Buddhist Film Critic: The Revenant and The Big Short

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I must say, although I am not exactly a Leonardo DiCaprio fan (When I began teaching meditation, I would use his performance in Titanic as my example of a “irritating person” to practice for during lovingkindness meditation - a knee-jerk response for which I assume full accountability), I also get zero joy from his recurring tortures in The Revenant, a film which is probably better titled Watch Leo Suffer (A Lot).  Alejandro Iñarritu is a deeply talented filmmaker, and a meditator, as evidenced by Birdman (which was supposedly somehow influenced by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh). The photographic quality of Iñarritu’s movies is amazing, and The Revenant is perhaps his most visually beautiful film, set among the cold landscape of the 1820’s in Montana, involving brutal collisions between opportunistic white fur traders and several warring Native American tribes. (more…)

Buddhist Literary Critic: My Favorite Books of 2015

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What an amazing year it has been, for myself as both a writer and reader. I never expected that The Road Home would make best-of-the-year book lists, but it made two of them. Crazy. I wanted to return the favor and share five of my favorite books of the year, including an honorable mention to a  few books I read this year that were actually published in 2014 or 2013 (because I'm slow, sometimes).  Favorite Books of 2015: (more…)

Buddhist Film Critic: Star Wars is All About Family Karma

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So let me start with the tiny bit of bad news that I have about the new Star Wars movie, because it really is pretty tiny, but still worth mentioning: The Star Wars saga has always been weak in two areas. First, galactic politics are never clearly explained. In The Force Awakens, nobody bothers to explain where these good guys or bad guys came from. Very little of the story is given to sketching how the new villains, The “First Order” came about after the Empire was vanquished 30 something years ago in Return of The Jedi. We hear a little about how the new wannabe Darth Vader, Kylo Ren, came over to the dark side, but that’s all we get. We never hear how these awfully mean (and, yes, once again very British) folks took over most of the galaxy yet again. But hey, I can’t really explain the

New Free Podcast Via Shambhala’s Meditation in The City: Self(Less) Promotion

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Check out Ethan's new lecture on the Shambhala Podcast, Self(less) Promotion." How does a person who believes in "egolessness" and the traps of self absorption find a way to mindfully promote his or her "self," to find voice in an egocentric world and find a way to promote good work he/she/they are doing? For anyone living in the world in 2015 and studying meditation, this is a key question. Check out what Ethan has to say about that, drawing on his book The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path and lots of ancient and not so ancient wisdom and thoughts on the matter.  This Shambhala podcast has lots of great teachers and lectures on it (Ethan is featured about once every four episodes), so you probably just subscribe via iTunes.  Enjoy!    

How Could The Dalai Lama Not Understand Self-Hatred?

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In a new column for On Being, Sharon Salzberg recounts a story that has become very famous among Western Buddhist teachers and students over the past 25 years. It is her story of asking the Dalai Lama how to work with the experience of "self-hatred," both as students and teachers. The famous part of the story is that his Holiness couldn't even wrap his brain around the question, either because of the intricacies of translation or because he really didn't have any personal experience of the concept of self-hatred. The translation issue has always confused me: there are definitely words in Tibetan that mean hatred, And there are definitely words that mean inward pointing or self-oriented. So self-hatred shouldn't be such a difficult idea to translate, at least not conceptually. Read Sharon's article; It's great. I am really looking forward to Sharon being honored at the Garrison Institute benefit celebration this Friday

Why I Am Writing The Dharma of The Princess Bride

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"Hello. My name is Ethan Nichtern. The six-fingered man was my father’s best friend. Prepare to read." This week, a lot of friends have asked me if I am really writing a book called the Dharma of the Princess Bride. Really, Ethan? Really? No, but, really? Yes. Yes I am. And FSG is going to be kind enough to publish it in 2017 via their North Point imprint and my editor Jeff Seroy, who thankfully acquired it, seems almost as excited about it as I am. I feel like I accomplished what I set out to do with The Road Home, to write an experiential overview of the Buddhist path in the 21st century. I don't want to be the kind of writer who writes the same book again and again. (more…)

Sharon Salzberg is now a Cartoon Star

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I love this sweet little animated video from Happify, narrated by Sharon Salzberg. I am hoping that Pixar gives her a call to play one of the emotions in Inside Out 2. :) Enjoy!

New Free Podcast of Ethan Teaching Via Shambhala: Family Karma

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  Check out Ethan's new lecture on the Shambhala Podcast, Dealing with Family Karma." Family is the hardest practice, isn't it? Check out what Ethan has to say about that, drawing on his book The Road Home: A Contemporary Exploration of the Buddhist Path and lots of ancient and not so ancient wisdom and thoughts on the matter.  This Shambhala podcast has lots of great teachers and lectures on it, so you probably just subscribe via iTunes.  Enjoy!    

Great New Dimensions Radio Interview About The Road Home, Tantric Philosophy Webcast Begins Tonight!

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I am very much looking forward to teaching my first live webcast course for the Interdependence Project. The course is tonight at 7-9PM eastern time, but you can also follow along anytime by watching or listening to the recording and following the reading list and online discussion board. Check it out. Back in May when I was touring for The Road Home in the Bay Area, I had the opportunity to speak with Justine Willis Toms of the popular and widely syndicated New Dimensions radio. They just released the interview today. It was easily one of my favorite interviews about the new book. Had read the book thoroughly and arrived with almost 30 pages of notes. Talk about an honor to be asked about  my book and the Buddhist path by someone who had been so thorough with my work. I hope you can give it a listen. New dimensions

The Dharma of Dollars: An Interview with Reuters for Time.com

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A few days ago, I was interviewed by Chris Taylor of Reuters on "the Dharma of Money." The interview was picked up by Time. Here is the link to the interview. It was an interesting conversation, especially with the stock markets of the world whipsawing wildly these past weeks. I am increasingly interested in what traditions of contemplation and mindfulness have to say about how we place value on experiences, objects, and especially how we place value upon people, and how different people can be worth such incredibly different amounts of money. I would've liked to take the conversation much deeper, but at very least I think it's a conversation that spiritual people should dive into fully, never shying away from. After all, money is the energy that rules our world. Let's talk about it, and if someone says it's an inappropriate conversation, tell them you respectfully disagree. (this is a picture