Short-to-medium-length pieces of writing originally published in a periodical (journal, newspaper, magazine, etc). For short pieces published in non-periodic collections, see papers. For blog posts, see essays.

Young Brahmins would already begin memorizing the sacred texts by rote when they were about eight years old, and some began the training still earlier. Only after having completed this task successfully, following years of memorization, would they study the meaning of what they had memorized.

Ananda, Upali and Devadatta act out a theoretical quarrel about Buddhist attitudes to law

By the ariya, the cessation of sakkaya is seen as happiness. This is the reverse of the outlook of the entire world!

Only a man could dream of Heaven as a place where he can lie about all day, surrounded by beautiful women

… it appears contradictory that Chinese who follow the teachings of Mahāyāna Buddhism have worshipped arhats. […] who was the arhat for Chinese Buddhists?

The joint creation of social life is the very basis of all economic activity.

The Buddha’s bad karma refers to ten problematic incidents that happened in the life of the historical Buddha. […] The texts related to the bad karma of the Buddha can be divided into two groups: those texts accepting the bad karma and those rejecting the whole matter.

… studies gave statistically significant positive results indicating that people really could tell when they were being looked at from behind

The world went from a situation where most of humanity had no need of money at all to one where today most of humanity struggles to survive on extremely small amounts of money. The graph casts this as a decline in poverty, but in reality what was going on was a process of dispossession

In the early decades of the twentieth century, as Japanese society became engulfed in war and increasing nationalism, the majority of Buddhist leaders and institutions capitulated to the status quo. One notable exception to this trend, however, was the Shinko Bukkyo Seinen Domei (Youth League for Revitalizing Buddhism), founded on 5 April 1931.

… the redefinition of arahantship cannot be looked upon as successful. The relaxed criteria would have enabled many monks of lesser attainment, as well as status-seeking monks, to proclaim themselves arahants. […] In its devalued form it simply could not satisfy the spiritual aspiration of those who sought the ultimate goal.

‘I smiled at the guards standing at my cell,’ he writes. ‘Being thrown in the Hole was worth the pleasure of seeing them still alive.’

The letter sent to the royal court at Kandy on behalf of the king of Siam, and published [here], includes some information of considerable interest for the study of the history of Pali texts. For a shipment, which comprised no less than 97 books no longer extant on the island and therefore asked for in a second document accompanying this letter, is said to have been dispatched together with the letter.

The way the denizens of the ancient Indian pantheon appear in early Buddhist texts exemplifies a mode of thought that scholars have called “inclusivism”.

Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that the MNS has provided the historical starting-point as well as the chief scriptural basis for enquiry into the problem of the Buddha-nature in China, and it would be difficult if not impossible to grasp the significance of the concept and its subsequent evolution in Chinese Buddhism without a proper understanding of the teaching of the MNS on the subject.

Given the fact that the praiseworthy qualities of the Buddha are the main theme of the Mahāsakuludāyi-sutta and its parallel, it is not surprising if the tendency to elevate the Buddha’s status would to some degree also have influenced the reciters responsible for transmitting the discourse. A comparison of the two versions in fact reveals several instances where this tendency is at work

… independence was perceived as an opportunity for a particular ethnic group

… the vinaya is nearly as central to the Buddhist religion as the shari’a is to Islam. If we were to rank religions in order of legalism, Theravada would come at the legalistic end of the scale, near to Islam and far from, for example, Taoism.

… how to interpret Buddhist Sanskrit texts in such a way as to avoid unnecessary bastardization of the English language, while still performing the scholarly task of making available the meaning of such texts to the scholarly community

… what does it say about our society that it seems to generate an extremely limited demand for talented poet-musicians, but an apparently infinite demand for specialists in corporate law?

There is a tribe of people known as the Ethno-graphic Filmmakers who believe they are invisible. They enter a room where a feast is being celebrated, or the sick cured, or the dead mourned, and, though weighted down with odd machines entangled with wires, imagine they are unnoticed.

We found that participants typically did not enjoy spending 6 to 15 minutes in a room by themselves with nothing to do […] and that many preferred to administer electric shocks to themselves instead of being left alone with their thoughts.

Christina of Saint-Trond (1150–1224) experienced what we would nowadays call a “near-death experience.”

