In this essay, Thanissaro Bhikkhu speaks on the history of the Buddhist concept “Dana” and how it has been distorted in West. Instead of Dana being a sign of generosity for the dhamma teacher from students, it is now being used by teachers to place the burden of financial stability of the organization on students.
The paper deals with Han Yongun’s (1879-1944) attitude towards the radical movements of socialist (Communist or anarchist) persuasion in 1920-30s’ Korea. Socialism had strong appeal for a large sector of the educated youth at that period: some of the younger monks or lay Buddhists are known to have become radical activists, while larger number had sympathies towards the “new currents of thought”, as radical views were euphemistically called. But both dogmatically stiff negative attitudes of the orthodox Communists towards all religions, Buddhism included, and low level of the understanding of Marxists theory among the monks and lay Buddhists hindered deeper contacts between Buddhists and socialism. Han Yongun attempted to overcome these hindrances, putting forward his theory of “Buddhist socialism.”
By Vladimir Tikhonova (Pak Noja)
A hugely important topic that has been largely neglected in the West. Meditation has been touted as a “cure all” for any number of mental or physical disorders, but when these rich and religious rooted practices are examined, we see those on the path can struggle immensely at numerous points on their meditative journey.
Buddhist-derived meditation practices are currently being employed as a popular form of health promotion. While meditation programs draw inspiration from Buddhist textual sources for the benefits of meditation, these sources also acknowledge a wide range of other effects beyond health-related outcomes. The Varieties of Contemplative Experience study investigates meditation-related experiences that are typically underreported, particularly experiences that are described as challenging, difficult, distressing, functionally impairing, and/or requiring additional support
Mindfulness is big business, worth in excess of US$1.0 billion in the US alone and linked – somewhat paradoxically – to an expanding range of must have products. These include downloadable apps (1300 at the last count), books to read or colour in, and online courses. Mindfulness practice and training is now part of a global wellness industry worth trillions of dollars.
Mindfulness has its origins in Buddhist meditation teachings and encourages the quiet observation of habituated thought patterns and emotions. The aim is to interrupt what can be an unhealthy tendency to over-identify with and stress out about these transient contents of the mind. By doing so, those who practice mindfulness can come to dwell in what is often described as a more “spacious” and liberating awareness. They are freed from seemingly automatic tendencies (such as anxiety about status, appearances, future prospects, our productivity) that are exploited by advertisers and other institutions in order to shape our behaviour. In its original Buddhist settings, mindfulness is inseparable from the ethical life.
The rapid rise and mainstreaming of what was once regarded as the preserve of a 1960s counterculture associated with a rejection of materialist values might seem surprising. But it is no accident that these practices of meditation and mindfulness have become so widespread. Neoliberalism and the associated rise of the “attention economy” are signs of our consumerist and enterprising times. Corporations and dominant institutions thrive by capturing and directing our time and attention, both of which appear to be in ever-shorter supply.
“Deep breath. Feel the air fill my lungs” are the first words of Hillary Clinton’s campaign memoir What Happened. In the months after the 2016 election, Clinton gave more thought than usual to breathing. She tried alternate nostril breathing, she told Anderson Cooper on CNN last September, gamely demonstrating how to inhale through one nostril, hold, and exhale on the other side. She drew a long breath as she took her seat at Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017. As early as the primaries, Clinton was incorporating quick bytes of calm into her day. “You don’t have to just sit with your legs crossed in some quiet room” to gain “a sense of relaxation and groundedness,” she explained in April 2016. “Literally, you can do it on a plane, or in a car, or waking up in the morning.”
These techniques belong to the practice of mindfulness—an art of paying attention and finding peace. Clinton herself is far from the first politician to try it. In 2013 Davos hosted a mindfulness training session for world leaders, and the next year Ohio Representative Tim Ryan convened a “Quiet Time Caucus,” to instill mindfulness in Congress. Meanwhile Eileen Fisher, Bill Ford, and the late Steve Jobs (who famously took a few moments’ silence to prep for Apple product launches) have applied mindfulness to business leadership. There is a growing audience for such teachings: the recently launched Mindful magazine had garnered 85,000 subscribers as of 2016. By the beginning of 2017, Headspace—the most popular among a host of app offerings—had been downloaded over 11 million times. Clinton’s memoir only marks how far mindfulness has traveled into the mainstream.
In Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Shunryu Suzuki told his North American convert students that their practice path would be that of “neither layman nor monk,” a quasi-monastic style of practice without the traditional support of a lay congregation or wealthy sustaining patrons. Even while pursuing Buddhist practice, students had to meet the exigencies of lay life: maintaining jobs, friendships, family commitments, and the rest. This “center-based” model is something that nearly every practice community has been working on ever since. What is not so well known is that Suzuki’s model of “neither layman nor monk” comes from another, earlier master: Shinran (1173–1262), one of Japanese Buddhism’s most celebrated figures….
By Mark Unno
By Melissa Anne-Marie Curley
Can buy the book here http://www.uhpress.hawaii.edu/p-9737-9780824857752.aspx