Branch of Buddhism, oldest extant school
Ayya Tathālokā was born in Washington, DC in 1968 to environmentally-minded scientist parents. In 1988, at age nineteen, urgently inspired by the sudden death of an associate, she left her Pre-naturopathic Medical studies in university and made her way first to Europe and then on to India, entering monastic life as an white robed anagarika and then two years later undertaking ten-precept nuns ordination. Wishing to connect with the ancient lineage of the Bhikkhuni Sangha, she sought and found her female mentor in Buddhist monastic life in South Korea, the most venerable bhikkhuni elder Myeong Seong Sunim (和法界 明星), who gave her the name “Tatha-alokā”, and went on to train under her mentorship for ten years. Returning to the United States in 1996, with her bhikkhuni mentor's blessings, in 1997 in Los Angeles, with an international gathering of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, Dharma teachers and supporters in attendance, she received bhikkhuni higher ordination from the Sri Lankan bhikkhu sangha led by her preceptor, the Venerable Dr. Havanpola Ratanasara Nayaka Mahathero. Since then Venerable Tathālokā has focused on meditation, and on both the study and practice of Dhamma & Vinaya. Her meditation training in Theravada Buddhism has been largely with the masters of the Thai forest traditions stemming from Ajahn Mun Buridatta: Ajahn Maha Bua Nyanasampanno and teachers of the Ajahn Chah tradition, together with the Burmese mindfulness and insight masters of Sayadaw U Pandita's tradition and meditation master Pa-auk Sayadaw. Overall, her practice and teachings are profoundly influenced by the Buddha's own advice and injunctions as contained in the Early Buddhist suttas. Recognizing the growing number of Theravadin bhikkhunis and samaneris in the United States and the true value of coming together in harmony, Ayya Tathālokā proposed and participated in the founding of the North American Bhikkhuni Association (NABA) in 2004. Several months later, she also participated in founding the first residential community for bhikkhunis in the western United States named “Dhammadharini”. Ayya Tathālokā is the first Western woman to be appointed as a Theravada Bhikkhuni Preceptor, and she has contributed to the going forth and full ordination of more than 50 women as nuns in the USA, Australia, India, and Thailand. Ayya Tathālokā's primary role is as the founding abbess and preceptor of both the Dhammadharini Monastery at the western foot of Sonoma Mountain in Penngrove and the Aranya Bodhi Awakening Forest Hermitage on the Sonoma Coast in Northern California, where she provides Dhamma and meditation teaching and guidance, and monastic mentorship. And since 2021, she has been actively involved in the United Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha International working group together with other international bhikkhuni preceptors and leaders of Theravada traditions.
Michael Taft is a meditation teacher, author, and host of the ‘Deconstructing Yourself' podcast. In this episode, Michael reveals why he dislikes maps of meditation, and why he believes the Progress of Insight, a widely taught meditation map in Theravada Buddhism, causes more problems than it solves. Michael also discusses his points of agreement and disagreement with the Buddhist four path model, how he defines and teaches stream entry, the common traps on the way to enlightenment, how to cut through spiritual ego, and why Michael questions if becoming an arhat is actually good for anybody. Michael goes on to explain his own meditation map, based on the teachings of Shinzen Young, and shares his takes on emptiness, jhana, fire kasina, and how life changes after awakening. … Video version: https://www.guruviking.com/podcast/ep167-maps-to-enlightenment-michael-taft-2 Also available on Youtube, iTunes, & Spotify – search ‘Guru Viking Podcast'. … Topics include: 00:00 - Intro 00:57 - Cons of meditation maps 06:06 - Why the Progress of Insight map causes more problems than it solves 09:50 - Disagreement with Daniel Ingram 10:37 - Controversy of claiming Arhatship 14:15 - Teaching towards stream entry 15:06 - Defining stream entry 18:16 - Do meditators really want stream entry? 20:17 - Where Michael diverges from the 4-path model 22:42 - different approaches to spiritual practice 23:24 - What changes after enlightenment? 29:01 - Stress tolerance of enlightenment 30:09 - Michael's perceptive 31:16 - Dangers on the way to stream entry 36:29 - Post-stream entry pitfalls 37:54 - Spiritual ego trips 38:35 - How Michael slices through spiritual ego 39:39 - Michael's own map of vipassana 45:35 - The failure mode of high concentration 48:05 - Differences between low concentration and insight into emptiness 51:05 - The problem with cessation 52:47 - Emptiness of self and other 54:37 - Pointing to the self 56:02 - When Michael's students achieve stream entry 57:02 - Welcome to the club 57:41 - Sutra vs Mahamudra 58:53 - Running the map backwards 01:01:21 - Emptiness and form 01:05:07 - The big temptation of emptiness and bliss 01:08:35 - Why leave emptiness? 01:13:10 - Vipassana vs vipasyana 01:15:41 - Quick fire round 01:16:13 - Wet of dry vipassana? 01:16:39 - Hard or soft jhana? 01:17:22 - Breath or fire kasina? 01:18:21 - BIT or SHF? 01:19:09 - Shinzen Young's evolution … Previous episode with Michael Taft: - https://www.guruviking.com/podcast/ep149-deconstructing-yourself-michael-taft To find out more about Michael Taft, visit: - https://deconstructingyourself.com/ For more interviews, videos, and more visit: - www.guruviking.com Music ‘Deva Dasi' by Steve James
The Dhammapada is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures. The original version of the Dhammapada is in the Khuddaka Nikaya, a division of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. The title, "Dhammapada," is a compound term composed of dhamma and pada, each word having a number of denotations and connotations. Generally, dhamma can refer to the Buddha's "doctrine" or an "eternal truth" or "righteousness" or all "phenomena"; and, at its root, pada means "foot" and thus by extension, especially in this context, means either "path" or "verse" (cf. "prosodic foot") or both. Please consider supporting my work and download this audio as part of the ESOTERIC AND OCCULT WISDOM - MASTER COLLECTION (an ongoing collection of Gnostic, alchemical, Hermetic, and related occult/spiritual audio projects that span dozens of hours) at https://altrusiangrace.bandcamp.com/ *JOIN MY PATREON at https://www.patreon.com/altrusiangracemedia *BECOME A YOUTUBE CHANNEL MEMBER at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMzRTOugvDLwhSwJdoSWBZA/join *JOIN THE CULT OF STARRY WISDOM at https://altrusiangrace.bandcamp.com/starry-wisdom-cult *FOLLOW THE AGM PODCAST at https://altrusiangracemedia.podbean.com *MY TSHIRTS AND DESIGNS ON AMAZON at https://amzn.to/3peS9j3 *MY NEW 2022 MERCH LINE "OCCULT NOUVEAU" at https://amzn.to/3OeUHZL *MY TSHIRTS AND DESIGNS ON TEEPUBLIC at https://teepublic.sjv.io/XxvPDX *LICENSE MY MUSIC FOR YOUR PROJECT at https://www.pond5.com/artist/altrusiangracemedia *MY BOOKS ON AMAZON at https://amzn.to/3oQGh6A As an Amazon Associate I earn a small amount from qualifying purchases and it helps to support my channel. Please consider LIKING the video, SUBSCRIBING to the channel, and SHARING the links! These simple actions go a long way in supporting AGM and is truly appreciated! ~~Places to follow and support Altrusian Grace Media~~ Website ► https://altrusiangrace.blogspot.com/ Bandcamp ► https://altrusiangrace.bandcamp.com Teepublic Store ► https://teepublic.sjv.io/XxvPDX Twitter ► https://twitter.com/AltrusianGrace Rumble ► https://rumble.com/c/c-375437 YouTube ► https://www.youtube.com/AltrusianGraceMedia Odessy ► https://odysee.com/@altrusiangracemedia:1 Bitchute ► https://www.bitchute.com/channel/altrusiangracemedia/ To kindly donate directly to my channel: www.paypal.me/altrusiangrace For inquiries regarding voice-over work or licensing for my work (including music) please contact altrusiangracemedia ((at)) gmail.com AGM BACKUP CONTENT ► https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO0nCG5aqB1CHyU3Xf0TUbg #Gnosticism #Alchemy #Hermeticism #Occult #Esoteric #Audiobook #Mysticism #Gnostic #Egyptian #Christianity #NagHammadi #Spirituality #Jung
A few days before the eminent scholar Lance Cousins passed away in 2015, he revealed to one of his students, Sarah Shaw, that he had been working on a book on Buddhist meditation. After his death, with the permission of his family, Shaw found the manuscript on his desktop and prepared it for publication. The book, "Meditations of the Pali Tradition," is the first comprehensive exploration of meditation systems in Theravada Buddhism, and it offers an in-depth analysis of the ritual, somatic, and devotional aspects of Theravada practice that are often overlooked. In today's episode of Tricycle Talks, Tricycle's editor-in-chief, James Shaheen, sits down with Shaw to discuss a system of Buddhist meditation known as the jhanas, a strain of Buddhist mysticism called Tantric Theravada, and the underappreciated role of joy in meditative practice.
On this episode of Spirit Stories we have as our guest, Ayya Tathālokā from Aranya Bodhi Awakening Forest Hermitage in California. Ayya Tathālokā was born in Washington, DC in 1968 to environmentally-minded scientist parents. In 1988, at age nineteen, urgently inspired by the sudden death of an associate, she left her Pre-naturopathic Medical studies in university and made her way first to Europe and then on to India, entering monastic life as an white robed anagarika and then two years later undertaking ten-precept nuns ordination. Wishing to connect with the ancient lineage of the Bhikkhuni Sangha, she sought and found her female mentor in Buddhist monastic life in South Korea, the most venerable bhikkhuni elder Myeong Seong Sunim (和法界 明星), who gave her the name "Tatha-alokā", and went on to train under her mentorship for ten years. Returning to the United States in 1996, with her bhikkhuni mentor's blessings, in 1997 in Los Angeles, with an international gathering of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, Dharma teachers and supporters in attendance, she received bhikkhuni higher ordination from the Sri Lankan bhikkhu sangha led by her preceptor, the Venerable Dr. Havanpola Ratanasara Nayaka Mahathero. Since then Venerable Tathālokā has focused on meditation, and on both the study and practice of Dhamma & Vinaya. Her meditation training in Theravada Buddhism has been largely with the masters of the Thai forest traditions stemming from Ajahn Mun Buridatta: Ajahn Maha Bua Nyanasampanno and teachers of the Ajahn Chah tradition, together with the Burmese mindfulness and insight masters of Sayadaw U Pandita's tradition and meditation master Pa-auk Sayadaw. Overall, her practice and teachings are profoundly influenced by the Buddha's own advice and injunctions as contained in the Early Buddhist suttas. Recognizing the growing number of Theravadin bhikkhunis and samaneris in the United States and the true value of coming together in harmony, Ayya Tathālokā proposed and participated in the founding of the North American Bhikkhuni Association (NABA) in 2004. Several months later, she also participated in founding the first residential community for bhikkhunis in the western United States named "Dhammadharini”. Ayya Tathālokā is the first Western woman to be appointed as a Theravada Bhikkhuni Preceptor, and she has contributed to the going forth and full ordination of more than 50 women as nuns in the USA, Australia, India, and Thailand. Ayya Tathālokā's primary role is as the founding abbess and preceptor of both the Dhammadharini Monastery at the western foot of Sonoma Mountain in Penngrove and the Aranya Bodhi Awakening Forest Hermitage on the Sonoma Coast in Northern California, where she provides Dhamma and meditation teaching and guidance, and monastic mentorship. And since 2021, she has been actively invovled in the United Theravada Bhikkhuni Sangha International working group together with other international bhikkhuni preceptors and leaders of Theravada traditions. Links from this episode: Dhammadharini Monastery - https://www.dhammadharini.net/ Treasure Mountain links: Treasure Mountain Podcast - https://www.treasuremountain.stream/ Treasure Mountain website - https://www.treasuremountain.info/ Treasure Mountain facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/TreasureMountainPodcast
Stephen Doetsu Snyder began meditating daily in 1976. he has practiced since in the Zen tradition as well as extensive practice in Theravada Buddhism. he is a lineage Zen teacher as well as a lineage Theravada teacher. He was also influenced by Diamond Heart teachings and practices. He combines the ancient Buddhist heart practices with awakening practices of the Zen tradition into a heartfelt journey of realization and embodiment. Books: Demystifying Awakening: A Buddhist Path of Realization, Embodiment, and Freedom Buddha's Heart: Meditation Practice for Developing Well-Being, Love, and Empathy Practicing the Jhanas: Traditional Concentration Meditation as Presented by the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw Website: awakeningdharma.org Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group. Transcript of this interview Interview recorded July 10, 2022 Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.
