About Tom Swiss

Tom Swiss describes his spiritual path as "Zen Pagan Taoist Atheist Discordian", which usually baffles questioners enough to leave him alone. Over the past decade he has built a reputation as a lecturer on subjects spanning the gamut from acupressure to Zen and from self-defense to sexuality. He is an NCCAOM Diplomate in Asian Bodywork Therapy, a godan (fifth-degree black belt) in karate, a poet, a singer/songwriter, an amateur philosopher, and a professional computer geek. Tom has previously served as President of the Free Spirit Alliance. He is the author of "Why Buddha Touched the Earth" (Megalithica Books, 2013). Find out more about his wacky adventures at www.infamous.net.

The Zen Pagan: Gods Save Us From Glorious Struggles

US WWII civilian propaganda poster. Image via Wikimedia Commons. Public domain.

Religion provides a ready-made us-versus-them narrative. This narrative often has little to do with the actual teachings of the religion, which in most cases are ambiguous at best or contradictory at worst on the topic of violence. But you don’t even need to know what those teachings are, as so-called “Islamic State” recruits cramming with The Koran for Dummies demonstrate. [Read more...]

The Zen Pagan: Not Invulnerable

Senju Kannon

The idea that one should seek to distance oneself from the world is expressly refuted in the mythology around the Siddhartha’s enlightenment. This was supposedly the last temptation that Mara, the tempter demon, the Lord of Illusion, offered. [Read more...]

The Zen Pagan: Santa Claus and the Nature of the Gods

Santas_Arrival_crop

Sophisticated cynics know that it’s a bunch of bunk, of course. There is no jolly old elf at the North Pole. There is no magic sleigh, no one coming down the chimney, and your parents are going to eat those cookies.

And yet…and yet…somehow, the gifts still end up under the tree.
[Read more...]

The Zen Pagan: Contemplative Druidry by James Nichol (Book Review)

Contemplative Druidry

Nichol came to be interested in a more contemplative approach to his Druidry after a mystical experience in June 2007, “triggered simply by noticing and contemplating a wild rose, growing on the banks of the river, an experience “which only “lasted a few moments” but caused “a subtle shift of awareness” for several weeks, where he “woke up every day with a sense of joy and connection.” This experience eventually led him to renew his study of the Shambhala school of Tibetan Buddhism, as well as other forms of Buddhism, and then to propose to the OBOD leadership a program of “contemplative exploration”. This book is the result of that exploration. [Read more...]

The Zen Pagan: #Ferguson: Righteous Anger and Wrathful Deities

Fudo_Myoo2

As a power hierarchy becomes more and more unjust, of course more brutal and repressive means will be necessary to preserve it. “No justice, no peace” is not a threat, it’s a moral law of the Universe: injustice can survive only under a rule of force, which generates its own opposition. Or as the Discordian Law of Eristic Escalation says, “Imposition of Order = Escalation of Chaos.” The occasional appearance of this sort of police state is a logical consequence of the fundamentally Neolithic structure of our civilization and our mainstream religion, of a culture that believes that “property” is real but that “mysticism”, the direct and immediate aesthetic religious experience, isn’t. [Read more...]

The Zen Pagan: Gratitude, Schmatitude

livethanks

I’m not going to tell you to be thankful, even as you’re about to be bombarded with that message over the next week. (And then with messages about BUY! BUY! BUY!) But I will suggest that you consider what you can do to improve your ability to recognize and enjoy beauty. And that includes not just the beauty of music or painting or poetry, but the beauty that can be found in contemplation of the deep interconnectedness of all things, of our interdependence and interbeing with the entire universe. [Read more...]

The Zen Pagan: The Burners and the Pagans

SAMSUNG

All in all, there seems to be quite a bit of overlap between the values and ideals of the community around Burning Man and similar events, and the festival Pagan community. A more conscious and deliberate attempt to share ideas could be fruitful. [Read more...]


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