Enlightenment meets Enlightenment: Finding the Buddha in the secular west

December 6, 2013

Dr. Arnie Kozak, beliefnet: I recently gave a talk at the University of Vermont College of Medicine called “Beyond Stress Reduction: Mindfulness as a Radical Technology. In this talk, I spoke about the indictment that the healthcare and corporate-related applications of mindfulness are tantamount to “McMindfulness.”

If you read my post on this issue, you know that I think the criticisms of secularized mindfulness go to far. In my talk, I made the point that secular dharma is a uniquely Western dharma.

Secular Buddhism, which seeks enlightenment, accords with the Enlightenment era values of rationality, empiricism, and skepticism…

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As more people meditate, more realize its benefits

August 28, 2012

Karen Garloch, Charlotte Observer: If the word meditation conjures images of a Buddhist guru sitting cross-legged in a Himalayan cave, you’ve got some catching up to do.

Devotees of meditation do take time each day to sit quietly, close their eyes and focus on their breathing.

But they could also be practicing while sitting in traffic, standing in grocery lines, or stuck in a contentious meeting.

“It’s available to us in a lot of life circumstances,” said Sharon Salzberg, an internationally known leader of meditation retreats and co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society. “You don’t have to close your eyes. No one even …

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Through meditation, she makes happiness an inside job

February 19, 2011

Sharon Salzberg, 58, a co-founder of the Insight Meditation Society, has spent more than three decades helping Westerners access a daily spiritual practice that originated in Buddhism but is not confined to that faith.

When Sharon Salzberg returned to New York from her first trips to India in the 1970s, a crinkled cotton blouse was still exotic and people would politely sidle away from her at parties after she told them she taught meditation for a living.

Now even Starbucks sells chai (a milky Indian spice tea), and a landmark Massachusetts General Hospital study released last month has documented that the brain shows positive physical changes — in density of gray matter — after just … Read more »

That misery called meditation

June 27, 2010

Robert Wright, the New York Times online columnist and author of The Evolution of God, is pretty much what you’d call a cynic. That’s why I was surprised when he spoke with such reverence of the period he spent meditating at a silent Buddhist retreat. “When I came out, I was quite different,” he told me. “It was one of the best things I’d ever done.”

What could bring such joy to a cynic? The way to find out was to go to Barre, Mass., home of the Insight Meditation Society, where Wright went on his pilgrimage many years ago. Founded in the 1970s by a group of Westerners who had spent time as Buddhist … Read more »

Teacher who helped shape American Buddhism is still on a quest

Jack Kornfield says ‘we’re teaching meditation not as a religious activity but as a support for living a wise and healthy and compassionate inner life.’

In 1972, Jack Kornfield stepped off a plane in Washington, D.C., his head shaved and his body swathed in golden robes. He had come home to see if he could make it as a monk in America.

Kornfield had spent several contemplative years at a Buddhist monastery in Thailand, where he lived with few possessions, followed a strict monastic code and retreated each day to the lush forest for hours of meditation.

But in the U.S., he found no monasteries that practiced the Vipassana meditation he had studied. And the … Read more »