Dalai Lama comments on Chinese president’s acceptance of Buddhism in Chinese culture

DalaiLamaIn a recent talk in India, the Dalai Lama claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping has made public acknowledgments that Buddhism has a place in Chinese culture and a role to play in its preservation. Various sources with ties to Chinese leadership have made the same claim, stating that Xi feels the Chinese people are obsessed with money and in a moral decline. It is believed that Xi intends to relax suppression of religion in hopes that it will fill a moral void and help stem corruption.

The Dalai Lama commented:

“Preservation of Tibetan Buddhist knowledge, culture and language is of immense value to the Chinese people. President Xi Jinping has publicly said that Buddhism has a role to play in the preservation of Chinese culture. …I think till 30 years ago, or even 15-20 years ago, no other Communist party leader [was seen] showing some respect to or appreciation of Buddha dharma. Preservation of Tibetan culture, Buddhism, Buddhist leadership… should be paid some attention.”

Echoing his own Middle Way Approach, he added, “They [China] must give us genuine freedom for preservation of our culture. In long run this will be of immense help to Chinese Buddhists.”

The Dalai Lama added this was the first time in years that any leader of the Communist Party of China, which rules the country, has openly acknowledged the role of religion in Chinese society.

New school in Eugene, OR, combines Buddhist and secular curriculum

Founding teacher Lama Sonam Tsering leads classes on opening day

Saraha Children’s School in Eugene, OR, along with the other schools in the area, started classes on Sept. 4 and will mirror the public school’s schedule. But the curriculum will be a little different.

In addition to an integrated curriculum of reading, writing, math, science, and social studies, students will also be introduced traditional Buddhist arts such as meditation, and the classroom will incorporate language and practices of compassion, wisdom, and peace.

The school, launched just six months ago by Lama Sonam Tsering, will operate under the direction of the Saraha Nyingma Buddhist Institute, and classes will be held in its facilities.

To learn more about Saraha Children’s School or to offer your assistance, click here.

Public Talk by Dalai Lama in Boston, Nov. 1

10629566_10153151390695830_5142563278735612616_nThe Dalai Lama will be giving a public talk in Boston on Nov. 1, titled “Educating the Heart and Mind.” Click here to purchase tickets.

During his time in Boston, the Dalai Lama will also offer a day-long Buddhist teaching based on Geshe Langri Thangpa’s Eight Verses of Training the Mind (lojong tsikgyema) and confer the Generation of Bodhicitta (semkyi).

For the Dalai Lama’s full North American schedule, including stops in Vancouver, Alabama, and New York City, click here.



Two days left to support “Thongdrol: Liberation Through Seeing”

Thongdrol: Liberation Through Seeing, a documentary film project by David Cherniack, has only two days and $23,000 to go on its Kickstarter campaign. Click here to contribute.

“Thongdrol” is a Tibetan word that means liberation though seeing. Something is seen that liberates. On a basic level it can be anything that turns the person seeing toward the spiritual path. On an advanced level it can be the instantaneous act of seeing the world through liberated eyes…the nondeluded eyes of the fully awakened.

Thongdrol has the active support and guidance of His Holiness Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa.

Tsewang Dorji crafting new Buddha statue for Palyul Foundation of Canada

Palyul Foundation of Canada, which maintains Orgyan Osal Cho Dzong, a 350-acre tem­ple and retreat facil­ity in Ontario, has commissioned Toronto-based Bhutanese artist Tsewang Dorji to craft a new Buddha image, now in progress. The face, body, and legs are now at a work-intensive polishing stage. According to Dorji, the clay is first smoothed to a very fine finish and then allowed to dry, during which time it develops fine cracks that then must be repaired and repolished, taking many months. The artist will soon be adding the hands and lotus petals. The project is slated for completion in spring 2015.

You can read more about the Palyul Foundation of Canada by clicking here.

Zen teacher Kyogen Carlson passes away suddenly from heart attack

kyogen-carlson-sweeping-zen-interviewIt is with shock and sadness that we hear of the sudden death of Kyogen Carlson, co-abbot of Dharma Rain Zen Center and pioneer in the transmission of Zen to the West. He collapsed of a heart attack this morning on his way to eat breakfast with his community.

