Books

  • Real Happiness 28-Day Meditation Challenge, Day 22 Paid Member

    I was looking forward to sitting in the office today. But when the time came my thoughts kept circling back to the various sex scandals whose echoes are ricocheting around the Zen community. It is depressing to think that we can't seem to keep sex out of the zendo. Articles like this from the New York Times make it seem like our lives are dominated by the sex instinct, no matter what our preferences are. So however civilized we may seem, we really haven't gone far at all from our days in the caves, the trees, the bottom of the ocean. Thanissaro Bhikkhu said: More »
  • The sun and the wind: Day 18 of the challenge Paid Member

    I haven't sat yet today. It's so nice outside I thought that I might just count my pleasant stroll to lunch as some walking meditation. Although, I'm sure that it doesn't qualify—I was somewhere between autopilot and mindful. I definitely wasn't focusing my attention on my feet and legs, as Sharon instructs us to do in Real Happiness when she invites us to walk "as if your consciousness is emanating from the ground up." However, I also wasn't lost in thoughts of future and past, like I so often am. I saw the man with headphones, shouting angrily at his own reflection in a window (impressive, I know, noticing a screaming lunatic). There was also the Dorrito bag in the tree bed on the corner, the incessant honking of a taxicab. In New York, one is always surrounded by more than enough grit and grime to think "This is a dirty world," but today I was thinking more "What a wonderful world" so maybe this meditation is doing something for me. Or maybe it was just the weather. More »
  • The Practice of the Wild Paid Member

    Gary Snyder has been a mosquito, and Jim Harrison would like to be a tree. These are two important things we learn from watching The Practice of the Wild, a documentary by John J. Healey featuring the old codgers (San Simeon/ Whole Earth Films, produced by Will Hearst and Jim Harrison, 52 min., DVD, $18.95). Although it contains some archival footage and short interviews with friends and colleagues, the bulk of the film consists of a Q&A between Snyder and Harrison. Officially, it’s Harrison asking the questions and Snyder answering them—however, in truth, it’s a shared conversation. It’s a delight to watch the two friends as they amble across the Santa Lucia Mountains discussing the objects of their passions: the earth and its poetry. They make a likable pair. Where Snyder is refined and eloquent, a trim graybeard speaking with the authority of someone accustomed to being listened to, Harrison is unassuming, earthy, and unkempt. More »
  • It's not a zero-sum game: Day 17 of the 28 Day Meditation Challenge Paid Member

    I visited Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche in Boulder on Monday and before that spent some time reading his books. I particularly enjoyed reading about the folly of  jealously in The Light Comes Through: Buddhist Teachings on Awakening Our Natural Intelligence (I highly recommend it). I don't normally think of myself as a jealous person, but reading through the chapter on envy I had to ask myself: Do I always rejoice in others' success? Or do I sometimes feel a twinge of self-judgment? Since we're sitting the 28-day challenge this month, I thought I'd turn to Real Happiness for more guidance. It didn't disappoint—here's what I found: TRY THIS Enough Happiness to Go Around More »
  • What's What in a Wat: Thai Buddhist Temples Paid Member

    I've never been to Thailand, but I've been to a few wats [Thai Buddhist temple]. Whether In Bodh Gaya, Lumbini, or LA—all places with Buddhist temples from all over the world—I've been especially taken by the elaborate, colorful structures that represent Thailand (actually the Thai temple in Lumbini is completely white in honor of the Buddha's birth, but it's equally impressive). However, the spiritual nourishment I've drawn from these places has nothing to do with my (in)ability to read them—I knew nothing about the function of a luk nimit (sacred stone ball), for example—but was simply a gift of their beauty. More »
  • Real Happiness 28-Day Meditation Challenge, Day 15 Paid Member

    We're now into the third week of our 28-day challenge. If you've made it this far, you've likely already overcome a couple of rough patches caused by what Sharon calls a core group of unhealthy human tendencies that are obstacles to happiness. They're the states of mind that distract us in meditation practice, and trip us up in the rest of our lives. Broadly speaking, they are: desire, aversion, sloth, restlessness, and doubt. More »