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Archive for June, 2009

Over on the other blog, a very thorny issue has reared its head. I thought I’d tow the question over here because I like to save longer posts for Dharma Folk.

Can a Buddhist serve in the military? The answer is No. At least for those who argue that soldiering is the profession of killing, in effect wrong livelihood. Anyone who’s serious about Buddhism, the precepts or bodhisattvahood could never be a service member. In fact, even in a non-combat role, you’re essentially an accessory to killing, and so this too falls under wrong livelihood. This line of thought is logical, reasonable and well-supported by centuries of Buddhist tradition. But that’s not to say that an alternative view isn’t.

Vesak in the South of Thailand

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mosquitoAll the windows closed and the fan turned on, I tried getting to sleep. Then I heard that high frequency humming of a mosquito in my ear, and now I’m up again. This usually isn’t a problem I have in California.

When I was younger in Paris, mosquitos would fly in whenever I left the window open. I’d hear that sharp insistent buzzing by my ear, swipe at the air and roll over. But it would always come back. Never mind the precepts, it was tempting to catch and kill the bug. But my uncle had placed a statue of Guan Yin over the bed, and that was double the reason to not send the sucker onto a better life.

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Via the Buddhist Channel, news on an upcoming conference to be held down here in Southern California from October 9 to 11. This organization sounds great, they’ve certainly won my support.

The Buddhist Recovery Network supports the use of Buddhist teachings, traditions and practices to help people recover from the suffering caused by addictive behaviors. Open to people of all backgrounds, and respectful of all recovery paths, the organization promotes mindfulness and meditation, and is grounded in Buddhist principles of non-harming, compassion and interdependence. It seeks to serve an international audience through teaching, training, treatment, research, publication, advocacy and community-building initiatives.

You can read more about the conference on at the Buddhist Recovery Network website.

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The BBC News magazine reports on Buddhist monks who slept sitting upright. Danny Fisher linked to the article, but making sure to note that it’s about Tibetan Buddhist monks. Sleeping in an upright sitting position is an ancient tradition recorded along with twelve other ascetic practices, which in the Pali Canon are referred to as the dhutanga practices. I was just talking with a monk about this yesterday, and he was very much against the dhutanga.

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Monks and Nuns“What did you call me?”

Two friends of mine are going to be ordained soon, and this has got me thinking about how we address monks and nuns in English. We tend to use the term that the monastics themselves use. Sometimes we have to ask, but we increasingly often encounter titles in books, magazine bylines and on the web. This post explores the sorts of monastic titles that I use when I speak or write about monks and nuns in English to English speakers. And I add a couple thoughts about “Western Buddhism” to boot!

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Aung San Suu KyiIn the Buddhist community, I’m sure (or hope) quite a bit of online fanfare will be devoted to Aung San Suu Kyi, who turns 64 today. Most readers are probably well aware that Aung San Suu Kyi has been a key leader in the Burmese democracy movement, and has championed this role with an emphasis on nonviolent approaches. She has spent most of the past 19 years under house arrest, and now faces an almost certain prison sentence as a result of ridiculous charges. There is much more you can learn about related current events at the Irrawaddy and the Democratic Voice of Burma.

I encourage you to celebrate Aung San Suu Kyi’s birthday (if you are so inclined) by learning more about the current situation in Burma and in the Burmese exile community.

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I have posted about this topic before. Scott Mitchell from the buddha is my dj recently posted his wonderfully paper on “Buddhism, pop-culture, and the homogenization of the Dharma”. Read it here. I’m so glad that scholars are addressing this issue from an academic standpoint. It is something so important for the development of Buddhism in America and yet, something that is also overlooked and rarely questioned. I’ve noticed that the commodification of Buddhism and Buddhist images happens quite a lot in Western culture and every chance I get, I take a picture of it with my phone. Here are some examples of Buddhism being used out-of-context, used by non-Buddhists for non-Buddhist means. You can find more of the dharma in pop culture on The Worst Horse, a blog dedicated to posting about what they like to call “Dharma-burgers”. (more…)

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