America’s Changing Religious Landscape: The Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life has published the results of a new study of the religious affiliations of Americans, and finds a precipitous drop in the share of Christians since the last such study in 2007, along with a massive increase in the share of "nones" (which includes atheists, agnostics, and believers with no religious affiliation) and a small increase in the share of non-Christian faiths. Highlights below the fold. [more inside]
Yet to tell the diffusion of Indian influence at this period as two separate processes partially obscures a still more extraordinary story. For it is now increasingly clear that between the fourth and twelfth centuries the influence of India in both Southeast and Central Asia, and to some degree also China, was comparable to the influence of Greece in Aegean Turkey and Rome, and then in the rest of Europe in the early centuries BC. From the empire of the Gupta dynasty in the north and that of the Pallava dynasty in the south, India during this period radiated its philosophies, political ideas, and architectural forms out over an entire continent not by conquest but by sheer cultural sophistication.
In their quest for enlightenment the legendary monks of Mount Hiei put themselves through an excruciating endurance challenge: 1,000 days of long-distance running. (SLGuardian)) Runner Adharanand Finn writes: I have come to Japan, hoping to meet one of them and to find out what they can teach a recreational runner about the path to spiritual wellbeing. What he discovers is beautiful and true, though at first he's a little nonplussed. [more inside]
“I don’t think the Dalai Lama would mind if you saw this through the prism of Monty Python,” said Robert Barnett, director of the modern Tibetan studies program at Columbia University. Zhu Weiqun, a Communist Party official who has long dealt with Tibetan issues, told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that the Dalai Lama had, essentially, no say over whether he was reincarnated. That was ultimately for the Chinese government to decide, he said, according to a transcript (in Chinese) of his comments on the website of People’s Daily, the party’s main newspaper.
When the Supreme Court of the State of California ruled for marriage equality in 2008, we seized the opportunity. Having founded the Japanese American National Museum (I’m still a trustee on the Board there), we wanted to have our wedding there, in the “Democracy Forum” building. It was, after all, democracy that made our formal union possible. And Brad too had embraced Buddhism by now, so it could be a Buddhist wedding. We chose Rev. Briones of the Nishi Hongwanji Temple to be our officiant because he personifies Buddhism’s diversity, being that he’s a Mexican American Buddhist minister.[more inside]
Diana Vreeland, noted fashion columnist and editor-in-chief of Vogue magazine from 1963 until 1971, once famously said, "Pink is the new black." This post is about her grandson, Nicholas Vreeland, who as a teenager worked as an assistant to legendary photographers Irving Penn and Richard Avedon (both friends of Grandma). Nicholas began studying Tibetan Buddhism in 1977. This (8:39) PBS Video from 6/15/2012 provides some background: "Buddhist Abbot Nicholas Vreeland". Now, the trailer to Monk with a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland", a documentary film by Guido Santi and Tina Mascara, has a North American release date of 11/21/14. A Leica Camera Blog article: Nicholas Vreeland: Capturing Photographs to Honor and Preserve His World. Perhaps you would just enjoy seeing some of what Nicholas Vreeland can do with that camera. Enjoy!
Joanna Piacenza tackles difficulties she sees in the American conception of Buddhism. She was spurred out of writing silence several months ago by Time Magazine choosing for the second time in a decade to sell their magazine with a consumerist representation of Buddhism depicted on their cover with an pretty and ethereal looking white woman. Today, she published an article in First Things on why she believes Buddhism can't be just "an add-on: an energy boost in your spiritual smoothie," but is a religion and the American attitudes that she sees as enabling this misconception.
Hidden Paintings Revealed at Ancient Temple of Angkor Wat. "New, digitally enhanced images reveal detailed murals at Angkor Wat showing elephants, deities, boats, orchestral ensembles and people riding horses — all invisible to the naked eye." [Via]
Inside, please find a list of forty-three movies, TV episodes, and short subjects by Werner Herzog, all of which can be streamed, along with some short descriptions of their content. One or two of the films are in German without subtitles; this is noted in the description. [more inside]
The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side is an Ebook about the rarely discussed but long-understood-by-insiders phenomenon of the "sexually voracious" Buddhist leader who "preyed on vulnerable women."
Over a thousand monks and laymen are revered in Tibetan Buddhism as the incarnations of past teachers who convey enlightenment to their followers from one lifetime to the next. Some of the most respected are known by the honorific "rinpoche." For eight centuries, rinpoches were traditionally identified by other monks and then locked inside monasteries ringed by mountains, far from worldly distractions. Their reincarnation lineages were easily tracked across successive lives. Then the Chinese Red Army invaded Tibet in 1950 and drove the religion's adherents into exile. Now, the younger rinpoches of the Tibetan diaspora are being exposed to all of the twenty-first century’s dazzling temptations. So, even as Tibetan Buddhism is gaining more followers around the world, an increasing number of rinpoches are abandoning their monastic vows. Reincarnation in Exile. [more inside]
Buddhism and Marxism have been called two of the most compelling arguments we have against capitalist exploitation. The Dalai Lama would agree. Once in a discussion about his meeting with Chairman Mao he spoke of his affinity for the ideals of communism, adding with a finger to his temple, "The revolution is inside, in the determination of mind." The Tricycle essay Occupy Buddhism is very well written and perhaps interesting for those who believe another (post-capitalist) world is possible.
