Your television is the Buddha


I watched TV for a few hours recently.

This may not sound like a big deal, but actually I don’t have a TV so I never do this.

It was an eye opener. I haven’t seen an advert in months. I...Read More »

Moving goal posts and Buddhist practice


I read an article recently about a study that seems to prove how some plants have enough consciousness to respond defensively to the sound of caterpillars eating them. Some vegans may find this uncomfortable reading!

It made me think about the...Read More »

The science behind meditation


A couple of days ago I posted an Tricycle article on Facebook. It questions the validity of some of the claims made about meditation based on ‘scientific research’.

It’s a very good article. I recommend having a read.

I’m not...Read More »

Unconditional love doesn't mean being a doormat


I taught the metta bhavana in my meditation class at work this week. Metta bhavana means ‘cultivation of loving-kindness’ or ‘development of unconditional friendliness’. Something like that.

Cultivating unconditional love towards all beings in your place of work can be a...Read More »

How to practice Buddhism (in 3 words)


Someone asked me on my Facebook page the other day how to practice Buddhism.

My first thought was that it’s impossible to say anything useful about this in the space of a Facebook comment.

But then I thought more.

Buddhism was...Read More »

Buddhism was created by humans


When you find a spiritual tradition that you really connect with and that changes your life, you revere it. Especially when you’re told that it’s worthy of reverence and that it was started (or rediscovered) by a dude who...Read More »

Mindfulness isn't trendy


I was listening to a podcast the other day. I quite enjoyed it. Except that one of the presenters said that mindfulness is ‘quite trendy now’.

I had a little shudder at that, even though it’s sort of true.

Mindfulness –...Read More »

Paying off a huge debt


One of the metaphors used to describe the state of ‘jhana’ or absorption in meditation is that it’s like paying off a huge debt. The relief is incredible. Another way it’s described is that it’s like putting down a...Read More »

The authentic Buddhist life


This is a cautionary tale.

Last week I was at a conference where a Buddhist gave a workshop.

All the words were the right ones, and they were in the right place. He listened to people ‘mindfully’ and even took his...Read More »

What is the Dharma?


The ‘Dharma’ or ‘Dhamma’ or sometimes ‘Buddhadhamma’ is what Buddhists usually say when they’re talking about Buddhism.

Buddhism was a word developed by westerners – and non-Buddhist westerners at that.

It’s not a very good word really. Firstly it suggests that...Read More »

Stillness in action


This morning I decided to spend my meditation time writing about meditation instead of actually meditating. I’m working hard to make sure The Meditator’s Handbook is as good as it can possibly be by the...Read More »

The meditator's handbook


Update: The Meditator’s Handbook is now available!


Over the last year or so, many people have been in touch to ask me questions about meditation, or joined my mailing list to be kept informed of...Read More »

How to set up a regular meditation practice


Happy new year!

I’m guessing many of you have decided to meditate regularly as one of your new year resolutions. So figured I’d give you a helping hand by sharing a few tips to setting up a regular meditation practice.

If...Read More »

What Buddhists do for Christmas


Someone asked me last week what Buddhists do for Christmas.

My answer was “Whatever they bloody well like!”

But to expand on that a little…

Some Buddhists go on retreat for Christmas. They avoid all the shopping madness, the excesses of food...Read More »

Western Buddhist guru


Tomorrow night I will host the first Dharma Hangout in Brighton. I’ll lead some meditation and then discuss an aspect of meditation or Buddhism. This is going to be a regular thing.

Not surprisingly, this has got me thinking...Read More »

Mind only (citta-matra)


What if I told you you’re not reading my words right now? What if I told you you’ve never met another human being?

You’ve never smelt the fresh air, never heard good music, never enjoyed a nice cup of coffee.

What if...Read More »

Dukkha and the ill-fitting wheel


Something’s not quite right, is it?

You like your job but your boss is a pain. You like your house but it’s in the wrong street.

Or maybe everything’s fine and still you can’t quite enjoy it. You know you should...Read More »

Beginner's mind and Dharma Hangouts


On Friday night I went to a zazen (zen meditation) class in Brighton.

I used to go to zazen for a while when I lived in Vancouver, Canada, but this was quite different.

