Great Articles from the Buddhist Press and Beyond
How Meditation Changes Your Brain - and Your Life - When neuroscientists tested expert meditators, they discovered something surprising: The effect of Buddhist meditation isn’t just momentary; it can alter deep-seated traits in our brain patterns and character. Daniel Goleman and Richard Davidson tell the story of this revolutionary breakthrough in our understanding of how meditation works.
Healing the Child Within by Thich Nhat Hanh - The cry we hear from deep in our hearts, says Thich Nhat Hanh, comes from the wounded child within. Healing this inner child’s pain is the key to transforming anger, sadness, and fear.
Feed the Right Wolf by Pema Chödrön – In this beautiful article, Pema describes the process of looking compassionately and honestly at our own minds. In the end, she says, freeing ourselves from anger and hostility comes down to choosing which wolf we want to feed.
The Dharma of the Princess Bride - This is an unusually elegant and creative discussion about the critical place of friendship and courage in the path of meditation by the New York based meditation teacher Ethan Nichtern.
The Natural State of Happiness - Happiness may be natural but it can feel very elusive unless you know how to cultivate it properly, says our friend and teacher, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. He presents five noble qualities that enable us to experience this ever-present happiness.
Meditation Starts With Embracing Mind - This is a short interview with Tim from Omega Institute in New York.
Meditation Only Goes So - If you want to connect with the open, spacious quality of mind, says Lama Willa Miller, at some point you have to stop trying to meditate. This is a lovely discussion about meditation as a way of 'being' rather that as something to 'do'.
Why Should I Meditate? by Matthieu Ricard - In this profound and clear discussion of the nature of meditation, Buddhist monk, scholar and humanitarian, Matthieu Ricard says “This true and lasting happiness is a profound sense of having realized to the utmost the potential we have within us for wisdom and accomplishment. Working toward this kind of fulfillment is an adventure worth embarking on.”
Let’s Stand Up Together - preeminent Buddhist scholar Bhikkhu Bodhi urges Buddhists to become “more visible as advocates of peace, basic sanity, and social justice”.
Take Charge of Your Practice by Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche - Years ago, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche realized that if he didn’t take charge of his schedule, it would take charge of him. His advice? Organize your schedule, let go of distractions, and make a clear aspiration to practice. These are great teachings for all of us who have a sincere wish to bring our practice fully into our live.
Let's Be Honest - Pema Chödrön and Dzigar Kongtrül Rinpoche - a student and her teacher—talk straight about honesty, self-deception, and why the difference is the key to the dharma. This beautiful discussion highlights all of the main points of the path - self-reflection, intention, breakdowns, challenges and the role of teacher who shows us the goodness that lies just under our confusion.
Bouncing Forward from Cancer - by our friend, Phyllis Coletta. When her doctor said “You have cancer,” Phyllis' defenses of anger, fear, and self-reliance fell apart. With some support, healing, and meditation, she saw the true meaning of gratitude.
Conflicts Between Science and Spirituality Are Rooted In Your Brain - The standoff between science and religion — between fact-based and faith-based ways of thinking and explaining the world — is nearly as old as human thought itself. In fact, the conflict may be rooted in the very structure of our brains, according to recently published research published.
Facing Yourself - by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche - You are a warrior when you have the bravery to face who you are, without fear, embarassment, or denial. This warriorship is the basis of the spiritual path, says Chögyam Trungpa. Through the practice of sitting meditation, the warrior discovers basic goodness.
Mingyur Rinpoche returns after wandering for 4 1/2 years - In exclusive first interview, Mingyur Rinpoche reveals what happened during his four years as a wandering yogi.
This Very Mind, Empty and Luminous - Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche explains that we can see awakening in the world around us, but we can also turn the telescope inward and look directly at our mind. In the Vajrayana school of Buddhism, we discover that this very mind is the mind of the Buddha, and what we’ve been searching for so long has been right in front of us all the time.
