Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Wisdom Publications Has A New Website and DRM-free EBooks

Our friends at Wisdom Publications have asked that we publish information about their newly-designed website:

The new content-rich website of Buddhist publisher Wisdom Publications, www.wisdompubs.org, is now live. The clean new design makes it easier than ever for readers to find the books and information they want and to share it with others.

New site features include:

  • Expanded book pages, complete with excerpts and tables of contents. Browse before you buy.
  • In-depth author pages containing biographies, photos, and social media links
  • Books organized into special interest collections including Wisdom Academics, Mindful Living, Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada, Zen, Buddhism and Psychology and Children’s, making browsing simpler than ever
  • The Wisdom Blog, packed with book excerpts, quotes, interviews, original posts, and more to engage the audience.

Additionally, Wisdom Publications is now offering DRM-free ebooks for sale on the site. The books are delivered simultaneously in three formats (PDF, ePub, and Mobi), allowing readers to download them onto multiple devices and preserve them in their personal libraries for future device migration.

Visit the new website today at www.wisdompubs.org.

Note: Digital-Dharma has no connection with Wisdom Publications apart from admiration for the books they publish.


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What’s an American Buddhist?

American Buddhism’s numbers are booming. Published just over three years ago, an American Religious Identification Survey survey showed that from the years 1990 to 2000, Buddhism grew 170 percent in North America. By all indications that remarkable rate of growth continues unabated.

Why is a faith founded under a Bodhi tree in India 2,500 years ago enjoying a newfound popularity in America today?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/whats-an-american-buddhist/2012/06/17/gJQAJCQrjV_blog.html


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The Angry Monk: Zen Practice for Angry People

I love this line: “Wait a minute, there’s always at least one [asshole]. So if I’m looking around the zendo and I can’t find him—guess who the asshole is!”

And this one: “…spiritual work isn’t always ‘instructive’—it’s transformative, and this kind of transformation can get messy. The Sanskrit term for this is clusterfuck.

Zen practice is good for angry people. The form is tight. It squeezes that deep red heart-pulp, pushing up emotions from way down inside you. A lot of stuff comes up when you do this practice. Zen gets your juices flowing. And with these juices come seeds—the seeds of your behavior, your character, your anger, all flushed out into the open for you to see.

The Angry Monk: Zen Practice for Angry People


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Book Review: Sex, Sin and Zen, a Buddhist Exploration of Sex – by Brad Warner

Apart from their both being Buddhist teachers, one does not often think of Brad Warner and the Dalai Lama in the same context.  Over the years, I’ve come to see that as a mistake.  Warner and His Holiness have one major thing in common: no matter what they write about, at the end you’ve gotten a good education in basic Buddhist philosophy and practice.  They give good Dharma.

One of the things that I find most charming about HHDL’s writings is the way he sticks with the basics.  My understanding of practice is that it is about incorporating the Eightfold Path into my life.  Many writers and teachers, even Zen teachers, get carried away with the details and seem to forget that Buddhism is about living, not about having scholarly discussions.  Both Brad and His Holiness manage to make their teachings accessible — albeit in radically different ways — without getting bogged down in esoterica.  I like that.  A lot of my own practice has been about getting over myself and my IQ, and they both help me a lot when it comes to simplifying my thinking.  Steve Hagen is another favorite for the same reason.

Sex, Sin and Zen* is not an attempt on Warner’s part to pontificate about what “good Buddhists” are supposed to believe with regard to the beast with two (or more) backs.  What it really comes down to is a very personal exploration of Buddhist ethics and teachings as they seem to him to apply to situations that he has experienced, or heard, or been asked about.  He doesn’t claim to have the answers — is, in fact, excruciatingly careful to make it clear that these are personal decisions — yet he provides a first-class framework to use in thinking about such issues as they apply to us.  I mean, this book includes an entire chapter devoted to examining the practice of well-known porn star Nina Hartley, and how she incorporates Buddhism into her work and marriage.  It would take a writer with a background in blogging for “Suicide Girls” to even dream of pulling that off — but Warner does, and we feel as though we learned something. (I felt a couple of shifts in my attitudes while reading it, and I consider myself about as sexually liberal as you can get.)

Of course the book is written in Brad’s eminently readable — albeit sometimes joltingly non-traditional — style:

We reflect on the effort that brought us this piece of ass
and consider how it comes to us.

We reflect on our virtue and practice, and whether
we are worthy of this piece of ass.

We consider sexual greed to be the obstacle to freedom of mind.

We consider this piece of ass to be good medicine to sustain our lives.

For the sake of attaining the Truth we now receive this piece of ass.

And:

If you’re too goddamned horny to think straight, then perhaps the best way to avoid misusing sex is to log on to Suicide Girls, or whatever website you enjoy, masturbate furiously, be done with it, and then go out into the world more mellow, less sex-crazed, and less likely to misuse sex in a far more damaging way.

See what I mean?

Sex, Sin and Zen may shock you, it may leave you flabbergasted at the idea that an ordained priest of any religion would think it appropriate to write in the way that Warner habitually does.  But you know what?  You won’t be bored; you won’t feel you’ve wasted your time; and — unless you work hard** at avoiding it — it will give you a lot to think about.

____________________

*Available in your favorite bookstore this Labor Day weekend.

**Hee hee, I said, “hard.”

Disclaimer: the writer was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher.


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The Revival of Musar

A woman writes in her journal every night, focusing on her struggles with anger. Two friends sit down over coffee and discuss their recent efforts to perform at least three acts of generosity every day. A man posts on an online forum about how easily he is distracted by needless concerns but how daily Jewish prayer has helped him to focus his mind. A group studies Jewish teachings on greed, and they commit themselves to taking concrete steps to limit their consumption. Another group pores over a medieval Hebrew text about pride, and they conclude their weekly study session by chanting some of its words out loud to a haunting Jewish melody.

These American Jews display a good deal of moral seriousness, a tendency towards introspection, and a concern with the virtues to a degree that is somewhat uncommon in mainstream American Jewish culture. In describing their behavior, they might refer to the Jewish tradition of “Musar” (“moral discipline”) and explain that they are carrying on the legacy of a nineteenth-century, Lithuania-based movement known as the “Musar movement.” Most American Jews have not heard of the Musar movement, and many, upon learning about it, would write it off as requiring too much self-criticism, too much moralizing, and too much work. And yet interest in Musar has been steadily growing in contemporary America, in part as a counter-cultural phenomenon….

Institute for Advanced Studies In Culture


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How to Meditate: Getting Started — by Norman Fischer

Thousands of people over the years have asked me for advice about how to establish a daily meditation practice at home. Although there are thousands of Buddhist meditation centers around the country, most meditators do some or all of their practice at home on their own. In many cases, this is a practical matter. Most people don’t live close enough to a Buddhist center to meditate there regularly. Or, for one reason or another, they don’t feel comfortable with any of the local centers available to them. Or they feel that for them meditation is a private and personal matter, not a communal religious practice. Anyway, most meditators, for a variety of reasons, meditate at home. I do myself.

It wasn’t that way when I began Zen practice. The conventional wisdom then was that you could never practice on your own. You needed to practice with others—that was the way it was done. You needed instructions from a teacher. You needed support—maintaining the disciple to sit on your own would be too difficult. Besides, meditating alone could be dangerous.

Conventional wisdom has changed. These days many people find that it is entirely possible to meditate on their own. Not that lack of discipline is unknown—keeping up with regular practice remains a struggle for some. But many go beyond struggle to find enjoyment and ease in their daily practice.

Norman Fischer: Shambhala Sun