Karma – It’s Not About What We Do

I’ve just had an article published in Elephant Journal, co-authored by Matthew Immergut, about Karma. Here’s the link to EJ to see the conversation we had in the comments section:
http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/02/karma-its-not-about-what-we-do/

 

Karma: that word that gets thrown around a lot.

People talk about “good” karma versus “bad” karma, or “your” karma versus “mine.”

But despite the term’s popularity, it seems like everybody has a different idea about what it actually means. If karma is truly one of the Buddha’s most important teachings, as he himself repeatedly emphasized, then to follow in his footsteps, we need to be clear about its definition.

The Problems with “Agricultural” Karma

Probably one of the most popular misunderstandings about Buddhist Karma is the idea that everything that happens to us is our karma. If we win the lottery or have an attractive partner, it’s because we performed good deeds in the past—we have “good” karma. If we get hit by a truck or our partner cheats on us, it’s because we misbehaved and have “bad” karma. And, of course, what we do now will determine our future results. Let’s just call this the agricultural view of karma: we reap what we sow.

So, what’s wrong with this idea? Well, whether we’re Buddhist or not, it creates lots of intellectual problems.

The first is that believing we reap what we sow simply seems to contradict a great deal of our experience. We act with kindness, maybe dropping a few coins into a homeless man’s can, only to have him call us a cheap yuppie. Or our chronically underperforming co-worker who spends most of the time surfing Facebook and pilfering office supplies gets a promotion.

In other words, the wicked very often seem to prosper, even thrive, while the good seem to get a goodly portion of crap.

How can this apparent contradiction be resolved? Proponents of agricultural karma will often use time as a rationalization. They will claim that just as a seed takes time to fruit, so do the fruits of your actions take time to ripen. Certainly, this helps. However, some things in life are still hard to explain.

Why, for example, do innocent infants die? They’ve barely had enough time to learn how to digest food properly, let alone perform some wicked deed. (Of course, we need to leave Stewie from Family Guy out of this equation, as well as the idea of the infant proposed by famous psychoanalyst Melanie Klein, who viewed it as a viscous and greedy succubus bent on completely draining the mother of her vital energy.)

I’m sure you’ve already come up with the answer: we must be dealing with more than one lifetime. In fact, the claim is that we have an infinite number of lives extending into the past. With this explanation, all the rewards and atrocities of life fit together like a skillful game of Tetris. We have an account for why infants die, or why we can be completely loving and faithful to our partner, only to end up alone; it’s just our karmic comeuppance from cheating in a previous life.

Sure, we still might feel unhappy because our partner is now dating a princess from Bhutan, but at least we can mourn with a sense of ease, knowing there is some order to events in the universe, and that these personal painful events are just the fruits of old, bad karma. We can also rest easy because in the future, we’ll also reap the rewards of our fidelity—it just might take time.

If we stop here, then all is well.

However, if we push a little further beyond this logical seal, then we confront what we call “the administrative nightmare.” How can all those good and bad deeds possibly be kept track of? And not just in one lifetime, but across infinite lifetimes? What conceivable cosmic ledger could account for all those transactions? It seems like an administrative impossibility to coordinate that vast amount of information and organize events so everything unfolds correctly, and justice gets served to the right people, at the right time, in just the right way. The organizational details are so complex that it leads people to say that karma is some infinitely subtle, ineffable cosmic order, inaccessible to even the most sophisticated minds.

An even bigger problem is that, with infinite lifetimes, absolutely everyone would have enough karma for nearly anything to happen to them. Put it this way: we all have everything coming.

The irony is that this view of karma ends up undermining its original purpose of explaining an individual’s unique, personal history.

Even if we manage to somehow dismiss these logical problems, we’re left with one that chafes at the heart of Buddhism. This view of karma presupposes an abiding self that’s responsible for these events, whereas the Buddha’s central message was the radical proposal that there is no self (anattā). The agricultural view of karma rests on there being some sort of enduring “you” (call it a self, soul, mind-stream, or whatever) who is responsible for what “you” did in the past, and a “you” who will benefit or be cursed in the future.

This view of karma contributes to acting in self-cherishing, ego-reinforcing ways. In other words, it supports the very self-illusion that the Buddha considered the root of our suffering.

Karma as Intention

What did the Buddha really mean by karma? The answer is simple: intention.

He said, “Intention, I tell you, is karma. Intending, one does karma by way of body, speech, and intellect.” Defining karma in this way, the Buddha departed radically from all previous thinking about karma.

