Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche has just published his fourth major book, The Shambhala Principle, and I’ve been lucky enough to spend a good deal of time reading and rereading my now-wrinkled advanced readers’ copy over the past few months. I love it. It adds a needed volume to the growing canon of core Shambhala teachings available in print. It weaves together the view of contemplative practice with a deeply societal message. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m looking forward to the new class series which begins at the Interdependence Project, as well as an online course, tonight. I really enjoy talking about the tantric path in particular, primarily because it contains practices and frameworks that are incredibly useful in understanding and working with our human emotions. For me, Tantra provides a way to act skillfully with emotions that I haven’t found anywhere else in quite the same way. The tantric path also has many interesting teachings about visualization, sacredness, viewing the world as an inherently amazing place, and also dealing with death as a practice of awakening. Read the rest of this entry »
On a day of insanity and horror, one of the most heartwarming things for me was reading this passage in comedian Patton Oswalt’s Facebook post about the Boston Marathon tragedy, which went viral on the social network:
It seems so important to talk about working with guilt. In this new podcast from the Interdependence Project, I got to talk about the Four Powers, a simple Mahayana and Vajrayana teaching on how to develop healthy remorse for past mistakes without falling into the unhealthy traps of guilt and shame.
From the website:
“Recorded live at IDP in NYC in February 2013, Shastri Ethan Nichtern discusses the nature of guilt, why it’s so prevalent in our culture, and how we can transform it from a hindrance into a support for our practice and intentions.”
I was pleasantly surprised by this story in the New York Times today about New York’s 311 information line. At least several times each day, a caller calls in to actually compliment taxi drivers. Complaints are obviously much more common. This is NYC, after all. A compliment from an unexpected source is a rare gift. It seems like it makes people’s day every time an unexpected compliment is received. So then the question arises: if compliments are so validating and valuable, then why is it so hard to give them freely, and why is it so much harder to receive them? Are we just moving too fast to pay attention?
Maybe we could practice giving one extra compliment to a stranger today and maybe we could place a little more attention on when somebody is giving us good news about ourselves and just received a little bit more fully with gratitude.
I think that in a free-market economy, one of the greatest ways that a Buddhist can practice skillful means is being mindful, really mindful, with where we put our money. I just became a member of the Interdependence Project. This may be a strange thing to do, because I founded the organization. But it felt completely necessary. We are having a members meeting on May 4th, and I wanted to be able to attend. I am also a member of my local Shambala Center, as well as an employee there. The cost especially in American cities of nonprofit organizations operating and serving others is skyrocketing. We need support here, and it should start with me. So I decided to find $40 per month that I could take from my coffee budget (lots of other folks are find $20 per month). It may mean making more coffee at home, or even drinking less coffee (OMG!) but I definitely had the money to become a member. Mindfulness makes me feel good in this case.
IDP is growing both online and are in person community and we will need new website upgrades for awesome online offerings soon. It is also an aspiration of mine that we will be able to create a staff but paid staff position for somebody to work on our transformational activism program rather than just having volunteer energy in that area. If we get enough new members we will be able to budget just that as we move forward. Regardless, we need to increase our budget by $60,000 this year.
PS I also really don’t like the term nonprofit. Nonprofit organizations actually benefit everybody, rather than just a few. Therefore I like the term social profit organization, which is becoming more popular.
Founder of Creative Commons and Harvard Professor Lawrence Lessig, has a great Ted talk about a fictional country called Lesterland (named after a Simpsons character), where political realities are held deadlocked by a tiny class of donors who control the electoral process. Of course, it’s not really so fictional after all. Without party bias, it explains the current predicament of the United States in a very interesting way. Worried about the “one percent?” Lessig argues that we should focus our attention on a much smaller group of people whose control creates major obstacles, but workable obstacles, to democracy. Check it out below. Read the rest of this entry »
I came across this quote while reading Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein. It’s one of the more misattributed quotes around, often credited falsely to George Carlin and the Dalai Lama (now that’s funny). It’s actually by Dr. Bob Moorehead, a pastor in Washington State. Read the rest of this entry »