There were the same black robes around the...Read More »

A Buddhist approach to stress management


Last weekend was a tough one. I got a call from my kidney specialist on Friday saying I needed an urgent scan as the previous scan suggested my kidney may have a dodgy artery in it that was in...Read More »

What Buddhists can learn from other spiritual traditions


Someone on the My Buddhist Life Facebook page suggested I write something on what Buddhists can learn from other spiritual traditions. I thought that was a great idea, so here goes!

The first point...Read More »

How to forgive people for being *ssholes


A little while ago I asked people on my Facebook page what they’d like me to write about. I got some challenging responses! I wrote the

Earlier this week I asked people on my Facebook page what I should write my next post about. I had a few good replies and I’ll deal with all of them in coming...Read More »

Stillness and action: 5 ways to stay sane when life is mad busy


My old friend and teacher had a whole bunch of health issues. He had a whole bunch of physical disabilities and other conditions that all combined to make his life tough.

He could easily have sat around doing nothing. No...Read More »

Zen, God and punk rock in the UK


Yep, Brad Warner is coming to town!

As regular readers will know, I’ve been helping zen priest, author and punk rock bass player Brad Warner organise his UK tour. He’ll be talking about zen, meditation, Dogen and...Read More »

When the going gets tough


I just spent a while in hospital (hence the lack of posting). I had internal bleeding after a fall and was under close observation as there was a danger I’d need emergency surgery.

While I was in there I was...Read More »

Going to see the guru


I just booked to go and see Eckhart Tolle in London later this year. I’m quite looking forward to it.

I’ve seen a bunch of teachers and gurus in my time. The Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, Sai...Read More »

What makes you a Buddhist


I’m often asked questions like:

  • What makes you a Buddhist?
  • What do Buddhists believe?
  • How do I become a Buddhist?

I’ve always thought of Buddhism as something to do, rather than something to believe. A set of practices that support a positive experience...Read More »

Buddhas and zombies are not the same thing


After I wrote a post about Buddhism and devotion recently, someone asked me if I could write about devotion and non-attachment. This post is kind of about that. It’s also kind of about...Read More »

What did the Buddha actually say?


If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you’ll know I spent some time last week at the UK Association of Buddhist Studies (UKABS) annual conference.

I listened...Read More »

Who bows and who to?


Someone asked me to write something about devotion. It’s a difficult one to write about because, perhaps more than any other aspect of Buddhist practice, the sense it makes is beyond language.

It lives in its own world. It’s easy...Read More »

Is Buddhism right for you?


We each have our own approaches to life. Some of the things that I find riveting you might find less so. (As a web writer, I have had hour-long conversations with colleagues about the relative merits of the colon...Read More »

How to stay in the positive when surrounded by the negative


Someone got in touch with me asking how you stay positive when you’re surrounded by negativity. This is a tough one.

Buddhism argues that we are as we are because of the interplay of conditions. Those conditions are both internal...Read More »

Running around like a headless chicken


One thing I’ve noticed about life – it rarely moves at the right speed for you.

It’s either going too slow and you’re bored, or too fast and you’re stressed out.

Recently I have been in headless chicken mode. I’ve got...Read More »

Dukkha: why Buddhists want to get enlightened


What’s so good about enlightenment? Why do Buddhists spend so much time talking about it, and practising in the hope that they might one day achieve it?

One word. Dukkha.

It’s a Pali word, so I’ll need some other words to...Read More »

The don't-know mind


Before science happened, people used to look up at the stars and see gods. They saw signs. They saw the future and the past.

Then scientists showed that stars are just big lumps of rock.

Comets are big lumps of rock...Read More »

Padma and vajra: the lotus and the thunderbolt


One of the first things I wrote when I did my MA in Buddhist Studies was about the significance of the images of the lotus (padma) and the thunderbolt (vajra) in Buddhism.

I see them as two different approaches to...Read More »

Running off to join the sangha


We all have a desire for escape. ‘Running off to join the circus’ was the Victorian version. Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’ was the 1950s version. Buddhists run off to join the sangha. Even the Buddha did that. Kind of.

The...Read More »

I've gone vegan


Yes it’s true. After many years of wanting to be vegan and feeling that I ought to be vegan, I’ve finally taken the plunge.

