Monthly Archives: January 2011

Crazy Wisdom: A Film About the Life and Times of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche (Video/trailer) / Updated

[Update: The New York Times reviews Crazy Wisdom. Previous updates: Crazy Wisdom has been selected as one of the Santa Barbara Independent's "Films to See." And, Jetset Extra has just published a new interview with the director of Crazy Wisdom, Johanna Demetrakas. Read it here. And you can also see a large version of the film's poster (a thumbnail is shown here) here.]

We told you the other day of the premiere of one new film about the Tibetan Buddhist teacher and pioneer Chogyam Trungpa. Well, another Trungpa documentary has also been in the works, and you’ll get to see it soon. Crazy Wisdom: The Life and Times of Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche has its premiere this February at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival; you can watch its trailer here, after the jump. Continued »

“Inner-City Inner Peace”

Ali Smith, Atman Smith, and Andy Gonzales know firsthand how easy it is for children to lose their way and succumb to fear and despair. So they decided to do something about it, and found that others wanted to help, too.

Starting by teaching fifth graders, many of them so called “problem students,” how to do yoga — “The kids thought yoga was the little guy from Star Wars,” says Atman Smith — they would soon start up a non-profit, the Holistic Life Foundation. The results have proven impressive.

Read all about it in Barry Boyce’s article for the new issue of the Shambhala Sun, “Inner City, Inner Peace.” You can find the magazine on newsstands starting this week, and you can read “Inner City, Inner Peace” online now.

“Virtual” Buddhist communities: Well, why not?

Over at, author and senior editor Adam Tebbe responds to criticisms by Zen teacher Brad Warner, wherein Warner states that he is “fighting the good fight against the forces that want to move Zen practice on-line.” Regarding the idea of online sanghas, or Buddhist communities, Warner writes: “A zendo in Second Life is not a real zendo. Your time spent reading blogs about Zen, including this one, is not real time spent with a Zen teacher. [...] I’m starting to get concerned over what the effects will be of a generation that can’t tell the difference, who are accustomed to sitting in their bedrooms on computers for endless stretches and don’t actually understand how to speak to each other anymore.”

A valid concern, to be sure. But as Tebbe writes in his post, The Online Sangha, “Even when we use a tool like the computer to avoid reality, this presents us with our reality. We face it head-on. So, we cannot escape it even if we wish to. Additionally, and this is key, we do not emphasize the virtual aspect of our encounters in Second Life and we advocate that, when possible, individuals should strive to connect with a physical sangha and/or teacher.”

What do you think? Check out Warner’s post, and Tebbe’s post, and join the conversation. And be sure and tell us how you feel about using online technology as a support for your practice of meditation and/or connection to others who share your interest in Buddhist teachings and practice.

See also: A Precious “Second Life” Online?Nate DeMontigny, author of the Precious Metal blog, explains the online simulation program, Second Life.

The March 2011 Shambhala Sun: Browse it online now

Can we “smile at fear?” Yes we can, Pema Chödrön teaches us in the new, March 2011 Shambhala Sun magazine, which features an exclusive presentation of her recent “Smile at Fear” teachings. If you want to make bravery, open heart, and basic goodness a bigger part of your life, you won’t want to miss this.

Also in the new magazine: Thich Nhat Hanh on healing the child within, Chögyam Trungpa on “The Tender Heart of the Warrior,” Karen Armstrong on the undying power of compassion and her campaign for a more compassionate global community, Barry Boyce on finding inner peace in the inner city, and more. You’ll find the magazine on most newsstands by February 1, but you can browse it online here, now.

[Oh, and about the graphic you see here: This takeoff on the famous "Rosie the Riveter" poster from the Second World War, seen in the March 2011 magazine, delighted Pema when it was given to her at the Smile at Fear teachings in Richmond, California -- home to the Rosie the Riveter memorial.]

Mindfulness’s benefits: from out of the news and into your life

Mindfulness has, of course, been increasingly newsworthy, but the latest news – as reported on the Shambhala Sun Foundation’s new website, last week – has really been getting around in the past couple of days.

The big story, of course, is that practicing Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction re-shapes the brain, and increases the amount of grey matter in the area of that is brain associated with learning. All this, after just eight weeks of mindfulness meditation practice!

To people who’ve already been practicing, this may not be such an unusual story; they’ve likely sensed such effects in themselves. What is unusual is that this story’s caught the attention of news sources like the super-fun site Boing Boing (one of the most-read and linked-to blogs in the world), and even the gossip site, Gawker. (January 26 update: And now Business Week is spreading the news.)

