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Are Svadhyaya and Isvara-pranidhanat theistic?

In our conversation Tuesday night at the Yoga Garden Teacher Training, where I was giving a slam-bam “3000 years of yoga history in 90 minutes” lecture, Michelle Myhre, the director of Advanced Studies there asked a very good (and historically puzzling) question. Patañjali’s Yoga Sutra (YS) is descended in part from Buddhism and Sankhya philosophy, both of which are not theistic …

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now the eyes of my eyes are opened

Our senses are so much a part of who we are that it’s nearly impossible to think of ourselves without them. We have sense organs, called “doors” in Buddhism because they admit information, or “sense-objects” — the “guests” in the Rumi poem, “This body is a guest house”. In the Buddhist tradition, thought and emotion — all the “formations” of …

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Yogi, go on retreat! Notes from stillness.

Retreat, day 3: Meditating is like being with a toddler having a tantrum. My mind is incorrigible, throwing fits, constantly launching off into fantasy, blame, judgement (usually self-), and despair. I feel besieged, at wits end, and a very familiar sense of failure begins to arise. I catch myself thinking about the scene in the Cate Blanchett Elizabeth movie, where Mary …

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Satipatthana Sutta, april 2012. video

satipatthana sutta, April 2012 Video of 4 classes on the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha’s instructions on the practice of mindfulness. This is the core text that teaches meditation and the path of insight in the Theravada Buddhist tradition, and is a beautifully clear and inspiring guide for practice. We’re reading Anālayo’s translation (you can download the text here). (The sound …

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Vegetarian Buddhist? How unusual.

Despite having strong personal feelings on the topic and I think a pretty clear head about it culturally, I haven’t written about vegetarianism in modern yoga and Buddhist practice in this forum, though I have in others. I’m inspired to now because of a question that was asked at the end of a training I just finished, and because meat-eating …

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State of the Union, 2012

As I write these words, on the train coming home from school (Davis), the president is giving his State of the Union address. Since I can’t watch or listen to him speak, I’ll offer my own version. I’m sure this is exactly what he’s saying: Our union is in a dire state. Nothing new. But what does “union” mean, anyway? …

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Resolutions, renunciation, Ganesha

As we begin the new year, many of us are making resolutions – often to improve some aspect of our personality or habits. This resolution-making is an aspect of the yogic practice called sankalpa, which is a Sanskrit word often translated as “intention”. Intention is so important on our path as yogis that the Buddha included it as an entire …

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Saviors, Eugene

I’ve been thinking about saviors. How much I want one sometimes. How rare they seem! Even though all my Buddhist and yogic teachings about cause and effect don’t really make space for them, somehow there’s still space in my heart for the possibility of being saved. I can imagine salvation, sure, in the impersonal way that openness arises when the …

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