkely during the Fall 2010 semester and is available free of charge through iTunesU.

This is a full semester course that includes 24 lectures.

View the full list of lectures here and download in iTunes.

Souls of Zen

The documentary "Souls of Zen -- Buddhism, Ancestors, and the 2011 Tsunami in Japan" presents perspectives on Buddhism as practiced by clergy, lay adherents, and families in Japan by drawing on ethnographic fieldwork on the daily life of Buddhist temples, monastic education, prayer practice, mortuary rituals, and Japan's tradition of ancestor veneration in the wake of 3/11.

 This film is the only documentary based on sustained attention to the everyday lives of Buddhist professionals in the disaster zone.

In an ethnographic journey from Tokyo to the hardest-hit prefectures (among other regions in Japan) Souls of Zen covers insights and opinions from scholars, clergy, and lay adherents with a focus on Soto Zen and Jodo Pure Land Buddhism. The filmmakers visited rural graveyards, urban temples, modern funeral halls, prayer monasteries, and public festivals to deliver a detailed account on Buddhism in the midst of Japan´s recovery from the triple disasters...

The unfamiliar institutional, doctrinal, and psychological challenges Buddhist clergy are facing in the wake of 3/11 form a focal point of the film. These challenges will be discussed in context of long-standing Buddhist traditions, ritual innovations, and religious responses to the March 11, 2011 disaster in Japan. The film intends to re-evaluate the complex role of Buddhism in a society struggling with the sudden impact of catastrophic disasters that exacerbate and otherwise alter continuing dilemmas occasioned by demographic change and religious pluralism.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Korea In Depth: Inside the Gate: An American Nun's Training Within Korean Buddhism

Korea In Depth: Inside the Gate: An American Nun's Training Within Korean Buddhism from The Korea Society on Vimeo.

Filmed June 6, 2012
Bhikkuni Seon Joon Yale graduate and American Jogye Order Buddhist nun, discusses the essential elements of Korean Buddhism and the daily life of women training to become monastics in modern Korea through her personal experience and photos.
Seon Joon Sunim was born outside of Denver, Colorado. She graduated from Yale University in 2002 with a B.A. in English Language and Literature and a concentration in Creative Writing. In 2003, she moved to South Korea to pursue monastic ordination. After a year working as an English teacher, exploring the country, and a three-month retreat at Mu Sang Sa International Zen Center, she was accepted as a candidate at Heungcheon Temple in Gunsan, North Jeolla Province. She received novice precepts in 2006 and was admitted to Un Mun Monastic College in 2008; she was the first foreign monastic to be admitted into the regular program for that particular college. She graduated in January 2012 and received full precepts in April. Currently the Project Director for Dharma Raft Translation Group and a representative for the International Monastic Students’ Association of Korean Buddhism, she is also a translator and amateur photographer.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

“My Reincarnation” on PBS Thursday night

 PBS’ documentary series POV (Point of View) is kicking off its 25th season with a screening of the film My Reincarnation, which follows the life and teachings of Tibetan Dzogchen master Chögyal Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche. It airs on most PBS stations at 10 p.m. Thursday, June 21.

Filmed over 20 years, Jennifer Fox’s documentary follows Namkhai Norbu’s long teaching career and his relationship with his Italian-born son Yeshi. Namkhai Norbu and his followers believe Yeshi is the reincarnation of Namkhai Norbu’s own master and expect him to follow in his father’s footsteps. Yeshi, though, wants to live a normal Western life in Italy.

Source: Shambhala Sun

Saturday, June 16, 2012

20 killed in recent clashes between Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims

Published on Jun 15, 2012 by 
(LinkAsia News: 6/15/12) At least 20 people have been killed in recent clashes between ethnic Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. Host Kara Tsuboi speaks with Carleton College's Tun Myint about the root causes of the escalating violence in Rakhine state.

Watch more at

Read more at The Buddhist Channel -  Myanmar is reminded of its ethnic realities

Thailand Grapples With Deadly Tensions Between Muslims, Buddhists

At least 5,000 people have been killed since 2004 in Thailand's three southern provinces amid ongoing mistrust between minority Muslims and majority Buddhists. Kira Kaye reports on efforts to resolve tensions as part of the new Fault Lines of Faith series, produced in partnership with the Bureau for International Reporting.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

WFB in South Korea

Kunsunim (Bishop Jongmae) uploaded this photo of himself and Muddy Water Zen's Bup Chon Sunim   at the WFB (World Federation of Buddhists) conference that is currently going on in Yeosu, South Korea. Here they are pictured with a few other delegates from other Buddhist traditions.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Chinese block Tibetans at Buddhist event in Yeosu

A Chinese delegation abruptly left a religious conference in Yeosu on Wednesday morning after Tibetans attending the event refused to acquiesce to demands they leave. 

