The “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the moment…

maiz

From author and contemplative photographer Andy Karr comes the latest “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the week, submitted by Lis Maiz. Andy’s comment: “The light and color on the stairs, the open door to the sky, and the soft textures of the darker walls all combine to make a very pleasing perception. This is great example of fresh seeing.” Continued »

“Buddhists Betray the Teachings” — Jack Kornfield on the anti-Muslim violence in Burma

Ethnic Rakhine men lurk outside homes burned in one of the many episodes of violent conflict between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities, June 2012. Photo by Reuters.

Ethnic Rakhine men lurk outside homes burned in one of the many episodes of violent conflict between Buddhist Rakhine and Muslim Rohingya communities, June 2012. Photo by Reuters.

A religion known for nonviolence is being used to fuel a genocidal campaign against the Muslims of Burma. Inside the coming, September 2014 Shambhala Sun, Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield, who recently returned from Burma, urges us to join the call for peace. His full article appears below — you can also download and share this PDF of the article — along with with helpful contact info for showing your support and sharing your voice, and the full text of an open letter, “World Buddhist Leaders’ Response to the Growing Ethnic Violence Against Muslims in Myanmar.”

Neither in anger nor hatred
Should anyone wish harm to another.
—The Buddha, in the Metta Sutta

On the surface, upcountry Burma is not very different than it was in 1971, when I first trained there as a monk in the monasteries of Mahasi and Sunlun Sayadaw. The green and dusty landscape is dotted with temples and golden pagodas. There are poor hardworking farmers and small towns with colorful marketplaces. The Burmese people remain extraordinarily gracious and goodhearted, the nation a revered center of Buddhist teachings.

But now there is also fear, an underlying tension spreading across the country. I recently returned from working in Burma with peace activists and for Partners Asia, supporting schools, shelters for orphans and battered women, HIV programs, rural clinics, and other amazing projects across the land. I found amid the positive changes and slow movement toward democracy a growing religious and ethnic intolerance and conflict.

News reports show monks crisscrossing Burma using Buddhist teachings to encourage violence and the passage of inhumane laws. Here in the West, people are shocked. Isn’t Buddhism the religion that preaches against violence and killing? Are these stories true? How can we understand them? Continued »

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!

Walking: Meditation in Motion

brphWith every step, says Brother Phap Hai, you can touch the Earth and the wonder of life. From the July 2014 Shambhala Sun magazine.

In the film Gravity, after hurtling through outer space, Sandra Bullock’s character takes slow, delicious steps on the Earth. For me, this simple scene was the most impactful of the whole movie. It reminded me of a teaching by the ninth-century Zen master Rinzai: “The great miracle is not to walk on the air or to walk on water or fire, but to be able to walk on the Earth.”  

When I started to ask what it meant to walk on the “Earth” of my own life, I realized that I spent most of my time walking on the “air” and “water” of the past, the future, my plans, fears, and hopes. In fact, it was rare for me to take steps on the “Earth” of my embodied experience.

An authentic practice life isn’t about seeking peak experiences but rather touching the wonder of the ordinary. Continued »

Take a look at our next issue, featuring helpful teachings on transforming anger into wisdom and compassion

2014-09 coverThe September 2014 Shambhala Sun (on sale August 1) is heading to the printer shortly. Here’s what’s inside:

* Special Section: Discovering the Wisdom of AngerMelvin McLeod on the “enlightened power of no; Judy Lief offers four Buddhist techniques to work with anger; Emily Horn teaches us how RAIN — Recognizing, Accepting, Investigating, and Not identifying with our anger — can cool the flames of anger; Norman Fischer applies five surprising mind-training slogans to anger and other strong emotions

* A Refuge from AddictionNoah Levine offers Buddhist principles and practices to help people free themselves from the suffering of substance abuse

* Is Nothing Something? Children’s questions reveal that they, like adults, are grappling with the human condition. We’ll all benefit from Thich Nhat Hanh‘s answers to their questions

* There Is a Path that Frees Us from Suffering — Insight Meditation teacher Gina Sharpe is working to create a truly inclusive sangha. The place to start, she says, is facing the truth that Buddhist communities aren’t free from the suffering caused by racism. Andrea Miller reports.