In the traditional Brahmanical culture of India, karma generally referred to action. Do good deeds, and the universe will reward you in turn. But by redefining karma as the intentions behind one’s actions, the Buddha was pointing to a deeper truth: the kinds of intentions we habitually entertain—whether they’re generous and loving, or selfish and aversive—will determine the kind of mental space we inhabit. We can’t fully control whether our dog runs away, or whether our partner cheats on us, but we do have a say in what kind of person meets those events.

Karma as intention was the central message the Buddha emphasized over and over. The more any acts of body, speech, or mind are motivated by poisonous intentions such as greed and hatred, the more toxic we become, and the more we suffer, no matter what happens to us externally. The reverse is also true: intentions of compassion and wisdom shape us into beings with greater patience, who are less susceptible to suffering, no matter what happens to us externally.

To put it succinctly: Buddhist karma is not about what happens to you, but who it happens to.

Yes, the Wicked can Prosper

The Buddha’s focus on intention rather than actions and external circumstances allows us to fully acknowledge that the wicked can prosper, and that selfish behavior can bring a person great fortune and power. However, the mental state of such a person surrounded by luxury is a whole different matter. This also means that acting with compassionate intentions won’t magically prevent us from confronting the slings and arrows of life’s misfortune.

But acting out of wholesome intentions opens up the possibility of becoming a person who encounters these challenges with less grumpiness and greater ease. We have exemplars of this possibility in our great spiritual luminaries, such as the Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Hahn. The fruit of their karma was not the atrocities they were victims of, but the equanimity and active compassion they show in the face of such extreme oppression and violence.

So too, getting sick is not the result of one’s bad karma. People grow old, experience the pain of illness, and eventually die. The Buddha never said you could plant the right karmic seeds to avoid any of these. They’re simply not optional.

However, whether or not we suffer when confronted by them is entirely up to us.

Not Everything is your Karma

In a sense, it’s true that karma means we reap what we sow. The only difference is that we’re sowing in the furrows of the mind, and less so in actual fields in the physical world.

That’s not to say our actions don’t have consequences. If we go around smiling at people, we’ll likely be smiled at in return. If we go around slapping people, we’re sure to get slapped. Yet, the ultimate outcome of our behavior is somewhat unpredictable. We could smile at a stranger, only to have them beat us up in return.

This unpredictability happens because there are other levels of causality working in the universe.

Not everything is our karma.

The Buddha actually taught about these other levels of causality quite explicitly in what are called the five Niyāmas. It’s worth going through them briefly. Here, we give them a modern twist.

The first level of causality is called the Utu Niyāma, or the level of physics and chemistry.

The second level is known as Bīja Niyāma, or biological causality. This new level is necessary because living organisms are more complex than just their physical and chemical constituents.

Continuing up the ladder of emergent complexity, we see that some living organisms have nervous systems and minds, which can’t be fully understood by just looking at the previous two levels of Utu and Bija Niyāma. Therefore, the Buddha talked about the Citta Niyāma, or psychological causality.

Now, some minds have a more hard-wired relationship with the previous levels. Take a lizard, for example. It behaves fairly predictably, based on tight wiring between chemical signals and genetic codes. We will never train a lizard to fetch a newspaper. Other minds, such as those of dogs and horses, have greater flexibility. Yet, teaching a dog to fetch the newspaper depends on an outside stimulus—specifically, our persistent efforts. The behavior doesn’t come entirely from inside the dog’s mind. And in fact, there may be only one animal on this planet with “self-forming” minds: humans. For us, we have to identify another level of causality: karmic or intentional causality, known as the Kamma Niyāma.

Kamma Niyāma opens a space for reflexivity, self-organization, and changing ingrained habits of body, speech, and mind. The preciousness of human life rests in this potential. Karmic causality, in other words, is a whole new level of causality in the universe, allowing us the chance to awaken to the highest level, called Dhamma Niyāma, or Ultimate Reality.

Dhamma Niyāma describes the absolute, indivisible reality, the universe in its entirety. All divisions from these heights are products of a mind struggling to grasp the ultimate. We build conceptual models to try to understand this level, and some models are certainly better than others. If that weren’t the case, the Buddha wouldn’t have bothered teaching. But at this level, all models are equally empty.

To say that everything is our karma is to usurp this vast spectrum of causality into a singular, self-centered mind.

When we realize the complexity we’re dealing with, we no longer see events as a result of karma, but rather as the product of certain physical causes and conditions. We also no longer fall prey to magical thinking, believing, for example, that by giving away money and being nice, we will get money in return and be showered with niceness.

Instead, we realize that when we replace hatred with compassion, or greed with generosity, those intentions will shape the type of being we become, whether rich or poor.

