Consider Yourself a Tourist

Advice from the Dalai Lama on making our lives meaningful and dealing with our mortality. By The Dalai LamaWINTER 1999 Within less than fifty years, I, Tenzin Gyatso, the Buddhist monk, will be no more than a memory. Indeed, it is doubtful whether a single person reading these words will be alive a century from now. Time passes unhindered. When we make mistakes, we cannot turn the clock back and try again. All we can do is use the present well. Therefore, if when our final day comes we are able to look back and see that we have lived full, … Continue reading Consider Yourself a Tourist

Listening to Silence

Complete stillness leads to complete awakening. By Dharma Master Hsin Tao, edited and translated by Maria Reis When I was a young monk, I practiced Chan Buddhism by myself in a graveyard for ten years and later in a mountain cave for an additional two years. I did not have a teacher to guide me, but—propelled by devotion—I followed a method of practice that Bodhisattva Guanyin, also known as Avalokiteshvara, teaches in the Shurangama Sutra. This method, called Perfect Penetration through Hearing, relies not on any words or concepts but on listening to silence. In the sutra, Guanyin, who was dwelling on an island, … Continue reading Listening to Silence

Buddhism and the Real World

For most of its history, the dharma has had little to offer in the domain of social action. But that’s OK. By Donald S. Lopez Jr.  / Illustrations Jonathon Rosen  Over forty years ago, I set out for India to conduct my dissertation research at a Tibetan refugee monastery. Shortly after arriving, I was taken to meet the abbot. In my few days there, I had become concerned that many of the young monks—boys who seemed to be between 8 and 16—had large scabs on their shaved heads, something that I assumed was a treatable skin condition. I was on a … Continue reading Buddhism and the Real World

Belonging in the Body

Granting ourselves permission to feel can help us find acceptance. By Sebene Selassie Society leads us to think all pain is a mistake. This leads us into constant contention with reality. Discomfort, disease, illness, aging, limitations, and any and all ailments of the body are part of the deal of embodiment. It’s hard to experience belonging in a body that we believe is somehow wrong or faulty. Yet, we can behave as if any unwelcome change in the body is unjust, as Pema Chödrön says, as if “pain is a punishment.” Being diagnosed with cancer at such a young age felt … Continue reading Belonging in the Body

How You Think Today Is How You Live Your Life

In an excerpt from her Dharma Talk on the Threefold Practice of Won Buddhism, Rev. Grace Song explains why sound thought is so important. By Rev. Grace Song Why is it important to make choices with sound thought in all that we do? The sequence is usually think first, and then put it into action. Here, thinking is extremely important. How are we thinking? Do I have the ability to see the big picture, or do I only focus on myself? My actions vary depending on how wide, deep, and long (in terms of time) my thinking is. Let’s say you live in … Continue reading How You Think Today Is How You Live Your Life

Simply Hear, Simply Here

The best gift you can give someone is to listen wholly. By Pamela Gayle The ability to listen is the bedrock of relationship. But what, actually, are you doing when you’re supposedly listening? Chances are you’re either oscillating between paying attention and being lured away by outer distractions, or you’re listening, sort of, and at the same time you’re thinking about what this reminds you of, and how you’ll respond, and the story you need to share, and your approval or disapproval. If you’re anything like me, an opinion will be forming that you’re itching to express. But, as Mindrolling Jetsün … Continue reading Simply Hear, Simply Here

The Lightness of Breathing

Instructions on how to breathe when you feel like crap By Valerie Brown It’s an unusually mild and sunny day in the middle of a very gray, bitter-cold, and snowy February, the day after Parinirvana, which marks the Buddha’s departure from his body. This is a day to recall words attributed to the Buddha, handed down generation after generation as instructions for the living: Make of yourself a light.  A well-lit life often comes about through the honest vulnerability of strife and sorrow, through monster pain and heartache, through scary encounters when you feel like crap because too much has happened too … Continue reading The Lightness of Breathing

Edge of the World

A short story By Souvankham Thammavongsa One Saturday morning, we wandered into the toy section of the Goodwill, and my mother picked something out for me. It was a map of the world, a puzzle, a thousand cardboard pieces inside a paper box for fifty cents. Each piece had a unique shape that fit into another. The point was to find the other pieces that fit into it somewhere in this pile of shapes and lock them together. When we got home and I sat down to work on the puzzle, she did not pick up a piece or try to … Continue reading Edge of the World

Being in Body Time 

Unlike our minds, our bodies always exist in the radical present.  By Lama Willa Blythe Baker The following has been adapted from Willa Blythe Baker’s Dharma Talk, The Art of Somatic Mindfulness. In this series, Willa explains how we can develop awareness through careful attention to the body. In the following talk, she explores the concept of time in meditation and how we can move beyond the present moment to a more expansive—and embodied—understanding of time.  Our sense of time is linear and bounded. We check our watches and count the days. Time is something to be quantified and measured. We set our … Continue reading Being in Body Time 

Reincarnation now

Modern mindfulness strips Buddhism of its spiritual core. We need an ethics of reincarnation for an interconnected world by Avram Alpert is a lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program and the author of Global Origins of the Modern Self, from Montaigne to Suzuki (2019) and A Partial Enlightenment: What Modern Literature and Buddhism Can Teach Us About Living Well Without Perfection  Edited by Nigel Warburton When people outside of Asia think of Buddhism, they tend to think about just philosophy and meditation. Buddhists are often said not to have gods, wars or empires. Their religion isn’t about ritual or belief, but a dedicated exploration … Continue reading Reincarnation now