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    Support your practice Paid Member

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    Brave New Buddhists Paid Member

    Philosopher and trenchant social critic Aldous Huxley is best known for his ground breaking novel Brave New World. He is far less known for the extent to which he was influenced by the teachings of the Buddha, although the influence can be found throughout his work. "Desirelessness is the condition of deliverance and illumination," wrote Huxley in 1946. "The condition of an expanding and technologically progressive system of mass production is universal craving." Yet as religion professor Dana Sawyer points out (here), if Huxley was in many ways a Buddhist in spirit, he was not "only a Buddhist"; with the formulation of his Perennial Philosophy, Huxley pointed to primordial truths underlying all religious systems. Far from having a monopoly on truth, Buddhism, he felt, was simply one of many paths to it. More »
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    Our Glass House Paid Member

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    Strong Medicine Paid Member

    "People lying in bed ill are lucky because they have the opportunity to do nothing but contemplate stress and pain ... and let go of pain." Not exactly copy that sells. But in "Tough Teachings to Ease the Mind", Upasika Kee Nanayon (1901-1978), among Thailand's most revered female lay Buddhist teachers, reminds us of one of Buddhism's toughest challenges: rather than shrink from the suffering of physical pain, can we come closer to it, examining its nature, seeing through it, and letting it go? More »
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    Settle for the Stereo? Paid Member

    We've all heard that happiness can't be bought, but how many of us live as if this were really true? As contributing editor Joan Duncan Oliver reports in her opener to this issue's special section ("The Happiness Craze"), shopping outperforms "football, golf, and NASCAR combined," making it America's most popular pastime. Putting all empirical evidence to the contrary aside, we persist in thinking that getting what we want—or making things go our way—will bring happiness. And in spite of nods of dutiful assent whenever we hear that true happiness can be found within, we're curiously dismissive of the notion if our acquisitive behavior is any guide. While nodding knowingly to easy platitudes, inside we're just as likely to be thinking Yeah, but ... More »
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    The Joy of No Ambition Paid Member

    On a recent trip to San Francisco, I stopped by the publisher Chronicle Books to visit a friend. I was early, so I popped into their street-level bookstore to browse. Chronicle is known for its high production standards, so I always look forward to seeing their new titles. This time, one in particular caught my eye—“The Underachiever’s Manifesto: The Guide to Accomplishing Little and Feeling Great,” by Ray Bennett, M.D. Like most people I know these days, I work too much. So I welcomed Dr. Bennett’s call to underachievement and paid ten dollars to find out more. The book is a brief eighty-one pages, after which several pages follow under the heading “Some Blank Pages” (ten, to be exact, and they really are blank). The good doctor takes his underachieving seriously. But, he points out, underachieving is no cakewalk: More »