Growing up in a Buddhist family in Virginia in the '80s, I was often on the defensive about my family's beliefs. It was not unusual to be shunned by other kids because I did not believe in God the same way they'd been taught in church.
For someone who has never been exposed to meditation or Buddhist tenets, it can seem very weird and foreign. Whether you are talking with your religiously conservative family or a long-time friend, you can apply basic Buddhist principles to help them understand what it is you do.
In the past, technological culture-changers like the telephone and electricity took a long time to produce and cultures had more time to absorb and contemplate their impact. Now, things are changing so fast that we have little time to contemplate and absorb their impact.
In the midst of our wreckage that I speak to you, both as a Jew and as a New Orleanian, because survival is not just a matter of urban planning, or of financial aid, or willfulness. It is something deeper. It is of the soul.
At the heart of Buddhist teachings is a crucial ambiguity that has become increasingly problematic as Buddhism has globalized. This ambivalence needs to be resolved if the Buddhist tradition is to help us address most effectively the challenges that now confront us.
He swung into our line of vision, swiveling his wheelchair around finally to face us in his spacious living room, his back toward a large window with a vista onto the Pacific Ocean in Maui. Ram Dass was beaming, joyous.
It feels to me that we are suffering inter-generational trauma. We are leaving our descendants with such a horrific prospect. We can't claim to be handing on the Earth in a condition that is easy to love, or even endure.
We want to live in a world of peace and goodness. We want a world where the highest values are tolerance, generosity, creativity, kindness and fearlessness rather than self-absorption, aggression and speed.
Delusion takes many forms, but for Buddhism the fundamental delusion, at the root of our dukkha suffering, is ignorance of our true nature. Today, the delusion of separation is not only an individual problem but a collective one.
Many of us dream of exchanging our day-to-day responsibilities for a heartfelt life full of purpose, but few of us ever get around to doing something about it. The women featured here are the exception.
In collective denial -- such as that concerning climate change -- the group bubble of delusion becomes much more difficult to dispel, or even to become aware of, when people consciously or subconsciously believe they benefit by not seeing it. This suggests a Buddhist response.
A lot of people won't want to go near anything remotely religious, including meditation. But for those who want faith, and who have become cynical about faith seeming little more than political tool, don't let politicians and giant religious institutions steal from you what is rightfully yours.
Living in the light of humility, kindness and compassion is the deep lesson and timeless inspiration of Bodhi Day. When we celebrate Bodhi Day this year I hope that we can celebrate it as a 21st century holiday, embracing the full weight of Buddhism's long history without being limited by it.