NY Times: Words of Wisdom From Jeff Bridges & Bernie Glassman

Originally from NY Times.  

The Dude is putting his wisdom on paper. Jeff Bridges, below, the Oscar-winning actor from “Crazy Heart” who also starred memorably in “The Big Lebowski,” is writing a book with his friend Bernie Glassman, founder of the spiritual social-action group Zen Peacemakers. The publishers said the book intends to “explore the meaning of life, laughter, the movies and trying to do good in a difficult world.” Blue Rider Press, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, is to release the book, tentatively titled “The Dude and the Zen Master,” this fall. “On a movie set I do my best to keep my head and heart open,” Mr. Bridges said in a statement. “My favorite part of the whole deal is jamming with the other artists, getting to know them, sharing the excitement of what we’re up to, and inspiring each other. That means intimacy. I look for that in life as well.” David Rosenthal, the publisher of Blue Rider Press, called the book “a spiritual guide, an entertainment and an exceptional lesson in true friendship.”

A version of this brief appeared in print on March 12, 2012, on page C3 of the New York edition with the headline: Words of Wisdom From Jeff Bridges.
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Travels with Charlie: Actor, Activist Jeff Bridges Supports Greyston Foundation, Bernie Glassman

Originally posted in the Westchester Wag

Travels with Charlie

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Aung San Suu Kyi delivered Wallenberg medal by University of Michigan

Nobel Peace laureate and Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi wasrecently delivered the Wallenberg Medal by the University of Michigan via Dominic Nardi. She was originally awarded the honor in 2011 but could not travel to receive it in person at the time. According to an article in the university’s Exploremagazine,”Nardi was one of the best candidates to deliver the Wallenberg medal to Suu Kyi because Burma, also known as Myanmar, is one of his research interests.” The article covers the delivery and their meeting in depth.

Raoul Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat who helped rescue tens of thousands of Jews in Budapest toward the end of World War II.

The Wallenberg Medal and Lecture website: “Undaunted and fearless through many years of detention and efforts to intimidate her, in speaking out for democracy and human rights in Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi exemplifies the courage and commitment to the humanitarian values of Raoul Wallenberg.”

Read all about the history of the Medal here. Past recipients include the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Watch this prerecorded lecture from 2011, played at the 21st Annual Raoul Wallenberg Lecture, followed by a then-live Q&A session with Aung San Suu Kyi:

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Dalit Monks at the site of Buddha’s Enlightenment

This post continues the Bearing Witness Blog’s ongoing coverage of the Socially Engaged Pilgrimage in India with Bernie Glassman and Shantum Seth.  We continue to explore the group that was considered in India to be an “untouchable” caste.  Calling themselves Dalits, many of this group have converted to Buddhism in order to escape the caste system.

“Who are they?” Bernie asked Shantum, pointing to a group of orange-clad monks sitting on the periphery of the lane where pilgrims circumambulate around the Mahabodhi Mahavihara.  They were older and had darker skin than the other monks at the temple.
“let’s go talk to them,” Shantum said.
As shantum approached, one monk asked another “How much did u get?” the second monk saw Shantum approaching “Shhhh.”
Shantum introduced himself and asked a few questions.   The monks explained that they are Indian Dalits ordained  by Dharmapala.  They came to Bodh Gaya from Sankasya, Uttar Pradesh for the Kalacakra teachings given by the Dalai Lama. They don’t understand Tibetan, they said, but they are learning Pali.  They see Ambekar as a preacher and not a Bodhisattva.
While we were speaking with them, a well-dressed pilgrim who may have been East Asian brusquely walked by handing each monk a note of local currency.
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India: Visiting the homes of villagers at “Sujata”

Wed, Jan 11, 2011

While in Bodh Gaya, we journeyed to a village across the river to meet a Hindu family who Shantum has known for many years.  They met when TNH instructed Shantum to find a child in the village in which a young girl is believed to have saved Gautama from the brink of death after he nearly starved to death practicing austerities.  This led Gautama to find the Middle Way between material indulgence and harsh aceticism.

Since learning Shantum’s story, Rajesh (the boy) grew into a man with a wife names Sabina and kids.  Shantum has maintained a relationship, supporting the family and bringing pilgrims to meet them.  With Shantum’s help, Rajesh built 2 additional stories onto his house.  When we asked him what we did today,  he said that he helped a friend build a house.  He also works growing food and selling it wholesale to vegetable vendors.

The boy said that there isn’t discrimination in schools.  Muslims learn Urdu and Hindus learn Sanskrit, but the otherwise learn and eat together.  When he grows up, he wants to make his parents proud and become a doctor.  The girsl would like to become a teacher.

We were also joined by a man who sells lasi in town and who joined one of the pilgrims on our trip on a previous pilgrimage in which he walked in the footsteps of the Buddha.  He said that Dalits who convert to Ambedkarite Buddhism are confused because they still practice lots of Hindu culture.  They follow 50% Hinduism and 50% Buddhism.  He said that in town, nobody knows who is what caste, but in the village, everyone knows.   Dalits aren’t allowed in temples.  More than 70% descended from Dalit.

(pictures to come)

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