My incense was so incensed!

For some time I had a box of Tibetan incense sticks in the drawer of the small table ...

My incense was so incensed!

For some time I had a box of Tibetan incense sticks in the drawer of the small table I normally sit in front of when meditating. I’m sure you have a drawer like this, full of Buddhist paraphernalia – candles, bells, incense, booklets, hairy boiled sweets dropped in there by the kids etc. Anyway, this particular Tibetan incense was eye watering stuff and I had been avoiding it. I decided it was time for a little outdoor sitting so I […]

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When the precepts don’t feel like precepts

After reading Edward Conze’s translation of the Diamond Sutra, I had to lie down – or rather sit. In fact, it took a number of days of reading and sitting, and reading and sitting, and waiting for stuff to re-arrange in my heart. Like a penny dropping in slow motion, it was like a 14 day yawning realisation that the way I had been approaching Buddhism wasn’t really as helpful as it could have been. This happened a few years […]

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Victory

While I no longer practice Nichiren Buddhism – at least not within the SGI, the echos and reverberations of Ikeda still bounce around in my head from time to time. I guess that’s inevitable after seeing endless photos of him in various victory poses. Of course, that fact alone might encourage some to claim a small victory for Nichiren Buddhism, but then this isn’t the kind of Victory I am thinking about. So, anyway, I was lying in my bed […]

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Impermanence, depression, and the crows

And so this is Xmas, as somebody famous once wrote. At best I used to feel ambivalent about this time of year, but most often I just felt a deep sense of aversion and loathing as my energy trails away and depression and anxiety take hold. Some might say that this pattern reveals a failure in my Buddhist practice – they might be right, but who knows for sure? For over two decades this was the way. I would watch […]

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Screaming in silence

There are those Buddhists (and you know who you are!) who take optimism to a level whereby they avoid watching or reading the news due to the overwhelmingly negative world view it often projects. I can understand this to a point, because after all, none of us can single handedly save the whole world in a direct, immediate sense. The best we can hope to do is to help and encourage those who are closest to us at any particular […]

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Duality is to capitalism

What non-duality is to communism? If one views capitalism as inherently selfish, and communism as a social utopia, then perhaps this relationship could seem true. But the communism of Stalin or that which led to the Chinese Cultural Revolution were closer to dictatorship or tyranny than anything else. Likewise the rampant, predatory capitalism we live in today is a far cry from the freedom and liberty our ancestor fought for in too many civil wars to mention. I recently asked […]

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The womb of compassion

Nagarjuna, the great Buddhist master of Nalanda, said two thousand years ago, “Voidness is the womb of compassion” – in sanskrit shunyata karuna garbham, it most elegantly encapsulates the most fundamental Buddhist teaching. To anyone who is unfamiliar with Buddhism this statement can be either wildly misunderstood (due to a shallow, dualistic understanding of Buddhism), or can appear completely incomprehensible to the reader. After all, how can a void/nothingness/annihilation be a womb for anything, let alone compassion? The voidness to […]

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SGI UK – a look back and a look forward

So, it’s now almost 8 months since I made the decision to quit the SGI. My reasons for quitting were primarily my inability to stomach the Ikeda worship, but since that time I have also come to regard the whole Nichiren movement as too entangled with materialism at a fundamental level. It’s pointless trying to explain this to anyone who is still in the SGI why this is so, but anyone who has spent any time studying Buddhism in a […]

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The horse and the pond

It’s been a while since I have posted. Since my practice has changed, and I have been gaining a deeper understanding of what the Heart and Diamond Sutras are saying, I have been experiencing a kind of spiritual crisis (someone has called it a spiritual emergency, with some accuracy). I’ll write about this another time, but for now, after some considerable family difficulties, I would like to share this short story, or fable. It will probably mean most to those […]

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The knot of hope

Hope is an important element of the human experience. For many, hope is as essential to the maintenance of our mental well-being as food and water are for our physical survival. The hope of a better tomorrow is what drives many of our thoughts and actions today. In Buddhism, hope is the antithesis of doubt. Hope and doubt relate to many desires, but in Buddhism they primarily relate to our desire to transform suffering into happiness and awakening; in ourselves […]

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