Monthly Archives: February 2011

Noting the life and passing of E. Gene Smith

The passing of the legendary modern Tibetologist E. Gene Smith marks a milestone moment for all those concerned with Tibet’s literary and cultural heritage, and in fact for Buddhists everywhere. As such, the Shambhala Sun Foundation has, through our publications Buddhadharma and Shambhala Sun (and their websites) paid special attention to Gene and to the memorial that took place in his honor in New York this past Saturday. Following here is a collection of links to this coverage. Continued »

Video: Sharon Salzberg on Elephant’s “Walk the Talk Show”

If you’re a fan of the Shambhala Sun, we hope you’re plugged into the good work done by our friends at Elephant. For example, starting today at 11 Mountain Time, Elephant will be airing a new interview with meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. To watch it live, just click here. (And if you miss it, no worries: you can see it online starting Tuesday, here.)

And if you’re not familiar with Elephant, no reason to wait. Check out their special blend of coverage of yoga, sustainability, politics and spirituality here.

More/recently: Sharon Salzberg’s “Real Happiness” challenge: What’s it like to meditate for 28 days? | Our March 2011 review of Salzberg’s new book Real Happiness | Shambhala Sun Audio: Sharon Salzberg (Dec 13, 2010)

Groupon ends their infamous “Save the Money” campaign

By now you’ve probably seen the Super Bowl ad that, perhaps more than any other ever, got people talking: Groupon’s ad featuring Timothy Hutton. (Click here to see it in previous coverage.) Yes, it got people talking, but not in a good way. Its convoluted pro-Tibet messaging, which then turned on a dime into selfish concerns, will be legendary for the way it turned viewers off. Part of a campaign called “Save the Money,” the ad, and its ilk have been discontinued. Continued »

Commentary: Seeing Thailand as a playground, we miss a much bigger picture

A guest post by Craig Kaufman

It is understandable and all too common for people to have misconceptions about Thailand, a distant country that has not figured into global news the way its neighbors have. Even news outlets known for excellence in overseas reporting can present a confusing picture.

The New York Times recently published a piece regarding contemporary belief in Thailand, entitled “Thais Look to the Supernatural.” It was then republished a few days later with the title, “When the Spirits Talk, As They Frequently Do, Thais Are Eager to Listen.” The latter is actually a better fit for a piece laden with questionable vignettes. Lacking any Buddhist context, the article risks feeding into myths as well as misinforming people about the crucial encounter between Buddhism and modernity. We would do well to move beyond these myths. Continued »

Buddhist music going big time, and it’s not the “crossover” you might expect

It will be no surprise to frequent readers here that the number of Buddhist and Buddhist-influenced musicians seems to be growing. Those covered on Shambhala SunSpace have included the rappers The RZA and Born I Music, the crop of younger singers and players found on the 2010 album Dhamma Gita, the metal band Deadly Light, plus bluegrass, indy, and other musicians all influenced by Buddhism. What may be a surprise is that traditional Buddhist music — in the form of chant — seems to be gaining ground with a popular audience.

The recent release by New Earth Records of Tina Turner’s Beyond: Buddhist and Christian Prayers is evidence of this, but it’s not unreasonable to wonder if that album got some of its traction thanks to the inclusion of Christian prayers. (Read our review of Beyond here.) Could an album of all-Buddhist chant score with the American public? It seems unlikely, but look who’s been nominated for a Grammy this year. Continued »

Have you signed The Charter of Compassion?

“When I won the TED prize in 2008,” writes religious historian and compassion activist Karen Armstrong in “The Golden Rule” (featured in the March 2011 Shambhala Sun), “I asked TED to help me create, launch, and propagate a Charter for Compassion that would be composed by leading thinkers and activists in a range of major faiths. Hundreds of thousands people contributed their ideas to a draft charter online, and with the aid of a council representing six of the major world religions, together we crafted the charter.”

The Charter is a special call to action, transcending religious, ideological, and national difference — and inspiring people around the world to campaign for a more compassionate global community. To add your name to the Charter, just visit the Charter of Compassion website — where you can find still more ways to act on making “the compassionate voice a more potent force in the world.”

Shambhala Sun Audio interview: Rapper and musician Born I Music

Washington DC-based rapper and musician Born I Music (aka Born Infinite) is notable not just for his talent but for the way he smartly mixed rap and spirituality during his tenure in the rap duo known as Shambhala.

Now Born has gone solo and is trying new things musically — but his study and practice of Buddhist meditation still informs his work, both in his songs and in his life outside the studio and stage.

Born talked to me about it all, and his new album, Tomorrow is Today, in this new Shambhala Sun Audio clip. Click through here to listen. Continued »

The 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.” In this series of short teachings, Zen teacher Lewis Richmond helps us to face Buddhism’s “Five Great Fears,” starting with the fear of death.

