If you’ve taken my Mindfulness Module, you’ve experienced an exercise where I play a piece performed by Aaron Goldberg’s trio, and we discuss how the layers of jazz are similar to the layers of the meditative process: Body (as the rhythm), breath (as the bass), thoughts (as the piano). And people invariably comment, “Who’s that musician? I love it, and I didn’t think I even liked jazz.” Here’s my interview with that musician – a modern master, Aaron Goldberg.
In Buddhism, it is often said that the core teaching of the Buddha is his teaching on Dependent Origination. There are passages in the Suttas where the Buddha says, “He who sees dependent arising, sees the Dharma.” It’s pretty central stuff!
But, whenever I’ve tried to make sense of the more detailed explanation of this central teaching, I’ve always been left feeling bewildered and confused. To describe this teaching as opaque would be an understatement.
In Part 2 of my ongoing conversation series for www.meaningoflife.tv with David Barash, we dive more deeply into his intellectual trifecta, “Existential Bio-Buddhism.” And we look at how each system of thought and understanding can help develop an orientation to life. It’s not that we discover the meaning of life, rather we uncover a way to create […]
As part of my ongoing conversation series for www.meaningoflife.tv, I’ve had the great pleasure to connect with David Barash, professor emeritus of psychology – specifically evolutionary psychology – at the University of Washington. In this conversation, David unpacks the convergences and divergences between Buddhist views of the world and those of a biology. David’s book: […]
During his junior year of college, a tragic accident during a game of pick-up basketball disrupted Howard Axelrod’s course in life. As a way to make sense of himself and of life, Howard did what I’ve only fantasized of doing: he went to live in the woods, in utter solitude, for a very long time. In […]
And so the general approach is this: when people meditate they try to focus on their breath or body and not allow themselves to be distracted by their thoughts. That is, they try not to allow themselves to be drawn into thinking, or to get lost in thinking. I’ve received variations of this instruction from many well-meaning meditation teachers over the years: “Allow your thoughts, but don’t get lost in your them.”
Ellen Langer is a social psychologist at Harvard University who has done four decades of research on non-meditative mindfulness. This is a unique form of attention regulation. Ellen defines mindfulness as an “active state of mind, where you notice new things.” Sounds simple, and it is. But its simplicity belies the profundity of its power. In […]
In this conversation, I speak with Alex Howard, founder of www.conscious2.com and producer of the documentary on the spiritual teacher, Andrew Cohen: How I Created a Cult. This documentary is important for a number reasons. It is the first documentary that I know of to chronicle the story of a fallen spiritual teacher, their process of […]
In this interview, I speak with neuroscientist, Sara Lazar, about her work on the study of mindfulness. Sara is one of the leading scientists studying how the brain responds to mindfulness meditation. Are the benefits of mindfulness exaggerated? Meditation and our “neuroplastic” brains How meditation alters the fear response Why studying mindfulness is hard Mindfulness […]
In response to my post, “Consciousness, Being and Bliss” I received some questions that I’d like to tackle here. The essence of these questions, I think, boils down to this: “What is spirituality really about? When we engage in a spiritual practice, where is the compass pointed?” In many forms of spirituality, the compass tends […]
JP Sears is a man who needs no introduction. If you’re unfamiliar with JP, please stop reading now, pull your head out of the sand, take a shower, and come back once you can say your name and the current year. I’m still rather in shock that I was able to grab him for an […]
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend, Chip Hartranft, for MeaningofLife.tv. In the yoga and meditation world, Chip is the rare practitioner who balances encyclopedic scholarship with equally profound depth of practice. In our conversation, we explore Patanjali’s road map to liberation, The Yoga Sutra. We also get into the […]
Within Indian philosophy, different schools propose different metaphysics and methodologies for attaining liberation from the human experience of anguish. Within the historical context in which the Buddha emerged, one proposition for freedom and happiness was articulated in the Brhad-ahranyaka Upanisad, which many consider to encapsulate the view of Vedanta. In the BAU (Brhad-aranyaka Upanisad), an […]
From the earliest records we have of ancient Indian philosophy, we can see that the nature of the cosmos and man’s relationship to the cosmos was of great concern. From Brahmanism, to Vedanta, to Classical Yoga and beyond, there is a reoccurring metaphysical theme, and that is: what is the nature of reality, and how […]
I am very pleased to announce a new opportunity that has developed for me. Robert Wright, author and founder of Bloggingheads.tv and MeaningofLife.tv, has invited to me to “try my hand” at interviews for MeaningofLife.tv with thought leaders in the worlds of meditation, yoga and spirituality. This is an enormous honor for me, and as cliché […]
In my last post, I began a look into some of the philosophical underpinnings of the Buddha’s worldview, and how this view shaped his orientation towards finding happiness and peace within the world. In the Kaccayanagotta Sutta, a discourse given to the seeker, Kaccayana Gotta, the Buddha summarizes and rejects two common metaphysical views of his day. […]
“Everything in moderation, including moderation,” said Oscar Wilde. Advocates of moderation often find their spiritual footing within the Buddha’s doctrine of the Middle Path. As its name suggests, the Middle Path adheres to an approach that avoids the two extremes of self-mortification (ie. extreme asceticism) and self-indulgence (ie. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow […]
“What the world needs most is people who are less bound by prejudice. It needs more love, more generosity, more mercy, more openness. The root of human problems is not a lack of resources but comes from the misunderstanding, fear, and separateness that can be found in the hearts of people.” -Jack Kornfield In the […]
What’s the Buddhist perspective on… Paris? San Bernardino? Sandy Hook? Fort Hood? Syria? Lebanon? The Congo? The climate? The list goes on. Often, whenever there has been an incident of violence somewhere in the world, someone, during or after a workshop, will ask me: What’s the Buddhist perspective on… ? And my sense is that the […]
Recently, while working on the Oliver Sacks piece, I found myself browsing through Maria Popova’s fantastic website: www.brainpickings.org. For a trove of material on the meaningful life, one need not look any further. At some point, I came across an article on self-renewal which highlighted this captivating passage from John Gardner: “We can keep ourselves so busy, fill our lives with […]