Toward a socially responsible mindfulness

July 15, 2015

MaiaDuerrbannerThe big news in the Buddhist world recently was a gathering of Buddhist teachers and leaders at the White House – yes, that White House. My heart leaped with joy when I saw photos of members of the group holding up three banners with these words:

The Karma of Slavery is Heavy
I vow to work for racial justice

The Whole Earth is My True Body
I vow to work for climate justice

U.S. Militarism Breeds Violence Not Safety
I vow to work for peace and freedom

The banners were lovingly hand-painted by members of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship in the San Francisco Bay Area. BPF is an organization near and dear to my heart … Read more »

The Buddha Is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom Selected and Edited by Jack Kornfield

December 20, 2011

“In these pages you will find the Dharma … Dharma is kept alive by those who follow the path,” writes Jack Kornfield, the beloved American Buddhist teacher and co-founder of Spirit Rock meditation Center, near where I live in San Francisco.

For the past two months I have had this little book in my messenger bag, a compilation of selections that Kornfield tells us will “bring the Dharma eloquently to life for us in our own time, place and culture.” Indeed it is full of inspiration, and has been a treat to open it, never knowing what treasures will await on the page, as I ride the train during evening rush hour, as I relax … Read more »

Meditators arrested in Occupy Oakland protest


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Protestors meditate as police move in to arrest them at the Occupy Oakland encampment.

At least a dozen spiritual leaders were arrested in the evacuation of Occupy Oakland on Monday morning as they sat in a candlelit circle in front of the camp’s interfaith tent, according to Salon.com‘s Emily Loftis. They were among 32 people arrested by riot police.

“They wanted to hold the sacred space and be a peaceful presence,” said Jon Jackson, deacon at the First Congregational Church of Oakland, a camp participant who chose not to be arrested. According to witnesses, the arrested included Kurt Khuwald, a professor at the Starr King seminary in Berkeley, Father Joseph Vitale, who

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Transcending a different type of PTSD — helping children of the night

October 9, 2011

Dr. Norman Rosenthal: Lately there has been a storm of publicity – and deservedly so – about post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in veterans of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The public has become better educated about this potentially disabling disorder and its symptoms, such as hypervigilance, an exaggerated tendency to startle, flashbacks, nightmares and emotional numbness, to name just a few.
Mental health professionals have emphasized the need to diagnose and treat PTSD wherever it arises. In this piece, I would like to draw attention to yet another group suffering from PTSD – child victims of prostitution who, against all odds, are trying…

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Reflecting on death is oddly life-enhancing

June 3, 2011

Most people would tend to assume that reflecting on your own death is going to be a bit of a downer. Why think about that depressing stuff?

Well, there’s a good reason why. It can make you a happier and better person.

In an experiment in the UK, people were asked to reflect about death in an abstract way, were asked to imagine their own death, or (as a control) were asked to imagine toothache.

Next, the participants were given an article, supposedly from the BBC, about blood donations. Some people read an article saying that blood donations were “at record highs” and the need was low; others read another article reporting the opposite –

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Buddhist mobile clinic serves East San Jose

February 14, 2011

Fewer patients than expected turned out, but that just meant the waiting lines were short for the doctors, dentists, acupuncturists and chiropractors who filled teeth and adjusted backs Sunday at a free clinic in East San Jose.

The Tzu Chi Foundation, a Buddhist organization with roots in Taiwan, offered its health clinic in keeping with its goals to help the poor, educate the rich and inspire love and humanity in both.

The foundation, with 10 million followers globally, has a strong presence in the South Bay. The 58 patients who showed up at Slonaker Elementary School on Sunday were matched in number by Tzu Chi’s volunteers, including medical professionals and others. The group, which has … Read more »

Taking your practice on to the streets

August 10, 2010

The image of meditators remaining aloof from the world, caught up in examining the metaphorical fluff in their mental bellybuttons, still lingers on despite the fact that many practitioners are deeply involved in social actions like feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, teaching prison inmates, and working to solve environmental issues.

Hopefully the first-ever Symposium for Western Socially Engaged Buddhism, organized by the Zen Peacemakers, will help put the myth of the disengaged meditator to rest, especially since the event’s speakers include some big names from the world of Buddhism (and beyond).

Starting Monday, Aug. 9 through Saturday, Aug. 14, influential pioneers of Western Socially Engaged Buddhism will speak and engage conversations

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Harlem renaissance

Russell Simmons has a knack for bringing underground urban culture into the mainstream. During the mid-1980s, as co-founder of the Def Jam record label, he helped launch the first hip hop megastars–LL Cool J, Public Enemy, Run-DMC, and The Beastie Boys. A few years later, he created the clothing label Phat Farm, turning street wear into runway fashion. His Def Poetry television series brought local slam poets into the national spotlight on HBO.

Along the way, Simmons has been helping everyday urban residents make their voices heard through the Hip Hop Summit Action Network, an organization that teaches inner city youth about financial credit and political involvement. Last August, Simmons turned his attention to homeless … Read more »

Buddhism goes home

October 6, 2009

Sangharakshita, 1967Sangharakshita, an English Buddhist, lived for 20 years in the East before returning to Britain in the 1960s. Sangharakshita made a return visit to India in 1984, reconnecting with former-untouchables who had been led to Buddhism by Dr. Ambedkar, himself a former untouchable who had become the country’s law minister. Nagabodhi describes one evening of that tour.

Each night Sangharakshita introduces a fresh range of teachings, and explains aspects of Buddhist practice, basing his commentaries on a host of traditional formulations: the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, the Threefold Way, the Seven Limbs of Enlightenment, the Five Spiritual Faculties…. His discourses are peppered with stories, jokes, anecdotes, and examples from the life of the … Read more »

Monks succeed in cyclone relief as junta falters

Monks Succeed in Cyclone Relief as Junta Falters – NYTimes.com

KUN WAN, Myanmar — They paddle for hours on the stormy river, or carry their sick parents on their backs through the mud and rain, traveling for miles to reach the one source of help they can rely on: Buddhist monks.

At a makeshift clinic in this village near Bogale, an Irrawaddy Delta town 75 miles southwest of Yangon, hundreds of villagers left destitute by Cyclone Nargis arrive each day seeking the assistance they have not received from the government or international aid workers.

Since the cyclone, the Burmese have been growing even closer to the monks while their alienation from the junta grows. This … Read more »