That’s karma.

Come and See for Yourself

urban prayer flags
Someone recently wrote to me:

Many aspects of the Buddha’s original teachings resonate with me. I currently work in social services, and find that my ego often gets too caught up in my interactions with people. I also have generalized anxiety disorder, and think that meditation might help me with both these things. However, the highest priorities in my life are fighting for environmental and social justice.

My concern is that, despite its noble intentions, Buddhism has never taken hold as a popular movement for real social and political change. I just couldn’t be comfortable participating in a sangha that doesn’t explicitly share my concern for social justice. Also, I took a college course called “Buddhist Cosmology” where I learned about the great diversity of different forms of Buddhism. Since then, I’ve been uncomfortable with any statement about what, in fact, constitutes Buddhism, since there is clearly no unity of Buddhist practice in Asia. Are there any Buddhist communities moving toward critical awareness, the “checking” of race and class privilege, and cultivating meditation as a means to more effectively change the “system”?

I replied:

Most forms of Buddhism in the East are religions, pure and simple, and exist for the same cultural and political purposes as religions everywhere – to preserve social order, rather than change the “system.” Their diversity is a reflection of the different cultural and political environments they grew up in.

If the Buddha were alive today, I’m certain he would not belong to any of these religions. He was a renegade, highly critical of the religions of his own time and of the social order they justified. He never intended to found a religion, and was critical of philosophical and cosmological systems based on religious beliefs. He encouraged open-minded, empirical investigation, saying “come and see for yourself.”

Buddhism first came to the West as transplants of all these exotic “Buddhisms,” but Buddhism has a way of taking on a new form whenever it encounters a new culture. Some of the most unique characteristics of Western culture are the sciences, including psychology and the social sciences, and the notion of political democracy. And never before has Buddhism experienced a rebirth into a global culture, or in a world in such a high state of crisis as ours is today. Finally, Buddhism has never before entered a culture with such a high level of literacy and critical thinking, nor has there ever been such ready access to information of so many different kinds. As might be expected, something very interesting is happening with Buddhism in the West.

Westerners are comparing and contrasting these different Buddhisms and asking, “What kind of wisdom is hidden in all these different religions that it has managed to last so long and spread so far?” One uniquely Western development is a movement toward rediscovering the original, pre-religious teachings of the man called the Buddha – a search for a “naturalized” Buddhist wisdom, stripped of its “supernatural” religious accretions. Another is a socially and environmentally conscious, politically engaged Buddhism that seeks to make a real difference in the world.

I can understand the concerns you feel when looking only at the traditional forms of Buddhism, or their yuppie New Age off-shoots. But should you look at some of the newer modifications, like Roshi Joan Halifax’s Upaya Zen, or Thich Nhat Hanh’s Socially Engaged Buddhism, I think you might be pleasantly surprised.

Then, should you take the time and trouble to look into the wonderful and interesting things emerging with the evolution of a truly “Western” Buddhism, I think you might start to feel right at home. I highly recommend reading David Loy’s, “Money, Sex, War, Karma” or Ken Jones’s “The New Social Face of Buddhism”. Or go to Dharmatreasure.org and listen to the weekend teaching retreats on “When the Buddhadharma Came to the West” and “What the Buddha Thought,” or the series of Thursday evening talks called the “Dharma Treasure Curriculum.”

I welcome your comments below…

An Open Letter to President Obama from the Buddhist Teachers Network

To President Barak Obama, from the Buddhist Teachers Network – Urging you to address anti-muslim violence at the upcoming ASEAN meeting in Burma / Myanmar.  

Dear President Obama,

We as 381 Buddhist Teachers in America represent a large community that is deeply concerned about the growing anti Muslim violence in Myanmar and across Asia, and the plight of the 1.3 million Rohingyas, many forced to live against their will in inhumane internment camps and permanent ghettoized communities. We know you have been supportive of all Burmese people and have encouraged peace and reconciliation across the nation. Your upcoming visit to Burma is an important opportunity to strengthen your capacity as a peacemaker. We urge you to once again express concern for Burma’s Muslims and Rohingyas in your public speeches and as well as in your diplomatic engagements there. We believe you can do so in a positive way, honoring the Burmese legacy of tolerance and Metta, values shared across all the great spiritual traditions, as nations including our own face challenges of injustice and prejudice. Thank you for your care in this matter that affects so many lives in Burma.

