insights

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    Sight Seers Paid Member

    “CHRISTIANITY IS THE CHIEF purveyor of tourism, and one travels only to visit churches,” writes Roland Barthes in Mythologies (1957), mocking the narrow-mindedness of the French tourist who sees only the achievements of his own Catholic Church everywhere he goes. Yet if we trace the tourist’s genealogical tree back far enough, we do indeed find the pilgrim. Though few would associate this asceticism with a Club Med holiday, it is in these sacred journeys, old as human culture, that we find anything approaching the scale of contemporary mass tourism. For centuries, some of the greatest regular assemblies of human beings have been those of pilgrims—for Holy Week in Rome, Passover in Jerusalem, Dhu al-Hijjah in Mecca, or the Kumbha Mela in Allahabad. More »
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    Cloudspotting Paid Member

    ALTHOUGH CLOUDSPOTTING is an activity best undertaken with time on your hands, it is something that everyone can enjoy. Clouds are the most egalitarian of nature’s displays, since each one of us has a good view of them, so it really doesn’t matter where you are. A little elevation never goes amiss, of course, but this could as easily be provided by a high-rise as by a mountain range of outstanding natural beauty. More important is the frame of mind you are in while cloudspotting. You are not a trainspotter, so standing on a hill with a notebook and pen poised to tick off the different types will end in disappointment. So will any attempt to write down their serial numbers. More »
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    Searching for Self Paid Member

    Holding to an ordinary notion of self, or ego, is the source of all our pain and confusion. The irony is that when we look for this "self" that we're cherishing and protecting, we can't even find it. The self is shifty and ungraspable. When we say "I'm old," we're referring to our body as self. When we say "my body," the self becomes the owner of the body. When we say "I'm tired," the self is equated with physical or emotional feelings. The self is our perceptions when we say "I see," and our thoughts when we say "I think." When we can't find a self within or outside of these parts, we may then conclude that the self is that which is aware of all of these things—the knower or mind. More »
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    The Zen of Confidence Paid Member

    My hope is that all practitioners of the Way completely believe in their true self. You should neither lack confidence nor give rise to pride.Mind is fundamentally equal and the same, and thus there is no real distinction between "ordinary people" and "sages." Nevertheless there are, in reality, those who wander in darkness and those who have been awakened to their true nature, thus distinguishing "ordinary people" from "sages." Following the instruction of a teacher, a practitioner may attain, in an instant, his true self, thereby realizing that he is ultimately no different from the Buddha. Hence it is said, "Originally, there is nothing," which means simply that one must not underestimate oneself, and lack confidence. This is the teaching of "sudden enlightenment." More »
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    Selective Wisdom Paid Member

    For most of us born in the Western world, remote from Buddhism of any institutional kind, knowledge of the dhamma has come entirely from books and, occasionally, spoken words, some quite excellent and informative, certainly. But this kind of learning still retains a somewhat ethereal air in the absence of actions, traditions, and spiritual observances in which we can participate. That the Buddhist religion has survived so long in the world is a result not so much of the durability of manuscripts as of the power of ideas embodied in custom; and custom, for all our abundant sources of information, is what we lack and cannot in the long run do without. Books crumble easily enough; thought crumbles faster, if not made firm by some sort of concrete practice that holds together believers and sees to the transmission of the teaching to the young. More »
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    The Spookiness of Ego-Mind Paid Member

    I intellectually understand the Buddhist notion of the self as the source of so many of our problems, but I don’t know how to apply that understanding to daily life? How can I battle the self off the cushion? More »