Monthly Archives: March 2012

What Pema Chödrön (Unwittingly) Taught Me About Climate Change

A new post from Shambhala SunSpace “Earth Dharma” blogger Jill S. Schneiderman.

Recently, when I opened my copy of Offerings: Buddhist Wisdom for Every Day for a bit of early morning inspiration, as has become my habit, I found the following insight from Pema Chödrön:

Not causing harm requires staying awake. Part of being awake is slowing down enough to notice what we say and do. The more we witness our emotional chain reactions and understand how they work, the easier it is to refrain. It becomes a way of life to stay awake, slow down, and notice.

Reading it, I couldn’t help but think how relevant her comment is to the situation of North America in March of this year, a month that has felt downright summery. Continued »

Dalai Lama wins Templeton Prize

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was announced as the recipient of the 2012 Templeton Prize this morning. (See his reaction in the video above.)

In their citation, the John Templeton Foundation notes (among other things) that “[His Holiness] encourages serious scientific investigative reviews of the power of compassion and its broad potential to address the world’s fundamental problems — a theme at the core of his teachings and a cornerstone of his immense popularity. Continued »

A tip from “The Mindful Writer”

Writer Dinty W. Moore — author of the very funny and inspiring The Accidental Buddhist — has a new book out and it’s called The Mindful Writer: The Noble Truths of the Writing Life. In this excerpt, Dinty shares what he says is “perhaps most important application of mindfulness for a writer.” To learn more, read on. …And then, write!

Let’s dispense with inspiration from the start, because nothing causes more dissatisfaction and disappointment in a writer’s life than the myth of the thunderbolt.

I have met, through the years, so many frustrated writers who have spent hour upon hour waiting for inspiration to arrive, waiting for that One Big Idea to land in their frontal lobes and fulfill their fantasies of becoming geniuses. Oh, I know the feeling well enough. I am not immune to the vagaries of desire. Continued »

Embrace Change: In the Struggle with Chronic Illness, Love and Kindness Can Thrive

The new, May 2012 Shambhala Sun magazine includes a special section of eleven Buddhist teachers and writers on embracing change, so now’s a perfect time to share this poignant and helpful reflection from author and change consultant Susan Quinn.

As we collected our things to leave Dr. Solomon’s office, I said, “Doctor, I just have one more question. How can Jerry get rid of his cough?” The doctor looked at me pointedly and said, “He can’t. He needs to cough.” I stood looking at him, dazed and confused. “But the coughing is awful, for both of us,” I pleaded. Dr. Solomon continued to look at me sympathetically and said, “He has no choice.”

In that moment, I finally understood that our lives had changed. Continued »

Look inside the new, May 2012 Shambhala Sun magazine

Our new magazine is here, and you can browse it all online now, including excerpts and complete stories, like:

* Embrace Change: Eleven leading Buddhist teachers and writers – including Norman Fischer, Judy Lief, Lodro Rinzler, Sylvia Boorstein, Noah Levine, and more — show us how to embrace change, with all its difficulties, and find the awakening within it. Browse these here.

* Sister Chan Khong’s Path of Peace: The inspiring life of Thich Nhat Hanh’s closest collaborator;

* Running With the Mind of Meditation: how meditating and exercise benefit each other, by Sakyong Mipham (You can get a video preview of some of the ideas from the article, and the new book of the same name, here);

Plus: Chogyam Trungpa on the teacher-student relationship; mindfulness and our children’s well-being; Sandy Boucher on “living what cannot be undone”; John Tarrant’s feature review of Thinking Fast and Slow; Andrea Miller’s latest book briefs, and lots more. Browse it all here.

March’s Sipress

(From our March 2012 magazine; click here to browse it online.) See David Sipress’s next cartoon for the Shambhala Sun when the May 2012 issue hits newsstands over the next few days.

More: “What’s So Funny About Buddhism?” — cartoonist David Sipress explains

Video: Buddhism at Fort Benning

Meet Chaplain Thomas Dyer, the first Buddhist chaplain in US Army history. Dyer, a former Baptist preacher and native of Nashville who later turned to Tibetan Buddhism, was previously deployed to the Middle East with the 278th Armored Calvary Regiment in late 2009. (See Buddhadharma News’ report on that, here.) Dyer is now stationed at Fort Benning in Georgia, serving some 600 soldiers who belong to a variety of religious traditions.

Dyer is featured in a recent news item from WRBL News 3 in Columbus, Georgia, where he discusses his chaplaincy work with soldiers. You can watch that here, after the jump. Continued »

Tonight: Charter for Compassion gets livestreamed global update

A reminder: today, (March 22), Karen Armstrong, the world renowned religious scholar and author, will present the first-ever global update on the Charter for Compassion — a document which has been endorsed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, and has garnered some 80,000 signatures already. Armstrong will share stories of compassion from Pakistan, Jordan, Kentucky and around the world. You can view this all via livestream; the “State of the Charter” update and “What is Religion?”, the Armstrong lecture that will precede it, can both be found at airing from 9-11 EST.

