The art of friendship

June 22, 2008

Two monks walkingSpiritual friendship comes highly praised in Buddhist practice. But why are spiritual friends considered to be so crucial? What are the qualities of a spiritual friend? And do we have to leave our existing friends behind? Guest blogger Justin Whitaker investigates.

“But due to the fragility and perishability of human things, we should always be on the search for someone to love and by whom to be loved; indeed if affection and kindliness are lost from our life, we lose all that gives it charm…”

Sed quoniam res humanae fragiles caducaeque sunt, semper aliqui anquirendi sunt quos diligamus et a quibus diligamur; caritate enim benevolentiaque sublata omnis est e vita sublata iucunditas.

Cicero, Laelius de Read more »

“Hello At Last, Embracing the Koan of Friendship and Meditation,” by Sara Jenkins

June 20, 2008

Hello at Last Sara Jenkins was handed a dilemma in the form of two seemingly contradictory teachings: while on retreat, maintain silence and abstain from communication, and at the same time deepen your connections with others. Samayadevi reviews the book in which Jenkins explores the creative tension between those teachings and the vision of friendship that it gave birth to.

Sara Jenkins is a woman one would want to know, to have as a friend. In this little tome, Hello At Last, Embracing the Koan of Friendship and Meditation, she shares with us her experiences with the profound and perhaps surprising practice of spiritual friendship. We seem to grasp the importance of the Buddha and the Dharma … Read more »

“A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki” (DVD)

June 17, 2008

A Zen LifeAvant-garde musician John Cage; Catholic mystic Thomas Merton; Beat writers Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac; psychotherapists Carl Jung and Erich Fromm; Zen teachers Robert Aitken and Philip Kapleau, philosophers Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger: 20th century giants all, and all have one thing in common — they were deeply influenced by Daisetz Teitaro Suzuki, a gentle scholar-practitioner from Japan.

This litany of names is merely suggestive of the massive impact that D. T. Suzuki had on western culture — an influence that is documented in a new film, A Zen Life — because so far we haven’t mentioned the 100 or so books that have found their way (by now) into the hands … Read more »

Guided meditations versus “flying solo”

June 5, 2008

Woman meditating with headphonesGuided meditation CDs are undoubtedly useful, but can they become a reliance that actually interferes with our practice? On the other hand, what happens when you find that your meditations are so much better with a CD than without: should you give up meditating on your own? Bodhipaksa shares some advice that he’s offered to students over the years.

I often get asked by students how they much reliance they should place on guided meditations compared to meditating on their own. For example one person asked:

I used to meditate without any guided CD and the difference when I used your guided CD is quite amazing. The metta is so much more powerful. The thing

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Ask Auntie Suvanna: Connection before correction

May 16, 2008

Freaks movie posterDear Auntie,

I am a Buddhist working in rehab, which is a very Christian environment, so I was happy to discover a co-worker sporting Buddhist memorabilia at her work site. I wanted to have a friendship with this woman because I believed we might have a lot in common, at least spiritually. However, all my attempts to get to know more about her have been thwarted.

When I ask her about herself she changes the subject or says let’s talk about that sometime… then we never do. She never reveals anything. Most of my co-workers don’t like her and the patients complain about her. They say she doesn’t listen and is not empathetic. One day … Read more »