Students learn about healing programs for inmates

November 15, 2010

Prison inmates can find hope and healing through meditation and yoga, students at a local high school found out this week, in a presentation on the work of Sister Elaine MacInnes and her charity, Freeing the Human Spirit.

“Every day, 36,000 Canadians wake up in prison cells,” Cheryl Vanderburg, Freeing the Human Spirit’s program co-ordinator, told her teenage audience at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School, Wednesday morning, Nov. 10.

“More than half the people in prison are victims of child abuse. The majority have unstable job history. Every day, I go into prisons and I see kids like yourselves. They’ve done something stupid and gotten caught.”

Vanderburg was a guest speaker during the high … Read more »

East meets west. There’s some wariness at first. But they end up liking each other.

September 29, 2010

As well all know, mathematics is dangerous — especially trigonometry. Rooted as it is in ancient Greek religious practice, young minds exposed to mathematics become open to unwholesome — possibly demonic — spiritual influences. Nah, just joking. The bit about math being rooted in religion is true, naturally, but the possibility that the hypotenuse is the straight line to hell seems far-fetched, to say the least. But Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler believes something very similar about yoga, according to an article in the Clarion Ledger. Yoga comes from the Hindu tradition, but of course dressing in a leotard and stretching your hamstrings doesn’t strike most people as much more than a … Read more »

“The Flowing Bridge,” by Elaine MacInnes

September 7, 2010

flowing bridgeWriter Renée Miller introduces a book on Zen koans written by Elaine Miller, who is both a Catholic nun and a Zen priest.

When we step to the edge of our experience and then have the courage to take yet one more step, we are often surprised to find that the anxiety we felt at taking that “one more step” vanishes in a whole new feeling of expansion. When it comes to religious thinking, we are accustomed to holding fast to our familiar patterns of belief and tradition because what we know or have been taught feels like a protection and security for us. The religion itself may put constraints on our exploration as a … Read more »

The Dalai Lama on tolerance

When I was a boy in Tibet, I felt that my own Buddhist religion must be the best — and that other faiths were somehow inferior. Now I see how naïve I was, and how dangerous the extremes of religious intolerance can be today.

Though intolerance may be as old as religion itself, we still see vigorous signs of its virulence. In Europe, there are intense debates about newcomers wearing veils or wanting to erect minarets and episodes of violence against Muslim immigrants. Radical atheists issue blanket condemnations of those who hold to religious beliefs. In the Middle East, the flames of war are fanned by hatred of those who adhere to a different faith.… Read more »

Letting go, always letting go

October 28, 2009

martha and maryIn the first of a series of articles, The Rev. Canon Renée Miller explores Buddhist practice from the perspective of her own Christian faith.

The Dalai Lama says that meditation is the cure for every problem. That seems a bold claim to make. When we consider the various small and large problems in our lives, it doesn’t seem that meditation could resolve them. What can sitting in silence, counting our breaths do about the pain we feel in our bodies, or the fear we experience when we face death, or the lack of purpose we sometimes feel, or even the bread we baked that did not rise as it should have? How is meditation a … Read more »

Three lies and a half-truth

October 2, 2009

United Church Observer: When it comes to understanding meditation, Christianity and neuroscience are closer than you might imagine

When I teach about cognition and prayer, I often start with an exercise designed for failure. I ask the class to cross their legs and arms, slump in their chairs and think of nothing for two minutes. During this period, I remind them regularly and harshly how much time is left and that their minds should be empty.

Afterward, participants invariably speak about their frustration and discomfort. For me, it’s the longest two minutes of the course. But I love this exercise. It illustrates the three biggest lies and one half-truth about meditation: that meditation means … Read more »

Buddhism strengthens ties to church

August 17, 2009

The Denver Post: What in the recent past seemed exotic and foreign is now almost routinely folded into “the fold.”

Buddhism is not only accepted as a mainstream American religion, it is a path increasingly trod by faithful Christians and Jews who infuse Eastern spiritual insights and practices such as meditation into their own religions.

When John Weber became a Buddhist at age 19, his devout Methodist parents were not particularly pleased.

In recent years, however, they’ve invited their son, a religious studies expert with Boulder’s Naropa University, to speak at their church about Buddhism.

“That never would have happened before,” Weber said. “They would have been embarrassed.”

The Pew Forum’s Religious Landscape Survey … Read more »

Labyrinth a place for moving meditation

August 10, 2009

Herald-Mail: As Michael Holland walked the outdoor Cretan labyrinth at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Hagerstown Sunday afternoon, he paused to read the plaque affixed to a large flat stone at its center.

That plaque expresses in words the impact the late Sharon Rucker made on the growth and health of the church she loved so dearly. She died in May 2008 at the age 58.

Even the stone that holds the plaque is a tribute to Rucker and her beloved congregation. It was the bottom step of the church’s former location on North Potomac Street, saved 12 years ago during the move to 13245 Cearfoss Pike.

“She made a difference here,” said Yvonne … Read more »

600 years of solitude, by Michael Chaskalson (Kulananda)

October 28, 2008

Skelig islands. Original image copyright Ian MulvanyOn the Irish isle of Skellig Michael, Celtic Monks once pursued a tough life of meditation. Kulananda (Michael Chaskalson) feels a connection across the centuries with these vanished contemplatives, and senses a continuity between his own efforts and theirs.

I am traveling about the Kerry coast with the team that runs the Dublin Meditation Center. As the Center’s president, I visit from time to time, helping out where I can. We are getting to know one another better, getting to know Ireland together, adventuring around its glorious coastline on a kind of pilgrimage.

One evening we set out in search of a place to hold an impromptu meeting: three members of the Western Buddhist Order … Read more »

Søren Kierkegaard: “Purity of heart is to will one thing.”

March 24, 2008

kierkegaardHow do we find inner peace? How do we learn to overcome inner conflict? What is the guiding principle of our lives? Bodhipaksa takes a saying by the 19th century Danish theologian and philosopher, Kierkegaard, and looks at the Buddhist perspective on “willing one thing.”

“Purity of heart is to will one thing.”
– Søren Kierkegaard

This saying by Kierkegaard, the 19th century Danish theologian and philosopher, suggests that a mind divided is a mind unable to be at peace with itself. When we desire contradictory ends there is no chance for the mind to find harmony; always there is inner strife, conflict, and confusion. When the mind pulls in two directions at once we … Read more »