Month: August 2014

Stuck in the Void

[This post originally appeared on Buddhism on September 30, 2013. It sort of goes with the last post, on “Dark Nights and Dukkha Nanas.”] I’ve written a review of  Nothing Is Hidden: The Psychology of Zen Koans, a new

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Dark Nights and Dukkha Nanas

Westerners have been playing with eastern mysticism, and now some of them have had “bad trips” being called “dark nights of the soul.” There’s an article on The Atlantic website by Tomas Rocha, titled “The Dark Knight of the Soul,”

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What We Don’t See

Of all the conceits common to humankind possibly the most insidious is that any of us are entirely rational. And often the most irrational people are those who brag about how rational they are. Even if a person’s basic reasoning

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Amazon Reviews!

Just announcing that my book is up to seven customer reviews at Amazon, three five-star and four four-star, which gives me, um, 4 and 1/3 stars, or something. I’m not good with numbers. Fortunately it’s not a math book. Please

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Don’t Settle for Explanations

I’ve written before about emptying your cup. This is harder than you might realize. By the time we reach adulthood we are so full of, um, stuff that we don’t even notice it’s there. We might consider ourselves to be

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Why China Rewrites History

The so-called Xinjiang autonomous region of China is home to an indigenous population of Uighur Muslims. There has been friction and sometimes violence between the Uighurs and Han Chinese. Over the past year over 200 people have died in ethnic

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Ryutan Blows Out the Candle

(Note: This is a continuation of the last post, “The Mystic Eye,” and you may need to read that post to make sense of this one.) “Ryutan Blows Out the Candle” is a classic Zen story from Tang Dynasty China

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The Mystic Eye

The late John Daido Loori, Roshi, was a man of keen intellect. He had a seemingly bottomless depth of knowledge about many things — science, arts, literature, psychology, history, you name it. And, of course, there was that Zen thing

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Is a Kinship of Faith Possible?

[An earlier version of this post was originally published as “The Dalai Lama vs. Stephen Prothero”  on Buddhism, June 17, 2010.] I’ve written a few times about Stephen Prothero, the professor at Boston University who writes provocative books on

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Trust and the Kalama Sutta

The Kalama Sutta may be the most quoted Buddhist scripture in the West. Even people who don’t know the Perfections from potatoes can quote the Kalama Sutta to support whatever they want to believe about Buddhism. If the title Kalama

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