Monthly Archives: April 2011

Open letter to Dennis Genpo Merzel signed by sixty-six Zen teachers

Following on previous coverage of the disrobing of former White Plum Asanga Zen teacher Dennis Genpo Merzel, sixty-six Zen teachers have issued and signed the following open letter, which refers also to Merzel’s own communication, Owning My Responsibility: A Personal Statement from Genpo Merzel.” These follow here.

19 April, 2011

Dear Mr Merzel,

We are a group of Zen teachers, affiliated with all of the major schools of Zen in the west. We write as individuals, however, not as representatives of any group. We are deeply concerned at your apparent turning away from your own stated intention of stepping back as a teacher in order to take care of your habitual abuses of power with students and others. We are addressing this letter to you with the heartfelt wish that you read and heed our counsel. We are also sending this letter to various Dharma journals and websites because we have deep doubts that the letter will convince you and we feel that the greater sangha needs to be made aware of the problem and our views. Read More »

ABC News’ Dan Harris interviews the Dalai Lama (video)

In this latest segment for his Beliefs series on ABC News, Dan Harris interviews the Dalai Lama, who discusses his interest in science, his capacity for anger, and more. Watch below.

Socializing with your sangha

A weekly social get-together for Buddhists, called Dharma Drink, has started in NYC on Fridays at the Rubin Museum.

Organizer Gregory Beier explains the impetus for starting this group: “A great Tibetan lama once said to me that of the Three Jewels, if you don’t have Sangha, then Buddha and Dharma become meaningless. The Sangha is everything. And in New York, there are so many wonderful Buddhists, which just never seem to get to know each other as there isn’t a place that we all go to enjoy each other — the simple joy of Sangha.”

Beier’s hope is that Dharma Drink will catch on in other cities, so that when Buddhists travel to other cities they’ll always be able to find like-minded people to socialize with. For more information about the NYC group, visit their website here.

Happiness in every breath

Photo by Ian Koh

When we stop feeding our cravings, we discover that we already have everything we need to be happy, says Thich Nhat Hanh in the Spring 2011 issue of Buddhadharma. His article, “Happiness in Every Breath,” begins:

“The Buddha said that craving is like holding a torch against the wind; the fire will burn you. When someone is thirsty and drinks only salty water, the more he drinks, the thirstier he becomes. If we run after money, for example, we think that a certain amount of money will make us happy. But once we have that amount, it’s not enough; we think we need more. There are people who have a lot of money, but they are not happy at all. The Buddha said that the object of our craving is like a bone without flesh. A dog can chew and chew on that bone and never feel satisfied.” Click here to continue reading

Webathon to help Secure Sacred Land in Sedona, AZ

Banner for The Amitabha Sacred Land CampaignPosted by Thubten Rinchen Palzang

Known for its spectacular red rock formations, art galleries, and wellness options, and a mecca for tourists the world over, Sedona, Arizona, is also home to two sacred Tibetan Buddhist shrines called stupas. Often referred to as the “Jewel of Sedona,” the larger of the two, the Amitabha Stupa, stands 36 feet tall, cradled by some of the most dramatic crimson rock cliffs in the area.

The land upon which the Amitabha Stupa sits speaks to two sacred traditions: indigenous Indians of the region, including the Hopi, who regarded the red rock country as holy thousands of years ago, and the ancient Buddhist spiritual technology contained within stupas. Today this land is unsecured, and fundraising plans are underway to pay off the notes to secure and preserve the land and the stupas.
Read More »

Watch Joanna Macy’s talk at Naropa University

On April 6, 2011, Joanna Macy, the Frederick P. Lenz Distinguished Lecturer in American Buddhism, spoke at Naropa University.

Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy is a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology. A respected voice in movements for peace, justice, and ecology, she interweaves her scholarship with four decades of activism. She has created a groundbreaking theoretical framework for personal and social change, as well as a powerful workshop methodology for its application.

