Author Profile: Rod Meade Sperry


Join us at our new website: LionsRoar.com

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We are pleased to announce the launch of LionsRoar.com, the new online home for the Shambhala Sun, Buddhadharma, and the activities of the Shambhala Sun Foundation.

Taking its name from the Buddha’s metaphor for the fearless proclamation of the truth, Lion’s Roar brings together all the teachings and articles once found on the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma sites, all in one place. Both magazines, all searchable, with up-to-the-moment updates. Better navigation. Fully mobile- and tablet-friendly. And much better looking.

Visit today at LionsRoar.com. (And please help us spread the word via your social media accounts. Thank you!)

Gallery: Buddhists at the People’s Climate March

The massive People’s Climate March in New York City (one of 2500 across the planet yesterday) was attended by all kinds of people — “We’re union members, we’re community members, we’re environmentalists, we’re students, we’re workers,” says the March’s National Coordinator in this New York Times video). Buddhists, and related orgs, too, contributed their presence and their voices — including members of Buddhist Peace Fellowship, the Interdependence Project, Brooklyn Zen Center, Village Zendo, DharmaPunx and teacher Josh Korda, New York Insight, One Earth Sangha, Zen teacher Brad Warner, Buddhist journalists Danny Fisher and Joshua Eaton, and more. Here are some photos from the day.
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Monks and laypeople hold the international Buddhist flag at the front of the Buddhist area of the multifaith leg of the March

 

Members of New York’s Village Zendo, including head teacher Enkyo Pat O’Hara (right; photo by A. Jesse Jiryu Davis)

Continued »

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.

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”

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 »

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 »

Like Thangkas You Can Hear: Buddhism & the Metal Underground

The cover of Sadhaka's "Terma" LP. Listen and check out some sample lyrics below.

The cover of Sadhaka’s “Terma” LP. Listen and check out some sample lyrics below.

“Buddhist Metal.” That’s… a thing?

Yes, it is.* And it runs the gamut. Some of it’s artier, some’s goofier, some’s pure expression, some of it is capable of conveying real dharma — if we’re willing to listen. Of course, it can be heavy, hectic, screamy music, so it’s understandable why many may not be so willing.

But there are rewards. Like a Buddhist thangka, the music can be fiery, contemplative, challenging, inspiring. If you like learning about music subcultures, this can be a fun one, whether you’re a metal maven or not.

And, while I do claim above that Buddhist Metal is “a thing,” that’s not quite true. It certainly isn’t a “movement” or an actual genre. It’s not a stitch as “established” as, say, Klezmer, much less Christian Rock. And I wouldn’t want my band to be pigeonholed as “Buddhist Metal” (it isn’t), so I’m not saying we should be slapping labels around all willy-nilly.

But there are a handful of bands that seem to be gravitating to dharma and its imagery — trading on its exotic appeal sometimes, sure (see my post, “Heavy Metal Dharma Thunder” for ten of the best and oddest uses of Buddhist imagery in metal-album art) — and they can be pretty interesting.

Okay, less talk, more rock. We’ll start with the dharmic “Cascadian Black Metal” band Sadhaka, and three others of note.

Continued »

Check out The Melanthium Band, featuring the piano stylings of Zen teacher Lewis Richmond

The work of Lewis Richmond has been featured a number of times here, but now we’re looking at a different kind of work from the author and Zen teacher. “I have recently become part of a new music group called The Melanthium Band,” he writes. “Many people who know my books and teaching may not know that I was trained as a classical pianist and composer, and now I have returned to that. Our musical style is best described as contemporary classical, with a jazz inflection. Most of the pieces are my original compositions.

You can hear the band in the video above, and learn more on their website, here. To read Lew’s many teachings from our site, click here.

Crowdfunding works: Updates on Against the Stream’s new SF Center and “The Dalai Lama Film”

Good news: Against the Stream’s online fundraising campaign for a new meditation center in San Francisco has been fully funded. But your donation is still very much welcome. Why? As ATS tells us:

The $30,000 raised [thus far] brings us what we need for the original renovation contract, but every dollar more buys us some breathing room for any overruns. It will also helps us with some important finishing touches.

  • A gift of $30 buys a chair (and we’ll need a lot of them!)
  • $70 buys us one zafu/zabuton set
  • $150 gets us an all-in one printer or a credit card machine
  • $300 gets us a wireless microphone or a digital recorder
  • $500 gets us a PA system so everyone can hear
  • $1,000 gets us a laptop
  • $2,000 helps ensure we get the other furnishings we’ll need: racks for folding chairs, tables, rugs, lamps, and more
If you want to help, make a donation here. UPDATE: If ATS raises another $10K by August 15th, those funds will be matched. So your contribution is twice as powerful now.
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And in more good crowdfunding news: Mickey Lemle’s documentary in progress, The Dalai Lama Film, has exceeded its fundraising goal by more than $20,000. Donations are still welcome (and a host of great premiums are offered) — and for other updates, follow The Dalai Lama Film on Facebook.

Cast your eyes upon the sage, there on his *silver* donut throne

silver-homerbuddha

Two years after the appearance of the Homer-Simpson-as-Buddha statuette, the toy is now getting a new release in a silver “Silver Anniversary” edition, marking 25 years of The Simpsons on the airwaves. From the marketing copy: “Meditating with a pretzel in one hand, and a giant donut beneath him, Homer, at long last, has found his inner peace. [...] Inspired by The Simpsons episode “Goo Gai Pan”, in which Homer poses as Buddha to gain entry into an orphanage in China.”