If you can intentionally kill out of compassion, then fine, go ahead. But are you sure? Are you sure that what you think are friendliness and compassion are really friendliness and compassion? Are you sure that some subtle aversion and delusion have not surfaced in the mind?

To approach what, for the want of a better term, we call the mythic portions of the Nikayas with the attitude that such categories as “mythic symbol” and “literally true” are absolutely opposed is to adopt an attitude that is out of time and place. It seems to me that in some measure we must allow both a literal and a psychological interpretation. Both are there in the texts.

Buddhist literature offers us the only narratives from this period that feature to any great extent the nautical or maritime traveller as hero.

A guided reading of a small section of the Abhidhamma related to how different Indian schools explained time and a hypothesis about how they may have debated the topic amongst themselves.

To formulate a viable, systematic Buddhist environmental ethic, they must clarify on Buddhist grounds what an optimal world might be

Targeted groups came to be attributed a biological or timeless essence, not because this was inevitable, we argue, but because of these failures to historicize inequality.

… the most important sources of suffering are not something that activism can fix

… studies suggest that diversity statements [should] be aspirational, emphasize autonomy, and express a value for difference

On separating out early from later Buddhism and why it matters.

… the subject indicated extremely high magnitude of reward, [yet] the objective activation of the reward system was not extreme.

… both works typify a style of writing in Buddhist Studies that seems to blur the line between religious writing and academic analysis

… the discontinuity [with premodern forms of Buddhism] that the modernists emphasize is just that, an emphasis—it is less an observation than it is an ideologically motivated construction

There was over a mile of vertical ropes to climb above him. Taking a heavy pack might slow him down. It might cost lives. He did, however, take his camera’s flash cards, as they contained the only photographs ever captured of Veryovkina’s terminus.

Epithets of the Buddha (1991)

Featured in the course, " The Buddha"

That nuns did participate in the transmission and explication of the sacred texts is, however, proven by both literary and epigraphic records.

The Five Buddha Districts system prevailed from the 1790s to the 1880s on the frontier between Yunnan, in Southwest China, and the Burmese Kingdom, in the mountainous areas to the west of the Mekong River. Through more than a century of political mobilization, the Lahu communities in this area became an integrated and militarized society, and their culture was reconstructed in the historical context of ethnic conflicts, competition, and cooperation among the Wa, Dai, and Han Chinese settlers. The political elites of the Five Buddha Districts, however, were monks who had escaped the strict orthodoxy of the Qing government to become local chieftains, or rebels, depending on political changes in southern Yunnan.

… simultaneously donning a tolerant posture while claiming the overriding-ness of one’s religion was in fact a distinct phenomenon from what could be called “synthesis,” and has in actuality characterized many syncretistic endeavors in Chinese history.

One thing we can be certain of is that capitalism will end.

All species have an environmental niche, and despite technological advances, humans are unlikely to be an exception. Here, we demonstrate that for millennia, human populations have resided in the same narrow part of the climatic envelope available on the globe, characterized by a major mode around 11°C–15°C mean annual temperature (MAT).

… the vast majority of Americans (97 percent) are forfeiting the chance to enhance their well-being by practicing real generosity with their money.

A period of disorientation or depression is a small price to pay for more accurate knowledge.

Drawing upon the Yogācārin model, Dharmakīrti explains that the contemplative must first grasp the objects through cognition born of listening, ascertain them through reflection based on reasoning, and finally cognise them through meditative cultivation. This leads to valid perception.

But the Bodhisattva, unwilling to ask anyone for help, plucks up his courage, and goes out with his basket and cutting tool and cuts grass. He sells the grass and ekes out a meager living, giving what he can to those in need.

… the most truthful way of regarding illness — and the healthiest way of being ill — is one most purified of, most resistant to, metaphoric thinking

Effort is needed, but can be excessive, unreflectively mindless, unaware of gradually developed results, or misdirected. Contentment can be misunderstood to imply that skilful desire has no role in practice, and lead to passivity

… female monastics lead agentive, creative, and sometimes rebellious female lives that in subtle and not so subtle ways resist the label ‘feminist’

Thai Buddhist nuns (mae chis) and bhikkhunīs are excluded from the country’s saṅgha, directly affecting their religious standing and social possibilities

While many assume Treasure to be innovative, those developed Treasure tradition texts we inspected can, at least in their final published versions, better be described as conservative, and often extremely so.

