A Tree

If there is nothing to fix, then that necessarily means that it is not your job to fix it.

The basic human dilemma remains the same in the modern United States as it did at the time of the Buddha, but its specific manifestations will change by time and place. Perhaps in the United States we have a stronger impulse to try to fix things than did people at the time of the Buddha. Our ancestors defined our republic as a political entity and for the purpose of fixing problems that they saw with their existing government. …

A Tree

At first glance, “ruthless compassion” looks like a contradiction in terms. It cannot exist. It is a conceptual collision between a matter idea and an antimatter idea. One definition of “ruthless” is:

A Tree

Some aspects of Buddhism can sound horribly callous and cruel on their face. A strict reading of Buddhism and karma suggests that babies who die of brain cancer brought that karma with them from a previous lifetime. Why that is any more callous and cruel than any other explanation is not at all clear. Robina Courtin says she did not have to learn to be angry. She brought anger with her from a previous lifetime and was angry from as early as she could remember. …

A Tree

Faith is an important component of awakening on the Buddhist path. In our hegemonically Christian society where the demand for blind faith in a fairy tale deity leads a lot of people to Buddhism, this requires further specification.

The Buddha did not talk about this, maybe because he taught from his perspective as a fully awakened person, maybe because he wanted to spread his message as widely as possible, so he chose not to mention the more unpleasant aspects.

But as you approach awakening, the world really kinda starts to suck. You start to see it much more clearly…

A Tree

Awakening is fun.

To my mind, why one would want to awaken is obvious. The Buddha said he taught one thing, suffering and the end of suffering. Who would not want to end suffering? The only reason why everyone does not follow the Buddhist path is because they do not know about it and/or do not understand it.

But the further down the path you go, the longer you keep up your consistent meditation practice, the more you find that, no matter the situation, you have access in your head to pure consciousness, which makes you happy.

You may find…

A Tree

This photo does not really do justice to the point, but find a tree near you. Notice how the tree emerges out of the ground and is clearly distinct from the ground, but inextricably tied to the ground.

We can’t see the ground of consciousness, but we can perceive it. We depend on consciousness in the same way that trees depend on the ground. We could not exist without it, or if we did exist without consciousness, we would not know it. We would know nothing.

It is not impossible to conceive an entirely different organization of existence that did…

Anarchy Symbol

I had written, “Buddhism is Anarchy,” but using the name of the tradition and the verb, “to be” suggests a level of fixity that one wants to avoid in this discussion. The Buddha advocated the middle way, which denotes no fixed position, but continual adaptation between the extremes of indulgence and asceticism.

It would perhaps be better to write, “cultural anarchist,” if that means anything, because the claim here is that the Buddha entirely rejected the existing order when he awakened, except insofar as he had to accommodate it to communicate once he decided to start teaching. …

Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

It is possible to have some very interesting realizations just by thinking carefully about basic observations the Buddha made. After he awakened, he taught from the perspective of one who is awakened, and he taught in a cultural context that was very different from ours, so what was obvious to him may not be obvious to us. Awakening is an experience that you cannot undergo just by thinking, but some thoughts can be useful as guideposts or beacons.

When we talked about choosing what you perceive, we noted that the Buddha identified a sixth sense, mind, which perceives thoughts. Think…

Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion

I use “crack” here in jest. I have enjoyed my fair share of controlled substances in my day, but never crack or meth. I’m much more a downer than an upper kind of guy. My mind already moves too fast. Speeding it up is not a good idea. But apparently a lot of people like crack and it is a common metaphor, so I used it.

The point is that awakening feels really good. Your consistent meditation practice may well kill off your interest in intoxicants all by itself because no high can compare to the feeling of awakening.


William B. Turner

Uppity gay, Buddhist, author, historian.

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