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Strong Views and Skillful Action

| January 15, 2017 | 14 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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The Buddha Before Buddhism: Review of Fronsdal

| January 9, 2017 | 6 Comments
The Buddha Before Buddhism: Review of Fronsdal

In his new book The Buddha Before Buddhism, Gil Fronsdal undertakes a translation of the Aṭṭhakavagga or Book of Eights, one of the Buddha’s most profound and enigmatic teachings, also widely considered one of his earliest. As is to be expected from his previous translation of the Dhammapada (2005), Fronsdal’s book is lucid and readable, one that should […]

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Insight Buddhism is Secular Buddhism: Reviewing Heartwood

| December 5, 2016 | 17 Comments
Insight Buddhism is Secular Buddhism: Reviewing Heartwood

  Wendy Cadge’s 2005 book Heartwood: The First Generation of Theravada Buddhism in America is a fascinating look at the way this form of Buddhism is adapting to contemporary American life. Although the book stems from her PhD dissertation it is readable, filled with descriptions of practitioners and their approaches. Cadge spent several years doing […]

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The Parade of Horribles

| November 9, 2016 | 19 Comments
The Parade of Horribles

Hope is both blessing and curse. It is a blessing when it gives us the confidence to act, to see beyond temporary obstacles and problems towards the greater good that stands in the uncertain distance. Hope gladdens the heart, turns our minds towards optimism and brings energy when we are low and tired. Hope can […]

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Can Dependent Origination Be Saved?

| October 31, 2016 | 14 Comments
Can Dependent Origination Be Saved?

Dependent origination is a conundrum, particularly in its most common and elaborate twelve link formula. On the one hand, it is both historically and philosophically central to the Buddha’s dhamma, on the other hand it is a deeply problematic attempt to reconcile kammic rebirth with a potential awakening into non-self. The subject is so complex […]

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Meditating with Muse

| October 28, 2016 | 0 Comments
Meditating with Muse

As soon as I saw the first ads for Muse, the “brain-sensing headband” that provides users with feedback during meditation, I felt both intrigued and conflicted. After all, you don’t need a $300 electronic gadget to meditate. Would this be just one more mindfulness commodity, another plaything to become attached to? Would it be useful? […]

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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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