This means that more and more people will be looking for more information on bringing the benefits of mindfulness into their lives. They deserve reliable information that speaks their language: That’s precisely why we launched and produced this downloadable “Mindful” mini-magazine.

We hope you’ll visit Mindful, download the mini-magazine, and – if you’re not – get acquainted with mindfulness practice. Then, see features on mindfulness at home, at work, in relation to the health of your body and mind, in love and relationships, and much more. (And to stay up to date, you can friend Mindful on Facebook here.)

And when you meet friends who might want to know about mindfulness practice, please send them to We’ll be glad, and we’ll bet your friends will be too.

Sharon Salzberg’s “Real Happiness” challenge: What’s it like to meditate for 28 days?

During the month of February, Sharon Salzberg is inviting a diverse group of people to participate in the meditation program that she lays out in her new book, Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program.

Participating in the group will be a firefighter, a comedian, an investment banker, a teacher, an activist, a human rights worker, and many more people from all over North America. They will be asked to reflect on their experiences—pleasant, difficult, and in between—and then blog and/or tweet about these experiences. All feedback will be posted on Sharon’s website. So visit it and follow along! Click here to visit Sharon and Real Happiness on the web.

By the way: the Shambhala Sun’s Andrea Miller reviewed Real Happiness in the March 2011 edition of the magazine. Read that review after the jump. Continued »

Chogyam Trungpa documentary film, Touch and Go, premieres; Watch it online now, here

By Carolyn Rose Gimian

Chogyam Trungpa’s first book, Born in Tibet, originally published in 1966, is a classic story of a great escape. It is an autobiographical account of Rinpoche’s upbringing in Tibet and his forced departure from the country in 1959, leading a group of 300 refugees trying to reach India. Now, more than fifty years later, Grant MacLean has created a movie for the internet that brings the reality of the escape to life. Using technology from Google Earth and Flight Simulator, Touch and Go makes you feel that you are — if not on the journey — then certainly witnessing it close at hand.

If Chogyam Trungpa had not been successful in reaching India, what would have become of Buddhism in America and throughout the West? When you see how close he came to failure and how extraordinary his success was, it might give you pause. [More, including complete video of the movie as it stands, and how YOU can help bring it to the big screen, after the jump.] Continued »

Fear of Life, Fear of Death — A guest post by Lewis Richmond

In the March 2011 issue of the Shambhala Sun, Pema Chodron teaches us how to “Smile at Fear.” Here, in an exclusive for Shambhala SunSpace, Zen teacher Lewis Richmond asks us to consider fear itself: what is it?

In Zen we say, “Life and Death is the great matter.” This is a kind of exhortation to take spiritual practice seriously, but as my teacher used to say, “Don’t be too serious.” There is a little ego in being too serious.  Anyway, life and death are two sides of the same coin. They arise together. This is the Buddhist view. And so fear of dying is also fear of living. Fear arises toward both.

So what is this fear? What are we afraid of? Continued »

Wat Rong Khun: A Buddhist temple unlike any you’ve seen

And now for something completely different…: After seeing reactions from our Facebook friends to a post from yesterday, it only seems right to share this with SunSpace’s readers and see what you all think. (But first, thanks to Scott Mitchell of the great blog The Buddha Is My DJ for pointing this story out to begin with.)

Yesterday the website Feel Guide reported on and showed photos of Wat Rong Khun, a Buddhist and Hindu temple found in Chiang Rai, Thailand, designed by the artist Chalermchai Kositpipat. (According to Wikipedia: “In 1997, Chalermchai Kositpipat volunteered his service to carry out the construction of [the temple's assembly hall] at his own expense as an offering to Lord Buddha, but he later altered the plan as he saw fit in such a way that Wat Rong Khun developed into a prominent site attracting both Thai and foreign visitors.”)

Like Antonio Gaudi’s Sagrada Família, it remains a work in progress, and a highly eccentric (and, I would say, beautiful) one at that. After the jump: video from outside the temple — and how superheroes and Hollywood film characters have found a home there. Continued »

Flaming Lips and Taj Mahal to join The Roots, Michael Stipe, Patti Smith at Tibet House show

New York City’s Tibet House has just announced that — along with The Roots, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe, James McCartney (son of Paul), Patti Smith, and Angelique Kidjo — The Flaming Lips and Taj Mahal will be performing at its annual benefit concert, taking place on March 3rd at Carnegie Hall.

