About Barbara O’Brien

Owner/proprietor of The Mahablog (est. 2002)

Guide to Buddhism at About.com.

After several years of editorial and production management in the book and magazine publishing industry, I set out to be a freelance web content provider. My personal politics blog, The Mahablog, was launched in 2002. I am a frequent contributor to several websites, including The Guardian‘s Comment Is Free site. Since 2008 I also have been the Guide to Buddhism for About.com.

Note: I’m looking for work as a writer — permanent, temporary, part time, full time, on location (New York City area) or telecommuting. Contact me by email if interested.

You can read about me on Wikipedia!

Some experience as a blogger: In August 2007 I was a panelist at the Yearly Kos convention in Chicago. The panel was “Faith Or No: Building Secular-Religious Coalitions” and moderated by Pastor Daniel Schultz of Street Prophets.

In September 2006 I was one of the bloggers who met with President Bill Clinton in his Harlem office. I also received press credentials (through Peter Daou) to blog the Clinton Global Initiative Conference the following week. In November I blogged the midterm election results from the Democratic Party victory shindig (in the Manhattan Sheraton) attended by Senator Hillary Clinton and Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer, among others. In June I was a featured guest blogger at the Take Back America Conference in Washington, DC, and also guest hosted at Glenn Greenwald’s blog, Unclaimed Territory. Very recently I guest blogged at Crooks and Liars.


  • Member, Netroots Advisory Council, Drum Major Institute; Advertising Liberally network
  • Author of Blogging America: Political Discourse in a Digital Nation, published by William James & Co., 2004
  • Interviewed by Brian Lamb on CSPAN’s Washington Journal, February 10, 2006
  • Profiled by David Von Drehle in the Washington Post Sunday magazine, July 17, 2005
  • Guest appearance on MSNBC’s Countdown With Keith Olbermann, September 20, 2004
  • Education

    Bachelor of Journalism degree, University of Missouri / School of Journalism, Columbia, MO, 1973

    Other Stuff I’ve Written

    Health Care Props and Patches,” Drum Major Institute Blog, January 12, 2007

    About That Uranium in North Korea … Never Mind,” AlterNet PEEK, March 1, 2007

    A (Pretty) Short History of Wingnutism,” Crooks and Liars, December 29, 2006

    New Orleans: The Second Disaster,” Drum Major Institute Blog, January 3, 2007

    What America Needs to Know About Rudy Giuliani,” Crooks and Liars, February 6, 2007

    The Loyalties of George W. Bush,” Scoop, August 14 2002

    An Open Letter to President Bush,” Scoop, September 25, 2002

    Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Henry Kissinger,” Democratic Underground, December 4, 2002

    A Lott to Be Ashamed Of,” Democratic Underground, December 12, 2002

    Gassing His Own People?” Democratic Underground, February 8, 2003

    Is It Too Late to Save America?AlterNet, March 19, 2003

    Forgetting the Alamo,” Democratic Underground, May 20, 2003

    Bush Eats Barbecue… Soldiers Starve,” Democratic Underground, August 13, 2003

    26 American Soldiers Have Lost Their Lives in Iraq Since President Bush Began His August Vacation,” Buzzflash, August 23, 2003

    Work History

    • 10/2001 – 3/2003, Production Manager, Book Builders LLC, New York, NY
    • 6/2000 – 10/2001, Production Manager, Cahners Business Publications, New York, NY
    • 7/1998 – 6/2000, Production Manager, Scholastic, Inc., New York, NY
    • 10/1995 – 3/1998, Journal Production Editor, Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., Mahwah, NJ
    • 9/1988 – 1/1994, Senior Production Editor, Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ
    • 9/1985 – 7/1987, Assistant Editor, Silver Burdett & Ginn, Morristown, NJ
    • 6/1977 – 6/1980, Production Editor, Writer’s Digest Books, Cincinnati, OH
    • 2/1974 – 1/1977, Editor, University of Missouri Press, Columbia, MO
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    1 Comment

    1. Eileen Hu  •  Jul 17, 2014 @7:08 pm

      The Surangama Sutra: A New Translation in ebook format is available for free download at http://www.buddhisttexts.org.

      For over a thousand years, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra — the “Sūtra of the Indestructible”— has been held in great esteem in the Mahāyāna Buddhist countries of East and Southeast Asia. In China the Sūtra has generally been considered as important, and has been as popular as the Lotus Sūtra, the Avataṁsaka Sūtra, the Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra, the Heart Sūtra, and the Diamond Sūtra. The appeal of the Śūraṅgama Sūtra lies in the broad scope of its teachings and in the depth and clarity of its prescriptions for contemplative practice. Its wealth of theoretical and practical instruction in the spiritual life often made it the first major text to be studied by newly ordained monks, particularly in the Chan School. Many enlightened masters and illustrious monastic scholars have written exegetical commentaries on it. To this day, for both clergy and laity in the Chinese Buddhist tradition, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra continues to be the object of devout study, recitation, and memorization.

      Much of the Sutra unfolds in the form of a dialogue between Buddha Shakyamuni and his cousin Ananda, whose personal story provides a narrative frame for the discourse. The Buddha shows Ananda how to turn the attention of his sense faculties inward in order to achieve a deeply focused state of meditation known as samadhi. The Buddha gives instruction in moral purity, in correct understanding of the mind, in avoidance of dangers that may be encountered when absorbed in meditation, and in the practice of the Surangama mantra, which lies at the heart of the Sutra.

      Editorial Reviews :

      “With this new translation of the Surangama Sutra, the complete text of this major Mahayana Buddhist scripture is made available in English in a single volume for the first time. In the text are found the Buddha’s detailed instruction in the practice of that deep mental absorption known as samadhi, as well as instruction in moral purity, the practice of mantra-recitation, and the avoidance of negative mental states. The dense Chinese version is rendered into clear English, and the reader’s understanding is guided by an extensive introduction, explanatory footnotes, and excerpts from the exegetical commentary of the Ven. Master Hsuan Hua. A must for anyone interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the Buddhist teaching.”
      — Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions and Why Religion Matters

      “… the Buddhist Text Translation Society has given us a greatly improved rendering of one of the most important and profound Mahayana texts in the entire Buddhist Canon. During the past thousand years, the Surangama Sutra has been used perhaps more than any other single text in the transmission of the Dharma by Chinese and other East Asian masters. This eminently readable and clearly annotated English translation constitutes a significant contribution not only to the study but also to the practice of Buddhism in the West.”
      — Bill Porter (“Red Pine”), translator of the works of Chinese poets and Buddhist masters, including The Collected Poems of Cold Mountain and The Zen Teachings of Bodhidharma.

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