Tag: Buddhism

Buddhists Don’t Have to Be Nice: Avoiding Idiot Compassion

“Buddhists are supposed to be nice.” How many times have you heard that one? Buddhists are stereotyped as always being pleasant, soft-spoken and calm, and we aren’t always. Of course, the Buddha taught us to cultivate loving kindness and compassion. The

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The Buddha’s Teachings on Tranquility

The Buddha spoke often of the importance of calmness and tranquility. Tranquility — passaddhi in Pali — is one of the Seven Factors of Enlightenment, or mental states that support the realization of enlightenment. Spiritual masters often are caricatured as

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Glossary of Defilements: Introduction to the Klesas

Klesa (Sanskrit, also spelled klesha; in Pali, Kilesa) are the afflictions or defilements that keep us from seeing reality as it is. You could think of the klesas as mental disturbances or unhelpful psychological habits. The three primary klesas are

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Investigating Dharma

The Buddha taught that there are seven factors that support awakening, or enlightenment. The second of these is, in Pali, dhamma vicaya. Vicaya refers to examination, analysis or investigation; dhamma is the Pali for dharma. In Buddhism, the word “dharma”

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The Role of Karma in Buddhist Morality

What is morality? How do we determine what actions are moral and which are not? These are questions philosophers and religious scholars have debated for centuries. What does Buddhism teach about the basis of morality? Within the world’s religions, the

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Mind and Buddhism: Lost in Translation

Buddhist scriptures and commentaries are richly stocked with references to “mind” and its affiliates — consciousness, thoughts, awareness, and so on. Indeed, cultivating the mind is the primary focus of some schools of Buddhism. Buddhists of other schools will tell

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Do We Really Make Our Own Reality?

The claim that “we make our own reality” pops up frequently in Buddhism, and the claim often is repeated in mind-body-spirit circles. But what does “make our own reality” really mean? From a Buddhist perspective, it doesn’t mean that once

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The Mindfulness Controversy: Work and War

The Buddhist practice of mindfulness is popping up everywhere, from mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs to corporate seminars on employee productivity. New self-improvement applications for mindfulness seem to emerge every week. This mindfulness movement does have its detractors, however, and

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Practical Zen: An Approach to Secular Ethics

[This is a talk more or less as I gave it at the Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture on October 23, 2016. It is based on a chapter in Rethinking Religion: Finding a Place for Religion in a Modern, Tolerant, Progressive, Peaceful and

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Western Buddhism and Cultural Appropriation

Brad Warner reports getting this email from somebody: “No please white American dude tell me again what Buddhism is. He knows white Buddhism, he’s culturally appropriation, he makes money off defining a culture that does not belong to him –

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