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Q: How do we retain passion in life and still follow the teaching that we should accept all of life with equanimity?

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Friday
Feb152013

Are We Really Meditating?

Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel examines common misconceptions about Buddhist practice that can derail even the most seasoned practitioners.

What is meditation practice? When are we genuinely practicing and when are we just going through the motions, caught in unexamined assumptions about prac­tice? I often ask myself these questions so I don’t succumb to spiritual vagueness and because I want my practice to continue to grow.

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Friday
Feb152013

Take a Hard Look

You might not think your practice has selfish motivations, says Bardor Tulku, but if you take a close look, you may be surprised by what you find.

No one has ever achieved buddhahood through selfishness. If it were possible to achieve buddhahood through a selfish motivation, then we would certainly have achieved it because we are all masters at selfishness. And yet it appears that we have not done so. All buddhas have achieved buddhahood through altruism; all sen­tient beings remain sentient beings because of selfishness. What does our selfishness consist of? It consists of “i want”: i want pleasure, i want wealth, i want security, and so forth.

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Thursday
Feb142013

Lost in Beantown

Boston newcomer Brian Arundel struggles to make sense of the locals’ reckless driving, knack for obscenities, and seeming disregard for the welfare of strangers.

"If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, includ­ing the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” —Pema Chödrön

There’s this thing that drivers do here when the light turns green: shoot out and turn left in front of you, before you can make it through the inter­section. My fellow transplants call it the “Boston left,” and it’s so engrained in local culture that it’s actually more common than not.

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Thursday
Feb142013

Commentary: Newtown and the Three Poisons

by Guo Gu

My teacher, the late Master Sheng Yen, once said some­thing very simple, but which requires a lifetime of practice to actualize. I share it with you in this difficult time: “Wisdom does not give rise to vexations; compassion has no enemies.”

Wisdom is to be free from greed, hatred, and ignorance, which are the three root vexations. Compassion is to act with­out opposition. Siding with those who agree with me is greed; opposing those who don’t agree with me and wishing they would go away is hatred; not being able to see this mechanism is ignorance. Do our decisions and interpretations of what we experience foster vexations? Do greed, hatred, and ignorance live in us? How many times in our life have we tried to blame others for our suffering? How often do we see things in oppo­sition, as victim and victimizer, good and bad? 

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Thursday
Feb142013

First Thoughts

DO NOT STAND BY

In this message to Buddhadharma’s readers, Jack Kornfield talks about the response of Western Buddhist leaders to the ethnic violence incited by Burmese monks and abbots.

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Thursday
Feb142013

Ask The Teachers

Q: Buddhist teachings talk about having no distinction between “self” and “other.” But they also talk about using meditation to discover one’s “true self.” if we’re trying to diminish the gap between self and other, how does discovering one’s self help in that process? When i meditate, i discover more about myself, but that seems to get in the way of dropping my sense of self. So this confuses me a lot!

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Thursday
Feb142013

Let's Talk: What Are You Waiting For?

Clinical therapist Tamara Kaiser asks why Buddhist communities have not adopted ethical standards long accepted by the rest of society.

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Thursday
Feb142013

Serving Others, Transforming Ourselves


THE ARTS OF CONTEMPLATIVE CARE: PIONEERING VOICES IN BUDDHIST CHAPLAINCY AND PASTORAL WORK
Edited by Cheryl A. Giles and Willa B. Miller
Wisdom Publications, 2012
$34.95; 368 pages

BUDDHIST CARE FOR THE DYING AND BEREAVED
Edited by Jonathan S. Watts and Yoshiharu Tomatsu
Wisdom publications, 2012
$22.95; 312 pages

Reviewed by Frank Ostaseski

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Thursday
Feb142013

A Bow to Women’s Wisdom


RECEIVING THE MARROW TEACHINGS ON DOGEN  by Soto Zen Women Priests
Edited by Eido Frances Carney
Temple Ground Press, 2012
$18; 266 pages

Reviewed by Steven Heine

Nearly eight hundred years ago, the celebrated Japanese Zen master Dogen gave a remarkable sermon revealing his egalitarian attitude toward women, an attitude reflected in both his teachings and writings. With the publication of Receiving the Marrow, a collection of essays edited by Eido Frances Carney, eleven accomplished Zen women priests share their understanding of Dogen’s teachings, as well as their appreciation.

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Thursday
Feb142013

Book Briefs

by Michael Sheehy 

How we have received and continue to interpret Buddhism through European lenses is the subject of The Cult of Emptiness (University Media 2012), which presents us with a glimpse into the European discovery of Buddhism. The author, Urs App, explores and narrates this history, beginning with sixteenth-century Jesuit and Christian missionaries who encountered Zen Buddhists in Japan. App looks at how these encounters shaped the invention of a unified “Oriental philosophy,” an atheistic doctrine of nothingness that was attributed to the Buddha and thought to originate in Egypt. Bringing to light new sources for the study of these encounters, we see how the history of Buddhism was rewritten by the Church. The story of what was known about Buddhism and how that knowledge was manipulated, not to mention how it informs our perceptions of Buddhism today, makes for a fascinating read. 

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