Ask a Monk | Difference between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism On this episode of Ask a Monk, we'll briefly discuss the main differences of Mahayana and Theravada (Hinayana) Buddhism. If you'd like to submit a question to be answered, please visit dharmatree.org and use the Contact Us form. --- Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/dharma-tree/support
The first in a series of episodes on the branches and traditions of Buddhism, we will explore Theravāda Buddhism. How did this school emerge? Did it ever read Mahayana sutras? What is the school of thought and guiding practice? Come explore in this episode! Learn more in the article: https://alanpeto.com/buddhism/understanding-mahayana-theravada/ About Buddhist scriptures: https://alanpeto.com/buddhism/buddhist-scriptures/ Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Fv0N9-iDN4 Contact Alan: alanpeto.com/contact Podcast Disclaimer: alanpeto.com/legal/podcast-disclaimer/ Get Alan's free eBook "Buddhism in 10 Steps": alanpeto.com/books/buddhism-10-steps --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/alanpeto/message
Sabrina and S.J. Anderson discuss the transits of Jupiter in Aries and the lunar nodes entering Libra & Aries. Jupiter expands what it touches, so we look into what it might be like for the Aries dimension of our experience to become bigger in our view.S.J. Anderson was born in Austin, Texas in the early 1980s and is currently living abroad. He's studied Hellenistic astrology, Theravada Buddhism, and Sivananda Yoga, and is a lifetime member of the International Society of Astrological Research (ISAR). S.J.'s writing can be found in publications such as Ignota Press, IAM: Infinity Astrological Magazine, and Wellbeing Astrology Guide, and his astrology has appeared in India Times, Daily Express, Mashable, and Yahoo! News. You can find more about his work and services at sjanderson144.com.✨
When we stop living under other people's expectations, we become the only writers of our history and builders of our paths. Today's guest is Arjuna Dharmadas. He is a man who left the country of his birth to live a nomadic lifestyle and follow his path, taking him to live in Thailand, India, Egypt, Guatemala, etc. Arjuna is the founder of an Ashram in Guatemala, where I experienced the dark retreat a few years ago. They are now based in Europe, specifically in Italy, where he and his wife continue to teach people and transform their lives through spirituality. In this episode, we will talk about how to avoid falling into a cult, ego, personal practices, and what it was like for Arjuna to leave Germany and start teaching around the world. ABOUT ARJUNA DHARMADAS Arjuna has been studying & practicing eastern spiritual traditions all over the Eastern & Western world for over twenty years starting his path and deep soul-quest at nineteen when he discovered Theravada Buddhism and Vipassana meditation along with Sivananda Yoga and left home for good. Convinced that there is much more to life that he's been told, he's completed dozens of retreats in the Buddhist, Yogic, Tantrik and Advaita (Non-Duality) traditions, some of them in silence, solitude and complete darkness. Arjuna recognizes that we all make our path as we walk, no size fits all. We are all fiercely unique writers of our own story once we let go of the desire to fulfill anyone else's expectations but the ones that make our Soul alive and are ready to go on our own Hero's journey. He aspires to bring the courage for grounded Awareness into every breath. CONNECT WITH ARJUNA https://loveevolveawaken.com WHAT YOU WILL HEAR [4:11] What was it like to leave your home country and open an ashram in another country? [14:52] A higher call requires work on earth to be done. [19:16] How to achieve goals without spirituality? [25:20] Are personal practices necessary? [29:37] What is Bhakti? [32:51] How do we avoid falling into a cult? [39:11] How to avoid falling into ego? [43:38] How to guide people to their path? [50:29] Is it okay to use medicinal plants for a rapid rise? If you look at the civilized world and think, "no thank you," then you should subscribe to our podcast, so you don't miss a single episode! Also, join the uncivilized community, and connect with me on my website, YouTube, or Instagram so you can join in on our live recordings, ask questions to guests, and more. Click here to sign up for the Kill the Nice Guy course. Click here for dates and early signup for Summer Initiation in Colorado. Find Traver on Instagram @traverboehm Get a copy of my book, Man UNcivilized
While our recent episodes have focused on the reality in Myanmar, this show explores the condition of allies outside the country who support the democracy movement. Although free from physical harm and living in basic safety, many find that they shoulder a heavy emotional burden by immersing themselves so deeply in the struggles and trauma experienced every day by the people of Myanmar, even if from afar. Rick Hanson is a mindfulness practitioner “interested in bringing a kind of Mahayana spirit of foregrounding and appreciation of notions of emptiness and sort of the unconditioned ground of all, combined with the rigor and the clarity, and the precision and the moral foundations that we find in Theravada Buddhism and in early Buddhism altogether.” He is a Senior Fellow at UC Berkeley's Greater Good Science Center and founding the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, as well as a best-selling author, penning Buddha's Brain among other important works. Rick suggests several good practices to become more grounded even in the most difficult of situations. First, there is mindfulness, which he describes as the “capacity to witness your experiences, rather than being completely consumed by them, completely swept along and hijacked by them.” He notes that the Buddha taught about the importance of balancing compassion with equanimity, and how strengthening the latter is able to build up the former. The second is a “feeling of heart,” which Rick characterizes as a sense of connection with other people, or perhaps any living being, or even nature. Third is in developing a more expansive physical perspective, such as gazing at the horizon or sky, which helps bring us into the present neurologically, and dissolves self-preoccupation. And, Rick advises us to be on guard against negative concepts that can easily become embedded in heart and mind. For example, we can avoid becoming engulfed in the agony of the moment by recognizing the good that still exists in the world. Rick recommends as well that activists seek camaraderie among themselves, creating a community of mutual support, as well as to consciously imbue a sense of meaning and purpose into one's efforts. He strongly urges activists to engage self-care, such as finding time to rest. “You can't do this stuff 24 hours a day. You need a break!”
In this episode I speak with Comedian, Yoga and Meditation teacher Dena Jackson. Dena explains the difference between meditation and mindfulness and we discuss the different benefits each of those practices have given us. Dena has been working with a Mindfulness teacher that studied through Theravada Buddhism in Thailand. She tells us what she has learnt working with her teacher and how her practice has grown over the years. Dena explains how building a consistent mindfulness practice strengthens your awareness of your body and mind over time and how that can be used practically in your regular life.Dena also has done a few silent meditation retreats where you have to be in complete silence for 5 days. She explains what happens at a silent meditation retreat and how she adjusted to the long periods of silence. She tells us how these retreats helped her practice.She also gives great advice on how to choose meditation retreat for first timers.https://www.denajackson.ca/ See acast.com/privacy for privacy and opt-out information.
Prayer Moment 1 of 4 in AprilPrayer for Buddhists in Thailand1. Pray for soft and open hearts to the gospel among Buddhists in Thailand (Ezekiel 36:26).2. Pray for removal of spiritual blindness in Theravada Buddhism, the primary religion in Thailand (Psalm 115:8).3. Pray for growth in the curiosity about Jesus in Thailand. Pray for God to bless the ministries active in Thailand.......For more resources and prayer opportunities, check out the links below.Website: https://changethemap.netYouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCmu0ndxRYOLhYImtiGNtkzgFacebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChangeTheMapInstagram: https://www.instagram.com/changethemapTwitter: https://twitter.com/changethemap
What is it that all of the worlds major religions share in common? How does this relate to psychotherapy and mental health? Is there a way that we can reconcile the findings of neuroscience and the tradition of spirituality? How are trauma therapy's and Jungian psychology's goals aligned? Read the article at: https://www.gettherapybirmingham.com/post/therapy-spirituality-and-mysticism Article: In the medieval period it was common to take pilgrimages to the holy land from mainland Europe. The trip was an opportunity to face one's fears and learn to know the deepest parts of self. The trip was long and dangerous. The terrain and culture were different from anything that pilgrims had seen back home. Along the way the pilgrims prayed, fasted and sought inner peace to prepare to be close to God. The pilgrimage to the holy land was a metaphor for Jesus's life and journey much like the stations of the cross. The labyrinth in the christian church is used as a mystical symbol for self discovery Peasants and minor nobles could not afford such a trip. Instead they would take a symbolic pilgrimage where they would contemplate the self. The path they would walk was called a labyrinth. On a single glance the labyrinth looks like a maze that one might get lost in. The path has many twists and turns. Upon closer examination it becomes clear that the labyrinth is a single path. If one continues walking then one will come inexorably to the center. The Labyrinth is one example of a mystical practice. As we are walking the labyrinth we do not need our rational or conscious mind to help us make decisions. We only need to keep walking towards the center. The repetitive actions without the need for executive functions help wind down the ego. Walking the labyrinth is a meditation practice in that it helps us tune in to a different state of mind. The labyrinth is a tool to concentrate on some part of ourselves beneath the ego driven conscious mind. The labyrinth is not about going somewhere in the world. Instead it is about going somewhere inside our mind, heart and perhaps soul. Mysticism is a philosophical tradition that the search for ultimate knowledge of divinity and truth requires that we discover a deep knowledge of ourselves. The idea that the search to know the self is also the search to know God is a threatening ideology to many people at first glance, however few mystics believe that the self is God. Mysticism does not have to mean that the self is God. Rather Mysticism is often used as a metaphor by mystics for how our ability to understand ultimate reality is limited by our ability to understand ourselves. Through this lens, it is our own trauma, fear and undeveloped self that limit our ability to understand truth. Through healing and accepting the self we are able to accept the world as it is and see accept our higher purpose. What is mysticism and what does it have to do with therapy? To some people mystic means someone who is overly abstract or obscures information but this is a secondary definition. Mysticism is the belief that self and spirituality are not found through world accomplishment or possessions. The mystic finds spirituality in the journey inward into the deepest parts of the self. Mysticism is belief that truth, divinity and/or, the true self is found by learning to connect with the deepest parts of our self. In this tradition the ego is the enemy. The ego is our rigid self image, or idea of what we think we are as well as the thoughts and language that our ego identifies with. The goal of the mystic is not to identify with the ego and the thoughts and language that come from the ego. For the mystic the self is not the ego, but the larger unconscious mind beyond the ego. The goal of the mystic is to dissolve the conscious mind and let go of language based cognition. Throughout life trauma, anxiety and negative coping mechanisms pile up and obscure our view of who we are and what we really want. Obsession and anxiety turn our focus to regrets about the past and fear of the future. When we dissolve the ego we are able to contact the self as it existed before it was obscured and as it exists in the present moment. Mystical techniques dissolve the protective parts like addiction, anger and stagnation that protect the ego from change. Does mysticism have to be religious? The Ego / Self Axis was described by Edward Edinger While we often think of hierarchies and doctrines when we think of organized religion, there is a mystic tradition in every major world religion. Mystics in the religious traditions see the goal of ego dissolution as a oneness with the divine. Christian mystics include Meister Eckhart, Simone Weil, and Julian of Norwich. Islam has Rumi and the Suffi tradition. Judaism has Martin Buber and the Qabbalah. Hinduism and taoism have mysticism baked into their core teachings. The list of mystic poets and artists is also long. Rainer Maria Rilke, and Hilma af Klint are some of the most well known. Mysticism does not have to be religious. There are non deistic and atheistic mystical traditions too. Theravada Buddhism posits that the ego self is a delusion and seeks to disband the ego entirely. Yoga practices teach participants to drop into “body mind” through physical movement and somatic awareness. One theme in most mystical writing is the discovery of the authentic self and a resulting deep compassion for others. Mystics emphasize that dissolving the ego results in a deep sense of love and profound sense of connection. Another theme in mystical traditions is the simultaneous paradoxical feelings of connection and otherness when ego is dissolved. Many mystics write about feeling separate from the world yet simultaneously at one with all things. The experience of ego dissolution is often hard to describe and does not fit neatly into our conscious or the language oriented mind. So what does any of this have to do with therapy? I don't chant or do yoga with my patients. I rarely do hypnosis or guided meditation. I don't use psychedelic assisted therapy. But yet, I use techniques from the mystics with patients all of the time. In fact, I believe that having a mystical experience is often the crucial point in therapy when patients change and get better. I remember hearing multiple lectures from the 1970's where therapists would say something like “the place where real change takes place is when the patient enters a place between waking and sleep”. At the time I thought what the hell does that mean? After experiencing many of these moments with patients, and as a patient I now understand what these therapists meant. Change happens in therapy when patients experience deep emotional releases that challenge our self image and our world view. Put succinctly, we only really change our life when the ego is turned off. It takes reprogramming the subcortical part of the brain, responsible for our emotional reactions and body awareness, to change the way we behave. Cognitive only therapy tries to tighten the ego's control over the system to beat our unconscious into submission. The effect this has is limiting and temporary. Real change occurs not by changing the way we think but changing the way we feel. Is there a mystical therapy? YES! I find both depth psychology, somatic therapies, and brain based medicine, like brainspotting; to be incredibly effective at healing trauma and helping patients change behavior. Taproot Therapy Collective uses approaches rooted in depth psychology and brain based medicine to heal trauma. Both approaches stimulate the subcortical brain. Both approaches help patient's turn off the ego and confront the true self. Neither of these approaches are cognitive or ego based therapies. As a patient I found that brainspotting