“Do Buddhists celebrate Christmas?” is a question I’m often asked. My answer is usually along the lines that most Western Buddhists do, although not as a religious holiday.
It seems fair enough that a lot of Buddhists do Christmassy things in December, like giving and receiving gifts, and gathering together on the 25th to feast with friends and family. After all, Christianity itself “borrowed” the holiday from European Paganism, where it was known as Yule — a word that’s still in use in Northern Europe. Most of the things that we think of as “Christmassy” — trees, mistletoe, feasting — are in fact “Yule-y,” and nothing to do with the Bible. No religion has a … Read more »
My first morning at “Sages & Scientists,” I walked into a cavernous ballroom as Deepak Chopra, on a stage, brilliantly illuminated, assured the audience that “consciousness is reality.”
He looked weird, almost too real. Then I realized I was seeing not Chopra himself, the spirituality and holistic-health mogul and host of the meeting, but an …
Recently I wrote a piece saying that I’m making a effort to remember to be happy. When I say that I need to remember to be happy, what I mean is that I need to pause, be mindful, and notice if there’s anything I’m doing that is inhibiting my well-being. Often I do this through asking the question, “Could I be happier right now?”
Often when I ask this question I find, in fact, that I’m being a bit willful and overly intense in the way I’m working. I get very focused on the thing I’m doing (writing an article, for example) and lose touch with how I’m feeling while I’m doing that task. … Read more »
One of the most radical and attractive things about Buddhist ethics is that the rightness or wrongness of an action is not to do with some arbitrary set of rules developed by a deity, but is based on the intention behind the action.
If an action is fueled by craving, hatred, or delusion, then it’s considered to be unskillful, and if it’s not based on those qualities, but instead is based on qualities such as “renunciation” (which would include contentment and generosity), kindness, compassion, and mindfulness, then it’s considered skillful.
For this reason, Buddhism is often said to have an “ethic of intention.” This, however, can be misleading. What determines the ethical status of unskillful … Read more »
Mindfulness for Beginners by Jon Kabat-Zinn Doug Smith, The Secular Buddhist Association: With Anderson Cooper’s enthusiastic endorsement on 60 Minutes last night, mindfulness practice is well into the mainstream. Cooper’s segment included interviews with mindfulness gurus Jon Kabat-Zinn and Chade-Meng Tan, Google employee with the job title “Jolly Good Fellow”.
As the movement has grown, there has been pushback. Some has focused on the scientific claims, but much has focused on the nexus between traditional and secularized practice. Candidly, I find myself on both sides of this issue. While there is no reason to accept the supernatural claims of traditional …
Recently I wanted to buy some herbal tea in bulk. I did my research on Amazon, found the brand I wanted, and then promptly headed over to the manufacturer’s website to make my purchase. This cost me a little more, but I was happy to pay the extra expense. Why, you may wonder?
Whether we consider it or not, every penny we spend has some effect on the direction our society takes. We can choose to spend our money at businesses that are exploitative and socially harmful, or at businesses that make a more positive contribution to our world. We collectively create the world we live in.
I’ve stopped shopping at Amazon. In some ways … Read more »
Wildmind’s foray into publishing started because many meditation students requested that the guided meditations Bodhipaksa recorded for his online courses be offered in CD format as well. Bodhipaksa used the services of a local recording studio in order to record the mindfulness of breathing, development of lovingkindness, and walking meditation practices. This CD was self-published under the title, Guided Meditations for Calmness, Awareness, and Love. Amazon ordered a copy. Then two. Then a dozen. Then a hundred! For several years, Bodhipaksa’s first CD was Amazon’s best-selling meditation title, and it … Read more »
These varied activities are run by a small team of three people working from an office in a former cotton mill on the Lamprey River in Newmarket, New Hampshire, just down the road from Aryaloka Buddhist Center.
As an online meditation center, Wildmind has a global, reach. In the past twelve months Wildmind’s website, which offers structured guides to meditation as well as a constant stream of news, reviews, and articles on various aspects of practice, has had visitors from every single country in the world, with the exception of Western Sahara.
The … Read more »
One of the most attractive things about Buddhism is that it considers ethics to be based on the intentions behind our actions. This perspective is radical in its simplicity, clarity, and practicality.
When our actions are based on greed, hatred, or delusion, they’re said to be “unskillful” (akusala), which is the term Buddhism prefers over the more judgmental terms “bad” or “evil” — although those terms are used too, albeit mostly in the context of poetry. By contrast, when our intentions are based on mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom, they’re said to be skillful (kusala).
For many people accustomed to systems of morality based on commandments, rewards and punishments, the Buddhist ethical perspective is liberating and … Read more »
The other day I wrote about how karma isn’t the mystical and external “cosmic force” that many people think it to be — a force that impersonally metes out rewards and punishments. In a crude form this amounts to thinking things like this: if you do good things the sun will shine on your picnic, and if you do bad things it’ll rain.
Instead, karma (according to the Buddha) is to do with the ethical status of our intentions and how those naturally lead to our becoming more mired in suffering or freed from it.
Karma is psychology: do this, and you’ll feel that. Karma is about how your mind changes and becomes … Read more »