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Showing posts from December, 2013

Healthy vs. Unhealthy Grieving

The Buddha taught that we live surrounded by "mountains that are moving in on us from all sides, crushing all in its path…" such are the inevitable experiences of aging, sickness, separation from the loved and death. He continues in the sutta by noting that "troops can hold no ground, nor wealth win out" against these forces. Yet, aware of our fragility amidst such unsparing outcomes, we seek false refuges, attempts to deny and avoid our disappointments, to live life without truly opening to the emotional cost of loss. Alas, there is no inoculation from pain, even in spiritual practice.

It should go without noting that life is not only loss: Sadness and delight, separation and connection, easeful and challenging states are intertwined and braided throughout our days. Just as we cannot outrun the darkness that arrives after a beautiful day, if we try to bypass disappointment and depression, we cannot truly relax and appreciate times of excitement and joy.

When the …

Why I'm a Buddhist

Over the years I've frequently encountered the perception that referring to oneself as a Buddhist, or advocating any variation of “ist” or “ism,” is somehow unskillful, just another form of attachment or clinging. This idea proposes that proclaiming oneself a practitioner of a single spiritual path results in getting stuck in opinions and practices, leading inevitably to a denigration of other spiritual paths. Those who advocate the “Don't be a Buddhist or Any Other Ist” explain that compassion and harmlessness are universal qualities that don't fall under the exclusive domain of any spiritual practice, and this is certainly true. Additionally, it's often claimed that we should be encouraged to “take the best” from a variety of sacred traditions, creating a personal philosophy “cafeteria style.”

Certainly I have sympathy for those who seek to remain free of those 2,500 year old rituals and perspectives that make little sense today, and I feel every entitlement to impo…