The Dude and the Zen Master is a new book by actor Jeff Bridges and Zen teacher and activist Bernie Glassman, in which the two men spend several days on a Montana ranch discussing the connections between the Dude in "The Big Lebowski" and common Buddhist teachings. [more inside]
The Rohingya have lived in Burma for generations, as a Muslim minority in a predominantly Buddhist country. The government does not recognize them as citizens. Burmese Buddhists have referred to them as "illegal Bengalis", "viruses", and terrorists. In 2012, over 100,000 Rohingya were forced out of their homes during a violent conflict with Buddhists of the Rakhine ethnic group. The displaced Rohingya now live in refugee camps that they're not allowed to leave. With insufficient food provided, refugees resort to scavenging for grass and plants to survive. [more inside]
Buddhist statue acquired by Nazis is space rock "An 11th-century carving from Mongolia of the Buddhist god Vaiśravana was fashioned from a meteorite fragment, a chemical analysis shows. Its extraterrestrial origins make it unique in both religious art and meteorite science."
Golden Buddha, Hidden Copper. "Twelve years after the Taliban blew up the world-famous Bamiyan Buddhas, a Chinese mining firm -- developing one of the world's largest copper deposits -- threatens to destroy another of Afghanistan's archeological treasures." Campaign to Save Mes Aynak.
Entertaining, collected bon mots and surprisingly interesting, collected poems by various authors. From a likable math brainiac's site, Dr T.E. Forster, a Cambridge University lecturer. He also knits and writes about Buddhist logic [pdf]. Bonus, there's a fun gif.
Chade-Meng tan. The single link to the you tube. The single link to the New York Times. The single link to the Amazon dot com. The single link to Meng (this is what they call him in the video) at blogger. [more inside]
Atlas Obscura (seen 'round here before) has organized its third annual Obscura Day for April 28. It's "an international celebration of unusual places," from the Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, Michigan and the Particle Accelerator at John E. Edwards Accelerator Laboratory in Athens, Ohio, to a tour of the Secrets & Oddities of the National Museum in Edinburgh, Scotland and an Expedition to the 1,553 Stone-Carved Monks of Nihon-ji in the city of Kyonan, Chiba Prefecture, Japan.
The Comedian's Comedian's Comedian: Garry Shandling on boxing, basketball, buddhism and being.
Wonhyo never completed his journey to Tang China, but it is said that before turning back he found enlightenment in a cool drink from a loose skull. Today an international group is following in the footsteps of the 7th century Korean monk. Conveniently, they keep a blog.
"As teachers and leaders of communities that promote the development of compassion and mindfulness, we are writing to express our solidarity with the Occupy movement now active in over 1,900 cities worldwide....Occupy Samsara. [more inside]
"The structural greed, anger and delusion that characterize our current system are incompatible with our obligations to future generations and our most cherished values of interdependence, creativity, and compassion. We call on teachers and practitioners from all traditions of mind/body awakening to join in actively transforming these structures."
Teachings on Right Practice by Shunryu Suzuki, as compiled in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, read by Peter Coyote: "Posture", "Breathing", "Control", "Mind Weeds", "The Marrow of Zen", "Bowing", "Nothing Special"
We've talked about throat singing on the Blue before, but Mongolia and Siberia aren't the only places where throat singing is practiced. In Tibet, an ancient collection of traditions called Bön keeps throat singing alive and well. [more inside]
William Lawrence Cassidy has been indicted for a series of threatening tweets directed towards Alyce Zeoli, aka Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, the leader of a Buddhist organization known as Kunzang Palyul Choling (KPC) to which Cassidy had belonged. There is however a small problem that federal prosecutors are employing a vague anti-stalking law that makes 'intentional infliction of emotional distress' through the use of 'any interactive computer service' a felony, rather than focussing more narrowly upon the outright threats. [more inside]
“Life is fulfilling when you are rooted in the essential Beingness of ‘I Am.’ . . . Then you bring that state of consciousness—that spacious state of consciousness—you bring that into your interactions with other people of great importance. It’s only then that you will stop treating other people as possible sources of fulfillment or as a threat.” —Eckhart Tolle, spiritual teacher and author, on his June 26 live meditation broadcast.
