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Sam Harris Talks Spirituality

| December 18, 2014 | 9 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 | 5 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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The Snake: Translating Ancient Verses

| December 2, 2014 | 7 Comments
The Snake: Translating Ancient Verses

Note: This post is shorter than it looks. Skip the large section of Notes if you wish. The challenge posed by an ancient verse like “The Snake” is that, even for its original audience, a great deal is left unsaid. Even if you lived in a time when you and everyone around you knew that […]

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Thich Nhat Hanh, Secular Buddhist

| November 20, 2014 | 8 Comments
Thich Nhat Hanh, Secular Buddhist

Those of us who gathered for Social Circle last Friday evening spent a fair amount of time talking about Thich Nhat Hanh, whose recent hospitalization made headlines after rumors of his death had circulated online. The way the Internet lit up with expressions of concern and well wishes for the Vietnamese Zen monk, known to […]

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Learn Comedy From The Buddha

| November 15, 2014 | 4 Comments
Learn Comedy From The Buddha

So the Buddha walks out from under the bodhi tree and turns out to be a comedian. No seriously, give me some respect here. I’ve been reading lots of the oldest stories we have about the Buddha in his day, and have been surprised to realize that some of the stories he tells, and some […]

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Mindful America: A Review

| November 5, 2014 | 3 Comments
Mindful America: A Review

I was by turns excited, puzzled and exasperated as I read Jeff Wilson’s Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture.  This first attempt at an academic look at the rise of the mindfulness movement is a fascinating, provocative and often entertaining read,  but its cultural studies methodology can be questionable and […]

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