Personal and Collective Liberation: Are We Up for This Challenge?

by Dan Donohue

birds take flight


Editor’s Note: Dan Donohue is Nalanda Institute’s recently-appointed Executive Director. In this post he shares a bit of his personal journey in the context of the Institute’s renewed mission and vision statements.


I hope these words find you well as we say goodbye to another summer and welcome the fall. I’ve always felt this time of year to be auspicious — given all those years of school starts — so it’s a fitting time to share with you Nalanda Institute’s renewed mission and vision; the fruit of a collective effort by many of our staff, faculty, board and community members. 

Our mission is to support people from all walks of life to cultivate an open mind, warm heart and altruistic way of being by infusing timeless contemplative science and practice into contemporary life. 

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Lived Learning

by Vanessa Kelly

Completing Nalanda Institute’s Contemplative Psychotherapy Program transformed my life in many expected and beautiful ways. It deepened my understanding of Buddhist psychology and philosophy, supported and solidified my mediation practice, and immersed me in a diverse, inclusive community of inspiring friends and colleagues.

It also transformed me in unexpected and equally beautiful ways. My personal relationship both to self and others flourished with the infusion of compassionate inquiry and understanding. I began a meditation teaching training path (and now am honored to occasionally offer the Nalanda Institute and Tibet House’s Lunchtime Meditation!). It set me on a path of Buddhist centric service and study, as well as routinely attending silent retreats.

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Let’s Celebrate This Summer

by Joe Loizzo

With summer here, we invite you to make more space and time to practice unwinding, whether in your favorite natural refuge—seaside or mountainside, lake or forest—on the cushion in your meditation space or in your choice reading chair or coffee nook in whatever spare minutes or hours you can clear in your day. Turn off your devices, wishing all life well, and reconnect with your own body and mind.

As you reconnect with yourself, tuning in to the natural rhythms of your body and mind, feel how precious such reflective moments are in your life. Especially invite and savor any memories that evoke a felt sense of being fully whole and alive—in harmony with yourself, nature, and the extended family of all life.

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Queering the Already Queer Buddhist Body

by Nina Herzog

As a Buddhist, technically, I’m not supposed to be angry. So how exactly does that go? Anger eats us up inside, it’s a poison. As The Most Awesome Ruth King once told me on retreat, “Anger is not the deepest truth that wants to be told.” That pretty much stopped me in my angry tracks. It also forced me to go deeper. What’s this deeper truth?

As an ode to Pride month, I’d like to offer this reflection: While I identify as gay-as-a-technicolor-synchronized-swimming-competition, over the years I’ve come to understand that the queerest thing about my body is its size, not its gender or sexual expressions. These last few years, I’ve finally gotten in touch with how unjust the world is for fat people. This has taken me a long time. It’s permeated every part of my life, every phase of my development, every year of my 55-year old existence, shaped the way I see everyone I meet, every environment I enter, every community I consider joining. It’s certainly the first thing people see about me. Because I’m NYC-based, my “standard” queerness isn’t as central anymore. As an immigrant, coming out to my parents at 27, in 1993, just six months before my mother died, it was a bit of a horror, but that horror ended, for the most part. The horror that is being fat in this world continues.

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The Overlooked Heart

by Elizabeth Rovere


Editor’s Note: Elizabeth Rovere is a longstanding member of our faculty and board who has devoted her career to exploring the fertile intersection between the collective dimension of psychic healing and the spirituality of self-transcendent experience. Find out about  Elizabeth’s contemplative reading group, Everyday Epiphanies: When the Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary running May 4, 11, 18.


When I was in graduate school for clinical psychology in the late 1990’s, I worked with refugees and wrote my dissertation on betrayal trauma. Initially, I was in awe of the resilience, perseverance, humility, as well as the gallows humor, of the people I met — Bosnians, Croatians, Serbians, as well as Azerbaijanis and Armenians — the latter two groups, displaced by war wound up together at a make-shift refugee camp
in Moscow’s Red Square. Despite the different nationalities, cultures and religions, and, of course, the war, they got on together, not perfectly, but like they were stuck with each other, as they had been neighbors for years. These people I happened upon in Red Square, in the worst of times, found their common humanity and reestablished a shared trust in order to survive and even thrive after losing their homes and livelihoods. Their deep shared sense of common humanity proved more powerful than all their differences.