I’m several days in now and it feels a bit like giving up smoking. I’m a...Read More »

What leads to what


In its most basic form, the Buddhist theory of ‘dependent origination’ means simply this:

Stuff leads to other stuff.

When you’re young, you don’t realise that stuff leads to other stuff. You’re living pretty much for the moment. You do things...Read More »

Why Buddhists bow


When people contact me about the blog, one thing they often say is that they like what Buddhism has to say, but they don’t like ‘all the religion stuff’ that goes with it.

I generally agree. I’m not much of...Read More »

The language of success: a Buddhist perspective


Recently I listened to a fantastic motivational speaker. He gets paid a ridiculous amount of money for doing what he does and speaks to tens of thousands of people at a time.

I felt really pumped after listening to him. Yes,...Read More »

Creating the right conditions for a happy life


Buddhism argues that all phenomena are related to other phenomena. They come into and out of being based on conditions we tend to being ‘outside’ of ‘themselves’.

(I put all the quotation marks in because those concepts are only provisionally...Read More »

Should we pay Buddhist teachers?


As you may know, I’m currently trying to help Brad Warner come to the UK to do some speaking events later in the year to promote his new book. (So new it’s not even out yet).

Today he wrote an...Read More »

Counteracting the confirmation bias: 4 ways to see the truth


I was listening to a podcast recently about how people make decision. One of the points that caught my attention was the confirmation bias.

This is the idea that we actively search out evidence and opinions that confirm what we...Read More »

Loving wisely


I had a question about ‘right intention’ from someone who read the free download I just released.

It was something like “How can we love everybody if no one exists?” (I may be paraphrasing slightly –...Read More »

Beginners guide to Buddhism


I stayed up till 4am on Friday night. Alas, I wasn’t partying.

Instead, I was finishing off writing a free download I’ve been working on for a couple of months – Buddhism: The Basics.

It’s been almost...Read More »

The worst thing you can say to a Buddhist


One of the key ideas in Buddhism is that change is possible. Not only is it possible, it’s inevitable.

Change is what makes Buddhahood possible. For anyone.

It doesn’t matter who you’ve been up to now, you have the embryo of...Read More »

Margaret Thatcher turned me Buddhist


The passing of Margaret Thatcher last week has had me reflecting on my youth.

Memories of Thatcher’s Britain

I think I was 20 years old when she got kicked out of Downing Street and I was studying politics at university. I’d...Read More »

Get free Buddhahood with your air miles


I just got back from a few days in Spain. (This is why the blog has been a little quiet).

I had an awesome time, walking in the mountains, catching up with old friends and paying off my sleep overdraft...Read More »

Buddhism and God


A couple of people have asked me recently about what Buddhism has to say about God. There are a couple of different ways to answer this.

Buddhism, God and practice

The most important thing from my perspective is the practice of Buddhism....Read More »

Loving what is


One thing about this world, it’s unreliable. They say if you want to make God laugh, tell her your plans.

Being in such a shaky reality is painful. Actually, it’s not inherently painful. Our inability to deal with the shakiness...Read More »

A surprise evening with Jon Kabat-Zinn


I just had an evening with Jon Kabat-Zinn by accident.

In case you don’t know, he’s the guy who turned mindfulness from a weird cult thing that only Buddhists did into something that gets taught in the...Read More »

Violence and Buddhism


Someone recently asked me about violence and Buddhism. This was after the recent violence by Buddhists in Burma against the Islamic minority.

Buddhism has historically managed to be less...Read More »

The Buddhist way to achieve your goals


We all know how setting goals is vital if you want to get something done. It’s easy really:

  1. Work out what you want
  2. Set a measurable goal
  3. Give yourself a deadline
  4. Work out how to get from where you are to where you...Read More »

Mantra practice


A couple of days ago I wrote up my notes from attending a lecture about the meaning and origin of Om Mani Padme Hum. Since then I’ve had quite a few...Read More »

Om Mani Padme Hum: meaning and origin


About a week ago I attended a lecture at SOAS by Dr Alexander Studholme on the meaning and origin of the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. I thought I’d share my notes with you.