Three Conscious Breaths - Our good friend Pema Chödrön teaches us a simple technique we can use anytime we need a break from our habitual patterns.
We Always Have Joy - Our friend and teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, shows us how to discover the joy and awareness that are never affected by life’s ups and downs.
10 Questions - Time magazine says. “He’s an environmentalist, he’s friends with the Dalai Lama, and, at 29, the 17th Karmapa may be Tibet’s next hope.”
A Philosophical Assessment of Secular Buddhism - Dale S. Wright, a scholar and Buddhist practitioner, warms us away from the pitfalls of both theism and atheism and suggests that we can move beyond both to an understanding of Buddhism that allows the religious dimension of human life to be re-discovered and re-envisioned.
The Great Experiment - Tricycle Magazine interview with Tim Olmsted - "For me these are the central issues we need to address: Going up to the mountain and coming down from the mountain. What does it mean? How do we carry the dharma and the wisdom tradition in a way that can be appreciated, understood, and assimilated into the world? We must keep this as the central dilemma that we strive to resolve. How can we actualize the teachings that we’ve been given?".
Basic Goodness or Original Sin? - Buddhist psychology is based on the notion that human beings are fundamentally good. But Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche observes that this doesn’t come naturally to the western mind. Some how we feel that we’ve done something wrong in the past and are now being punished for it.
Why We Meditate - In this short, but insightful discussion, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche says that we don’t meditate to become better people or have special experiences. Meditation is simply the way we relate to our already existing enlightened state.
Two Truths—Indivisible - Our friend and teacher, Tsoknyi Rinpoche, says that when we enter the path, we are working at the level of relative truth, and with practice we may gain insight into the absolute. But we don’t enter the final stage of practice until we realize these truths were never separate.
Transforming the Heart of Suffering - In this beautiful discussion of the practice of ‘Tonglen’, Pema Chödrön says that “tonglen practice is a method for connecting with suffering—ours and that which is all around us—everywhere we go. It is a method for overcoming fear of suffering and for dissolving the tightness of our heart. Primarily it is a method for awakening the compassion that is inherent in all of us, no matter how cruel or cold we might seem to be”.
Secular Mindfulness: Potential & Pitfalls - As meditation has entered the American mainstream under the guise of ‘secular mindfulness’, many in the Buddhist world have worried that this trend may trivialize the teachings, or open the practice and intent of meditation to distortion. Meditation teacher, Jenny Wilks, offers an insightful and helpful way through this dilemma.
The Natural Liberation of Habits - When you recognize the true nature of mind, says Dzogchen teacher Tsoknyi Rinpoche, all habitual patterns are naturally liberated in the space of wisdom. That includes the ultimate habit known as samsara.
Adam Smith’s Ultimate Guide To A Moral Life - Adam Smith is considered to be the father of capitalism and wrote the seminal work on the nature of free-markets and why some nations are rich and others are poor, 'The Wealth Of Nations’. In his work ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’, published in 1759, Smith addresses the psychology of morality, and explores how man deals with conflicts between morality and self-interest. He writes eloquently on the futility of pursuing money with the hope of finding happiness.
Meditation is an Emotional Rollercoaster - With its surges of rage, disappointment, doubt, yearning or regret, meditation isn't all about relaxation.
Stalking the Meditating Brain - Good friend and groundbreaking neuroscientist, Richie Davidson, talks about the 'plasticity' of the brain and how we can train it to transform our lives.
Why We Take Refuge - In this excellent discussion, Mingyur Rinpoche explains that there are two kinds of refuge, outer and inner. We take refuge in the outer forms of enlightenment so that we may find the buddha within.
Religion Without God - Buddhist scholar and writer, Reggie Ray, asks "What does it mean to be a religion without a God? More broadly, what does it mean to live without an exterior savior of any kind? The characteristic of ‘non-theism’ is a defining characteristic of our path and one that we should all become familiar with.
