Archive for the ‘Dharma’ Category

New podcast: understanding the aggregates

May 22, 2020

Understanding the aggregates. The aggregates are a foundational teaching of the Buddha, but they are rarely properly understood. This talk shows how to identify all the aggregates in your own experience and explains their role in contemplative practice.

 

Podcasts from the last two weeks follow.

What is the Buddha-Sasana?  The Buddha-Sasana is Buddhism as a living tradition, something that evolves, spreads to new lands, dies out in old lands, rather than Buddhism as the Dharma, which is much more static. A key question for the Buddha seems to be is how well the Buddha-Sasana would retain the authenticity of the Buddha-Dharma.

 

The story of my ordination. A narrative account of BC’s 2009 bhikkhu ordination in Burma. This story appears in his 2012 book, Through the Looking Glass, which can be found under “books” on this site.

 

Find all my audio’s and video’s HERE.

New podcast episode: The story of my ordination

May 8, 2020

Source: The story of my ordination

New podcast episode: The thunder of intrinsic motivation

April 24, 2020

Source: The thunder of intrinsic motivation

New podcast episode: The blunder of extrinsic motivation

April 18, 2020

Source: The blunder of extrinsic motivation

The second ‘trinsic motivation sermon.

Podcast episode: The wonder of intrinsic motivation

April 18, 2020

Source: The wonder of intrinsic motivation

The first ‘Trinsic motivation sermon.

The Wonder of Intrinsic Motivation

March 25, 2020

During my days in graduate school, where I studied theoretical linguistics (of all things), I happened to have a conversation with a young man outside my normal circle that went something like this:

“So, what do you do?”

“I am a linguistics graduate student.”

“Oh? What is linguistics?”

“Well, …,” I very briefly explained that linguistics is the science that studies human language as a natural phenomenon and how much it fascinated me.

“Is it, um, something you can make a lot of money doing?” he asked.

“Hmmm, I’ve never thought about it. I suppose not.”

“Why would you do something that takes so much work if you can’t make a lot of money? And why would you not think about it?”

Why indeed? Nothing I said from that point on made the least sense to him. What he said made sense to me, but had a twisted logic to it, and the conversation quickly devolved into mutual bewilderment. For me, after all, this was human language we were talking about. Where was this guy’s sense of wonder?

I didn’t realize it at the time, but the two of us were talking from opposite sides of a chasm, a deep gash through the middle of our culture with profound implications for human psychological and spiritual well-being, for the very direction of people’s lives, for the structure of our economy, and for the way children are brought up and educated. This guy represented what seems to be the dominant, utilitarian view in our culture, one that speaks of maturity, rationality and purpose. Mine was the more foolhardy, silly view that something can be worth doing for its own sake. I consider myself fortunate to have since lived a life of “silliness,” which, many years later as a rather elderly, scholarly Buddhist monk, I continue to live to this day.

MORE …

New Buddhism Video Course

March 22, 2020

I have completed a five-part video course and uploaded it to Youtube just in time for the wave of social distancing that is driving people out of Buddhist centers among other public gathering places. The videos are based on my new book Mindfulness, where Dharma meets Practice.  Click here for access:

Screenshot from 2020-03-18 16:37:35

I have plans for putting up more videos and also for starting a podcast in the near future.

I hope that all readers and your loved ones are healthy and that your lives are not too burdened socially or economically during this pandemic.

New introduction to Buddhism

October 7, 2019

Mindfulness, where Dharma meets Practice

I am releasing in draft form a textbook for a five-week course on Buddhism based on early sources. I am currently using an earlier draft to teach a class in Minnesota and will use it in the next two months to teach in Austin and Houston, Texas. This was originally conceived as a more concise version of my Buddhist Life/Buddhist Path, but, as these things go, it became a distinct work, with mindfulness as the central theme.

This book is about Dharma, practice, and how they intersect in mindfulness. It is a nutshell introduction to Buddhism based almost exclusively on the earliest Buddhist sources, which are the historical basis for all of the diverse later schools of Buddhism, and which represent what the Buddha actually taught, as best as we can determine. It is a textbook that has been used to supplement about ten hours of class time.

