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Wednesday
Mar012006

Nibbana Is Giving Up, Letting Go, and Being Free

The Buddha taught to see the body in the body. What does this mean? We are all familiar with the parts of the body, such as hair, nails, teeth, and skin. So how do we see the body in the body? If we recognize all these things as being impermanent, unsatisfactory, and not-self, that’s what is called seeing the body in the body. Then it isn’t necessary to go into detail and meditate on the separate parts. It’s like having fruit in a basket. If we have already counted the pieces of fruit, then we know what’s there, and when we need to, we can pick up the basket and take it away, and all the pieces come with it. We know the fruit is all there, so we don’t have to count it again.

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Wednesday
Mar012006

First, the Bad News

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s perspective on Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhist practices is unique, and summarizing his views, ranging as they do over so many profound issues, is not an easy task. The number of his books is already quite large, with more arriving. While Trungpa Rinpoche is a very organized thinker in one respect, with a masterly command of the English language, in another respect his teachings almost defy systematization; his spontaneous outbursts of poetic expression and brilliant insights into our human folly can appear at any instant in his discourse, making it very difficult for anyone to write about his work and do his thinking justice.

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Wednesday
Mar012006

Forum: Are Kleshas Obstacles or Opportunities for Enlightenment?

Buddhism has plenty of words for what human beings do wrong—defilements, neurotic behavior, obscurations, obstructions, evil deeds, kleshas, and so on. The beauty of Buddhism, though, is that it doesn’t focus on blame. The focus of Buddhism is samsara, which is not a sin but simply a mistake, a mistake that starts out small and gets very, very big. When you begin with the view that a mistake has been made, you can stop trying to apprehend the wrongdoer and put your effort into finding out how the mistake occurred in the first place. In the beginning, the real nature of the mistake can elude us, and we may think that there is “something wrong with us.” It takes the patience and diligence of mindfulness to see our “defilements” for what they really are—and to see how they differ from who we really are.

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Wednesday
Mar012006

Ask the Teachers

Q: Someone very close to me is going through a great deal of psychological difficulty and can’t find their way in life. I feel strongly that they would benefit from being able to take their thoughts less seriously, something I feel I’ve been learning from meditation. Yet, they are clearly not ready to take up Buddhism or even meditation, although in the long run I think they might. I would like to help them out now and to help them find their way to the path. How can I do that without seeming to preach Buddhism or trying to make them take up an activity they don’t feel ready for?

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Wednesday
Mar012006

No Time to Lose

    No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life No Time to Lose: A Timely Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life
    By Pema Chödrön

Reviewed by Roger Jackson

No Time to Lose is a fruit of the encounter between one of the most respected of all Western Buddhist teachers, bhikshuni Pema Chödrön, and one of the most beloved of all Mahayana Buddhist texts, the Bodhicharyavatara by the eighth-century Indian monk, Shantideva.

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Wednesday
Mar012006

The Lost Lineage

Reviewed by Roko Sherry Chayat

Feminism has had an impact on Buddhism, but it has been a slow, wrenching process. Yes, the Buddha proclaimed that women were capable of enlightenment; yes, Dogen, Dahui, and other great ancestral teachers declared that according to the dharma there was no difference between men and women. But at the same time, the movement that seeks to establish women’s equality has had to confront ancient Buddhist teachings that, as Osumi Kazuo explains, would have us believe that “because the nature of women is inherently evil, they cannot achieve salvation without first being transformed into or reborn as men.”1 And indeed, in actual practice, the world of differentiation always seems to trump the realm of sameness.

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Wednesday
Mar012006

The Dalai Lama’s Scientific Agenda

It’s not surprising that His Holiness the Dalai Lama—who likes to say that if he hadn’t become a monk, he’d have been an engineer—should so often find himself involved with the paradoxical relationship of the material and the spiritual. On his fall trip to the U.S., which coincided with publication of his new book, The Universe in a Single Atom, he gave teachings in Tucson, New York City, and San Francisco, and joined a webcast dialogue at Stanford University between neuroscientists and Buddhist scholars during a daylong program called “Craving, Suffering and Choice: Spiritual and Scientific Explorations of Human Experience.” In Washington, D.C., he participated in three days of dialogue on the science and clinical applications of meditation at the thirteenth meeting of the Mind and Life Institute, which he cofounded in 1987 to foster dialogue and research between modern science and contemplative traditions, especially Buddhism.

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Wednesday
Mar012006

Profile: IMS Turns 30

When Sharon Salzberg joined two other twentysomething meditators to buy a former Catholic seminary for $150,000, creating the Insight Meditation Society, she learned for the first time what a mortgage was. Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, and Joseph Goldstein were just back from several years of practice and study in South Asia. They knew what they wanted to create, more or less, but they weren’t sure they had the skills and experience to make it happen. Could they transmit the teachings? Would people come?

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Wednesday
Mar012006

Huihu

The Chinese term Huihu, an important concept within the Caodong sect of Chan, first appeared in Shitou Xigian’s text, Cantongqi. This text, known in Japanese as the Sandokai, is an indispensable part of the canon of Soto Zen, and is recited in Soto temples daily. Huihu—a central concept within the Cantongqi—means “transposition,” or “interaction.” It refers to the phenomenal interchange between polar entities, like winter emerging into spring or vice versa, or vexations transformed into liberation or vice versa. Hui means “return” and hu means “mutually,” so a literal translation of the concept would be “mutual return to the state (of the other).”

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Thursday
Dec012005

The Wondrous Path of Difficulties

Call it luck, good luck. This past May, a sellout crowd of over 3,000 people arrived at the Nob Hill Masonic Center in San Francisco to listen to a discussion with two of America’s most respected and beloved Buddhist teachers: Pema Chödrön and Jack Kornfield. Then, suddenly, the center’s computer system went down, causing mass confusion at the ticket counters. But what might have seemed like a big problem on the surface, explain Chödrön and Kornfield, was in fact a great opportunity to practice the Buddhist teachings. Here is a portion of their conversation, moderated by KQED Public Radio host Michael Krasny.

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