Buddhism: mindfulness vs the “meditation romance”

This month I am returning to a classic in Western Buddhism: Insight Meditation, with Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. I'll promise to share more gems from the text as I pass by them, but this one stood out for its resonance with my recent Valentine's Day post, as well as an older one featuring Portlandia's episode "Meditation Crush" (see below).In a section subtitled DESIRE, Joseph Goldstein recounts: A very common phenomenon, especially on retreats, is the vipassana romance. We may h … [Read more...]

Mindfulness: the single most impactful aspect of Buddhism in America

In an intriguing recent lecture, scholar of Western Buddhism Jeff Wilson makes the claim that mindfulness is, in fact, Buddhism's largest single impact on North America. The evidence is more than compelling: from books by Congressman Tim Ryan (A Mindful Nation) and Google's "Jolly Good Fellow" Chade-Meng Tan (Search Inside Yourself) - shown meeting President Obama - to news reports in nearly every major media outlet and new movements to get mindfulness practice into schools, medicine, police … [Read more...]

David Suzuki, Force of Nature (reposted for Earth Day)

In 1.5 of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle observes that there are three types of life thought to be happy: the life of enjoyment, the political life, and the life of contemplation.  The life of enjoyment is a hedonistic life focused on conventional pleasures. The political life is the life of a states- person. It may aim at despotic power, or be lived for the sake of winning public honors, but in its most proper form its aim is the exercise of moral virtue and political and practical wisdom in … [Read more...]

Dan Harris on mindfulness, meditation, and Buddhism

While mindfulness and meditation have taken off in the popular media in the last couple of years, it has been a while since I've seen a celebrity openly acknowledging a conversion to Buddhism. But this week in a CNN article, ABC anchorman Dan Harris does just that, writing:If you had told me as recently as a few years ago that I'd ever become a Buddhist -- never mind that I might even admit to it publicly -- I would have coughed my beer up through my nose.I was raised by secular … [Read more...]

Practicing Compassion, a review

Frank Rogers Jr's book, Practicing Compassion, is a welcome addition to the field of books bringing the positive insights and wisdom of religious traditions to a wider audience. The book sets out with the premise that while compassion is much talked about in religious settings and ever more in popular psychology, not many people know how to cultivate or practice it (although the caveat is given that there are numerous Buddhist teachings on cultivating compassion).*Rogers is a teacher of … [Read more...]

Buddhism without Superstition: with Owen Flanagan, Julian Baggini, 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?

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, ig … [Read more...]

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

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 2.118I'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 b … [Read more...]


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