Yours Respectfully,

Dr. Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock Center. Woodacre, CA
Hozan Alan Senauke, International Network of Engaged Buddhists Berkeley, CA
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Chair, Buddhist Global Relief (BGR), President, Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS), Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel NY
Dr. Robert Tenzin Thurman, Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Dharma teacher, Menla Mountain Retreat Center, Phoenicia NY
Dr. Reggie Ray, Dharma Ocean Foundation, Boulder and Crestone, CO
B. Alan Wallace, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, CA
Lama Surya Das, Spiritual Director, Dzogchen Center, Cambridge, MA
Gina Sharpe, New York Insight Meditation Center, NY, MY
Carol Wilson, Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA
Joseph Goldstein, Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA
Dr. Rick Hansen, San Rafael, CA
Will Kabat-Zinn, Spirit Rock Mediation Center, Woodacre, CA
Dr. Donald Rothberg, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Gil Fronsdal, Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, CA
Lama Palden. Sukkhasiddhi Fdtn. Fairfax
Trudy Goodman, InsightLA, Los Angeles, CA
Tara Brach, Insight Meditation Center, Washington, DC
Sylvia Boorstein, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
Pamela Weiss, SF Insight, San Francisco, Ca
Sebene Selassie, director New York Insight Meditation Center, New York, NY
Venerable Dr. Pannavati, Co-Abbot, Embracing Simplicity Hermitage
Venerable Pannadipa, co-abbot, Embracing Simplicity Hermitage
Acharya C Dhammaratana, Embracing Simplicity Hermitage
Susie Harrington, Desert Dharma, Moab, UT
Steve Armstrong, Vipassana Metta Foundation, Maui, HI
Kamala Masters, Vipassana Metta Foundation, Maui, HI
Matthew Brensilver, PhD, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society , San Francisco, CA
Jane Baraz, Berkeley, CA
Art Jolly, Oakland, CA
Dr. Nikki Mirghafori, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Narayan Helen Liebenson, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center
Cambridge, MA
Konda Mason, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA
Maureen Shannon-Chapple, InsightLA, CA
Kokyo Henkel, Santa Cruz Zen Center, CA
Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Village Zendo, NY, NY
Santacitta Bhikkhuni, Aloka Vihara, Placerville, CA
Kate Lila Wheeler, Compassion Sangha
Somerville, MA
Tempel Smith Spirit Rock Center. Woodacre, CA
JoAnna Harper, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, Los Angeles, CA
Erin Treat, Durango Dharma Center, Durango, CO
Richard Shankman, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Gregory Scharf, Insight Meditation Society, Barre MA
Ralph Steele. Buddhists of New Mexico
Stan Lombardo, Kansas Zen Center, KS
Daishin McCabe, Soto Zen Buddhism
George Pitagorsky, NY Insight Meditation Center, NY
Zipporah Portugal, Insight Meditation Society NYC, NY
Kirsten Rudestam, Insight Santa Cruz, CA
Kathryn Turnipseed, Albuquerque, NM
Bill Spangle, Kagyu Changchub Chuling, Portland, OR
Dora DeCoursey, Kagyu Changchub Chuling, Portland, OR
Lori Wong, Insight Meditation Central Valley, Modesto, CA
Kirtan Coan, Winston Salem Dharma Community, NC
Rev. Gaelyn Godwin, Houston Zen Center, Houston, TX
Claire Stanley, Ph.D., Vermont Insight Meditation Center, Brattleboro, VT
Rev Christine Palmer, Soto Zen, Mill Valley, CA
Jeanne and Steve Lowry, Gathering Waters Sangha, Milwaukee WI
Rev. Eido Frances Carney, Olympia Zen Center, Olympia, WA
La Sarmiento, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, MD
Gordon Peerman, Insight Nashville, TN
Ruby Grad, Portland Insight, Portland, OR
Dr Pawan Bareja, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA
Ann Buck, InsightLA, Los Angeles, CA
Janice Clarfield, WestCoast Dharma
John Mifsud, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA
Ayya Dhammadhira, Mahpapajapati Monastery, Pioneertown, CA
Rev. Judith Randall, San Francisco Zen Center, CA
Wildecy de Fatima Jury, EBMC, Oakland, CA
Daniel Bowling, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Shell Fischer, Insight Meditation Center, Washington DC