The Chinese delegation, consisting of Buddhist officials and monks, had walked out of the opening ceremony of the World Fellowship of Buddhists in Korea the previous evening. The Chinese had complained about the Tibetans’ participation, claiming that they represent Tibet’s government-in-exile. Saying they did not want to share the same venue, the Chinese delegation asked that the Tibetans leave. When the Tibetans refused, the Chinese left Yeosu. 

The Chinese delegation left for Busan on Wednesday morning in a vehicle provided by the Chinese Embassy, the organizing committee said. 

About 1,000 delegates from 33 countries are taking part in the event being held on the sidelines of the Expo 2012 Yeosu. The conference ends Friday.

China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist despite his calls for autonomy rather than independence for Tibet. China has pressured world leaders not to meet with him.

Korea Herald

Korean Buddhists promote temple food, Templestay program in N.Y.

A Korean Buddhist group has launched a week-long promotion event for temple food and temple stay programs in New York, as part of efforts to introduce its 1,700-year-old culture abroad.

The event kicked off with a culinary showcase of temple food by Ven. Daean at the Culinary Institute of America on June 7. Various other programs will be held at different venues in the city throughout the week, Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism, an affiliate of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, said in a press release.

In cooperation with the Korean Cultural Service New York and the Korean Embassy in New York, the cultural arm of the Jogye Order will invite local journalists, chefs, restaurateurs, power bloggers and travel agents to gala dinners from June 12 to 14, to offer a better understanding of temple food.

Temple food, the food that Buddhist monks eat, is comprised mostly of wild vegetables, roots and husks of trees foraged in mountainous regions. Seasonings are used sparingly to enhance the original taste and flavor of the main ingredients....

Read more at Korea Herald.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Finding Zen and Book Contracts in Beijing

It’s a Sunday afternoon and Beijing’s biggest bookstore is preparing for a major event: the launch of a new book by a bestselling American author, who will be on hand for the occasion. Six-foot banners on the sidewalk out front announce the talk, along with posters in the windows and a big display of books in the foyer of the 170,000-square-foot store. Up on the sixth floor, a conference room filled with sixty people quietly awaits….Bill Porter.
Few people in the West have heard of Porter, a translator of Chinese poetry and religious works whose books in print—many of them published by a small non-profit, Copper Canyon Press—rarely sell more than a thousand copies each year. For most of the past decade, he says, his annual income has hovered around $15,000. Several of his books humorously thank the US Department of Agriculture—for providing food stamps that have kept him and his family going....

Awake in the World

Watch Awake in the World on PBS. See more from Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly.

Jogye Order pledges radical reform

The Jogye Order, South Korea’s largest Buddhist sect, said on Thursday that it will carry out radical reform to improve the public image of the order recently tarnished by a gambling and prostitution scandal. The order will separate monks from those engaged in administrative work of temple management and allow them to concentrate on missionary work and religious discipline.

“The size and the role of temples have expanded along with the rapid growth of the Korean society. However, (The Jogye Order) has failed to keep up with the societal transformation,” the Most Ven. Jaseung, president of the Jogye Order, said.

Last month, a Buddhist monk released video footage showing monks gambling, drinking and smoking at a hotel. He also accused the Most Ven. Jaseung, president of the Jogye Order, of procuring prostitution in 2001.

A month after the revelations, the Jogye Order announced a series of reform plans, devised by a reform committee within the religious group, including transferring the role of monks in financial management of temples to trained managers who are not monks. It will establish a training school for Jogye Order employees to learn about overall administrative work, including finance and accounting.

To secure financial transparency, the order will implement a new regulation to disclose its financial sheets to the public. Profits coming from temples will be used toward missionary work, welfare for monks and to improve the management of its temples, the order added.

As part of its effort to improve financial transparency, the Jogye Order will request temples to issue receipts and accept credit card payments. It will also adopt an online ticketing system for temples charging admission fees to visitors. 

The Jogye Order will also temporarily operate a correction center under the reform committee and legislate a new law to strengthen disciplinary actions against monks who commit crimes or damage the order’s image.

