If you see the Buddha on 11th Avenue…

Via Chip Johnson of SF Gate comes an especially sweet little story out of Oakland, California:

Dan Stevenson is neither a Buddhist nor a follower of any organized religion… The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland’s Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street.

He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquillity to a neighborhood marred by crime: dumping, graffiti, drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, aggravated assault and burglaries.

What happened next was nothing short of stunning. Area residents began to leave offerings at the base of the Buddha: flowers, food, candles. A group of Vietnamese women in prayer robes began to gather at the statue to pray.

And the neighborhood changed.

Read the rest here.

Watch a livestream of Pema Chödrön, teaching on “Basic Goodness”

The Buddhist principal of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good. – See more at: http://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/basic-goodness-live-stream?affiliate=540f4e62be7fb#-workshop-video-block
The Buddhist principal of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good. – See more at: http://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/basic-goodness-live-stream?affiliate=540f4e62be7fb#-workshop-video-block
The Buddhist principal of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good. – See more at: http://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/basic-goodness-live-stream?affiliate=540f4e62be7fb#-workshop-video-block
The Buddhist principal of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good. – See more at: http://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/basic-goodness-live-stream?affiliate=540f4e62be7fb#-workshop-video-block
The Buddhist principal of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good. – See more at: http://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/basic-goodness-live-stream?affiliate=540f4e62be7fb#-workshop-video-block
The Buddhist principal of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good. – See more at: http://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/basic-goodness-live-stream?affiliate=540f4e62be7fb#-workshop-video-block
The Buddhist principal of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good. – See more at: http://www.eomega.org/online-workshops/basic-goodness-live-stream?affiliate=540f4e62be7fb#-workshop-video-block

chodron_pema_webThe Buddhist principal of basic goodness is not particularly religious or secular. It’s not something esoteric or unrelated to us. It’s about how we feel about ourselves at the core. We are fundamentally open-minded, open-hearted, worthy, and good.

Now’s your chance to sign up to hear the great teacher Pema Chödrön — a Shambhala Sun readers’ favorite — speak, live, on Basic Goodness, on Sept. 26-28. The talk will take place on campus at Omega Institute — but is already sold out. Luckily, a livestream is being offered so that anyone anywhere can “attend.” Click here to sign up.

For much more from Pema, don’t miss our special Spotlight page of some of her finest Shambhala Sun pieces.

Sakyong Mipham on why meditation helps us “Stop, Relax, Wake Up”

Meditation practice, says Sakyong Mipham in his Shambhala Sun article, “Stop, Relax, Wake Up,” gives us time to slow down and really wake up to the naturally occurring love in our hearts. And it can be pleasurable!

“Meditation is supposed to feel good,” he writes. “In fact, when we are simply being and feeling, we appreciate; we find that we are naturally discursive and less critical.” Sounds encouraging, yes? Then click here and read all of “Stop, Relax, Wake Up,” now.

Sylvia Boorstein, Tara Brach, and Tim Ryan to appear at “DC Mindfully” on Thursday, Sept. 18

DC-mindfully_homepage_banner_550-300x97On 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 Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma 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.

Colbert’s latest take on Buddhism…: “Boom! Dalai Lama out.”

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In Wednesday night’s Colbert Report, Stephen told the Nation about the Dalai Lama’s recent statement regarding the future of his post — that is, that there may be no need for it. Irreverence — no surprise — ensued, including Colbert’s notions that Obama is a “secret Buddhist” and that Stephen himself should serve as the Fifteenth Dalai Lama. Watch the video here. (Or here if you’re in Canada; in which case you’ll want to start at about the 2:45 mark or so.)

For more on the real story, see Buddhadharma’s news post, “Dalai Lama says there is no need for a successor; China disagrees”

Buddhist Peace Fellowship protests Urban Shield, police militarization in Oakland

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Story 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 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.”

Continued »

“All the Rage: Buddhism Wisdom on Anger and Acceptance” — Read the intro and Sylvia Boorstein’s contribution, “No Blame”

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Andrea, with the first copy of All the Rage — hot off the press.

The new Shambhala Sun book, All the Rage: Buddhist Wisdom on Anger and Acceptance, comes out next month (and is ready for online direct orders from the publisher now). Here, in the book’s introduction, editor Andrea Miller tells you what’s inside — and gets a bit personal about anger, too. You’ll also find a link to a sample teaching from the book, Sylvia Boorstein’s “No Blame.”

You would never peg me as someone who’d get in a fistfight, and you’d be right. But all the same, there was this one time more than a decade ago.

Urgently needing a place to live, I hastily signed the lease to a drafty apartment with sloping floors and cracks in the walls. I asked the landlord if I could move in on the last day of the month, and he said, “No problem.” But twenty-four hours before the scheduled move, the apartment’s current tenants apparently had a change of plans and the landlord asked if I could postpone moving by a day. At this point, though, I couldn’t; I’d already enlisted movers.

The landlord phoned again. “Okay,” he said, “the tenants who are in there now will empty a bedroom for you. You can pile your things into that room. Then the next day, they’ll get their stuff out and you can begin living in the apartment.” Though not ideal, this was workable.

