Help Against the Stream open their new San Francisco meditation center

Via Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society: “For over a decade, people from all over the Bay Area have been getting together every Friday to sit in silent meditation and learn from a phenomenal group of dharma teachers including Vinny Ferraro, Gene Lushtak, Matthew Brensilver, Megan Cowan, and more. If you’ve meditated with us over the last couple of years, you know this well: We’re packed to capacity! To help keep up with our growing community, we’ve added two new weekly meditation groups and launched several weekly Refuge Recovery meetings to offer our community a Buddhist approach to recovery from addiction. But the final piece of the puzzle is to bring all this and more under one roof.” And that’s the goal of Against the Stream’s new IndieGogo campaign, which will open the doors to a brand new center in San Francisco.

Visit the IndieGogo campaign here to donate now.  Against the Stream needs to raise $30,000 — so every dollar helps, and every extra dollar raised can be used for needed finishing touches, meditation cushions, and more.

Also, take a look at the commentary in the current issue of Buddhadharma, in which Noah Levine, whose book Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction was published in June, takes sanghas to task for not upholding the fifth precept.

New campaign to raise awareness of Tibet’s Middle Way Approach

Top officials within the Central Tibetan Administration have begun a campaign to raise awareness of the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach, or Umaylam, which aims to peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet’s relationship to China.

The Middle Way Approach was drafted as a policy in 1974 by the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan administration. When Deng Xiaoping stated in 1979 that “apart from independence, all issues can be discussed,” the Middle Way Approach became the basis for discussions between Beijing and Dharamsala.

The awareness campaign is aimed at countering false information about Chinese Tibet policy and engaging the international community in working toward positive resolution.

Click here to visit the Middle Way Approach’s website.  Those interested in supporting the Umaylam campaign can learn more here.

Fresno Buddhist Temple makes $25k donation to Community Food Bank

fbtlogo6It was announced Thursday that Fresno Buddhist Temple, a Pure Land community, has made a donation of $25,000 to Fresno’s Community Food Bank. The donation will be presented this Sunday.

To learn more about the work of the Community Food Bank, which distributes food to 200,000 people monthly, click here.


Attention scholars: Khyentse Foundation Award for Outstanding PhD Dissertations in Buddhist Studies (Europe)

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 10.02.38 AMKhyentse Foundation recently announced the establishment of its second Award for Outstanding Dissertations in Buddhist Studies. The award will be presented every two years to the best PhD dissertation in the field of Buddhist Studies written in Europe, including the UK, during the previous two academic years. The dissertation must be based on original research in the relevant primary language, and it should significantly advance understanding of the subject or Buddhist scriptures studied.

For more information about the European Dissertation Award, as well as the first recipient of the foundation’s Asian Dissertation Award, Dr. Chao Tung-Ming of National Taiwan University, click here.

App helps monks handle money without handling money

Monk Phramaha Sombut Pramua with the card reader which allows smartphone giving and, below, the city templeIt’s a conundrum that has existed for more than two thousand years: How does a monk forbidden from directly accepting or handling cash receive donations on behalf of the sangha?

Monks at the Dhammapadipa Temple in Edinburgh, Scotland, may have found a solution: an iZettle credit-card reader that attaches to mobile phones so that donations can be made anywhere, on the fly, and without any actual cash changing hands.

Most such services come at a cost that would have been prohibitive to the temple, but iZettle stepped forward to help. “We’re delighted,” says Nina Fernstrom, strategic partnership developer at iZettle, “to be helping with the monks’ efforts to raise money for a new building in Edinburgh.”

Abbot Watana Somboon explains, “Monks are not allowed to touch money, so this is a very modern way of getting around a very old problem. Ideally we would appoint lay people to use the card device, after which the monk blesses the person who has given the donation. But even if there is no lay person in the temple, the monks can use this.”

Visit the Edinburgh News for more.


Nepal retracts permission for Shamar Rinpoche’s cremation

Following directives from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Nepal’s government has retracted its permission to allow the body of Shamar Rinpoche, who died in Germany on June 11 of a heart attack, to be brought to Nepal for cremation. Nepali officials stated clearly that the decision was not a response to pressure from China; however, as the New York Times reports, “the police and political parties [of Nepal] strictly prohibit activities considered to be ‘anti-China.’”

It had been Shamar Rinpoche’s wish for the rituals around his cremation to be carried out at his home monastery in Kathmandu. For the present, his body is being held in the Karmapa International Buddhist Institute in New Delhi.

For more on this story, click here.

