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Feb 25, 2013

“Know yourself, Forget Yourself: Five Truths to Transform your Work, Relationships, and Everyday Life,” by Marc Lesser

Know Yourself, Forget YourselfAs a rule, I am not a fan of self-help books. They are often big on promises but small on practicalities; good at telling you what is possible but rarely willing to recognize that each of us has limitations. Self-help books, it seems to me, sell the lie that you can be whoever you want and have whatever you want (Can I really marry Scarlett Johansson?). However, a self-help book based on Zen Buddhist principles might be different.

The book rests on the contention that ‘embracing life’s paradoxes is a powerful skill’ (p.4). Lesser, a Zen teacher and executive coach, proposes that we explore five key paradoxes: First, ‘Know Yourself, …

Dec 30, 2008

Death and Rebirth in Tibetan Buddhism

Exploring Karma and Rebirth, by NagapriyaBuddhist author, scholar, and practitioner Nagapriya shares insights into the Tibetan view of rebirth as a spiritual practice, in this excerpt from his acclaimed book, Exploring Karma and Rebirth.

The Tibetan schools of Buddhism place great importance on the death bardo — the intermediate state between death and rebirth — because they believe it provides a precious opportunity for spiritual awakening. For this reason, a good deal of their spiritual practice is geared towards preparing for it so that the death experience can be put to best use.

Spiritual practice as a whole could well be described as a preparation for death. As we approach death, images of our past …

Sep 01, 2008

“Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution,” by David Loy

money sex war karmaBuddhist author and scholar Nagapriya reviews a new book that takes a passionate and bold survey of Buddhism, how it interacts with the west, and what that means for us individually.

David Loy has established a formidable reputation as a serious Buddhist thinker able to tackle the big issues. He is especially concerned with the encounter between Buddhist ideas and practices and the contemporary world, an encounter that he believes has the potential to be mutually beneficial. In his words, “Buddhism and the West need each other.” (p.3) He adopts a broadly existential approach to interpreting Buddhism through an analysis of what he calls “lack” — an idea that derives from the …

Apr 07, 2008

Faith: credible mystery

jetty at dawnExamining the place of faith in Buddhism, Nagapriya outlines why it is a crucial tool for understanding

“For I do not seek to understand so that I may believe, but believe so that I may understand. For this too I believe: that unless I shall have believed, I may not understand.”

For St Anselm, belief or faith was the starting point from which his spiritual inquiry began, the foundation upon which it rested, not its result. He saw his belief as something to understand, confirm and unfold, not something he needed to justify to himself or the world. In an age where reason is king and supreme judge, St Anselm’s reliance upon faith may …