Closer Than You Think

Robert_and_Bhikkhu_600I’ve come to the end of a six week course called “Buddhism and Modern Psychology”, and my mind has just exploded.  Professor Robert Wright—pictured above in conversation with Theravada Buddhist monk Bhikkhu Bodhi—has brought together the ancient wisdom of Buddhism and the twenty-first century perspective of science in a way that has shone a clearer light on the human dilemma than any I have witnessed in more than a half-century of spiritual journey.  Although the course is now coming to an end, you can still sign up for free at Coursera, watch the lectures and read the discussion forums.

There is one small point which I wish to argue with Professor Wright, but I hope that this will reveal what an extraordinary job he has done in clarifying the incomprehensible.  Continue reading

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The plants with little seed puffs are weeds.  When they were in bloom they were actually quite pretty, but they’re not something I want taking over the garden, so I’m getting rid of them.  One summer a neighbor found me laboriously digging dandelions out of the lawn.  I told her I was harvesting them.  She asked if was making wine out of them and I said “No, I’m making compost.”  I had no illusions about hundreds of dandelions popping up in the lawn next spring, and the truth is that I love that carpet of golden yellow when they are in bloom.  I had no intention of obliterating them, I just wanted to keep them from taking over. All of this puts me in mind of time.   Continue reading

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A Litany of Confusion

I gave the following talk in St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Rockport, Massachusetts on March 10th, 2013.

This is in part a birthday present for Mother Karin, so she won’t have to write a sermon this week, but it’s also an opportunity to share some recent experiences, that I think would be of interest to anyone concerned with the spiritual life.

Three years ago I did a meditative retreat at the Kripalu Center in the Berkshires.  I expected I’d probably have some amazing experience and that I’d be thinking, “Wow.  This is it!  The answer to all my problems.” Continue reading

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