Buddhists’ delight

June 18, 2012

James Atlas, New York Times: was I in a tent in northern Vermont? Much less a tent in the woods at a Buddhist meditation center, reading Sakyong Mipham’s “Turning the Mind Into an Ally” by the light from my smartphone?

If you really want to hear about it (to borrow a phrase from Holden Caulfield), I was on retreat. Perhaps I should say, I was in retreat, from a frenetic Manhattan life, hoping to find the balance and harmony that have formed the basis of the Buddhist tradition ever since Siddhartha Gautama discovered enlightenment around 2,500 years ago while sitting under a Bodhi tree …

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Retreat in the desert ends in a grisly death

Fernanda Santos, New York Times: The rescuers had rappelled from a helicopter, swaying in the brisk April winds as they bore down on a cave 7,000 feet up in a rugged desert mountain on the edge of this rural hamlet. There had been a call for help. Inside, they found a jug with about an inch of water, browned by floating leaves and twigs. They found a woman, Christie McNally, thirsty and delirious. And they found her husband, Ian Thorson, dead.

The puzzle only deepened when the authorities realized that the couple had been expelled from a nearby Buddhist retreat in which dozens of …

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Ten tips for setting up a meditation practice

May 3, 2012

The benefits of meditation come with regular practice, and that means making it part of your life. That’s one of the great challenges of learning meditation, so here are ten tips for establishing a meditation practice.

1. Get some instruction

You can learn the techniques of meditation from books and CDs: there are some good ones around (check out our shop). But it helps a lot to learn from a real person.Take a course – or go to a class where you can ask questions about the issues. In time, it helps to have friends or even teachers who are more experienced meditators than you are.

2. Settle on a practice that suits you… Read more »

Meet the monk who spent spent 19 years in one room after China invaded Tibet

March 20, 2012

Joyce Morgan, Sydney Morning Herald: After China invaded Tibet in 1959, a young monk went into solitary confinement. He remained in a tiny dark room in the capital Lhasa for 19 years.

Choden Rinpoche’s confinement was self-imposed and he spent the two decades secretly meditating and reciting sacred texts he had memorised.

Rinpoche had none of the ritual objects, no altar, or books associated with a monk, just a set of rosary beads he hid under his blanket. Even retaining these was dangerous.

“If you kept even one scripture text, that is a serious crime – more serious than keeping a gun,” he said through an …

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Transcendental billionaire

March 7, 2012

Naazneen Karmali, Forbes: Every day busloads of tourists arrive in Gorai, a seafront suburb of Mumbai, and head to Esselworld and Water Kingdom, two popular theme parks built by Indian billionaire Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group.

Since 2008 the traffic to Gorai has jumped several-fold. Around 10,000 of those people are seeking something other than a ride down a water slide. They are going to the giant golden pagoda. You can see it from miles around rising from the trees in a sharp fingerlike spire aimed at the clouds.

The people are going to the pagoda to sit in Vipassana, an ancient Buddhist meditation style seeing …

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Head of reclining Buddha, Aryaloka Buddhist Center

February 8, 2012

[Click on the image for a larger version.]

This Buddha statue reclines gracefully on the ledge of one of the windows in the “yoga room” (it’s called that, although there’s hardly ever any yoga done there) below the shrineroom at Aryaloka Buddhist Center in Newmarket, NH.

Getting far, far away from it all

December 5, 2011

Hilary Stout: On a Friday morning in October — Oct. 21, to be exact — Mark Trippetti, an advertising consultant from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, surrendered his laptop and iPhone to storage at a remote mountainside center in southern Colorado and prepared to drop out of human contact for a month.

The previous week he had begun the withdrawal process, leaving word with clients, cutting back his use of technology and giving up caffeine. Before checking out completely, he made one final call to his girlfriend, Jee Chang.

By careful design, Mr. Trippetti would not see or communicate with anyone until Nov. 20. At his spartan cabin …

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Mumbai attacks survivors preach forgiveness

November 27, 2011

On the third anniversary of the start of the deadly attacks in the Indian city of Mumbai that left 165 people dead, the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan reports on some of the survivors who are preaching forgiveness in a newly published book.

The Mumbai 25 – as they were known – were in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 as part of a meditation retreat.

Two members of the group were killed in the attacks, but the survivors hope that showing compassion will bring something good from a terrible tragedy.

It was a last-minute cancellation that led Linda Ragsdale to travel from the US to Mumbai in November 2008.

She …

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Meditating with tinnitus

October 7, 2011

Fotolia_164586_XSIf you suffer from tinnitus – persistent ringing in the ears – you may wonder whether meditation is a good idea. And yet it can be a powerful tool in helping you come to terms with the white noise inside your head. Meditator and long-time tinnitus sufferer Mandy Sutter airs some of the issues.

Tinnitus can make meditation very difficult. And because meditation is mostly silent, it may seem that meditation can make tinnitus very difficult, too.

It’s certainly true that as soon as you sit down on the cushion and close your eyes, the tinnitus seems to get louder. It isn’t really getting louder: it only seems that way because you are cutting down … Read more »

The Closing Circle

September 25, 2011

Writer and meditator Mandy Sutter views the reporting-in process at the end of silent retreats with a mixture of dread and excitement.

Many Buddhist retreat centres embrace the custom of the ‘Closing Circle’.

This doesn’t mean sitting in the middle of a razor toothed torture ring that gradually closes in and squeezes the life out of you, like something out of a James Bond movie.

No. It’s worse than that.

It means that after spending, say, a fortnight in silence with thirty strangers, the group sits in a large circle on the last evening to share their experience.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not against hearing how everyone else got on. Quite the contrary: who … Read more »