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Best Buddhist Blogs

October 17, 2011

in Buddhism

I’ve done a list of best spiritual blogs several times. Now that I’m a Buddhist officially, it’s time to find out what the best Buddhist blogs of today are.

My criteria:

  • Last post in Oct. 2011
  • Something interesting to say
  • Controversy is good
  • Scholarly underpinning is good
  • Personal stories are good
  • Poetry: boring (sorry people)

So here we go in somewhat random order:

One of the best blogs about Buddhism: both thoughtful, personal at times and well-educated is the Buddhism blog at About.com by Barbara O’Brien. Her whole blog is worth reading, but one recent post that stood out for me was the one in which she discusses the recent statement by the Dalai Lama that the next Dalai Lama will be an ‘emanation’, not a ‘reincarnation’. The comments are well worth reading as well.

Another great Buddhist blog is a group blog by young Buddhists at the ID Project. The authors include Lodro Rinzler who writes the column ‘what would Sid’ do. Sid is short for ‘Siddharta’, aka Buddha, of course. Those posts are highly practical. For instance: should you call your ex?

Sweetcake Enso is a Zen Buddhist blog that is a breath of fresh air if, like me, you crave authors with a bit of historical perspective.
The latest post is interesting for instance, not merely because it’s a thoughtful look into the Zen discussion of ‘emptiness‘, but also because it goes into the Western terminology usually used to discuss it. We find mention of Dogen, Nagarjuna and ethics.

Bookbird is a personal look into the life of a Buddhist struggling from day-to-day. Heartrendingly real at times, as when she shares: “Something in me was weeping. Huge, ungoverned sounds were forced out. I choked on them as they arrived. I could bite my tongue out and they would still come. I was shouting into the air, I was screaming, I was crying. My face in the cold air was wet and raw.

On Nothing to Attain you’ll find more personal inspiration from a woman on the Buddhist path. I loved her discussion of confidence (and humility) as well as her story about how to check ourselves in our ups and our downs.

Existential Buddhist is another blog on which the paradoxes of Western Buddhism get faced: how do we deal with the dogmatic side of Buddhism which our teachers can’t leave behind, but which are for us totally unacceptable? Well, first off, by realizing that it’s ok that Buddhism changes, like everything else.

From the context it becomes clear that Sujato’s Blog is a Theravada Buddhist blog. It’s activist on supporting raped nuns for instance. That’s great of course (not the rapes, but that the nuns get support, obviously) but the main reason I feature the blog here is the recent discussion of whether the Buddha’s views are permanent.

Truth is within is another Theravada blog, Thai Buddhist in fact. It too will help readers avoid idealizing Buddhism: the latest post is about monks raping children and how people hush it up. Obviously neither this monk, nor I, are trying to suggest that all monks do this. Just that monks are people too, and some of them cross the line and society needs to check them as they would anybody else who abuses kids (or sexuality in general). Yuttadhammo also offers advice on meditation though.

Buddhist Geeks is on the other end of the spectrum: modernist to a fault. In fact I’ve doubted whether to list them here at all. However, their post about the limitations of learning Buddhism online does deserve to be shared.

American Buddhist Perspectives is a scholarly blog written mostly from a Tibetan Buddhist perspective. It will keep you up to date on developments in Buddhist academia, like a recent conference on Buddhist Ethics.

One effect of how popular Buddhism is in the West these days is that ethnically Asian Buddhists living in the US feel marginalized. One of them writes a blog called Angry Asian Buddhist. See this lovely collection of youtube videos of young Western Asian Buddhists for instance.

The Buddhist Blog is the first one to come up in any Google search for ‘Buddhist Blog’ (great title). Does it deserve to? Well, I don’t think it’s the best Buddhist blog on the block, but it does merit a mention here. About making mistakes: ‘So, it’s o.k. to shit your pants from time to time–spiritually speaking, of course. Shit, itself, isn’t bad either. To paraphrase my teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, without shit, we wouldn’t have roses!! Our mistakes, fertilize the seeds of our good intentions to grow roses of happiness and peace. The key is to not blame yourself for doing something that human’s can’t help but do–make mistakes. This world itself is imperfect and flawed, so how could we not make mistakes? You are trying, and trying is a pro-active action. A lot of people are too afraid to try, so go easy on yourself.’

I don’t know how it happened, but the busy Tricycle blog ends up rather late on my list. It’s well written, but perhaps a bit tame. However, the recent post by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on the context of Buddha’s teachings is well worth reading, as is anything he writes.

Dhamma musings is a Theravada Buddhist blog. I do wish he’d adapt his paragraphs to online reading. I loved the post about alternative precepts and commandments.

Moonpointer takes being critical to the next level. However, he usually has a point. Read for instance his ‘Is Buddhism a Path to God’? (the answer is obviously: NO, Buddhism is not a path to God).

Buddha’s advice to lay people is currently on a series of explaining the Mangala Suttra. Read for instance this post in which she explains dealing with intoxicants (yes, that includes alcohol).

Robin’s Karma is a Tibetan Buddhist blog. Read this touching story of a teen girl who went to a lecture on death because her mother is dying.

Buddha Space is apparently one of the blog authors that got sent a preview copy of ‘The Buddha walks into a bar‘. The review there is far less positive than mine will be. See for instance my quoting Lodro Rinzler in this post. Still G has a point: Lodro is rather lax on the sexual restraint that traditional Buddhism has always favored. I mean, can one really justify a one night stand in a Buddhist context? On the other hand, if you read Lodro well, he does suggest that few people would be able to be as loving and detached as necessary to have a one night stand in such a way that it harms neither party.

Speculative Non-Buddhism is another must read for the academically interested Buddhist, despite the title. Read ‘Fanged Dialogue‘ for instance.

Dangerous Harvests shares the psychological backflip he had to make when he found a woman yelling at him at a social service event.

Last but not least (I think) is my own blog on Pema Chodron. I did a review on The Places that Scare You this month.

Well, that’s it folks! Do share any Buddhist blogs you feel are worth reading in the comments.

[edit August 2012]This blog is, and will continue to be, aimed at people who are interested in spirituality in general. Sometimes however, I find I have something to say about Buddhism and Tibetan Buddhism in particular. For that purpose I blog irregularly at my Contemporary Buddhism Blog.[/edit]

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