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Thursday, February 28, 2013

1 MILLION VISITS TO THE BUDDHIST BLOG!!!


When I started this blog, I never imagined that people would be interested in it enough to come back, but you did, and you brought a lot of friends with you!! The blog has now logged over 1 MILLION visits since its inception in 2005!!!!

I'm truly humbled. It's been so wonderful to get to know so many of you via: comments, emails and sometimes even in person!! I truly feel like this blog is my sangha where I commune with my readers. You have given me so much joy over the years and I feel so humbled that some have turned to me in their times of need. I'm not a monk, a leader, a teacher or anything special but I do love deeply and have great compassion for all beings. Hopefully something I've said helped your life for the better and not the worst. I apologize for all my failings and while I admit that I am hopelessly imperfect, I will always try to do better.

So!! I want to reward your loyal readership by announcing, "The Great Buddhist Blog Book Give-Away!!" In honor of you, dear readers, I have chosen 3 Buddhist books from my collection to give-away. The books being offered are the following:

1st BookRebel Buddha by Dzogchen Ponlop -- This was my favorite book in 2010, and I still refer back to it. It's a book that will appeal to those looking for a bit of a modern spin on their Buddhism. Don't be afraid of being a rebel, so was Buddha!! 

2nd Book: The Best Buddhist Writing 2011, edited by Melvin McLeod, and the editors of the Shambhala Sun. The beauty of this book is that it's several books combined!! You get some of the best writing from Thich Nhat Hanh, Dzogchen Ponlop, Jack Kornfield, and the Dalai Lama. 

3rd Book: The Lankavatara Sutra: Translation and Commentary by Red Pine. -- Red Pine is one of the best English translators available for Asian texts. A lesser known sutra to some, the Lankavatara Sutra is "the holy grail" of Zen Buddhism. It is essentially the "manual" on Zen Buddhism. Zen's first patriach, Dogen Zenji handed this text to his successor and told him everything he needed to know was in there. 

Unfortunately, due to limited finances, I can not ship to international readers. I'm so sorry. I can only afford to ship books to readers in North America. If you are interested in tossing your name into the hat then simply type your name (first name is fine) into an email and send it to: jaymur@gmail.com --

I will then write your names out onto pieces of paper, place them in a hat and have my wife, an impartial, third-party, draw the names out of the hat. I will draw three winners. The first name pulled from the hat will get first pick. Pick 1 book from the three highlighted above. Second place will get to pick from the remaining two books, and third place will get the last book. Trust me, there are no losers here...all the books are excellent. I specifically chose three of the best one's in my collection.

I will draw the names from the hat on 3/8/2013

That's it! I wish everyone luck, and thank-you, again, for your loyal readership!!

~i bow to the buddha within all beings~

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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Stop Buying Ivory. Stop the Ivory Trade.


By Jean Rovys Dabany for Reuters: Poachers have killed more than 11,000 elephants in Gabon's Minkebe National Park rainforest since 2004. "If we don't reverse this situation rapidly, the future of elephants in Africa will be compromised," Lee White, executive secretary of Gabon's national parks agency, said in a statement issued by Gabon's presidency. 
James: If elephants go extinct, my heart will forever weep. To lose such an icon of the animal kingdom would be a scar on our collective consciousness. We can not continue to slaughter animals, nor their environment, and believe that we can avoid responsibility. The collective karma from these actions is going lead to our own environmental extinction. That is the undeniable reality of interdependence, whether you believe in Buddhism or do not.

The largest markets for ivory are in Asia (especially China and Japan). Thus, since a lot of the readers of this blog live in that part of the world, I beg you to speak-out against the ivory trade. It is virtually impossible to know the difference between pre-ban ivory and poached ivory, therefore, you should assume all ivory is poached. Why would any Buddhist want ivory anyway? Ivory is essentially a dead elephants teeth and often those elephants killed are mother's who leave babies behind to starve to death in the scorching-hot, African sun.

