July 18, 2024

The benefits of exploring other traditions are numerous. So, it is helpful to understand both the similarities and the differences in religious beliefs and practices. In The Way, I describe what Aldous Huxley and others called the perennial philosophy. Huxley believed that the perennial philosophy underlies all religions. It assumes that there is a godhead or ground behind the Universe, that this unity is immanent and transcendent, and that we can commune or merge with the godhead or ground of... Read more

July 12, 2024

Zen is not concerned with prescription or speculation. I wrote about Zen here and here and here. In these posts, I outlined Buddhist thought in broad strokes. Buddhism aims to reduce suffering, and it is mostly concerned with practice, not belief. There is no Buddhist creed, like there is no Hindu or Jewish or Muslim creed. More important, Buddhist thought expresses the observations of Buddha and his followers. These observations can be verified with objective evidence and subjective experience. Fundamentally,... Read more

July 4, 2024

Dogen Zenji encourages us to remove the barrier between self and other. So, the beginning of The Way features a quote by Dogen, founder of the Soto school of Zen:   To study the Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things. To be enlightened by all things is to remove the barrier between self and other.   The Spiritual Journey Thus,... Read more

June 27, 2024

Buddhism does not believe in a permanent, unchanging self. Of course, each of us has forms, feelings, perceptions, thoughts, and awareness. Also, these attributes interact with our influences— our chemistry, our conditioning, our culture, and our experience. They create what we think of as a “self.” But, Buddhists do NOT believe that this is a permanent, unchanging entity. In the Eastern worldview, Ultimate Reality is immanent, as well as transcendent. The true Self (or “no-self” in Buddhism) is one with... Read more

June 20, 2024

Buddhism embraces a different worldview than most Western religions. Buddhism developed in response to Hinduism, which could be rigid and ritualistic. Siddhartha Gautama (now called the Buddha) was a seeker who found enlightenment under a bodhi tree, where he attained liberation from samsara, the cycle of suffering. Buddhism is grounded in the Buddha, the dharma (teachings) and the sangha (community.) On his deathbed, the Buddha reportedly instructed his followers not to blindly follow any leader (even the Buddha) and to... Read more

June 14, 2024

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the way that we live and work. Increasingly, AI presents challenging questions about the nature of humanity and about the nature of the Universe itself.   Existential Exhaustion? Before The Way was published, I asked ChatGPT, an AI app, to write a “New York Times” book review of my book. The book was not available anywhere online, in bookstores, or in libraries. So, the review was based solely on my author website and my social... Read more

June 7, 2024

Are visions hallucinations or transcendent experiences? Biologist J.B.S. Haldane said, “The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.” A few years ago, I participated in a Native American sweat lodge ceremony. Eight of us squeezed into a small hut that usually seated four. The medicine man poured water over hot stones, placing more stones and pouring more water every few minutes, to maintain a constant temperature above 100 degrees. I was expecting a... Read more

May 31, 2024

Comedian Ricky Gervais once tweeted, “There have been nearly 3000 Gods so far, but only yours actually exists. The others are silly made-up nonsense. But not yours. Yours is real.” For many of us who were taught to believe exactly that, his statement is unsettling. Merriam-Webster defines “God” as “the supreme or Ultimate Reality.” Recently, I wrote about Ultimate Reality here and here and here and here. I do not assume that Ultimate Reality is personal or supernatural. Perhaps, it is.... Read more

May 23, 2024

There are more than 45,000 forms of Christianity worldwide, and they disagree on the fundamentals. What beliefs are fundamental to Christianity? I used to attend a Disciples of Christ church, founded by Barton Stone and Thomas Campbell almost 200 years ago. Stone questioned much Christian orthodoxy, including the Trinity and atonement. When one of the current members of our church wondered what beliefs are fundamental to Christianity, she insisted, “Surely, we all agree on the Trinity!?!” I reminded her that... Read more

May 16, 2024

Creation myths can illustrate the intersection of mythology, religion, and science. Do we interpret ancient religious texts as history or mythology? If we examine ancient religions, we might say, “Aha, the myth of the creation… aha, the myth of the fall… aha, the myth of the flood… aha, the myth of the virgin birth… aha, the myth of the divine sonship… aha, the myth of the resurrection,” etc. These are common myths in many ancient religions. These myths seem unique... Read more

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