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...]

Rohatsu, Bodhi/Enlightenment Day

Today is the day that Japanese Zen schools celebrate Rohatsu, also known as the Buddha’s enlightenment day (Japanese: Jōdō-e, 成道会). Many Zen Buddhists mark this day often the week leading up to it with diligent practice, as James Ford (from Monkey Mind) did; and here's his post-Rohatsu sesshin post.In the Western Buddhist world, it is probably the second best known Buddhist holiday after Vesak (Pali: Vesākha), which is still celebrated according to the lunar calendar, taking place on the full … [Read more...]

Welcome to the Buddhist temple in Japan where you can flush your marriage, or bad habits, down the toilet

divorce-toilet

This comes from a story from 2010, but was revived recently in a list of strange divorce customs around the world at the Huffington Post. According to HuffPo: One Japanese temple lets visitors flush a failed marriage down the toilet... literally. At the Mantokuji Temple, located in Gunma Prefecture in central Japan, visitors rid themselves of bad relationship karma by writing their breakup wishes on a piece of paper and flushing them down the toilet, according to Reuters.The temple was … [Read more...]

Eccentric Buddhist Masters

ginsberg

A recent discussion in the academic listserv H-Buddhism has me thinking again about David McMahon's book The Making of Buddhist Modernism. As I wrote last fall: I have pretty mixed feelings about the book, and the few scholars I’ve discussed the book with have largely concurred. On the one hand it is a “must read” because of its sweeping scope and rhetorical force. It really has many more positive things I could say about it than negative. On the other hand, it shouldn’t be taken as gospel – at … [Read more...]

Zen is Not Buddhism

Tonight I've taken on the task of "talking about Zen" for our campus Sangha. Not an enviable task for someone who is admittedly very ignorant about the subject. But what is the saying, "fools walk where angels dare not tread"?There are, I think, four ways to "talk about Zen." Or perhaps 4000, or 84,000, or whatever. I like to keep things simple.First, there is a scholarly history of Zen: very textual, lots of dates and names, fancy words with arrows like Zen <-- Ch'an <-- Dhyāna … [Read more...]


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