The law of sacred centers imagines space from the inside out.

In Theravāda monasteries, nuns, even those who have been ordained for decades, typically sit on a mat on the floor, while monks, even those who have just been ordained, sit on a raised platform above them. The seating arrangement of nuns below or behind the monks is symbolic of [their] subordinate position

… the common interpretation of the jhānas as absorption-concentration attainments [is] incompatible with the teachings of the Pāli Nikāyas. […] one attains the jhānas, not by one-pointed concentration and absorption into a meditation object, but by releasing and letting go of the foothold of the unwholesome mind […] the entrance into the first jhāna is the actualization and embodiment of insight practice.

As a sacred site for pilgrimage, Bodhgayā became even more prominent from the sixth and seventh centuries onward, when the rebuilding of the Mahābodhi Temple coincided with the installation of a Buddha statue with the earth-touching gesture, symbolic of the Buddha’s calling upon the earth to bear witness to his victory over evil. Miracles enshroud the creation of the image itself, and later it became a famous icon widely copied throughout the Buddhist world.

In early Buddhist logic, it was standard to assume that for any state of affairs there were four possibilities: that it held, that it did not, both, or neither. This is the catuskoti (or tetralemma). Classical logicians have had a hard time making sense of this, but it makes perfectly good sense in the semantics of various paraconsistent logics, such as First Degree Entailment (FDE).

This paper introduces a new distinction between the ‘formal’ and the ‘practical’ canon[…] in medieval Sri Lanka. I show that few monks encountered the [Vinaya] in anything close to its full form.
[Rather,] Monastic leaders considered the Anumāna, Dasadhamma and (Karaniya)metta Suttas to be [the important sources] for monastic education.

… mae chis are not, on the whole, eager to relinquish their present status

… based on what can be culled from the Madhyama-āgama discourse in comparison with the other versions, it seems possible to arrive at a coherent narrative of [the founding] of the order of nuns.

The tale is best understood in the light of the need of the early Buddhist tradition to demarcate its position in the ancient Indian context vis-à-vis ascetic practices and ideology.

… although objects manufactured in factories for profit are not made or handled according to Buddhist tradition, the “aura” can be produced in different ways and at different points of an object’s life

A very brief summary of the Śrāvakabhūmi: an ancient meditation manual preserved by the Yogācāra school.

… so many warriors perished on the battlefield. The response of the arahants is truly astounding.

It was during this fertile period—[the seventh and eighth centuries, or] “early Chan”—that the lineage myths, doctrinal innovations, and distinctive rhetorical voice of the Chan, Zen, Son, and Thien schools first emerged. Although hundreds of books and articles have appeared on the textual and doctrinal developments associated with Chan, relatively little has been written on the distinctive meditation practices, if any, of this movement. This essay emerged from an attempt to answer a seemingly straightforward question: what kinds of meditation techniques were promulgated in early Chan circles? The answer, it turned out, involved historical and philosophical forays into the notion of “mindfulness”

Handicapped and at-risk Vietnamese youths share their appreciation of and enthusiasm for a mindfulness meditation course.

… once one village area had set up a pilgrimage route, it was not long before neighbouring communities did the same

The brahmins would indeed take umbrage at being closely associated with the officiant, because the very fact of his being there as an officiant means that he is doing a paid job and so lowers his status below theirs. [The brahmins, in contrast,] have no duties; they are gracing the occasion.

In which the hacker tourist ventures forth across the wide and wondrous meatspace of three continents, acquainting himself with the customs and dialects of previously unknown and unchronicled folk … and other material pertaining to the business and technology of Undersea Fiber-Optic Cables, as well as an account of the laying of the longest wire on Earth

… these hours were often spent in the company of close friends: women and adolescent girls used the twilight to enjoy the company of female friends, while some youth reported visiting friends’ houses where they played and listened to music, completed their homework or chatted. Others spent their pocket money on movies or karaoke.

