Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks

Announcing the release of my book on the psychology of social networks through a Buddhist lens in Fall, 2017!

See my website www.facebuddha.co for more details and to sign up for a newsletter!


December News

I’m promoting my friends’ work – Tony Nguyen (documentary filmmaker) and Goh Nakamura and Vienna Teng (both musicians).  So please read up on my latest work if you didn’t read the previous message, and scroll down to the bottom for more goodies!

Happy Holidays!  Thanks for staying with me and keeping abreast of the latest news and publications!  It’s been almost 6 months since the last newsletter.  I do my best not to flood your inbox.  We all get too many emails.  Hopefully this one brings you some joy and new understandings.
Published in Clinical Psychiatric News
An expose about Amazon’s workplace environment in the New York Times compelled me to write about workplace abuse for Clinical Psychiatric News. Emotional intelligence makes for good workplaces, but the “churn and burn” practices of some companies have a lot of fallout.  Some people thrive some of the time under pressure – but most of us don’t, in the long term.  Watching the Steve Jobs movies reminded me there’s a tough dynamic at work with the most ambitious and hard driving types, but these become ‘cautionary tales’ for society-at-large.  We are all called to leadership in some form.  What kind of leader are you?
AJ+ Video about Mental Health in minority communities
I was featured on Al Jazeera’s online station geared towards millennials.  The video has been viewed over 180,000 times so far!

If you’re not white, it’s harder to get mental health care
Psychology Today
I’ve had three “Essential Reads” in PT in the last few months!  These are picked out by the Editors and featured on the homepage and in topic areas.
Headquarters, What Headquarters?  Behind Pixar’s “Inside Out”  A look at the psychology and neurobiology behind Inside Out.
Slow is from the Heart Inspired by an encounter with a dance teacher in Cambodia.  Slowing down brings us peace, wisdom and love.
The Assault on the American Mind  A response to The Atlantic’s “The Coddling of the American Mind” which generally criticized student “sensitivity” to unconscious and conscious slights.   The Atlantic article highlighted “trigger warnings” that paralyze classroom discussion.  A recent NYT editorial by an African American law professor, Randall Kennedy, expressed concerns that “reformers harm themselves by nurturing an inflated sense of victimization.”   Clearly, we all should be sympathetic to student concerns, and there are serious issues of student safety.  But I think social media especially is entraining reflexive rather than reflective responses to situations.

Since my trip to Vietnam and Cambodia this spring, I’ve been thinking about and internalizing the concepts of nonduality, or as I like to think of it, empathic inclusion.  There are so many “splits” in the world, some with violent consequences.  I think it’s important to resolve these splits within our own minds – through kindness, compassion and understanding.  It is the task of our age to undermine division with inclusion.  There are certainly oppressive forces in the world, but instead of just ‘calling out’ those forces with anger, I think it’s important to “call in” with compassion.  “Harmonizing” can be oppressive, but a recognition and celebration of both diversity and unity is possible.
Earlier in the summer, there was a raging debate on PT.  Was “Anti-intellectualism killing America” or was “Self-Centeredness Killing America”?  As many of you know, I came down in the latter camp.  Of course, reason is critical, and it is important to understand the history of ideas – but I don’t think you can reason properly without getting outside the limits of your own perspectives.  Empathic inclusion helps us do that.  “The world is divided into those who are right”.  “You can be related or you can be right, you can be right or you can be happy.”  This is true for any relationship, from couples to countries.  If we begin with the conviction that we have to be related, then we realize our relatedness must inform all our values.  This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have boundaries; relationship and a sense of self requires boundaries.
Another phrase I’ve become fond of is “The opposite of suffering is belonging.”  That’s the message I hope to bring with my book, FACEBUDDHA, TRANSCENDENCE IN THE AGE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS.  More news on that soon!
May the Holiday season bring you relatedness, belonging, and happiness!


Ravi Chandra


THE FOURTH MESSENGER – a Buddhist musical!

I was amazed and inspired by Vienna Teng and Tanya Shaffer’s musical, an enlightenment story based on the Buddha’s life legend.  The music is wonderful – these tracks will add some catchy earworms to your morning workout and meditation sessions!  You can now hear all 31 tracks from “The Fourth Messenger” album on their bandcamp page here: http://www.thefourthmessenger.bandcamp.com. Please go there, enjoy, and if you feel moved, purchase the album and book for yourself, your family and/or your friends! They’ve already gotten some great pre-release reviews, which have called the album “deeply fulfilling” with “a sense of timelessness” (Skope Magazine), and “boldly intelligent…layered with intimacy and excitement” (The Miews).   The album is available for download at http://viennateng.portmerch.com/stores/home.php

The Fourth Messenger on iTunes 


FRONTLINE and ProPublica team up to investigate a wave of terror that targeted Vietnamese-American journalists. Uncovering a trail that leads from American cities to jungles in Southeast Asia, FRONTLINE and ProPublica shine new light on a series of unsolved murders and attacks.

