Buddhist Resources

Somehow I have collected karma that draws many people to ask me about Buddhism, so I have created this page in an effort to help answer some of those questions and provide some resources I have found to be helpful. It is by no means all-encompassing and is directed toward people who are looking for good sources to get started with their exploration of Buddhism, or to begin to deepen their inquiry. I have aimed to list sites that will lead you to more information, rather than try to create a comprehensive list of my own.

I practice Tibetan Buddhism which is in the Mahayana tradition and my study is focused primarily in the Gelug and Drikung Kagyu lineages, so what you will find here is heavily biased in that direction. Please note that I am no expert, nor advanced practitioner. I am often lucky to get a daily meditation in some days. I recognize, however, that all of life is dharma when you open your eyes and heart.

There are many other Buddhist lineages (e.g., Theravadan, many flavors of Zen, Cha'an (Chinese Zen), Thai Forest, Dzogchen, etc.), so if you find yourself interested in Buddhism, but a particular tradition does not speak to you, please continue your search--there are many beautiful teachers out there.

If you are aware of organizations/groups in Pittsburgh not mentioned here or discover a broken/inaccurate link, please post a comment with info. Thanks!

May this page be of benefit to all beings, and plant the seed of enlightenment in all who see it.

Books & Periodicals
 In Pittsburgh
I also noted that there are several meditation groups listed on Meetup, so you may want to check there as well.

Please note that I do not have personal experience with most of these groups. I list them for informational purposes only.

    Why is this place called Rough Branch?

    Rough Branch is a reference to Wendell Berry's "mad farmer" poems. Berry is an agrarian populist poet, and advocate for sustainable agricultural practices. I don't agree with every position he takes, but his reverence for the beauty and balance of the natural world, for the preciousness of the life that runs through it (including our own), and of the community that sustains both the land and each other, speaks to my heart.

    Over the past few years, I have sunk myself into the soil in my back yard, and into the community of neighbors that surrounds it, and it has begun to restore me. My garden is not just a plot of dirt providing vegetables for the salad bowl, it is an act of love, a place of profundity and awe. If you knew about the ecosystem that lives in but one gram of good earth, you would be humbled, literally, to the ground.

    Berry's poems are passionate calls to live--deeply, profoundly, fearlessly. To step out of narrow-minded egotism, to secede "[f]rom the union of self-gratification and self-annihilation, [to] secede into care for one another, and for the good gifts of Heaven and Earth."

    And so I have made my own nation small enough to walk across. I have named the small corner of the earth I steward Rough Branch. I have declared myself free of ignorant love, and I secede...

    From the union of power and money,
    from the union of power and secrecy,
    from the union of government and art,
    from the union of science and money,
    from the union of ambition and ignorance,
    from the union of genius and war,
    from the union of outer space and inner vacuity,
    the Mad Farmer walks quietly away.

    There is only one of him, but he goes.
    He returns to the small country he calls home,
    his own nation small enough to walk across.
    (From "The Mad Farmer, Flying the Flag of Rough Branch, Secedes from the Union")
    The Mad Farmer challenges us to reconnect, to resurrect our land, our communities, and our souls.
    So, friends, every day do something
    that won't compute. Love the Lord.
    Love the world. Work for nothing.
    Take all that you have and be poor.
    Love someone who does not deserve it.

    Denounce the government and embrace
    the flag. Hope to live in that free
    republic for which it stands.
    Give your approval to all you cannot
    understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
    has not encountered he has not destroyed.

    Ask the questions that have no answers.
    Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
    Say that your main crop is the forest
    that you did not plant,
    that you will not live to harvest.

    Say that the leaves are harvested
    when they have rotted into the mold.
    Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
    Put your faith in the two inches of humus
    that will build under the trees
    every thousand years.

    Listen to carrion -- put your ear
    close, and hear the faint chattering
    of the songs that are to come.
    Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
    Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
    though you have considered all the facts.
    (From "Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front")
    All quotes from Wendell Berry.