See also: The Golden Rule: religious historian and compassion activist Karen Armstrong argues that living the Golden Rule is the key to our future. | Have you signed The Charter of Compassion? (2011) | Karen Armstrong unveils The Charter for Compassion (2009)

Pro-Santorum pastor: If you “worship Buddha,” then “GET OUT!”

“We don’t worship Buddha,” says pastor Dennis Terry, introducing Rick Santorum while preaching to the choir in the newly posted video below. Well, that’s not something most Buddhists say they do, either — at least not many Western Buddhists; rather, it’s more often the case that we look at the historical Buddha as an example of a real human being who proved that liberation from suffering was possible. What’s your reaction to this pastor’s argument that non-Christians should “get out” of America?

Rick Santorum can be seen clapping toward the end of the video. But what’s your reaction? The first few comments from our Facebook friends, so far: 1) “America = Freedom of religion!!” 2) “America = Freedom of religion!!” 3) “Apparently that whole First Amendment thing means nothing to these morons. I think Ricky just had his Rev. Wright moment!”

Video: Kids say the darnedest things… about meditation

A little while back we shared with you the first book trailer for Congressman Tim Ryan’s new book, A Mindful Nation. In it — you can see it here — the Congressman shared why he believes that, when it comes to embracing mindfulness, now’s the time. Ryan may not appear in the new follow-up clip below, but the message comes through loud and clear, presented by way of kids who are participants in the programs presented by Baltimore’s fantastic Holistic Life Foundation. Watch it and just try not to smile.

For more on the Holistic Life Foundation, visit them online and be sure to see this previous Shambhala Sun coverage: “Inner City Inner Peace” | “Meeting of the Mindful” | Video: See additional NBC Nightly News footage of Andres Gonzales, Ali Smith, and Atman Smith of Baltimore’s Holistic Life Foundation

You’ll learn more about Tim Ryan in the “Meeting of the Mindful” link above. See also: Video: Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan talks about “A Mindful Nation” | and ongoing coverage of Tim Ryan and other leaders of the mindfulness movement, at

Pema Chödrön on “The Rope of Mindfulness”

“Cultivating mind’s inherent capacity to stay put is called mindfulness training. Mindfulness is like the rope that keeps the wild elephant from destroying everything in sight. The rope of mindfulness bring us back to our immediate experience: to our breath, to our walking, to the book in our hands.” — from the book No Time to Lose, via Heart Advice.

Click here to sign up to Heart Advice and get more Pema quotes delivered to your email box. And for more from this teaching by Pema, click here to read “No Time to Lose“, an excerpt from the book, from the Shambhala Sun archives.

MSNBC reports on the connection between meditation and increased empathy, benevolence

A story by MSNBC’s Clara Moskowitz today, intriguingly titled “Neuroscience may explain the Dalai Lama,” tells us that “Meditation may increase a person’s ability to feel empathy and benevolence for others, according to a study published March 26 in the journal PLoS ONE.” The study was conducted by Richie Davidson, Antoine Lutz, and the rest of the team at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin; this team and the work of the CIHM are the subject of one of the cover features from our current, March 2012 magazine. (Click here to sample that article, entitled “Taking the Measure of Mind.”)

For the full MSNBC article, click here. And for more about the connection between Buddhist meditation and science, visit our new special Spotlight page.

By the way, Davidson appeared on The Diane Rehm Show today, to talk about his book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain. (More on that book, here.) Click here for more info on that radio appearance. Sample quotes from Richie, from the show: “I do meditate every day.” “I couldn’t do what I’m doing without it.”

Video: “Running With the Mind of Meditation”

Sakyong Mipham — head of Shambhala, the international network of Buddhist meditation centers, and Shambhala Sun magazine columnist — has a new book, one that’s perhaps more personal than we often see from Buddhist teachers. It’s called Running With the Mind of Meditation: Lessons for Training Body and Mind, and what makes it so personal is that Sakyong Mipham is himself a runner — a marathoner, in fact — who gets out there not just for his body and mind, but to help bring awareness to important causes, like the ongoing struggles of Tibet. Here’s the book’s trailer:

Continued »

Ready for “The Dude and the Zen Master”?

It was announced today that Jeff Bridgesa.k.a. The Dude, or His Dudeness, or Duder, or El Duderino if you’re not into the whole brevity thing — will be releasing a book called The Dude and the Zen Master, which Entertainment Weekly reports will explore “the meaning of life, laughter, the movies and trying to do good in a difficult world.”

This is not merely interesting news for fans of The Big Lebowski, the 1998 film in which The Dude first peered over his glasses. Continued »

Book Brief: “Abhaya: Burma’s Fearlessness”

Abhaya: Burma’s Fearlessness
By James Mackay
River Books Press 2011; 224 pp., $29.95 (paper)

In recent months, the world has been watching Myanmar — Burma — with timid hope that change is coming. Unfortunately, there is reason to believe that the Burmese government only released political prisoners to curry international favor and that it has no intention of loosening its stranglehold. In the new release, Abhaya, James Mackay draws attention to the plight of Burmese political prisoners by way of powerful photographs. [Click through here for more. And, click here to read of Aung San Suu Kyi's new honorary Canadian citizenship, via Buddhadharma News.] Continued »