Unlike most of my posts, this...Read More »

3 ways that meditation seems like magic


I was sitting this morning when a sentence popped into my head:

Meditation isn’t magic. But meditation is magic.

In the cold light of day such things can sound a bit, well, daft.

But in meditation the full depth of meaning wraps around...Read More »

Buddhism: meaning, purpose and my daily life


Word seems to have got out in Australia that I’m available to help with Religious Studies school assignments. Or at least it’s got out around a bunch of 16-year-old classmates!

I’ve had a number of requests to answer the following...Read More »

The best place to learn Buddhism


When I was first getting interested in Buddhism, I read a couple of books.

That left me with some questions. All this ‘karma’ and whatnot. Seriously?

There was no internet in those days so if you wanted to get the answer...Read More »

Finding yourself: who are you looking for?


The real me. Underneath it all.

You just don’t get me.

I’m trying to tell you who I really am here!

I guess I can’t communicate myself.

Who is this ‘me’ that we talk about all the time?

I used to spend my entire life...Read More »

I am a Buddha (and so are you)


I tend to discuss Buddhism from the perspective of early Buddhist thought. I sometimes talk a bit of Zen, Tibetan or general Mahayana, but I know the Theravada stuff the best.

Buddhism is diverse

Sometimes people from different Buddhist traditions get...Read More »

Buddhism, hair and make up


Someone contacted me recently to say that when they think of a Buddhist teacher, they think of someone like Pema Chodron (a nun in the Tibetan tradition, with a shaved head and the standard Tibetan monastic robes).

But she’s also...Read More »

Buddhism 101


Feeling overwhelmed when first getting interested in Buddhist ideas is a common problem.

We have 2500 years worth of Buddhist thought so far. There are currently an estimated 500 million Buddhists on the planet.

They’re not all as mouthy as me,...Read More »

Don't sit still!


This morning I was writing my latest mail-out that goes out to subscribers (it will go out on Tuesday – if you want it, subscribe here).

This mail-out discusses the concept of stream entry – a...Read More »

Buddhism and the environment


I was recently in touch with the Reverend Danny Fisher.

He wanted to read my MA dissertation – which is about how Buddhism sees humanity in relation to nature and what implications that...Read More »

In the silence


Someone asked me earlier in the week whether I’d ever taken a vow of silence and, if so, what it entails.

I’ve practised silence on a number of occasions over the years. The longest is I think 11 days.

There are...Read More »

Karma and karmic view


The subject of karma is always a difficult one to talk about.

For a start, it requires you to believe something that you can’t know one way or another.

I didn’t get into Buddhism to believe stuff blindly, so that’s a...Read More »

10 reasons why I know I ain't no Buddha


When I first started practising Buddhism, 20 years or so ago now, I figured if I practised really hard I’d be a Buddha in five years. It didn’t quite happen like that!

My experience of life is certainly different from...Read More »

The opposite of doubt


If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know that I just finished hosting the 28 Day Meditation Challenge.

I posted everyday for 28 days straight, introducing different aspects of meditation to help people set up...Read More »

The web: An ocean of wisdom?


The great thing about the web is that every man and his dog can publish their thoughts.

The bad thing about the web is that every man and his dog can publish their thoughts.

It’s tough to find the good stuff....Read More »

Momentum is everything: 4 ways to keep the ball rolling


One thing I was reflecting on during the 28 Day Meditation Challenge: momentum isn’t just important – it’s vital.

With meditation, yoga, and many other things in life, if you don’t keep a regular drip, drip, drip happening, the benefits...Read More »

Why I meditate


Since we’re soon to begin the 28 day meditation challenge, I’ve been reflecting on why I meditate.

The answer changes every few years. Here’s the story so far…

In the beginning

It occurred to me a...Read More »

Preparing for the #28daymeditation challenge


My preparation

Today I’ve been preparing for the 28 day meditation challenge. I’ve got enough post ideas about meditation to keep going through the whole period and I’m pretty excited to get going.

I read a post about

Want to get in on the most awesome way to kick-start your meditation practice this side of Nirvana? I thought so.

