my view

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    The Contenders Paid Member

    I first heard of Marlon Brando’s death in July 2004 while sitting in a cafe a few blocks from my former home in Oakland, California. My daughter, Alana, and I were just getting ourselves settled at our favorite table, and I was making some kind of small talk, when her face darkened in a manner unusual for a seven-year-old—it was a weighty look, a look of concern—and she said, “Daddy, Marlon Brando died.” More »
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    Not Our Bodies, Not Ourselves Paid Member

    Since my sister began medical school last fall, she has spoken constantly about an obese female corpse she refers to as “my cadaver”: “She’s so fat, it’s hard to find the nerves and muscles. You have to do a lot of poking around.” Or, “When we first opened her up, there was still shit in her intestines. Can you believe that? She died two years ago!” More »
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    Do I Mind? Paid Member

    It's all there in the Satipatthana ("Foundations of Mindfulness") Sutta: The direct path to awakening calls for maintaining awareness of body, feeling, mind, and thoughts—and not just when we're sitting in meditation. Whether eating, drinking, chewing, urinating, defecating, walking, standing, falling asleep, waking up, talking, or remaining silent, we must remain fully alert, the Buddha said. More »
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    "Spirituality" Versus "Religion" Paid Member

    I am concerned about the relationship between “spirituality” and “religion” and the way those terms are being used because it’s become increasingly common for spirituality to indirectly denigrate religion. People used to make a distinction between religion and religious institutions, and that is a valid distinction. But then spirituality came along, and everything spiritual was good and everything to do with religion was bad. Religion became equated with dogmatism and moralism. Of course, there are institutional problems with religions. There’s not a single institution that doesn’t have a dark side. Would you dispense with learning because of the institutional problems of universities? More »
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    Chanting for Stuff Paid Member

    A common criticism I hear of Nichiren Buddhists, and of Soka Gakkai International members in particular, is that we practice Buddhism for material gain, to get stuff. Well, we do, but it’s a good thing. Really. I was raised a Buddhist and, as such, have a pretty good grasp on the idea of the impermanence of all things. I try to look beneath the surface and identify deeper significance and the connections between things. But even with this perspective, I still live in human society. I am still a human being, subject to all the potential emotional entanglements and flare-ups that brings. Try as I may to focus on the fact that the jerk who cut me off on the freeway is really a manifestation of my own sense of helplessness about my environment, on a bad day he remains the jerk who cut me off. More »
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    After the Flood Paid Member

    As usual, a cigarette is dangling from our friend Smokey's lips as she pulls up in front of our house with a load of spare plywood. “Be Nice or Leave,” it says on the rear window of her weathered old pickup truck, and “New Orleans, proud to crawl home.” It's early Sunday morning, August 28, and clouds are moving quickly across the sky. Overnight, Hurricane Katrina powered up to a Category 5, and our neighborhood is alive with last-minute preparations. Smokey helps unload the plywood, gives me an evacuation map and a kiss, then hurries home to pick up her hip boots; she knows there's going to be water. Lots and lots of water. Then she drives to Tulane Hospital, where she will spend the next four days preparing meals around the clock for dozens of doctors, nurses, patients, policemen, and firemen. More »