Saturday, December 24, 2016


Sangharakshita, in the meditation anthology, talks about saying "sit" instead of "meditation". His take was that sit is casual, where as meditation implies more the right effort involved. I thought that was interesting.

He also says when you're tired, you are in your lower nature. Better to take a nap than meditate.

I've been enjoying the novels of Haruki Murakami, which I feel has a Buddhist element to them.

PS--This is my most popular post by far in 2016.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Hannah, the movie

There aren't a whole lot of Buddhist movies that I know of. On Netflix now, Hannah is about Hannah Nydahl, a Danish woman who set up 550 centers for Kagyu Buddhism. Woof. She had a husband who seemed to support her as well. I hate to say this, but I'd never heard of her before. Quite inspiring. They had a cute marriage as well. Then there's the whole China/West split in the reincarnation of the Karmapa, one the Chinese recognize and one the West recognizes. Wikipedia has a page on the controversy. I think spiritual biographies can be difficult because you have to be part of the sangha to really appreciate it. 

The days are getting longer

In The Purpose and Practice of Meditation Sangharakshita suggests that 2 hours of meditation a day are the minimum. He's quite careful to say that's a rough guide and that there are many factors and you should consult with your spiritual friends. Even so, that's an interesting goal, to get up to 2 hours a day. The best I've done is 40 minutes every morning for quite a while. The goal he says is to get contact with the transcendental, the dhyanas.

He said he burnt his meditation journals, but that if you're not "too precious" they are good things to keep so that you can remember good experiences when you're down and other patterns. The Insight app has a journal in it. I switched to prompt journal when I'm done with meditation.

After the final bell rings, I review the hinderances and the 3 characteristics of existence.


Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Winter Solstice

Looking into the various pagan holidays, Saturnalia the master serves the slave. I don't really have any slaves, and I'm not sure who my masters are. I won't get into that. Yule you eat until the log burns out. That's not going to happen. The holidays celebrate the sun, and there's usually family gathering, gift giving. I wish I wasn't in the city, there could be a big bonfire.

If I was going to do a sacrifice, maybe I could go electronics free. That's not happening this year. Maybe throw away extra clothing and books and whatnot. Usually I call family on xmas, before my conversion from a nominal Christian/atheist, to Buddhism, so I can certainly call family today.

I did find a holiday in December in Thailand, where you do Tonglen at the full moon in December. Seems most Buddhist holidays are not in December. Although there are many different celebrations around the world.

The best thing would be to connect with sangha, meditate, talk, listen and read Dharma. Perhaps do a special puja that may not be unique but dedicated to winter solstice. I could not find a winter solstice Buddhist puja.

Anyway, amongst those who have set rituals I wish you a happy holiday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Octavia Butler

Octavia Butler is my new favorite writer. I've read 9 of her books and I have 3 left. Her series' go from 4 books to 3 books to 2 books. The last one about the parables, the heroine develops a new religion which states, "God is change." Instead of enlightenment, she wants to get humans into outer space. The two books equal about the most bleak dystopian novels I've ever read, but I found it interesting that she chose impermanence as her god. I couldn't recommend her more highly.

Life 2007-2009

This TV show has a main character that is influenced by what seems to be Zen. He's in the moment. He listens to tapes. It gave him something to read while he was in prison. He was wrongfully convicted and returning to being a detective, he is also very wealthy from the mistake the state made. He hired a friend from jail to be his financial advisor. His partner is a beautiful woman of middle east origin and the captain ends up being from New York. Usual cop drama. They talk about competing theories of murder and work to test their hypothesis. Somewhere towards the end, questioning someone leads to a confession.

There's not much to say except that Buddhism is becoming a part of main stream culture. Supposedly the show is filmed in New Orleans, but the show is set in LA. The west coast is more influenced by Zen than the east coast, but there's a lot of Zen out here too.