I’m guessing that some of you don’t have a meditation practice and want one. Others have an irregular meditation...Read More »

Happy New Year


The time has come once again to let go of all last year’s nonsense, do a little dance, shake out the sillies, and write a list of ways to be bigger, faster and more (or smaller, slower and less)...Read More »

Five ways to get back on a metaphorical horse


Hello again! It’s been a while. I was ill for about three weeks. Then it was Christmas.

And now we are about to emerge once again into a new year. The world didn’t end (this is not a huge surprise...Read More »

Radio silence


Apologies for the radio silence. For the last week or so I have been a great example of one of the four sights that caused the young Siddhartha to head out on the path to Buddhahood.

Four sights:

1. Old person

2....Read More »

Cultivating that Buddha love


Yesterday I posted the Metta Sutta. Today I’m going to talk a bit about it.

‘Metta’ can simply be translated as ‘love’. It’s not the kind of love you find in Hollywood teen...Read More »

The love that leads to Buddhahood


Here is a very popular Buddhist Sutta called the Karaniya Metta Sutta, but often just referred to as the Metta Sutta. This translation was borrowed from here.

I’ll talk a little about this tomorrow. For today I just...Read More »

Spontaneity and spiritual practice


Spiritual practice is an unusual way to live your life. While your friends are running around trying to satisfy their various urges, you have an inkling that there might be a different way to live.

You do some research and...Read More »

How to get out of your rut and achieve your goals


It seems that humans (and probably all animals) like to get into a rut. We like to do the same thing again and again until we have a well-worn path. Until we become that well-worn path.

I’m sure there are...Read More »

Buddhist ritual on the elephant journal


I just had my first post published on the Elephant Journal! It’s about the role of Buddhist ritual in personal transformation and includes some tips on how to bring this practice into your life.

Read More »

Buddhism, Christianity and the birth of the universe


And those beings set to and fed on those creepers. And as they did so, their bodies became even coarser, and the difference in their looks increased still more (Agganna Sutta)

The story of the beginning of the universe in...Read More »

Is renunciation a good thing?


We had a little discussion on Facebook the other day about how an enlightened being might behave. One person said that they’d eat only as much as necessary to live and have only...Read More »

Compassion (and how to survive it)


When we think of Buddhism, the first thing a lot of people think of is compassion.

The Buddha taught, not out of a personal need or desire to teach, but out of compassion for all beings. HH the Dalai Lama...Read More »

Group dynamics and stream entry


One of the phrases used to describe someone who has developed enough momentum in their practice to make awakening inevitable is ‘stream entrant’.

A stream entrant isn’t enlightened yet, but they’ve broken through the first three of Read More »

Tending the garden of the mind


When I first started meditating I figured if I gave it a solid five years I’d be a Buddha.

I pushed and pushed, taking it very seriously. Alas, it seems there’s more to it than that.

The weird thing about Buddhism...Read More »

The Satipatthana Sutta and the limitations of Twitter discussions


Today on Twitter, someone challenged me about something I said in one of my blog posts.

They said: ‘”Suspend thinking” is not a Buddhist approach to cultivating awareness’

I didn’t actually suggest suspending thinking. I suggested...Read More »

Three chords and the truth. But what's the truth?


I’ve heard people say it of blues, country and rock n roll. To make great music, all it takes is three chords and the truth.

I can play three chords. I’m halfway there.

But what on earth is the truth?

In a...Read More »

This blog is not enough


If you buy a book on bikes, you can learn all about them.

You can learn about why they have spokes, the different types of gears, and the benefits of drop handlebars. You can learn about the importance of balance...Read More »

Going forth: 9 questions to help you work out what's holding you back


During the lifetime of the Buddha, when you got to the point where you thought that what he was teaching was so good you wanted to become a full-time disciple, it was called ‘going forth’.

You ‘went forth’ from the...Read More »

Death is certain. Its time is not. What to do?


My old friend and teacher Devapriya reduced the teachings of Buddhism into one line: “Death is certain. Its time is not. What to do?”

He died two weeks ago. Up until that point he lived with this question as a...Read More »

Finding wisdom in a world of one-liners


We live in a world of status updates, soundbites and ‘inspirational’ quotes. Life in 140 characters or less.

Where is the room for genuine wisdom teachings in this world of throw-away cleverness? How do we spot it?

