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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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Seeking the Deathless: chanting & stories of the Buddha for Vesak 2018

Vesak is the celebration of the Buddha’s birth, liberation, and death, falling this year on the late May full moon. We took a break from the social justice series we’re in the middle of to chant and hear stories remembering the life and insight of Siddhartha Gotama (mostly from the Lalitavistara Sūtra), who became the Buddha of our age, 2500 …

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The [Poisoned] State of the Union

On the evening our beleaguered president gives his first State of the Union address, I give mine. I talk about the early Buddhist framework for understanding the world in terms of three interwoven causes of pain and unskillful action: The 3 Poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion. Meditation: the Central Column as felt alignment leading to Eliot’s “still point at …

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Intervention vs Observation in Mindfulness Meditation

A short talk and discussion given at Spirit Rock during a Thursday morning yoga and meditation class. I talked about the difference between Bare Awareness styles of instruction and Cultivating Wholesome States styles, and how they relate to each other. Talked a bit about how understanding them as different ways of engaging in practice shines a light on some of …

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Buddhist & Hindu Yogas are less separate than you think

A month of talks exploring the relationship between Buddhism and Yoga, or between the many “Buddhist and Hindu Yogas” plural. I wove in some history, but tried to stay close to actual practice issues. 1. Embodiment. (9.5.17) Meditation: Orientation through the senses 2. Focus & tranquillity: the practices of jhāna/samādhi, and the pleasure of Rapture (pīti). Child Gotama under the …

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On the “mind-body connection” in yoga & meditation

Talk given at Haas Business School on Valentine’s day. They asked me to talk about the “mind-body connection” in yoga so I talked about how there’s really no such thing. How Descartes was wrong, etc. They were great.

On karma and white privilege

For more resources (for white folks) on uprooting White Privilege, check out the White Awake curriculum developed in part by the folks at Insight Meditation Washington DC.

10 Perfections (pāramī) to Cultivate on the Path

The doctrinal list known as the 10 Perfections, or pāramī, has only a small place in the earliest layer of the Buddhist teachings, but by the time the Pāli Canon was being fully assembled and the Mahāyāna revolution was well-underway, the list became one of the central frameworks for describing the qualities that aspiring Buddhas, or “Bodhisattvas” should cultivate. The Jataka Tales …

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The teaching of the 6 Realms as a metaphor for privilege

The Buddhist cosmological framework of the “6 Realms” can be read both as a map of where beings go from lifetime to lifetime, and/or a map of the psychological-emotional-relational states we pass through in the course of this life. Both are valuable. Here’s a discussion of the map in relation to the social justice work around privilege.

Yama and Mara: Hindu and Buddhist personifications of Death, a hypothesis

Both Buddhism and Hinduism personify Death in the form of a deity. The two traditions’ imagination around this figure naturally has many overlaps, but I’m suddenly thinking about some that I can’t find any reference to in the scholarly literature. The correspondence is about the role of Death as Teacher, as appearing in the Kaṭha Upaniṣad, and the role of Māra …

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