In general, we humans are a self-interpreting species for whom the practice of recollecting and redescribing ourselves is a crucial necessity. For us the reconstruction of identity is a continuous process wherein the past is selectively crafted into a history. It is a creative and self-constitutive exercise. We come to know each other and ourselves not by exchanging resumes (mere inventories of events), but by telling our stories. And our stories change as we do; they reflect what actually happened and what we think is worth remembering, they reflect who we were, who we are, and who we would like to become.

A photo essay celebrating Bhante Buddharakkhita: Uganda’s first Buddhist monk.

… there may have been Bhikkhunīs in existence before the request for ordination by Mahāpajāpatī

… a fair number of occurrences in the Buddha’s life would be difficult to explain if he had been omniscient

Doing any one Buddhist practice in isolation can cause an unbalanced effect, but doing the path together shows more balance. This interesting paper shows that mindfulness meditation decrease amygdala responses even when not meditating, while compassion meditation has the opposite effect. Far from canceling each other out, of course, these practices combine to not alter our neurochemistry, but rather to radically rewire the brain.

… the eightfold path is but one of several differently worded statements of Gotama’s course of practice

… fundraising is a form of Dharma practice, gathering with peers is a way to raise money, and Buddhism is practiced as a form of group solidarity and support. These tight weaves have enabled temples to thrive in racially and religiously hostile lands

… this similarity is neither accidental, nor caused by the Buddha’s inability to free himself from the mental paradigms of his culture. I would rather argue that he formulated Pratityasamutpada as a polemic against Vedic thought.

Since July 20, 1985, a new higher ordination (upasampadā) movement has emerged at the Dambulla Buddhist temple in Sri Lanka. The architect of this movement, a Sinhala Buddhist monk named Inamaluwe Sumangala, challenges the contemporary Buddhist monastic practice of ordaining monks on the basis of their castes

Just as a river is geographically conditioned to flow in a certain direction, [compassionate] efforts are predetermined to move toward success (as sentient beings are endowed with Buddha nature). But just as a river will never dry up, their project will never end.

In this essay, Judith Shklar (not a Buddhist) ponders the implications of placing cruelty first (as the Buddha did). She shows how this position stands at odds with both Christian piety and neoliberal apathy and carves out a more realistic humanism than either extreme.

At approximately nine o’clock at night on January 26, 1700 A.D., a magnitude-9.0 earthquake struck the Pacific Northwest, causing sudden land subsidence, drowning coastal forests, and, out in the ocean, lifting up a wave half the length of a continent.

Deep contemplative experiences and the philosophical conclusions which they yield are beyond history. Or are they?…

… the evidence found in early printed liturgical booklets that promote Buddha-vandanā points to a different kind of modernization. This article reveals how Buddhist activists in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries made use of the capabilities presented in the colonial context, including print technology, to promote this devotional ritual practice as a principal marker of a newly constructed Buddhist identity.

The Buddhist Modernist Monk: a figure now familiar and beloved in American culture as an embodiment of compassion and rationality, yet with a history of prejudice and politics that has yet to be meaningfully explored.

Three sūtras in the SA which deal with emptiness especially attracted the attention of the author of the Mahāprajñāpāramitopadeśa

… does the garuda alight from the sky on the treetop with his wings grown instantaneously to maturity, or once he has been born in a crag or elsewhere, must his wings mature gradually?

There is little in Kapleau’s book to suggest that his teachers were anything but respected members of orthodox Zen monastic orders. Yet such was not the case, for in 1954 Yasutani Hakuun 安谷白雲 (1885-1973), the Zen priest whose teachings are featured in The Three Pillars of Zen, severed his formal ties to the Soto school in order to establish an independent Zen organization called the Sanbokyodan 三宝教団, or “Three Treasures Association.”

…recognize that this view is not scientific discovery: it is ideology.

The temple represents an objectification of a model of the mind which underlies Sherpa religious thinking

… there will be resistance to giving the thing rights until it can be seen and valued for itself; yet, it is hard to see it and value it for itself until we can bring ourselves to give it rights — which is almost inevitably going to sound inconceivable

Unlike cadaver donation in the West, which has to a large degree maintained the anonymity of the body used to teach medical students, the Taiwanese Tzu Chi Buddhist Silent Mentor programme at the centre of this article foregrounds the identity of the training cadaver as an essential element of medical pedagogy

The Buddha spoke of two kinds of desire: desire that arises from ignorance and delusion which is called taṇhā—craving—and desire that arises from wisdom and intelligence, which is called kusala-chanda

… a detailed analysis of the guidelines on sleeping practices as stipulated in Buddhist monastic disciplinary texts and in Chinese manuals.

