Why Not Join Us?

In 2009 I spent a couple weeks at the Wat Pahnnanna Chat monastery, in the austere and celibate Thai Forest Tradition. Most of the long-term monks seemed distant, unavailable for conversation, and even emotionally cold. I had friendly chats with one guy, though, an old Sri Lankan monk, who had kind eyes and always seemed warm and open. One morning we had the following exchange:

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Why Large-Scale Spectator Sports Are Valuable To Everyone

Some people seem to think that large-scale organized spectator sports needlessly create competitiveness, violence, and aggression, and that they are a waste of money, energy, and attention that could be better spent on “real” life. But large-scale organized spectator sports are vastly cheaper and healthier than the alternative ways that people act out their territorial aggressions.

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What Time Of Day To Meditate, And For How Long

A traditional teaching in the Buddhist lineage is that the best times of day to engage in formal, still meditative practice is first thing in the morning, upon waking up from sleep and before the day gets going, or right before sleeping, as the challenges of another day on Earth wind down and slip away. I personally feel best about the practice of meditating first thing in the morning

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What Is A Saint?

It is a kind of balance that is a saint’s glory. He rides the drifts like an escaped ski. His course is a caress of the hill. His track is a drawing of the snow in a moment of its particular arrangement with wind and rock.

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What is “Mindful Coaching”?

Isn’t all coaching supposed to be mindful? What’s unique about coaching via mindfulness-informed sensibilities? How does appreciating and having a personal relationship with mindfulness affect coaching work? What’s your experience with coaching, mindfulness, and mindful coaching?

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What I Say To Friends Who Are Grieving

I imagine that most people would agree that it is often difficult to find appropriate words of condolence when a friend is grieving. I personally do not want to say to a grieving friend that I hope that they feel better soon, because I think that it is healthy for a human psyche to go through a period of pain when it has lost someone or something that it cares about. I believe that people often say “feel better soon” because they are uncomfortable in the presence of another person’s pain, and that that phrase can sometimes feel like an unpleasant pressure put on a grieving person to have it all put back together sooner than would be otherwise natural for them.

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What Does It Mean To Be A Buddhist?

To me, the heart of Buddhist practice is daily sitting. I find sitting in general makes me less reactive and more aware in life. I tend to feel better about the choices that I make and how I interact with people when I am sitting regularly compared with when I am not. I also have noticed that I enjoy life, going about it more consciously and with greater choice, patience, and spaciousness, when I have been sitting.

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Visiting The Ajanta And Ellora Caves In India

I just finished visits to the astounding Ajanta and Ellora caves, both World Heritage Sites, in the middle of the Indian state of Maharashtra. These cave systems are thirty and thirty-four, respectively, huge caves, hand-carved over decades, chip by chip, out of solid cliffside rock. Many of them contain elaborate religious detail-work.

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Two Types Of Growth

One way to make a big impact on our life for the better is instantaneous, emotional, intense, and invokes making a courageous and bold big change. The other is slow, steady, regular time put in moving towards a goal

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Truth

So what is it to be a “true person”? One of the simplest definitions of what is “Truth” (and perhaps pointing to the “truth that will set you free”) is that we are being truthful when we do what we say and we say what we do. We can tell the truth at least to ourselves, and maybe even to others too. Living in truth, there is a harmony between our words and our actions. Buddhists would go one step further, and say that truth is expressed when there is a harmony between our “beingness”, what we really are, with what we say and what we do – in a sense, when they are the same.

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Travelling To Asia For Spiritual Practice

I realize that many of my reasons for coming here to Asia for a year of travel were not conscious to me before I got here. As many of my friends know, however, the biggest conscious motivation for my journey was to experience “spiritual practice” (mostly Buddhism, but yoga/Hinduism too) in the old countries. I mean, it stands to reason that, if one wants the authentic, deep, true experience, one heads to the point of origin – amirite?

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The Human Body as Objectification of Will in the Philosophy of Arthur Schopenhauer

In the cosmology of the ninetieth century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, the pure Will-in-itself, like the Christian God, the Hindu Brahman, or the Buddhist Nirvana, exists outside of space and time, beyond the realm of human comprehension or perception. It does, however, phenomenologically manifest itself, almost pantheistically, in our realm as both the unified totality of all of the objects of the physical universe, and as the will to exist and to act that propels these objects along their respective courses.

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The Dream

Heading back to the city after three months of simple stillness in the monastery, I was staring out the car window at the passing gas stations and shopping malls, at all the billboards and the neon. I turned to the Zen priest driving me, and said, “It all seems like a dream.” He shot back, “What makes you think that it isn’t”?

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The Ceremony Of Meditation

Fifteen years ago, I felt unsettled after reading a transcription of a talk given by one of my Zen teachers, Tenshin Reb Anderson. The piece was entitled “A Ceremony for the Encouragement of Zazen”.

I felt fine about Tenshin Roshi expressing the common Zen teaching that full liberation (and “oneness with the universe”) is not something that we can simply capture or do through our own intentions or efforts, but that we can align with our true place in the cosmos by sitting meditation (called “zazen” in Japanese Zen). What this piece said that I had not heard before, and disliked reading, was the idea that the true meaning of meditation is only realized within the context of a “ceremony”.

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