William (bill) Brooks, Insight Meditation Community of Fredericksburg, VA
Gary Buck, PhD., Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Francesca Morfesis, Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA
Elizabeth Rapaport, Albuquerque Vipassana Sangha , NM
Jundo Cohen, Treeleaf Sangha
John Blackburn, Tennessee Community of Mindfulness, TN
Deborah Ratner Helzer, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, MD
Vanee Songsiridej, MD, Peace Sangha, WI
Ron Vereen. Durham, NC (Triangle Insight Meditation Community)
Gary Singer, New York Insight, NY
Susan Orr, Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Group, CA
Dosho Port, Great Tides Zen, Portland, ME
Cornelia Santschi, Newark Community Meditation Center, Newark NJ
Katy Wiss, Westchester Insight Meditation Community, Danbury, CT
Maureen Fallon-Cyr, Durango Dharma Center, CO
Lesley Grant, Marin Mindfulness Institute , CA
Oren J. Sofer, Oakland, CA
Susan Bachman, Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, CA
Don Morreale. Colorado Insight Meditation Community, CO
Carol Cook, Prescott Vipassana Sangha – Prescott, AZ
Patricia Dai-En Bennage, Mt. Equity Zendo, Jiho-an, Muncy, PA
Zenkei Blanche Hartman, San Francisco Zen Center, CA
Katherine Barr, Durango Dharma Center. CO
Judith Roitman (Zen Master Bon Hae), Kansas Zen Center, KS
Rev. Nonin Chowaney, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, NE
Ocean Gate Zen Center Shinshu Roberts/Jaku Kinst
Sharon Beckman-Brindley, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, VA
Denis Martynowych, Seattle WA, Seattle Insight Meditation Society
Richard A. Heckler, PhD, Pundarika Foundation, CA
Mary Helen Fein, Mountain Stream Meditation, Nevada City, CA
Linda Ruth Cutts , San Francisco Zen Center / Green Gulch Farm Zen Center / Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, CA
Amy Selzer, New York Insight Meditation Center, NY
Ani Gilda Paldrön Taylor, Portland Sakya Center, Portland, OR
Janet Lipner, Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Kate Wylie, Vermont Insight Meditation Center, VT
Shinchi Linda Galijan, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center
Howard Cohn, Mission Dharma, San Francisco, CA
Susan Ezequelle, Insight Meditation Center
Rikki Asher, Chan Meditation Center, Rego Park, NY
Charmaine Henderson. New York Insight Meditation Center and North Fork of Long Island Insight Meditation Sangha
Rev. Edward Keido Sanshin Oberholtzer, Lewisburg, PA
Joseph Priestley Zen Sangha
Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat, Abbot, Zen Studies Society, Livingston Manor, NY
Caverly Morgan, One House of Peace, Portland, OR
Charles A. Lingo, Jr
True Seal of Virtue, Chan An Duc, Breathing Heart Sangha, Mindfulness Practice Center of Atlanta, Decatur GA
Stephen Brown, Berkeley CA
Lisa Ernst, One Dharma Nashville, TN
Susan Kaiser Greenland, Inner Kids, CA
Keri Pederson, Seattle Insight Meditation Society, WA
Tenney Nathanson (Sensei), Desert Rain Zen, Tucson, AZ
Rev Furyu Schroeder, Abiding Abbess, Green Gulch Farm, San Francisco Zen Center, CA
Debra Seido Martin, Zen West/ Empty Field Zendo, Eugene, OR
Santussika Bhikkhuni, Karuna Buddhist Vihara, Mt. View, CA
Arthur Silacci, Prescott Vipassana Sangha, Prescott, AZ
Rev. Therese Fitzgerald, Dharma Friends, Maui, Hawai’i
Alicia Dougherty, Prescott Vispassana Sangha, Prescott, AZ
Toni Greene
Camille Hykes, Natural Dharma Fellowship, Boston, MA
Anna Suil, Santa Cruz, CA
Shinzen Young, Vipassana Support International
Deborah Alberty, Vipassana Sangha
Richard Brady, Mountains and Rivers Mindfulness Community.
David Lawson, Still Mountain Buddhist Meditation Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Martha Wooding-Young
Barbara Casey
Chan Linh Thong, True Spiritual Communication, Peaceful Refuge Sangha, Ashland, OR Kristi Holmstrom
Dr. Karen Hilsberg, Order of Interbeing, Culver City, CA
Laura Goldstein
Rik Center, Mindfulness Care Center, San Francisco, CA
Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin, Myoken-ji Temple/Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas
Houston, TX
Ernestine Enomoto, Honolulu Mindfulness Community, Honolulu, Hawaii
Helen C. Morgan, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