Mindfulness: The Juicy Stuff Beyond the Hype - Chade-Meng Tan from Google says that “when it comes to mindfulness meditation, especially how it is practiced and taught in the context of the workplace, I have good news, even better news and bad news.” But, her says, with all the attention paid to the ability of meditation to reduce stress, and enhance creativity, we could miss it’s most important benefits inner balance and compassion.
See the True Nature, Then Let Go and Relax in That - In this wonderful interview the great meditation master Khenpo Tsultrim Gyatso offers a profound glimpse into the entire tradition and practice of Mahamudra. Mahamudra, the most sublime of all of the Buddha’s teachings, shows us how to return to our essential nature.
Four Keys to Waking Up - Our good friend, Pema Chodron says “Walking the walk means you’re very genuine and down to earth. You take the teachings as good medicine for the things that are confusing to you and for the suffering of your life.”
Mingyur Rinpoche sends a letter and photos from his 3 year retreat - Our friend and teacher, Mingyur Rinpoche, has been wandering in the Himalayas in the border region between Nepal and Tibet for nearly three years. Before he left, he said that he would return in between 3 to 5 years. Nobody has any idea when he’ll return. These pictures were taken by Lama Tashi, who many of us know.
Where Is the Love? - In this beautifully presented discussion on the day before Thanksgiving, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Nicholas Kristof suggests that in the present environment of divisiveness, cost cutting and social Darwinism, “we need a conversation about empathy for fellow humans in distress.”
5 Reasons to Meditate - It’s a strange thing to do—sit there and do basically nothing. Yet somehow this simple act of stopping, says the renowned American Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön, is the best way to cultivate our good qualities. Pema is the spiritual director of Gampo Abbey, and a good friend of our community. This is an excellent article for new practitioners and old hands.
The Neurobiology of “We” - Did You Ever Wonder whether your true inner Command Center rests in the complex bio-mechanics of your brain or the vast reaches of your mind? The study of neuroplasticity is changing the way scientists think about the mind/brain connection. This is an excellent overview of the recent discoveries of the effect of meditation and mind training on the brain and our experience.
Erring and Erring, We Walk the Unerring Path - Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche says that it is our basic instinct to search for happiness. Everything we do is for that: we work, play, create art, join churches, wage wars, count our money, and occasionally make clowns of ourselves. The irony is that we often end up sacrificing our sense of joy in life in our pursuit of this happiness. This excellent article from a remarkable teacher.
Growing in Kindness - American author, George Saunders’s offers commencement speech to the 2013 graduating class of Syracuse University. This is beautiful.
Mindfulness Means Nothing: Lose the Word, Find a Habit - Developmental behavioral pediatrician, Mark Bertin, gives us an unusually good look at ‘mindfulness’ in medicine, secular society and the spiritual life.
Does Trying to Be Happy Make Us Unhappy? - Wharton professor and author, Adam Grant, wonders if our search for happiness may prevent us from finding it, and suggests that there's reason to believe that the quest for happiness might be a recipe for misery.
What is Enlightenment? - For many of us, enlightenment isn't inspiring but distant goal. Joan Sutherland explores what enlightenment is and isn’t and how we can actually experience it in our everyday lives. This is the an excellent, and eloquent exploration of the fruition of the path.
Guide to the Three -Yana Journey - Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s comprehensive presentation of the three-yana (three vehicle) journey, taught only to his senior students, is being made public for the first time in the profound Treasury of the Ocean of Dharma. Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche takes us through this unique body of teachings. Must reading for any serious student.
The Natural State of Happiness - Happiness may be natural but it can feel very elusive unless you know how to cultivate it properly, says Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche. He presents five noble qualities that enable us to experience this ever-present happiness.
The Mind Business - This remarkable article from the London’s Financial Times explores the deep reach of meditation into the most prominent businesses in the world.
