We went to see the Dalai Lama!

Dalai Lama

Last Saturday, the Dalai Lama spoke at the Boston Garden, giving a talk entitled “Educating the Heart and Mind.” We sent four buses of students and faculty down — almost 150 people! Many, many thanks to all who attended, braving the elements (and the protesters) to hear his talk.

For those of you appreciating the Dalai Lama’s choice of headwear (or those who might wish he had worn something else), I can do no better than refer you to this ridiculous post here:

http://deadspin.com/the-dalai-lama-is-a-giant-bandwagoner-493979855

Consider, for example, this quotation: “Tenzin Gyatso is the 14th Dalai Lama, the latest in a long line of reincarnations of Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva embodiment of compassion. He’s also an insufferable homer who loves free hats.”

Amazing.

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Clarifying the Dalai Lama’s Remarks on Reincarnation

The Dalai Lama. Photo from cnn.com

The Dalai Lama. Photo from cnn.com

Robbie Barnett, a professor at Columbia University, writes about the recent reporting that the Dalai Lama’s current incarnation — the 14th — might be his last one. Barnett shows convincingly how the Dalai Lama’s words were misunderstood by various news agencies. He also points to the irony of China insisting that the Dalai Lama follow traditional Tibetan systems of recognizing reincarnations — a process the Chinese government would seek to control — instead of innovating a new way of choosing his successor, as the current Dalai Lama has said that he will do.

I’ll devote another blog post to the topic of reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism and the unique role of the Dalai Lama within this system, but I did want to pass along this thoughtful article in the meantime.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/09/23/opinion/dalai-lama-tibet-future/

One last tip: be sure to read about Her Excellency Mrs. Doring in the article! The bawdiness and irreverence of 19th Century Tibetan humor…who knew?

Whose voices are present? Whose voices are absent?

Some reflections on what I teach — and what I don’t.

nuns AFB

Contemporary Buddhist nuns.

Looking Back

Last year was my first time back in a Religious Studies classroom after two years away. As I returned to the classroom, I began to think more about the range of voices in a religious tradition, and the ways in which some of them (especially the voices of women) were not featured as prominently as they could have been in my courses.

One reason for this, I now realize, dealt with definition. How do I, as the teacher – and thus, the learning-materials-selector – define the discipline? Take the example of one course I have taught, Asian Religions. What does Asian Religions mean? The way that I define and understand this term will have significant implications for the texts/art/films/etc. that I choose – and by extension, the texts that I leave out. Continue reading