Khaydroup and Cesar gave a Dharma talk focusing on “The Four Thoughts That Turn The Mind From Samsara.”
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11 Oct 2016 1 Comment
Khaydroup and Cesar gave a Dharma talk focusing on “The Four Thoughts That Turn The Mind From Samsara.”
07 Sep 2016 Leave a comment
Editor’s note: Tara Cottrell is a writer and digital strategist, and works as the web content manager at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Dan Zigmond is a writer, data scientist and Zen priest, and is director of analytics for Facebook. They are the authors of the book Buddha’s Diet.
More than two millennia ago, wandering the footpaths of ancient India, preaching in village huts and forest glens, Buddha was biohacking his health. He tried holding his breath so long his ears exploded, and even the gods assumed he was dead. (He wasn’t.) He then tried extreme fasting, reducing down his daily meals until he was living on just a few drops of soup each day. He got so thin his arms looked like withered branches and the skin of his belly rested on his spine.
Buddha was trying to do what we’re all trying to do on some level — improve ourselves and stop suffering so much, sometimes by employing pretty far-fetched techniques. But in the end, he rejected all these crazy extremes — not because they were too hard, but because they just didn’t work.
Buddha believed in data. Every time he tried something new, he paid attention. He collected evidence. He figured out what worked and what didn’t. And if something didn’t work, he rejected it and moved on. A good scientist knows when to quit.
When Buddha started teaching, he advised his students to do the same. He didn’t ask anyone to take his instructions on faith. He explained that the way most other teachers insisted you believe everything they said was like following a procession of blind men: “the first one does not see, the middle one does not see, and the last one does not see.” Buddha didn’t want us to trust — he wanted us to see. Our beliefs should be based on data.
He applied this same thinking to food. Most religions include some sort of dietary restriction: Islam prohibits pork. Orthodox Jews refrain from mixing milk and meat. Catholics avoid certain foods during Lent. Some devout Hindus won’t eat anything stale or overripe or with the wrong flavors or texture. Usually these rules are presented as divine commandments. Asking why we should eat this way is beside the point. There isn’t necessarily a reason for the commandment — the commandment is the reason.
Buddha took a different approach: His rules were grounded in his own experience. Like a lot of us, he tried some crazy diets. But what worked for him was very simple. He gave little advice about what his monks should eat, but he was very particular about when they should eat it. His followers were basically free to eat anything they were given — even meat — but only between the hours of dawn and noon.
Buddha didn’t give a mystical or supernatural explanation for this odd time restriction. But he was pretty sure it would improve their health. He had tested it on himself. “Because I avoid eating in the evening, I am in good health, light, energetic, and live comfortably,” he explained. “You, too, monks, avoid eating in the evening, and you will have good health.”
If Buddha were alive today, he’d be surprised to see so many Silicon Valley techies and Brooklyn hipsters embracing intermittent fasting as a new craze. But he’d be gratified to see the evidence mounting for the health benefits he claimed for time-restricted eating. We now have numerous scientific studies confirming the original data Buddha collected.
In 2014, for example, Dr. Satchidananda Panda and his team of researchers at the prestigious Salk Institute for Biological Sciences outside San Diego published a study on obesity in mice. They took one group of mice and instead of their normal food, offered them a diet of high-fat, high-calorie foods — and let them eat as much as they wanted. The results would surprise no one: The mice got fat.
Then they took another group of mice and offered them exactly the same seemingly unhealthy diet, but this time they only let the mice eat for nine to 12 hours each day. During the rest of the day and at night, the mice got only water. In other words, these mice had the same all-you-can-eat buffet of tasty, fattening treats. The one rule was that they could only stuff themselves during some of their waking hours.
This time, the results were a surprise: None of these mice got fat. Something about matching their eating to their natural circadian rhythms seemed to protect the mice against all that otherwise fattening food. It didn’t matter if they loaded up with sugars and fats and other junk. It didn’t seem to matter what the mice ate, or even how much of it, only when they ate it.
In other words, the data backed up Buddha.
Other scientists have produced similar results. Dr. Panda’s team even tried fattening up the mice by starting them on that first any-time diet, and then switched them to the time-restricted version. These mice didn’t just stop gaining — they started to lose that excess weight.
And it doesn’t stop with mice. Researchers have asked men and women to restrict their eating to certain hours each day, and those people lose weight, too.
Some of the best researchers studying food and health have been confirming Buddha’s original rules. Whether you call it intermittent fasting or time-restricted eating, Buddha’s ancient biohacking wasn’t an anomaly. The data he collected on himself has now been replicated by countless others.
Like any good data scientist, Buddha learned to ignore the outliers. He realized early on that the truth is rarely found in the extremes. He practiced instead the “middle way,” a philosophy of perpetual compromise and moderation. Modern time-restricted diets follow this same sane path — not quite dieting, but not quite eating anything any time either . Every day becomes a balance, with a time for eating and a time for fasting.
