Buddhism without Superstition: with Owen Flanagan, Julian Baggini, and Tim Lott

Julian Baggini, Owen Flanagan and Tim Lott

"Is it possible to take an ancient comprehensive philosophy like Buddhism, subtract the hocus pocus, and have a worthwhile philosophy for twenty-first-century scientifically informed secular thinkers?" This was the quote, taken from Owen Flanagan's recent book (see below), which served to open a discussion last Wednesday at Bristol's "Festival of Ideas". The event re-raised the age old question, "Buddhism, is it a religion, philosophy, or way of life?" (I wrote a bit about this topic last … [Read more...]

Mindful of your immorality?

Hungry-Ghosts

A contemporary Western Buddhist version of this would probably look something like this: In case you missed it, this is regarding (not that Google in particular is guilty of all of the above): Criticism of Google has, of course, poured in. Katie Loncke of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship writes of Google's bus scheme, which is contributing to rising rents and gentrification: This is not true mindfulness. It’s selective awareness, optimized for pleasure. In other words, … [Read more...]

A Very Buddhist Thanksgiving with VIDEO from Mary Grace Orr, Rev. Thich Hang Dat, Sensei Bob Oshita and Ajahn Brahm

Meditating turkey - may all beings be well

These two people are hard to find in the world. Which two? The one who is first to do a kindness, and the one who is grateful and thankful for a kindness done." — AN 2.118 I'm back in Montana, enjoying time with my family - mostly eating, watching TV/movies, and playing cards, a good break from phd/teaching/etc life in England. This is, for me, always the best time of the year. Time with family, with no schedule, no deadlines, nothing to do. Just being. In the midst of that, it has … [Read more...]

India, Pakistan, & a commercial to make you cry with joy

I'm a sucker for nostalgia, and growing ever more nostalgic for India myself (I can't believe it's been 3 years!). But nothing could have prepared me for this: When I was just 21 or 22, a friend lent me Cracking India, a story of the partition as experienced in Lahore. Later I watched Deepa Mehta's film adaptation of the book, Earth (1998), and watched it again, and again (full movie available here). … [Read more...]

Thomas Merton: the Film

thomas merton and the dalai lama

Anyone who knows me or has read this blog for long knows I am a great admirer of Thomas Merton. I remember his name being mentioned to me at a Buddhist retreat some time around 2002 or 3, and then, in a quiet week during my MA in Buddhist Studies, I picked up his Asian Journal where, upon seeing the great Buddha statues at Polonnaruwa, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) he wrote: “Looking at these figures I was suddenly, almost forcibly, jerked clean out of the habitual, halftied vision of things, and an … [Read more...]

Sensual Pleasure Versus Spiritual Pleasure in Buddhism

This is Ajahn Brahmali, talking at the Buddhist Society of Western Australia about much of the same territory that I covered in two recent posts: Beyond Happiness: Buddhism and Human Flourishing Happiness, Kant, and Buddhism It has been a theme in my work in the past and is developing into a somewhat major theme in my academic work currently - that  we need to get clear about the kind of pleasure we are after - I prefer the word 'happiness', but no single term is going to be perfect … [Read more...]

Buddhism’s Dalai Lama nods to Secular Ethics

Dalai Lama - meditating before Jesus

While murder, bullying, exploitation and scandal regularly make news, when thousands of children receive their mother’s care and affection every day it isn't reported because we take it for granted. We may be subject to negative emotions, but it’s possible to keep them under control, to cultivate a sense of emotional hygiene, on the basis of human values that are rooted in that affection - what I call secular ethics. - H.H. the Dalai Lama Patheos is currently inviting writers to submit … [Read more...]

Buddhism has the Rope and the Snake, Christianity has Jesus and the Pug

Look closely... who is it that you see?

Well, they're not exactly equivalent, but bear with me. Who... or what, do you see in the image above? Yes! Wow! Oh, wait?! Ewwww. Really? Here's the whole image: As much as I love Jesus, I'm just as happy to see that its a pug! (And I'm sure my pug-loving girlfriend will agree.) Ahhh, just look at that face. A bit blurry, but anyhow.... That is just one of (apparently many) photos of dog's rear quarters that amazingly resemble what some people would swear is a miraculous … [Read more...]

Grabbing hold of life

grab ahold of life

Watching this video I heard Māra creeping up in the form of voices of naysayers, and looking around the world today their is no shortage of such people: the young and nihilistic, the old and crotchety, the middle-aged beer-bellied bad-mustached cop with the pepper spray. Such people are inescapable as we go through life. Anything of value that you do will be met by people who don't want you to do it. Whether it's due to their own insecurities, or ideologies, or anything else, simply remember: … [Read more...]

Buddhism and Mental Illness

clifton suspension bridge bristol 2013

President Obama has declared May "Mental Health Awareness Month." At the announcement the President said (thanks to Adrian Warnock for posting this): “Today, tens of millions of Americans are living with the burden of a mental health problem. They shoulder conditions like depression and anxiety, post-traumatic stress and bipolar disorder — debilitating illnesses that can strain every part of a person’s life. And even though help is out there, less than half of children and adults with … [Read more...]