My friend, award-winning filmmaker Tony Nguyen, was involved in the production of this FRONTLINE documentary.  His first doc “Enforcing the Silence” explored the unsolved murder of Vietnamese American journalist Lam Duong in 1981.


PBS:  Inside the making of TERROR IN LITTLE SAIGON


My friend and favorite musician, Goh Nakamura, has a new collection!  If you haven’t heard his music before, I can’t recommend him more strongly.

Check out WORKS

Catch up on all of Goh’s music at http://gohnakamura.com

eBook released – to support domestic violence nonprofits – #dvchallenge

Front cover screenshot

1.  eBook and bound book now available, with proceeds to benefit domestic violence nonprofits – please read and share!

2.  Hyphen LitCrawl performance now on YouTube!


1.  eBook and bound book now available, with proceeds to benefit domestic violence nonprofits – please read and share!

“Asian American Anger – It’s a Thing!” explores anger in the context of domestic violence and misogyny in the Asian American community.  Readers have called the lead essay in the mini-volume (“Asian American Male Anger:  The Fast and the Furious”) “jarring”, “breathtaking”, and “important”.  It’s only 99 cents for the eBook – I hope you’ll find this affordable and useful to you as thinkers and community members.

I am not making any money on this – all proceeds will go to Narika and Maitri, two domestic violence nonprofits in the Bay Area, and other cultural organizations if enough money is earned.

I’ve only sold about a dozen copies so far in the first 5 days of availability – so I am depending on word of mouth and your kindness in purchasing and sharing the links to purchase the books.  I think you’ll find this a very powerful and stirring read.

Also included in the book is my essay on internet rage, “The Social Network is an IndigNation” – which is an excerpt from my book-in-progress about the psychology of social networks.  And – a dozen bonus poems about anger!

Here are the links:

Psychology Today Pacific Heart blogpost:  #dvchallenge: Let’s Get at the Roots of Domestic Violence!

Amazon, Kindle and Kindle app link  (You don’t need a Kindle to read this – you can download a free app to your desktop or smartphone.)

Createspace (preferred for physical bound book)

iBooks link (for iPad, iPhone and Mac)

Please share widely in your networks – and I would absolutely invite feedback on these essays.



2.  Hyphen LitCrawl performance now on YouTube!

I hope you enjoy this roughly 9 minute performance from Hyphen’s LitCrawl on October 18, 2014.  The individual poems are also on my YouTube channel, if you are so moved as to share any of them.

Litcrawl 2014

YouTube Channel

Happy October to you all!

Save the date – LitCrawl 2014!

I will be performing again as part of LitQuake‘s LitCrawl, this time for HYPHEN Magazine.  Also on the bill:  Kenji Liu, Dan Lau, and Maw Shein Win. Here are the details:


Saturday, October 18
7:15 to 8:15pm
The Balm
788 Valencia Street 
San Francisco, CA 94110

The event is free, and part of LitCrawl’s 3 hour crawl across the Mission.  See you there!

Quarterly update

Sunday, April 13, 2014

1.     News about the book

2.     A last minute plea for support for a film supporting women and girls in India

3.     Summary of my writing over the last quarter or so

4.     Bonus poem


Happy Spring!  Thank you so much for subscribing to my occasional newsletter.  Last time, I mentioned I was looking for an agent for my book on the psychology of social networks through a Buddhist lens – and this time, I have good news!  I do have an enthusiastic and skillful agent for FACEBUDDHA:  TRANSCENDENCE IN THE AGE OF FACEBOOK AND THE OTHER SOCIAL NETWORKS.  Of course, there’s no guarantee that a publisher will get behind my book, but I remain enthusiastic about the message of my book:  that real-world relationship is powerful, complicated and rewarding.  While social networks might be a route to relationship, and an important tool in this shrinking world, we need to understand how this tool influences our minds and hearts for good and ill.


FACEBUDDHA also contains a memoir of relationship; one of the topics near and dear to my heart is the relationship between men and women.  Many of us were deeply affected by the Nirbhaya rape and murder case in December, 2012.  This brought the world’s attention to violence against women in India.  This problem is hardly isolated to India, of course – we all have a lot of work to do to make the world safe for women and children.

I recently saw a brilliant documentary by Indian Canadian director Nisha Pahuja that can make an important difference on this issue.  THE WORLD BEFORE HER (rent or buy on iTunes, also available on DVD) has won critical acclaim and was shown on PBS last fall.  Pahuja highlighted women’s identity and safety in India through the stories of both beauty pageant contestants and more conservative Hindu fundamentalists.  Modernity and globalization bring challenges to India’s traditional culture, triggering defensive and violent reactions against women, and even by women, in the name of religion and culture.  This on top of a long history of violence and discrimination against women.

