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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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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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Why does compassion have to be boundless?

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shootings in Connecticut, and the suicide of Jacintha Saldanha, the nurse who became the victim of a mindless radio show hoax call, it’s time again to look at how we all share responsibility for these events. In the Guardian on Monday, President Obama was criticised for the stark contrast between his outpouring of grief for the children and staff who lost their lives in this tragic incident, compared to the countless innocents […]

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The dogma of atheism

I’m an atheist. Buddhists are, pretty much by definition, atheists. Buddhism isn’t, however, about denying the existing of God. If buddhists spend their time denying anything, it’s the existence of a permanent and independent self that continually suffers. Why? Because when we can alter our mind to accept at an unconscious level that we are impermanent, interdependent on the rest of the universe, and that suffering is the result of ignorance and delusion, then what naturally arises is boundless compassion […]

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Mindlessness can lead to baby eating

I’ve been busy for a while finishing a book which I hope to soon publish. In the meantime, I thought it would be good to return with a wild title. However, beneath the attention getting headline there is a genuine desire to try and explain the link between our ignorance and the suffering of our children. Just over two years ago I became a grand parent for the first time, and since then my family has extended rapidly to include […]

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Was Nichiren Daishonin saved by the Dalai Lama?

Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra (as translated by Kumarajiva) provides a teaching regarding one of the most important characters in Mahayana Buddhism. The title of this chapter is variably translated as: The Universal Gateway of the Bodhisattva Perceiver of the World’s Sounds – Burton Watson The Gateway to Everywhere of the Bodhisattva He Who Observes the Sounds of the World – Leon Hurvitz The All-Sidedness of the Bodhisattva Regarder of the Cries of the World – Bunno Kato, Yoshiro […]

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