The teaching of the zombie Buddha

October 31, 2014

fasting bodhisattaBy day I’m a peace-loving Buddhist; by night a fearless zombie slayer.

That second part isn’t entirely true. Last night I didn’t actually slay any zombies, and I certainly wasn’t fearless. In fact I was terrified as I cowered inside my car as a ravening undead creature tried to force its head through the half-open window, growling and gnashing with its fearful, gaping maw. I tried to stab at it with a pointed stick, but never quite made contact. (Pointed sticks are for vampires, I know, but you have to use the tools available to you, and that’s what I had at hand.)

As it happens, this was just one of the very realistic zombie … Read more »

The demon in the dark

November 6, 2012

I had a nightmare the other night. That’s unusual for me.

True, there was the one last week where I had a bad dream that the wrong guy won the presidential election, and I awoke in a panic that the economy was about to go down the tubes again. But it’s not hard to see why I had that particular nightmare, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone in it.

The one I had two nights ago — just a little too late for Hallowe’en — was different. Much darker. And even scarier.

In this dream I’d just woken up. It was still night. I was lying in a small, dark room, alone, in a twin … Read more »

Anne Morrow Lindbergh: “If one is estranged from oneself, then one is estranged from others too. If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others…”

June 23, 2008

Anne Morrow LindberghLindbergh’s comment reminds me that being fully aware of others involves awareness of oneself. There’s nothing particularly mystical about this — it’s just a question of psychology and neurophysiology. And without this awareness of oneself, friendship is simply impossible.

On a psychological level, next time you’re interacting with someone, pay attention to what’s happening on a gut level. You’ll notice that there are sensations in the body, mostly focused on the abdomen, that arise in response to the other person. In Buddhist terminology these are vedanas, which are often translated as “feelings.” Vedanas are not emotions, but are a basic response to perceptions. These responses are traditionally categorized as pleasurable, uncomfortable, or neutral.

Have … Read more »