Observing the Uposatha (Sabbath)

The Pāli word uposatha means “observance,” and refers to the ancient Buddhist tradition of devoting a day to our practice, much like the Christian sabbath, which is a fine translation of the word. The Buddha strongly encouraged lay practitioners to keep the uposatha, as the texts at the bottom of this page indicate. Observing the uposatha day might be as …

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“Do not ignore the effect of Right Action”: Ethics, kamma, and the Eightfold Path

The Right Action limb of the path covers the first 3 precepts, starting with non-harming. We’ll look at this excerpt from a sutta called “Intentional” (AN 10.217) to start off, which describes how (and which) actions always have consequences. “Mendicants, I don’t say that intentional deeds that have been performed and accumulated are eliminated without being experienced. And that may …

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Toward an Enraged Buddhism, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, I talk here more about the value of anger, and differentiating types of strong aversive emotion. Anger, rage, critique, and tone. What’s skillful or unskillful for individual or communal liberation? Self-protective nervous system responses, tone-policing, who gets to decide who speaks and how, and how a classical Buddhist approach might not actually be the same as …

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Toward an Enraged Buddhism, Part 1

Reevaluating anger and rage on a week where writing about rage, and especially women’s rage at injustice, is hitting threshold in my community. A simple promo post for this talk initiated a lovely, spread out conversation with folks on FB, including Rebecca Solnit, who has written eloquently (as always) on this. There’s a bunch of good links in the comment …

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Reflections on Right Speech After the Kavanaugh Hearings

Like so many folks, I was troubled by the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness for the Supreme Court. Besides the disgusting display of male privilege and delusion the entire thing displayed, AND the heartbreakingly familiar ritual of powerful men completely dismissing a woman’s fully respectable testimony, there was the lying, plain and simple. And of course this is an …

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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 5 Ethical Precepts (sīla)

Buddhism as a liberation path is a gradual purification of the heart that takes root as we see more clearly, stop clinging so much, and grow out of confusion about who we are into the maturity called wisdom. Wisdom is expressed partly as understanding: everything changes, and many things hurt, but there’s an openness, a clear space, at the heart …

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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.

Theravada Refuge & Precepts Pūjā

Every week at Satsang, we do a short chanting ceremony called a pūjā, or devotional ritual. We chant a few ancient verses in Pāli, the language of the early Buddhist texts. These verses are excerpts from a longer  sequence of chants done daily in Theravāda monasteries, emphasizing the basic lay (non-monastic) practices of going for refuge and the five ethical precepts. …

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