The Accidental Vegetarian

pig-n-panGoing back and forth on the question of whether or not to eat meat? For a spiritual practitioner, it’s something to chew on. In recognition of today’s status as World Vegetarian Day, we re-present this exploration by Noa Jones (and a host of commenters).

Recently I was invited to spend the weekend at a family dairy farm in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia. My hosts greeted me with a banquet-prepackaged sweet n’ sour tofu with boiled carrots for me, burgers and steaks for them. Like many people, they assumed that since I am a student of Buddhism I must be a vegetarian, which I am for the most part. But I was tempted by those steaks, and the next morning when the house filled with the smell of bacon, much to their amusement, I found myself unable to resist. Pigs are gentle, smart, and proud, and they have an alarming similarity to humans when it comes to DNA. But I decided to eat that crispy piece of pig, thinking I was doing it as part of my Buddhist practice, not in spite of it.

I’m doing my best to walk Siddhartha’s path with my vision firmly fixed on defeating dualistic thinking such as happy and sad, heaven and hell, us and them. Continued »

Get off the wheel of Habit with our new issue

habitcoverOur November issue is hitting newsstands now. So what’s inside?

Get off the wheel of Habit — Getting free from habitual patterns of thinking, relating, and acting— it’s the whole point of Buddhist meditation. A special section, featuring Sylvia Boorstein on five styles of habitual reaction and how to free yourself from yours; Thich Nhat Hanh on making happiness a habit; Rose Taylor and Ari Goldfield on better relating to lovers, friends, family, and colleagues alike; Tsokyni Rinpoche on “The Natural Liberation of Habits” — and much more.

The Three I’s of Twenty-First-Century Dharma — Individuality, Independence, Interdependence—Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche on three principles that bring dharma into our lives today.

You Can’t Fail at Meditation — ABC News anchor Dan Harris gets the inside story on mindfulness and compassion from Buddhist teachers Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and Mark Epstein.

Useless Advice — Zen teacher Norman Fischer has some surprising advice for university graduates: the best thing you can do in life is something that serves no purpose.

Plus: Sakyong Mipham on “Full Engagement” with others, Christian McEwen on “slow cleaning,” a Q&A with Meredith Monk, and much more. Browse it all here.

Not a Shambhala Sun subscriber? That’s easy to fix; just click the “Subscribe and Save Half” link found next to the magazine cover found on every page of ShambhalaSun.com.

“There is a Path that Frees Us from Suffering” — a profile of Buddhist teacher Gina Sharpe

2014-09-sharpe466Gina Sharpe, a teacher at New York Insight, is working to create a truly inclusive sangha. The place to start, she says, is facing the truth that even Buddhist communities aren’t free from the suffering caused by racism.

Read Andrea Miller’s profile of Sharpe, from our September magazine, online now. Just click here. 

(Photo, left, by Donna Svennevik.)

Female Buddhist deities… as “cute-sexy” anime characters?

moe

The Japanese Buddhist goddess Benzaiten — in a traditional form, left, and as Ryohoji temple is selling her in their new statuette.

According to RocketNews 24 (“Bringing you yesterday’s news from Japan and Asia, today”), Ryohoji temple in Tokyo, which had begun to use “moe girls – cute-sexy adolescent anime characters” to promote itself, has now started to render actual Buddhist deities in the same style, selling its first such statuette on its website.

Some might see this as a perversion, others, as innovation — and of course, how we see it may well depend on our home culture. What do you think? You can read the whole story via RocketNews, here. And you’ll note this isn’t the first time we’ve covered Ryohoji, who’ve been embracing moe for a while now.

Ruth Ozeki’s musings on herself — and no-self

Photo by Kris Krug

Photo by Kris Krug

Andrew Sullivan, prolific blogger and former editor the The New Republic, gave a shout-out to award-winning novelist, filmmaker, Zen priest (and, Shambhala Sun contributor) Ruth Ozeki on Sunday. Sullivan noted how Ozeki weaves Buddhism into her writing in natural, subtle ways, and also her “shifty” concept of self.

The interview, from the LA Review of Books, is an interesting exploration of Ozeki’s pluralistic identity, delving into Zen comedy, toilet cleaning as practice, and feeling like a cow in a butcher shop. See Sullivan’s post here or, read the whole interview. Also check out the Shambhala Sun review of Ozeki’s 2013 novel, A Tale for Time-Being, and some of Ozeki’s writing for the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma, after the jump: Continued »

Happy Autumn… Ready to rake some leaves?

The new season has come our way. Some, of course, will be sad to see the Summer go…

Karen Maezen Miller, for one, has never really been thrilled about the task of clearing all the fallen leaves. Not at first, at least. But then, she picks up a rake, and soon, she finds herself at ease, mindfully at home. Sounds good, right? Read more in her Shambhala Sun article, “Do Dishes, Rake Leaves (and Don’t Forget the Endless Loads of Laundry).” And here’s wishing you all a Happy Autumn.

