This summer I went to a local multicultural festival where there was a stall that seemed to be set up for people interested in Buddhism. I decided to have a chat but quickly realised that they knew very little about Buddhism in general. In fact the stall represented an organisation I had never heard of called SGI-UK and they were basically there to recruit members. Later in the summer I went to the Urban Green Fair in Brockwell Park and SGI-UK had a stall there too. Apparently they publish a monthly magazine called "The Art of Living" which I am pretty sure I have seen in health food shops etc. But who are these people?
It turns out that SGI stands for Soka Gakkai International. According to Wikipedia, Soka Gakkai is a new religious movement, more precisely a modern Japanese "new religion" derived from Nichiren Buddhism. It was formed in 1930 and is closely associated with the New Komeito, an influential Japanese political party.
I like the Smokey the Bear Sutra by Gary Snyder.
On Septeber 13th the Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy issued a press release to say that they had received confirmation that the Chinese government had recently launched a massive patriotic political campaign in Lithang.
The Chinese government apparently thinks that it can control the process of reincarnation.
Campaigners on Tibet are marking the coming of age of the Panchen Lama - chosen by the Dalai Lama as Tibetan Buddhism's second most revered figure.
I just noticed that the link to an "American Buddhism" website that I gave in my first entry on this page no longer works. In fact clicking on it results in a message "This board has been closed for Terms of Service violations". Curious, and it looks like Meowers might have been involved.
Sam Harris has written an interesting article called Killing the Buddha (PDF).
Someone posted to alt.discordia today with a link to this American Buddhism website. Wanting to link to it I decided that it was time to create a Buddhism specific page. If you are wondering about the discordian connection then suffice it to say that Discordianism has been described as "Zen for roundeyes" and has been said to converge with some of the more absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school.
According to this Wikipedia entry, Buddhism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, who lived between approximately 563 and 483 BCE.
Having been brought up in a non-religious family whilst having to endure tedious and apparently nonsensical Christian assembly at school I developed a natural hostility to religious mumbo-jumbo. It was not until I read Peter Matthiessen's excellent book "The Snow Leopard" that I started to see glimpses of what it might all be about. This kindled a spark of interest in Buddhism which grew as I struggled through Robert Pirsig's classic first novel "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance". So whilst this page is ostensibly about Buddhism in general I want to make it clear that my main focus is on Zen.
For anyone with western scientific background the best explanation of what Zen is all about (as far as I am aware) can be found in Douglas Hofstadter's award winning 1979 book "Goedel, Esher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid", where he devotes a whole chapter to the subject.
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010