What would Buddha think about killing animals purely to please our aesthetic desires? It is not enough to avoid purchasing ivory ourselves. By remaining silent, we condone the death of animals for materialistic desires. In Buddhism, the idea of rebirth says that any animal could have been our mother in a past life. So, please, ask yourselves this question, "Would you allow someone to kill your mother so that you could wear her carved teeth around your neck as a necklace?" If not, then I would kindly ask you to speak-out against buying ivory. Thank-you.


~i bow to the buddha within all beings~


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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

The Dangers of Organized Buddhism.

many [...] lament the state of Thai Buddhism as being corrupt, power hungry [...] A series of scandals has turned up recently, including senior monks sexually abusing their novices. Many monks have been accused of the commercialization of the faith including fraudulent fund-raising. Between accepting donations and chanting ancient Pali incantations that many in the congregation don’t understand, the monks thumb at their cell phones or ask their personal attendants to grab them refreshments.
Corruption within the Thai clergy has not been an uncommon or even recent phenomenon. In 1999, The Associated Press carried a story stating: “At its core, Buddhism is a religion that teaches the renunciation of desire for material comforts is the way to relieve suffering and find the path to wisdom. But instead of shunning material comforts, some senior monks live in plush quarters and drive Mercedes Benzes.”

This is why I personally believe it is important to have a healthy skepticism of organized religion. I am a very happy and devoted Buddhist, but I don't believe everything taught by organized Buddhism, or any religion. In the end, no organization can do the work for us. No amount of "blessings" or donations can help us in those quiet moments alone when our ego declares war upon our peace of mind. While I am thankful for temples and monasteries, we are on our own.

I find that freeing because it empowers us to directly impact our lives without relying so much upon imperfect organizations and leaders. People will disappoint us and lead us astray if we put all our faith in them alone. There is definitely a place for temples and monasteries, but for me, direct experience is where the progress happens. Amulets can not prevent bad things from happening in our life, but the purpose of Buddhism is to teach us methods of behaving that enable us to experience the inevitable pains of life with less mental anguish.

As for the money involved in these corrupt temples, I believe in dana, or donating, but the Dharma is not for sale. The idea of making money off donations beyond caring for the basic needs of monks and their temples is shockingly antithetical to the dharma. Monks driving around in Mercedes Benzes corrupts the dharma to nothing other than a business gimmick. No one expects monks to be perfect but they set the example for novice Buddhists. They are the caretakers of the dharma who are supposed to best embody Buddha's work. They represent what is possible when the Buddha's methods are practiced on a regular basis. They are the teachers who pass on the knowledge of finding the path to true spiritual freedom.

There is, however, the tendency to deify monks on the other extreme. This is why I have a healthy dose of skepticism of organized religion. It's not that the Dharma is flawed but that we humans are flawed, so putting all our trust in any human being is falling into the trap of delusional thinking, which is one of the three poisons that Buddha taught create suffering. After all the teaching, chanting and reading, no one can walk the thorny path of samsara for us, and it can not be any other way.

There are no short-cuts. We can believe that trinkets and donations will ease our suffering but they merely distract us, so when the delusion wears off, we're back in our hole of suffering. In the end, it's up to us to put one foot in front of the other and climb the steps toward realizing enlightenment. We can walk with friends and guides for a time but they can not carry us to liberation because the path to enlightenment isn't a physical journey. It's a journey of the mind.

Being carried the whole way could never work because our mind is where the problem rests and if you don't fix the mind first then you're simply trying to drain water out of a boat before fixing the leak first!! Trying to fix the mind through charms is like trying to heal a broken bone by reading the doctor's manual on how to heal broken bones aloud to the damaged leg hoping that alone would cure the problem. Thus, for me, my practice is a balance of following experienced, Buddhist, teachers while continuing to think for myself and use common sense. In the end, isn't balance the middle-path that Buddha taught?

~i bow to the buddha within all beings~

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