Pahuja is in the last day of a Kickstarter campaign to take the film across India and hopefully be a part of changing the mentality that leads to female infanticide and other forms of violence.  She has reached her initial goal, but more funding will help bring the film to more villages and cities.  Please consider making a donation before 8 pm PT today (Sunday).


My top Psychology Today blog posts from the last year can be found here.  I entered into several cultural conversations this year, on Asian American issues and also on social networks.  From a psychological analysis of Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld’s controversial book THE TRIPLE PACKAGE (Underscoring Amy Chua), to Katy Perry’s bizarre cultural appropriation at the American Music Awards, to hashtag activism – blogging continues to be engaging.  I hope these writings stirred your interest.

I just completed my other blogging gig for my beloved Center for Asian American Media’s film festival.  All my “Memoirs of a Superfan” entries from this year can be found here.  The festival is a kind of meditative retreat for me:  the whole world comes to our doorstep here in San Francisco, and I get the opportunity to take it all in.  The festival always spurs thoughts and personal growth.  This year, I found issues on my mind about relationship mirrored in film, naturally.  The festival inspired writing on relational cultural theoryrelations between Tibet and Chinadoppelgangers, alter egos and relationship as revolution, and film as a shamanic journey.  The Great Star Theater in Chinatown inspired wistful writing about intimacy, and musician Cynthia Lin inspired writing about zombies smileyangry



Nov 2nd, 2012

The world beats in Bangalore;

My young girl cousins love Subway and Anime,

And spout Japanese phrases,

Cowboy Bebop their lingua manga.

Like children everywhere,

they complain their parents don’t understand them.

Like children everywhere,

they are inventing their own language

and creating identities that don’t hew

to the shape of an ancient, but timeworn, culture.

The call of India seems in part a din,

Something to wrestle with as much as love.

Growing up is always a struggle;

escape, always on the mind.

So NarutoOne PieceFairy Tail and K-On

give them homes when Bharat’s four walls

can’t hold their spacious souls –

Homes for the heroines they yearn to be –

the heroines they are.

They carry their own compasses,

unknown to parents, class, or clan.

They want to go to peace,

but they travel through war,

I have hope their journey

won’t suffocate.

Their hearts beat universal time,

and they need to breathe.


Facebuddha: I need your help!

For Asian Americans, the release of BETTER LUCK TOMORROW marked a milestone.  Actor Parry Shen wrote a widely distributed email plea that roused Asian Americans to support Asian American film by going out to see the groundbreaking movie.  I’m feeling Shen’s urgency now as I move forward with my just completed manuscript, Facebuddha:  Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks.

The book is narrative non-fiction, about the psychology of social networks and relationships – but being written by me, a lot of it is also devoted to the Asian American experience, the immigrant experience, racism and love – all powerful components of relatedness and the real social network – Society.  Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks starts with deep soulful conversation on a Hanoi rooftop, and ventures through the relationship wilds of Facebook and the online experience via Linsanity and the blogosphere, and plunges deep into relationships in India before taking on the question of who we are when we are online – what happens to our mind, emotions, heart and attention – what happens to our sense of self and boundaries, and how our choices can affect our world. I think it is humorous, thoughtful, thought-provoking, and perhaps even transformative to the reader.  I’ve certainly been transformed as I’ve written this 80,000 word book and grappled with the multitude of issues raised by my investigation – inwards and outwards. You might also tell by the title that I come at this from a Buddhist perspective, as exploration of the mind/heart.  I’m mindful that in America, most of the respected authors in this genre are not Asian American.

Some comments so far (by very well-read and amazing individuals) are “Pitch perfect! Quite impressive and scholarly!” and “I did like the read! Thank you for your openness. I am touched by your candor. I hear a call to unite and feel moved to respond. I find your book thought-provoking.”

I’m in the process of looking for an agent now. (If any of you know an agent who would be interested in this genre, please let me know.)  But part of me questions how this will be received by audiences. Will they “get” me? I am very confident about my writing, but these latter questions can only be resolved if I can prove I’ve got an enthusiastic potential readership.

So I’m asking for your help. Can you please:
1. Forward this email and get your friends to sign up on my email list at www.RaviChandraMD.com
2. Follow me on Twitter at @going2peace
3. Please tweet “Looking fwd to #Facebuddha : Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks by Ravi Chandra! Sign up at www.RaviChandraMD.com@going2peace”
4. Please share this as a status on Facebook widely.

I’m not setting up yet another page which I will beg you to like – I’m not going to spam you – I’m don’t anticipate flooding my Facebook wall with posts about this book. But it would be very helpful to show an agent that there is an audience for an Asian American man writing about relatedness, psychology, and love with humor and insight.

Thank you for your continued support.

Ravi Chandra, M.D.