Monthly Archives: March 2012

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 »

Another look at the “thread of Buddhism” to be found in “The Sopranos”

The April 2012 Vanity Fair magazine includes a sprawling oral history of HBO’s The Sopranos, a show loved by viewers and critics alike for its unflinching — and at times, unsettingly sentimental — portrayal of a fictitious (but very real-seeming) organized crime family from New Jersey. VF’s coverage includes this online bit, which points to the “thread of Buddhism” that ran through the show, some of which might surprise those who haven’t succumbed to the show’s addictive charms. Another surprise, even to die-hard fans is that one of the show’s main stars is a devoted, practicing Tibetan Buddhist. So who is it? Click here to find out in “Wise Guy,” Andrea Miller’s Shambhala Sun feature from our November 2011 magazine.

Mighty or Not, We All Fall Down

(Original photo by Sten Porse)

“In all that goes down, writes Lin Jensen in this guest post for Shambhala SunSpace, “there lives a going up. This is reassuring when you’re witnessing the end of something.”

The first I saw of the oak were its raw roots crusted with mud and tilted up into the air so that the whole root ball projected six or eight feet above my head. It was a massive valley oak, its great trunk sprawled out on the ground to a length the equivalence of two railroad cars. It had been raining for weeks and a night wind had brought this ancient elder crashing to the valley floor. How many centuries had this old oak stood, spreading its arching limbs above the grassy undergrowth? It would already have been an old tree when the Maidu harvested its acorns long before European settlers first stood in the cooling shade of its summer leaves. And I, such a latecomer with such an abbreviated life, can only look and wonder at the demise of something so long-lived. Nothing lasts forever, does it? Continued »

Florence Wolfson Howitt of the famed “Red Leather Diary” dies at age 96

Lily and Florence at Florence's home in Pompano Beach. Behind them hangs a portrait of Florence. (Photo by Colby Katz)

From Lily Koppel — bestselling author of The Red Leather Diary: Reclaiming a Life Through the Pages of a Lost Journal, and from the Shambhala Sun, the incredible 2009 story behind the book, comes news of the death its subject, the revolutionary Florence Wolfson Howitt:

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Florence Wolfson Howitt, the New Yorker who became known when her red leather diary, which she kept from the time she was 14 for five years in the 1930s, was unearthed, died this week at her home in Pompano Beach, Fla. Continued »

Announcing “The Under 35 Project”

From our friend Lodro Rinzler — author of the new book, The Buddha Walks Into a Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation, as well as a few SunSpace posts we hope you’ve had a chance to see (you’ll find links to these below) — comes a call for submissions for a new project, one we’re pleased to have a part in. If you’re under 35 or know someone who is, we hope you’ll check it out, and spread the word. Take it away, Lodro..:

I am pleased to announce this call for submissions for The Under 35 Project. I hope you’ll join me there! The Under 35 Project is a place for Buddhist practitioners under the age of 35 to write about and discuss what it’s like to live the dharma every day. Continued »

Dalai Lama offers prayers for victims of violence in Syria, Tibet, and the world over

On Tuesday, from his home in exile of Dharamsala, India, the Dalai Lama offered prayers to victims of violence in Tibet and Syria; he also asked that prayer offerings be made to all victims of violence across the world.

“People all over the world, especially of late in Syria and in Tibet, are undergoing immense suffering. We should offer our deepest prayers for all those, living and dead, in these places of violence,” said His Holiness. Continued »

Burma’s “Saffron Revolution” leader detained again

Voice of America has just broken the news that Burmese monk and famed Saffron Revolution leader U Gambira — who spoke with Hozan Alan Senauke on Senauke’s recent trip to Burma (which he wrote about here just two days ago) — has been again detained for questioning for authorities; his release is expected on Thursday. Read more from VOA’s report here.

“Honoring the Path of the Warrior” helps veterans returning home

In 2007, Lee Klinger Lesser and Chris Fortin of the San Francisco Zen Center cofounded Honoring the Path of the Warrior, a program for modern military vets that aims to assist them in transitioning from military life to civilian life. Sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center, Honoring the Path of the Warrior events combine physical activities and nature excursions centered on meditation exercises, sensory awareness, and mindfulness practice. Continued »

Burma: A Change is Gonna Come… but Slowly

A guest post by Hozan Alan Senauke.

Saffron Revolution leader U Gambira at Maggin Monastery, photographed by Hozan Alan Senauke

Maggin monastery, in Yangon’s eastern Thingangyun Township, was a refuge for hundreds of dissident Burmese monks during 2007’s “Saffron Revolution.” The Saffron Revolution began with local demonstrations against arbitrary and immediate price increases, which quickly became a national movement for democracy led by many thousands of monks.

On September 26 of 2007 the Burmese junta struck back. The military attacked many monasteries, ransacking Maggin, beating and arresting abbot U Eindaka and the other monks who had come for sanctuary. A refuge as well for local people with AIDS and HIV, these patients were simply driven from the premises, left to fend for themselves in the midst of the violent military crackdown. The monastery was trashed, wood doors and walls shattered, blood-stained robes tossed into corners, the gates padlocked and guarded by the junta’s watchmen. And that is how things remained for more than four years. Continued »

Check out “Science, Buddhism, and Your Mind: A Shambhala Sun Spotlight”

Our March 2012 magazine and our archives include fascinating stories of the research from the world of Buddhism and science, and the personalities behind it all. You can see some of the best of it on our new Shambhala Sun Science-and-Buddhism Spotlight page, featuring Richie Davidson, the Dalai Lama, Daniel Goleman, Dan Siegel, Barry Boyce’s “Two Sciences of Mind” — which looks at the partnership and work of the Dalai Lama and the late cognitive scientist and pioneer Francisco J. Varela (shown here) — and more. Click here to check it all out.

Video: Richard Davidson on “The Emotional Life of Your Brain”

In this trailer for his new book, The Emotional Life of Your Brain, neuroscientist Richie Davidson — whose work studying meditation and the brain at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds is the subject of “Taking the Measure of Mind,” found in our current issue — discusses his team’s research on meditation and how we might adapt and respond to life’s emotional “slings and arrows.” He also lists what he calls the “Six Emotional Styles”; do you see yourself here?

Click here to sample “Taking the Measure of Mind” and the rest of our March 2012 magazine.

Meditation: Are you “Living Proof”?

In addition to looks at the field of contemplative science in general and the work of Richie Davidson and the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in particular, our current, March 2012 magazine also looks to four people who’ve worked with meditation to see how it’s affected their lives. Earlier we shared with you the story of social worker Isabel Adon of the Bronx; now meet New Yorker Lyssette Horne, a survivor of sexual abuse who grew up to become a media activist working for equality and social justice in the LGBT community. Click here; we bet you’ll be glad you did. Then, see the magazine for two more “Living Proof” stories, from prolific British author Tim Parks, and plane crash survivor Julia Ferganchick.

And: what about you? Are you living proof that meditation can make a real difference? If so, we’d love for you to share your story here in a comment.

Beer ad featuring the Dalai Lama pulled

“We recently displayed poor judgment in running an advertisement that included an image of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama,” said Jacquie Berglund, CEO of Finnegans Beer today in a statement to the press. “We apologize for this and want to reassure all who were offended that we have pulled the advertisement and it will not run again.” Here’s the whole story.