I am pleased as Punch to announce the wonderful winners of the 2007 Blogisattva Awards, honoring excellence in English-language Buddhist blogging during calendar year 2006.
The premier award, Blog of the Year, Svaha!, goes to Bill Harryman’s Integral Options Café [link] the fulsome and intellectually hefty -- yet fun, smooth, easy and delightful -- carnival of information and insight. Bill has a broad and sophisticated palate of what is worthwhile and interesting and has an ability to sweep his readers in to his world of treasures and responsible living. We learn to stay fit; eat right; take care of body and mind, but we are not being lectured to by a finger-wagging nag. Bill gives us things to do, fun to find and insights that come from his challenging, interesting life and then adds thoughtful essays that are finely crafted, masterfully done, about Buddhism informed by Integral theory.
The other exceptional nominees in this category are [Blog, Blogger]: Danny Fisher, Danny Fisher; Mystery of Existence, DotDotDot Putali; One foot in front of the other, Michael; Sentient Developments, George Dvorsky; thinkBuddha.org, Will Buckingham; and This is This, Cliff Jones
A chorus of “HAPPY!!!!!”: The award for Best Post of the Year goes to This Is This’s Cliff Jones’s irresistible “Vesak and the Art of Changing Tyres” which tells of Cliff’s success teaching the meaning of Vesak to a class of winsome five year olds. In his post Cliff captures the essence of the five-year-olds’ experience and the adult experience dealing with the jumpy, trusty, loving minds of the cute-as-peaches very young. Vesak has never been explained more winningly to the gappy toothed nor with such toothsome brio to an older set, blog readers. A stunning achievement. Huzzah, Cliff!
The other very worthy nominees in this category are ["Post" Blog, Blogger]: "A note on death" in One Robe, One Bowl by Soen Joon Sunim; "Meditation: A Rare Practice" in Tricycle Blog - Jeff Wilson by Jeff Wilson; "On the other hand" in Via Negativa by Dave Bonta; "On Knowing Nothing" in Deep Surface by Sean; "The Mind-Nature Sutra" in One Robe, One Bowl by Soen Joon Sunim; "The Mountain Road" in thinkBuddha.org by Will Buckingham; "The Red Rite" in The Jayarava Rave by Jayarava and "Thinking of Others" in Clarity's blog by clarity.
Oh to have the mind of Will Buckingham as displayed in the feverish cargo of posts in his blogs thinkBuddha.org [link] and WillBuckingham's weblog [link]! His head must certainly be a royal palace, filled to the flying buttresses with perfect diamonds. Will is the winner this year of The Wordsmithing Award for Best Achievement in Skilled Writing, honoring him for his unique abilities that turn phrases into gold, churn lofty thoughts into buttery text and burn his clear visions into marble, etching it with words. And then, too, there's the arranging electrons into nice streams of letters and words on the webpage thing that he does so masterfully which causes one to exclaim "Immersed in it all – the savour of the words and the radiance of the paragraphs, the song of the blog posts and of the Bollywood strumpet on the speakers, the horn blaring and goats bleating – I realised to my surprise that I was happy." [The quote here is from Will's post in thinkBuddha last year, "The Mountain Road" -- with, ah, maybe a few alterations.]
Other powerfully skilled writers nominated this year for The Wordsmithing Award [Blogger, Blog(s)]: Dave Bonta, Via Negativa; George Dvorsky, Sentient Developments; Bill Harryman, Integral Options Cafe; Cliff Jones, This is This; Paul Salamone, Paul's Blog, and The DENVER Anti-Apathy Cluster; and Brad Warner, Hardcore Zen
The award for Best New Blog of 2006 goes to the cutting-edge podcasting wonder Buddhist Geeks [link] a production of Ryan Oelke, Gwen Bell and Vince Horn. It may well be that texty blogs will be remembered like the silent era is to those in the motion-picture business. It may be that we texty bloggers are the Mary Pickfords and Charley Chaplins of our day while Ryan, Gwen and Vince are modern-day Brads, Gweneths and Leonardos. But Buddhist Geeks is more than just edgy, it’s excellent – pulled together with talent and intellect. It is nice to know that Buddhists are on top of the world, in full color, in full motion, with audio, on the bow of the ship with the wind gusting through their hair (if they have any). But, then, of course they are and it is. Buddhists can be geeky. And they rock. And none more so than the triumphant triumvirate of Ry, Gwen and Vinny.
