Allergic to Change

South Asia is poised on the crest of a huge wave of change. It’s been building up for a while, but I have a strong feeling it’s about to break. No matter how much people resist, exponential change is inevitable. Economic development and government schooling have already impacted traditional values, and this will only accelerate in the future.

If Sri Lankan Buddhism is to survive, it needs a strategy to deal with the increasing secularization of the culture. But no one I’ve talked to, from senior monks to well-educated laymen to the rickshaw-wallahs on the street, has any idea what’s happening or how to deal with it. They’re about to be swept off their feet by a wave of change, but their heads are inserted solidly into the sand. Nobody has a plan—except me. Continue reading Allergic to Change

Secular Buddhism: an Oxymoron

So it looks like we are heading away from the Theravada tradition and more toward an orientation of nonreligious or ‘secular’ Buddhism. Actually I don’t like either of those terms, and together they seem especially ugly and oxymoronic.

While secular can simply mean nonreligious, it also has a primary definition of ‘having no religious or spiritual basis’ and the dictionary lists its antonym as ‘sacred’. Our work is certainly in the nonreligious realm, if only because we consider the religious aspect of Buddhism as an unnecessary overlay on the original self-sufficient teaching of the Buddha. But our work is also sacred because we are dealing with the fundamental meaning of life and the deep properties of existence and consciousness. Continue reading Secular Buddhism: an Oxymoron

Existential Ambiguity 5.7: Feeling & Contact

Wettimuny’s The Buddha’s Teaching and the Ambiguity of Existence is one of those rare and important books that everyone needs, if only they knew it. It builds a bridge between the most important thoughts and thinkers of the east and west: the Existentialists in the west, and the Buddha in the east. More importantly, it completes the task begun by the western thinkers, to bring humankind into maturity after a particularly difficult adolescence.

As the Root Sequence progresses, the concept of ‘I’ becomes more and more explicit, until finally the ego is displayed fully in the stage of enjoyment.

Existential Ambiguity 5.7: Feeling & Contact

Click here to download the book.

Crazymaking Buddhists

The Buddha’s teaching was never intended to be turned into a religion. Actually the Buddha taught that we should not base our views on faith or belief but on practical experience. The religious aspects of ‘Buddhism’ are a later development by less enlightened people.

Ironically, putting the teaching of the Buddha into a religious context was intended to help bring the teaching to a wider audience. That may have been appropriate at the time—it’s hard to tell from this distance, over a millennium later. But at this point the religious interpretation of Buddha’s teaching is just getting in the way of its usefulness. Continue reading Crazymaking Buddhists

Existential Ambiguity 5.6: Categories of Perception

Wettimuny’s The Buddha’s Teaching and the Ambiguity of Existence is one of those rare and important books that everyone needs, if only they knew it. It builds a bridge between the most important thoughts and thinkers of the east and west: the Existentialists in the west, and the Buddha in the east. More importantly, it completes the task begun by the western thinkers, to bring humankind into maturity after a particularly difficult adolescence.

As the Root Sequence progresses, the concept of ‘I’ becomes more and more explicit, until finally the ego is displayed fully in the stage of enjoyment.

Existential Ambiguity 5.6: Categories of Perception

Click here to download the book.

I am Robin Hood

The Buddha taught many things, including powerful conceptual tools to liberate the mind from illusion and empower it to achieve lofty goals such as enlightenment. Some of these tools, such as ‘mindfulness’, are becoming well-known, but other even more powerful tools remain hidden by arcane jargon and religious obscurantism.

I write ‘mindfulness’ in quotes because the commercial varieties now becoming popular have very little to do with the Buddha’s original conception. The term for mindfulness in the Buddha’s teaching is sati-sampajañña, which means ‘presence of mind with recollection’. Recollection of what? The Buddha’s teaching, of course.

Why does this bug me enough to write about it? Because I’m Robin Hood. If someone is misusing their knowledge, power or position to cheat others, I am automatically on the side of the guys being cheated. Continue reading I am Robin Hood