Source: Korea Herald

The Science of Compassion

By:    Professor of Neurosurgery, Stanford University School of Medicine; Director, Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education

Why, in a country that consumes 25% of the world's resources (the U.S.), is there an epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety? Why do so many in the West who have all of their basic needs met still feel impoverished? While some politicians might answer, "It's the economy, stupid," Based on scientific evidence, a better answer is, "It's the lack compassion, stupid."

What exactly is compassion? Compassion is the recognition of another's suffering and a desire to alleviate that suffering. Often brushed off as a hippy dippy religious term irrelevant in modern society, rigorous empirical data supports the view of all major world religions: compassion is good...

Nothing and Everything: The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde 1942 – 1962

With over 350 million Buddhists worldwide, Buddhism in America is no longer a marginal religion—it is currently the fourth largest belief system in the country. Nothing and Everything – The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde: 1942–1962 is the first book to thoroughly investigate the impact of Buddhism on post-war American culture, particularly on performing, visual, sonic, inter-media and literary arts in the country’s cultural hub of New York City.
In America in the late 1950s and early 60s, the world—and life itself—became a legitimate artist’s tool, aligning with Zen Buddhism’s emphasis on “enlightenment at any moment” and living in the now. Simultaneously and independently, parallel movements were occurring in Japan, as artists
there, too, strove to break down artistic boundaries....

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

26th World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference

26th World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference to discuss theme on “Solving Social Issues with Dharma”

The Buddhist Channel, June 4, 2012

General Conference to be held at Yeosu International Expo from the 11 to 16 June B.E. 2012 (B.E. 2556) in Yeosu City, Korea

The 2012 World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference will be held in Korea, and hosted by the Jogye Order. The decision came during the 25th WFB Conference on November 13 in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The 26th World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference will be organized by the Jogye Order and the Jogye Order’s Central Council of the Laity. The 26th World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference, 17th WFBY, and 9th WBU Conference. This General Conference will take place during the 2012 Yeosu International Expo from the 11 to 16 June B.E. 2012 (B.E. 2556) in Yeosu City, Korea. The representatives from the various regional centers all over the world will participate and the 6th District Temple of the Jeonam North and South Province of the Jogye Order will take the central role in preparation of the event.

Jogye Order plans to make strong efforts in seeing the conference to be successful. In this way, the success can be carried over to the 2013 World Religious Leaders Conference, also hosted by the Jogye Order. Director of Social Affairs Ven. Hyegyeong said, “The reason for coinciding the conference with the expo and the Lotus Lantern Festival is that it would be a good way to show the world the beauty and richness of Korean Buddhist tradition and to promote Korean Buddhism. We will have a tentative six-day visit plan with half the time spent in Yeosu City and the conference, and the other days to see the Lotus Lantern Festival”.

Korea hosted the 17th World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference in 1990 in Seoul. Now the conference returns after 22 years. The opportunity to host the WFB conference will be a chance to showcase the excellence of Korean Buddhism and share with the world Korean Buddhist cultural treasures such as templestay, temple food, and the Lotus Lantern Festival.

The World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference first began in May of 1950 in Sri Lanka as Buddhist representatives from 27 countries met to transcend sectarian barriers. This year marks the 60 year anniversary. Now, 153 WFB branches in 40 countries exist to unify Buddhists from all traditions and uphold the Buddha’s teachings. The conference is held every two years. There are seven WFB branches in Korea including the Jogye Order and the Jogye Order Central Council of the Laity.

For more information about attending the 2012 World Fellowship of Buddhist Conference please address your queries to the Jogye Order: 

One Day on Earth - A Feature Film on Interconnectedness

ONE DAY ON EARTH is the first film made in every country of the world on the same day. We see both the challenges and hopes of humanity from a diverse group of volunteer filmmakers assembled by a participatory media experiment. The world is greatly interconnected, enormous, perilous, and wonderful.