Other tremendous new blogs nommed in this category [Blog, blogger]: Big Red Buddha, Miso; For The Turnstiles, Daniel Gustav Anderson; Kathmandu for You, Michael Smith; Monkey Mind, James Ishmael Ford; TMcG, TMcG; Unknowing Mind, Mike
The aperture of Tyson Williams's magnificently designed journal of Tibetan Buddhist wisdom tysonwilliams.com [link] is focused squarely on the dharma. Tyson's taste in crafting an entry is consistently excellent making him and his blog the choice as first winner in this new Blogisattva category, Best Achievement Blogging on Buddhist Practice or Dharma. Whether he selects a generous quote from Sogyal Rinpoche, a poem by Shantideva, follows the activities of the Dalai Lama or presents news of travels or adventures in his own life, the text is interesting and presented beautifully. Tyson’s blog is a must stop for the dharma lover that we all are.
Other blogs of merit nommed in this category [blog, blogger]: Anonymous Dharma, Dan; Dharmavidya Web, David Brazier; don't drop that atomic bomb on me!, me; My Zen Life, John Soper
Impossible not to become enchanted by the sights and text in Michael's One foot in front of the other [link] blog. Whether he is keeping us abreast of health issues relating to his cancer, taking us to interesting, not-touristy sections of The Big Apple, or whisking us to Japan with his photographs, his prose, poetry and pics are each works of art. This year's winner of Best Achievement Blogging in the First Person is Michael and his wonderful blog. [Here a sampler from the archives, May 2006. See what I mean?]
Other terrific writers who draw from the the heart-mind and deliver direct to the reader and whom, with their blog, were nominated this year [blog, blogger]: A Blue Eyed Buddhist, Paul Cox; American Buddhist Perspective, Justin Whitaker; auspicious coincidence, “the girl”; Clarity's blog, clarity; Doe-Do, MikeDoe; Dust, Bob; Integral in Seattle, Gary Stamper; Naked Reflections, Nagarjuna
George Dvorsky is a force to be reckoned with in the category Best Achievement Blogging on Matters Philosophical or Scientific. He writes with perfect clarity and great intelligence on issues relating to "science, philosophy, ethics, and the future of intelligent life" in his blog Sentient Developments [link]. He is an authority, himself, with an impressive resume as a leader and writer on matters relating to ethics, technology and the future of humankind. All this came through in the frequent posts and podcasts in his blog in 2006 which is why Blogisattva is honored to give him our award.
Other mighty philosopy- &/or science-interested blogs nominated this year [blog, blogger]: American Buddhist Perspective, Justin Whitaker; Hyperaware Consciousness, Daniel Scott Poynter; Inveterate Bystander, John; and Mystery of Existence, DotDotDot Putali
Michael of One foot in front of the other [link] keeps us apace with issues relating to his illness, parathyroid cancer, while sharing his feel for humanity, in words and pictures, in metropolitan New York City. He writes of his personal issues matter-of-factly. His camera, too, tells a pictoral story without pathos and bathos. And yet, all of Michael's entries are fiercely attractive and vividly human. And so it goes. Allow me to write in plain, flat words that which should be etched in the sky with firecrackers, Michael and his blog are highly worthy, so bestowed upon him (the blogger) and it (the blog) is the award for Best Achievement in Kind and Compassionate Blogging.
Other very kind and most compassionate blogs and their masters nominated in this category [blog, blogger]: Clarity's blog, clarity; Dharmasattva's Meditations, Dharmasattva; peaceful turmoil, tinythinker; and The Buddhist Blog, James Ure
The thundering Theravada monk from Thunder Bay, Ajahn Punnadhammo, writes posts that are lightning in a bloggle. Bhikkhu's Blog [link] is a must-stop place for virtual explorers who want their minds expanded with new insights and Buddhism connections to world issues. This abbot of the Arrow River Forest Hermitage writes compassionately, yet bluntly, in posts that are always clear, clean, logical and eloquent (without distractive embroidery). Whether the issue is war in Sri Lanka, the Narnia books, or the Bamiyan Buddhas, Ajahn Punnadhammo tackles important issues and brings his incisive genius to the fore in delving deeply into the nexis of problems and conflict. The Canadian monk and his Bhikkhu's Blog is the 2007 winner of Best Achievement Blogging Opinion Pieces or about Political Issues.
Other excellent opinion blogs nominated in this category [blog, blogger]: Genius of Insanity, James Ure; Notes in Samsara, Mumon; Republic of T, Terrance Heath; and thinkBuddha.org, Will Buckingham
Integral Options Cafe was a busy place with a long menu in 2006 which included a comprehensive buffet of Integral dishes. [I am going to wear out the Cafe/eating thing pretty quick, you think?] Early in the year, Bill Harryman presented a bodacious series on Integral Relationships [Part I, II, III, Further & More ]; in the middle of the year, he wrote mature, thoughtful posts in the wake of the Earpy dust-up provoked by Ken Wilber; later in the year, he delved into the issue of change in a series of posts [ Part One, Two, Three, Four, Five]. In addition, throughout the year, his Integral awareness was evident in posts in ways overt or subtle. Integral Options Cafe and blogger Bill Harryman comprise this year's worthy winner of the Best Achievement Blogging on Integral Issues award.
