How Buddhism differs from other religions

March 20, 2013

Lisa Jensen, Demand Media: For its followers, Buddhism is more than a religion; it is a way of life. While Buddhists take vows that are similar to those taken in other religions, including the vows not to kill, lie or steal, Buddhism does not prohibit its practitioners from following other religions. Additionally, it gives its followers autonomy in choosing the depth of practice. Buddhists may individually make certain commitments — like reciting a mantra a certain number of times or fulfilling the requests of a teacher — but they are not required; instead, they are self-imposed. Unlike many religions, a Buddhist nun or monk…

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Congratulations to Mazie Hirono: the first Buddhist elected to the US Senate

November 7, 2012

I just picked up on Google+ that Mazie Keiko Hirono has just become the first Buddhist elected to the US Senate.

Hirono is the U.S. Representative for Hawaii’s 2nd congressional district, serving since 2007. She is a member of the Democratic Party, and is currently Senator-elect for Hawaii filling the seat being vacated by Daniel Akaka.

She will be the first female senator from Hawaii, the first Asian-American woman elected to the Senate, the first senator born in Japan, and the nation’s first Buddhist senator. That’s quite a collection of firsts.

She considers herself a non-practicing Buddhist, but when sworn in she said

“I don’t have a book [to swear upon] … But I certainly … Read more »

Dalai Lama tells his Facebook friends that religion “is no longer adequate”

September 13, 2012

George Dvorsky, io9: This past Monday, people who have the Dalai Lama as a Facebook friend found this little gem in their newsfeed.

All the world’s major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether.

The Dalai Lama’s advice sounds startling familiar — one that echos the sentiment put forth by outspoken …

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Is meditation a religion?

July 17, 2011

With 100,000 people in Washington this week for a major meditative Buddhist ceremony, a question arises: Is meditation a religion?

As On Faith explored last week, millions in the West, including many Kalachakra participants, have adapted Buddhist practices such as mindfulness, meditation or study of the Dalai Lama’s teachings, without taking on the full trappings of orthodox Tibetan Buddhism.

And meditation is booming in this country. The National Institutes of Health’s most recent data shows 9.4 percent of Americans meditated in the last year. That’s up from 7.6 percent five years earlier.

One of the region’s biggest meditation groups, the Insight Meditation…

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Why I call myself a Buddhist

May 27, 2011

When I became a Mitra (friend) of the Triratna Buddhist Community earlier this year, I was surprised by the surprise of my non-Buddhist friends. They seemed aggrieved.

This was the general message:

‘We know you’ve benefited from meditation, and going on silent retreats. Although that’s not our idea of a holiday, we’re pleased for you. But why spoil everything by espousing a weird Eastern religion? Can’t you keep it secular? And if you have to be religious (though God knows why) can’t you stick to your own? OK, maybe not the Church. But what’s wrong with the Quakers? They sit in silence and meditate, don’t they?’

Fair enough questions. And I tried to answer them. … Read more »

Religion to become extinct, says model of census data

March 21, 2011

A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The data reflect a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

Nonlinear dynamics is invoked to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part.

One of the team, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University, put forth a similar model in 2003 to … Read more »

Ritual outside religion: the power of group meditation

December 18, 2008

Huffington Post: A few years back I discovered that meditation or contemplative practices done in a group setting are quite different than practices done alone. At the time, I was reading Steven Strogatz book ‘Sync’ about the science of synchronicity (the phenomenon of naturally arising sync in nature) and saw that the group experience was a syncing of individual transformative experiences. Read more here.

Meditation Relaxation technique not sole province of Eastern religions

November 25, 2008

Courier Press: Meditation — that’s something that involves Eastern religion, cross-legged sitting and mantra chanting, right? Well, sometimes. Some forms of meditation are associated with Eastern religions, but other forms are rooted in Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam. Other forms are secular. Read more here.

Spirituality protects against depression better than church attendance

October 28, 2008

ScienceDaily: Those who worship a higher power often do so in different ways. Whether they are active in their religious community, or prefer to simply pray or meditate, new research out of Temple University suggests that a person’s religiousness – also called religiosity – can offer insight into their risk for depression. Read more here.

Religion: with god on our side

October 28, 2008

Psychology Today: Psychologist Nick Epley explores how we attribute beliefs and attitudes to other minds, including those of deities. In ongoing research at the University of Chicago, he and his collaborators are finding that people’s own beliefs line up much more closely with the beliefs they attribute to their gods than to those they peg on other people. If you manipulate people’s views, their gods’ assigned views change, too. Read more here.