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Lions Roar : September 2016
I’m interested in all the ways people apply Buddhism’s ancient teachings to their lives today. Any book recommendations? Being that the Buddha so prized the idea of skillful means, it’s not surprising that many who follow him are able to talk about how the dharma fits our circumstances and predilections today. There are seemingly countless examples out there, but here are some of our favorites: Brave Parenting: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide to Raising Emotionally Resilient Children, by Krissy Pozatek; The Buddha Walks Into the Office: A Guide to Livelihood for a New Generation, by Lodro Rinzler; Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality, by Brad Warner; How to Be Sick: A Buddhist-Inspired Guide for the Chronically Ill and Their Caregivers, by Toni Bernhard; Paradise in Plain Sight: Lessons from a Zen Garden, by Karen Maezen Miller; Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, by Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah; Refuge Recovery: A Buddhist Path to Recovering from Addiction, by Noah Levine; Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer’s Quest to Find Zen on the Sea, by Jai- mal Yogis; and Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg—which may well have inspired a lot of the books on this list! I find that Buddhism has many of the same problems as other organized religions. How do I work with the reality that Buddhists don’t always practice what they preach? It’s never helpful to romanticize a religion. Admittedly, it’s painful having to reconcile the difference between Buddhism’s beautiful values and some of its systemic and individual realities. And it’s particularly challenging when this involves teach- ers whom we are asked to revere. How, to cite an all-too-common example, can a teacher be realized if he is guilty of sexual misconduct? Buddhism suf- fers to some degree from the same problems as all human institutions: sexism, racism, corruption, and materialism—in a word, ego. Buddhism’s historical record is better than some other world religions—no crusades or inquisi- tions—but sadly Buddhists are now driving ethnic conflicts in Myanmar and elsewhere in South Asia. Denial is tempting, but it’s only by acknowledging these realities—and working sincerely to uphold Buddhism’s values in your own life and practice—that change can happen. ♦ WHO? WHAT? WHERE? SAYADAW U PANDITA BURMESE MEDITATION MASTER Sayadaw U Pandita, who died in April at 94, played an important role in the development of the vipassana (Insight) meditation movement in the West. Born in 1921 in Rangoon (now Yangon) during British colonial rule, U Pandita entered Mahabodhi Monastery at seven. He began practicing vipassana in 1950 under the guidance of Mahasi Sayadaw, whose style of prac- tice became popular in Asia and the West. U Pandita gained his Dhammacariya (dharma teacher) degree in 1952, and started teaching at the Mahasi Medi- tation Center three years later. He would become head abbot after Mahasi’s death in 1982. U Pandita taught a rig- orous and precise method of self-examination emphasiz- ing Buddhist ethics as a foundation of vipassana practice. U Pandita became an influential teacher in the West after conducting a three-month silent retreat in 1984 at the Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Barre, Mas- sachusetts. IMS cofounder Sharon Salzberg says, “He absolutely brought out my best effort, no holding back, and revitalized my meditation practice.” U Pandita’s talks at IMS were later collected in the book In This Very Life: Liberation Teachings of the Buddha. Among his meditation students was Aung San Suu Kyi, whom he supported spiritually during her long period of house arrest. In 1991, U Pandita founded the Pandita- rama Meditation Center in Yangon, with centers in the U.S., Britain, Australia, Singapore, and Nepal. He was the abbot in Yangon at the time of his death. His funeral rites were attended by followers from across the globe. *In our last issue we moved Tassajara Zen Mountain Center about 150 miles north. It is in Carmel Valley, south, not north, of San Francisco. Tell us what you’d like to know about Buddhism and meditation at