Join Brenda Shoshanna, Larry Ward, and Judy Lief — and us — for “Love & Intimacy: What the Buddhists Teach”

omegateachers14From July 18-20, the Shambhala Sun Foundation and the Omega Institute will present Love & Intimacy: What the Buddhists Teach, a weekend course perfect for anyone who wants to examine their relationships in the context of the Buddhist path. This will be our eighth annual “What the Buddhists Teach” program at Omega, and will be led by (left to right) Brenda Shoshanna, PhD, a psychologist in private practice in Manhattan and a long-time practitioner of Zen and Judaism; Larry Ward, director of the Lotus Institute, and a dharma teacher ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh; and Judy Lief – teacher, author, and editor of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s Profound Treasury collection. (Judy also wrote the lead piece for our current issue‘s special section on distraction.)

The workshop runs from July 18 – 20 at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York, and is open to all. Complete information can be found here; or click here to jump immediately to the program’s registration page.

The “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the moment


From author and contemplative photographer Andy Karr comes the latest “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the week, submitted by [username] Annie. Andy’s comment: “It’s a little hard to explain what makes this such a pleasing perception. It could be the way the shadow of the chimney lines up with the wall. It would certainly be easy to overlook, but it’s a great example of fresh seeing.”

For more — including info for trying to “see fresh” yourself, click through here.

American Himalayan Foundation creates fund for families of Sherpa avalanche victims

An honorary procession in Kathmandu for eight of the Sherpa victims of last Friday's Mt. Everest avalanche preceding their Buddhist cremation. Photo © Thomas Kelly.

An honorary procession in Kathmandu for eight of the Sherpa victims of last Friday’s Mt. Everest avalanche preceding their Buddhist cremation. Photo © Thomas Kelly.

Buddhist cremation ceremonies were conducted Monday for eight of the thirteen Sherpa mountaineering guides who were killed on Friday, April 18, in an avalanche on Mt. Everest while making advance preparations for foreign climbers. The bodies were transported in an honorary procession through the streets of Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, culminating in the cremation at the religious complex surrounding the Swayambhunath stupa. Three other guides were hospitalized with critical injuries, while a search continues for a further three who are unaccounted for.

The American Himalayan Foundation has created a Sherpa Family Fund, promising that “100% of donations will go directly to help the families of the deceased.” See their announcement here.

Special thanks to Kathmandu-based photographer Thomas Kelly for providing the image above. It’s from a series of ten he took during the funeral procession, and Kelly intends to donate the proceeds from any sales of these images to support the children of his friend Ang Kaji Sherpa.

Further images and story details may be seen here.

Happy Earth Day — and many, many, many, many, many more

Because, as they say, every day should be Earth Day, we wanted to remind you that if you’re looking for some refreshing and hopeful wisdom about how to live in harmony with nature, you’ll find plenty on our special “Buddhism and Green Living” spotlight page, which includes Thich Nhat Hanh, Stephanie Kaza, Rick Bass, and more people who practice environmentally responsible living in ways that resonate with or are informed by a Buddhist perspective. Visit our Buddhism and Green Living page here.

(UPDATE: Free online screenings offered) Ahead of North American premiere of “Vara”, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche talks movie-making, rock music, film violence, and more

One of the classical Indian dance scenes from "Vara: A Blessing"

One of the classical Indian dance scenes from “Vara: A Blessing”

UPDATE: The Tribeca Film Festival is offering free online screenings of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s new film, Vara: A Blessing, as one of four features selected for a web-based audience competition. From Monday night at 8:45pm EDT to Wednesday at 3pm, the first 1500 people to log on can watch the entire film (U.S. residents only), with a chance halfway through to give it a one- to five-star vote. Visit TFF’s competition page here, set up a simple online account (click the eye symbol at the upper right), and you’ll be eligible to view Vara and vote. Our original post about Vara, from last week, follows here now.

It’s no simple matter juggling life as an internationally in-demand Buddhist teacher, while also satisfying the schedules for directing and promoting a major film. “I’m so bad at managing time,” Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche told the Wall Street Journal‘s David Walter, lamenting that he missed the world premiere last October of his latest project, Vara: A Blessing, to give teachings beyond the reach of cell phones, high in the Himalayas.

