06/27/14

Misperception: Buddhism Leads To Inertia

Metta

Unfortunately, the Buddha’s goal of freedom through wise renunciation is so often misperceived – “How does sitting on a cushion help people who are starving or oppressed? Isn’t some amount of desire good? So at least we would feel the motivation to eat, to go to work, to have children… etc.?” To anyone who thinks this way I would say contemplate seriously whether or not lust and aversion are the only human motivators and whether or not meditation really is a recipe for inaction…

 

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05/25/14

Misperception: The Buddha Taught ‘No Self’

Stone Buddha, Scarborough
If the Buddha taught that there is no self then who is it that is experiencing the fruits of kamma and wandering endlessly in samsara? If there is no self then what is the point of meditation and why bother to lead a spiritual life? Questions like these are frequently asked by the Buddha’s critics and by those who are new to the dhamma…

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03/5/14

Attached Or Unattached?

Brass Buddha

Hopefully most meditators will at least be aware of the Five Precepts and doing their best to refrain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, unwholesome speech and intoxication.  However, it is also recommended for lay practitioners to observe the Eight Precepts on Uposatha days or days when one is free from work or household commitments. Observing the Eight Precepts strictly for just one day is a great test of one’s attachment to material comforts…

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12/8/13

Reconciliation in Buddhism

As the year draws to a close and winter tightens its grip I am reminded that peace and goodwill do not extend to all. The world remains a dangerous place and a political solution to the perennial problems of war, deprivation and injustice is still a long way off. The latest issue of ‘The Middle Way: Journal of The Buddhist Society’ is devoted to the issue of reconciliation, and I hope you will agree that its timely message is one worth sharing.

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09/9/13

Kamma, Death, Rebirth

Many people attracted to the Buddha’s teachings on impermanence and suffering nevertheless have a problem with his teachings on kamma and rebirth and are quick to reject them as outmoded metaphysical ideas, either cultural baggage or interpellations intended to placate his less-sophisticated followers.  Here I attempt to show that such doubts are based on misunderstandings and that kamma and rebirth are in fact verifiable through meditation…

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08/19/13

Is Anything Truly ‘Good’ or ‘Bad’?

As a Buddhist practitioner I reckon I need to be very clear on what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.   In this post I explain how Buddhist morality is more to do with the effects of one’s own wilful actions (kamma) upon one’s own state of mind and less about the consequences for others. Nothing in this world is inherently good or inherently bad, but the Buddha’s doctrine of anicca, dukkha, anatta should not be understood as some kind of nihilism where ‘anything goes’…

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02/24/13

Is Buddhism Compatible With Modern Science?

The compatibility of Buddhism and science was being argued during the Victorian period. More recently this idea has been popularised by writers like Fritjoff Capra (who wrote a book – The Tao of Physics – on how Western science and Eastern religions were apparently converging), and former monk Stephen Batchelor (who argued the case for a socially engaged, secular western Buddhism free from its cultural and religious accretions in Buddhism Without Beliefs.) In this post I explain why I no longer regard Buddhism and western science as compatible…

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02/2/13

What Is Buddhism?

In this post I describe ‘Buddhism’ as a religion of self-help. The teachings traditionally ascribed to Siddhattha Gotama, the historical Buddha, are concerned primarily with ending existential angst and attaining liberation from the endless and painful cycle of death and rebirth. The Buddha claimed not to be a God or a saviour, just a man who had attained liberation by his own efforts and was able therefore to point the way for us to do the same…

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