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My First Float

| April 27, 2016 | 0 Comments
My First Float

Last Saturday, I had my first experience in a float tank, sometimes also referred to as a sensory deprivation chamber. I had been curious about them since I first learned about them in the 1970s, especially after seeing the 1980 William Hurt movie, Altered States. Recently, a couple of commercial float ventures have opened in […]

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Thinking and Feeling, Critically

| April 25, 2016 | 4 Comments
Thinking and Feeling, Critically

We are deep into the political season. Looking at the Trump phenomenon, an article by Phil Torres in Salon bemoans the “anti-intellectualism that runs through the roots of American culture.” Torres notes that, “[T]he most dangerous consequence of Fox News is that it discourages that most important form of rigorous curiosity called critical thinking.” Critical thinking, […]

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Skepticism, Atheism, and the Good Life

| April 11, 2016 | 14 Comments
Skepticism, Atheism, and the Good Life

Where do we find the good life? The ancient Greeks, our earliest philosophical forebears in the West, thought the highest aim of reason was to answer just this kind of question. Nowadays we often think of reason as allied to the twin aims of (1) scientific skepticism, that is, following the results of consensus science as […]

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Practice Circle April 3: Rick Heller and Face Meditation

| March 22, 2016 | 1 Comment
Practice Circle April 3: Rick Heller and Face Meditation

Hi! To avoid the holiday weekend, we’ll reschedule Practice Circle for Sunday, April 3, when author Rick Heller will join us as guest facilitator. Rick will share one of the practices from his book, Secular Mediation: 32 Practices for Cultivating Inner Peace, Compassion and Joy. Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on the practice Rick […]

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“Buddha vs. Faust”: Responding to Ronald Lindsay

| February 29, 2016 | 8 Comments
“Buddha vs. Faust”: Responding to Ronald Lindsay

Ron Lindsay’s recent blog post “On the Pursuit of Meditation: Buddha vs. Faust” begins as a mild critique of Sam Harris’s recent book Waking Up, and then segues into a skeptical review of meditation. Lindsay is President of the secularist/skeptic Center for Inquiry.* Although I dealt with many relevant topics at some length in my review of […]

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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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Lovingkindness Now and in the Past

| January 26, 2016 | 12 Comments
Lovingkindness Now and in the Past

In contrast to the dominant role that mettā (lovingkindness) and the other Brahmavihāras (compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity) play in contemporary Buddhist practice, they seem to have played a relatively minor role in the earliest tradition. One looks in vain for much elaboration on mettā’s dhammic role; largely it seems to have been seen as […]

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