Help Kickstart “The Dalai Lama Film”

“Be a part of HH The Dalai Lama’s legacy,” reads the announcement from Lemle Pictures, “by helping to make a film His Holiness calls part of his ‘Spiritual Will.’ With your help, The Dalai Lama Film will capture His Holiness’s wisdom, humor, and compassion and spread it throughout the world.” The documentary, now in production, has launched a Kickstarter campaign, complete with the usual host of premiums for donors. Watch the trailer above and contribute to the Kickstarter campaign here.

Registration opens for semester-based courses with Rangjung Yeshe Institute’s Online Learning Program

Chris 1 OLL FBPosted by Rangjung Yeshe Institute

Rangjung Yeshe Institute (RYI), located in Boudhanath, Nepal, offers undergraduate and graduate study programs on campus for anyone interested in learning more about Buddhist Studies and Himalayan Languages. However, because many people are settled into their busy lives and may not be able to make the journey to study on campus, we offer the option to study in your own time from your own home with RYI’s Online Learning Program. Read More »

Roshi Pia Gyger dies at age 74

Pia Gyger, 1940-2014

Pia Gyger, 1940-2014

The Zen Peacemakers site reports today that Pia Gyger, a psychologist and Zen teacher in the White Plum Sangha lineage, has passed away. Our thoughts go to her family, students, and sangha.

Starting in the 1970s, Gyger trained extensively in Japan and in Hawaii, eventually receiving dharma transmission from Robert Aitken and being confirmed as a Zen master by Tetsugen Bernie Glassman. She was co-founder of the Lassalle-Institute and co-initiator of the Jerusalem-Project. For more information about her life and work, click here.

Petition to have Ajahn Brahm’s paper on bhikkhuni ordination and equality heard at UN conference

Screen Shot 2014-07-10 at 3.41.01 PMAs reported here last month, Ajahn Brahm was invited to give a speech at the 11th Annual UN Day of Vesak Convention in Vietnam earlier this year, only to find at the last moment that his talk, which called for bhikkhuni ordination in the Theravada tradition and equal treatment of women in Theravada countries, had been cancelled, presumably due to opposition from more conservative voices.

There is now a petition calling for Ajahn Brahm to be invited to deliver his paper at the 2015 UNDV conference. Both the petition and the full text of Ajahn Brahm’s planned speech can be found here.

Call for Papers: 4th International Conference on Buddhism in Australasian region

The International Conference Buddhism & Australia 2015 will be held in Perth, Western Australia, on  February 26-28, 2015. This conference investigates the history and the current and future directions for Buddhism in Australasia.

The main theme for Buddhism & Australia 2015 will be “Buddhist Symbols and Symbolism.” The organizers are open to proposals for contributions on Buddhism’s history, philosophy, and texts, as well for proposals on any related theme.

All Buddhists, scholars, and members of the general public interested in Buddhism are invited to present their papers in this upcoming conference. Researchers across a broad range of disciplines are welcomed, and the submission of pre-formed panel proposals is encouraged. Read More »

Arrest of Tibetan writer preceded by US embassy invitation

09sino-BLOGGER-blog480Update (July 10): Tsering Woeser  posted on her Facebook page that her house arrest has now ended. She writes, “It is clear that the house arrest was to stop me from receiving an invitation to a private dinner at the United States Embassy.” The dinner was to be a discussion of women’s issues.

Tibetan writer and advocate Tsering Woeser and her family were placed under house arrest in Beijing this Tuesday. The detention came immediately after Woeser received a call inviting her to visit the US embassy. Neither the Chinese government nor the US embassy have offered any comment.

Woeser, who maintains a website called Invisible Tibet, was given an International Women of Courage Award by the US State Department last year. According to the State Department, her website, along with her other writings and her use of social media, “have given voice to millions of ethnic Tibetans who are prevented from expressing themselves to the outside world due to government efforts to curtail the flow of information.”

For more information on Tsering Woeser and this story, click here.

Remembering spiritual pioneer Reb Zalman (1924-2014)

Zalman with Ram Dass in 2008. Photo: Joan Halifax.

Zalman with Ram Dass in 2008

Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, better known as “Reb Zalman,” one of the founders of the Jewish Renewal Movement, died on July 2, at the age of 89.

Zalman held the World Wisdom Chair at Naropa University and was Professor Emeritus at Naropa, as well as Temple University. Naropa was also the original home of the Reb Zalman Legacy Project, designed “to preserve, develop and disseminate” his teachings. (Details about the archive, since relocated, can be found here.

A heartfelt and surprising remembrance of Zalman, in which Bernie Glassman writes, “I told him more than once that had I met him as a young man, my spiritual path would probably have followed his rather than Zen Buddhism,” can be found here. Read More »