Meditation, explained by Sam Harris. (slyt)
Dare 2 Share Ministries offers profiles and tips on how to "share your faith" with fourteen different types of friends a teen Christian might have, such as Andy the Atheist, Marty the Mormon, Jenna the Jew, Sid the Satanist, Mo the Muslim and Willow the Wiccan. If none of those strategies work, they also offer articles on how to "use the buzz in current teen culture to initiate God-talk with your friends" by "sharing your faith" through Indiana Jones, Halo 3, Brokeback Mountain, Kung Fu Panda and The X Files.
Yantra tattooing is a traditional Thai, Khmer, Lao and Burmese practice using beautiful and intricately designed yantras for good luck, fortune, strength and protection. [more inside]
This week NPR featured a five part series of stories entitled, "New Believers: A religious revolution in China" that explores the growth and status of religion in China today. [more inside]
In 2009, four Buddhist nuns (Bhikkunis) were secretly ordained in Australia - the first ever ordination of Bhikkunis in Australia, and a first for the Thai Forest tradition anywhere. London-born Ajahn Brahm, a long-time supporter of women's equality in Buddhism, facilitated the ordination. For this he was expelled from his community, the Wat Pa Phong Sangha, and his monastery's status was revoked. This video summarizes the conflict, and is possibly the first use of the Downfall meme related to Buddhism. This March, more nuns were ordained in the UK for the first time since the Australia controversy, but they're still not equal to male monks. This blog post discusses sexism, fundamentalism, and the conflict between East and West. The modern opposition to bhikkhuni ordination is no ancient Buddhist tradition. It can be traced no earlier, so far as I am aware, than the abhorrent 1928 ruling against bhikkhuni in Thailand, made by monks who thought it reasonable to arrest nuns and throw them in jail for ordaining. [more inside]
How to Meditate in the NYC Subway System: The Interdependence Project brings a combination of "meditation, performance art, and activism" to the tunnel between Times Square/42nd Street and the Port Authority Bus Terminal. Last year's Sit Down, Rise Up event involved a 24 hour meditation marathon in display windows at 19th and Broadway. (via The Worst Horse)
Oprah interviews Vietnamese peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh. The results may surprise you. [more inside]
Why Americans Love the Dalai Lama : an insightful piece from CNN preceding his appearance tonight at 9PM EST on Larry King Live. [more inside]
"'I am going to get rid of everything, including mosquitoes, that bothers me, anywhere in the world, and then I will be a very happy, content person.' We're laughing, but it's what we all do." SLYT: A wry two-minute teaching about avoiding pain by Buddhist nun Pema Chodron, based on these writings of the 8th century scholar Shantideva. For those who don't like video, here's a transcript (scroll down.) For those who really like video, here's 55 minutes of Chodron with Bill Moyers. (This too has a partial transcript.)
The Sickest Buddhist - Arj Barker from The Flight of the Conchords does a rap skewering of materialism in Western Buddhism. (via) Brad Warner offers a more serious critique of "satori porn" (sfw) Beliefnet talks about the branding of Buddhism, where it's used to market everything from mp3 players to perfume to bars to ... toilet paper holders?
Time-lapse video, shot from overhead, of Tibetan monks from the Drepung Loseling Monastery creating a sand mandala over 5 days: Eight frames per second (1:30); Thirty frames per second (0:23). [via MeFi's Own™ carter]
The Dalai Lama's Buddhist Foes contrasts "the tolerance and rationalism that the Dalai Lama represents globally and the theological hardball over mystical principles that he seems to play on his home turf." But the Shugdenpas aren't the Dalai Lama's only Buddhist opponents. Tibetan Buddhism's only female living Buddha, the twelfth Samding Dorje Phagmo, who chose to stay in Tibet when the Dalai Lama fled, has said, "The sins of the Dalai Lama and his followers seriously violate the basic teachings and precepts of Buddhism and seriously damage traditional Tibetan Buddhism's normal order and good reputation." [more inside]
At 14 months, Spanish infant Osel Hita Torres was brought by his parents to Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama decreed him to be the reincarnation of the recently deceased Lama Yeshe. Torres became Lama Tenzin Osel Rinpoche, and spent most of his life growing up in a gilded cage in the Tibetan exile capital, venerated as a living deity and isolated from the corrupting influences of the world. But then he escaped. [more inside]
Tenzin Bob Thurman became a Tibetan monk at age 24. He's a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University, the first American ordained by the Dalai Lama. Here is his TED talk. If you are really interested in Tibetan Buddhism, check out his many podcasts.
Today 10,000 Pages: A Colouring Book of Abstract Line Art reached the 10% mark. Click on an image for a hi-res version for printing. All drawings are released under a Creative Commons Licence. [more inside]
West treats East. "To help traumatized Tibetan monks, doctors in Boston turn to cross-cultural medicine." [Via]