It’s difficult, that’s for...Read More »

YOUR Buddhist life


When Buddhism arrived in China, it experienced something new. China already had an established, sophisticated culture. If Buddhism was to make any mark at all, it would have to pull its (highly realised) finger out.

What happened was that Buddhism...Read More »

Practising non-attachment: 5 ways to know when to fight and when to let go


Yesterday I didn’t write a blog post. Very naughty I know. I wrote a mail-out on the practice of rejoicing in merits and then I kind of ran out of steam and decided to chill out instead.

Fortunately, this ties...Read More »

All encompassing practice: body, speech and mind


Continuing on from yesterday’s post about the nature of self in Buddhism, today I’m going to talk about another way Buddhism carves us up.

Whereas in the Western (Cartesian) model, we tend...Read More »

Kandhas and dhammas and bears (Oh my!)


The Buddha lived in ancient India during a time of great philosophical exploration. There wasn’t just him at it. They were all at it.

India was so prosperous at the time that up to one third of the population were...Read More »

Train delay


I was stuck on a train for two hours without my computer yesterday. So I didn’t have any time to write a proper blog post.

While I was sitting there, the train stopping for ages, then crawling for a while,...Read More »

Passion, dispassion and how to get back on track


In my experience, people in their late teens and early twenties have quite often got it pretty sorted. Sure, they have their insecurities and aren’t particularly formed as individuals. But essentially, they’re often in touch with their interests and...Read More »

Hierarchy in Buddhism


If you accept that Buddhahood is possible, and that not everyone has attained it, you believe in hierarchy. If you believe in wisdom, and that different people are wise to different degrees, you believe in hierarchy.

Some people are dafter...Read More »

Devapriya: lover of the gods

My good friend and teacher died today. His name was Devapriya.

I don’t know what to say about him. It would take a long time to explain exactly how special this guy was, and I don’t feel...Read More »

Right effort and walking the dog


Part of the ‘noble eightfold path’ (which is one of the oldest formulations of the Buddhist path of practice) is ‘right effort’.

The kind of effort being talked about here is mental effort. Making choices, applying one’s will, meditation, stuff...Read More »

Choose your fantasy


One thing I find interesting about the Buddhist perspective is the acknowledgement that we don’t have much of a clue what’s actually going on.

As far as we can tell, impressions come in through our senses. What we experience is...Read More »

Going beyond ideas


I heard today about a musician called Pauline Oliveros. Check out this Guardian article for more background.

I’ve not heard her music yet, and I can’t believe I haven’t heard of her until now.

Apparently she’s about...Read More »

Death and Buddhism: preparing for the inevitable


I’m going to continue with the discussion of the Tibetan Book of the Dead and related gubbins today.

I mentioned last week that the main point of the book is to help the dying/recently deceased person to recognise what is...Read More »

The Tibetan Book of the Dead


Today I got an email from a subscriber to the blog asking me to write something about the Tibetan Book of the Dead and how we can use meditation to prepare for death and what comes after it.

This is...Read More »

Buddhism and renunciation: beyond pleasure and pain


When we’re born we’re on autopilot, more or less.

We like some things (pleasure = giggling, super-cute baby). We don’t like other things (pain = screaming totally-not-cute baby, especially at 4am).

As we get older, most of us learn about how...Read More »

Who's the guru? You are baby


I wanted to follow up yesterday’s post with a post about taking responsibility for your own practice.

Sure you can take guidance, advice, inspiration and ideas from other people, but in the end, it’s you who has to walk the...Read More »

How to spot a good Buddhist teacher


One set of meditation practices in the Buddhist tradition are the ‘Brahmaviharas’. This can be translated as ‘sublime abodes’ or ‘dwelling places of the gods’ or something like that.

There are four practices:

  • Metta bhavana (cultivation of loving-kindness)
  • Karuna bhavana (cultivation of...Read More »

Working with subtle energies in meditation


A quick announcement before I start on today’s topic. If you’re receiving this post by email, and you’d like to keep getting it, please head back to my website and re-subscribe.

Sorry for the inconvenience. Apparently Google is closing Feedburner....Read More »

God complex


Many people think there is no god in Buddhism. This isn’t true.

There are, in fact, loads of gods in the Buddhist cosmological view.