Kyogen ordained in 1972 under Jiyu Kennett at Shasta Abbey, later serving as her personal attendant for many years. He and his wife, Gyokuko, later left Shasta Abbey to work with the Zen community in Portland, OR. They eventually established Dharma Rain Zen Center, a community that continues to flourish as it builds a large-scale practice and residential complex in Portland. Before his passing, Kyogen had just seen the walls go up on the community’s new meditation hall.

The author of Zen in the American Grain, Kyogen was a strong supporter of lay practice even while championing high standards of monastic training. Among Western Buddhist centers, Dharma Rain has long been considered a leader in developing programs for families and children.

An obituary by Sallie Jiko Tisdale follows:

Read More »

Bhikkhu Bodhi: Mobilizing for People’s Climate March

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi

With less than a week remaining before the People’s Climate March in NYC, Bhikkhu Bodhi speaks to the urgency of the problem and the need for us to take action.

Moving from a Culture of Death to a Culture of Life

On September 21, concerned citizens from all across the United States, and from many other lands, will be converging on New York City for the People’s Climate March, billed to be the biggest climate march in history. The immediate occasion for the march is the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations for a summit on the climate crisis being convened by the UN Secretary General. The march’s purpose is to tell global leaders that the time for denial and delay is over, that we have to act now if we’re going to secure the world against the ravages of climate change.

If we’re going to emerge intact, what we need at minimum are binding and enforceable commitments to steep cuts in carbon emissions coupled with a mass-scale transition to renewable sources of energy. However, while clean energy policies are clearly essential in combating climate disruption, a long-term solution must go deeper than adopting new technologies and such pragmatic measures as cap-and-trade or a carbon tax. The climate instability we are facing today is symptomatic of a deeper malady, a cancer spreading through the inner organs of global civilization. The extreme weather events we have experienced come to us as a wake-up call demanding that we treat the underlying cause, the paradigm that underlies our industrial-commercial-financial economy.

Click here to continue reading.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s new translation of Heart Sutra

Thay-Teaching-whiteboard-chineseThich Nhat Hanh on Sept. 11 released a new English translation of the Heart Sutra, titled “The Insight That Brings Us to the Other Shore.”

In a letter to his students explaining the necessity of the new translation, he states, “the patriarch who originally compiled the Heart Sutra was not sufficiently skillful enough with his use of language. This has resulted in much misunderstanding for almost 2,000 years.” Among other changes, Thich Nhat Hanh as added the words “no being, no non-being” immediately after “no birth, no death” in the hopes that “these four words would help us transcend the notion of being and non-being, and we would no longer get caught in such ideas as ‘no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue…’”

Click here to read the letter in full. The full translation follows, after the jump.

Read More »

Sylvia Boorstein, Tara Brach, and Tim Ryan at DC Mindfully, Sept. 18

DC-mindfully_homepage_banner_550On Sept. 18, the Peace Alliance, in celebration of its 10th anniversary, will host an evening with three renowned advocates for achieving peace through mindfulness: Sylvia Boorstein, Tara Brach, and Congressman Tim Ryan.

Questions to be explored include mindful activism, stopping violence and building peace both locally and globally, cultivating inner peace through mindfulness practice, and moving beyond divisive political discourse.

For details and registration information, click here.

Readers of Buddhadharma and Shambhala Sun will also have the opportunity to practice alongside Sylvia Boorstein next summer at the first annual Shambhala Sun retreat, “Waking Up in Every Moment,” at the Omega Institute next August 26-30. Look for details in the next issue of either magazine.


Buddhist Peace Fellowship protests Urban Shield, police militarization in Oakland

oakland-2014-eatonStory and photos by Joshua Eaton (Click here to view full photo set)

Lifelong Oakland resident Maurice Johnson was leaving Starbucks on Sunday, Aug. 31, when he heard drumming and the sound of Japanese monks chanting the first line of the Lotus Sutra. Johnson then saw nine members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF), all in meditation posture, risking arrest by blocking the Oakland Marriott City Center’s main entrance. A banner at their feet read “Evict Urban Shield.” On the other side of the hotel’s front driveway, about 25 other BPF members meditated silently with signs that called for an end to police militarization.