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Why We All Must Be Scholar-Practitioners: Towards a Global Renaissance of the Science and Practice of Human Awakening

by Joe Loizzo


Editor’s note: The following are excerpts from Tarka, Volume 0, “Yoga Philosophy, On the Scholar-Practitioner,” a publication from Embodied Philosophy. The full article is available here as well, courtesy of Embodied Philosophy.


Have you ever wondered why the trend in modern science, scholarship, and practical expertise seems inexorably headed in one direction— towards more and more narrow specialization? I have. Since I was a teen, for some odd reason, this trend has felt so wrong to me that, in hindsight, much of my adult life and work have been dedicated to answering that question and reversing the trend. Here’s some of what I’ve learned and done on my journey thus far to bring the pieces of our humanity back together again. […]

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Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger —
A Book Talk with Lama Rod Owens

by Fiona Brandon

Lama Rod Owens led the 2021 Spring retreat for the San Francisco Contemplative Psychotherapy Program (CPP). The cohort had the honor of learning from Lama Rod over the course of a weekend. The San Francisco CPP opened up the retreat to the public for Lama Rod’s book talk, Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger.

We are delighted to share this book talk with you! Join in to hear Lama Rod explore how to practice the healing arts of Buddhist psychology during this time of social, racial, and political upheaval. You will get a taste of sitting with Lama Rod and hear the answers to questions including his experience of relating to anger, confronting discrimination in Buddhist communities, and accessing joy and happiness.

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Love and Rage: Lama Rod Owen’s Recent Book

Presented by Nalanda Institute with an excerpt by Lama Rod Owens

Lama-Rod-Owens-Love-and-Rage

Lama Rod Owens, dharma teacher, meditation and mindfulness instructor (and recent visiting faculty in our Contemplative Psychotherapy Program!) explores with grace and candor the power and uses of anger. In his just-released book, Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger he shares his personal journey with rage—how, at a young age, he internalized the belief that his anger was dangerous.

In a recent press release, Lama Rod has shared an adapted excerpt entitled “Blackness and Anger” from his book which we would like to share with you. Read on….


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No permanezcas inactivo; pronúnciate: Responsabilidad espiritual tras el asesinato de George Floyd

por Joe Loizzo

Publicado originalmente en inglés el 4 de junio de 2020.

Cada año a medida que se acerca el verano me siento a escribir algo celebratorio para las graduaciones de nuestros alumnos del programa de psicoterapia contemplativa y otros programas. Pero después de ver el asesinato desgarrador de George Floyd en vídeo, celebrar se siente imposible.

Mientras el coronavirus devasta los EE. UU., impactando desproporcionadamente a nuestras comunidades negras, mulatas e indígenas y revelando disparidades inaceptables en el ámbito de la salud y desigualdades financieras que exponen el racismo estructural de nuestra nación, vemos reafirmarse a la cultura de la supremacía blanca con los asesinatos de Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, George Floyd y los tuits incendiarios de nuestro presidente.

Pero tal como nuestros líderes negros, mulatos e indígenas nos han enseñado, esta embestida aplastante no es nada nuevo. Observar cómo un policía blanco aparentemente corriente apaga fríamente la vida de George Floyd es ser testigo de la recreación de siglos de opresión a sangre fría contra los negros e indígenas de esta tierra, la repetición de un trauma colectivo tan sádico y psicópata como cualquier genocidio de la historia humana.

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Don’t Just Sit There, Take a Stand: Spiritual Accountability in the Wake of George Floyd’s Murder

by Joe Loizzo

Usually, as summer nears, I would be sitting down to write something to celebrate our recent graduates in our Contemplative Psychotherapy and other programs. But it feels impossible to celebrate anything after watching the gut-wrenching murder of George Floyd on videotape.

As the coronavirus ravages the U.S., disproportionally impacting our black, brown and indigenous communities and revealing the unconscionable health disparities and financial inequities that expose our nation’s structural racism, we see the culture of white supremacy doubling down in the murders of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, George Floyd and in the incendiary tweets of our president.

But as our black, brown, and indigenous leaders have taught us, this crushing onslaught is anything but new. Watching George Floyd’s life be coldly snuffed out by a seemingly average white policeman is witnessing the reenactment of centuries of cold-blooded oppression against the black and indigenous people of this land, the repetition of a collective trauma as sadistic and psychopathic as any genocide in human history.

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