If you want to order one, you’ll find it (for example) here, at MagicPony.com. We won’t tell.

Novelist Rajeev Balasubramanyam takes you on a real-life “American Pilgrimage”

RajPublicity-200x300“Vegas encapsulates all the reasons why I should be going to America — fame, money, sex, glamour, the American Dream,” writes novelist Rajeev Balasubramanyam (In Beautiful Disguises; The Dreamer) on his blog about his “American Pilgrimage.” “If I want spirituality I should surely go to to India, not America, reversing the journey my parents originally made in the Sixties.”

So one might think — but in fact Balasubramanyam’s travels, which come after a dozen or so ten-day Vipassana meditation retreats, will take him to Thich Nhat Hahn’s Deer Park Monastery, and to Crestone, Colorado — a hotbed of Buddhist activity despite its “stationary population of only 73″ — as well as American landmarks like the Grand Canyon. (Las Vegas, ultimately, will get a pass.)

The trip is being made possible thanks to The Hemera Foundation, which has created fellowships for artists and writers who’ve maintained long-term meditation practices to do meditation retreats, followed by writing retreats, with a view to integrating the two practices. Each fellow is given two mentors, one for meditation, and one for writing. Balasubramanyam’s writing mentor is award-winning author and Shambhala Sun contributor Charles R. Johnson.

Follow the “American Pilgrimage” on Balasubramanyam’s blog, here.

Don’t miss this: NY Times on Would-be Ambassadors of Shangri-La (Updated)

“Tom Hugo seems to be well-versed in Chinese, and he evidently cares deeply about the Tibetan people,” writes Andrew Jacobs in his excellent piece from Monday’s New York Times. “There’s only one problem with Tom Hugo’s Twitter account.” You’ve probably already guessed what it is.

As Jacobs goes on to explain, “Tom Hugo” is just one of a sea of people who are enthusing about all things Tibetan — when they shouldn’t be. Read the full story here.

Tuesday update, also from the Times:  “Just hours after The New York Times posted an article about bogus Twitter accounts dedicated to spreading pro-China propaganda — and a Tibetan advocacy group demanded that the company take action — Twitter appears to have hit the kill switch on a score of the suspect accounts.” More here.

Video: Imogen Heap goes to Bhutan; inspired musicmaking ensues

She went to Bhutan for “the amazing scenery, to meet people I didn’t know much about, and to discover a new culture,” says musician Imogen Heap — and sure enough, all of this has come into play in her new music. In this behind-the-scenes clip behind the making of two new songs and their videos, Heap explains how the sights and sounds of Bhutan — temple bells, the crackling of fires, the thwick of an archer’s bow, Buddhist monks and nuns chanting, “somebody shoeing a horse,” — inspired her and actually became part of her work.

It all makes for very enjoyable watching. And once you’ve done so, view the videos for the two songs (links open in new windows): Click here to watch Cycle Song. | Click here to watch Climb to Sakteng.

Thanks to our friend Steve Silberman for the tip.

Pitch in and help Against the Stream open their new San Francisco meditation center

Via Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society: “For over a decade, people from all over the Bay Area have been getting together every Friday to sit in silent meditation and learn from a phenomenal group of dharma teachers including Vinny Ferraro, Gene Lushtak, Matthew Brensilver, Megan Cowan and more. If you’ve meditated with us over the last couple of years, you know this well: we’re packed to capacity! To help keep up with our growing community, we’ve added two new weekly meditation groups, and launched several weekly Refuge Recovery meetings to offer our community a Buddhist approach to recovery from addiction. But the final piece of the puzzle is to bring all this and more under one roof.” …And that’s the goal of Against the Stream’s new IndieGogo campaign, which will open the doors to a brand new center in San Francisco.

Visit the IndieGogo campaign here to donate now. Against the Stream needs to raise $30,000 — so every dollar helps, and every extra dollar raised can be used for needed finishing touches, meditation cushions, and more.

And: don’t miss “A Refuge from Addiction,” a look at “Refuge Recovery” — through which Against the Stream’s Noah Levine and his colleagues use Buddhist principles and meditation practices to help people take refuge from the terrible suffering of substance abuse. It’s important, effective work, and it has something to offer us all. That’s in the September 2014 Shambhala Sun, available in the beginning of October.

Buddhist Bluegrass: Peter Rowan shares his “Dharma Blues”

Peter-Rowan-300x300This month sees the release of Dharma Blues, the newest album from Bluegrass star and Buddhist Peter Rowan. His twentieth LP credited as a solo artist, it was recorded in California and New Orleans, and contains bluegrass and country tunes with references to Poe’s “The Raven” and, of course, Buddhadharma, in the album’s Eastern-tinged title track and the droning “Vulture Peak,” which includes Rowan’s vocal rendition of the Heart Sutra.

“The doubts and resolutions of the spiritual journey are what drive Dharma Blues,” Rowan says about his new LP. “May this music bring joy to all.” For more, visit Rowan online.

See also: * Bluegrass Buddhist Peter Rowan’s Tibetan collaboration, new film

* Peter Rowan: A bluegrass song of freedom

* Against all odds, more Buddhist bluegrass!