BY CHRISTINE SKARDA| JANUARY 12, 2017
Christine Skarda has been on retreat for the past twenty-five years. She offers advice on preparing for a successful retreat.
Let go of the idea of a perfect retreat placeThere is no such place! After all, this is samsara, not nirvana.
When we think about doing a retreat, we tend to recall famous practitioners and want our retreat to be like theirs: done in perfect isolation, with no distractions, no interruptions, and filled with spiritual accomplishments. Sounds good, but this ideal comes from a selective reading of their actual retreat circumstances. more...
Mindfulness has to be principled, otherwise it’s just a guy in California eating a raisin really, really slowly
Zoe Williams Saturday 11 November 2017
The problem with mindfulness is that it spread across the world unhinged from the philosophy of human goodness that was supposed to underpin it. A sniper has to be mindful, in the sense of living in a state of complete presence and awareness; but he wouldn’t do much for the Dalai Lama. It doesn’t have to be religious necessarily, but mindfulness has to be principled, otherwise it’s just a guy in California eating a raisin really, really slowly.
This was the starting point for the Foundation for Developing Compassion and Wisdom, a modest but global organisation calling itself Buddhism’s “secular wing”. It’s just round the corner from my house, as fortune would have it, and I’ve imbibed the benevolent self-acceptance that suffuses its scruffy south London headquarters – above a vegan cafe, next to a Buddhist film archive – but you do your own work on the 16 Guidelines app. Every day, you choose a value to live by and spend five minutes thinking deeply about what it means. more...
A large trial in schools showed no evidence of benefits, and hints it could even cause problems
By Cindi May on October 31, 2017
Mindfulness involves a conscious focus on and awareness of your present state of mind and surroundings, without judgment or reaction. Mindfulness is rooted in Buddhism and was developed in the 1970’s as a therapeutic intervention for stress in adults by Jon Kabat-Zinn, who founded the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Clinic at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Over the past several decades, the practice of mindfulness has evolved into a booming billion dollar industry, with growing claims that mindfulness is a panacea for host of maladies including stress, depression, failures of attention, eating disorders, substance abuse, weight gain, and pain.
Not all of these claims, however, are likely to be true. more...
Robert Wright NOV. 6, 2017
Not long ago I was accused of something I hadn’t realized was a bad thing: clarity. Adam Gopnik, reviewing my book “Why Buddhism Is True,” in The New Yorker in August, wrote: “He makes Buddhist ideas and their history clear. Perhaps he makes the ideas too clear.”
Underlying this allegation (which I vigorously deny!) is a common view: that Buddhist ideas defy clear articulation — and that in a sense the point of Buddhist ideas is to defy clear articulation. After all, aren’t those Zen koans — “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” and so on — supposed to suggest that language, and the linear thought it embodies, can’t capture the truth about reality? more...
Research suggests that as the brain grows dependent on phone technology, the intellect weakens
By Nicholas Carr Oct. 6, 2017
So you bought that new iPhone. If you are like the typical owner, you’ll be pulling your phone out and using it some 80 times a day, according to data Apple collects. That means you’ll be consulting the glossy little rectangle nearly 30,000 times over the coming year. Your new phone, like your old one, will become your constant companion and trusty factotum—your teacher, secretary, confessor, guru. The two of you will be inseparable. more...