In this video, Kalu Rinpoche explains how to take a step by step approach to understanding Buddhism, aimed at helping westerners who are trying to assimilate ancient practices with a modern lifestyle. Based on this approach, one can bring a well balanced and grounded approach to practice. Kalu Rinpoche in his previous incarnation was a well known yogi and practitioner of the Kagyu tradition. His current incarnation gives this talk from France.
In this interesting video clip, Pema Chodron talks about the “resevoir of trust” that her teacher, Trungpa Rinpoche, once referenced. Trungpa Rinpoche explained that a person can’t always get what they want, but the world is full of messages that will help them along in their practice. This source of messages is like an endless resevoir of trust that only dries up when a person fusses with it and tries to get what they want.
Tong len is a very popular and effective practice among Tibetan Buddhists. Here is a short description of the practice by Pema Chodron, as well as a video guiding someone in the meditation
The tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering —ours and that which is all around us— everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem
J. Krishnamurti and Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche were two highly influential individuals in the west for spiritual seekers and students of the mind. Its interesting to see this what occured when these two were put together in the same room. The topic they’re discussing is “What is meditaton.” Krishnamurti plays an active questioner, while Trungpa listens and adds a few points. The two play parts that seem to compliment each other and move forward the overall discussion. Continue reading »
In Malaysia, the Buddhist group Kechara House has experienced quick growth and and expansion in a relatively short period time. One thing that impressed me recently, was that prior to beginning work on their new retreat center, they made an effort to gather the local Sangha from different traditions, and made offerings to them. The idea was to create the merit in order for their continued Dharma work to be successful.
I found this very inspiring because western Buddhists don’t always see the value of doing dana. After even getting a long talk about the importance of creating merit, its still often hard for people to give money away.
In the following videos below, the first video shows the act of making offerings to the Sangha. In the second video, Tsem Tulku in his practical teaching style, explains what merit is and cause and effect is in easy to understand terms, and the importance of making offerings to the Sangha.
I’ve been blogging about Sravasti Abbey for a while, and find it fascinating how quickly the community has grown in a short period of time. When I was last at the Abbey about 3 years ago, they just had completed construction on a house for the female monastics. Their next project is the building of Chenrezig hall, which is expected to triple the Abbey’s capacity to housing 30 resident practitioners (both lay and monastic). Here’s some stats about what the hall plans to offer:
With 10,000 square feet, Chenrezig Hall will include:
- Accommodations for 19 guests
- A spacious, well-equipped kitchen & pantry
- Large dining room
- A spiritual counseling room
- Dharma classroom / multi-purpose room
- Media room for watching teachings
- Reception area with a large statue of Kuan Yin, the female form of the Buddha of Compassion, to welcome guests to Sravasti Abbey
Here’s a video with Venerable Thubten Chodron, talking about the Chenrezig Hall:
The Abbey community has grown up until this point due to the support of practitioners from all over the world. If you would like to support the Abbey, there’s a couple of ways. One way is to dedicate recitations of “Om mani padme hum.” They’re trying to collectively do 21 million recitations in order to create the merit required to successfully complete the project. Another way is to make a cash offering. What’s impressive about the Abbeys’ development over the years is that they don’t have several rich sponsors, but have relied on the generousity of many supporters from all over the world.
One topic that seems to be big within western Buddhist practitioners is compassion burnout, or people getting worn out from trying to do too much. Venerable Thubten Chodron addresses this issues by covering a wide range of topics. Some reasons that she lists for possible compassion burnout include:
- People working in fields that serve other people and being prone to putting themselves in certain situations
- Not understanding the difference between compassion and kindness, and trying to please others
- Taking caring of everyone, but one’s self
- Thinking one is only compassionate if one is suffering (tendency that occurs within a Judeo Christian upbringing)
- Trying to rescue everyone because of wanting to feel needed
This is a topic I always find interesting, especially learning about other people’s paths towards Buddhism. While I have many friends that grew up culturally with Buddhism, I’ve always wanted to know why someone who grew up in a western culture would be interested in this religion. On the surface, many westeners have the conditions for a happy life, relative to poorer, 3rd world countries. Having a nice place to live, food every month, opportunites for education or meaningful work, and freedom of religion. Continue reading »
Western culture seems to have a long tradition in psychology and psychotherapy, so it seems natural that someone would want to eventually compare the western approach to Buddhist psychology. I have friends who work as clinical psychologists and are Buddhists, and they find ways to subtley incorporate their Buddhist training into their work. Though they try to incorporate what they can, sometimes they remark that the western approach at times seems rather limited. Continue reading »
Jakusho Kwong-Roshi is the abbot of Sonoma Zen Center and is a dharma heir to Suzuki Roshi. He also studied with Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Suzki Roshi and Trungpa Rinpoche were known to be close friends, and it was common that their students would overlap.
Kwong Roshi recounts the two highly influential teachers, and what he see’s happening for the next generation of Dharma practitioners.
For a lot of people getting initially involved in focused Buddhist practice, the question of the purpose of rituals and how to do them often comes up. Even among many long time practitioners, many wonder why they’re done or simply don’t enjoy them because of not knowing what to do with them. In this interesting video, Stephan “Pende” Wormland talks about the process of making offerings and prostrations. Pende was a former monk in the Tibetan tradition, and continues to teach in many Dharma centers all across Europe.
Click the link below for the video:
Ajahn Brahm of Dhammaloka Buddhist Centre gives an interesting talk about living with non-Buddhists and living in a non-Buddhist country. I find this subject to be of particular interest because most Buddhists don’t have much support for their practice unless they’re at their local Dharma center or temple. He talks about different ways to make use of these challenges and still be able to maintain one’s practice. Continue reading »
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo talks about how to integrate practice into daily life and injecting meaning into everyday activities.
Tenzin Palmo is famous for leaving England at the age of 20, based on an intuitive feeling to look for “her teacher.” She was one of the first westerners to ordain in the Tibetan tradition, and eventually spent 12 years in a cave doing intensive, solitary retreat in the Himalayas. In a book about her experience, entitled Cave in the Snow: Tenzin Palmo’s Quest for Enlightenment, she mentions that all that time during retreat is meant to familiarize oneself with certain ways of thinking, so someone can eventually bring that into daily life.
Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo, who spent 12 years doing solitary retreat in the Himalayas, talks about the nature of the mind. I think what’s interesting is if I spent 12 years in a cave, I’d come out probably numbed and dulled out. She’s seemingly the opposite, she’s vibrant, like a flower had blossomed in that cave.