But Khyentse Rinpoche does intend to be in New York for Vara‘s North American premiere next week at the Tribeca Film Festival. In an interview published today, he described to Walter how filming Vara, a love story based around Indian classical dance,  presented a new set of challenges, such as working with professional actors for the first time (for his two previous films, The Cup and Travellers and Magicians, he used local people in his native Bhutan) and the daunting intricacy of choreographing and shooting Bollywood-style dance numbers. Continued »

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche on overcoming distraction

“In this samsaric, or confused, world, most of you have grown up physically, but psychologically you are very young. If your mind is so adolescent that you have no control over it, what you are taught is completely wasted, because you have not heard it—not because you are stupid but because you are so distracted. The discipline of meditation is the best way for you to work with your mind, so that your mind and your body can be properly coordinated.” — Chögyam Trungpa, from The Path of Individual Liberation: Volume One of The Profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma, via Ocean of Dharma

“The Real Problem with Distraction” (that it’s keeping you from enlightenment) is the headline for the cover of our current, May magazine and its special section, which includes contributions from Judy Lief, Sharon Salzberg, Thich Nhat Hanh, and John Tarrant. Read excerpts and complete articles from the issue here.

The reincarnation of a Tibetan lama as an American child to be treated in “The Oldest Boy,” a new Lincoln Center play this fall

Playwright Sarah Ruhl

Playwright Sarah Ruhl

We’ve seen the subject of Western children recognized as the reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist lamas treated in film (Little Buddha) and books (The Boy Lama, Reborn in the West). Now there’s going to be a serious theatrical turn: The Oldest Boy, a play about this very matter by Sarah Ruhl (Tony Award nominee, Pulitzer Prize finalist and MacArthur Fellow), will be staged at New York’s Lincoln Center Theater in a world premiere this November. According to Broadway World, here’s all that’s being released about the plot so far:

“Tenzin, the toddler son of an American woman and a Tibetan man, is recognized as the reincarnation of a high Buddhist teacher. Differing cultures contend with competing ideas of faith and love when two monks seek permission to take Tenzin to a monastery in India to begin his training as a spiritual master. His parents must decide whether to send their young son away or keep him home.”

The Oldest Son has yet to be cast, so New Yorkers: watch for when the call goes out, this could be your lucky break!

For more on playwright Sarah Ruhl, read her New Yorker profile entitled, “Surreal Life.”

Forty years of “making the world safe for poetry”: Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics celebrates Sunday at City Lights Bookstore

Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, founders of the jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, with early faculty member Robert Creeley

Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, founders of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, with early faculty member Robert Creeley

The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University turns 40 this year, and San Francisco’s City Lights Bookstore is throwing them a party. The natural alliance between JKS founders Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, City Lights founders Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Peter Martin, and others in the ferment of underground American letters has deepened and expanded with the revolving generations.

“Today’s alignment,” JKS professor Alexis Rexilius told SFGate, “is with EcoPoetics, the Gurlesque, Documentary Poetics, Conceptualism, Somatic Writing, New Narrative, etc. Often these affinities are contradictory, but that is part of what we like. It’s about inclusion, diversity, conversation.” Continued »

Read Sharon Salzberg’s “The Myth of Multitasking,” from the May Shambhala Sun, now

Art by Andre Slob

Art by Andre Slob

We have the illusion that multitasking makes us more efficient, but that’s not true. In the current Shambhala Sun, Sharon Salzberg offers tips for getting work done well without getting worked up. Read “The Myth of Multitasking” — part of our May magazine‘s special section on The Real Problem with Distraction — online now; just click here.

And there’s lots more from Sharon in the Shambhala Sun, like: To Love Abundantly: Sharon Salzberg’s Journey on the Path | Sharon Salzberg on Getting Started with meditation | Sharon Salzberg & Alice Walker in conversation | “Becoming the Ally of All Beings” | “Generosity’s Perfection”

Video: A Buddhist temple, on the rocks

ripplesWe’ve all seen variations of the cliched “water droplet and ripples” image that’s been used to sell so many spiritually minded products — many of them Buddhist (or at least quasi-Buddhist). Here’s an unusual twist: in this video, which does begin with the usual droplet-and-ripples affair, Kyoto, Japan’s Kinkaju Zen Buddhist temple is carved out of ice to sell… SunTory Whisky? Strange, but true:

