3 shirts, 4 pairs of pants, 150 total belongings: inspired by Zen philosophy

Years ago, a Buddhist teacher of mine told me that "you don't own stuff. The stuff owns you."Every thing you have costs you an attention tax, a worry tax, eventually a loss tax, as you waste precious energy on the objects around you that could be used in activities and in caring for people and the world.As I wrote about my recent time in the desert, there is a kind of simplicity developed there that makes clear the great cost of having so much stuff. That cost is … [Read more...]

Unplugging, or “practicing mindfulness in the desert”

I'm off tomorrow for a week off the grid. Or, more truthfully, about 3.5 days of driving and camping with 3.5 days trekking through some of the remoter gullies and gulches of southern Utah with three good friends and three soon-to-be good friends.Mindfulness will be on the menu, though it is a hard thing to avoid when your life is on your back, the sun is hot overhead, and one missed step could mean a sprained ankle (or worse) and hours, if not days, of pain. Once you get the basic … [Read more...]

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche gives Morgan Freeman the Buddhist “shortcut” teachings for happiness

We need to care, love and respect each other, that's the source of happiness. ~Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche.Read my full review of the "Story of God" episode on miracles here. … [Read more...]

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...]


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