Love the world

April 19, 2013
Check out Meditations for Happiness (3 CDs), by Rick Hanson
Check out Meditations for Happiness (3 CDs), by Rick Hanson
Your brain evolved in three stages (to simplify a complex process):

Reptile – Brainstem, focused on AVOIDING harm
Mammal – Limbic system, focused on APPROACHING rewards
Primate – Cortex, focused on ATTACHING to “us”

With a fun use (to me, at least) of animal themes, the first JOT in this series – pet the lizard – was about how to soothe the most ancient structures of the brain, the ones that manage the first emotion of all: fear. The next one – feed the mouse – addressed how to help early mammalian neural systems feel rewarded and fulfilled. The third one – hug the … Read more »

Investigating and integrating mindfulness in medicine, health care and society

February 13, 2013

umass medNow: The UMass Medical School Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society is hosting its 11th annual international scientific conference in April. The conference, Investigating and Integrating Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society, is jointly sponsored by the UMMS Office of Continuing Education. It will be held at the Sheraton Four Points in Norwood from April 17 through 21. The conference attracts participants from around the world.

The four-day event provides an opportunity for clinicians, researchers, educators and students to interact with one another in investigating new approaches and significant findings in the broad integration of mindfulness and medication into medicine…

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Why Buddhists should support marriage equality

June 9, 2012

Marriage equality is one of the key social and legal issues of our time. I’d like to offer a Buddhist perspective.

As with so many ethical and social questions, especially those that involve sexuality, we find that religion wants to be at the core of things. The conservative Christian churches are leading the opposition to marriage equality. We can’t generalise on the basis of religion, though. Many Christians believe that Christ’s message of compassion and love, and the fact that he never made any statement on homosexuality, provide a basis for support of marriage equality.

In Australia there was an interesting exchange between the highly conservative Catholic leader Cardinal George Pell and the group Australian … Read more »

The Buddha Is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom Selected and Edited by Jack Kornfield

December 20, 2011

“In these pages you will find the Dharma … Dharma is kept alive by those who follow the path,” writes Jack Kornfield, the beloved American Buddhist teacher and co-founder of Spirit Rock meditation Center, near where I live in San Francisco.

For the past two months I have had this little book in my messenger bag, a compilation of selections that Kornfield tells us will “bring the Dharma eloquently to life for us in our own time, place and culture.” Indeed it is full of inspiration, and has been a treat to open it, never knowing what treasures will await on the page, as I ride the train during evening rush hour, as I relax … Read more »

Support the struggles of marginalized Buddhists in Hungary

November 25, 2011

A petition has been started in order to protect the rights of Buddhist Gypsies, or Roma, in Hungary.

This year a nationalist government was elected in Hungary. The new government rewrote the constitution and passed a law that deregisters all but a few mainstream Christian and Jewish religious organisations. These steps were taken with the aim of curbing tax abuses, but the blunderbuss policy “de-registers” all faith groups that count fewer than 1,000 members, or that have been in existence for less than 20 years.

Groups that manage to get established — and stay established for 20 years — and accumulate over 1000 members, cannot get official recognition without a parliamentary vote with a two-thirds … Read more »

Saner society

Osho: Society does not introduce you to meditation because that is the only way to be absolutely certain that you will never go mad, that you will always remain master of your actions. But there are reasons why society is interested in the mind, and not in meditation.

Fear of meditation

The whole interest of society is in how to exploit you, how to enslave you, how to use you in a more efficient way, almost like a machine. It gives you all the education just for these secret aims. It prevents you from knowing anything about meditation.

It is afraid of meditation, for the simple reason that a meditator starts living a life of… … Read more »

Buddhists, education, and money

June 1, 2011

(Click on the image to enlarge.)

A Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey on religion, education, and money was covered in a recent NYT article. The article was titled Is Your Religion Your Financial Destiny?, which is probably misleading because it doesn’t seem that the survey could possibly indicate whether educational attainment and family income were the result of people’s religious affiliations, or vice versa. Other issues might also be at work, such as geographic ones. If you’re in a poor, rural area there’s probably not likely to be a Buddhist temple handy, but there may well be a Baptist church.

Despite all this, the data are fascinating. As the NYT report … Read more »

Religion to become extinct, says model of census data

March 21, 2011

A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.

The data reflect a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.

The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.

The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.

Nonlinear dynamics is invoked to explain a wide range of physical phenomena in which a number of factors play a part.

One of the team, Daniel Abrams of Northwestern University, put forth a similar model in 2003 to … Read more »

Have less, give more

August 8, 2010

handsI’m fascinated by the psychology of giving and/or financial exchanges. Just this morning I was noticing my hesitation in committing to pay 99¢ for an iPhone app without having tried it first. But when I go into a coffee shop I happily plonk down $1.50 or so for a cup of Joe, without hesitating or asking for a free trial. The coffee will last me for 20 minutes, while I might end up using the app on a daily basis for an indefinite period of time. There’s no guarantee I’m going to find the coffee pleasant. Screwy, but normal.

One peculiarity regarding money is that people who have less of it are more willing to … Read more »

The mindful enlightenment

June 26, 2010

Buddhist practices can help bring about a new kind of social enlightenment

A fresh kind of enlightenment is in the air. Madeleine Bunting recently reported on the bold vision for progress being set out by Matthew Taylor at the Royal Society Of Arts. Calling for a new “revolution of the mind”, the RSA is grounding its arguments in empirical studies from neuroscience and psychology.

Evidence from these disciplines is making it increasingly clear that we are social creatures with plastic minds, wired for empathy and able to access a consciousness that, if developed, could help release us from the shackles of emotion that so often bind us. Building on its 18th-century precursor, the defining feature … Read more »