About This Blog

Beyond the Ivory Tower

This blog begins as a discussion space for a graduate-level course about Buddhism in the U.S.  However, we hope it will become a public space for discussing the past, present, and possible future of Buddhist history and practice in the United States.  This course is being taught by Dr. Jane Iwamura at University of the West in Rosemead, California.  Dr. Iwamura and her students will be posting here regularly about topics being raised in the class.  Comments are welcome and encouraged both from enrolled students and the general public.  Please, tell us what you think!  What does Buddhism in the U.S. look like to you?

Ground Rules for Happy Blogging

We hope this blog can remain a safe space and while we encourage lively discussion, debate, and even disagreement, please respect your fellow commentors.  Although anonymous comments are allowed to protect the safety and privacy of commentors, inflammatory, defaming, threatening, or discriminatory comments will be deleted by the editor.  We encourage commentors to log in and use their real names or personal internet handles whenever they feel comfortable.

Reading Along

If you would like to have some background about the topics being discussed here on the blog, feel free to follow the reading outline for the class, which is found below.  This is only a draft and other reading materials will be mentioned as appropriate to the topics raised in the class.  In some cases, we may only read specific sections, chapters, or excerpts from the books mentioned below.  These will be noted as they are announced.  However, please don’t feel like you have to follow along exactly before voicing your opinion or sharing your experience.

Books (in the order of reading)


Some authors have chosen to maintain their anonymity and will only be known by their internet handles.  Other authors will be listed by their full names.  To see all posts by that author, please click on their name.  You can also mouse over their gravatar images at the bottom of the page to access their profiles.

Dr. Jane N. Iwamura – Dr. Iwamura is the Chair of Religious Studies at University of the West and teaches the course REL 659 Buddhism in the U.S.  She is also author of the book Virtual Orientalism: Asian Religions and American Popular Culture.

Monica Sanford – Monica is a third-year graduate student in the Masters of Divinity in Buddhist Chaplaincy program at University of the West and also an inveterate blogger.  Monica keeps the blog Dharma Cowgirl and also helps maintain Dharma Dialogue as webmaster and editor.  Monica also has a BS in Design (Architecture) from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and is five credits shy of double Masters degrees in Architecture and Community and Regional Planning.  A fifth generation Nebraskan, she moved to L.A. in 2010.  Monica also works for UWest as the Accreditation Assistant and serves on the student government.  Monica describes herself as “a freelance Mahayana Buddhist with strong Theravada leanings.”

Drew Baker – Drew is a second-generation Buddhist and a PhD student in Religion, Ethics, and Society at Claremont Lincoln University. His research is focused around Buddhism in North America, specifically in how past scholarly (and popular) typologies of Buddhism in North America have reinforced problematic norms and marginalized different groups and individuals. Secondarily, Drew is interested in Buddhist Ethics, Religious Pluralism and “Popular” Religion. Despite even being terrified of horror-comedy movies like Clue when he was a kid, today he also likes to reflect upon the strange and unexpected ways that religion and the genre of horror intersect.

Ākāśa Skye – Ākāśa wears a turban as a student of Yogi Bhajan in the Sikh Dharma sangat, is a long-time student of Tibetan Buddhism now studying under the tutelage of Lama Tsultrim Allione, and practices various forms of Wiccan Shamanic healing and visionary arts. Seeking ordination as an Interfaith Chaplain to provide spiritual counseling during the experiencing of trauma, Ākāśa is also a shamatha meditation instructor, certified in Reiki, has massage therapy training, is a black and white photographer and oil painter, and a yoga instructor.  Akasa is in the Masters of Divinity in Buddhist Chaplaincy program at University of the West.

Buddhakaruna – Buddhakaruna is a Masters of Divinity in Buddhist Chaplaincy student at University of the West.  Buddhakaruna also blogs about meditation experience (as taught by Ayya Khema and Leigh Brasington) at Jhana Practice, the Buddha’s Path of Pleasure.




Anthuan Voung – Anthuan is a first year Masters of Divinity student in the Buddhist Chaplaincy program at University of the West. He’s traveled and lived in monasteries and spiritual centers on and off for a total of two years. Anthuan lived throughout the US in four different cities in four different states in a span of four years. He grew up in four different countries: Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines, and the U.S. In a span of three years, he crossed three borders of three different countries with my father when I was five years old. He’ll stay put for now.

Joseph Rogers

8 thoughts on “About This Blog

  1. Anonymous says:

    Please activate an RSS feed. thanks

  2. […] The posts easily stand on their own and we encourage comments from the general public.  The About This Blog page contains a reading list for the class for anyone who’d like to learn more about the […]

  3. Monica says:

    All public WordPress blogs have automatic RSS feeds. You can access ours at dharmadialogue.wordpress.com/feed using any feed reader service (i.e. Google Reader). Thank you for subscribing.

  4. Michael says:

    RSS is not working on Feedly and Google Reader is being shutdown.