Rev. Keiryu Lien Shutt, AccessToZen.org
Kristen Larson, NO Sangha – Diamond Sangha lineage, Port Angeles WA
Lhundup Jamyang (Marleen Schreuders), FPMT
Shastri David Stone, Chicago Shambhala
Andrew Palmer, Sensei, Open Source Zen (Vast Refuge Sangha, Wet Mountain Sangha, Springs Mountain Sangha), Colorado Springs, CO
Douglas Kaishin Phillips; Empty Sky Sangha; West Cornwall, CT and Lexington, MA
George Bowman Zen Priest, Furnace Mountain Zen Community, Clay City, KY
Joan Sutherland, Roshi, Awakened Life & The Open Source, Santa Fe, NM
Younes Mourchid, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA
Leslie Baron
Gretchen Neve, Shambhala Center of Chicago
Jeanne Anselmo, Plum Village Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh
Leslie Rawls, Dharma teacher, Charlotte (NC) Community of Mindfulness
Kenn Duncan, Prescott Vipassana Sangha, AZ
Mahin Charles, San Francisco, CA
Ven. Bodhin Kjolhede, Abbot, Rochester Zen Center, Rochester, New York.
Shoyo Taniguchi, Ph.D.
Kaye Cleave, San Francisco, CA
Jill Allen
Cynthia Loucks, Prescott Sangha, Prescott, AZ
Tubten Pende, Santa Cruz, CA
Annik Brunet, Sukhasiddhi Foundation, Fairfax, California
Jack Lawlor, Lakeside Buddha Sangha, Evanston, Illinois
David I. Rome
Myoshin Kelley
Susan Antipa
Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Zen Center of NYC
Venerable Chang Wen, Buddhist Monk, Dharma Drum Retreat Center, Pine Bush, NY
Noah Levine, Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, Los Angeles, CA
Ann Barden, Insight Meditation Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Karen Drimay Gudmundsson, Gelongma FPMT, Land of Medicine Buddha
Rev. Konin Melissa Cardenas,
John Yates PhD Dharma Treasure Buddhist Sangha, Upasaka Culadasa
Susannah Freeman White
Glenda Hodges-Cook, Louisville Vipassana Community, KY
Dr. Gareth Sparham
Philip Davidson & Kay Davidson, Mindfulness Meditation For Richmond
Tsechen Ling, University of Michigan, University of California
Ruben L.F. Habito, Maria Kannon Zen Center, Dallas, TX
Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi, Great Mountain Zen Center, Berthoud, CO
Nancy Baker,NY, NY, No Traces Zendo
Jacqueline Mandell, Samden Ling, Portland, OR
Ethan Nichtern
Bruce Wilding
Rev. Shinkyo Will Warner, Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community, KY
Michael Schwammberger – Chan Phap Son
B. Alan Wallace, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies
Tim Olmstead, The Pema Chodron Foundation, The Buddhist Center of Steamboat Springs. CO
Dr Daniel M. Ingram, MD
Sheridan Adams, IMCB
Tim Geil, Seattle Insight Meditation Society
Gyalten Palmo, Tse Chen Ling Center
Jonathan Landaw, Land of Medicine Buddha, Soquel, CA
Dr. Libby Howell, Desert Lotus Sangha, Phoenix, AZ
Rev. Ronald Kobata, Buddhist Church of San Francisco, SF, CA
Lorne Ladner, PhD. Guhyasamaja Buddhist Center.
John Dooley, Prescott Vippasana Sangha, AZ
David Chernikoff; Boulder, CO; Insight Meditation Community of Colorado
Maria Janca, Sangha in Prescott AZ
Josh Korda, Dharmapunx New York + Againsthestream
Chas Macquarie, President, DZIMC
Stephanie Tate, Glass City Dharma, Toledo, OH
Rev. Henry Toryo Adams, San Mateo Buddhist Temple, San Mateo, CA
Kenneth Folk
Rev. Maia Duerr, Upaya Zen Center, AZ
Matthew Daniell, IMS, Barre MA & IMC Newburyport, MA,
Dr. Nicholas Ribush, Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, Lincoln MA
Dharmacharini Viveka Chen, Triratna Buddhist Order, SF, CA
Amy Miller, Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)
Ani Samten Palmo, Sebastopol, California
Helen Farrar, IMCW, Buena Vista, VA
Jill Shepherd, IMS, Barre, MAr. Danny Fisher, Greensboro, NC
Chan Phap Tri, Rose Apple Society’s Center for Contemplative Practice, VT
Dr. Jan Willis, Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA
Anne Klein /Lama Rigzin Drolma, Dawn Mountain Tibetan Buddhist Center, Houston, TX
Leslie(Lhasha) Tizer, Insight Meditation Tucson, AZ
John Orr and the New Hope Sangha
Jill Hyman, Insight Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women
Grace Gilliam, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA
Erin Selover, Berkeley, CA
Wendy Garling, Garden of Dharma, Concord, MA
Rev. Nomon Tim Burnett, Red Cedar Zen Community, Bellingham, WA
