What To Do When People Annoy You

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I just found this podcast of a lecture I gave at the Weekly Dharma Gathering at Shambhala NYC from back in the spring "What To Do When People Annoy You." Obviously, it is some of my thoughts on what the Buddhist teachings and Shambhala teachings have to say about working with difficult people. (more…)

Losing Our Religion: Buddhism in a Post-Religious Society

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Over the weekend, I read this fascinating UC-Berkeley study about the trend of Americans moving surprising quickly away from organized religion. Among Americans under the age of 30, the trend is  happening even more quickly. It seems, increasingly, we are looking for secular, rather than religious answers to our problems. Since I've always been a pretty non-religious person, this trend definitely resonates with me. As I have stated before, I firmly believe that Buddhist meditation, philosophy and psychology should not be viewed as religious practices. I simply don't believe that they meet the conventional criteria. Of course, there are many different views on this matter, all with valid thoughts behind them. Many of the different viewpoints arise from the fact that the word "religion" is so hazily and differently defined by different people. But in my view and approach, I don't think there is a way of defining Buddhism as

New Podcast: Dealing With Guilt

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(follow Ethan on Facebook or Twitter) 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." You may subscribe to IDP podcasts at this link or via iTunes at this link.   The Interdependence Project is supported by the generosity of its Members.  Become a member or make a donation today!"

I’m SICK and TIRED of Sentient Beings – I’m Opening A Casino

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I woke up this morning, April 1, and suddenly realized that I am totally sick and tired of being mindful. I am also sick and tired of sentient beings. I mean there's just so many of them, and they have so many damn problems. I decided that I should follow my heart, or at least follow $$$$ signs, and so I'm opening a casino.

Speaking the Truth: The Four Gates of Skillful Speech

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(cross posted on the Interdependence Project blog - follow Ethan on Facebook or Twitter) How do we tell the truth when the truth needs telling? There are many lists in Buddhism. Some of them are incredibly helpful; some of them are a little bit more difficult to discern in terms of applying them during a difficult moment or in the heat of a life situation. I find that my life is increasingly about communication - listening and speaking. (more…)

First Photo of The Sakyong’s New Daughter: Are Women the Future of Buddhism?

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The wife of my teacher Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, Khandro Tseyang (also known as the Sakyong Wangmo) just gave birth to their 2nd daughter, Jetsun Yudra. Here is the first public photo of the couple with their new daughter. So this is a pretty wonderful day for them and anyone involved in the Shambhala community. May all be basically awesome for them, and may Jetsun Yudra feel welcome and at home on Earth. (more…)

Warning: Meditation Makes You More Politically Liberal!

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-cross posted on the Interdependence Project blog - -follow Ethan on Facebook or Twitter- Big News: A new study from the University of Toronto claims that meditation makes individuals more politically liberal in their outlook and actions. Although it is just one study, this research is incredibly interesting, and brings sharply into focus some of the work on which the Interdependence Project is based. (photo of IDP sangha during Occupy Wall Street in 2011) (more…)

Guilt is Totally Useless

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(Follow Ethan on Facebook and Twitter - crossposted on Interdependence Project blog) I am really looking forward to tonight's class at the ID project: Why Guilt is Useless. I am hoping that eventually it will be available as a podcast, either on the IDP podcast or on my own website in the near future. (more…)

All. In. This. Together. Sandy, The Elections, and Everything After

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Last month, my dear friend, author, and generally awesome lady Susan Piver asked me to write something before Tuesday's US elections about overcoming "Us vs Them" mentality. She wrote a great, thoughtful post here. If there was ever a collision of events to force a needed discussion of how to overcome "Us Vs Them" mentality, it is a horrific and unprecedented superstorm striking a week before what is possibly the nastiest, and definitely the most destructively expensive election in history. This past week in NYC was nothing short of heartbreaking, bizarre and yes, amazing. On the external level, I tried my best to be a Bodhisattva, a helpful guy, in my Brooklyn Bourgeois way. Having to cancel an excursion to Ohio to help with the Obama campaign efforts where two of my closest friends are working their butts off as field organizers, I instead stayed stranded, welcomed 20-30 refugees from the

Radical Buddhism and the Paradox of Acceptance

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(originally on The Huffington Post 8/20/10) Critical theorist Slavoj Zizek has an interestingly harsh critique of Western Buddhism and the meditation tools it employs. Framing his critique in Marxist terms, he argues that Buddhism is the perfect spiritual tradition to be co-opted by our self-absorbed, destructive, and consumeristic society. For him, Buddhism represents the perfect ideology for passive acquiescence to the world as it is, a panacea of inner peace that fits neatly into an advertising culture where, by now, "be present" could just as well be the slogan of a credit card company as an instruction from a meditation teacher. Zizek writes, "[Western Buddhism allows us to] fully participate in the frantic pace of the capitalist game, while sustaining the perception that you are not really in it, that you are well aware how worthless the spectacle is -- what really matters to you is the peace of the inner self to