In spite of its conciseness, this text provides a comprehensive overview of the range of Buddhist practice and understanding and contains practical advice on how we can integrate Buddhist practice into busy modern lives. It begins from the premise that Dharma serves solely as a support for practice and that the role of mindfulness is to enable Dharma effectively to inform practice.

I will distribute hard copies locally, but a pdf can can be downloaded here:

Book: With Needle and Thread

August 5, 2019

essays in early Buddhism

needleAndThreadCoverThis volume presents a set of essays, each of which is intended to put a few stitches in what the author regards as a common traditional or modern mis­understanding of an important point of Dhamma, or (in the case of the first es­say) Vinaya. In each case it advances an alternative interpretation, at least as a way of encouraging further discussion. Of the six essays in this volume, the first concerns the role of women in the Buddhist community, the second con­cerns issues of faith and belief, the third a seemingly small doctrinal point that has led, I maintain, to great misunderstanding of a significant portion of early Dhamma, and the final three with aspects of meditation: mindfulness (sati) and concentration (samadhi).

The book can now be downloaded in various formats:

pdficonepubkindlemobi

lulu_logo_retina_smallOrder hardcopy here

With Needle and Thread

June 25, 2019

Essays on early Buddhism

In this new book (pdf linked below) I present a set of essays, each of which is intended to put a few stitches in what I have come to regard as a common traditional or modern mis­understanding of an important point of Dhamma, or (in the case of the first es­say) Vinaya. In each case I advance an alternative interpretation, at least as a way of encouraging further discussion. Of the six essays in this volume, the first concerns the role of women in the Buddhist community, the second con­cerns issues of faith and belief, the third a seemingly small doctrinal point that has led, I maintain, to great misunderstanding of a significant portion of early Dhamma, and the final three with aspects of meditation: mindfulness (sati) and concentration (samādhi).

256px-A_needle_with_threadHere is an abstract of each:

What did the Buddha think of women?: the story of the early nuns. This challenges the common view that the Buddha’s intentions in establishing the nuns’ sangha were biased by the patriarchal and ofttimes misogynistic attitudes of the dominant culture. It argues that the Buddha did all that he could to se­cure equal opportunity for practice for women as for men, while, always the pragmatist, maintaining the outward propriety of the Saṅgha within the con­straints of the dominant culture. Subsequent tradition has not always been so kind.

Take seriously and hold loosely: faith without beliefs. Unlike a “belief sys­tem,” the Dhamma represents faith with wiggle room. Teachings are to be taken seriously, because they have important practice functions, to be realized in beneficial results for the practitioner and for the world at large. At the same time, the Buddha’s teachings are to be held loosely, as flexible working as­sumptions, because teachings need to be meaningful and acceptable by the in­dividual practitioner in order to fulfill their practice functions.

The Buddha as biologist: true to practice. This challenges the view that three of the twelve links of dependent co-arising, so central to the Dhamma, are about conception and development in the womb. Biological pro­cesses are sub­stantially beyond immediate ex­perience and therefore not significant factors of practice, and therefore have no substantial role in Dhamma. This traditional in­terpretation of these critical links has only served to mask their true function.

Sati really does mean memory: the Buddha’s take on mindfulness. The word we translate as “mindfulness” has been interpreted various ways in later traditions, often as a kind of mind state. However, the word literally means memory or recollection. I argue that in the EBT the word rarely wanders too much astray from recollection of the Dhamma (or Vinaya). The Buddha meant what he said. This has implications for how we practice this central teaching.

Seeing through the eyes of the Buddha: samādhi and right view. This chal­lenges the traditional and modern ways in which samādhi has become disasso­ciated from right view through the assumption that the stillness of samādhi cannot carry the cognitive load of right view. It then explores how samādhi is properly understood precisely as the most effective instrument for internaliz­ing right view, as an entryway to knowledge and vision of things as they are.

How did mindfulness become “bare, non-judgmental, present-moment awareness”? This companion essay to “Sati really does mean memory” dis­cusses the genesis of the widely accepted but very modern understanding of the term “mindfulness,” which is quite distinct from the use of sati in the EBT. The shift in meaning is attributed in part to a modern retreat from concern for virtue and right view.

These essays are revised versions of essays I have posted on-line over the past seven years. Some of them are much shorter.

EDIT: Please go HERE for pdf and hard copy.