The “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the moment…

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From author and contemplative photographer Andy Karr comes the latest “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the week, submitted by (username) Cameron. Andy’s comment: “Many perceptions have been triggered by the patterns of light and shadow cast by venetian blinds, but this one is exceptional. It’s a great example of fresh seeing.”

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 »

Compassion stirring in New York City

One of our editors is in NYC this weekend — here’s a quick and dirty (and, sorry, a little shaky) video on why.

In short, because a vision of love is growing there.

 

Noah Levine’s “A Refuge from Suffering” — Read it now

2014-09-levine-1Taking refuge in the Buddha means taking refuge from our suffering. In his article found in our current, September magazine, Noah Levine uses Buddhist principles and meditation practices to help people take refuge from the terrible suffering of substance abuse. This is the system of working with recovery posited by Noah’s new Refuge Recovery book and the program of the same name offered by the Against the Stream Community.

In “A Refuge from Suffering,” Noah introduces The Eightfold Path of Recovery, defines key terms and concepts, lays out the path of Refuge Recovery practice, and shares “Mary’s Story,” — a real practitioner’s tale of bringing these principles to bear in her own recovery. Click here to read it all.

Bhikkhu Bodhi on mobilizing for the People’s Climate March

VBBClimateWith the massive People’s Climate March in NYC coming this Sunday (click here for details), the esteemed Buddhist monk, editor, and translator Bhikkhu Bodhi speaks to the urgency of the problem and the need for us to take action.

Moving from a Culture of Death to a Culture of Life

On September 21, concerned citizens from all across the United States, and from many other lands, will be converging on New York City for the People’s Climate March, billed to be the biggest climate march in history. The immediate occasion for the march is the gathering of world leaders at the United Nations for a summit on the climate crisis being convened by the UN Secretary General. The march’s purpose is to tell global leaders that the time for denial and delay is over, that we have to act now if we’re going to secure the world against the ravages of climate change.

If we’re going to emerge intact, what we need at minimum are binding and enforceable commitments to steep cuts in carbon emissions coupled with a mass-scale transition to renewable sources of energy. However, while clean energy policies are clearly essential in combating climate disruption, a long-term solution must go deeper than adopting new technologies and such pragmatic measures as cap-and-trade or a carbon tax. The climate instability we are facing today is symptomatic of a deeper malady, a cancer spreading through the inner organs of global civilization. The extreme weather events we have experienced come to us as a wake-up call demanding that we treat the underlying cause, the paradigm that underlies our industrial-commercial-financial economy.

Click here to continue reading.

If you see the Buddha on 11th Avenue…

Via Chip Johnson of SF Gate comes an especially sweet little story out of Oakland, California:

Dan Stevenson is neither a Buddhist nor a follower of any organized religion… The 11th Avenue resident in Oakland’s Eastlake neighborhood was simply feeling hopeful in 2009 when he went to an Ace hardware store, purchased a 2-foot-high stone Buddha and installed it on a median strip in a residential area at 11th Avenue and 19th Street.

He hoped that just maybe his small gesture would bring tranquillity to a neighborhood marred by crime: dumping, graffiti, drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, aggravated assault and burglaries.

What happened next was nothing short of stunning. Area residents began to leave offerings at the base of the Buddha: flowers, food, candles. A group of Vietnamese women in prayer robes began to gather at the statue to pray.

And the neighborhood changed.

Read the rest here.

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.

Sakyong Mipham on why meditation helps us “Stop, Relax, Wake Up”

Meditation practice, says Sakyong Mipham in his Shambhala Sun article, “Stop, Relax, Wake Up,” gives us time to slow down and really wake up to the naturally occurring love in our hearts. And it can be pleasurable!

“Meditation is supposed to feel good,” he writes. “In fact, when we are simply being and feeling, we appreciate; we find that we are naturally discursive and less critical.” Sounds encouraging, yes? Then click here and read all of “Stop, Relax, Wake Up,” now.

Sylvia Boorstein, Tara Brach, and Tim Ryan to appear at “DC Mindfully” on Thursday, Sept. 18

DC-mindfully_homepage_banner_550-300x97On Sept. 18, the Peace Alliance, in celebration of its 10th anniversary, will host an evening with three renowned advocates for achieving peace through mindfulness: Sylvia Boorstein, Tara Brach, and Congressman Tim Ryan.

Questions to be explored include mindful activism, stopping violence and building peace both locally and globally, cultivating inner peace through mindfulness practice, and moving beyond divisive political discourse.

For details and registration information, click here.

Readers of Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma will also have the opportunity to practice alongside Sylvia Boorstein next summer at the first annual Shambhala Sun retreat, “Waking Up in Every Moment,” at the Omega Institute next August 26-30. Look for details in the next issue of either magazine.