2014 July 19

Help Open up Against the Stream’s San Francisco Meditation Center.

If you’re like me and love the work of Against the Steam and the affiliated Dharma Punx and their various teachers such as: Noah Levine, Vinny Ferraro, Matthew Brensilver, Megan Cowan and ALL of the great folks that have come out of their organization, then how about kicking in a bit of coin to help them build their new center and finally have a home of their own?

They are currently running an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds to build and open a space of their very own in San Francisco. Check out this video for all of the details:

They’re pretty darn close to raising what they need and no amount is too small. This is a great way to support the San Francisco Buddhist community and ensure that the work of Against the Stream moves into a new phase of development and continues to help the Dharma spread and grow.
2014 July 15

Save Mai Duong

You may be sitting around wondering how you can help a fellow human out. Look no further as I have a suggestion if you are feeling a bit of generosity in your warm little heart.

Here in Montreal, the hustle is on the help find a match for Mai Duong. A 34 year old who was diagnosed with acute leukemia, Mai is in serious need of a stem cell donation from someone in the Vietnamese community. Time is truly of the essence.


I was struck by Mai’s compassion for others as demonstrated in an interview with her where she stated that,

“We could be saving lives. If it’s not my life, it’s going to be somebody else’s.”

“I believe in humanity, so I believe that we’re going to find a match. I’m hopeful.”

Given that visible minorities make up such a small percentage of those who sign up for the bone marrow registry, it’s imperative that the words gets out and that people take action. On a positive note, there’s been 1000 new registrants for the province’s registry in just a few days.

Here’s how you can help:

  • Spread the word. Share the website, mention it on Twitter or Facebook. Mobilize your sangha to register.
  • Join the registry: Quebec, Canada, USA
  • Read up on the story of Emru Townsend who was in a similar situation with regards to the search for a donor. His sister, Tamu and his community worked tirelessly to help educate and spread the word and it was his case that educated me on the subject of requiring ethnic donors due to a lack of diversity in the various registries.

Please act now however you are able to. You could help save a life.

2014 July 10

Book Review: Buddha’s Daughters


Buddha’s Daughters: Teachings from Women Who Are Shaping Buddhism in the West offers a wide range of teachings from numerous notable female Western Buddhist teachers such as Pema Chodron, Khandro Rinpoche, Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Joanna Macy, Tsultrim Allione, Charlotte Joko Beck among many, many more. This anthology,  edited by Andrea Miller and the editors of the Shambhala Sun is an important and comprehensive collection of stories, instructions and practices on diverse topics such as: birth, old age, sickness, death, anger, love, divorce, health, children, attachment, fear, sex, the environment, psychology, poetry, beginnings, ends and middles – and more. Yes. It’s all in here.

I was struck by Andrea Miller’s introduction which, on the topic of gender and Buddhism deftly points out the following:

… Buddhism like all world religions, has largely been shaped and defined by men. Century after century – right up to the present day – women have been denied teachings and ordinations and have found themselves relegated to monastery kitchens. They’ve been deemed to be of “lower birth,” and in some lineages even the most experienced, aged nun must bow before any monk, even the youngest, least experienced among them. Blocked by such discrimination, women have had limited opportunities to develop into advanced practitioners and teachers. Yet despite the challenges, women have been diligently practiced from the beginning- since the days of the Buddha. I hope this anthology serves as an inspiration for contemporary women practitioners.

One of the best aspects of compilations such as this one is that they pull from various traditions and allow readers to discover teachings and wisdom from spiritual paths outside of one’s own. With teachings from a multitude of flavours of Buddhism comes the ability to open up one’s perspective and to see wisdom in places one may not initially look for them in. Through this book, I was able to discover many practices, teachings, pieces of poetry and philosophies that I wasn’t previously aware of. I love it when a book allows me to go down the rabbit hole of discovering new things to read and helps me to create list of things to check out. One example of this is my discovery of Buddhist nun and poet Rengetsu who I am now absolutely fascinated with and will be adding to my ‘must find out more about her’ list.

One of my favourite chapters was that of Tenzin Palmo who writes clearly and powerfully on the topic of Vajrayana. She delivers a glimpse into this yana without ‘giving away too many secrets’ and does so in a way that is both magical and real-world. It is truly a rewarding read and should be required for practitioners regardless of their time or location on the path.

But in Vajrayana, there are so many practices. Ther is vipassana, there is Zen-like meditation, there is study, there is the whole panoply of Technicolor Vajrayana visualizations with buddhas and bodhisattvas in every possible color combination. There is something for everybody- peaceful, angry, sort of peaceful, and sort of angry, standing up, sitting down, lying down, any way you want.

Buddha’s Daughters offers the best of spiritual guidance as well as just ‘plain old’ life advice. It is an important contribution to the  collection of books featuring female voices and is a highly worthy addition to any bookshelf. These stories of powerful women from the past and present will hopefully inspire future great female teachers.

2014 July 3

Sakyadhita is seeking contributors so get involved!

sakyadhita-profile-picSakyadhita, the International Association of Buddhist Women is currently seeking contributions for  The Awakening Buddhist Women Blog. 

They are looking for stories, articles, interviews, or photo essays related to women and Buddhism and if you are interested in submitting a guest post relating to women and Buddhism please visit their website for more details.

While you’re there, do check out their impressive blogroll of Buddhaladyblogs. What a great collection!

2014 June 29

Random Linkage: Full Contact Enlightenment


It’s time for some Random Linkage. Here are some of the things that have crossed my radar as being noteworthy, interesting and worth sharing with you, dear readers.