Glimpses of Mahayana - In this beautiful and profound discussion, Trungpa Rinpoche says “Inviting all sentient beings as our guests is the starting point of applying compassion in the Mahayana.”
‘Mass Market Epiphany' - Mysticism is dying, and taking true religion with it. Monasteries have dwindled. Contemplative orders have declined. Our religious leaders no longer preach the renunciation of the world; our culture scoffs at the idea. The closest most Americans come to real asceticism is giving up chocolate, cappuccinos, or meat for lunch for Lent. In this article, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat looks at the place of mysticism in western life and suggests it may be more secure than ever.
Taking the Measure of Mind - At the newly created Center for Investigating Healthy Minds, prominent neuroscientist Richie Davidson and his team try to see how far our minds can go and how many ways meditation can help us.
The New Science of Mind - Scientists study phenomena. Meditators study experience. And never the twain shall meet. Until a unique series of dialogues called Mind and Life.
The Emotional Life of Your Brain - In this wonderful discussion, Richie Davidson talks about the relationship between the pathways of ‘reason’ and ‘emotion’ in the brain, and how scientists are beginning to understand the relationship between the two.
The Wanderer - A bestselling author and rising star of the Buddhist world, but one day Mingyur Rinpoche just walked out and left it all behind. Andrea Miller reports on a modern lama braving the ancient path of the wandering yogi.
The Pema Chodron Primer - Here’s a wonderful collection of articles by Pema Chodron. Pema is a friend of the our community and one of the most respected voices in the western Buddhist world. She’s author of many of the best loved Buddhist books available today.
Letter from Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche upon Entering Three Year Retreat - An incredibly beautiful and inspiring letter to his students as Mingyur Rinpoche leaves for his 3rd three year retreat. Unlike a traditional, structured retreat, Mingyur Rinpoche will spend the next three years (at least) wandering through the holy places of India and the surrounding Himalayan region. He’ll be incognito as he travels, and will be completely out of touch with his teachers, family and students.
On Buddhanature - and What It Is Not - with Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche - Khandro Rinpocheis a rare example of a female incarnate lama (tulku). She is daughter of the late HH Mindroling Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Khandro Rinpoche is a brilliant exponent of the Buddha’s teachings and the preeminent female Buddhist teacher alive today.
Naked Mind - by Khenpo Gangshar - In this teaching on the mind instructions of the Dzogchen master Khenpo Gangshar, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche explains how the veil of thoughts and emotions is lifted when we rest in the nature of mind as it is, without trying to alter it in any way. Khenpo Gangshar Wangpo (b. 1925) - was a renowned ‘crazy wisdom’ guru or extraordinary realization. He was the root teacher of both Chögyam Trungpa and Thrangu Rinpoche. For a while it was thought that he died in prison between 1958 and 1961, but it has also been reported that he in fact survived 22 years of imprisonment, and passed away in 1980/1, before any of his former students could contact him.
A Buddhist Perspective On Ecological Responsibility - by John Stanley and David Loy - "The institutions of our society co-arise with us. They are not independent structures separate from our inner lives, like some backdrop to our personal dramas. Nor are they merely projections of our own minds. As collective forms of our ignorance, fears and greed, they acquire their own momentum, enlist our massive obedience, and depend on our collective consent”. Here’s a great article on this critical issue.
Beyond Meditation - by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche - Grounded in our formal practice of meditation, we can relax into the vast, open awareness that is our ultimate nature. Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche tells the story of his own introduction.
The Buddha in the Mirror by Carolyn Gimian - If we have the courage to look at ourselves honestly, we see both our flaws and our basic goodness, known in the Buddhist tradition as our buddhanature. This is the ground for truly loving others. This is a lovely article by my friend says Carolyn Gimian, the long time editor for all of the works of Trungpa Rinpoche.