was one of the most mystical experiences of my life. It allowed me to grow and heal more than all previous psychotherapy models. You can read about my experience here. Is mysticism part of psychology? Jungian, or depth psychology, is the branch of psychology concerned with the ego-less, unconscious mind. Much of what Carl Jung, it's founder, studied were the psychological implications of the mystic traditions. Jung looked to religion as the framework to create a new psychology. While this led many “serious”minded academics to label him as new age mumbo jumbo, it also let him create one of the most influential approaches to psychotherapy. Many modern trauma therapies have their roots in the Jungian tradition. Somatic therapy, IFS therapy, gestalt therapy and the life coaching model all have their foundation in Carl Jung's psychology. Jungian psychotherapy sought to teach patients to recognize and understand the parts of the unconscious. This helps the patient accept and integrate parts of themselvs that they hate, fear and judge. Jungian psychology helps bring these repressed parts of self into conscious awareness. What are the parts of self that get repressed? What is the shadow? Chief among the parts of the unconscious that Jung identified was the shadow or the parts of the unconscious that most threatened the ego. The shadow is all the parts of self that are “not allowed” or “not accepted” in the conscious mind. Consequently the shadow is what causes most of the symptoms that make patients present to psychotherapy. Because the ego seeks to repress the shadow the ego can not control the shadow when it emerges from beneath the placid surface of consciousness. Many things about the self we fight to accept and actively repress. There are things we don't want to know about ourselves. Effective therapy uses the unconscious mind and the shadow to help us accept and integrate parts of ourselves that we are uncomfortable with. The shadow can contain the traumatic events in our life and hide their effect on us. Teaching patients to both recognize the shadow and accept it as a part of themselves is key to jungian psychology and the models that it influenced. Depth psychology works because it teaches the patient to recognize and own the parts of self that “do not feel like me” but “are still me”. Until these parts are brought into consciousness we cannot heal trauma. Carl Jung outlined his incredibly complex, complete and yet intuitive psychology a century before Gabor Mate, Peter Levine, Pat Ogden, Bessel van der Kolk, or David Grand began the brain based medicine movement. These modern scientists use scientific language for teaching patients to regulate the subcortical brain. They relied on medical and scientific advancement to understand what was happening in the deep brain when we heal trauma. Carl Jung's psychology described the same process but used metaphor and symbol. Jung was able to deduce the functioning of the subcortical brain and process of healing trauma from intuition and not scientific innovations. When the ego is turned off we experience the subcorticle brain directly. What do we feel when the ego is dissolved? What is ego death? This is a complicated question because what we feel is the self, and the author of this article is not you. What I feel is likely different from what you would feel… or is it? Many mystical traditions have the belief that we all return to the same source and feel the same thing when we surrender our ego. What is the case? I am a psychotherapist not a priest. In short I don't know. In the Jungian language we feel the parts of self that we least understand, most repress and construct ego defenses to avoid. In academic language we feel the limbic dysregulation caused by trauma and the way we hold emotion in our bodies. Put simply, experiencing the feelings in the deep brain is a physical and emotional exercise not an intellectual one. Feeling trapped, feeling out of control, guilty, or victimized. We learn that we cannot revisit this emotional space because we cannot survive it. Our ego becomes a protective tool to avoid these emotional spaces. “That's just who I am” our ego tells our self or “That's just what I do”. What you feel when the ego is dissolved is all the parts of yourself that you cannot own yet. It is overwhelming but ultimately rewarding. We have to go through the labyrinth of the places that scare us to get to strengths in our personality that ultimately change our lives. The ego wants to believe that it is all of us, but it is not. There are always depths to our personality that we have not accepted yet. Discovering the self is a lifelong process. Jung used artwork to map the psyche Where does the unconscious come from? What is it that we experience when we experience these layers of consciousness? Jung called it the “collective unconscious” believing that all beings shared a “collective” experience at the bottom layers of awareness. It is still up for debate if Jung thought that a deity or a process of evolution was the reason for this experience. Secular mystics see the unconscious as a place where we can learn our purpose as individuals, foster empathy, and achieve emotional clarity. Spiritual mystics often explain the unconscious as a union with divinity or “godhead”. What you feel when the ego is dissolved is the heart of the mystical experience. What it is, is hard for the author to write about because it is not easy to fit the contents of the subcortical brain into language. In my own limited experience it was a feeling of being out of control, not knowing, and deep inferiority that had lay hidden under my life. I had been running from a feeling, unconsciously. Until I faced it I did not know how to be the person that I wanted to be. Again, I am a psychotherapist and not a priest or a scientist. The thing that one feels in the unconscious are experiences and not objective data points. Consciousness is like a root that begins in the ego and the prefrontal cortex. When we leave the the prefrontal cortex we loose language and “thought based” cognition. The root runs through the midbrain engaging our movement and fight or flight system. The root continues down the basal ganglia and into the nervous system of the brainstem and spine. Art therapy can help you tap into the subcorticle brain and mystical space What is in the unconscious mind? Again your theoretical orientation might answer a lot of this question for you. For me as a therapist and as a patient I divide the experience up into a couple “layers” of what people usually feel. Layer 1: These are all the things I avoid knowing about myself. Maybe I have an anger management issue, an eating disorder, a major avoidance issue or an addiction. The way my ego frames it is that “ I deserve it” or “I have a hard job so I'm allowed too”. In actuality, my unconscious knows that I can't deal with an emotion that I have formed a ego protective part to shut down the emotion for me. Layer 2: This layer is all of the childhood, or adult trauma that dysregulated the subcortical brain. Is the deeply baked in emotional assumptions that I might know intellectually are wrong but default to on an emotional level. Sometimes there are triggers for trauma and PTSD in our flight or flight system that we cannot regulate control with our intellect. Layer 3: Many patients get to a layer of the unconscious that feels familiar but does not feel “like them”. Often it feels like a strong emotion that we recognize but do not identify with. Many patients that have recorded birth trauma recognize feelings of abandonment and profound separation during brainspotting. One therapist I spoke with had never understood her fear of the color white. After Brainspotting she had vivid memories of the color white being the only thing she saw when being treated in a vapor tent as an infant. Intellectually she had no memory of the color white being a trigger. her infant brain remembered the white tent and associated it with the stressful experience that interrupted her attachment. Layer 4: At the bottom layer of consciousness mystics describe a profound sense of empathy and connection to all things. Patients often report feeling like they “saw themselves from the outside” or “have a different perspective on who they are”. Mystics describe this state as a separation from the ego and a feeling of understanding and accepting the self. In this liminal state mystics report feeling connected to the source of being. Where do these feelings come from and where do they lead? Again, I am a psychotherapist not a philosopher or a priest. I can' tell you where the experiences at the base of consciousness come from. I can only tell you what they are most commonly reported to be by mystics and psychotherapy patients. Whether you choose to interpret the experience as a neuroscience or spirituality is up to you.
La guerra che si sta svolgendo tra Russia e Ukraina ha toccato il cuore di molte persone, e chi pratica la meditazione è ancora più sensibile a quello che sta avvenendo e per questo abbiamo deciso di dedicare al momento presente queste riflessioni di Dharma sulla guerra. In questi momenti difficili, possiamo trovare conforto negli insegnamenti del Buddha, che è sempre stato contrario a ogni tipo di guerra, anche quelle che vengono chiamate "guerre difensive", salvo poi riempirsi di ipocrisia: Putin in questo momento sta sostenendo che la usa è una guerra difensiva a difesa dei separatisti ukraini. Il prof. Daniele Mazza della Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University ha scritto un importante articolo dal titolo "The Buddha and War in Theravada Buddhism", disponibile sulla Rete, prendendo in cosiderazione numerosissimi insegnamenti del Buddha. Le conclusioni del suo articolo sono queste: Dopo aver esaminato diversi sutta che hanno a che fare con la guerra e la violenza, possiamo stabilire che il Buddha non ha mai fatto concessioni esplicite e chiare per qualsiasi tipo di guerra. Nemmeno "guerra difensiva." Tutte le interpretazioni dei sutta che consentono la guerra difensiva sono tutte deduzioni da ciò che il Buddha non ha detto. Al contrario, nel Canone Pāli il Buddha afferma chiaramente che la guerra e la violenza (non fa differenza se aggressiva o difensiva) hanno stati mentali malsani come causa e portano con sé stati malsani di mente come effetti. Le circostanze e le intenzioni possono aumentare o diminuire gli effetti karmici di un'azione violenta, ma non possiamo mai dire che il Buddha permetta la guerra o la violenza in alcune situazioni o che una guerra possa mai essere considerata un atto moralmente accettabile.Daniele Mazza, "The Buddha and War in Theravada Buddhism", abstract Ma leggiamo insieme qualcuno dei sutta che si riferiscono alla guerra. Nel Sangama sutta, SN 3.15, dall'esplicito titolo "Una battaglia", troviamo questi versi: Il Benedetto esclamò:Un uomo può depredare ciò che serve per i suoi fini, ma quando altri sono depredati, colui che ha depredato è depredato a sua volta.Uno sciocco pensa, ‘Ora è la mia opportunità', finché il suo male deve maturare ancora. Ma quando matura, lo sciocco cade nel dolore.Uccidendo, guadagna il suo assassinio. Conquistando, guadagna colui che lo conquisterà; insultando, insulta; molestando, molestia.E così, attraverso il ciclo delle sue azioni, colui che ha depredato è depredato a sua volta.SN 3.15 Sangama Sutta, "Una battaglia" Chi uccide, genera il suo assassino: sono parole estremamente forti, che rimandano alla creazione del proprio destino sulla base delle proprie azioni, il karma. Tutt'altra situazione è per chi vive in pace: La vittoria genera inimicizia,lo sconfitto dorme male.Il sereno dorme a suo agio,avendo abbandonato la vittoria e la sconfittaSNSN 3.14: Sangama Sutta - Una battaglia (1) Il Buddha ci insegna che la fonte della guerra sono i tre veleni di attaccamento, avversione e ignoranza, cosa che in alcuni sutta fa in modo molto realistico e davvero forte: E inoltre ancora, monaci, mossi da brama, incitati, spinti da brama, solo per brama essi si precipitano, impugnando scudo e spada, cinti di faretra ed arco, dai due lati dello schieramento di battaglia, e le frecce fischiano, le lance ondeggiano e le spade lampeggiano. Ed essi si trafiggono con frecce, con lance; si spaccano le teste con le spade, si rovesciano addosso sabbia rovente, scaraventano blocchi che schiacciano. E così si affrettano incontro alla morte o a mortale dolore. Ma ciò, monaci, è miseria della brama, è il palese tronco del dolore, originato, intessuto, mantenuto da brama e determinato da brama.MN 13: Mahâdukkhakkhandha Sutta – Il tronco del dolore E' evidente l'intenzione del Beato di essere ben compreso! Ma un sutta che è davvero di ispirazione per chi è tentato dalla guerra, per riconoscerne la natura illusoria, è quello in cui il capo dei guerrieri, Yodhajiva, va a chiedere un consiglio al Buddha: Yodhajiva, il capo dei guerrieri, andò dal Benedetto e, appena giunto, lo salutò con riverenza e si sedette ad un lato. Quindi gli disse: “Signore, ho sentito dire che: ‘Quando un guerriero è prode e coraggioso in battaglia, se altri lo colpiscono e lui li uccide o viene ucciso, con la dissoluzione del corpo, dopo la morte rinascerà nel regno dei deva periti in battaglia.' Che cosa ne dice il Benedetto? ”” Non lo chiedere a me.”Una seconda volta… Una terza volta, Yodhajiva ripeté la domanda.“Non lo chiedere a me.' – rispose il Benedetto – Comunque ti risponderò ugualmente. Quando un guerriero è prode e coraggioso in battaglia, la sua mente già è impostata e indirizzata male dal pensiero: ‘Questi esseri devono essere uccisi e distrutti. Essi non devono esistere.' Con la dissoluzione del corpo, dopo la morte rinascerà nell'inferno chiamato il reame di coloro uccisi in battaglia. Se crede all'idea, prima riferita, allora: ‘Ci sono due destinazioni per una persona con una falsa teoria: inferno o utero animale.”Dette queste parole, Yodhajiva scoppiò in lacrime. (Il Benedetto disse:) “Ti avevo avvertito di non farmi questa domanda.”“Io non sto piangendo, signore, per le parole del Benedetto, ma semplicemente perché sono stato ingannato, da coloro che dissero: ‘Quando un guerriero si sforza si esercita in battaglia, se altri lo colpiscono e lui li uccide o viene ucciso con la dissoluzione del corpo, dopo la morte rinascerà nel regno dei deva uccisi in battaglia.'“Magnifico, signore! Magnifico! Tutto mi è chiaro. Prendo rifugio nel Benedetto, nel Dhamma e nella Comunità dei monaci. Il Benedetto possa ricordarmi come un seguace laico da questo giorno e per sempre.”SN 42.3: Yodhajiva Sutta – A Yodhajiva E' bene considerare che tutti gli esseri vogliono vivere ed essere felici, che non ci sono nemici, che possiamo andare oltre i concetti di vittima e carnefice. Questo viene mirabilmente sintetizzato in questi versi: Tutti temono il bastone,a tutti la vita è cara.Considerando gli altri come sé stesso,un uomo non dovrà né uccidere né far uccidere.Dhammapada, 130 Buon ascolto! Riferimenti Riflessioni di Dharma sulla guerra registrate nel gruppo di meditazione dell'Associazione Kalyanamitta il giorno 26 febbraio 2022. Foto di copertina di Anandajoti Bhikkhu a Candi Sewu, da Wikimedia
In this episode, we finish reading "Dhammapada." "Dhammapada" is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures. It comes from the Khuddaka Nikaya, a division of the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism.
In this episode, we'll continue reading "Dhammapada." "Dhammapada" is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures. It comes from the Khuddaka Nikaya, a division of the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism.
In this episode, we'll continue reading "Dhammapada." "Dhammapada" is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures. It comes from the Khuddaka Nikaya, a division of the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism.
In this episode, we'll continue reading "Dhammapada." "Dhammapada" is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures. It comes from the Khuddaka Nikaya, a division of the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism.
In this episode, we'll begin reading "Dhammapada." "Dhammapada" is a collection of sayings of the Buddha in verse form and one of the most widely read and best known Buddhist scriptures. It comes from the Khuddaka Nikaya, a division of the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism.