What was the response of Soto Buddhist priests to the social situation facing Japan at the beginning of the twentieth century? What influence did their religious background have on their responses to the modernization of Japan? This article examines the lives and thought of two Japanese Soto Buddhist priests-Takeda Hanshi and Uchiyama Gudo-both with the same religious training and tradition, yet who chose diametrically opposite responses.

Placing the Pali discourses and their counterparts in the Chinese Āgamas side by side often brings to light an impressive degree of agreement, even down to rather minor details. This close agreement testifies to the emphasis on verbatim recall in the oral transmission of the early discourses. In this respect the early Buddhist oral tradition forms a class of its own in the ambit of oral literature

In the quantitative analysis of a survey of 417 13- to 20-year-old [British] Buddhists, the 48% who had undergone a religious or spiritual experience (RSE) were significantly more likely to self-identify as a spiritual person.

… what was the religious environment that encouraged the spread of the new technology of printing in late seventh century China?

Vinaya narration like the Sudinna tale does not function in a way comparable to a record of case law precedents in modern judicial proceedings. Instead, the stories need to be understood in terms of their teaching function

The four toraṇas, or gateways, [put] the stūpa, symbolically, at the place where four roads meet, as is specified in the Mahāparinibbāna Sutta.

… the history, myth and cult of a Burmese Buddha image standing in the middle of the [Shan] city of Chiang Tung and the ways in which religious visual culture expresses ethnic-religious identity.

Buddhist tantric traditions were strongly influenced at their inception by preexisting Śaiva Hindu traditions, but they also drew on a growing body of ritual and magical practices that had been developing for several centuries in Mahāyāna Buddhist circles. The spread of tantric traditions quickly followed their development in India.

In recognition of its pre-eminence among the Master’s epithets, the early Buddhist teachers and their successors have applied their wisdom and erudition to fathoming the multiple implications of this suggestive word.

An oral history of the antiquities smuggling which brought ancient Cambodian art to the Western world.

In the interests of conservatism it has had to compromise with modernity in such features as the veneer of bureaucratically efficient procedures and also the multiplication of interstitial roles. But the groups of devout men firmly penned into their quarters and lectured daily on the Jatakas pose no threat to traditional Buddhist order

Is it even fair to ask what tantric rituals mean? Or are rituals what create meaning?

“A monastery is a place where equality is preached but not practiced; a gar is a place where equality is practiced but not preached.”

… someone is a sequence of choices, and the question is: Will my next choice be conscious, and will my ability to make it be unfettered?

… true crime can never be my guilty pleasure because it’s a part of my history.

… revolutionaries suffer subjective vertigo when they meet the state’s disciplinary violence with the revolutionary violence of the subaltern; but they are spared objective vertigo. This is because the most disorienting aspects of their lives are induced

… this self-effacing, almost anonymous commentator’s proneness to being loved or hated, exalted or reviled, is certainly one of the least expected outcomes of Buddhist history.

… white supremacy has created an American culture in which other practitioners, namely White practitioners, have been granted the freedom to be Buddhist in safer and more public ways. Instead of facing systemic injustice for embracing a spirituality that departs from the Judeo-Christian norm, White Buddhists are often lauded for this difference.

The spell overflows with concrete nouns and dynamic verbs, with-out ever committing fully to semantic or syntactic cohesion. What does such language do? How does it act in the world of the speaker or reader? The Saddharmapuṇḍarīka itself offers guarantees of efficacy, but does not explain the precise mechanism of the dhāraṇī.

… the case of “youth Buddhism” in Ladakh highlights how youth play a vital role in the revitalization and reformation of [modern] Buddhism.

With Ch’an but no Pure Land, nine out of ten people will go astray.

Sōtō Zen temples in Japan kept necrologies in which the ancestors of outcaste members of their congregations were clearly identified, sometimes by derogatory titles such as “beast” or “less than human.” Indeed, Sōtō priests routinely allowed access to these memorial registers by private investigators, who perform background checks to insure that prospective marriage partners or company executives do not come from outcaste families.