Michael Slott

I have been a political and labor activist for over 40 years. In 2010, I became interested in Buddhism and began a regular vipassana meditation practice. As an agnostic and activist, I am particularly interested in exploring how to connect secular Buddhism with a radical political theory and practice.

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Michael Slott's Latest Posts

Three Paths for Secular Buddhists

| August 28, 2017 | 12 Comments
Three Paths for Secular Buddhists

Introduction As secular Buddhism has become an increasingly prominent trend in the U.S., it’s a good time to reflect on the diverse paths being taken by those of us who identify as secular Buddhists.  While these paths are not mutually exclusive and thus practitioners may be involved, to some extent, in all of them, they […]

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Three Marks of Existence, or Three Factors of Human Experience?

| June 26, 2017 | 1 Comment
Three Marks of Existence, or Three Factors of Human Experience?

Introduction Along with the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, one of the core beliefs of Buddhists is the notion that there are three basic characteristics or “marks” of existence – dukkha (suffering), anicca (impermanence), and anatta (not-self). In the Aggi-Vacchagotta Sutta and other discourses the Buddha avoided entering into a debate over […]

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Strong Views and Skillful Action

| January 15, 2017 | 22 Comments
Strong Views and Skillful Action

Western Buddhists tend to be wary of strongly-held views. Holding and asserting views with strong emotion or passion is often seen as a form of unskillful clinging, based on an egoic need to be recognized as right, a competitive struggle over who has the best views, or an aversion to another person’s ideas. Strong views […]

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Can You Be a Conservative and a Buddhist?

| October 23, 2016 | 15 Comments
Can You Be a Conservative and a Buddhist?

This question was recently answered in the affirmative by Christopher Ford, who argued in Elephant in the Meditation Room (October 14, 2016) that it’s possible to be both politically conservative and a Buddhist.  More, he thinks it’s crucial that Buddhism in the U.S. has a greater diversity of opinion among its adherents, for “a bigger […]

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Taking a Second Look at Radical Dharma Through the Lens of Social Class

| September 9, 2016 | 12 Comments
Taking a Second Look at Radical Dharma Through the Lens of Social Class

Mark Knickelbine’s positive appraisal of the recently-published book, Radical Dharma: Talking, Race, Love and Liberation, highlights the authors’ emotional honesty and integrity in navigating the relationship between Buddhism and radical activism in the context of pervasive systems of oppression which mark American society.  I had a similarly positive reaction to that aspect of the book, […]

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Meditating With and For Each Other

| February 1, 2016 | 10 Comments
Meditating With and For Each Other

While meditation retreats have always been challenging, rewarding, and in some ways, deeply moving experiences for me, I believe that they don’t sufficiently foster two key aspects of our practice: our ethical, socially-conscious engagement in the world and our active participation in sanghas. In a previous blog post I raised concerns about the negative effect […]

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Meditating Without Nirvana

| October 30, 2015 | 22 Comments
Meditating Without Nirvana

Introduction A specter is haunting secular Buddhism;[1] it is the ghostly remnant of the non-naturalistic, supra-mundane dimension of traditional Buddhism. While we, as secular Buddhists, embrace the core insights of the Buddha about our human- existential condition, we need to usher this specter – the notion of nirvana – politely but firmly away from our […]

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