This talk provides conceptual understanding of an important aspect of Theravada Buddhism derived from the Visuddhimagga, an ancient and extensive treatise on vipassana and the process of Awakening. The Progressions of Insight are stages of insight awareness that can be noted by a meditation student and then validated during a review with an experienced teacher. […]
What are the origins of mindfulness meditation? The mindfulness movement has become so ubiquitous that it seems as though it's always been around! But actually the roots of mindfulness meditation are in the forms of Theravada Buddhist practice found in South and Southeast Asia. In this video, I'll explain how the founders of the Insight Meditation Society (Sharon Salzberg, Jack Kornfield, Joseph Goldstein, and Jacqueline Mandell) adapted what they learned in Asia to benefit modern Western society. Of course, there's more to the story of the adaptation of Buddhist meditation into the mindfulness movement, but I think the story of the IMS founders -- and then further adaptations by Jon Kabat-Zinn and others -- is a good illustration of the way people have brought some parts of the Buddhist tradition West and secularlized them. This audio comes from a video I recorded during a live Insight Timer teaching; you can find me there and get notified of future talks: http://insig.ht/clairevillarreal To get the resources associated with this teaching series on types of Buddhism and get notified of upcoming live events, join this mailing list: https://bit.ly/typesBuddh To support my work, you can join my Patreon insiders (https://bit.ly/3Dm14p2) or make a one-time donation (https://bit.ly/CVPayPalMe). May all beings be well. #theravada #buddhism #mindfulness --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/buddhist-wisdom/message
What is Theravada Buddhism? It's the oldest surviving school of Early Buddhism, and it's still centered on the earliest teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. But now it's spread throughout South and Southeast Asia and the rest of the world, and because it's the basis for the mindfulness movement, modern Theravada teachings have had a huge impact on spiritual practice globally. In this video I'll talk about the history of Theravada Buddhism, its core beliefs and practices, and the ways it influences modern life. I recorded this video from a live Insight Timer teaching; you can find me there and get notified of future talks: http://insig.ht/clairevillarreal To get the resources associated with this teaching series on types of Buddhism and get notified of upcoming live events, join this mailing list: https://bit.ly/typesBuddh To support my work, you can join my Patreon insiders (https://bit.ly/3Dm14p2) or make a one-time donation (https://bit.ly/CVPayPalMe). May all beings be well. --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/buddhist-wisdom/message
Singer, songwriter and photographer, Attasalina said her name is her birth name given by her godmother, a pioneer teacher of Buddhism in the West, and has been translated as “providing the meaning”. She describes her inspiration in her work as her work is "culturally informed by lineages in Theravada Buddhism and Indigenous Religion and Resistance Movements and focuses on visionary experiences as a quest for truth explored through personal narratives of oppression, awareness and survival."Her musical abilities can be traced to her grandfather, a Cuban-American progressive jazz drummer and singer. Attasalina formed her first rock and roll band called "The Seraphim Rising" in 2008. Her first release was a collaboration with guitarist Daniel Ash of Bauhaus and Love and Rockets called “The Soldiers of Everyday” in 2010. The song is part of a limited edition CD called "Freedom I Love" released in 2016. Attasalina also collaborated with the legendary producer John Fryer for Black Needle Noise with a song called "Messages By Dreams" released on the album "Before The Tears Came." More recently, they released another single for Black Needle Noise on COP International called “Machine” in June 2021. Attasalina is currently working on a solo album and photography book called “Freed From Rage and Sorrow” which you can subscribed to on Patreon.https://www.patreon.com/attasalinahttps://www.attasalina.com
Welcome to episode eleven of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh's deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives. In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino are joined by special guest, eco-philosopher Joanna Macy.A scholar of Buddhism, systems theory, and deep ecology, Joanna Macy, PhD, is one of the most respected voices in the movements for peace, justice, and ecology. She interweaves her scholarship with learnings from six decades of activism, has written twelve books, and teaches an empowerment approach known as the Work That Reconnects. Together, all three discuss: the relevance of Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings to the crises we face today as a species; the energy of simplicity; truth-telling and the power of facing the truth; the grounds for transformation; impermanence; interbeing. Joanna recollects what Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings and activism have meant to her, and shares a special meeting with him in the early 1980s, during a UN peace conference, when Thay read one of his essential poems in public for the first time. Joanna’s activism, forged during many campaigns, and her practice and study of Theravada Buddhism, shine through in her priceless advice about facing the current social and ecological crisis, grieving for all creation, and finding the power to deal with the heartbreaking present-day reality. She also addresses how grief and joy can coexist in one person, and how to be present for life even in the midst of struggle.Their conversations will take you from the current “great unravelling” and the “gift of death” to Rilke's poetry; the magic of love as solution; active hope; the contemporary relevance of the ancient Prophecy of the Shambhala Warriors; the possibility of a “great turning”. And can you guess her aspirations at 92? Could a swing be just the perfect place to discuss the evanescence of life?Brother Phap Huu shares a lesson in patience from Thay, and adds to the teachings of touching suffering, recognizing and embracing the truth, consumption of consciousness, finding balance, and smiling at life. Jo reads a special translation of one of Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies, expands upon some of Joanna's core books and philosophies, and recollects “irreplaceable” advice about overwork. The episode ends with a guided meditation by Joanna Macy. Co-produced by the Plum Village App:https://plumvillage.app/ And Global Optimism:https://globaloptimism.com/ With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:https://thichnhathanhfoundation.org/ List of resources Lotus in a Sea of Fire (1967)https://plumvillage.org/books/1967-hoa-sen-trong-bien-lua-lotus-in-a-sea-of-fire/ Call Me By My True Nameshttps://plumvillage.org/books/call-me-by-my-true-names/ Celestial Bodhisattvashttps://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/buddhas-and-bodhisattvas-celestial-buddhas-and-bodhisattvas Rainer Maria Rilkehttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainer_Maria_Rilke Duino Elegieshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duino_Elegies The Book of Hourshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Book_of_Hours Satipaṭṭhānahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satipatthana World as Lover, World as Selfhttps://www.parallax.org/product/world-as-lover-world-as-self-a-guide-to-living-fully-in-turbulent-times/ ‘The Shambhala Warrior'https://www.awakin.org/read/view.php?tid=236 The Shambhala Warrior Prophecyhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14dbM93FALE Bardohttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bardo ‘Entering the Bardo'https://emergencemagazine.org/op_ed/entering-the-bardo/ Maitreyahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maitreya Ho Chi Minhhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ho_Chi_Minh Śūnyatāhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C5%9A%C5%ABnyat%C4%81Svabhava https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Svabhava Kṣitigarbhahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K%E1%B9%A3itigarbha Parallax Presshttps://www.parallax.org/ Ānāpānasatihttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anapanasati Satipaṭṭhānahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satipatthana Quotes “Do not be afraid of feeling pain for the world. Do not be afraid of the suffering, but take it. That’s what a bodhisattva learns to do, and that makes your heart very big.” “Life is only difficult for those who pick and choose. You just take it. And that helps you feel whole, and maybe flying with the birds helps you be with the deep levels of hell. But this is life and it’s all given to us and it’s given free.” “It doesn’t take a poet; all of us can feel that there are times when a shadow passes over our mood and we taste the tears. Taste the tears. They’re salty. It’s the living Earth. We are part of this.” “All Rilke says is, ‘Give me the time so I can love the things.' As if that’s the great commandment. So I want more time to do what I’m made to do. Why else do we have these hearts with more neurons in them than our brains? Why else are we given eyes that can see the beauty of this world and ears that can hear such beautiful poetry? And lungs that can breathe the air. We have to use these things for tasting and loving our world. And if she’s ailing, now is the time to love her more.” “You are the environment; the environment is not outside of you.” “We are in a space without a map. With the likelihood of economic collapse and climate catastrophe looming, it feels like we are on shifting ground, where old habits and old scenarios no longer apply. In Tibetan Buddhism, such a space or gap between known worlds is called a bardo. It is frightening. It is also a place of potential transformation. As you enter the bardo, there facing you is the Buddha Akshobhya. His element is Water. He is holding a mirror, for his gift is Mirror Wisdom, reflecting everything just as it is. And the teaching of Akshobhya's mirror is this: Do not look away. Do not avert your gaze. Do not turn aside. This teaching clearly calls for radical attention and total acceptance.”“We all have an appointment, and that appointment is with life. And if we can touch that in each moment, our life will become more beautiful when we allow ourselves to arrive at that appointment.” “Even in despair, we have to enjoy life, because we see life as beautiful; [we see] that planet Earth is still a miracle.” “We know we are still alive, and because we are alive, anything is possible. So let us take care of the situation in a more calm and mindful way.” “Even wholesome things can become a distraction if you make them take the place of your sheer presence to life.” “Maybe this really will be the last chapter. But I’m here, and how fortunate I am to be here. And I have imagined that it’s so wonderful to be here.” “Impermanence: the fragrance of our day.”
The core teachings of Buddhism are all here! Samsara is the Buddhist term describing the cycle longing for something or someone we think will make us happy, getting what we want, and being dissatisfied again before too long -- and then we start the cycle over again. Nirvana (Pali nibbana) is what happens when we wake up out of that cycle to find lasting joy. And what do we wake up to? The three characteristics of phenomena! Teachings on impermanence, lack of inherently existent self, and unsatisfactoriness help us wake up our of our trance. Grab the "handout" with more context on Theravada Buddhism: https://bit.ly/311Xm67 Sign up to get notified of live teachings and other resources: https://bit.ly/typesBuddh Support my work on Patreon: https://bit.ly/3Dm14p2 Buy me a virtual coffee: https://bit.ly/CVPayPalMe --- Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/buddhist-wisdom/message
The Sutta Nipāta (literally, "Suttas falling down") is a Buddhist scripture, a sutta collection in the Khuddaka Nikaya, part of the Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism. All its suttas, thought to originate from before the Buddha's parinibbana, consist largely of verse, though some also contain some prose. Some scholars believe that it describes the oldest of all Buddhist practices. Others such as Bhikkhu Bodhi and K. R. Norman agree that it contains much early material. The Chapter on the Way to the Beyond consist largely of questions posed to the Buddha by 16 Brahmin students. Translated by The Ven. Prof. Hammalawa Saddhatissa Maha Thera (1914–1990).
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 (UCL Press, 2020) is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka's most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region. Alastair Gornall argues that the long century's literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period. Rewriting Buddhism is available for free open-access download at uclpress.com/buddhism. Bruno M. Shirley is a PhD candidate at Cornell University, working on Buddhism, kingship and gender in medieval Sri Lankan texts and landscapes. He is on Twitter at @brunomshirley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 (UCL Press, 2020) is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka's most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region. Alastair Gornall argues that the long century's literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period. Rewriting Buddhism is available for free open-access download at uclpress.com/buddhism. Bruno M. Shirley is a PhD candidate at Cornell University, working on Buddhism, kingship and gender in medieval Sri Lankan texts and landscapes. He is on Twitter at @brunomshirley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/new-books-network
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 (UCL Press, 2020) is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka's most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region. Alastair Gornall argues that the long century's literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period. Rewriting Buddhism is available for free open-access download at uclpress.com/buddhism. Bruno M. Shirley is a PhD candidate at Cornell University, working on Buddhism, kingship and gender in medieval Sri Lankan texts and landscapes. He is on Twitter at @brunomshirley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/buddhist-studies
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 (UCL Press, 2020) is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka's most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region. Alastair Gornall argues that the long century's literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period. Rewriting Buddhism is available for free open-access download at uclpress.com/buddhism. Bruno M. Shirley is a PhD candidate at Cornell University, working on Buddhism, kingship and gender in medieval Sri Lankan texts and landscapes. He is on Twitter at @brunomshirley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/history
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 (UCL Press, 2020) is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka's most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region. Alastair Gornall argues that the long century's literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period. Rewriting Buddhism is available for free open-access download at uclpress.com/buddhism. Bruno M. Shirley is a PhD candidate at Cornell University, working on Buddhism, kingship and gender in medieval Sri Lankan texts and landscapes. He is on Twitter at @brunomshirley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/south-asian-studies
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 (UCL Press, 2020) is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka's most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region. Alastair Gornall argues that the long century's literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period. Rewriting Buddhism is available for free open-access download at uclpress.com/buddhism. Bruno M. Shirley is a PhD candidate at Cornell University, working on Buddhism, kingship and gender in medieval Sri Lankan texts and landscapes. He is on Twitter at @brunomshirley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/indian-religions
Rewriting Buddhism: Pali Literature and Monastic Reform in Sri Lanka, 1157–1270 (UCL Press, 2020) is the first intellectual history of premodern Sri Lanka's most culturally productive period. This era of reform (1157–1270) shaped the nature of Theravada Buddhism both in Sri Lanka and also Southeast Asia and even today continues to define monastic intellectual life in the region. Alastair Gornall argues that the long century's literary productivity was not born of political stability, as is often thought, but rather of the social, economic and political chaos brought about by invasions and civil wars. Faced with unprecedented uncertainty, the monastic community sought greater political autonomy, styled itself as royal court, and undertook a series of reforms, most notably, a purification and unification in 1165 during the reign of Parakramabahu I. He describes how central to the process of reform was the production of new forms of Pali literature, which helped create a new conceptual and social coherence within the reformed community; one that served to preserve and protect their religious tradition while also expanding its reach among the more fragmented and localized elites of the period. Rewriting Buddhism is available for free open-access download at uclpress.com/buddhism. Bruno M. Shirley is a PhD candidate at Cornell University, working on Buddhism, kingship and gender in medieval Sri Lankan texts and landscapes. He is on Twitter at @brunomshirley. Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/literary-studies
Hosted by filmmaker Yujiro Seki, Carving the Divine TV is a series of Q&A sessions with Buddhist scholars and practitioners. These Q&A sessions explore the basic concepts of Buddhism and the history of Buddhism so that when viewers finally watch Carving the Divine they will get the maximum value of the documentary. In this special episode, we will have a Theravada Buddhist monk, Bhante Ananda Path, to explain to us about the basic concept of Theravada Buddhism. We will ask important questions such as:1. What is Theravada Buddhism? What is the core teaching of it? 2. Do we have to give up our ordinary life to be a Theravada Buddhist?3. How is Theravada different from Mahayana? Why is Theravada your choice?4. Do you live in a monastery?5. How can you utilize Buddhist teaching in real life?6. What is the Theravada view of Buddha (Buddhist) statues?Bhikkhu Ananda is a socially engaged Buddhist monk of Nepal who entered the Order of Theravada Buddhism in 1981. He mastered in Oriental and Buddhist Studies. Ananda helped coordinate the “Civic Solidarity for Peace” movement to end a decade of war (1995-2005) between the Maoist Insurgency and the State of Nepal. From 2007 to 2012, as a Member of Constituent Assembly and Legislature Parliament, he secured religious rights and reservations in the new constitution of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. In 2007, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) of Korea named him an “Ambassador for Peace.”Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/carvingthedivine)
Learning to Surf Podcast with Steve, creator of Monk Mentality on Instagram.Steve lives in the Hampshire, UK with his wife and child. Steve found Buddhism after many years of suffering from generalised anxiety and looking for a more spiritual way to heal anxiety vs. taking medication. After a few years of following Theravada Buddhism and understanding himself and his anxiety better, Steve decided to create the Monk Mentality page on Instagram to share inspirational quotes, stories and mindfulness tips, to help others not only learn more about Buddhism but also know they're not alone. Steve speaks openly on the podcast about his journey with mental health, Buddhism, mindfulness and meditation in the hope this helps some of our listeners. Instagram @amonkmentality
On this episode of Come Pray with Me I interview Dr. Handy Inthisan from Wat Thai Temple in Washington DC. We will be discussing what differentiates Theravada Buddhism from other sects as well as the ways it has impacted Thai culture. To learn more about Theravada Buddhism and attend classes, visit https://www.watthaidc.org/. Dr. Inthisan has his own blog, which can be found here https://handyinthisan.blogspot.com/.
