Candle-lit serenity in Thailand

December 20, 2012

Young monks rehearsed an evening candlelight ceremony at the Chedi Luang temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The country’s Buddhist temples are as much a part of the landscape as rice paddies and palm trees. But many temples in rural Thailand have fallen quiet.

Credit: Giulio Di Sturco for The International Herald Tribune

From a gorgeous slide show in the New York Times, accompanying an article on the decline of the Buddhist monastic tradition in Thailand,

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 »

Tibetan monks create sand mandala

November 16, 2010

Once again, Lafayette [Indiana] is opening its heart to Buddhist monks touring America.

Eight monks started making a sacred sand mandala Thursday and will continue through next week at the Tippecanoe Arts Federation.

During the opening ceremony Thursday, the monks chanted a blessing for the colored sand. A horn, cymbal, drum and handbell were used to emphasize parts of the 15-minute ceremony.

Through a translator, Lobsang Dhondup explained the sand mandala, which is a Buddhist tradition using geometric designs inside a circle. The mandala is used for meditation and contains several Buddhist doctrines.

“The mandala is indispensable for the practice of Buddhism,” Dhondup said. “This is one of our spiritual exercises.”

Read the rest of 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.