Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

On Gutting on Happiness

What really makes us happy? In a New York Times online post, Catholic philosopher Gary Gutting looks with a somewhat jaundiced eye on the nascent discipline of “happiness studies”.* He gives four conditions for happiness, which make for interesting reading and contemplation, particularly from a Secular Buddhist perspective. They are: good luck, fulfilling work, sense…

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Buddhist Global Relief

We should all be looking for ways to help alleviate the dukkha of the world on a larger scale than just our own minds. But doing so is a much bigger program than sitting on the cushion, one that requires money and coordination. As secularists we would prefer that these projects be done without sectarian…

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On Supramundane Freedom

In my last post we looked a bit at mundane freedom: what it is, and what it is not. We saw that mundane freedom involved volitional formations (saṇkhāras) within a more-or-less deterministic causal nexus. What made the will free is that it was constituted by our desires, rather than by those of another. That is,…

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Crossed Paths in the Dhamma?

An apparent inconsistency lies at the heart of the Buddha’s teachings: his dhamma recommends we follow two paths at the same time, which lead to different destinations. On the one hand, we are to act ethically within the world, so as to build up a kammic bank account which will help us in attaining better…

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Scenes from a Mindfulness Retreat: Ritual

Here are links to Part One and Part Two. One of the things I’ve admired about the Friday night drop in mindfulness sessions at the UW Health Integrative Medicine Center is the creativity displayed by the teachers in developing rituals, symbolic objects and activities that help to express the wisdom of practice. There is no…

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The Ethics of Impermanence

At the end of his very useful and somewhat demanding book,  The Bodhisattva’s Brain, philosopher Owen Flanagan poses a dilemma: . . . I still do not see, despite trying to see for many years, why understanding the impermanence of everything including myself makes a life of maximal compassion more rational than a life of…

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Is Secular Buddhism Cherry Picking?

For me, yes! Just as I would pick cherries from a tree, taking the ripe ones and the almost ripe, and leaving unripe on the tree and the rotten ones on the ground (or throw them away), I have cherry picked from Buddhism. Over the last ten years or so, I have studied Zen Buddhism,…

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How an Atheist Practices Secular Buddhism

What science has taught me about being skeptical of the outer world, Buddhism has taught me about being skeptical of the inner world. Both require critical thinking, and both require evidence. While science turns those methods outward, Buddhism turns those methods inwards. What differs are the tools. In science, to evaluate the world and universe…

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