Daniel Routh has been teaching college students for more than 15 years, seven of them at Augusta University. Before teaching Communication at AU he taught overseas at two different colleges in the People’s Republic of China. While teaching abroad he earned a Master’s degree in Intercultural Studies from Wheaton College, doing research into topics such as why Chinese memorize so much poetry in school, the life and teachings of Confucius, and the belief systems of Theravada Buddhism. While living in China for eight years, he traveled to many cities and famous sites in China, from Hong Kong to Xi’an, and from the Yellow Mountains to Tiger Leaping Gorge in Kunming. He also visited some surrounding countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, and Myanmar. At a certain point in his travels, a pretty girl from North Carolina threw her shoe at him and they became friends, eventually getting married. His wife Amber also teaches at AU in the Communication Department. They have two lovely children and not very much sleep as they survive the pandemic together.
Our Real Home - A Talk to an Aging Lay Disciple Approaching Death by Ajahn Chah translated from the Thai by The Sangha at Wat Pah Nanachat. Ajahn Chah was a Thai Buddhist monk. He was an influential teacher of the Buddhadhamma and a founder of two major monasteries in the Thai Forest Tradition.
In this episode we're going to learn about the power of meditation, yoga, Theravada Buddhism and finding balance within oneself through mindful introspection especially after losing someone close to you. My guest in this episode is Kayla Pearson Who is a soldier, a surfer, an entrepreneur she believes life is a big adventure and learning to balance play with work is her ultimate journey on this earth. She's been a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter mechanic and crew chief, worked with military intelligence, is a mother of a wonderful daughter, and the CEO of her own company. Find out more about Kayla and her amazing journey at https://beforeyougopodcast.com (https://beforeyougopodcast.com) http://surfsoap.com/ (surfsoap.com) and Momeostasis Podcast (http://momestasispodcast.com/ (momestasispodcast.com))
One of the very few beneficial—though surely unintended—byproducts of the coup is the emergence of a group of young, vibrant, dynamic voices that has arisen in opposition to the military takeover. From artists to hackers, videographers to poets, and speakers to bloggers, this new generation is applying a fresh perspective and understanding to 21st century Myanmar. Aye Min Thant (they/them) is certainly one of this group. Their writing consists of far more than simply telling people what happened to whom, as they also take great care to embed their stories in their full context. This is intentional, as they note that they want to ensure their readers understand that what's happening in Myanmar right now is affecting “very real, three-dimensional people,” that it's neither some big, geopolitical struggle, nor a story cast in terms of a caricature of “poor, sad people in the third world.” They are also less focused on the everyday struggle, and more attuned to what comes next. Aye Min Thant describes the previously unimaginable norm-breaking that is currently challenging the values and behaviors of traditional Burmese society, and they explain how, out of necessity, neighborhoods have turned into independent bastions of democracy and critical thought, as residents have had to band together to decide how to best protect their communities—day and night—against the military's onslaught of terror. We also talk about the role of the monks, and how fewer monastics have come out to the street as compared to the 2007 Saffron Revolution, perhaps due to the violence that was inflicted on them then, but partly because some probably do believe the military's assertion that only the generals can adequately protect the Dhamma. However, Aye Min Thant sees more here than just the propaganda, explaining that many of the more traditional clergy resist change of any kind, feeling that their country is one of “the last strongholds” of true Theravada Buddhism. Finally, Aye Min Thant notes how the recent improvement in the economy has widened the gap between lay and monastic society in Myanmar, making the idea of renunciation more difficult as there is now more to give up than ever before. Note that since this interview was conducted, Aye's situation has become more precarious. To continue to be able to offer support to them during these trying and very dangerous times, we are opening a donation fund specifically for Aye. If you would like to support Aye and their work at this time, please consider making a https://insightmyanmar.org/donation (donation on our website )and letting us know it is meant specifically for Aye. We will continue to update their work as it is safe to do so. Support this podcast
This talk reviews the meditation practices represented in the Visuddhimagga, the common reference source for Theravada Buddhists. This approach to meditation is intended to lead to the extraordinary levels of consciousness called jhana, and which are only found in Theravada Buddhism. During the talk, the progression of practicing meditation from using intensive investigation of breath […]
This talk continues a review of the development of the different Buddhist traditions as the cultures they operated within were affected by the intrusion of European mercantile powers, especially the British Empire during the 19th and 20th centuries. The primary area of focus is on how Theravada Buddhism was forced to adapt to the intrusion […]
Description Rima Vesely-Flad teaches at Warren Wilson College exploring the intersections of Buddhism, race, and gender. Her teaching is deeply entwined with her current research on Buddhist teachers of African descent in the United states, particularly in the Vipassana tradition. Buddhism as it was adopted in North America has reflected the racism and discriminatory ideologies of this society. Rima researches how Black Buddhist teachers are doing things differently—and how Buddhist institutions in North America and contemporary Buddhist teachings are changing as a result. As more Black teachers are coming into positions of power in the US, authoring books, providing teachings, they are making new articulations of the dharma and carving spaces of liberation from dominant social messages. Black Buddhist teachers, many of whom also self-identify as queer, show how dharma can be a great vehicle for recognizing that historical harm was done and continues to be done, and to working with that recognition. They disrupt the status quo, bringing about new awareness based on embodied experience, and bringing attention to internalized racism and inter-generational trauma. With the tools that Buddhism provides to address, name, and be in discomfort, these teachers are making a different dharma possible: a space of resistance and healing to the pervasive ideologies of white supremacy. Teaching and reading this material with students, both white and marginalized, and gender non-conforming, Rima provides expansive opportunities for all to recognize the work that remains. Quotes “Let's take not only Black people who are marginalized in society and value their bodies and value their spirits and value their persons, but let's also take the most marginalized folks within Black communities and privilege their voices and their experiences so that in this movement not only do we have many, many self-identified queer leaders, but we also have an emphasis on transgender persons and the disproportionate violence especially against Black transgender women.” Rima Vesely-Flad “Spirit Rock just graduated a teacher group that was 90% people of colour. That's unprecedented!” Rima Vesely-Flad “IMS is about to graduate a teacher group that is 70% people of colour.” Rima Vesely-Flad “When I did the research for my book, which pertains only to people of African descent both who are recognized teachers but also who are long-time practitioners, it turns out that almost 63% self-identify as queer. That's a very big deal.” Rima Vesely-Flad “In that privileging of the body, these teachers are saying we work with the body, the body is our vehicle towards liberation and our social experiences and how we're constructed needs to get named as much as they need to be transcended. So that there is within these spaces a recognizing of how racism is internalized, the overt violence that gets enacted, the level of fear with which we move in our broader society, all of that gets named and put out there.” Rima Vesely-Flad “The practice of liberation is not simply to achieve these different states of mind, but it's also to say that liberation means a kind of transcending of those dominant, damaging messages that we have internalized so that we are not always in reaction to white supremacy.” Rima Vesely-Flad “One of the reasons I think these teachings from these Black teachers are so profound is that you can tell that they have managed to live in a different way. They are not always moving against white supremacy. They are not changing their patterns, not changing their bodies, not always in reaction to the degradation that has been part of the waters we all swim in.” Rima Vesely-Flad “Predominantly white Buddhist sanghas and retreat structures and governing structures in the United States have not taken seriously that fact that racism can flourish in those communities and that that needs to be named and confronted and worked with through dharma practice.” Rima Vesely-Flad “Leadership matters – who is on the podium or on the platform or holding the mic – those sets of voices matter a lot in terms of trying to shift a culture, to simply invite more people in but not shift the power structure is really not enough.” Rima Vesely-Flad “In the concept of decolonization, we are not talking about reclaiming land. We are talking about reclaiming rituals and we are talking about implementing new rituals and there is a lot to be said for symbolic power.” Rima Vesely-Flad “These are more liberal communities – politically liberal communities – and yet not dissimilar to having a group of white students in my classroom who self-silence around race and racism.” Rima Vesely-Flad “That is precisely where white people need to do some work and to really work with that fear, that self-silencing, and that inhibition, and again I think the dharma is such a great place to start with that because you have tools to sit with discomfort.” Rima Vesely-Flad Links and References Thich Nhat Hanh and rigorous sitting https://www.lionsroar.com/thich-nhat-hanh-sit/ Theravada Buddhism or Insight Meditation or “vipassana movement” from South East Asia https://www.lionsroar.com/theravada-buddhism-america/ Names of newly trained Black Buddhist teachers: Jozen Tamori Gibson https://www.spiritrock.org/jozen-gibson Leslie Booker https://www.lesliebooker.com/ Kate Johnson https://www.katejohnson.com/ DaRa Williams https://www.dharma.org/teacher/dara-williams/ Noliwe Alexander https://www.spiritrock.org/noliwe-alexander Solwazi Johnson https://www.spiritrock.org/solwazi-johnson Devin Barry https://www.spiritrock.org/devin-berry Rima Vesely-Flad, Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives and the Struggle for Justice, 2017 https://www.fortresspress.com/store/productgroup/1634/Racial-Purity-and-Dangerous-Bodies Examines the grassroots protest work in Ferguson and beyond to dismantle systems of oppression and disproportionate policing and mass incarceration Uses and critiques liberation theology Healing Justice https://www.advocate.com/commentary/2019/5/16/what-healing-justice Insight Meditation Society https://www.dharma.org Spirit Rock https://www.spiritrock.org Kevin Manders and Elizabeth Marston, Transcending: Trans Buddhist Voices, 2019 https://www.penguinrandomhouse.ca/books/608719/transcending-by-kevin-manders-and-elizabeth-marston/9781623174156 Resmaa Menakem, My Grandmother's Hands: Racialized Trauma and the Pathway to mending Our Hearts and Bodies, 2017 https://centralrecoverypress.com/product/my-grandmothers-hands-racialized-trauma-and-the-pathway-to-mending-our-hearts-and-bodies-paperback Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, The Way of Tenderness: Awakening through Race, Sexuality, and Gender, 2015 https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/The-Way-of-Tenderness/Zenju-Earthlyn-Manuel/9781614291251 Lama Rod Owens, Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation through Anger, 2020 https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/608716/love-and-rage-by-lama-rod-owens/ Rev. angel Kyodo Williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah, Radical Dharma: Talking Race, Love, and Liberation, 2016 https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/547708/radical-dharma-by-rev-angel-kyodo-williams-lama-rod-owens-and-jasmine-syedullah/ Rema Vesely-Flad, Black Buddhists and the Black Radical Tradition The Practice of Stillness in the Movement for Liberation, 2021 (forthcoming from NYU Press) Rema Vesely-Flad, “Black Buddhists and the Body New Approaches to Socially Engaged Buddhism,” Religions, 2017 “Inside Out” prison teaching program at Warren-Wilson College https://www.warren-wilson.edu/2017/08/24/inside-out-program/ Jan Willis, Dreaming Me: One Woman's Spiritual Journey, 2008 https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Dreaming-Me/Jan-Willis/9780861715480 angel Kyodo Williams, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace, 2002 https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/332699/being-black-by-angel-kyodo-williams/ Sebene Selassie, You Belong: A Call for Connection, 2021 (Forthcoming) https://www.harpercollins.com/products/you-belong-sebene-selassie?variant=32894632755234 Names of Black feminist writers and Black writers on Dharma bell hooks Audre Lorde James Baldwin
