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8 Yoga Texts Every Student Should Read

These excerpts are taken from the handout to our 20-hour YA-approved “Yoga Humanities” course: Intro to the History of Yoga: Philosophy, Practice, Transformation. Each excerpt is followed by a reflection question for use in class or individual study based on reflection questions in the course. Each of these excerpts is from a text that is central to its particular era, …

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“The ford where all the Buddhas cross”: Ethics as the ground of liberation

Continuing in our exploration of the Noble Eightfold Path, we’re entering the limbs of Right Speech, Action, and Livelihood, collectively known as the Ethics (sīla) section. A discourse called “The People of Sālā,” offering a standard list of the elements of Buddhist ethics, breaking down the limbs of Speech and Action into their subgroups, is at the bottom of the …

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Ancestral Trauma & the Insight into Previous Births

The Buddha’s insights into the nature of identity and its relationship with pain and distress are expressed in three important concepts: Dependent Origination (paṭiccasamuppāda), wandering (saṃsāra), and selflessness or insubstantiality (anattā). These are among the most challenging teachings in the tradition partly because they are based in phenomena that few practitioners can observe directly: past lives, the process of cause …

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Reflections on/of the Heart Sūtra

I began formal Zen practice in 1993, in a tiny rural monastery in the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico known as Bodhi Mandala (now Bodhi Manda — hippie era mistranslation finally corrected after 30-some years). They gave me a cot in a rickety old ex-Catholic dormitory, a black robe in two pieces called kimono and hakama that I had …

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The Consolation of Philosophy: Study as Path, Wisdom as Mother

When the 5th century Roman philosopher Boëthius was under house arrest for treason (he got on the wrong side of a political fight, basically), he wrote his best-seller, an allegorical play in which he is visited in prison by Philosophy, personified as a wisdom goddess. When she first arrives, he complains about his misfortune, especially after he had a faithful …

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“Like throwing loaded dice”: Right Intention, the root of skillful action

The second limb of the Noble Eightfold Path, and the all-important hinge from View (limb 1) into Action (limbs 3-5), is Right Intention, sammā-saṅkappa. (Here’s the talks from the first part of this series, on Right View.) And what, bhikkhus, is right intention? Intention of renunciation, intention of non-ill will, intention of harmlessness: this is called right intention. SN 45.8: …

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The Noble Eightfold Path to the End of Dissatisfaction: Part 1, Right View

A new dive into the Noble Eightfold Path (8FP), the Buddha’s brilliant scaffolding for integrated individual and collective liberation. We start, as is traditional, with Right View: the turning of the heart toward reality and away from delusion. Right View is both the prerequisite for wisdom to arise and the manifestation of wisdom when it matures. It is described many …

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Buddhism & Yoga: Integrating the Traditions

Buddhism and Yoga are two major branches on the family tree of South Asian spiritual practice, whose roots we can glimpse in ancient texts called upaniṣads. Both branches focus on transformative practice aimed at the end of suffering and stress. From a deeply interwoven beginning, each tradition branched into many different schools and practice systems, remaining in dialogue and sharing …

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Gratitude for the Text Transmission

Gratitude to Gotama for speaking the Dhamma,Beloved Ānanda for remembering it all.Gratitude always to the First Council Elders, and Ānanda again, his own path assured. To the monks with no master, for 300 years,committing to memory their teacher’s words,lifetimes pre-literate, sati is memory, gratitude.How many lives given becoming these books? To the scribes, the printmakers, carvers, inscribers, gratitude. Your craft …

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