At the appointed time, I arrived with a load of furniture. The promised bedroom, however, wasn’t ready, and the tenants were unapologetic, particularly the woman. Within a hot minute, she and I were raising our voices. Continued »

The “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the moment…

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From author and contemplative photographer Andy Karr comes the latest “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the week, submitted by (username) Magnitsky. Andy’s comment: “This is a hauntingly pleasing image: the light coming from inside some of the windows, and somber sky reflected in the others, all balanced with the expanse of dusk. It’s a lovely example of fresh seeing.” Continued »

Meditation inspiration: Pema Chödrön on “lightening up”

Time now for a little meditation inspiration, by way of Heart Advice, Weekly Quotes from Pema Chödrön:

“Discipline is important. When we sit down to meditate, we are encouraged to stick with the technique and be faithful to the instruction, but within that container of discipline, why do we have to be so harsh? Do we meditate because we ‘should’?

“How we regard what arises in meditation is training for how we regard whatever arises in the rest of our lives. So the challenge is how to develop compassion right along with clear seeing, how to train in lightening up and cheering up rather than becoming more guilt-ridden and miserable.”

Ready to get started? Then visit our special Spotlight page of Pema Chödrön’s best teachings from the Shambhala Sun, as well as our How to Meditate Spotlight, for plenty of helpful, plain-language guidance.

Jerry Granelli: Bringing The Real Stuff — and “Warrior Songs”

Meet jazz legend and Buddhist Jerry Granelli — soon to debut a World Premiere work at Naropa University.

“I didn’t come to the dharma looking to be a better musician,” jerry-granelli says Jerry Granelli. “I’d accomplished most of what I’d hoped for. But I didn’t know how to be a human.” At 72, the jazz drummer and music-and-meditation teacher is as vital and inventive as any artist could hope to be.

As a jazz musician, he made a name for himself young. That’s the 22-year-old Granelli drumming on Vince Guaraldi’s beloved “Linus and Lucy,” the Peanuts’ theme song. He played with the likes of Carmen McRae, Bill Evans, and Sly Stone, but by the time he met his teacher, Chögyam Trungpa, in the early 1970s, he was at a crossroads: tired, and perhaps even “done with music forever.” But Trungpa Rinpoche told him, “no, no, that’s where your real stuff will come up.” Continued »

RAIN Cools the Flames of Anger

Emily Horn teaches us how to recognize, accept, investigate, and not identify with our anger. From the September 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine, on newsstands now.


The best way to transform anger and other strong emotions is to befriend them. As with any relationship, it takes time to become intimate with the inner workings of our minds. To do it we need courage and strength. And we need the help of an effective technique.

Peeling away the layers of anger moves us closer to life and empowers us to stand up for justice. One of the most effective ways to deepen and transform our relationship with anger is a four-step mindfulness-based practice known by the acronym RAIN: Recognize, Accept, Investigate, Non-Identify. Here’s how it works. Continued »

Watch: “Hector” (aka Simon Pegg) goes to Tibet

pegg1If a good-natured, fun-loving film is your cuppa tea, you know Simon Pegg; think Hot Fuzz, Paul, Shaun of the Dead, and so on. Pegg’s latest star turn is in the title role of Hector and the Search for Happiness, in which he plays a psychiatrist who’s trotting the globe in search of, yes, happiness. Over at IndieWire, they’ve got an exclusive, newly released trailer for the film, which opens mid-month.

Click here to watch it. (Link opens in new window.) Could be a nice antidote to Summer Blockbuster Overload.

“That’s Not Very Buddhist of You”

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Photo by Nina Snow

“That’s Not Very Buddhist of You.” Have you ever had that accusation thrown in your face? Brad Warner has, and it’s made him think about what it really means to act like a Buddhist. It’s not as simple as right and wrong.

The other day, someone who attends the zazen classes I lead told me about an argument she’d had with her boyfriend. At one point in the argument, her boyfriend pointed out something she’d done and said, “That’s not very Buddhist!”

How often have all of us heard that one? These days the average person has been bombarded with enough media images of what the folks in Hollywood think Buddhism might be for pretty much anyone to start believing they know exactly what it means to follow in Gautama’s footsteps. Whether it’s Yoda from Star Wars, or Kwai Chang Caine from Kung Fu, or that supposedly Buddhist guy in the tissue commercials who gets horrified at the thought that his medicated hankies are killing poor innocent germs, it all filters into the generalized idea of how Buddhists ought to look, sound, and behave. And when we don’t live up to these idealized images, look out!

Continued »

Remembering Jim Woolsey, rock fan/producer and preserver of Tibetan literature

-1“He was one my dearest friends and father-figures and I don’t know what I’m gonna do w/o him now.” That’s how Mickey Melchiondo — aka Dean Ween, half of the team behind the beloved but no-longer-active band known as Ween — characterized his feelings about the passing of Jim Woolsey. But who was Jim Woolsey? How that question’s answered will, of course, depend on who’s being asked. Melchiondo describes Woolsey’s role as “assistant to the band,” noting that he “helped us establish our newsletter and mailing lists in the era before email.” Woolsey’s obituary, which ran on August 31, gives more of the story, referring to Woolsey’s work as the operator of a recording studio and then mentioning that, “In the 1980′s, he began traveling to Dharamsala, India to work with the Tibetan Library.”

This McCall’s story from 1993 tells us more about Woolsey and his role in what turns out to be a quiet but very sweet episode of dharma-and-pop-culture collision: Continued »

A vivacious new “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the moment….

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From author and contemplative photographer Andy Karr comes the latest “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the week, submitted by [username] Christiane. Andy’s comment: “There is nothing quite like the vivacity of patterns of light. I love the play of light and texture in this image. It’s a great example of fresh seeing.” Continued »