What one expects when landing at an airport in South East Asia -- or for that matter, a developing country anywhere in the world -- is madness. Pure madness. A throng of taxi drivers will clamor in a bid for your attention, like a frenzied Wall Street trading floor. A stream of cars will weave through the terminal, disgorging passengers at full speed. To exit the terminal requires picking your way to the street through of an array of stalls offering everything from an arresting waft of the local fare to SIM cards from unknown carriers to offers to exchange currency at rate that only sounds fair while the local money still seems like a collection of meaningless pieces of paper. It is always an order of magnitude hotter and stickier than wherever you came from. This is what one might reasonably expect when stepping off the plane in Myanmar. But no such madness exists at Yangon International airport.The Yangon airport is something much closer to a buddhist monastery situated in some rural outpost like Montana or Kansas. Instead of madness, there is tranquility. A couple guys in sarongs will approach you and gently inquire if you'd be interested in commissioning a taxi. When you shake your head, they shrug their shoulders mildly and wander off. There are hardly any cars in the terminal. And unlike the other capitals of South East Asia, there are no motorbikes. Instead, when you step outside there is only a helpful taxi attendant and a docile queue of cabs. After the passenger drop-off lane, there are five further lanes, like at LAX, though unlike LAX only one of these lanes at any time is likely to have a vehicle in it. The most intrusive noise is the birds.When I stepped out of the terminal, I turned to my right to survey the open road in front of me. It stretched out into a dusk of palm trees lining the smoothly paved highway. I had planned to take the bus into the city, and since there weren't that many vehicles around I didn't have a hard time tracking down the right one. Stepping aboard, I presented the driver with a wad of cash. The written Myanmar language uses a different set of numerals than the standard Arabic ones, so I wasn't sure what I was looking at when it came to picking out the appropriate bill. It probably wouldn't have mattered even if I did, as I didn't know what the bus fare was. The driver shuffled through my available currency and selected a choice note. He beckoned me to go sit down. I took the seat nearest to the door. Then a few minutes later when the next passenger arrived, he negotiated with her to hand her fare over to me. In my serene naiveté, I had evidently paid twice the going rate. The driver had contrived a way to make me whole.After waiting for the bus to be mostly full, we set off on the road in the direction of the ripe sunset. For most of the way, we sailed straight through toward the city, save for a couple congested intersections. There was an astonishing display of cordiality on the roads. Our driver, for instance, actually appeared to stop for people who waved him down on the side of the road, even if they weren't yet at a legitimate bus stop. I didn't hear him use the horn once. Come it to think of it, I didn't hear any horns save for a couple flagrant violations of traffic decency. The roads felt new, though the bus didn't.On the way into the city, I sat with my backpack on my lap as the bus began to fill up. I took some time to study the map of the bus route in front of me. It wasn't an especially helpful chart. For one thing, it was mostly occluded by the passengers sitting in front of it. The only information it offered was the names of the stops on this line, which wasn't all that enlightening given that it was all in Myanmar's unique local script. Even among non-western scripts, the Myanmar writing system is particularly engaging to behold. What mostly it appears to have going on is a series of interlocking circles and squiggles, which are periodically marked off by larger boxes. It's got the buoyant aesthetic sensibility of the kind of script a three year old would come up with when she's imitating adult handwriting. All looping circles and entangled boxes, it is positively delightful.When I exited the bus at my downtown stop, I took a moment to gather my bearings. Then I slung my backpack over my shoulder and made my way down the street. The sidewalks featured the characteristically treacherous cracks of other cities in South East Asia, but with the difference that they were almost totally clean. There was no trash. The only debris was maybe 0.3 cigarette butts per square meter. The city center of Yangon has long, skinny Manhattan blocks. Walking north-south, one needs to take provisions as if undertaking a week long crossing of an expanse of desert. Walking east-west, there's room for maybe one and half store fronts before tumbling into the next intersection. At length, I presented myself at my hostel and checked in. I was officially on the ground in Myanmar.It was December, about a week until Christmas. My plan was to spend the holidays on my own here in this country. My life in England had been complicated over the last few months. My existence felt heavy. I wanted to feel unencumbered again. I wanted to be out there in the world. I wanted to be somewhere untethered from life's responsibilities. I wanted to have the breathing room to do a little soul searching. Myanmar had been a place I had wanted to come for a long time. The country's borders had opened up over the last half decade, after having been more or less shuttered for the past two generations -- since around the time George Orwell was posted in Burma on colonial duty. Of the ten countries in South East Asia, Myanmar has by far the largest land mass. Yet its tourist numbers are on par with Laos, one of the smallest. There are fewer tourists per capita here than anywhere else in this part of the world. But there's no guarantee that will continue. Perhaps it will develop into a tourist mecca, like Thailand or Vietnam. Perhaps it will close down again and slink back to the shadows. Either way, it's a nation in rapid change, and I wanted to see it while still in its blossoming, spring-time phase.I also liked the idea of spending Christmas in one of the most devoutly Buddhist countries on the planet. The official religion of Myanmar, which is practiced by the majority of the population, is Theravada Buddhism. It is generally considered to be the most conservative form of the religion. While everyone back home would be cutting down trees, putting up reindeer, and singing songs of joy and peace (or whatever else one is supposed to do during Christmas), I'd be wandering the exotic alleyways of this Christ-bereft stronghold of Buddhist tradition and stumbling upon the hidden mysteries of its grand and ancient pagodas. Sounded great to me.I had a rough itinerary sketched out. I had my plane tickets in and out of Yangon, the largest city and formerly known as the British colonial headquarters of Rangoon. I had booked most of my hostels in advance for each part of the country. But how I was going to get from place to place or what I was going to do when I got there was all to be determined. Life had felt stiflingly regimented back home. All I had with me now was a backpack. Not the travel-savvy, larger-than-the-girl-lugging-it kind of backpack, but my school backpack. It was filled mostly with books on the country. I wanted to get to know this place. Not just to see it, but to really learn about it, to talk to the people who actually lived here, and to read the words of people who have a deep connection with this land. I was ready to immerse myself. I was also ready for some moment-to-moment, take-it-as-it-comes living. This felt like a country built for just that.On my first morning in country, I set off from my hostel onto the streets. I was in search of nothing in particular. And in this first walkabout that was precisely what I found. The most arresting observation the tourist combing through downtown Yangon makes is one of demography: there are pretty much no white people here. There are many places in the world where this observation would hold. But few of them are cities that feel as developed, as accommodating, as unsullied as Yangon. In a way, it felt like coming to South East Asia for the first time again.When one first starts coming to this part of the world, what stands out is how fantastically different it is. It is a society based on fundamentally different principles than the West. In many ways, the apotheosis of Western culture is the shopping mall: everything is standardized. Each store offers the same things of the same quality and aesthetic of what that store offers anywhere else in the world. The point of a Starbucks Frappuchino is that you can go to practically any country on earth and order essentially the same drink. A shopping mall is laid out so that nothing is obscured, nothing is going to take you by surprise. The organizing principle of a shopping mall is homogeneity.If you're anything like me, you grew up in a culture, a city, a society that has increasingly come to resemble a shopping mall. So when you first come to South East Asia, you see that it's possible to have a society for which every impulse goes in the opposite direction. In many ways it is the antithesis of a shopping mall: nothing is standardized. Everything is unique. There are gapping, inexplicable holes in the infrastructure -- spots where something should exist but nothing does. Surprises abound. You take an action and there is little guarantee of what the subsequent reaction will be. It is completely and totally beguiling.But then after a little more time in this area, you start to see the spoilage. It is the infiltration of shopping mall culture into this otherwise gloriously haphazard vision of society. It is McDonalds and Burger King and KFC and Starbucks. It is the government's prioritization of the needs of tourists over the needs of locals. It is the overwhelming presence of white people. And once you've identified these spoilages, it's tough to recapture that initial sensibility of having uncovered a society of such immensely foreign awesomeness. One of the unfortunate facts of globalization is that so many of the best spots to be a tourist have been all but ruined by the presence of so many tourists. Being in Yangon felt exactly like recapturing that innocent, unspoiled joy of finding oneself in an exotic land of mystery and surprise.Every square inch of sidewalk in Yangon seems to be taken up with informal vendors. They appear to be organized into patches. For two blocks, it will be fruit vendors. Then the next block will feature grimy power tools. Then comes a swathe of clothes and textiles, followed by a sector proffering refurbished iPhones. Each is pocked with its own food stalls catering to adjacent vendors. At no point does one see anything on offer that would be of interest to anyone other than locals. The supply and demand here is clearly geared toward the indigenous population, and not hoards of foreigners swooping in to pay exorbitant sums for trinkets, goodies, or knick knacks.Most of the action takes place on the main drags, which run along the short sides of the blocks. The long sides are residential streets. They are quiet, filled mostly with stretches of worn but not dilapidated apartments atop modest restaurants and other small businesses. It is an immediate contrast. The sidewalks on the arterials bustle with vendors and foot traffic while the residential asides snooze.My first stop was at an ATM. Historically, Myanmar is famous for not having cash machines. This is something you'll hear frequently from people who've been there. It's no longer true. There are ATMs on almost every block. It's easy to get money. The problem, though, is that you have to cart around a lot of currency to have any meaningful amount of dough. Getting a couple hundred dollars worth of Kyat, which would last me for a couple weeks, required a mafioso-style briefcase in which to store all my local currency.That being said, Myanmar isn't exactly a place where a tourist feels exposed on the street. It is difficult not to feel safe in a city where half the population is walking around in skirts, and the other half are women. The tradition garb for a Myanmartian male is type of sarong, known as a Longyi. It gives the local population a certain way of ambling: at once sort of floppy, sort of shuffling, hands behind the back in leisured confidence. One's sandals make way from under the skirt with each shuffle. Everything is flowy and nonchalant. My initial suspicion was that these people wouldn't commit a petty crime if their life depended on it. This suspicion was increasingly strengthened the longer I staid in country. The women, for their part, are marked by Thanaka. It is de rigueur for women to smear Thanaka on their cheeks before leaving the house in the morning. A canonical symbol of Myanmar culture, it is a cosmetic paste ground from the bark of an indigenous tree. In other words, a mud mask that is appropriate, even lauded, to be worn in public. At first, it's a strange sight -- like when a female character in a movie emerges from her quarters in an avocado mask with cucumbers over her eyes. But one gets used to it, and eventually it comes to hold its own intrigue and attractiveness.As I made my way through the downtown area, I came upon an especially crowded intersection, where two big arterials criss-crossed. It was the kind of street that is not so much crossed as negotiated. In an interesting little piece of theatre, our numbers built up to a critical pedestrian mass before bursting out into the street, essentially bullying the steady stream of cars into realizing they couldn't possible run this many people over. Cross walks aren't really a thing here. Sure, there are some zebra crossing patterns painting onto the street. But they do not contribute to reality in any meaningful way.At length I found myself close to the center of the downtown area at the Bogyoke Aung San Market. I knew I was somewhere of central interest, because it was outfitted in the way that the core of all central business districts are during the holidays: with Christmas decorations. I was a bit taken aback. The most conspicuous display of Christmas spirit was a sign that proudly read "Yangon Christmas Festival" on the street running across the entrance to the market. Other strung up ornaments included white cutouts of Christmas trees and snowflakes, as if coniferous evergreens and fresh snowfall were indigenous to the area. It was more than a week before Christmas, but Yangon was already bubbling over with holiday spirit.The Bogyoke Aung San market is named for the man who essentially wrested control of Burma from the colonial British. He is the Myanmar nation's George Washington: the military-leader-cum-first-head-of-state, revered as the Father of the Nation. Bogyoke is an affectionate honorific meaning "major general." Aung San founded the country's military, which has been a central fixture in Myanmar's modern history -- though not always in a good way. Nonetheless, he is looked upon with widespread fondness to this day by the people of his nation, as befits an icon such as George Washington. Where his legacy begins to diverge from Ol' George's is that while Washington was afforded the opportunity to lead his young nation in its earliest and most vulnerable years, Aung San was assassinated six months into his reign. It was a plot by one of his political adversaries, whereby his men basically stormed into an important cabinet meeting and murdered the country's top seven political officials. Somewhat inexplicably, the architect of the assassination, U Saw, believed this would leave the country with no choice but to install him as head of state. In these designs U Saw turned out to be slightly over-optimistic and instead of being asked to lead, he was hanged. In the intervening seventy years since its independence, Myanmar has often entertained much criticism for how little democratic progress it has made.To this point, I think it's worth mentioning that seventy years into America's democracy, the Civil War hadn't even been fought -- meaning that the United States wasn't even yet on the verge of its states uniting in the way we think of them today. And that's without having the Founding Fathers summarily murdered by a political adversary. It takes time to build a functioning democracy -- if that's still a designation you'd like to bestow upon the U.S. -- from the ground up. The main impetus for this democratic building up has been Bogyoke's Nobel Peace Prize winning daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi.At any rate, the market. It was a great open air complex, like a converted airplane hangar with a white roof and white tile housing a brightly lit matrix of stalls. It's designation in the tourist guides -- a "lively bazaar in a multistory colonial building, with vendors selling antiques, jewelry, art & food" -- could describe the rudiments of almost any big market in the world, such as Ben Thanh Market in Saigon, or the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. But there is one major exception. There were no white people here. I saw two, maybe three, foreigners the entire time. This is an almost unimaginable feature of this sort of market, if you've been to comparable ones throughout the world. Before wandering in here, I had always assumed that surely these sort of structures were built for people just like me -- to give tourists a center of gravity, a point around which to orient themselves in the city. Apparently not.The consequences of this absence of foreigners is tremendous. No one hassles you. No one approaches you in the aisles and tries to foist their s**t upon you. A guy wandering down the aisle asked me something. "No thank you," I mumbled habitually and shook my head. I assumed he had been selling something when he repeated himself. I saw he wasn't carrying anything to sell and realized that he was simply asking me if I needed help finding anything.One peculiar feature of the market were herds of unattended children wandering among the patrons and vendors. Each child had a shaved head with pink monk robes featuring an orange sash across their body. They roamed from stall