By Scott Tusa
Editor’s Note: In this post, Nalanda Institute faculty Scott Tusa describes meditation as a practice of accessing our Buddha-nature, the open-hearted warmth and clarity the Buddha taught is our true essence. In a forthcoming Sustainable Happiness course which begins February 24th, Scott will be teaching what Tibetans consider the most direct path of meditation to quickly access that nature within us—the art of the Great Seal or ‘Mahamudra.’
The essence of the Buddhist path is the teachings on Buddha-nature (awakened-nature). As a foundational principle, I have found these teachings indispensable for my meditation practice.
What is Buddha Nature?
Buddha-nature represents the extremely positive news that our essence, no matter how many mistakes we make, is not fundamentally flawed. It is the opposite of original sin and affords us the potential for true freedom.
by Geri Loizzo
The Noble Eightfold Path
1) Right View, 2) Right Intention, 3) Right Speech, 4) Right Action, 5) Right Livelihood, 6) Right Effort, 7) Right Mindfulness, 8) Right Concentration
As I sit down to write this reflection on the Noble Eightfold Path, my wandering mind searches for a point of connection to the here and now. The Buddha’s ancient guidelines seem to map the path as a clear straight line to be traversed step by step by anyone and everyone committed to following in his footsteps. But it’s not so clear how those of us struggling to live more mindfully in today’s stressful world can best apply that map in our own everyday lives.
By Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD
I write this sickened by what has come to feel like a new normal: each week another outbreak of the epidemic of gut-wrenching violence that has been eating away at our body politic, increasingly in recent years. The latest blow: thirty one innocent people killed in El Paso and Dayton—including the people of color, women and Mexican nationals targeted—by two young white men infected with the violent ideologies of white nationalism and toxic masculinity. How can such tragedies happen here and now? How can families back-to-school shopping and couples on date nights be unsafe in twenty-first century America? While the voices of white blindness point the finger at mental illness or video games, mental health professionals, women, gender non-conforming individuals and people of color—for very different reasons—know better. This kind of violence is directed every minute every day at people with black or brown skin, couples of mixed race, all women, the LGBTQA+ community, refugees, immigrants and at those who practice non-Christian faiths such as Judaism, Islam and Hinduism.
By Joe Loizzo, MD, PhD
Editor’s note: Joe will be teaching a new course this fall in the Sustainable Happiness program. Learn the potent art of role-modeling imagery in the Nalanda tradition to enable deep transformation. More here.
How can a face launch a thousand ships? Why do lullabies quiet an infant’s cries? Must we be mystics to “still our beating hearts”? Over millions of lifetimes, we mammals evolved a range of special neural structures that have equipped us for an increasingly social life. Three of these help resolve a puzzle that has long stumped modern science: Why do archetypal images, prayers and gestures exert a stubborn hold even on scientifically schooled minds? Breakthroughs in the neuroscience of empathy, emotions and our conscious control of the breath have radically changed our view of our nature, helping explain the stubborn power of spiritual imagery, prayers and ritual.
by Joe Loizzo
In recent months and years, the young transplant of Tibetan Buddhism in the West has suffered several shocks that have shaken sapling communities in the U.S., and troubled the larger community of Buddhist orders around the world. Given the public controversy and deeply personal introspection stirred by these shocks, including the recent statement by Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, I believe the time is right for us as a community to seriously reflect on what they can teach us about the global future of Tibet’s unique culture and its little understood Vajrayana form of Buddhism, also known as Buddhist Tantra.
[download the full article in PDF format]
by Joe Loizzo
Early this year, the Tibetan community in exile and the international Buddhist community lost one of its leading lights—Kyabje Ngawang Gelek Demo Rimpoche—known to his many students around the world as Gelek Rimpoche, or simply Rimpoche, our precious gem. Besides His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Gelek’s peer, Trungpa Rimpoche, our jewel had few equals in his ability to be a living bridge between the spiritual-intellectual elite of Tibet’s Himalayan ivory towers and the increasingly global technology and pop culture of the modern West. While his preeminence among the vanishing breed of master scholars trained in the mountain kingdom alone would have merited a storied place in history, it was his unexpected role as a leading monk-exile turned lay Buddhist teacher that earned him global renown.