New Years’s letter - Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche - In perhaps his last letter to his students before going into retreat for 3 years, Rinpoche encourages his students to remember always remember the main point - “So you see, we don't have to look outside the present moment to experience wisdom, compassion, and the boundless purity of our true nature. In fact, these things can't be found anywhere but the present moment. We just need to pause to recognize what is always right in front of us.”
The Way of Basic Sanity - by Traleg Rinpoche - Here’s one for more serious students. In this remarkable paper, Traleg Rinpoche offers ‘A Brief Overview of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche's perspective on Sutric Buddhism’. This is an extraordinary summary of main points of Trungpa Rinpoche’s approach to teaching from a brilliant Tibetan scholar and teacher.
Is It Time To Replace The American Dream? - by Jeremey Rifkin - For two hundred years the American Dream has served as the bedrock foundation of the American way of life. The dream, reduced to its essence, is that in America, every person has the right and opportunity to pursue his or her own individual material self interest in the marketplace, and make something of their life, or at least sacrifice so the next generation might enjoy a better life.
Is Buddhism a Religion? - by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche - We often talk about Siddhartha, the young man who became known as the Buddha, as if he were a god. The fact is that he was just a simple Indian guy, a human being like you and me...
What Makes You a Buddhist? - By Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse - It’s not the clothes you wear, the ceremonies you perform, or the meditation you do, says Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse. It’s not what you eat, how much you drink, or who you have sex with. It’s whether you agree with the four fundamental discoveries the Buddha made under the Bodhi tree, and if you do, you can call yourself a Buddhist.
Your Life Is Your Practice An everyday meditation guide by Glenna Olmsted - In this beautiful article, our very own Glenna lays out a clear and easy way to engage do retreat practice right in the middle of your busy life. These ‘working retreats’ are a skillful and accessible way to stay in touch with our practice, even is we can’t ‘get away’.
Skillful, Enjoyable, Wonderful by Ari Goldfield - Since the time of the Buddha, songs have been used by practitioners to express their joy and realization. In this article, Ari Goldfield explores this tradition as exemplified by the great scholar/yogin Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso.
What the Buddha Taught by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche - The Buddha offered a progression of teachings appropriate to people's different spiritual needs. The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche outlines the three turnings of the wheel of dharma.
Getting to Know The Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche - How should we understand all the myths and stories about the Buddha's life? It is said that whoever encountered Buddha, whether a king, a queen or a beggar in the street, felt comfortable with him. Everyone, no matter what their circumstances, felt that he was relating directly, fully and properly with them. Everyone who saw Buddha felt the same peacefulness when they were near this enlightened being.
The Example of the Buddha by Joseph Goldstein - A question for us to consider is whether we can relate to the life of the Buddha, both in our formal practice and in our everyday lives, in a way that is meaningful for us in these times.
Becoming Buddha by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche - Whether we are students of Theravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana Buddhism, we are all followers of the teachings and the example of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni.
Taking Refuge: The Decision to Become a Buddhist by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche - In the Buddhist tradition, the purpose of taking refuge is to awaken from confusion and associate oneself with wakefulness. Taking refuge is a matter of commitment and acceptance and, at the same time, of openness and freedom. By taking the refuge vow we commit ourselves to freedom.
Meditation: The Four Foundations of Mindfulness by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche - According to the late Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, spirituality means relating with the working basis of one’s existence, which is one’s state of mind. The method for beginning to relate directly with mind is the practice of mindfulness.
Mass-Market Epiphany by Ross Douthat - Mysticism is dying, and taking true religion with it. Monasteries have dwindled. Contemplative orders have declined. Our religious leaders no longer preach the renunciation of the world; our culture scoffs at the idea. The closest most Americans come to real asceticism is giving up chocolate, cappuccinos, ... for Lent.
Practice Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Gelek Rinpoche - Enlightenment is possible in this lifetime, says Gelek Rinpoche, but time is running out. We have to make the most of this rare and fleeting opportunity to wake up.