to stall, whereupon they would half-heartedly chant some two line incantation. Without looking up from her phone, the store owner would stick a small pile of cash into the children's bucket. There were hundreds of these little troops, all around the city. It was like watching a conspiracy of non-Halloween trick-or-treating in progress. At the time, I imagined that this was some sort of mafia, run by eight year old Buddhist of especially feminine fashion sensibilities. I later learned they were nuns.I surveyed the wares at the market. I spied some passionfruit and dragonfruit, among my favorites in this part of the world. Other fruits included the usual suspects: jack fruit, pomelo, little mandarins, apples, pomegranates, and grapes. I had hoped to find the crowned prince of all South East Asian fruits, the Mangosteen, but none availed themselves of me. There was a meat market. It featured chickens in close quartered cages, crabs that might at any moment reach out and snag a passerby, a wriggling catfish that threatened a flailing slap across the face, and black bags fidgeting with unidentified detainees. That sort of stuff makes me feel kind of itchy. But for whatever reason, what inspired the most interest from me were the mandarin oranges. I went to a stall and pointed. The lady began to load up a small plastic bag. When after a moment I told her, "Oh, that's plenty, thanks," she took this a cue to keep piling them into the bag. I didn't really have a use for enough oranges to feed a family of seven for the next week, and I tried to communicate this to her by presenting her with my intended budget, 200 kyat. She took offense to this, as she felt this was a dramatic underestimate of the value of the bag full of oranges. Her counter offer was 1000 kyat. I tried further to explicate my position for her. "No, please just give me enough for two hundred." She stared at me. I handed her a thousand Kyat note and walked off with an arm load of mandarin oranges.Leaving the market, I headed back toward the streets. Without having gotten very far, a store front caught my eye, called J'Donuts. It appeared to be a Burmese version of Dunkin Donuts, a place where surely my money would be better spent than at the orange vendor. Indeed, the pastry case would not have been out of place in a Dunkin or a Tim Horton's, except for the overtly tropical flavors, with fillings such as lychee or choco-coconut. On the wall was a television with what appeared to be a twenty-four hour loop of a commercials in advertisement of J'Donut's products. The commercial was based, evidently, on the twin themes of Christmas and pedophilia. It featured cartoon children in costumes dressed as donuts, provocatively squirting chocolate syrup and festooning one another with sprinkles. These events, it was later revealed, were actually featured in the collective dreams of a small cohort of live action children, alongside the donuts dancing round their heads. Then a series of elves, in some sort of pervert Santa's helper gambit, entered the scene, stage left. I couldn't discern their function in the plot beyond adding a distinct element of seediness. At any rate, all of this was delivered in support of the thesis of J'Donut's cunning marketing slogan: "every day... tasty and fresh." As I sat there, not necessarily savoring but certainly consuming my cloying lychee donut and coffee-flavored sugar milk, an entire Harry Belafonte album -- though not necessarily a Christmasy one -- played all the way through in the background.Perhaps unsurprisingly when I exited J'Donuts I found myself crossing over into what appeared to be the primary expat community of the city. Every store front was either a coffee shop or a restaurant. It seemed the entire population consisted of pairs of white dudes with Asian chicks. The establishments boasted creatively western names like "Toasted Melt" (sells toasted melts), "Minister Cheese" (sells ice cream), "O'thentic Brasserie" (sells... Irish inflected French cuisine?), and "Pizza Heaven" (sells 'slices of heaven'). With the discovery of this enclave, it occurred to me that I had reached a point of diminishing returns and elected to repair to my hostel to doze off for the rest of the afternoon.In the evening I headed back to a side street that I had stumbled upon in my earlier wanderings. Only a couple blocks over from my hostel, it was called 19th Street. It turned out to be one of the more prominent culinary attractions in the city. Anthony Bourdain ate here when he filmed in Yangon. It is an entire block (a long-ways one) strewn with the glorious green and red short stools indigenous to South East Asia. I have attained a sort of Pavlovian conditioning where upon sitting down at one of these bad boys, I know I'm about to be served up something streaming and delicious, ideally spicy, and most likely resulting in some abdominal tumult until my body acclimates. The whole street was a series of food stations, each with their own packed seating area. Everywhere looked good. Everywhere looked fresh. Everywhere looked like they'd be willing to deep fry pretty much substance, foodstuff or otherwise, and present it on a stick for my gustatory contemplation. I picked the place with the best available seating. (Yeah, it was full to the point of having a tough go finding a seat.)I chose a dish for which the English translation was deep fried spicy pork. Because I'm white, the lady double checked about the spicy part -- imploring me to reconsider with a searching confirmation of "spicy?" in conjunction with a raise of the eye brow and the finger-thumb circle with splayed fingers, the universal sign for "Are you sure you can handle this, white boy?" Just try me.I also ordered a beer. When the lady reappeared with my beverage, she popped the tab, pealed off some label underneath and gave me a look that could only mean "Oh wow, you've just come into some money." She asked me if I'd like to exchange the tab. I said sure. She took the cap and came back a couple minutes later with some cash money and handed it to me. God, I've never felt so favorably disposed to a country before. I mean, getting cash back on your beer -- could it get any better? I settled in with my beer, and eventually my pork, and waded into a collection of writings by Aung San Suu Kyi.When not so long thereafter I was too tipsy not to get distracted by my surroundings, I put down the book and picked my head up to survey what was going on. I was alone at my table, and as I was enjoying my evening. Apparently, my solitude was noticed by the men at the table sitting next to me. They invited me to sit with them. So I paid my tab with the lady and moved next door, taking the fourth seat among my three new buddies. As is customary in many parts of the world, they made sure I was sufficiently plied with alcohol and cigarettes before we dug into any personal details. We got another round of beers. I accepted a cigarette, even though I don't smoke them. In fact, I can't. As a long-time cigar smoker, I have a hard time actually performing the act of inhaling smoke, as one is supposed to do with cigarette. I just hold the smoke in my mouth briefly, then let it go. The men I was sitting with noticed that I was doing it wrong. They gave me sidelong looks of moderate confusion. Then, apparently, they let the matter go, probably just chalking it up as an American thing.One of the guys was more comfortable in English than the other two, and he did most of the talking. One of the quiet ones owned a small business. The other two were students, studying something to do with tourism. The gregarious one was especially fascinated with my being American. To him, this was an accomplishment that merited some serious digging into. Attempting to curtail this line of inquiry, I managed to turn the conversation back to Myanmar. They noticed the face of Aung San Suu Kyi on my book. I asked them what they thought of her. Their position was, in essence, decidedly favorable. They felt like she had the country's back. It was the same enthusiasm for a leader that my Indian friends mustered for Narendra Modi when he first took over the country, or the ovation Michelle Obama would receive if she decided to run for president. I asked them what had changed over the last five years, since the country had become more open. Overall, they were a fan of the developments. Over the next five years, they hoped to see a greater separation between the country's military and its government.As well loved as Aung San Suu Kyi may be, she is often accused of being little more than a puppet of Myanmar's authoritarian and decidedly over-enthusiastic military regime. Instead of independent branches of executive, legislative, and judicial powers, the Myanmar government is much more of a highly interdependent morass of military and political interests. This is at the core of the recent claims that the Myanmar government, led by Suu, is supporting a genocide of the Rohingya people on the Bangladesh border. As much good work as she has done, the country's military is a powerful and often malevolent force. Her relationship to this regime is complicated. On the one hand, they are responsible for many atrocities that the Myanmar government perpetrated against its own citizens during the half-century after independence. They also locked Suu up for more than a decade. In 1990, Myanmar had its first democratic elections, and Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party won. Instead of stepping aside to let her take the reins of the country, the military ignored the results and placed Suu under arrest. She was a political prisoner -- placing her in the company of the other architects of non-violent, world-shifting activism in the twentieth century, such as Mohandas Gandhi and Nelson Mandela -- for fifteen years. Which, I suppose, is quite a lot to put in the one hand.But on the other hand, it is, at its heart, still her father's military. For better or worse, it is her family's legacy. And as with all family legacies, it is simultaneously an embarrassment and a treasure. Also, what country isn't proud of their military, if they've got one? Anyway, this is why the country is so volatile. Overall, the current seems to be drifting toward the good. But at any moment the military junta could reassert itself. It is, to say the least, a complicated situation.Which, at this point in the evening, we made tragically little progress in solving. After pretending to have smoked a handful of cigarettes and having actually consumed enough beers to fill my quadrant of the table, I wasn't necessarily in a cognitive state conducive for nuanced political discourse. I bid my new friends adieu, and with that toppled my way back to the hostel.I'm not going to lie to you. Life was pretty good in Myanmar. I'd wake up at my leisure and wander downstairs for my first coffee of the day. Each morning I would put in a three hour of shift, with a bit of work, a bit of writing, and a bit of journaling -- a.k.a., three different modes of writing. During this time I'd pound down five or six cups of coffee, since it was free and unlimited in every hostel I staid at. I'd sit in the common area, and take my breakfast when it was ready. People would come and go. Travelers would commune with one another, carrying on the same inane conversations over and over again. "Have you been to the third tree on the east-most corner of Lake Mwandishi? No? Well, you really should. If you don't see that, you haven't really seen the country." I'd put in my headphones and get lost in my own world of curling streams of letters in my notebook or clack away on my keyboard for paragraph upon paragraph. Then I'd spend my afternoons out and about in the city.On this morning I was greeted with a new development at the hostel. The staff was painting Christmas designs onto the front doors of the hostel. Taking inspiration from the marketing team at J'Donuts, they inscribed a red and green nativity of Santa and his elves. Though there were no children depicted in this scene, I assume the elves would've taken more than a passing interest in them had there been. Even more egregiously, the staff all wore Christmas hats. This is when it started to become clear to me that I had come to the wrong country to escape Christmas festivities. The Christmas Spirit is even more fervent here than it is in the U.S., which has been mostly relegated to the more inclusive greetings of "Happy Holidays." I had successfully escaped the Jesusy aspects of Christmas, but that's not really what the holiday is about is it? It's about festivities, conducting oneself in a spirit of celebration and good will, and, above anything else, a fresh haul of new loot. In other words, capitalism -- which is a language that everyone speaks, regardless of religion. With more than a week until Christmas Day, the intrusions of unbidden and overwhelmingly kitsch holiday spirit would get worse before they got better.Only slightly daunted by the saccharine visage of Santa and his helpers, I set off back into town. One thing that I'd like to mention, which isn't my favorite topic to broach, but I sincerely think is worth bringing up, is the women of Yangon. They are easily the best looking population of females I've yet to come across in my travels. Now, pretty much every culture likes to say this of their own women. Especially, for some reason, Russians and Eastern Europeans. But they can't all be correct. As a third party judge, I have to give the award to Myanmar, specifically Yangon. I have a theory about this. Actually, two theories. The first has to do with the 136 indigenous ethnic groups of Myanmar. They are distributed geographically across the country, and Yangon, being the primary metropolitan area, is where all of the ones who are inclined to leave their ancestoral village and mate with someone further afield head to. As I'm sure is an uncontroversial point, mating across ethnic boundaries tends to lead to extremely beautiful offspring. While such mixing is subtle, that seems to be happening here. This is a personal theory of mine, and feel free to adopt it as your own or to reject it. The second theory, which is a more commonly held position is that it has to do with Thanaka. It's a blessing of a relatively high caliber to have baked into one's culture a penchant for excellent skin care. It would be as if Californians took a fancy to smearing avocado on their face when they left the house. After years of ardent commitment to skin care, you get a population of people with nice skin. So, like I said, it's a theory, and you're free to make of it what you will.Another curious and slightly less sexist thing that one begins to notice on the streets of Yangon is that the cars in this country are almost exclusively Japanese. Practically every vehicle is either a Suzuki, Honda, Toyota, Nissan, or, if it's a truck, a Mitsubishi. There isn't a Kia or a Hyundai in sight, let alone a Chevy or an Audi. One reason for this is that Aung San Suu Kyi has always harbored a great deal of admiration for the Japanese, and so there has always been a big-sister, little-sister sort of relationship between the countries. I'm sure there's also a specific economic reason, but I wasn't able to ascertain it throughout further research. At any rate, I'm sure this trend will change as the country continues to avail itself of the world economy.After starting this particular walkabout with no destination in mind, I oriented myself in the direction of the Zoological Gardens, which were enticingly marked on the map just north of the downtown area. Arriving at its gates, or at least, where on the map it appeared that the gates might be, I strolled through an open entrance. Then I heard someone call out "Hello!" The direct translation of this interjection to English would be something like "Hey!! Just where do you think you're going?" A man came from out of my peripheral vision to usher me toward a ticket booth, preventing me from entering the park illicitly.Upon entering the grounds, it was not clear whether what I was entering was a traditional zoo or some sort of nature