These days, we can all do what Buddha did: Become your body’s own data scientist; observe yourself as you eat to see what works for you and what doesn’t. We weren’t designed to eat at all hours, an unfortunate luxury we have with all the cheap and readily available food in first-world countries. Buddha discovered this long ago. Now we know it too.
28 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
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16 Jun 2015 Leave a comment
Beijing (CNN) – Five years ago, Beijinger Robert Zhao went on a trip to Tibet. What he encountered left him confused but intrigued.
A science graduate from China’s elite Tsinghua University, he had been taught to mistrust superstition and religion, but in the culture and devotion of the Buddhists he met he found something worth knowing.
Now 25, he is considering giving up his job and becoming a monk.
“It means I will have to give up everything of the ordinary world,” he told CNN.
While Buddhism has a long history in China, entering via missionaries from India during the Han dynasty, it was repressed during the Maoist era — many monasteries and temples were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution and monks actively punished for believing in “superstition.”
But now, a growing number of Chinese are rediscovering the country’s dormant Buddhist traditions.
Some, like Zhao, are looking for a spiritual anchor in a competitive, fast-changing society. Others take comfort in meditation and enjoy volunteering.
However, it’s not always easy to combine Buddhist beliefs with the demands of modern life.
Zhao works as an assistant to the boss of an environmental company. His religion means it’s difficult to entertain clients and partners — a key part of the role.
“Not drinking, smoking or eating meat affects my socializing. So the company has to send someone else to go with me, which creates extra expenses,” he says.
Zhao has not told his family about his desire to become a monk yet, fearing that they might oppose it.
Fenggang Yang, the director of the Center on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University, Indiana, says it’s difficult to explain exactly why so many young people are turning to Buddhism.
Some discover it at university, where Buddhist groups are active and famous monks and lamas give lectures. Others have devout parents and grandparents.
He also says that the Chinese Communist Party policy has “moved toward treating Buddhism more favorably than other religions.”
Christianity has also been growing in popularity in recent decades but church leaders say there has been a crackdown on Christians, with authorities demolishing churches and removing crosses from skylines.
In particular, it’s the Tibetan strain of Buddhism, rather than the Chan (also called Zen) tradition once popular in China, that is attracting new converts, particularly students, young professionals and businesspeople, he says.
“It appears that both the chanting and the physical, spiritual practices of Tibetan Buddhism are appealing to some people,” Yang added.
To what extent these new converts are committed to Buddhism as a religion, with its strictures and rituals, is an open question.
A former leader of a university Buddhism group, who didn’t want to give his name, told CNN he thought its members were more interested in the religion as a lifestyle choice.
Activities that his group organized focusing on relaxation and stress relief were always more popular than reading groups and lectures that examined Buddhist scriptures, he added.
Yang at Purdue University says that for most people in China, Buddhism is treated more as culture than a religion.
They may visit temples or read Buddhist books, but few people treat it as a religion that requires serious commitment.
“Indeed, people who identify as Buddhists do a lot of non-Buddhist spiritual things, such as believing in feng shui, consulting fortune-tellers, practicing qi gong and sampling books and practices of other religions,” he says.
On a recent weekend, more than four hundred people attended the annual gathering of Beijing Ren Ai Foundation, a Buddhist charitable organization, at Longquan Monastery on the mountainous outskirts of the capital.
Zhong Ying, the group’s 32-year-old deputy secretary general, said the group’s most active volunteers were between 20 and 35 years old. In the past five years their numbers had doubled to 200.
For attendee Geng Hui’er, a 26-year-old who works and lives in Beijing, Buddhism was something she rediscovered after returning from studying abroad in England.
Growing up, her family had raised her Buddhist although she says she never really “felt it.”
She now regularly attends meditation activities in monasteries or study groups organized by volunteers.
Geng says Buddhism has given her a fresh outlook on life and past difficulties. It’s also helped her establish a network of people she can talk to and socialize with.
“We sit together, sharing things that have happened in our lives and how we dealt with them, which is more helpful than reading books”, she says.
For Zhao, the aspiring monk, Buddhism has been a balm while dealing with poor health, as well as work and relationship problems.
“My life has been tough for years. (Buddhism) keeps me away from the negative thoughts, like a reminder that’s always there, which has helped me a lot.”
07 May 2015 Leave a comment
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09 Dec 2014 3 Comments
in Uncategorized Tags: Bodhi Path, Buddha, Buddhism, Heart Sutra, Meditation, Pasadena, Pasadena Bodhi Path, Pasadena Museum of History, Rinpoche, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tibetan Buddhism, Trinlay Rinpoche
Please register here: https://eventbrite.com/event/11120747455/
Rinpoche will also be visiting these other Bodhi Path Centers:
San Luis Obispo: January 3-4, 2015
Santa Barbara: January 10-11, 2015
Menlo Park: Date & Time TBD
Please visit their websites for more details.