Random Notes

  • Meditation Month, Day 27: Drowsiness Paid Member

    I am very good at falling asleep. This is probably because I am almost always tired. And I'm never more tired than when I meditate. Especially if I meditate at the end of the day, I'm so excited to have 5 or 10 (or if I'm lucky, 20) minutes of nonactivity that I'm immediately in relaxation mode. As soon as I relax, I'm drowsy. As soon as I'm drowsy, my head and body begin to pitch forward; a few minutes after that, I'm lucky if I'm not dead asleep. My mind during meditation: My body during meditation: More »
  • Buddha Buzz: Buddhism & Interfaith Dialogue Paid Member

    The September 12 issue of The New Yorker features T.K. Nakagaki, a Japanese monk and former abbot of the New York Buddhist Church, and his work organizing a floating 9/11 lantern ceremony on the Hudson River. The article takes a look at interfaith dialogue in light of 9/11-commemoration gatherings. After Rudy Giuliani failed to invite a single Buddhist to a prayer event at Yankee Stadium that included all other major faiths of NYC, Nakagaki convinced the city's Buddhist Council to make some noise about the omission. From "All Together Now": More »
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    About a poem: "Ochre and Blue" by Chase Twichell Paid Member

    The Fall 2011 issue of Tricycle features a poem by Chase Twichell, "Ochre and Blue." Beneath the poem is commentary from Twichell on how the poem came to be. Beneath the commentary is a button, push it and listen to Twichell read her poem.Ochre and BlueWaking to ochre birch leavessinking in the blue undersea of dawn,I swim in the same currents,needing nothing.Later I'll forget this,and mourn the end of autumn.What's left to be saidabout being human?About “Ochre and Blue” More »
  • Tibetan monks found chanting text by Oxford philosopher Paid Member

    Last week, I blogged about Derek Parfit, an Oxford philosopher featured in a recent issue of The New Yorker. In her article on Parfit, "How to Be Good," Larissa MacFarquhar writes about the apparent affinity between Parfit's view and the Buddhist view of the self. To demonstrate this point MacFarquhar includes a parenthetical anecdote about Tibetan monks chanting lines from Parfit's book, Reasons and Persons. This struck me as fairly remarkable, so I wrote to The New Yorker to try to get the backstory. MacFarquhar put me in touch with Harvard professor of ethics and public health, Dan Wikler, who originally provided her with the story. Quoted below is part of an email that I received from Wikler. More »
  • How to Be Good: A moral philosopher breaks down the self Paid Member

    You are in a terrible accident. Your body is fatally injured, as are the brains of your two identical-triplet brothers. Your brain is divided into two halves, and into each brother's body one half is successfully transplanted. After the surgery, each of the two resulting people believes himself to be you, seems to remember living your life, and has your character. (This is not as unlikely as it sounds: already, living brains have been surgically divided, resulting in two separate streams of consciousness.) What has happened? Have you died, or have you survived? And if you have survived who are you? Are you one of these people? Both? Or neither? What if one of the transplants fails, and only one person with half your brain survives? That seems quite different—but the death of one person could hardly make a difference to the identity of another. More »
  • Buddha Buzz: How to fall asleep on an airplane Paid Member

    Having trouble sleeping? Try meditating! In a recent piece on The New York Time's Opinionator blog, "How to Sleep on a Plane," Virginia Heffernan writes: More »