Science

Current scientific research affirms, and challenges, traditional Buddhist teachings
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    The Lama in the Lab Paid Member

    "Someone ought to wire the Dalai Lama up to an EEG machine to see exactly what's going on." It was an offhanded remark, made at the end of a Vipassana retreat by a gung-ho, fresh-out-of-college meditator, and as he calked more, it became apparent what he wanted was a shortcut to enlightenment. It was hard not to stumble over his lack of tact. But in fact, even as he spoke, in scientific labs across the country there was already a research initiative underway to study advanced Tibetan monks and seasoned Vipassana teachers. And the studies—sponsored by The Mind and Life Institute, a Boulder, Colorado-based nonprofit organization—have the input and full support of the Dalai Lama. More »
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    Out of the Skeleton Garden Paid Member

    Late autumn lays bare the skeleton of the garden. A low wind moans over cold ground, and darkness falls at five o’clock with the call for evening meditation. The heritage fruit trees growing at the edge of the cultivated row drop their burden of overripe apples along with any pretension of pedigree, and stand naked in the gloom of the Day of the Dead. I welcome this haunted time of year when dark swallows light with one swift lunge. Creatures at the shank of night travel undomesticated pathways of the dark. In this somber territory the common bat is my nocturnal teacher and guide, stitching together shadow and light. More »
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    Shattering the Ridgepole Paid Member

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    Sitting for Sessions Paid Member

    It is January 1991, twenty-three minutes after I injected a large dose of DMT (N,N-dimethyltryptamine) into Elena's arm vein. Elena is a forty two-year-old married psychotherapist with extensive personal experience with psychedelic drugs. DMT is a powerful, short-acting psychedelic that occurs naturally in human body fluids, and is also found in many plants. Elena has read some Buddhism, but practices Taoist meditation. She lies in a bed on the fifth floor of the University of New Mexico Hospital General Clinical Research Center. The clear plastic tubing that provides access to her vein dangles onto the bed. The cuff of a blood pressure machine is loosely attached to her other arm, and the tubing snakes its way into the back of a blinking monitor. More »
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    Ruffling Feathers Paid Member

    “THOUGH SHE BE LITTLE, yet she is fierce,” Shakespeare wrote of Hermia in Midsummer Night’s Dream. It would be an apt description of Mira Tweti, a 5-foot, 2 1/2-inch, 108-pound animal-welfare writer and Zen nun who’s probably the best friend any bird—captive or wild—could ever have. Tweti’s exposé of the parrot trade industry, Of Parrots and People: The Sometimes Funny, Always Fascinating, and Often Catastrophic Collision of Two Intelligent Species, published this fall, is rattling bird breeders across the country— maybe the world—and challenging parrot owners to reconsider the wisdom of keeping a caged companion.“This book, I think, will drive bird breeders to violence,” Tweti says matter- of-factly. “I’ve had breeders tell me that it’s all lies—and that I hadn’t said all the good things they’ve done. Like what? That they’re keeping the ‘stud books’ on parrots? Stud books are for horse breeders. That has nothing to do with keeping parrot species alive.” More »
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    Time & Again Paid Member

    An ancient buddha said:For the time being stand on top of the highest peak.For the time being proceed along the bottom of the deepest ocean.For the time being three heads and eight arms.For the time being an eight- or sixteen-foot body.For the time being a staff or whisk.For the time being a pillar or lantern.For the time being the sons of Zhang and Li.For the time being the earth and sky.–Eihei Dogen (The Time-Being, translated by Kazuaki Tanahashi and Dan Welch) More »