James Roberts

James Roberts has spent a good deal of time pondering the mysteries of the universe and human existence, but lately he’s been focusing his attention on the inward rather than the outward, and he’s finding that living at CTTB is a great opportunity for this. Just like trees, people have roots as well as leaves and branches -- our roots are the inward aspects of our lives that aren’t seen directly, but they still have outward consequences that are expressed in various ways in our lives. James is spending some time paying attention to his roots.

Learn and Live

The Scene  |  The University   |   James Roberts  |   April 20, 2013, 4:49 pm

There is a growing segment in education that is beginning to take to this more broad-minded approach, to consider content and pedagogy that place considerations like enjoyment, aptitude, and economic decision-making factors into the context of a more systematic understanding. This movement is embraced by DRBU, but it is by no means limited to our institution. A recent article posted on the Harvard Crimson reports that “Ethical Reasoning 18: Classical Chinese Ethical and Political Theory is Harvard’s third most popular class.” Why so popular? [...]

A Verse for Guan Yin

The Encounter  |  The University   |   James Roberts  |   March 23, 2013, 4:07 pm

How does a verse communicate all of its meanings to us? With midterm break just beginning, I'll be spending the week contemplating and reciting Guan Yin's name. In some sense I feel that for every session I have to reorient myself to practice, and of course, exactly what this means is different every time. Luckily, my recent classes have been providing a lot of food for thought. [...]

In a Land of Lotus Blossoms

The Mind   |   James Roberts  |   February 18, 2013, 1:14 pm

For the past several months, I’ve been part of a translation team that is working on the verses of the Lotus Sutra. I think of translating as a practice; it contains a lot of different opportunities to learn about the Buddha’s teachings and about myself at the same time. I’ve been finding that translating verses [...]

Contemplating Sounds of Difference

The Mind   |   James Roberts  |   October 28, 2012, 8:43 pm

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? With the upcoming Guanyin session, many of us at CTTB will be spending the week contemplating the nature of sound. Just as the Buddha was pragmatically agnostic when questioned about a world beyond perception, the [...]

Pragmatic Inquiry

The University   |   James Roberts  |   October 21, 2012, 4:30 pm

Last semester in a course here at DRBU, we compared William James’ Pragmatism to some of the views in Buddhist Sutras. Looking back on some of the topics of the course, I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people who come to Buddhism are first interested in it for pragmatic reasons. … [...]

Etchings of Education

The Scene  |  The University   |   James Roberts  |   July 25, 2012, 6:18 pm

In a recent post about architecture and education, I explored a few questions about physical space, the space of the mind, what this has to do with learning, and how we might choose to construct educational spaces with these questions in mind. They originate with all parents’ concern for their children, a concern for our [...]

Patience and Solitude

The Mind  |  The Scene  |  The Tribe   |   James Roberts  |   June 29, 2012, 5:15 pm

When I came to live at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, I was very idealistic. I was determined to make a big shift in my life, a shift that required a lot of idealism, and a little bit of courage too. I was putting on hold many of the expectations about what I had been taught about success, particularly with regard to making money or having a romantic relationship. I was giving these things up in order to follow what seemed to be greater ideals.... Like all romantic notions, there was some truth to these ideals, and there was some fantasy as well. [...]

Portraits of American Zen

The Scene   |   James Roberts  |   May 18, 2012, 8:10 am

A couple weeks ago, my friend Jesse’s piece entitled “Strangers” won the 2012 Ippy Award for Best Photo Essay. He’s been working as an independent photojournalist for a number of years, having contributed to a number of publications, including Buddhadharma.... Jesse recently finished another photo essay entitled “Ordinary Zen,” shown below.  The essay features an intimate look at four Zen practitioners, through their own words and Jesse’s photos [...]