I look at the photographs of Michael's in One foot in front of the other [link] and think if the picture had been taken one second earlier or later, or if it had been framed more narrowly or wider, or if his position when taking the pic had been one inch to the left, right, forward or back could it have been better? And I cannot see how it could have been. His are consistantly amazing pictures. Also, as was mentioned in a Blogmandu post last year, Michael has a facility of including wondrous, surprizing details. It is an honor to bestow the Golden Pig for Best Achievement in Creation or Use of Graphics in a Blog to Michael and One foot in front of the other.
With quotes from a wide variety of sources - though with some favored, frequent sources, including Thich Nhat Hanh - James Ure presents wise words both unannotated and, at other times, adding interesting commentary from his experience. Using quotes isn't all James does at his popular blog The Buddhist Blog [link], but it is a big part of what readers come to enjoy. James and TBB win the inaugural Best Achievement with Use of Quotations in a Blog award.
Other blogs that use the wisdom of sages and were nominated in this category are [blog, blogger]: Anonymous Dharma, Dan; lotusinthemud, Sujatin; tysonwilliams.com, Tyson Williams; and whiskey river, whiskey
With his manifold interests and creation of a grand, convivial bounty of sumptuous quality and quantity, Chef Bill Harryman of Integral Options Cafe [link] cooked up a daily brainfeast in 2006 and is winner of the 2007 award for Best Achievement in Wide Range of Topic Interests Blogging.
Other never-boring blogs casting a wide net that were nominated in this category this year [blog, blogger]: ~C4Chaos, ~C4Chaos; Digital Dharma, Bill; Mudita Journal, Joshua Zader; and Naked Reflections, Nagarjuna
It's a hard choice here, but after putting a finger on the chin and looking up searching for guidance, it's been determined that the winner of the award for Best Achievement in Clean, Straightforward, Unaffected Design is Paul Salamone and his The DENVER Anti-Apathy Cluster [link]. You have to like what Paul has done with his profile picture. And adding a background pattern to a common Blogger template is an inspiration. His color choices, too, are excellent, variations on green without a mean green in the bunch. A few inspired touches and Paul has taken the ordinary making it extraordinary.
A couple of the nominees in the category Best Achievement in Wonderful, Remarkable, Elegant Design did radical surgery to their look since being nominated [Will you guys hold still, pleeeeease!?], proving that attachment is a problem [for Blogisattva!] and that change, whether or not it is good, is inevitable. The worthy winner in this category is George Dvorsky's Sentient Developments [link] where the design perfectly fits the nature of his serious science-themed blog. Blocks of different colors differentiate the title banner, body and sidebar. Graphics and photos stand out as additional rectangles in the darker-than-typical backgrounds. The line spacing is tight [a good choice for someone who has a lot to say] in an easy-to-read verdana font, sans serif. I don't know the jargon of design, so let me cut to the crunch: It's earthy, nice and people like it!The other nominees in this category [blog, blogger]: Big Red Buddha, Miso; Green Clouds, Gareth; Mudita Journal, Joshua Zader; zen-lunatic, anathea
The terrible-sounding award Best Niche Blog, Unusual-Function Blog, Blog Service, or Serial within a Blog may seem like a catch-all for scraps and used rusty nails that don’t belong in “real” categories – but no, no, no, no, no, not so at all. Nominees in this category are high-octane blogs and regimens within blogs, the powerful Indy cars of the buddhoblogging oval, built from plans that come from the steely vision of a blogger [or service provider] with a mighty [and sometimes quite-mad] dream.
The award this year goes to Bill Harryman and the feature “speedlinking” in Integral Options Café [link]. I am agog to think how Bill does it: pulling together a daily linkfest filled with so much, most of it fresh from the prior day, that is consistently fun, fluffy and fascinating. And then, AND THEN, Bill does so much else in his blog and in his life on top of all this. Yowza.
The other worthies in the race this year [blog, blogger]: Big Red Buddha written by Miso; gratitude, a series within the blog Integral Options Cafe,written by Bill Harryman; the blog whiskey river written by whiskey; and Zen Filter written by Mark.