  5. wise says:

    The Buddha gives
    Advice on Friendship
    How to distinguish a good friend from a bad friend that make your life miserable in the long run.

    1 The leech who borrows your possession and never returns them.
    2 The person who uses you for self gain, and leaves you once you they have it.
    3. The person who flatters you for self gain.
    4. The party animal who encourages you to do the same wasting your time and life.

    A good friend to ourselves, and others, on the other hand is someone who…
    1 Is always ready to help you.
    2. Is steady and loyal.
    3 Provides good advice.
    4 Is sympathetic and understanding to your feelings.
    to myself and others.
    The Seven Kinds of offerings that I can give to myself & others which can be practice by even those who are not wealthy.

    The first is the physical offering. This is to offer service by one’s labor. The highest type of this offering is to offer one’s own whole life.

    The second is the offering a compassionate heart to others.

    The third is the offering of eyes. This is to offer a warm glance to others which will give them tranquility.

    The fourth offering is to smile to others.

    The fifth is the oral offering. This is to offer kind and warm words to others.

    The sixth is the seated offering. This is to offer one’s seat to others.

    The seventh is the offering of shelter. This is to let other spend a night at one’s home. These kinds of offering can be practiced by anyone in everyday life.

  6. wise says:

    The Buddha’s Words on Kindness
    ( loving kindness Metta Sutta) For free distribution only
    This is what should be done By one who is skilled in goodness,
    And who knows the path of peace: Let them be able and upright,
    Straightforward and gentle in speech. Humble and not conceited,
    Contented and easily satisfied. Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
    Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful, Not proud and demanding in nature.
    Let them not do the slightest thing That the wise would later reprove.
    Wishing: In gladness and in safety, May all beings be at ease.
    Whatever living beings there may be; Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none, The great or the mighty, medium, short or small, The seen and the unseen, Those living near and far away, Those born and to-be-born, May all beings be at ease! Let none deceive another, Or despise any being in any state. Let none through anger or ill-will Wish harm upon another.
    Even as a mother protects with her life Her child, her only child,
    So with a boundless heart Should one cherish all living beings:
    Radiating kindness over the entire world Spreading upwards to the skies,
    And downwards to the depths; Outwards and unbounded,
    Freed from hatred and ill-will. Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
    Free from drowsiness, One should sustain this recollection. This is said to be the sublime abiding. By not holding to fixed views, The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision, Being freed from all sense desires, Is not born again into this world.

  7. wise says:

    Oh My Mind! Buddha Sutra

    Oh my mind! Why do you hover so restlessly over the changing circumstances of life? Why do you make me so confused and restless? Why do you urge me to collect so many things? You are like a plow that breaks in pieces before beginning to plow; you are like a rudder that is dismantled just as you venturing out on the sea of life and death. Of what use many rebirths if we do not make good use of this life?
    Oh my mind! Once you caused me to be born as a king, and then you cause me to born as an outcast and to beg for my food. Sometimes you cause me to be born in a heavenly mansions of the gods and dwell in luxury and in ecstasy; then you plunge me into the flames of hell.
    Oh my foolish, foolish, mind! Thus you have led me along different paths and have been obedient to you and docile, But now that heard the Buddha’s teachings, do not disturb me any more cause me farther suffering, but let us seek Enlightenment together, humbly and patiently.
    “ Oh, my mind! If you could only learn that everything is non-substantial and transitory; if you could only learn not to grasp after things, not to covet things, not to give way to greed, anger and foolishness; then we might journey in quietness. Then, by severing the bond of desires with the sword of wisdom, being undisturbed by changing circumstances—advantage or disadvantage. Good or bad, loss or gain , praise or abuse—we might dwell in peace.
    “ Oh, my dear mind ! It was you who first awakened faith in us; it was you who suggested our seeking Enlightenment. Why do you give way so easily to greed, love of comfort and pleasant excitement again?
    “ Oh, my mind! Why do you rush hither and thither with no definite purpose? Let us cross this wild sea of delusion. Hitherto I have acted as you wished, but now you must act as I wish and, together, we will follow the Buddha’s teachings.
    “ Oh, my dear mind! These mountains, rivers and seas are changeable and pain-producing. Where in this world of delusion shall we seek quietness? Let us follow the Buddha’s teachings and cross / over to the other shore of Enlightenment.”
    Thus, those who really seek the path to enlightenment dictate terms to their mind. Then they proceeds with strong determination Even though they are abused by some and scorned by others, they go forward undisturbed. They do not become angry if they are beaten by fists, or hit by stone, or gashed by swords.

    Even if the enemies cut their head of from the body, the mind must not be disturbed. If they let their mind become darkened by the things they suffer, they are not following the teaching of Buddha. They must be determined, no matter what happens to them, to remain steadfast, unmovable, ever radiating thoughts of compassion and good will. Let abuse come, let misfortune come and yet one should resolve to remain
    unmoved and tranquil in mind, filled with Buddha’s teachings

  8. Eric Toro says:

    I think the Buddha’s ways are the highest and the best

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