For the most part, Buddhists have historically been less concerned with explaining the world than with generating personal peace and enlightenment. However, the emergence of “engaged Buddhism” – especially in the West, has emphasized a powerful commitment to environmental protection based in no small part on a fundamental ecological awareness that lies at the heart of Buddhist thought and practice.
By David P. Barash
Science and religion don’t generally get along very well, from the Catholic Church’s denunciation of the heliocentric solar system to vigorous denials — mostly from fundamentalist Protestantism this time — of evolution by natural selection.
By Richard Payne Of late, scholars have increasingly called into question the utility of the nation-state as the default category for the study of Buddhism. In terms of the way Buddhism is academically apprehended, the implication of Johan Elverskog’s argument in “The Buddhist Exchange: Irrigation, Crops and the Spread of the Dharma” — that Buddhism […]
By Richard Payne
Concern with the limitations imposed by presuming contemporary geo-political divisions as the organizing principle for scholarship is not new, nor is it limited to Buddhist studies. Jonathan Skaff opens his recent Sui-Tang China and Its Turko-Mongol Neighbors: Culture, Power, and Connections, 580–800 by quoting Marc Bloch’s 1928 address to the International Congress of Historical Sciences (1928).
By Susan Stabile
Becoming a Tibetan Buddhist nun is not a typical life choice for a child of an Italian Catholic police officer from Brooklyn, New York. Nevertheless, in February of 1988 I knelt in front of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, as he cut a few locks of my hair (the rest had already been shaved), symbolizing my renunciation of lay life. I lived in the vows of a Buddhist nun for a year, in the course of spending two years living in Buddhist monasteries in Nepal and India
By Richard Payne
In a previous post, we argued that the geo-political categories commonly employed in both popular and academic representations of Buddhism are problematic. The problems were grouped into rhetorical and lexical; the rhetorical consequences having been considered there, we now turn to the lexical. Specifically, the lexical distinction between mass nouns and count nouns clarifies how thinking about the subject of study logically (and implicitly) follow from ways of talking about that subject.
By Richard Payne
The categorization of Buddhism along geo-political lines is perhaps the most common organizing principle today. It also tends to be accepted uncritically. Thus we find, without explanation, such expressions as “Indian Buddhism,” “Tibetan Buddhism,” “Chinese Buddhism,” “Burmese Buddhism,” and so on.
By Steven Heine
The Mu Koan (or Wu Gongan in Chinese pronunciation), in which master Joshu says “Mu” (literally “No,” but implying Nothingness) to an anonymous monk’s question of whether a dog has the Buddha-nature, is surely the single most famous expression in Zen Buddhist literature and practice. By virtue of its simplicity and indirection, this expression becomes emblematic of East Asian spirituality and culture more generally. Entire books have been published on the topic on both sides of the Pacific.
By Jeff Wilson
Mindfulness seems to be everywhere in North American society today. One of the more interesting developments of this phenomenon is the emergence of mindful sex—the ability to let go of mental strain and intrusive thoughts so once can fully tap into sexual intercourse.
Today, Saturday the 4th of January, is National Trivia Day. We may employ a few competitive pub quiz champs in our offices, so we gathered together a few trivia questions from our resources to play a game. Why not bring these puzzlers to your next Trivia Night and let us know how it goes?
By Emma Greenstein
The recent death of renowned British composer Sir John Tavener (1944-2013) precipitated mourning and reflection on an international scale. By the time of his death, the visionary composer had received numerous honors, including the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition, the 2005 Ivor Novello Classical Music Award, and a knighthood from Queen Elizabeth II.
By Graham Priest
Buddhist metaphysics and modern symbolic logic might seem strange bedfellows. Indeed they are. The thinkers who developed the systems of Buddhist metaphysics knew nothing of modern logic; and the logicians who developed the panoply of techniques which are modern logic knew nothing–for the most part–of Buddhism.
By Steven Heine
Like a number of other traditional East Asian cultural phenomenon, such as kabuki, kimono, kimchee, and kung fu—just sticking to terms that start with the letter “k”—the koan as the main form of literature in Zen Buddhist monastic training has been widely disseminated and popularized in modern American society.
By Robert Eaglestone
So here’s the first thing about the books on the Booker Prize lists, both short and long: until the end of August, it was hard-to-impossible to get hold of most of them. Only one was in paperback in July (well done, Canongate). And while some were in very pricey hardback, several hadn’t even been published. This begs the question: who is the Booker Prize for?
By Roger S. Gottlieb
Many people think it’s a great idea: we can have all the benefits of religion…without religion! We’ll call it “spirituality” and in choosing it we will have unlimited freedom to adopt this or that ritual, these or those beliefs, to meditate or pray or do yoga, to admire (equally) inspiring Hindu gurus, breathtakingly calm Buddhist meditation teachers, selfless priests who work against gang violence, wise old rabbis, and Native American shamans—not to mention figures who belong to no faith whatsoever.
By Louis René Beres
Oddly, perhaps, there are striking similarities between Western Epicureanism and Eastern Buddhism. Even a cursory glance at Lucretius, On The Nature of Things, reveals a characteristically “Buddhist” position on human oneness and human transience. Greek and Roman Stoicism, too, share this animating concept, a revealing vision of both interpersonal connectedness and civilizational impermanence.