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The Nature of Spiritual Practice

No Time to Think by Kate Murphy – Excerpt: ONE of the biggest complaints in modern society is being overscheduled, overcommitted and overextended. Ask people at a social gathering how they are and the stock answer is “super busy,” “crazy busy” or “insanely busy.” Nobody is just “fine” anymore. When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter. And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device. So it’s worth noting a study published last month in the journal Science, which shows how far people will go to avoid introspection.”

Why, God? by Maureen Dowd/Father Kevin O’Neil –
Excerpt: “How does one celebrate Christmas with the fresh memory of 20 children and 7 adults ruthlessly murdered in Newtown; with the searing image from Webster of firemen rushing to save lives ensnared in a burning house by a maniac who wrote that his favorite activity was ‘killing people’? …I believe differently now than 30 years ago. First, I do not expect to have all the answers, nor do I believe that people are really looking for them. Second, I don’t look for the hand of God to stop evil. I don’t expect comfort to come from afar. I really do believe that God enters the world through us. And even though I still have the “Why?” questions, they are not so much “Why, God?” questions. We are human and mortal. We will suffer and die. But how we are with one another in that suffering and dying makes all the difference as to whether God’s presence is felt or not and whether we are comforted or not.”

Evangelicals and Buddhists Share and Probe: A Unique and Fruitful Dialogue in Portland by Kyogen Carlson and Paul Louis Metzger – A story of how Buddhists and Christians have been challenging themselves and their views by engaging in thoughtful and prolonged dialogue. Without giving up their respective positions, participants find mutual respect and common ground despite very diverse views.


Engaged Buddhism

Dharma in Action: Our collective economic practices are endangering life on Earth. It’s time to set a new course through collective action by Ven. Santussika Bhikkhuni – Excerpt: “As our dharma practice deepens, it begins to inform and influence everything we do, including how we engage with the important moral and social issues of our times. At this moment in human history, the unrestrained extraction and burning of fossil fuels has brought us, in the industrialized nations, to the point where we are contaminating and pillaging the Earth to such an extreme that we are endangering all life on this planet. Nothing could be further from the intention and practice of dharma.”


About Zen

Zen is like a Maserati: Sleek, beautiful, expensive, and high maintenance, Part One by Myoan Grace Schireson – About a talk given by Dale Wright, a Buddhist scholar from Occidental College, at the 2012 Soto Zen Buddhist Association conference on the strengths and weaknesses of Zen from the cultural and comparative religions points of view – Part Two & Part Three

I, Roshi by Koun Franz – About the use of titles in Soto Zen

On Stories by Norman Fischer – Excerpt: “There’s always something going on in your life, some story, some conflict, some urge toward resolution. Usually we see such stories, if we see them at all, as being entirely on the relative level – as being about me and my happiness or unhappiness, my desire and its fulfillment, my problem and its resolution. But suppose lurking underneath this relative story were the absolute story – the deep, impossible to understand, life and death spiritual issue that the story is suggesting, if only we could see it.”



Want to Meditate? Leave Your Expectations at the Door by Ed Halliwell. “…changes seem to come as a by-product of people learning foundational practices and attitudes, and applying what they learn to their lives. This appears to be the best way to approach the training, for as soon as we try to make mindfulness solve a particular problem, or fit a certain set of circumstances, we’ve already moved away from the present moment and into focusing on future results.”

Click here for articles on the empirical benefits of mindfulness & meditation.



Unconditionally Steadfast by Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron. Great and personal description of different kinds of teacher-student relationships and how they can be challenging and beneficial to practice.

Finding a Teacher: What to Look for When Looking for a Zen Teacher by James Ford