Buddhism’s Five Great Fears are fear of death, fear of illness, fear of losing your mind, fear of loss of livelihood, and fear of public speaking. I think that reason Buddhism calls these “great” fears is because each of them mobilizes the full force of our nervous systems’ threat response (which is why the panicky fear of public speaking is included in the list). Today I’d like to talk about the first of them — fear of death. Continued »

Groupon’s instantly controversial “Tibet” Super Bowl ad: See it here… (Updated)

…but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t leave you feeling like you there are better ways you could put your money to work:

The initial online chatter about this ad has been very strong — strongly opposed, that is, with many people proudly announcing on social media, via the “#Groupon” hashtag, that they find the ad exploitative and will no longer support the bulk-couponing/group discount service.

And yet: Groupon is actually trying to raise — and match — money for The Tibet Fund. See here. This is not backpedaling; the site you’ll see when you follow that link was live when the commercial aired. The question is: will it work?

Maybe. But not too long after the Super Bowl had ended, the Wall Street Journal had already published an online piece called “That Was Fast – Groupon’s Super Bowl Ad Draws Backlash” and an online Facebook group decrying the ad had been created. Clearly, if Groupon was interested in raising money for the Tibet Fund, that message did not come through.

What do you think of this ad? Tell us here, and then, tell Groupon, if you wish.

Want to help Tibet? Visit our special “Helping Tibet” page, full of organizations you’ll be proud to support.

Update: As New York’s Vulture entertainment blog now writes, Guess who directed this commercial?

Meditation: Chögyam Trungpa on “how to just do it”

Photo by Martin Janowitz, from the collection of the Shambhala Archives

“The technique of meditation is the way to just do it. In meditation, life exposes itself to you, so you find yourself in the middle of a living situation. This requires an intuitive approach. Using your intuition in this way requires a positive attitude, a conviction that you are a basically healthy person and you are not condemned. Despite the shadow or the projections that may be cast on you, the point is to see through the shadow and just do it and live it. That is intuition.” — from the book, Work, Sex, Money: Real Life on the Path of Mindfulness, via Ocean of Dharma.

Want to learn more about how to “just do” meditation? Visit our special How to Meditate Spotlight page. And for more from Chögyam Trungpa, visit our online collection of his best teachings from the Shambhala Sun magazine. And look for his short teaching, “The Tender Heart of the Warrior,” inside our new March 2011 magazine, which also includes Pema Chödrön’s “Smile at Fear” teachings and much more.

And by the way: The New York Times has just reviewed Crazy Wisdom, one of two new documentaries about Chögyam Trungpa. Click here to learn more about it and watch the trailer. You can read about the other Trungpa doc, Touch and Go: Chögyam Trungpa’s Epic Journey to the West, and, watch it online, here.

Three-Day Peacemaking Summit announced; Dalai Lama to deliver keynote

It was announced today that The Newark Peacemaking Education Summit, a major three-day summit on peacemaking practices, will take place in Newark, New Jersey, from May 13-15, 2011. The summit, at which His Holiness the Dalai Lama will serve as keynote speaker, will examine how individuals, communities, cities and nations can build the foundations for peaceful societies.

Mayor Cory Booker and the City of Newark will host the summit, which is being organized by Tibet House US and The Drew A. Katz Foundation.

“Peace is not some pie in the sky ideal of existence. It’s not theoretical. It is a very tangible, practical process,” says Robert Thurman, one of the leading American scholars on Buddhism and founder of Tibet House US. “Our goal with this summit is to look at programs, policies and methods that communities have used to establish peace, why and how they work, and how these practices can be replicated in other communities in America and throughout the world.” More details after the jump. Continued »

Jeff Bridges joins Bernie Glassman in saying “Let all eat” (Video)

Zen Master Bernie Glassman is always looking to, as he says, expand the efforts of his Zen Peacemakers community — with an eye toward inclusion and wellness for all. One question that’s been recurring for him has been, “How do we ‘let all eat’?” Bernie’s friend Jeff Bridges has joined him in taking up this concern, cutting a new PSA in conjunction with the Food Network. Their goal? For you to sign the No Kid Hungry Pledge. Watch the video and sign the pledge. Continued »

Associated Press video: “Alabama Prisoners Turn to Meditation for Peace” (Updated)

[February 8th update: NPR has now run a piece on Vipassana meditation for Birmingham prisones. See/hear it here.]

Fantastic to see more press coverage of the value of meditation to those in even the most dire of circumstances:

See also: Prison Dharma: Meet the Buddhas who practice it — on both sides of the bars

Video: Got “extra” Buddhist books? Here’s at least one great thing to do with them.