Rachelle Quimby, Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA
Terry Ray, Insight Meditation Community of CO
Ed Mushin Russell, Prairie Zen Center, Champaign, IL
Caitrìona Reed & Michele Benzamin-Miki, Manzanita Village
Barbara Brodsky, Deep Spring Center, Ann Arbor MI
Roberta Orlando, San Francisco, CA
Marinell Daniel, Woodacre, CA
Koshin Paley Ellison, New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, NY
Joel Levey
Michael Dempsey, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley, CA
Augusta Hopkins, San Francisco Insight, CA
Rodney Smith, Seattle Insight Meditation Society, WA
Jason Murphy-Pedulla, Insight Santa Cruz, CA
Amma Thanasanti Bhikkhuni, Awakening Truth, Colorado Springs CO
Esteban and Tressa Hollander
Rev. Myo-O Marilyn Habermas-Scher, Dharma Dance Sangha in Minneapolis, MN
Wendy Zerin, MD, Insight Community of Colorado Boulder, CO,
Rev. Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Cynthia McAfee, Kensington, CA, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
Deborah Kory, Berkeley, CA
Joseph Curran, Insight Meditation Center of the Mid-Peninsula, CA
Rev Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts, Heart Circle Sangha, Ridgewood, NJ
Samu Sunim, Zen Buddhist Temple, New York, NY
David Rynick, Abbot, Boundless Way Zen Temple, Worcester, MA
Larry Mermelstein, Nalanda Translation Committee
Sarah Bender, Springs Mountain Sangha, Colorado Springs, CO
Deborah Todd
Elizabeth Hird, Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Hai Nguyen, Sinh Thuc Meditation Center, Wardensville, WV
Eric Rodriguez, Ventura, CA
Pamela Kirby, Redwood Valley, CA
John Makransky, Foundation for Active Compassion, Bodhipaksa
Triratna Buddhist Order, NH
Diane Perea, Berkeley CA
Ven. Seikai Luebke, Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple, Maricopa, CA
Gail Ganino, Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, Berkeley, CA
Ajahn Prasert Avissaro, Wat Buddhanusorn, Thai Buddhist Temple, Fremont, CA
Liz Brown, Berkeley, CA
Mushim Patricia Ikeda, East Bay Meditation Center
Bruce Kristal
Tulku Sherab Dorje, Blazing Wisdom Institute
Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron, Sravasti Abbey, Newport WA
Rev. Sumi Loundon Kim, Buddhist Families of Durham, Durham, NC
James Baraz, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley (IMCB) & Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Chris Crotty, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, Cloucester, MA
Rev. Heng Sure, Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, Berkeley, CA
Diana Winston, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center
Heather Sundberg, Mountain Stream Meditation Center, Nevada City, CA
Kenneth Keiyu Ford, Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, MN
Diana Lion, Berkeley, CA
Guy Armstrong, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Erin O’Connor, New York Insight, Brooklyn NY
Hal Nathan, San Francisco, CA, Partners Asia
Anushka Fernandopulle, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Charmi Neely, Mindfulness Meditation Group of Staunton-Waynesboro, and Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, CA
Dr. Janice Sheppard, Madison Insight Meditation Group/Madison Vipassana, Inc., Madison Metropolitan Area, WI
Byakuren Judith Ragir, Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, MN
Charles Agle, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Washington, DC
Amy Predmore, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, Charlottesville, VA
Wes Nisker, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA & YogaKula in Berkeley, CA
Gendo Allyn Field, Upper Valley Zen Center, White River Junction, VT
Rev’d James Ishmael Ford, Boundless Way Zen Buddhist Network, Providence, RI
Sosan Theresa Flynn, Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, MN
Rev. Jill Kaplan, Zen Heart Sangha, Woodside, CA
Jennifer Stanley, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Washington, D.C.
Rev. Genjo Marinello, Seattle Zen Temple
Josho Pat Phelan, Chapel Hill Zen Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Silvia Garcia Pereira, Insight Meditation Community of Washington,
Mitra Bishop, Mountain Gate, Ojo Sarco NM
