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Philip Kitcher on Secular Humanism

| January 19, 2015 | 3 Comments
Philip Kitcher on Secular Humanism

One criticism of ‘New Atheist’ books has been that they lack sophistication, that they attack only the most extreme forms of theistic belief without touching its more nuanced, liberal forms. So it comes as a welcome development to read Philip Kitcher’s new book, which takes a more nuanced look at religious belief and practice. As […]

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Impermanence and Emptiness: a Reversal in Perspective?

| January 12, 2015 | 22 Comments
Impermanence and Emptiness: a Reversal in Perspective?

The Buddhist notion of emptiness (suññatā/śunyatā) is famously difficult to get one’s head around. In a presentation this past Saturday Sharon Salzberg described it as a combination of impermanence (anicca) and interconnectedness. This is a good first go at understanding emptiness, although the simple concept “interconnectedness” doesn’t really do justice to the recondite complexity of dependent origination […]

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A World of Impermanence: the Three Marks

| January 5, 2015 | 10 Comments
A World of Impermanence: the Three Marks

The three marks of existence (anicca, dukkha, anatta, or impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, and non-self) have always played a central role in Buddhist dhamma. They outline its basic metaphysics, the ground which characterizes lived reality. The Buddha viewed these characteristics as everlastingly true of the world: “Bhikkhus, whether Tathāgatas arise or not, there persists that law, that […]

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Practice Circle: Resolution and Intention

| December 26, 2014 | 2 Comments
Practice Circle: Resolution and Intention

The Western calendar is preparing to turn over to another year, and as a glance at any advertising medium will confirm, it’s time for New Years Resolutions. Time to promise one’s self to lose weight, quit smoking, perhaps even start a meditation practice. And we know the punch line, too; the health club that’s full […]

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Sam Harris Talks Spirituality

| December 18, 2014 | 14 Comments
Sam Harris Talks Spirituality

Sam Harris’s new book Waking Up has a lot to recommend it. Harris is a gifted writer, always clear and engaging, who never seems to talk down to the reader. This is not an easy task when dealing with abstruse topics. Harris picks out salient examples and tells interesting stories that continually bring his points to […]

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Sati and Sociopolitics: Throwing the Buddha Out with the Bathwater?

| December 15, 2014 | 6 Comments
Sati and Sociopolitics: Throwing the Buddha Out with the Bathwater?

With Anderson Cooper’s enthusiastic endorsement on 60 Minutes last night, mindfulness practice is well into the mainstream. Cooper’s segment included interviews with mindfulness gurus Jon Kabat-Zinn and Chade-Meng Tan, Google employee with the job title “Jolly Good Fellow”. As the movement has grown, there has been pushback. Some has focused on the scientific claims, but […]

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Practice Circle: Transforming Suffering with Compassion

| December 11, 2014 | 5 Comments
Practice Circle: Transforming Suffering with Compassion

As I sit down to write this, the late afternoon shadows have deepened nearly to evening, reminding me that the longest nights of the year will soon be upon us.  The news is full of the angry protests over police violence and the systematic atrocities committed by the United States government in its program of […]

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