The Bodhisattva by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche - The bodhisattva—the renowned ideal of Mahayana Buddhism—is not a god or deity but a way of being we can all aspire to. As Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche explains, those who take the bodhisattva vow make one simple commitment: to put others first, holding nothing back for themselves.
Compassion and Wisdom by Venerable Khandro Rinpoche - "The human heart is basically very compassionate, but without wisdom, compassion will not work. Wisdom is the openness that lets us see what is essential and most effective."
Right Bucks by Ken Wilbur - The Dharma is free. No one should charge money for teaching or transmitting Dharma. Dharma that touches money is no dharma at all. Selling the Dharma--there is a root of all evil. The Dharma offered freely and without charge to all who seek it: there is purity, nobility, an honorable disposition. And so goes the strange antagonism between Dharma and dollars.
Pema Chödrön: No Time to Lose by Pema Chödrön - In her new book, Pema Chödrön offers her unique perspective on The Way of the Bodhisattva, Shantideva’s classic description of the Mahayana path. Here she addresses one of the most important of all spiritual questions—how to free ourselves from the powerful spell of the emotional afflictions.
Quintessence of Compassion by Sandra Scales - The first lineage of tantric Buddhism established in Tibet is known as the Nyingma tradition, the "School of the Ancients." Since its founding by Padmasambhava in the eighth century, teachers of this tradition have taught the profound view of mind called Dzogchen. From her book Sacred Voices, SandraScales offers a selection of portraits and teachings by some of the great Nyingma masters of our time, whose presence "is nothing other than the quintessence of compassion."
Generosity's Perfection by Sharon Salzberg - Giving up, giving in, just plain giving—Sharon Salzberg says that’s the truly transformative experience. Generosity opens our heart, frees us from attachment and is the basis of all good qualities. It’s the foundation of the Buddhist path.
The Heart of the Buddha by His Holiness the Dalai Lama - Forget all the fancy meditation practices, says His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the real heart of Buddhism is complete commitment to others. In this commentary on The Way of the Bodhisattva, he describes the awakened heart of the Buddha, which is his vow to attain enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings.
The Answer to Anger & Aggression is Patience by Pema Chödrön - We can suppress anger and aggression or act it out, either way making things worse for ourselves and others. Or we can practice patience: wait, experience the anger and investigate its nature. Pema Chödrön takes us step by step through this powerful practice.
The Maturing of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience by Sharon Salzberg - The Buddha once told this story about faith: A herd of cows arrives at the bank of a wide stream. The mature ones see the stream and simply wade across it.
The Path of Faith and the Path of Reasoning by Khenpo Tsültrim Gyamtso - We can examine any philosophical, religious, or spiritual tradition to see what role it gives to the path of faith and what role to the path of reasoning. In a tradition where the path of faith is foremost, a practitioner first believes in the authenticity of that tradition’s exponent or teacher. As a result of that faith in the teacher, one believes the teacher’s words. In those traditions, the teacher is most important.
This Very Mind, Empty and Luminous by The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche - We can see awakening in the world around us, but we can also turn the telescope inward and look directly at our mind. In the Vajrayana school of Buddhism, we discover that this very mind is the mind of the Buddha, and what we’ve been searching for so long has been right in front of us all the time.
Mahamudra and Dzogchen: Thought-Free Wakefulness by Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche - The ability to dissolve thoughts is essential to attaining liberation, says renowned Dzogchen teacher Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. Devotion and Pure Perception are two principles that lie at the root of Vajrayana practice that lead beyond confusion to thought-free wakefulness.
The Kind of Guru I Had by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche - The late Dzogchen master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche recalls the profound influence of his teacher, Samten Gyatso, and the early teachings he received from him on the nature of mind.
Mind, Matter, or God? by Barry Boyce - As the so-called new atheists go toe-to-toe with religious literalists, where do Buddhists and other contemplative practitioners stand? Barry Boyce reports on the middle way embracing both reason and the reality beyond it.