Watch the lecture video after the jump. Read More »

It’s official: Naropa University is “totally unique”

It may come as no surprise to those already familiar with the school, but Boulder, Colorado’s Naropa University — founded, like the Shambhala Sun, by the pioneering Buddhist teacher Chogyam Trungpa — has been named one of “10 U.S. Colleges That Are Totally Unique” by Best Colleges Online, a leading university research tool. Why? Read More »

Kirti Monastery in lockdown (updated)

[April 14 update: Activist Heidi Minx (who has frequently appeared on Shambhala SunSpace) has created a post on, providing a concise backgrounder on the events at Kirti and providing a link to an online petition you can sign. See that post here. Other updated coverage of note: Via the BBC: "Standoff at Tibetan Monastery in Sichuan, China" | Via Radio Free Asia: "Fears Over Monastery Siege.]

International Campaign for Tibet is reporting that Tibetan Buddhist monastery Kirti Monastery is in lockdown, part of a wave of escalating tensions in the region:

“There is a deepening climate of fear in the Tibetan area of Ngaba, Sichuan Province, as a result of a worsening crackdown by authorities following the self-immolation and death of a young monk from Kirti Monastery on March 16. The authorities have now imposed a lockdown on the monastery with a new barbed wire fence and wall being built around the back of the monastic complex, and armed troops within the compound preventing monks from leaving and food from being delivered.”

ICT has ongoing coverage via their “Tibet Update” blog, here.

Third installment of Traleg Rinpoche talking about Trungpa Rinpoche

The third installment in a series of interviews with Traleg Rinpoche talking about Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche is now available online.In these interviews, Traleg Rinpoche discusses Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, Crazy Wisdom, and the Mahasiddha tradition.

Below you can watch this third installment, or click here to watch all three. Part four will be available online on Sunday, 17 April 2011. Read More »

A Dharma journey through New York State

Photo by Eddy Street

A Trip to Nowhere: An Unremarkable Pilgrimage to New York State
By Mark Rivett

It is futile to travel to other dusty countries, Thus forsaking your own seat Dogen

The wind blows the tall pine trees and the water hurtles down the creek as I walk from the guest house up the road to check how far we will have to come the next morning when we attend Zen Mountain Monastery’s Sunday open service. A sense of excitement bubbles inside me, mirroring the wind and the water outside. I hear the sound of a bird I know we do not have in the UK, and I think I faintly hear the chanting coming from inside the building that is hidden within the trees. Why the excitement? Perhaps it has something to do with anticipation: we have come a long way to experience this tower of the Western Dharma. But I have had the same feeling all over the world when I have visited Buddhist sites. It might sound corny, but maybe it has something to do with coming home. Read More »

Beautiful Bodhgaya launches its new website

Posted by Rajeev Agrawal

The Beautiful Bodhgaya project, run by Light of Buddhadharma Foundation International, has launched its new website, which can be visited at

The mission of the Beautiful Bodhgaya program is to beautify the sacred land of Bodhgaya, where the Tathagata, the Buddha Sakyamuni, came to gain enlightenment. So many precious teachers have also blessed this place. We are dedicated to beautifying not only the outer journey but also the inner journey that is made by all who come here.

Rangjung Yeshe Institute launches new European exchange programs

Over the past few months, Rangjung Yeshe Institute has been working on expanding its international network by affiliating itself with two of the foremost academic institutions in Europe for Buddhist Studies: University of Leipzig and University of Vienna. The latest agreements between these schools and RYI make it possible for German and Austrian students to study on exchange at RYI and bring their credits back to Europe. Through this affiliation, opportunities for  faculty exchanges are also possible between RYI and the two universities. Read More »

Charity exhibition opening for Rima Fujita’s latest artwork

Rima Fujita is a New York-raised Japanese artist and founder of Books for Children, an organization whose purpose is “to produce children’s books for the orphans and children of the countries in need, not only to help with their education but also to help them preserve their languages and unique cultures.”

Her latest book, Save the Himalaya, with forewords by the Dalai Lama and Richard Gere, will be released this coming fall. An exhibit of the original works of art from the book opens on April 29 at Tagore Gallery in Beverly Hills and runs through May 22.

Read More »