-isms and the need to belong

“The desire to…the identity to belong is based on fear, and inclusion and exclusion. The aspiration to awaken is prepared to negotiate all of those boundaries.”

I was particularly struck by Ajahn Thanasanti’s words in this conversation with Gina Sharpe because of my own strong desire to be inclusive, which is then reflected in a corresponding aversion to any sense of exclusion and perhaps paradoxically, if unchecked, results in the same! Sadly, I sense a lot of “clubby” behavior, particularly online.

(more…)

The power of community

It is hard to live
the life of renunciation;
its challenges
are difficult to find pleasant.
Yet it is also hard to live
the householder’s life;
there is pain
when associating with those
among whom one feels no companionship.

(more…)

Postscript on vulnerability

First, I want to assure you that I am quite well! The experience I shared in the last post was a wonderful opening for me, not something I am upset about or wish had been different. Not at all. It was exactly the teaching I needed at exactly the right time. Isn’t it always?

Second, I want to say how incredibly privileged I feel to have people who aren’t just reading what I’m writing here, but are thinking about it, reflecting on their own experience, sharing and dialoguing, and just generally being supportive–allowing this to be much more than one meditator’s personal narrative. It’s really a testament to the ability of our current technology and this particular manifestation of “sangha” to build authentic community. One which is coming and going, continually evolving, and discovering its various strengths and weaknesses. So, thank you, thank you so much.

(more…)

What is the importance of long-term retreat practice?

“It may be obvious that planes fly and boats don’t sink, but who is to say whether a person is enlightened or not?”–Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche

As a follow-up to my previous post, I wanted to explore a related topic re retreat practice, which emerged in the comments and is also currently being discussed within the context of the Soto Zen Buddhist Association.

(more…)

Some challenges of living a contemplative life today

There are several topics that come up a lot for me of late, and they seem to bring up some discomfort and concern around how Buddhism is integrating into Western culture. The issues are:

1) The subject of dana and generosity, and how it has not very successfully been translated here; and

2) The issue of gender inequality and the general lack of (recognized as such) realized women teachers within the Buddhist institution — the same can be said for lack of racial diversity; as well as

3) The challenges for monasticism, particularly for women in the Theravada tradition.

(more…)

%d bloggers like this: