• 5 Realities of Becoming a Hardcore Meditator Paid Member

    At the beginning of this year I made a vow. If you’ve read my other columns here you’ll no doubt be aware of the fact that I’ve had trouble picking—and then sticking with—a specific Buddhist modality. There’s so much available, especially with the advent of teaching via Internet, that my attention has always been divided among the glut of Buddhist approaches that have flooded the West. I’ve snatched up every shiny object out there and fiddled with it only to become entranced by another sparkly thing close by. The sentence that best sums up my journey is probably “Ohhhh, look at that delightful thing . . . oh, SHIT what’s that over there?!” More »
  • Learning to Die in the Anthropocene Paid Member

    I’m a bad Buddhist. I don’t meditate every day, and some weeks, I feel lucky if I find the time to meditate at all. I go to zendo in rare spurts, a few weeks on, months off. I kill mosquitoes, flies, and moths. I drink, though no longer to excess. I’ve managed to rationalize continuing to eat meat. I’m often impatient and snarky with people, angry at them for blocking traffic, for being rude or thoughtless, for moving through the world in a haze, unconscious of the life flowing around them. Look out! Look up! Just look! I want to shout. I am suspicious and proud and sometimes cruel, inconstant in my compassion. I don’t steal and I don’t lie, but I’m vain about that; after all, honesty is one of my best qualities. And yet for all my vanity, I’m a hypocrite, too: I dissemble and misrepresent and omit. More »
  • Meditation, According to Stock Photography Paid Member

    Meditation and its redheaded stepsister mindfulness are currently sweeping through the Occident like a sandalwood-scented tsunami. You can’t swing a dead snow lion without hitting someone who’s been to a meditation seminar, retreat, class, symposium, workshop, or would just really, really like to try it. For, like, focus, you know? Focus and calm. And less stress. It does that, right? My considerable and well-wrought snark aside, this is a good thing. While I’m attracted to meditation for one reason—the attainment of total enlightenment and its attendant powers of telekinesis and teleportation—many folks aren’t into that. Whatever your personal preferences, mo’ meditation, unlike mo’ money, generally doesn’t lead to mo’ problems. In fact, it generally leads to fewer. The mo’ meditation, the better, I’ve always said. Or at least thought to myself. More »
  • Making the First Move Paid Member

    Saddled with backpacks, duffle bags, and pillows, the teens shuffle up to the table one by one to register for their weeklong meditation retreat. Their eyes flicker with hope and fear as they alternately scan their peers and stare at the floor, shifting their weight from side to side. It is hard to watch their discomfort, but even harder not to. There's something beautiful about the sincerity of their wish to connect with each other and something heartbreaking about their transparent efforts to conceal that wish. More »
  • The Light Is Always There Paid Member

    There is no better protection than the refuge of unbounded sacred space, infinite awareness, and genuine warmth. Any external source of refuge is ultimately unreliable. Looking for refuge in money or material possessions cannot protect you from the pain of loss, because everything you have will be lost to you someday. No matter how good your health insurance is or how healthy your lifestyle, sooner or later you will suffer from injury or sickness; eventually you will die. Finding your perfect soul mate cannot protect you from someday losing your beloved through separation, divorce, or death. More »
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    Meditating at the Edge of Nowhere Paid Member