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Archive for January, 2009

As many of you probably already know, this past weekend, and for some this week as well, has been the celebration of the Lunar Chinese New Year. Our family did common New Year activities that many people probably also partake in – visiting a temple, burning paper money for ancestors, gathering for a big family dinner, receiving red envelopes. While scanning through Google Reader this morning, I came across an interesting article titled “Business of Chinese New Year”, featured on the Belief.net website. The article basically talks about how Chinese New Year has become one of Las Vegas’ “most critical holidays”, as vacationers come for gambling, performances, shopping, and even just a short getaway.

While reading the article, what got to me was not the main issue at hand, but rather that the article was posted on Belief.net in the first place. There were no religious/spiritual references in the article nor did they mention anything about how religion plays a role in Chinese New Year. I could not figure out why Belief.net would post such an article, especially since their mission is “to help people like you find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness”. Unless of course, they assumed Chinese New Year is a religious holiday! Well, is it? (more…)

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Level 8 Buddhist

So there’s this great blog called the Level 8 Buddhist. It was online as recently as yesterday, but it was gone when I logged in to check it out today: “The authors have deleted this blog. The content is no longer available.” It was quite without warning, and I was shocked and am still pretty sad about this. Whether intentional or otherwise, all things are of course ever-changing.

I really thought this was one of the best Buddhist blogs out there, a great resource to many and the heart of some great discussions. The owner had on various occasions mentioned that the effort he put into blogging took away time from his practice. Blogging was also sometimes a little bit stressful. I hope he has much more time on his hands now to practice and spend time with his family.

Now if this deletion happened to be accidental, I hope we get the Level 8 Buddhist back soon!

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Wendy MiyakeLast week Andrea Miller posted a short story over on Shambhala Sun Space: “Remembering Koizumi” by Wendy Miyake. I’ve tried countless times in the past thirty minutes to try to give a one-sentence summary of this story. Each time I try, my words cannot seem to do the story justice. You just have to read it for yourself.

Miyake manages to weave Buddhist ritual and philosophy into her story both lightly and meaningfully. Her writing is colorful, funny, engaging and touching. I was delighted to read her writing, and I was even more delighted that it was Shambhala Sun Space that brought Miyake’s work to my attention.

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Wat Mongkolratanaram

I saw this letter on Asian Pacific Americans for Progress, and I had to re-post it. Back in the day I used to write letters all the time to build support for temples that neighborhoods were trying to shut down. It’s funny how things haven’t changed in these past fifteen years.

Update: Here’s what you can do to help. Visit the Save Sundays at the Thai Temple website, click on “How to help!” and call, fax and email Berkeley’s elected officials. There are sample letters and phone transcripts already posted, so with just five minutes of your time, you can help save and preserve 27 years of Sunday traditions at Wat Mongkolratanaram! Why do I care? Because the same thing that’s happening to the Berkeley Thai Temple happened to Wat Thai of Los Angeles. The difference is that this time I’m not going to sit on my hands and watch another group of NIMBYs bully a Buddhist temple into submission.

Another Update: The Save the Thai Temple website is down, but if you’ve got a Facebook account, you can get all the contact information for Berkeley’s elected officials (including sample email and phone transcript) from the Save the Thai Temple Facebook group (see this discussion topic). Please contact them before the hearing on February 12!

Below is Pahole Sookkasikon’s letter to APA for Progress:

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May His Memory be a Blessing

Rabbi Alan LewI was scanning news stories this morning when I came across “Alan Lew, brought meditation to Judaism, dies.” Rabbi Alan Lew was a socially engaged rabbi emeritus at Congregation Beth Sholom in San Francisco, who was well-known for his meditative practice. I learned of Rabbi Lew through his book, One God Clapping: The Spiritual Path of a Zen Rabbi. I never knew him, but he wrote in a way that connected with me.

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I recently received a late Christmas present from a friend and of all things he could have given me, he gave me a Pocket Buddha, the exact item I wrote about on my ” Buddhism for Sale” post. It comes with a set of stickers and a quote from the Buddha – “Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace”. Though a direct product and example of the commercialization of the image of the Buddha, I have to admit that I really like it. It’s cute and a rather dashing ornament to put on my bookshelf. Pocket Buddha Gift (more…)

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I just read Rev. Danny Fisher’s brilliantly titled piece Zen and the Art of Using the Word “Zen”.Dhyana It’s a good talk about something known in the linguistic sciences as semantic drift, or more simply, changes in a word’s meanings. The specific issue here is the word Zen, originally from Sanskrit dhyana, and it’s (mis)use in respectable mainstream publications like the New York Times. When a Buddhist word is used in a non-Buddhist context, should we be insulted?

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