Rev .Jisho Warner, Stone Creek Zen Center
Anna Roudebush, Insight Fort Wayne, IN
William F. Mies, Arnold, MD
Barbara A. Lahman, North Manchester, IN
Ann Herington
Iris Diaz, Oakland, CA
Peter Schneider
Tamara Dyer
Rev Robert Schaibly/Brother True Deliverance, The Order of Interbeing
Angie Boiss, Floating Zendo, San Jose, CA
Kay Davidson
Eiko Joshin Carolyn Atkinson, Everyday Dharma Zen Center, Santa Cruz CA
Marjorie Markus, NYC, Community of Mindfulness
Kathy Schwerin, Community Dharma Leader, Dharma Zephyr Insight Meditation Community
Haju Sunim/ Linda Lundquist, Zen Buddhist Temple, Ann Arbor, MI
Catherine Brousseau, Insight Meditation Community of Washington
Rev. Zenki Mary Mocine, Abbess Vallejo Zen Center, Vallejo, CA
Les Kaye, Kannon Do Zen Center, Mt. View, CA
Rev. Domyo Burk, Bright Way Zen, Portland Oregon
Devi Weisenberg, Inverness, CA, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Taigen Dan Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate, Chicago, IL
Dr. Bill Knight, Muskoka Mindfulness Community
Manny Mansbach, Vermont Insight Meditation Center
Cornelia Shonkwiler, Middle Way Zen, San Jose, CA
Susan Lee Bady, Brooklyn Sangha of New York Insight Meditation Center, NY
David Silver, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, VA
Tonen O’Connor, Milwaukee Zen Center, WI
Daniel Terragno, Rocks & Clouds Zendo, Sebastopol, CA
Trish Magyari, Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW), Baltimore, MD
Joen Snyder O’Neal, Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center, Brooklyn Center, MN
Barbara Rhodes, Kwan Um School of Zen
Stephanie Golden, Brooklyn NY and of NY Insight Meditation Center
Jennifer Jordan, IMCW Family Program
Abby Cassell, NewYork Insight, Brooklyn Sangha
Elizabeth Fryer, St Louis Insight
Ann Pendley, Knoxville Insight Meditation, TN
David Flint, Dharmacarya, New York City, NY
Jon Aaron, New York Insight Meditation Center, NY
David Loy
Jim Dalton
Robert Beatty, Portland Insight Meditation Community
Debra Kerr, Oakland, CA, Alameda Sangha and East Bay Meditation Center, CA
Merra Young, Rivers’ Way Meditation Center, TCVC, Common Ground Meditation Center, Minneapolis, MN
Nina Wise, San Rafael, CA
Soren Gordhammer, Santa Cruz, CA
Jill and Bruce Hyman
Gil Fronsdal, IMC Redwood City, CA
Meg Agnew, Dharma Wisdom Seattle Sangha
Kitsy Schoen, East Bay Meditation Center
Ellen Furnari, PhD, Buddhist Pathways Prison Project, Solano prison, Vacaville, CA.
Hugh Byrne, PhD, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Silver Spring, MD
Chaplain Eileen Phillips, BCCC, Mt Stream Meditation Center and Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Tere Abdala-Romano
Bob Stahl, Guiding Teacher Insight Santa Cruz, CA
Frank Ostaseski, Founder, Metta Institute, CA
Jayla Klein, Insight Santa Cruz, CA
Anna Douglas, Spirit Rock, Woodacer, CA
Philip L. Jones, Silent Mind Open Heart Sangha, Columbia, MO
Jennifer Kim, New York, NY
Leslie Tremaine
Rebekah Laros, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Brian Lesage, Flagstaff Vipassana Meditation Group, AZ
Nina Nagy, New Canaan, CT
Gregory Gerber
Jeff Scannell, Montpelier Insight Meditation, VT
Elaine Retholtz, New York Insight Meditation Center, NY
Laura Crawford Hofer, Eugene, OR
Tina Rasmussen, Ph.D., Awakening Dharma, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Anne Briggs, Insight Meditation Community of Chestertown, Chestertown, MD
Alice Alldredge, Open Door Sangha, Santa Barbara , CA
Devon Hase, Madison City Sangha
Nancy Hilyard, Oceano, CA
Berget Jelane, San Jose Insight Meditation, CA
Barbara Poe, Prescott Vipassana Sangha, Prescott, AZ
Kerry Walsh, San Anselmo, CA
Luke Lundemo, Jackson MS Meditation Group, MS
Jai Uttal, San Anselmo, CA
Tomi Kobara, Awakening in Deep Refuge sangha – East Bay, CA
Nancy Taylor, Teton Sangha, Jackson Hole, WY
Elissa Epel, Ph.D., UCSF, San Francisco, CA
Russell Long, Ph.D., San Francisco, CA
Sakula Mary Reinard, Portland Friends of the Dhamma, Portland, OR
Michele Ku, Yes, East Bay Meditation Center, Berkeley, CA
Betsy Rose, Berkeley CA & Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Gayle Markow, San Francisco, CA
Philippe Daniel
Arpita Brown
Jessica Graham, Eastside Mindfulness Meditation , Los Angeles, CA