The protest’s Buddhist packaging surprised Johnson at first, but he understood its message instantly. “They’re protesting the hotel giving them room, giving the police room,” said Johnson, 40, who is African-American. “And they’re training them — excessive training, actually. Sort of like an army, you know. Not police training, sort of like army training. It’s a big difference.”

Read More »

Anonymous: Contemporary Tibetan art at Queens Museum

Larson_Prayer-Wheel-by-Nortse_Shelley-and-Donald-Rubin-Private-CollectionAnonymous, an exhibit by modern Tibetan artists exploring self-expression, attribution, and identity in contemporary Tibet, will open at the Queens Museum Sept. 21 and run through Jan. 4, 2015. An opening reception will be held on opening day, 4-7 pm.

In her review in the summer issue of Buddhadharma, Kay Larson explains the exhibition’s title:

“Artist-monks wielding brushes in the monastery workshops would never have signed whatever thangka they were working on; the idea would be preposterous. But for the twenty-seven artists in this show, which originated at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art and is traveling to other locations, anonymity carries a different weight; it recalls how Tibetans have been deliberately silenced in the twenty-first century. Weingeist at first thought she would play with this theme by making everyone in the exhibition anonymous, but Western-oriented artists vehemently opposed the idea. Even so, some artists need to mask their names because they risk punishment for speaking out.”

Click here for Kay Larson’s full review of this remarkable collection.



Josh Bartok — Zen teacher and dharma-book editor — hangs a new shingle

JoshBsmallHe’s been an editor and co-author of many books for Wisdom Publications, a photographer, and is the abbot of Greater Boston Zen Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Now Josh Bartok adds “Contemplative Therapist” to his resume, having just launched his own practice in Cambridge’s Central Square.

As he explains on his new website, “As I practice it, contemplative care is a variety of Buddhist pastoral support deeply informed by the evidence-based treatments of psychology (especially acceptance-based cognitive behavioral therapy), as well as the wisdom traditions of Buddhism. Yet you don’t have to have to be Buddhist to benefit from contemplative therapy.” Though for those who are, he adds, “Another area of specialty for me is helping people with transitions out of monastic practice settings.”

If you’re in the Boston area and feel you’d benefit from investigating contemplative therapy with Josh, you can visit him online.

Dalai Lama says there is no need for a successor; China disagrees

dalai-lamaIn a recent interview with German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, the Dalai Lama stated clearly that he saw no need for a 15th Dalai Lama to succeed him after his passing: “We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama,” adding, “If a weak Dalai Lama comes along, then it will just disgrace the Dalai Lama.”

Analysts appear to disagree on the true meaning and import of the statement.

Al Jazeera quotes Richard Barnett, a leading Tibet scholar at Columbia University, as saying, “The Chinese have a real chance of winning over the Tibetan population if they allow the Dalai Lama to come back and treat him well, and he acknowledges them for doing that. This remains the main bargaining chip for the Dalai Lama — it’s hard for the Chinese to see a way forward without him, but it’s difficult to see a way with him.”

However, Ganden Thurman, Executive Director of Tibet House US, told the Huffington Post that the Dalai Lama may simply be laying the ground for a more democratic Tibet: “His Holiness is looking for the resolution to the China issue and for [the Tibetan people's] own governance. Both of those issues are looking for what’s best for the Tibetan people.”

UPDATE: Following the Dalai Lama’s statements, Chinese leaders commented publicly that the Dalai Lama is obligated by history and culture to continue the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, including his own reincarnation. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said, “The (present) 14th Dalai Lama has ulterior motives, and is seeking to distort and negate history, which is damaging to the normal order of Tibetan Buddhism.”

There has long been concern among Tibetans that China will attempt to use the issue of the Dalai Lama’s succession for their own gain, most likely by attempting to appoint the 15th Dalai Lama independently.