Monk’s displaced congregation opens new home in Jackson, Mississippi

January 16, 2011

Minh Cong Nguyen has found a home for his displaced Buddhist congregation – this time outside of Rankin County.

Nguyen opened a Zen Center last month on Terry Road, just south of U.S. 80, which will house meditation classes and worship services.

He holds worship services on Sunday for Buddhists as well as meditation classes for everyone.

“Westerners are invited,” the monk said of the free classes he will start holding on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The first is Saturday.

Americans live a stressed-out lifestyle, and these two-hour sessions give people a mental break, he said.

“Our minds are like a computer,” he said. “You keep putting too much information in it. Meditation is the … Read more »

Buddhists nuns and volunteers forging new frontier of monastery’s acreage

January 8, 2011

Buddhist nuns and volunteers at the Buddha Mind Monastery are creating a walking meditation trail along the religious center’s expansive east Oklahoma City site

With the pioneering spirit of their adopted state, a group of Buddhist nuns is forging a path through a new frontier.

That untamed land is right outside their doors at the Buddha Mind Monastery, 5916 S Anderson Road.

The nuns and a determined group of volunteers are creating a walking meditation trail throughout and along the perimeter of the monastery’s sprawling 40 acres in far east Oklahoma City.

Jian Jian Shih, a nun at the monastery, said the new trail is the first of many changes at the site. Dirtwork … Read more »

‘The Way of Samsara’ embraces Zen of being perfectly imperfect

January 4, 2011

Originating in China, Zen Buddhism took hold in Japan in the late 12th century.

Unlike more traditional factions of Buddhism, Zen fosters the belief that enlightenment can be gained through meditation and intuition instead of blind devotion and dogma. It advocates achieving a balance between appreciating the beauty of our natural, physical world, while freeing oneself from the earthly preoccupations that inhibit the path toward nirvana.

This delicate balance has long been fodder for the creation of art. And for local artist Fumino Hora, it’s the basis for her latest body of work, “The Way of Samsara,” which currently comprises an installation-style exhibit in the Hodge Gallery at Pittsburgh Glass Center.

A native of Tokyo, … Read more »

Mind over matter: can zen meditation help you forget about pain?

December 14, 2010

Living without pain may not require potent drugs, according to a new study published in the medical journal Pain — all you need is a cushion, a quiet corner and maybe a mantra.

Previous research has found that people who practice Zen meditation are less sensitive to pain. For the new study, researchers at the University of Montreal aimed to figure out why. They exposed 13 Zen masters and 13 comparable non-practitioners to equal degrees of painful heat while measuring their brain activity in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.

The meditators reported feeling less pain than the control group did. What’s more, the Zen group reported feelings of pain at levels below what … Read more »

What Zen meditators don’t think about won’t hurt them

December 11, 2010

Zen meditation has many health benefits, including a reduced sensitivity to pain. According to new research from the Université de Montréal, meditators do feel pain but they simply don’t dwell on it as much. These findings, published in the month’s issue of Pain, may have implications for chronic pain sufferers, such as those with arthritis, back pain or cancer.

“Our previous research found that Zen meditators have lower pain sensitivity. The aim of the current study was to determine how they are achieving this,” says senior author Pierre Rainville, researcher at the Université de Montréal and the Institut universitaire de gériatrie de Montréal. “Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, we demonstrated that although the meditators were … Read more »

Zen meditation, a cure for unhappiness in South LA

December 8, 2010

As you read this article your mind is likely to wander off onto other thoughts; trouble at work, your evening plans, a mounting to-do list… and you might be all the more unhappy in life as a result of such distracted thinking.

According to a recent study in the November issue of Science Magazine, whether and where people’s minds wander is a better predictor of happiness than what they are doing. The study included more than 2,200 people around the world who agreed to use an iphone app called trackyourhappiness.

A team of Harvard psychologists contacted the participants at random intervals to ask how them how they were feeling, what they were doing and what … Read more »

“Sex, Sin and Zen,” by Brad Warner

November 1, 2010

sex sin zenZen teacher and writer Brad Warner tells a story about the origins of this book. When Warner was visiting Montreal to deliver a talk on Zen, a rather eccentric member of the audience asked him: “Are Buddhists allowed to jack off?” He swiftly gave the short answer: “They’re encouraged to.”

The book “Sex, Sin and Zen” could be seen as the long answer to the same question. Or rather, to all the questions about Buddhism and its attitudes toward sex – if indeed such specific Buddhist attitudes exist.

Brad Warner has acquired a certain reputation as the “punk Buddhist” – a rock bass player turned Zen Buddhist and teacher – who sometimes writes about Zen-related … Read more »

Meditation in hospitals, and formidable women everywhere

October 14, 2010

Hospitals and meditation are coming together, what with the growth in mindfulness-based programs that started with Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction several decades ago. Sutter Hospital, in California, is one of the latest to add a Meditation Garden.

Meanwhile, at an Asheville, North Carolina, hospital, meditation is being used to help breast cancer patients. According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, a study “found patients using the body/mind/medicine therapies, including guided imaging, reported lowered blood pressure, heart rates and anxiety levels.”

In military medicine circles, the army’s plans to build up mental ‘resilience’ in soldiers serving in Iraq include a meditation room with stained glass windows.

There’s an Asheville connection with regards to Rev. Teijo … 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 »

“Together Under One Roof,” by Lin Jensen

August 31, 2010

Together Under One Roof by Lin JensenLokabandhu, a peace activist, finds Lin Jensen’s new book to be a moving evocation of Buddhism’s ethos of lovingkindness.

Together Under One Roof is Lin Jensen’s third volume, and follows in the footsteps of Bad Dog! and Pavement (already reviewed here). It’s a more slender volume than the others, but still a delightful read and in places very moving.

Like the others, it’s a series of essays in which he takes an ordinary event and reflects upon it, drawing out of it some nugget for reflection, some correspondence with the teachings of Buddha or Zen, some motivation to deepen his practice. In this way he — and we — come to see ourselves … Read more »