  • Both Danny Fisher and Justin Whitaker posted the link to this petition created for the United Nations Day of Vesak (UNDV) to allow Ajahn Brahm’s gender equality paper in 2015. Please sign it if you are so inclined to do so. Also watch this video for more details as Ajahn Brahm recounts the story behind this event.


On the [Western, convert] Buddhist happiness industry front we then get smarmy books about how to be a happy worker by adjusting ourselves to our oppressive conditions rather than overthrowing the bosses or making a stand for better working conditions or something else that would disrupt the status quo. The happiness industry is all about preserving that status quo. It’s not about “liberation” or anything else of that sort. It’s about being a better drone.

  • Buddhism Secrets of Cats. Nothing more to add although I should really write a “Rebuttal from a Pug Butt” post given that I live with two furry Buddhas.
  • And a little photo humour for the geeks…





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2014 June 26

Engage! – A new blog about Engaged Buddhism

engage!There’s a new Buddhablog out there for those who are particularly interested in Engaged Buddhism (for more details on this term check out this link from Joanna Macy’s website).

Engage! is edited by Shaun Bartone who you may remember from this piece titled “‘Conduct Unbecoming: a Trans*Queer Experience of Dharma’ which was featured earlier here on Full Contact Enlightenment. In Shaun’s words,

This blog is the beginning of what I hope will be a multi-media hub that publishes articles by major and lesser-known authors who are on the cutting edge of engaged Buddhism: anarchists, anti-racists, art activists, animal rights activists, climate justice and environmental activists, culture jammers, decriminalizers, disability advocates, feminists, free Palestiners, greens, immigrant rights, indigenous rights (INM), occupiers, peace activists, poets, prison abolitionists, psyche righters, queer culturists, sex positivists, union organizers, social justice and human rights advocates. I especially welcome articles that examine the systemic causes of individual and collective suffering, systems of ideology and power that shape the issues we face today, and how buddhadharma addresses those issues.

Shaun is also delivering a focus on content from the East Coast of Canada which is an area that, while there are many Buddhists, you don’t really hear much by way of independent media such as blogs, videocasts or podcasts.

I’m particularly enjoying the following posts

There is such great content coming from Engage! and I would encourage you to subscribe or add it to your RSS. Shaun is also seeking contributors, so if you are so inclined, please do get in touch and submit your voice to this essential blog.




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2014 June 22

Books! Books! Books!

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This is just a little glimpse of the books I currently have fired up on my reader for this summer. Well. What do we have here?

  • Heartwood of the Bodhi Tree: The Buddha’s Teachings on Voidness by Buddhadasa Bhikkhu – Oh I love books on emptiness (shunyata) because I am so confounded by it. It’s one of those concepts in Buddhism that is so sticky that the more I read about it, the better it is for my foggy little perceptual mind to grasp it. As an aside, if you watch or have watched this documentary on Buddhadasa Bhikku- let me know if it’s any good).
  • Meditation on Perception: The Healing Practices by Bhante Gunaratana – As a meditation teacher, I devour any books that relate to insight meditation, perception and this book looks stellar in it’s treatment of the subject matter. Looking forward to it.
  • Turning Confusion into Clarity by Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche – I’m a HUGE fangirl of Rinpoche, so this is a book that I’ve been looking forward to for some time. Since his previous books, The Joy of Living and Joyful Wisdom subsequently going into retreat after their release, I’m thrilled to see this one hit my shelp and Rinpoche’s teachings continue to propagate. With a title like this, I feel like I need to start reading this one ASAP!
  • Sit With Less Pain : Gentle Yoga for Meditators by Jean Erlbaum – I NEED TO READ THIS NOW! RIGHT NOW! As I sit here, hunched like a troll over my keyboard (quite common as I work as a desk jockey) and have several pre-existing gnarly injuries such as a busted up ankle and miserable, popping knees, I know that sitting meditation can seriously do a number on a person. Who’d think that simply sitting posture would be so arduous, but take it from me – IT SURE CAN BE. Mega bonus points for the author’s profile photo featuring a dog and mention in her bio of owning 2 dogs.


  • Buddha’s Daughters: Teachings from Women Who Are Shaping Buddhism in the West edited by Andrea Miller- I’ve started reading this book and it is as wonderful as I imagined it to be. With a list of heavy hitters from the feminine Buddhist world, this book is packed full of wisdom and great teachings from oh let’s see who’s listed here: Pema Chodron, Ayya Khema, Sharon Salzberg, Toni Packer, Maurine Stuart, Karen Maezen Miller, Khandro Rinpoche, Jan Chozen Bays, Sister Chan Khong, Sylvia Boorstein, Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Darlene Cohen, Joanna Macy, Bonnie Myotai Treace, Tsultrim Allione, Tenzin Palmo, Tara Brach, Joan Sutherland, Carolyn Rose Gimian, Joan Halifax, and Charlotte Joko Beck. Yup. I’m really excited to read this one.

There you have it. A quick list of a few books I’m set to read this summer. Stay tuned as there are many more not on this list that will squeak in with mentions on Full Contact Enlightenment. That new Noah Levine book, the new book by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche… and… and… and…

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2014 June 21

Full Contact Facebook Enlightenment

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Can’t get enough of me on this blog? Filled with an insatiable desire and craving to connect with me? Non-stop suffering and samsara in feeling like you need to see more cat videos in your life and you are indeed missing out?

Let’s connect on Facebook.

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