* On Track with Paul Newman — He was one of the world’s biggest stars. But according to former employee Michael Stone, the Hollywood legend was also someone who could sit still and watch the rain fall

Plus: Sakyong Mipham on working with obstacles on the path; Jack Kornfield urges you to join the call for peace and nonviolence in Burma; Geri Larkin on what happened when she embraced being ordinary; Andrea Miller‘s books in brief, including new titles by Tom Robbins and Peter Matthiessen, “About a Poem,” and more.

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.

How do you deal with difficult habitual patterns? We want to hear from you.

It’s question time, and the subject is difficult thoughts, emotions, and patterns that arise in your life: What are they? How do you experience them? And how do you work with them — from habits to compulsions to feelings like worry, anxiety, and aversion? ….Let us know. You can leave your answers here (*about 200 words max, please*), or email them to magazine<at>shambhalasun.com. Some answers might appear in a coming issue of Shambhala Sun, so if you do NOT want your answer and/or name published, do indicate that. Thank you.

And if you’re looking for some friendly help with challenging emotions or problems, don’t miss our special collections of teachings and articles from the Shambhala Sun: Wisdom for Difficult Times | Practices for Difficult Times.

Shining a Light: Buddhist psychotherapist and “RAIN” champion Tara Brach

Western psychology and Buddhism—together they offer us a complete diagnosis of the human condition. Andrea Miller talks to psychotherapist Tara Brach, who works to combine these two disciplines into a powerful path to love and fulfillment.

The open sky, the scent of pine, the smell of sea—summer in Cape Cod felt to Tara Brach like her true home. As she was growing up, the family’s summerhouse filled with relatives and friends, and later in her life with spouses and new children. For her, happiness was the shared haven of the beach, diving into the waves and somersaulting underwater.

But one day in 2005, two carloads of friends and family had to go to the beach without her. For twenty years Brach’s health had been mysteriously and painfully declining. Now she had a diagnosis: an incurable genetic disease affecting her connective tissue. She could no longer run or bike or swim or walk on sand. Watching the cars pull out of the driveway, she cried with grief and loneliness. The ocean would never again be her refuge.

“I realized that even if it wasn’t right now, eventually I was going to lose everything,” Brach recalls. “We all are. So how do we find the inner space of wakefulness and tenderness that’s big enough to hold it all?” Continued »

How to Meditate: Sylvia Boorstein on Developing Insight

We suffer, according to Buddhism, not because there’s anything inherently wrong with us but simply because we misunderstand the nature of reality. Sylvia Boorstein on developing insight into the way things really are.

I was walking through the airport terminal when my eyes met those of a baby approaching me, strapped into a carrier on his mother’s chest, and I knew that baby was me. A thrill went through me. I knew in that moment it did not matter that I was aging because that baby—me, in a newer, fresher guise—was on his way up in life.

I recall laughing, maybe even out loud, as the baby and mother passed by. I knew that the others around me were all me too, and the mother and baby and each other as well, coming and going in this airline terminal and in life. I felt happy and said to myself, “Thinking about interconnection is one thing, but these moments of direct understanding are great.” I sat in the boarding lounge feeling tremendous affection for my fellow travelers.

Such an understanding of interconnection comes, in Buddhist practice, from awareness of the three characteristics of experience, also known as the three marks of existence. Continued »

Safe and happy travels, Konchog Norbu…!

I hope you’ll all join me in wishing Konchog Norbu, who’s done such a wonderful job informing and amusing and enlightening us here on the Shambhala Sun blog, safe and happy travels. Why?

Well, long story short: Konchog is on his way, as of this morning, into a new adventure, in which he’ll work with a Khenpo (senior monk) in India, taking part in Tibetan/English translations of Buddhist materials, teaching English, and living in a monastery there. After he arrives in Dharamsala — after layovers in Amsterdam and Delhi — he’ll have a weekend to shake off the jetlag. Then, he’ll be in a Tibetan-language immersion program of sorts, “all Tibetan, all day,” he says.

Given his devotion, hard work, and good heart, I’m a bit sad to see Konchog go, but much more so, happy for him and all the good folks he’ll get to work with: he’ll certainly make a real contribution. Will he be back here on the Shambhala Sun blog, or the Buddhadharma News blog, to which he also contributed? The door’s open, of course, but he may be just a bit too busy, what with his travels and dharma-activities. Either way, I thank him for his friendship, and all his good work, here, and for our world.

