Tag Archives: Buddhism

David Foster Wallace’s “This is Water” 2005 Kenyon College Commencement Address

Wallace is totally the Buddha in this speech, preaching attentional choice, vigilance in looking, and imaginative awareness. It’s a shame he hit bottom in 2008 and, in the grip of a severe depression (a recurrent scourge that plagued his life), … Continue reading

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Alan Watts Sings

Sort of.

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What’s the Point of Having a Buddhist Meditation Practice?

Is the goal of the Buddhist meditator the same as the scientist (the breaking of spells and the dispelling of ignorance)? Ron Liefer, psychiatrist and Buddhist meditator, in his book The Happiness Project (Snow Lion 1997), writes the following (14): … Continue reading

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Buddha’s Take on Suffering vs. Nietzsche’s

If you think about it, we respond to whatever arises into consciousness with desire, aversion, or neutrality. And the things that appear to consciousness are always in flux: they arise, they ripen, they decline from attention and disappear. Then others … Continue reading

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Do You Think You Have Free Will?

If you answer yes, watching the below video might give you second thoughts. Serious second thoughts. __________ What I take from this clip is that my intentions and actions are things for which the ground has already been prepared, unconscious … Continue reading

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Dance With Me (In The Interpretation Of Lines From Yeats)

When reading something, guessing about an author’s exact state of mind is sometimes tricky, but it’s still fun to play. Take for instance William Butler Yeats’s poem, “Among School Children.” The Yale literary critic Paul de Man once noted that … Continue reading

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What Would It Mean To Live For Eternity?

When you think about it, all you ever really have is the present, which the poet William Blake called “the moving image of eternity.” You recall the past in present memory and you model and anticipate the future in present … Continue reading

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Three Religiously-Charged Jokes and a True Story That Functions Like a Joke

For a bit of flavoring, I tell these three religiously-charged jokes a tad differently from where I stumbled on them (see here). They’re pretty good, I think. How do fundamentalists drive agnostics from a neighborhood? They burn question marks on … Continue reading

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The Religion Tree

Using the metaphor of a tree, in the following poem I try to boil down the essence of the human predicament (which I take to be suffering, change, and death) and the response of each major religion to it (including the atheist … Continue reading

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If You’re Angry, And Words Fail

Don’t shoot! Try gesture:                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          . Or, how about this? (Buddhist equanimity.)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       . The above painting is from a Laotian monastery. It’s an image of the Buddha leading monks through a treacherous path. He is silent and calm, walking through … Continue reading

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Critical Thinking Tip #6: Try These Four Fog Breaking Steps for Getting at the Truth of a Matter

Feel like you’re in a fog about what you should believe concerning a claim? Try running it through the following four criteria and see how well it holds up:   The claim is accompanied by evidence. If evidence is not … Continue reading

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Neurons That Fire Together Wire Together: The New York Times Says 8 Weeks of Meditation, 30 Minutes a Day, May Change the Brain

More study is needed (obviously), but the New York Times, in its Health section, has a startling article on meditation’s apparent ability to literally change how the brain wires itself up, and that after only 8 weeks of very modest (30 minutes a day) meditation … Continue reading

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The self-made soul? Do you make a soul as an author makes a novel, one moment of awareness at a time?

I’m not sure what, exactly, the soul is (“I am that I am?”), but I do think I’m closing in, at least for myself, on what the soul does. Here’s the theory I’m working with. Please help me refine it if you think I’m missing something … Continue reading

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Change Your Mind, Change Your Brain?

This was in the Los Angeles Times this past month: For the Trappist monks at the Abbey of New Clairvaux, life follows a pattern centuries old. They spend their days in the field and their nights in silence. They gather in prayer … Continue reading

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The Seven Atheist Denials: God, the Self, the Soul, Immortality, Free Will, the Good, and You’re Never Really Alone

It’s often said that atheism is no more than the rejection of belief in gods, and, on a strict definition, this is true. But there are six other things that also tend to go with this rejection, and they ought to … Continue reading

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Atheism, Psychological Predisposition, and Temperament

Do you suppose that psychological predisposition and temperament play large roles in religious and irreligious belief? Let me suggest a dramatic example: a significant minority of the world’s prison population—perhaps 20%–exhibits psychopathy. Some of these people are, no doubt, atheists, but … Continue reading

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And These Two are One: Two Little Craniopagus Girls—or One? Will They Grow Up with Insights on the Nature of the Trinity?

Macleans/Ca. has a feature on conjoined twins who are craniopagus (joined at the head), and the twins appear to be sharing brain functions central to the self:  There is evidence that they can see through each other’s eyes and perhaps share each other’s unspoken … Continue reading

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Jack Kerouac: “I enter my page”

A great Jack Kerouac quote on the hollowness of pursuing fame: I can just see the shabby literary man carrying a “bulging briefcase” rushing from one campus to another, one lecture club to another, nodding confirmation with his hosts that … Continue reading

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Talking about Love Some More

It seems to me that George Harrison’s song, “Within You, Without You,” says a lot of true things in a short space. Here are the lyrics: We were talking about the space between us all, and the people who hide … Continue reading

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Saudi Woman Links to International Have a Meal with a Muslim Day (Sept 17, 2010)

At her Twitter feed, the brave Saudi feminist, Eman Al Nafjan, who blogs at SaudiWoman, linked to International Have a Meal with a Muslim Day, which I take as an endorsement. And I’ve also been informed that an imam in Baltimore … Continue reading

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