Click here to find out more and to order tickets.

The Today Show’s Ann Curry interviews Aung San Suu Kyi

Recently freed Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has just been interviewed by the Today Show’s Ann Curry. This is her first interview with a US television outlet since her release. Video here:

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

With thanks to our blogger Danny Fisher. Read Danny’s SunSpace posts here, and visit his personal blog here.

Chogyam Trungpa on “Work, Sex, Money” — and spiritual practice

“As Buddhist practitioners or practitioners of meditation, we are supposed to be immersed in the contemplative tradition and spiritual practice. Why would we discuss work, sex, and money? On the other hand, we are not strictly spiritual or religious at all. People have to look for work. They have to find a J-O-B. We work for money. We may find that we are building our lives around sex and more generally on relationships. Then the question is, are we really working on spirituality or not? Do you think spirituality is something purely transcendental? It’s questionable. Real spirituality might have something to do with ordinary life.”

– from the new book Work, Sex, and Money; via Ocean of Dharma. See also our special collection of Trungpa’s teachings from the Shambhala Sun. And look for his short teaching, “Tender Heart of the Warrior” in our March 2011 magazine, mailing to subscribers now.

Minding the News

How can we follow the news in ways that nurture – and don’t diminish – wellbeing? Author, Buddhist, and media scholar Holly Stocking offers some guidance in this exclusive guest post for Shambhala SunSpace.

I began to think about the harm that mindless consumption of the news can do after hearing of a spiritual teacher who cautioned his students about going to the mall. The mall can be a place where we feed our afflicted emotions, he suggested, or it can be a setting where we deepen our practice. We can mindlessly shop for items that attract us, or we can reflect on the fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying nature of ordinary pleasures and cultivate renunciation. The choice is ours.

The news is not all that different: We can digest the news in ways that reinforce our suffering, or we can consume accounts of the day’s events mindfully, actively training ourselves, in the midst of apparent chaos, to become what Tibetan Buddhists call foe destroyers, or warriors for peace. The choice, again, is ours. So, how can we mind the news in ways that nurture – and don’t diminish – wellbeing? Continued »

Obama, Hu Jintao talk human rights and the Dalai Lama; Protesters rally for Tibet (Second update)

[Evening Update: As will be unsurprising to many, Hu Jintao today asserted that issues in Tibet and Taiwan “concern China’s territorial integrity and China’s core interests.” Or, as The Christian Science Monitor writes: "In other words, stay out."]

“A lot still needs to be done in China in terms of human rights,” Chinese president Hu Jintao said yesterday at a press conference held in light of his visit with US president Barack Obama. “We will continue our efforts to improve the lives of the Chinese people, and we will continue our efforts to promote democracy and the rule of law in our country.” Obama, for his part, noted that “History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld. Including the universal rights of every human being.”

Meanwhile, outside the White House, protesters held a rally in support of a Free Tibet. Video, via Democracy Now, after the jump. Also: President Obama has urged China’s president to open dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Continued »

In the next Shambhala Sun: Pema Chodron’s “Smile at Fear” teachings, Thich Nhat Hanh, and much more

The next issue of the Shambhala Sun magazine hits newsstands on February 1st and will be mailing to subscribers shortly. So what’s inside?

“Smile at Fear” — For years Pema Chödrön has taught us how difficulty and uncertainty can become opportunities for awakening. Now, her “Smile At Fear” talks take these great teachings to a new level of power and clarity. In this exclusive talk for the Shambhala Sun, Pema Chödrön offers her wisdom on bravery, open heart, and discovering our basic goodness.

“Healing the Child Within” — Doing so, says Thich Nhat Hanh, is the key to transforming our anger, sadness, and fear. In this brilliant adaptation of Buddhist psychology for modern times, he shows us how to do it.

“The Tender Heart of the Warrior” — The ground of fearlessness, according to the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, is renouncing hard-heartedness and allowing ourselves to be tender, sad, and fully present.

Also in the March 2011 magazine: Karen Armstrong on why the Golden Rule holds the key to our future, Carolyn Rose Gimian on the power of basic goodness, plus Charles. R. Johnson, Sakyong Mipham, Andrea Miller‘s book reviews, Barry Boyce on finding inner peace in the inner city via mindfulness, and much more. Look for updates on and here on Shambhala SunSpace, and don’t forget: subscribing to the Shambhala Sun comes with big savings and two free and helpful e-booklets, How to Meditate and True Love in Real Life.