Category: Buddhism

Objects and Poisons are Seeds of Virtue {Lojong Teaching}

  By Daniel Scharpenburg This is part of the Lojong teachings. I think it’s a little more confusing than some of the previous slogans, so I’ll make sure I try really hard to unpack it well. Objects refers to people. I know that’s confusing, but maybe it helps to refer to English class—the distinction between subject and object? We’re talking about other people who are the focus of our attention. In the context of this slogan, people are described as coming in three categories: friends, enemies, and neutrals. I’d rather describe them as people we like, people we don’t...

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Are You a Good Buddhist Lay?

  By Jeff Eisenberg Be honest! You immediately thought that this piece is about having sex! Come on, come clean! I know you’re already picturing erotic images from some Tantric manual, or perhaps just about the porn clip you watched last night that you are now afraid that you might have forgotten to delete from your computer’s history. Relax. I’m just kidding about doin’ the nasty. But what’s no joke in the Buddhist world is the controversy over just what it means to be a good lay Buddhist. At one point in Buddhist history it was thought that enlightenment...

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Is American Buddhism Cultural Misappropriation?

By John Pendall   A few years ago, I visited a good friend and saw a little Hotei (the chubby laughing Buddha) figurine on his table. “Well that’s fun,” I remarked, pointing at the statue, forever captured in a state of pure, almost disturbing, hysteria. I mean, who the hell is that happy? What is he laughing about, anyway? I can only guess it’s something inappropriate; like a priest farting at a funeral. “You like that? I got it at Spencer’s the other day. I love Buddha statues.” “Well, that’s not the Buddha ya know? That’s Hotei, a Chinese...

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I Laugh at Pain

  By Gerald Stribling Pain, physical pain at least, has always struck me as funny. Your pain is not funny, but mine is. It’s the only way I can explain my tendency to laugh out loud whenever I am in acute pain. I figure it’s one of those mis-crossed neural pathway things, so that when I should be wincing and yelping, I’m laughing my ass off. There is no opposite effect, that is, when I see something funny, I don’t moan like I was in pain. I come by this honestly enough: my mother laughed her ass off from...

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The Practice of Tonglen: Sending & Receiving with the Breath {Lojong Teaching}

  By Daniel Scharpenburg The first time I heard about tonglen practice I thought it sounded really weird. I don’t connect with visualization type practices very well a lot of the time, so when I read that this was (sort of) a visualization practice I assumed it wouldn’t mean much to me. I was wrong. Tonglen is called the practice of sending and taking. It’s a sitting meditation practice. You sit and visualize inhaling the suffering as a black smoke and exhaling a clear blue light. We are imagining that we are taking suffering into ourselves and transforming it...

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