Subtle and elegant perception: The “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the moment

poppe

From author and contemplative photographer Andy Karr comes the latest “Seeing Fresh” contemplative photo of the week, submitted by Kimberly Poppe. Andy’s comment: “This is a subtle and elegant perception that could have easily pass unnoticed. Kimberly nailed it. This is wonderful example of fresh seeing.”

Contemplative photography is Continued »

Please join us in welcoming Sharon Munson, our new Advertising Account Rep

sharon2014The Shambhala Sun Foundation is pleased to announce that Sharon Munson has joined the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma as our new Advertising Account Representative. Sharon has many years’ experience in sales and account management, and is also an artist and entrepreneur. In her own words:

“I grew up in downtown Toronto, moved to Halifax after Graduating from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University, where I studied Painting and Ceramics. I co-founded a ceramic manufacturing company, “Spots Pots,” which won BDC’s Young Entrepreneur Award in 1993. I’ve also sold software, mostly for local start-up tech companies, to large telecom and service providers. I practice and teach yoga and am enjoying learning meditation. I continue to draw and paint and can be found at pop-up art shows occasionally in Nova Scotia or Ontario. I am so happy to be with the Shambhala Sun Foundation, creating new relationships with advertisers and potential advertisers who are interested in making the world a better place. I would love to hear from you.”

So, if you’d like to plan an advertising campaign to reach the Shambhala Sun and Buddhadharma community of readers, contact Sharon today: sharon<at>shambhalasun.com | 1-877-422-8404 ext. 39.

In birthday speech, Dalai Lama asks for end to anti-Muslim violence

Yesterday in Northern India the Dalai Lama turned 79 — and used the occasion to call for an end to violence against Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka. “I urge the Buddhists in these countries to imagine an image of Buddha before they commit such a crime,” he said. “Buddha preaches love and compassion. If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims whom the Buddhists are attacking.”

More from the Dalai Lama’s address, here.

Shocking: How far we’ll go to miss out on meditation

anxious manHow deep is our modern craving for distraction? A couple of years ago, folks into meditation were sharing and tittering over a piece entitled, “Sweating, shaking man never going to spend a little time with his thoughts again.” Why would that be funny? Simple: it comes to us by way of The Onion.

But it’s not only funny – not any more. Now, it’s funny because it’s true. Last week, the Washington Post reported on a study led by a researcher in the University of Virginia’s psychology department. The headline? “Most men would rather shock themselves than be alone with their thoughts.” Or, as rendered in Prevention‘s headline: “Up To 67% Of People Would Rather Receive An Electric Shock Than Meditate.” But — there are so many good reasons to work up the gumption to try meditation, and to keep it up, as our July magazine, “Your Guide to Buddhist Meditation,” explains. Check it out, and try some meditation now, here.

NY Times: “Panhandlers Dressed as Monks Confound New Yorkers”

Today via the New York Times comes a report on male panhandlers dressed as Buddhist monks, and female panhandlers dressed as Taoist nuns, who’ve become ubiquitous in Times Square:

“No one seems to know who they really are or where they come from. The police have taken no official stance, stepping in only when the monks become aggressive. Various Buddhists have confronted the men, asking about their affiliation or quizzing them about the religion’s precepts. The men remain silent or simply walk away.

[...] The police have largely left these men alone, to the consternation of Buddhist leaders in New York’s Chinese neighborhoods, who portray them as nothing more than beggars who undermine Buddhists’ credibility.

The Times piece tells more about the panhandler-as-monk phenomenon, which is hardly unique to New York City. Read the full story here.

There’s a party going on right here: “The World Festival”

worldfest-tomi-um

Illustration (detail): Tomi Um

“This past Fourth of July,” writes Howard Axelrod in the July ’14 Shambhala Sun, “having not thought about it for years, I was reminded of the World Festival.” Wait, you’ve never heard of the World Festival? Axelrod explains: “Through third and fourth grade, I had a recurring fantasy, though I thought of it as a project. Night after night, surrounded by my retinue of stuffed animals, I’d lie awake elaborating… planning for the World Festival.” It was to be a festival so big, so inclusive, that everyone in the world would be in attendance.

Now Axelrod realizes: the World Festival has been happening all along. Read all about it in Axelrod’s piece, “The Biggest Party Ever,” from our current issue. “The Biggest Party Ever” is also now available for you to read in its entirety online; just click here.