Alumnus discusses new book on Buddhism

by Joseph Everett, The Daily Beacon, November 12, 2008

Tennessee, USA -- A University of Tennessee (UT) alumnus went from a “controversial undergraduate” to editor-in-chief of Esquire magazine to Buddhist priest.

Phillip Moffitt, a UT alumnus, returned to the University to discuss his new book, “Dancing With Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering,” Monday at Hodges Library.

“Writing the book ‘Dancing with Life,’ was one of the most nerve-racking things I’ve ever done because I knew there were going to be all of these monks and nuns looking at my book,” Moffitt said. “I am not standing here as a scholar. And I don’t think I could do some great scholarly work. But what I could do is share as an experience the direct opening on how to dance with life.”

Moffitt said he hadn’t planned to end up where he currently is.

“I have never intended to become a Buddhist priest or become a preacher of meditation the way that I am,” Moffitt said. “And I certainly did not intend to write a book on the Dharma.”

Moffitt said when he was an undergraduate at UT, he “was not necessarily considered a distinguished undergraduate.”

“I was a rather controversial undergraduate student because it was during the ’60s, and I had definite ideas on how the world should be and how the university should be,” he said.

In 1979, Moffitt purchased Esquire magazine and became the editor-in-chief and chief executive officer, said Patrick Wade, alumni program director.

“Moffitt sold the magazine in 1986 and walked away from his highly successful publishing career to focus on his inner life,” Wade said.

Moffitt said that, by leaving his job, he followed through on an action that many people may want to do.

“On the last day of 1986, soon after my 40th birthday, I did something that many people have since told me that they longed to do,” Moffitt said. “I completely abandoned my professional identity with all of its security and privileges in order to devote myself in finding more joy and meaning in my life. It was a good life that I left. Some would even say a great one.”

He said his decision to leave his career in the magazine industry came suddenly.

“The end finally came when I was sitting in a board meeting. I decided that if I did not act right then, then I would never leave,” Moffitt said. “My mind was calm and very clear, and I finally knew what I had to do. I excused myself from the meeting, went to a phone and called an investment banker. Six weeks later, the magazine was sold, and I was gone.”

Moffitt said he didn’t know what he would do with his life or even where he would live. Not wanting to continue living in New York and not wanting to return to Tennessee, Moffitt eventually ended up in California.

“Because I had done such a dramatic move, and because there had been a fair amount of media coverage of our success at Esquire through the years, unbeknownst to me, a number of people, men and women, in leadership positions looked to me as somewhat of a role model,” Moffitt said. “As I settled in California, a number of these people would show up at my door.”

He said that since that moment, he has tried to encourage people to start their own spiritual journey.

“Just because you are really good at something, doesn’t mean that you have to keep doing it,” Moffitt said.

Wade said, “Moffitt subsequently founded the Life Balance Institute, a non-profit organization devoted to the spiritual values of daily life.”

Moffitt said he felt awkward going from editor-in-chief of Esquire to “barely being able to hold a yoga pose.”

Moffitt said he used the knowledge he learned about meditation and taught others how to apply those principles in their lives.

“The primary thing that I do is teach the Dharma,” he said. “I urge any leader to have some form of stillness in their lives.”

“There are two types of suffering,” Moffitt said as he read from his book, “suffering that leads to more suffering, and suffering that leads to the end of suffering. If you are not willing to face the second kind of suffering, you will surely continue to face the first.”

“Dancing With Life” is Moffitt’s first book on Buddhism.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Operator for Responsible Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians and Singaporeans, please make your donation to the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: