02/19/18

Do We Really Exist? Believing That The Self Is An Illusion Does Not Eliminate The Fear Of Death

Buddhism teaches that the soul or ‘self’ is not a permanent entity but a combination of material and mental phenomena in constant flux. Researchers hypothesized that believing the soul or self to be illusory would mitigate the seemingly natural human instinct to fear death, and monastic Buddhists would be more generous and less afraid of death than lay Buddhists, Hindus and Christians. But their study published on 22 January 2018 apparently found otherwise…

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12/31/17

Two Truths, Many Practices


The history of Buddhism ever since the Buddha’s teachings were first written down (c. 100 BCE) has been one of re-working his teachings to fit the different needs of different people living in different countries at different times. Consequently we have lots of early sermons (i.e. suttas or sutras) attributed to the Buddha – not just one sermon or a few sermons that we can cling to as good for every changing circumstance…

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11/3/17

Mythology, Cosmology & Rituals In Early Buddhism

To see the Buddha “as he really is” we should explore some of the major episodes in his many lives and appreciate how Buddhist mythology, cosmology, and rituals, relate to one another. We’ll be less likely to view these doctrines as “popular Buddhism” – degeneration from reason (philosophy) to religion (mythology). Their truth isn’t a matter of historical/factual correctness – it’s a matter of the presence or absence of suffering when we internalise the message and strive to live up to it.

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10/13/17

Early Buddhist Jhana & Modern Buddhist Vipassana


Although Theravada claims to be the most orthodox Buddhist tradition, modernists within that tradition have promoted vipassana or insight meditation as the Buddha’s unique meditation practice.  In the Pali Canon, however, insight generally comes after mastery of the jhanas. Modern understandings of the word “vipassana” appear to differ from the understanding of the Early Buddhists who transmitted the Sutta Pitaka.

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09/2/17

Removing Doubts & Obstacles When The Buddha’s Path Is Blocked


It’s not uncommon for Buddhists to feel like their practice has stalled. Concentration wavers, awareness is lost, doubts arise, and the Buddha’s supreme freedom from samsara seems hopelessly unattainable.  It can be an especially trying time if you’re a solitary practitioner lacking the guidance of a skilled meditation teacher. But it’s also an opportunity to straighten your views and re-affirm your refuge in the Triple Gem.

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08/14/17

Buddhism IS A Religion (And It’s No Bad Thing)

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Newcomers to Buddhism are frequently told that Buddhism isn’t a religion. However, one must employ a very narrow misunderstanding of the word religion in order to exclude Buddhism.  Ancient Buddhist doctrine is suggestive of a polytheistic religion. Deities and devotional rites remain an important fact of Buddhist life as far as many practitioners in the heartlands of modern day Asia are concerned…
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05/24/17

Some thoughts on the “historical” Buddha & “authentic” Buddhism

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One might reasonably expect the long history of scholarly endeavours to have shed some light on the Buddha’s life and teachings.  Unfortunately, the evidence such as it exists is inconclusive and liable to provoke scepticism and hostility even among Buddhists. The historical Buddha remains  an enigmatic figure and it raises a number of questions that need untangling and addressing…

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03/28/17

Is Buddhism Fundamentally Flawed?

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I don’t always agree with self-declared “ex-Buddhist” Eisel Mazard, nevertheless I do count him among the people who have assisted my own developing understanding of the religion. While giving a very brief description of the “fundamental flaw” Mazard sees in Buddhism I also recommend watching the embedded video to hear it straight from the horses mouth…

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10/30/16

What Does “I Resolve Not To Kill But To Cherish All Life” Truly Mean?

pollution

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Buddhism is less about following rules and more about abandoning self-serving narratives. The Precept, “I resolve not to kill but to cherish all life”, must be understood on three levels – fundamentally as an exercise in mindfulness; flexibly as a guide to ethical living; ultimately as a meditation on selfless interdependence.
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