Monthly Archives: January 2012

Vreeland photo exhibit to aid monastery reconstruction efforts

Photographer Nicholas Vreeland — a Buddhist monk holding a Geshe degree, and grandson of well-known fashion editor Diana Vreeland — is donating the proceeds of his latest exhibition to help reconstruct the 14th century Tibetan monastery Rato Dratsang in Karnataka, India. Photos for Rato opened in 2009 in select cities and is currently showing at ICIA House in Kala Ghoda, a precinct in South Mumbai, India; photographs from the exhibit are available for purchase through the website, with all funds going to the Rato Dratsang Foundation. From the website: “Each image, signed and numbered, is part of a limited edition of 25.” Read More »

From the current Buddhadharma: “Why I’m Not a Buddhist”

Illustration by Kim Scafuro

“Just when I most identified myself as a Buddhist,” writes Stephen Schettini – author of The Novice: Why I Became a Buddhist Monk, Why I Quit, and What I Learned — in the Winter 2011 Buddhadharma magazine, “I behaved least like a follower of the Buddha.”

Read Schettini’s full article, “Why I’m Not a Buddhist,” online now.

Destroyed Colorado temple ramps up rebuilding effort

As Buddhadharma News reported back in December, the Lao Buddhist Temple of Colorado in Westminster was destroyed in a fire that likely stemmed from faulty wiring. The head monk, Ounkham Vuennasack, nearly died in the fire, having suffered smoke inhalation, mild burns and frostbite; while he recovered from his injuries, two-weeks later  hebegan complaining of feeling dizzy and it was discovered that he has a cancerous tumor on the right side of his brain.

He is currently undergoing chemotherapy and wishes to see the temple rebuilt in his lifetime.

Members of the Lao Buddhist Temple want to ensure that wish becomes a reality by bringing their need for funds back to the forefront. Read More »

Update: Another self-immolation followed by shooting from Chinese forces, according to reports

Another Tibetan self-immolated Saturday and is feared dead, say reports coming out of Ngaba, Eastern Tibet. According to, unrest began between townspeople and Chinese officials when “security personnel arrived at the scene of the self-immolation and severely beat the Tibetan layman while putting off the flame.” Read More »

A monk’s campaign for vegetarianism and compassion toward animals

Ven. Geshe Thupten Phelgye has been campaigning for vegetarianism and the compassionate treatment of animals since he was a teenager. The Geshe recently stopped by Animal Place Sanctuary in Grass Valley, California, to offer a blessing to the land and animals there; dozens of people came to witness the event. Established in 1989, the 600-acre Animal Place Sanctuary is home to animals that were victims of cruelty and neglect, specializing in rescue and adoption. Read More »

Mind and Life Institute offers new Contemplative Studies Fellowship

The Mind and Life Institute, which is dedicated to “building a scientific understanding of the mind to reduce suffering and promote well-being,” has announced a new grant opportunity, the Mind and Life Contemplative Studies Fellowship (MLCSF). Sponsored in part by the John Templeton Foundation, the grant program provides substantial funding for humanities and social science scholars interested in interdisciplinary research related to the study of contemplative practices. US and international applicants are eligible;  the current grant deadline is February 15, 2012. Click here for details.

Fifty years of the San Francisco Zen Center

SFZC entrance (photo © Tom Hawkins)

By Adam Tebbe

Established in 1962 by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi and his early students, the San Francisco Zen Center (SFZC) is the largest Soto Zen organization in the United States. Their three practice locations in northern California at City Center, Tassajara, and Green Gulch have trained a long list of senior American Zen teachers, many of whom have established centers of their own throughout the country. Practice at the SFZC locations is in the Soto Zen tradition of the thirteenth-century monk Dogen, brought by Suzuki Roshi and others to the West.

“There are only a few residential practice centers in the US, and SFZC is unique in that it has three residential centers offering three different Zen experiences — urban life, a working farm, and a traditional monastery,” says Zoketsu Norman Fischer, founder of the Everyday Zen Foundation. [Much more on SFZC's history, future, and anniversary celebrations follow here, after the jump.] Read More »

Dalai Lama to speak in California this April

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet will speak on the subject ”Peace of Mind for Troubled Times” at the Long Beach Convention Center, Long Beach, CA, on Saturday, April 21, 2012. The event is sponsored by Gaden Shartse Thubten Dhargye Ling in Long Beach. Tickets are now available through Ticketmaster or at the Long Beach Convention Center Box Office, 300 Ocean Blvd., Long Beach, CA, (562) 436-3661. For information about event sponsorship and general donation opportunities, email hhdl2012<at> Visit the official Facebook page for the event here.

Award-winning solo performance “Hopeless,” based on teachings of Pema Chodron, to play in Seattle

Portland artist and Shambhala International sangha member Melanya Helene will present “Hopeless,” an “uplifting collection of stories, musings, and music based on Pema Chodron’s teachings on the nature of hope and fear,” at Seattle’s Shoreline Temple Residence Temple on January 28. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are sold out, but tickets for the 2 p.m. matinee are still available at Brown Paper Ticket (cost is $20).

Click here for more info and a video about the show.

Government of Burma releases political prisoners, signs ceasefire with Karen National Union; Aung San Suu Kyi to run for office

Almost immediately following the news that the government of Burma had signed a ceasefire with the Karen National Union — for many years, the two groups have been locked in bloody civil war over the issue of greater autonomy for the latter – the Democratic Voice of Burma reports that a number of political prisoners have been released from prison, including former prime minister Khin Nyunt and “Saffron Revolution”-organizing monk U Gambira. Along with Nobel Peace laureate and National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s recent announcement that she will run for office in the next parliamentary election, these seem like hopeful signs that meaningful transformation is taking place in a country that has long suffered gross human rights violations.

The Dalai Lama on democracy and his possible reincarnation — as a woman (with video)

Photo by Luca Galuzzi (

By Adam Tebbe

“The day I officially handed over [political power], that night? Very unusual, sound sleep.”

These were the words of the 14th Dalai Lama, who recently sat down for an interview with NDTV at the 2012 Kalachakra event in Bodh Gaya. Now that he sees himself as semi-retired, some Tibetans and Tibetan supporters have wanted him to take on a ceremonial role in the wake of his announcement. To that, he said (in this interview), “No use. My basic nature — I don’t like formality. I don’t like. I’ve grown up [with] too much formality.”

His Holiness believes strongly that the Tibetan problem is a national one; not a job for any one individual, but one for all Tibetans and supporters of Tibet. Read More »

Connecticut Buddhist Film Festival begins soon

The third annual Connecticut Buddhist Film Festival will get under way on January 18, 2012, and run through May 16. Films that are featured this year will be shown at 7:00 p.m. on the third Wednesday of every month at the Buttonwood Tree Center for the Performing Arts in Middletown, Connecticut. The programs are offered free of charge to the public by the New England Institute for Buddhist Studies. A list of featured films appears after the jump. Read More »

Shibata Sensei celebrates 90th birthday

Onyumishi Kanjuro Shibata, a 20th-generation imperial bowmaker and kyudo master, celebrated his 90th birthday on December 29 at Boulder Shambhala Center (Karma Dzong). While he turned 90 according to the Western calendar, he is 91 according to his own calculations. Read More »