reserve. All I could see was fauna. There didn't appear to be other people. And there didn't appear to be exhibits. A sign read that there were 133 species. It failed to disclose whether they were held in cages or just wandering about. Making one's way through the paths in this zoo was like rolling up into a ghost town in a Western flick. The protagonist surveys the otherwise desolate street, and as a tumble weed rolls through, remarks that it appears everyone else has been run out of town. The first exhibit I came upon was a cage of monkeys. The fence around the animals' enclosure was about as far from sidewalk where I stood as an extended monkey arm. The monkeys, I noticed, could just about stick their entire bodies through the screen save for their area of greatest circumference. There were no witnesses around in case one of them escaped, murdered me, and snuck back in. There were large patches of unfinished construction projects throughout the grounds, and for all I knew any of them could have been filled with the inert bodies of unsuspecting tourists. I backed away slowly and turned to have a look at what else was around.At length I did start to see other people. Again, I was astounded by the fact that not a single one appeared to be a tourist. I wandered the zoo for almost two hours, and never once saw another westerner. In my uniqueness, this made me an object of interest to the other patrons at the zoo, especially in the presence of some of the more lackluster animals.Certainly one of the reasons there were few tourists was that the Yangon zoo is not among the world's most spectacular zoological habitats. That said, it was quite relaxing to wander in a park where both the animals and the patrons had such generous proportions of Lebensraum. The potential danger posed by the observation that the fortifications keeping the animals from the humans didn't exactly inspire confidence, gave the excursion an added dimension of excitement not usually expected from a trip to the zoo.Making my way north again toward another site of interest on the map, I came upon a sprawling park laid out around a shimmeringly gorgeous azure lake. It was dusk now, and the setting sun was the same color as the sound of a bell marking the start of a meditation. The lake was ringed not only by a verdant lapel of grass, but also by a walking path, hovering over the edge of the water like a halo. Everyone I passed was a local. Each of them gave me a pleasant smile and nod. They seemed like they were just happy to see me enjoying myself in their city. I'd been wearing sandals all day, and my legs had the same gradient of dark clay to airy lightness as the sunset. At length, I came to a point where the walkway suddenly stopped. It's not that the loop had ended, but that there was a blockade in front of a ten yard stretch where there were no boards in the boardwalk -- a hole in the infrastructure, if you will -- and I could go no further.After a brief respite back at the hostel, I repaired in the evening to what appeared to be Yangon's premiere rooftop bar. I had noted they had a jazz band on that night, and I was curious what heights could be attained in this country when it came to the lush life of jazz and cocktails. On top of a hotel in an otherwise residential area, the seating are was exceptionally loungeable, with a corridor of reservable and cushioned alcoves. These mostly appeared to be occupied by European business men, who were out for some shared plates and a bottle or six of wine. They were among colleagues and friends, evidently operating in a celebratory mode. There were also a few groups of mostly upscale Burmese. I snagged a spot at the bar. The roof offered a three-sixty degree view of the city, with the main visual attraction being the Shwedagon Pagoda glowing in the distance like a hovering UFO. Viewed from this vantage, it really becomes clear that Myanmar truly is a kind of dark spot on the map. Situated between the well-lighted civilizations of India, China, and Thailand, the plot of land centered on the Irrawaddy delta is dark when viewed from space, or even just a tall building. Even in the city, most of the land is shaded from urban glow. Between me and the imposing Shwedagon, which is the visual centerpiece of the city, there was nothing but an inscrutable blackness. It is as if showing a laser pointer into a moonless, starless sky. What you see is not so much a view but simply an unlit expanse, like the visual field behind closed eyes.My first order of business was to obtain a drink. I was delighted to find their menu included barrel-aged negronis. I waved in the direction of the glowing panel of alcoholic goodness that was the bar and flagged down one of the bartenders. Normally, in these situations, I'd give the local flavors a shot and order something closer to an indigenous concoction than a tried classic. But this bar didn't have anything like that on offer. Plus the thought of gin, Campari, and vermouth marinating in oak over the course of a few weeks made me all tingly and excited in a way that's difficult to ignore. My cocktail was served with a flair of teak-wood smoke introduced into a glass enclosure around the drink, which upon lifting the enclosure released a fog, like a special effect at a rock concert. It was a little much for my taste. But it was also served with dehydrated orange slices, and I liked that. I sipped my cocktail, and read from my copy of George Orwell's Burmese Days by the under-light of the counter in front of me. Periodically, I'd looked up to survey the patrons of this illuminated fastness situated in the otherwise steely darkness of the landscape around us. I consumed these elegant $5 negronis with a certain ardent liberalism while smoking the Burmese cigars I'd bought, 10 for 50 cents. Soon the band began to play. Mostly it was from the oeuvre of Antônio Carlos Jobim. For the sake of propriety, I won't disclose the exact number of negronis I managed, nor the number of cigars I sucked down. But it's safe to that it was, in a scientific sense, a large enough sample to achieve statistical significance.Then the night took a left turn. I saw a couple of guys hanging out by a table next to mine. They were clearly vibing with the music and looked like locals. I approached them. We got to talking. After the first set was over, the jazz singer who had been on stage came to our table, and introduced herself as a friend as the gentlemen I was sitting with. She was from Japan, propelled by the twin dreams of living in Myanmar and being a jazz singer. The two guys were entrepreneurs. I asked them what business they were in. "Import-export," they told me. As anyone familiar with the espionage genre will infer, they were spies. One of them claimed to be especially fond of America, having made several extended trips to Nebraska. If anyone has ever uttered a statement which more directly implicated them in some sort of covert affair of counterintelligence, I have not heard it.Once the music had wrapped up and the European business men had begun to pack it in out of respect for tomorrow's workday, the two guys asked what I was doing next. "Nothing," I told them. It is at this point that the scene cuts to a drug-addled montage of rave music and altered consciousness, zooming around the city from one neon-lit palace of debauchery to another consuming substances of a dubious and enlivening nature. Or at least as close to that sort of thing as I come in my life.The first stop on our itinerary was the kind of place that one might imagine America is full of if one had never actually been to America: a nifty establishment called the "Beer Pong Bar." This title rather concisely captures the institution's mission statement. Conceptually, it is a bar which dedicates the major of its real estate to arraying cups of beer across a table and enjoining participants on both sides to sink ping pong balls into one another's cups. Beer pong is one of America's most celebrated cultural exports, like the hamburger or the iPad, much loved the world over. As with all of America' greatest innovations, it provides a highly bastardizable palate on which other nations can construct their own cultural inventions. That is how the hamburger differs from, say, classical French cuisine. If you don't cook French food the way they do it in Paris, you're doing it wrong. But anyone can take the basic canvas of the burger, do whatever the hell they want to it, and find themselves in the presence of a creation that is at once delicious and entirely legitimate. Beer pong has been similarly appropriated to great effect in other milieus. The premise of this establishment was to set up in what was essentially an empty, unlit warehouse, a football field's worth of regulation beer pong tables illuminated by the synthetic LEDs of an air hockey table or a laser tag course. The operation's feng shui was so effective that it had evidently attracted the presence of every adolescent in the province to gather with their friends, perch a Gatorade-sized vat of beer on their table, and engage in bouts of competitive drinking until long after peak performance had been achieved. Being an American, I felt a certain patriotic duty to represent my country well. I did what I could.Having reached a point of diminishing marginal returns on any activities which depended on the use of fine motor skills, we took off to the next spot. Upon leaving the beer pong bar, I discovered that our entourage had increased in number. Instead of requiring a single taxi, our crew now required a small fleet of vehicles. I had no real idea who any of these people were. But I was friends with all of them.When I next came to, there was wailing. Or not wailing, but rather singing. Then I immediately ascertained that we were in the plush and intimate confines of a karaoke room. Now, the western and eastern conceptions of karaoke are rather different. In the west, the essential framework for karaoke is to consume enough alcohol to demolish all sense of self-consciousness or social liability in the service of aurally making a fool of oneself in front of a group of total strangers. By contrast, the eastern framework for karaoke is to consume enough alcohol to demolish all sense of self-consciousness or social liability in service of aurally making a fool of oneself in front of a group of one's close friends. Instead of taking place on a stage for any casual observer to judge, it takes place in a private room. It is an infinitely preferable format over the western version. It is, however, still awful. The only way to make karaoke an even slightly palatable activity is to have it catch you completely by surprise. It has to develop organically, on the spur of the moment. It is in this respect like other acts of vulgar semi-public behavior, such as skinny dipping. You don't set a calendar event for your next skinny dipping session. The spirit must take you. At least that's what I imagine to be the case for skinny dipping. No one has ever invited me to go. At any rate, that same conceptual model holds true for karaoke.Having satisfactorily expressed ourselves in song, we ended the evening with a bite to eat -- whatever the Myanmartian equivalent to greasy three-AM kebab is. I ate my fill, then a good deal more, then I regretfully informed my companions that it was time for me to turn in. Without having taken the time to develop an especially solid game plan, I got up to leave. And I found myself walking in no direction in particular toward nothing much. It was 4:30 in the morning, and there were no cars on the road. I did not have internet on my phone. I knew the name of my hostel. I knew that it was somewhere south of where I was currently at. I didn't know which way south was. At the moment I was beginning to draw conclusions about my predicament based on these observations, a taxi pulled into the adjacent intersection. I flagged the driver down and hopped in.I told the driver the name of my hostel. Then he embarked on a protracted exposition in a language I didn't speak. I deduced from the fact that he was explaining instead of driving that I had been unsuccessful in describing the port of call at which I hoped to disembark. More words came from my mouth. I can recall them now probably just about as accurately as he could understand them then. I managed to communicate that I was going somewhere toward the city center, as we were pretty far outside of town at this point, and this satisfied him enough to put the car in gear. At length, we pulled over on the side of a desolate road. He rolled down the window and shouted something. A man emerged from the darkness into the din of nearby street lamp. There was a brief exchange, which I imagined was chiefly about where to dump my body. Then the man leaned into the window and asked me where I wanted to go. I gave him the street number closest to my destination, which he relayed to his colleague in what seemed like more verbiage that was strictly necessary. The man disappeared into the shadows, and we set off toward my place of residence and/or the body drop site. When the car came to a stop I recognized the familiar acrylic visage of Santa and his elves. I had made it home. I was alive, albeit somewhat cognitively impaired. Filled with gratitude, beer, Christmas cheer, patriotic pride, and the unassuageable desire to retire, I turned in for the night.Next Episode:Thanks for checking out Season 1 of Notes from the Field. If you’ve enjoyed it, please consider becoming a premium subscriber. I’m trying to do more of this kind of travel writing in the future. But as you can imagine, it’s hard to have these kinds of experiences while also holding down a job. Your subscription goes a long way toward helping me to do that. Use the link below, and you’ll get 50% off an annual subscription. 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Whit Hornsberger (Vancouver, Canada) is a student and teacher of the wisdom traditions of Classical Yoga and Theravada Buddhism.A former athlete, Whit found the path as a result of a career ending knee injury and the subsequent emotional and mental suffering inherent in losing one's (supposed) self-identity and self-worth. His daily practice and teaching methods stem from the traditional practices of Vinyasa Krama (Krishnamacharya) and Buddhist meditation (Mahasi Sayadaw). A passionate advocate of traditional teachings, Whit expounds the ancient wisdom of these lineages in a relevant manner, making them readily accessible to students at every stage of the path. A passionate lover of surf, travel and nature, Whit teaches internationally offering classes, workshops, retreats and trainings.Whithornsberger.comToday's Episode is sponsored by DoMatcha (DoMatcha.com). Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
Harvey is a psychotherapist and a teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, who received the title of Lama, Vajra Master from his teacher in 2010 and in a teaching context is known as Lama Namgyal Dorje. Dr. Aronson's academic and spiritual path places him in an informed position to speak about the intersection of the both Buddhism and psychology; so much so that his book, Buddhist Practice On Western Ground, does just that. His treatment of culture, in general, and the differences between Tibetan and “Western” culture is an enlightening endeavor for any reader of his work, as it calls the reader to interrogate the patterns of their culture. Any participant of therapy will often hear their therapist urge them to “feel their feelings” with the implication that they have been “cut off” from their ability to be informed and signaled by one means the psyche communicates – through the body and with the feelings. He states that much of what the psychotherapist is working to do is to invite the individual to feel and experience what they were denied the validity of experiencing through their development. Harvey roots his exploration of the differences between Buddhism and Western psychology within a transformation that occurred in his life while teaching as a professor of Buddhist studies. As a young profess