One Day on Earth

Upcoming Motion Picture on Siddhartha Gautama’s Life

“Sri Siddhartha Gautama”, an epic film based on the life story of Prince Siddhartha, from his birth up to his enlightenment is the latest project of The Light of Asia Foundation of Sri Lanka.
The film attempts to chronicle the heart wrenching and mind challenging story that lies at the centerpiece of the Buddhist faith, through an emotional and humane lense. Given the internationally diverse star studded cast and direction, it seems that Sri Lanka, one home of Terravada Buddhism, will be the first in the world to turn this story into a production of such magnitude. Utilizing elaborate sets, exquisite locations within Sri Lanka and an authentic script approved by the supreme council of the MahaSangha, this film may lie on the brink of creating history. We are looking forward to this pioneering attempt at an accurate and sensitive cinematic portrayal of Prince Siddhartha’s story of love, courage and compassion.

The film is scheduled for release in October 2012.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

KBS Coverage of Dae Haeng Kunsunim

KBS coverage of the life, death, and funeral of Dae Haeng Kunsunim. While in Korean, words are not necessary to understand...

Friday, June 1, 2012

Korean monks dance at Bongwonsa on Buddha's Birthday

Bongwonsa is a Korean Taego Order temple famous for its annual Yeongsanjae (영산재/靈山齋) ceremony which is a reenactment of the Buddha's delivery of the Lotus Sutra. Cymbals Dance (barachum), Butterfly Dance (nabichum), and Dharma Drum Dance (beobgochum) on this video. Filmed on May 28, 2012. Seoul, Korea.

Buddhism in South Korea under scrutiny

The religion has a central role in the country's history and identity, but today only about a quarter of Koreans describe themselves as Buddhist.

Video footage emerged last month showing a group of monks drinking and gambling in a hotel bedroom. Lucy Williamson reports from Seoul.

Monk scandal needs wider view

A constant expectation attached to religions all over the world is that people longingly desire and even vehemently demand professional practitioners of faith to adhere to higher standards of personal behavior than other members of society. 

Given that religious professionals are funded by the donations of believers, this is generally justified. Such standards differ, however. 

Buddhist standards for monastic behavior have always been reasonably flexible, and more like recommendations for advancement towards enlightenment and maintaining a harmonious temple community than strict, absolute laws. 

If some actions or behavior disrupts a monk’s personal practice or threatens the smooth functioning of the Sangha (community of monks and lay believers), then it is considered wrong and dealt with through discussion and possible sanctions. 

Singular or occasional violations of the rules that take place outside of the temple, such as eating meat, drinking a few shots of soju or playing cards, are no big deal. 

However, if such behavior becomes habitual, disruptive or criminal, then it is taken seriously and corrective punishments are applied, up to and including expulsion from the order.

Misbehaviors or human charms?

One might remember that Korea’s most beloved Buddhist hero Master Wonhyo famously fathered a child with a princess in a one-night stand, and was also known to sing poetry after having a few drinks.

One can easily imagine this most enlightened of scholastic saints enjoying a little gambling with some village farmers after preaching salvation in the Pure Land to them during his missionary wanderings. Nobody seems to think any worse of him for these activities; they are rather considered part of his “he was still human” charm.

Misbehaving monks were a mainstay of the folk mask-dances of the Joseon Kingdom, stemming from Confucian prejudices and the public’s love of ridiculing their supposed superiors; this image may have been accurate in some cases but did not represent the long-term reality of Korean Buddhism....

Read the full article at Korean Times

Polished Toilets, Polished Minds

Why Clean Toilets?
1)    To Become a Modest Person
No matter how talented you are, if you’re not modest about it then you’ll turn people off.  Being modest is the biggest thing that distinguishes us as humans.  Of course the fastest way to make anyone modest is to clean a toilet.
2)    To Become Discerning
In life, the difference between winners and losers are people is losers are wasteful and winners are not. To eliminate wastefulness from your life becoming a discerning person is important. If you succeed at becoming a discerning person then you will be able to avoid wastefulness.
Cleaning toilets brings out our discernment in the best way.
3)    To Develop Passion in Your Life
Life is passion.  Everyone wants to live life in a way that moves people.  To do this you must use every fiber of your being to become an active person. We are motivated by people who humbly work their fingers to their bones using their legs, arms, and body no matter what you do.  The bathroom is like a dojo to train our bodies in this way.
4)    To Develop a Sense of Appreciation
Happy people often don’t take the time to appreciate things. From appreciation you can become happier.  Cleaning toilets certainly lets you appreciate the smaller things in life and makes you into a well-rounded person.
5)    To Polish Your Heart
You cannot take out your heart and polish it, but you can with the things you present to your eyes.  Especially as you clean your toilet, your heart begins to shine with it.  If people always see beautiful things then their hearts will become more beautiful.