How hunks, rap, and booze might save Buddhism in Japan

August 26, 2012

It can be difficult to get people excited about religion in Japan. No doubt, Japan’s culture and its religions are deeply intertwined, but the vast majority of Japanese people say that aren’t very religious.

With membership in religions across Japan in free fall, many are trying to make themselves more appealing to attract more followers. How do you get people excited about religion? Do you pull a Pope John Paul II and get some sweet-ass breakdancers to get the kids all excited about God?

Japanese Buddhists have found their weapon of choice: hunks. Not just any hunks, but hunky monks. Earlier this year …

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The Buddha Walks Into A Bar, by Lodro Rinzler

January 23, 2012

The Buddha Walks Into A Bar: A Guide to Life for a New Generation is the literary debut of 28 year-old Shambhala Buddhist teacher, Lodro Rinzler. The book is aimed at “Generation O” and makes no assumptions about any prior knowledge or experience of Buddhism. Having said that, despite being a ‘young Buddhist’ I have almost a decade of experience of Buddhism yet I still found this book enjoyable, useful, and interesting.

I must admit, I did wince slightly at some of the expressions in the book, such as “Sid said…” when referring to the Buddha, but perhaps this is due to not being so ‘down with the kids’ these days. However, the cringe-effect quickly … Read more »

The real Buddha Bar, tended by Tokyo monks

December 30, 2011

Another Friday night at this tiny neighborhood watering hole in Tokyo: By 7:30, the bar stools and tables in this cozy joint are filling up; office workers settle in with their cocktails and Kirin beers. And by a little after 8, it’s time for the main act.

Vow’s Bar in the Yotsuya neighborhood has no house band, no widescreen TV, no jukebox. But it does have a chanting Buddhist monk so tipplers can get a side of sutras with their Singapore Slings or something even more exotic.

A pair of younger monks — conspicuous with their shaved heads, bare feet and religious garb — man …

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Meditation diet

November 20, 2010

Most Americans got their last glimpse of Bob Ney in 2006 when the powerful Ohio representative resigned his office and left Washington to begin a 30-month term in federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va. A player in the Jack Abramoff scandal, Ney was a disgraced Republican with a drinking problem and an expanding waistline.

Today, he has been reborn as a sober and slimmed-down follower of the Dalai Lama and is studying meditation techniques with Tibetan monks at a Buddhist temple in India.

Ney is spending his days in Dharamsala, trying to master the Tibetan language and eagerly awaiting the return of the Dalai Lama and the chance to hear more of the exiled religious leader’s … Read more »

Meditation can help tackle alcoholism, advise doctors

November 12, 2010

Meditation and peace of mind are essential for the rehabilitation of alcoholics and addicts. The message was conveyed during an awareness talk organized by a group of city-based doctors.

Addressing an awareness talk on ‘Alcoholism-The way out’ on Friday, experts deliberated on how to combat the habit of drinking.

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Stress is contagious

July 31, 2010

Sanchita Sharma, Hindustan Times: More than news headlines, what gives me stress is reading about stress. It makes me hostile, sleepless, restless, overeat and break into spots, all worries — except the spots — that add to existing stress and push me closer to disease and death. Stress does not cause any single disease, not even ulcers, as previously believed. Australian researchers Barry J Marshall and Robin Warren won the 2005 Nobel Prize in medicine for showing that the bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) caused ulcers, not stress.

Stress makes several diseases much worse, largely because it suppresses the immune system, increasing risk of infections. From headaches and colds to the more debilitating diabetes, … Read more »

“The Heart of the Buddha,” by Chogyam Trungpa

July 29, 2010

heart of the buddhaTrungpa Rinpoche was a deeply flawed man, but an inspiring teacher. A new book gives Suriyavamsa a chance to reflect on Trungpa’s genius, and on the visceral and striking teaching it gave rise to.

I remember studying with my teacher Sangharakshita in a group of Triratna Buddhist centre teachers a couple of years ago. He expressed his admiration for Chogyam Trungpa and, using Gurdjieff’s distinction between the narrow saint and the broad genius, considered Trungpa to be a flawed genius of intelligence, flair and imagination. Sangharakshita went on to encourage us all to become ‘geniuses’ – to be broad and other regarding, and to develop the many diverse talents necessary to spread the Buddha’s teachings.… Read more »

Researchers see promise in treating addictive behaviors with mindfulness meditation

April 19, 2010

The Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel

When the stresses of life become too much for him, Ken Volante takes a figurative step back and tries out being SOBER. That “nice little trick,” as he describes it, is the backbone of mindfulness meditation and it helps him remain sober.

It’s a series of steps that allows him to cope with the cravings that would lead him to drink. So important is this practice that he carries with him a laminated card listing those steps.

When he practices being SOBER, he Stops, Observes what’s going on, focuses on his Breathing (divorces himself from what’s going on around him), Expands (focus what’s happening to one’s body) and Responds (but constructively).

A … Read more »

“The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction,” by Darren Littlejohn

February 4, 2009

The 12-Step Buddhist, by Darren Littlejohn

Title: The 12-Step Buddhist: Enhance Recovery from Any Addiction
Author: Darren Littlejohn
Publisher: Beyond Words Publishing (March 2009)

Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-Step Program offers a path of escape from the cycle of dependency, but it’s a path that’s heavily reliant on belief in a deity. Can Buddhism provide an alternative approach to addiction? Buddhist and incarcerated drug-offender Rich Cormier investigates “12-Step Buddhism” as outlined in a new book by Darren Littlejohn.

Traditional 12-Step programs involve a God-based spiritual approach. The “12-Step Buddhist” emphasizes that it is important to develop a strong spiritual foundation for any attempt at recovery to be successful, and points out that addicts who are resistant to the customary system … Read more »

“Warrior King of Shambhala: Remembering Chogyam Trungpa,” by Jeremy Hayward

September 22, 2008

warrior king of shambhalaChogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was a charismatic, brilliant teacher whose drinking and sexual dalliances left a problematic legacy. Suriyavamsa reviews a new book that appreciates Trungpa’s monumental contribution to western Buddhism but doesn’t shy away from describing his shortcomings.

The Tibetan teacher Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche stands out among the pioneers of Western Buddhism as a colorful and dangerous force making a huge impact on the Buddhism we find here today.

His short life was characterized by a tension between his thorough engagement with traditional Buddhist practice and his breaking with this traditional form in an often outrageous way. Both facets were part of his traditional Tibetan upbringing — a meticulous monastic training in Buddhist practice and … Read more »