The great ~C4Chaos of ~C4Chaos says that he blogs with passion and compassion and, truly, all evidence is that he understands himself and what he's up to quite well. He is combative, but kindly. Interested in all things, but sure of what he thinks. Happy. Geeky. Energetic. A creator of a new word (i.e., fluffy). Defensive, sometimes, but, at core, in sympathy with everyone in the world. Like others, he's done the Boulder-dash, but is now well into stage two, have sprinted off to some coastal state, staying in contact with his spiritual hub via wi-fi at coffee shops. In 2006, C4 was an inaugural kenwilber.com blogger, began employment at the online social-networking company Zaadz, flew off to Ireland - chasing a rainbow, perhaps - on some non-specific computer technology programming ... thing. I am not altogether sure what the labels are for all of C4's talents, but the talent is there in abundance. He's a photographer, a splendid writer, a top-flight thinker (excepting when in disputes with Tom Armstrong) and a raconteur without portfolio [which could probably be fixed if he got an account at Staples]. Plus, he is the 2007 Blogger Best Demonstating a Multiplicity of Talents.
The other big-brained nominees in this category [blogger, blog(s)]: Dave Bonta, Via Negativa; Will Buckingham, thinkBuddha.org; Bill Harryman, Integral Options Cafe; Paul Salamone, Paul's Blog, and The DENVER Anti-Apathy Cluster
Beginning on 9/11, exactly five years after that day that will live in infamy, American Buddhist Chaplain Danny Fisher of the blog named Danny Fisher was at the beginning of his passage through India and started a very long, rich series of entries, with lots of pictures, that continued into 2007. These entries comprise what is being honored as the 2007 Best Multi-Part Blog Post. Danny's 25 India entries let us tag along as he travelled from New Delhi [#1, #20], to Bodh Gaya [#2, #6, #8, #11, #14, #17, #18, #22, #23, #24], to Calcutta [#3, #10, #25], to Mahakala Cave [#4], Banares/Varanasi [#5, #10], Vulture's Peak [#7, #10], Delhi [#9, #19, #21], Gangtok [#12, #19], Darjeeling [#13, #16, #19, #21], Rajgir [#15], Ghoom [#21].
Other great multi-part posts nominated in this category [post series, blog, blogger]: "Conventional and Ultimate Truth", 1 to 5, Doe-Do, MikeDoe; "Fear", 1 to 4, Doe-Do, Mike Doe; "Who Owns God?", Part One - Three, Integral Options Cafe, Bill Harryman; "Suffering with a Cold," Part 1 - 3, This is This, Cliff Jones
The award for Best Achievement in a Compassionate Blog Post goes to Soen Joon Sunim’s “a note on death,” posted in her defunct blog One robe, one bowl. Her post tells the story of finding a dead bird, its burial, and the larger theatre of tragedy where death and threat of death are actions of suffering fomented from acts of unfettered cruelty. But she reminds us, with a quote from Merton, that many of us, by nature of where we are in life, “live in the presence of death, which calls into question the meaning of life.”
Other compassionate posts nominated this year [post, blog, blogger]: "Vesak Day and the Art of Changing Tyres", This is This, Cliff Jones; "Thinking of Others", Clarity's blog, clarity; "There are no nouns", don't drop that atomic bomb on me!, me; "a question from a friend", Kathmandu for You, Michael Smith
The award for Best Achievement with Humor in a Blog Post goes to Cliff Jones’s well rapped “Burrito” which appeared in his blog This Is This. “Burrito” is an economical post, told with gentle humor, which explains how a tasty burrito, sports fans and all of us “inter-are” – a term that Thich Nhat Hanh coined. Cliff's examples of how things inter-are are sometimes whimsical. They include original insights on how we and everything are interlaced, entwined, transmogrified and bound in a tapestry of being [and, well, yeah, non-being, too, as well as being sharers of sights and sounds]. Zounds!
Other funny nominees in this category [post, blog, blogger]: "Buddhist Covergirl Gets Own Magazine", Big Red Buddha, Miso; "NASCAR Buddhists Race for Recognition ", Big Red Buddha, Miso; "Schuylkill, Var and Thames", This is This, Cliff Jones; and "Sightseers Flock to Buddha Wall", Paper Frog, Christopher Baskind
This one’s easy. Recognition as the Best Conversation-Sparking Blog Post (not necessarily a good thing) goes to Ken Wilber’s attack post in kenwilber.com “What we are, that we see.” which loosed a maelstrom in the Integral community, dividing the true-blue believers in all things Ken from skeptics, critics and doubters. The post turned out to be a test, it was later revealed. But who was tested and who passed or failed (I guess you could say) depended on one's sensiblities, worldview, eagerness to get snapped up by a cult and taste for gunfighters.
Other sparking and sparkling nominees were [post, blog, blogger]: "Integral Institute - CEO Drama?", Numinous Nonsense, Vince Horn; "Meditation: A Rare Practice", Tricycle Blog - Jeff Wilson, Jeff Wilson