Why Larung Gar, the Buddhist Institute in eastern Tibet, is Important

Monastic Residences Lining One of the Hillsides at Larung Gar.

There is nothing quite like ascending the slope into Larung Buddhist Academy from the rough road to remote Serta. After rounding a narrow bend, the valley opens out and red log cabins, housing monastics, line the surrounding hills on all sides. Two large assembly halls, one for nuns and one for monks, tower above the modest and sometimes makeshift cabins built along winding [...]

Twenty Tibetan Buddhist nuns are first ever to earn Geshema degrees

A Geshema candidate at this year's Geshema examinations in Dharamsala, India. Photo via Tibetan Nuns Project (courtesy of Venerable Delek Yangdron).

Equivalent to a Doctorate in Buddhist Philosophy, the Geshema degree represents the highest level of training in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism -- a level of training previously only available to men (in whose case the degree would be a Geshe degree). But that's changed now that twenty Tibetan Buddhist nuns have become the first to pass all the exams necessary to earn [...]

When Buddhists re-release lobsters and other animals, is that safe?

Lobster.

You might have seen a recent story about how monks from the Great Enlightenment Buddhist Institute Society (GEBIS), located in Prince Edward Island, Canada had re-released caught lobsters back into the sea in order to save them from being boiled alive for dinner. There's no doubt that this is a noble effort -- and one other Buddhist groups also engage in (or at least adapt). [...]

Buddhist teachers, communities respond to Sterling and Castile deaths, Dallas attack

Police officers stand near the car that Philando Castile was sitting in when he was shot and killed by a police officer in St. Paul, Minnesota, on July 6.

Buddhist teachers and communities, like so many of us, have been taking to social media to respond to the tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, as well as Thursday evening's sniper attacks on Dallas police present at a public protest against police violence. Here is some of what they've had to say. Rev. Kodo Umezu, Bishop, Buddhist Churches of America, Monday, [...]

Pema Chödrön speaks about racial injustice

Pema Chodron and Black Lives Matter.

Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön took to Facebook Monday to address racial injustice and Black Lives Matter. Her comments come days after the July 5th police shooting of Alton Sterling, the July 6th police shooting of Philando Castile, and the July 7th and 8th killing of 5 police officers in Dallas. In her letter, Pema also references black teenagers Emmett Till, who was lynched [...]

Celebrating 50 years of Rochester Zen Center

If the Rochester Zen Center logo (left) ​is familiar, that might be due to Roshi Philip Kapleau's use of it on the cover of his famed book The Three Pillars of Zen. The emblem, called a kao, was employed in the book “not for meaning, but abstractly, for [its] decorative quality,” as an interior note explains.

This past weekend found the members and friends of Rochester Zen Center in Rochester, New York, celebrating the venerated institution's 50th year. The RZC zendo was open all weekend for informal sitting and devotions, and a special memorial altar dedicated to deceased sangha members was installed as well. Rochester Zen Center was first established in 1966 by Philip Kapleau — [...]

Fake Buddhist monks a growing global problem

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Buddhist leaders in New York City are warning the public to be cautious of the panhandling trend that takes advantage of the public's image of Buddhist monks as harmless. In many major cities around the world, men posing as Buddhist monks with shaven heads and monk's robes harass passers-by for money and react angrily when confronted. According to CTV News, the problem has [...]

Author and devoted Buddhist practitioner Michael Herr dies at 76

Michael Herr.

Michael Herr, the author of the famed memoir, Dispatches, about his time covering the Vietnam war, has died. He was 76. Herr was also known for his contributions to other famous works, including the films Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, for which he wrote the screenplays. In addition, Herr became a devoted student of Buddhism in the latter years of his life, studying [...]