It’s hardly the first time that the cachet of Zen and/or Buddhism have been used to sell liquor. For example, there’s Lucky Beer (the “Enlightened Brew”), or “Zen” liqueur, or Pyrat Rum, whose mascot is Hotei — often wrongly identified as the Buddha, and described by Pyrat as the “Zen patron saint of bartenders.” Continued »

Read the intro from the new Shambhala Sun book, Buddha’s Daughters: Teachings from Women Who Are Shaping Buddhism in the West

In addition to A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation, this Spring marks the release of another Shambhala Sun book, Buddha’s Daughters, edited by Shambhala Sun Deputy Editor Andrea Miller. The book is available now — click here to order or for more information. Below, you can read Andrea’s introduction to the book (as well as browse its chock-full Table of Contents). 

miller-2014Buddha’s Daughters: Introduction

I had my first taste of Buddhism in university when I took a class on Chinese and Japanese religions. Since the presentation was dryly academic, I didn’t immediately connect with the Four Noble Truths. Truth be told, I can barely remember taking notes on them, but what did spark my interest was the dissemination of Buddhism. My professor explained that as the Buddha’s teachings fanned out across Asia, they took on the flavor of each culture they encountered. And the result—from Tibet to Thailand and beyond— was that Buddhist traditions came to be so varied that early Western colonialists and missionaries were not always aware they embodied a single religion.

My professor did not go on to address modern Buddhism’s state of flux—that was beyond the scope of our class. Yet Buddhism is indeed still transforming. Now it’s taking root in the West, and decade by decade it’s developing into its own Western strain, or strains. Admittedly, the results are mixed. It’s uncomfortable, for instance, to see the Western vice of materialism seeping into Buddhist practice. But to date there is one hallmark of Western Buddhism that I believe is cause for unreserved celebration. In the West, women teachers play a prominent role; their wise voices are strong and getting stronger. Continued »

The “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the moment…


From author and contemplative photographer Andy Karr comes the latest “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the week, submitted by [username] ekk814. Andy’s comment: “The color, texture, and sculptural folds of this fabric make a great perception. It’s a fine example of fresh seeing.” Continued »

Artist and former Buddhist monk Andrew Binkley explores “A Space Between” in Hawaii museum installation

Photography collage from the "Just Being" series.

Photography collage from the “Just Being” series.

There was a point at which American artist Andrew Binkley had had it with school and set off for China to explore Ch’an Buddhism. A year’s immersion in the art and philosophy of that culture moved him to dive even deeper and off he went to Thailand where he spent two years as a Theravadan monk in the strict, meditative Thai Forest tradition. Such experiences now infuse Binkley’s full-time artist life in a home he designed and built in Maui, Hawaii, and his regular journeys back to Guangzhou, China.

This spring, Honolulu residents and visitors can participate in Binkley’s contemplative installation work, A Space Between, while he is artist-in-residence at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Spalding House. Binkley’s m.o. might seem a bit odd at first—identifying cracks in the pavement surface outside the gallery, then painting them gold—until one discovers the inspiration: Continued »

Tell us what you think of the May Shambhala Sun in our quick online survey

May 14 Shambhala SunHi, this is Melvin McLeod, editor-in-chief of the Shambhala Sun. I’d like to ask for your help.

We’d like to know more about you—who you are, what you like and don’t like in the Sun, what you’d like to see more of. That’s the only way the magazine can improve and serve the Shambhala Sun community—and the dharma—better.

We want more dialogue with our community of readers. We want to hear what you think—and we’ll respond.

Please click here and fill out this easy on-line survey about the current issue of the Sun. Tell us what you read and didn’t. It will only take a few minutes.

The Shambhala Sun and you—let’s get the conversation started.

Melvin (McLeod)

Read “Run for Freedom,” about training the body and mind through parkour, from the May Shambhala Sun

Freerunning, or parkour, isn’t merely a daredevil’s game. It’s a way to reappropriate our urban spaces as training grounds for body and mind. In our May 2014 magazine, Vincent Thibault looks at how running, jumping, and climbing can beautify our cities—and our lives. It’s all accompanied by a photo essay by Andy Day (above is the detail from one of Day’s included shots).

Click here to read “Run for Freedom” online. | Or view/download a PDF of the article, including Day’s complete photo essay. Enjoy!