One of them in each ‘world period’ even thinks they created the universe.

There’s heaven too. Seven of...Read More »

Getting rid of desire (don't try it!)


In Buddhism, desire often gets a bad rap.

For example, it’s seen as what leads to rebirth.

Rebirth in Buddhism is seen as a bad thing. We want to avoid it because rebirth means more pain and...Read More »

Cowboy Buddha


This weekend I watched a really cool documentary about the guy who inspired the book and film The Horse Whisperer. The film was called ‘Buck‘.

One thing that particularly struck me was when he was teaching people...Read More »

Interview with Buddhist author and meditation teacher Kamalashila


Kamalashila has been an ordained Buddhist since 1974. His new book Buddhist Meditation: Tranquility, Imagination, Insight was published earlier this year. You can read his life story on his website.


MBL:...Read More »

Attitude of gratitude


It says in one of the texts (can’t remember which) that when the Buddha first got enlightened, he stood up and looked in gratitude for seven days at the tree that had sheltered him while he meditated. That’s before...Read More »

Dominate or submit?


Some people see Buddhist practice as a way to self-mastery. The Buddha as Superman.

Others see it as a path of letting go and submission to the will of the universe. There is no self. You can’t control impermanent phenomena....Read More »

Life is boring


I travelled to lots of amazing places, met so many amazing people, lived so many amazing lives. And after all that living, I still think life is fundamentally boring.

Many people find such a statement blasphemous. After all, life is...Read More »

Buddhist approaches to working with suicidal thoughts


Update: I just saw an article about a teenager in the Vancouver area who killed herself a few weeks ago because of cyberbullying. Her video is so moving. I wish she was still alive. People...Read More »

Right speech and NLP


Words are powerful. Advertisers and politicians use them them to massage perception and change people’s behaviour. Hypnotists use them to move us into trance states and break habits we’ve had for years, sometimes in a matter of minutes. Read More »

A super-quick guide to making good decisions


One of the mental habits we can get into, and one of the most difficult to spot, is doubt and indecision. Buddhism calls this one of the five ‘hindrances’.

I’m not talking about the legitimate hesitation while you consider an...Read More »

Socks on, socks off: the art of everyday life


OK, so it’s not quite as cool as ‘wax on, wax off’, but we’re not trying to learn karate here, we’re trying to master the art of living.

Most days, I put on socks. Most evenings, I take them off...Read More »

Angry Buddhist


A friend of mine at work said today that he’d like to see a blog post by an angry Buddhist. He thought that would be refreshing and entertaining. So I decided to satisfy his craving. Sort of. 😉

This morning...Read More »

The Heart Sutra: guarding against dualistic thinking


How many Buddhists does it take to change a light bulb?

One and not one.

That’s the essence of the Buddhist take on reality. It’s non-dualistic. This is what ‘transcendental’ means.

Much of the later development of Buddhism (the Mahayana and Vajrayana...Read More »

7 ways to work out what to do with your life


What should you do with your life? This is a question that doesn’t seem to go away. I’ve got friends in their 60s who still ponder it.

Life, it seems, it not something you ever get sorted. It’s an unfolding,...Read More »

Be a lake (not a puddle)


For the first few years of practising Buddhism, I was of the impression that, because of karma and stuff, it was extremely important to remain in a positive mental state at all times.

Ironically, that kind of stressed me out.

Then...Read More »

Keeping it real on the path to liberation


I’ve just been writing some questions for an interview I’ll be doing with Kamalashila – a senior member of the Triratna Order who has recently published a significant update of his book on...Read More »

The Buddhist approach to ethics


The other night I was hanging out with some friends (after the meditation flash mob) and we got talking about ethics. Why do we think something’s right or wrong?

People have different ideas, from ‘because it says so in the...Read More »

Meditation flash mob


On Friday evening I went to the meditation flash mob outside the town hall in central London.

It’s a beautiful setting, right by the Thames, with the Tower of London in the distance. Boris has a nice office.

And lucky him!...Read More »

Walking meditation


Formal walking meditation is done fairly slowly. You maintain awareness of each part of your foot, the sensation as each part touches the ground, your breathing, the touch of your clothes as your body moves, etc. It’s often used...Read More »

Superman vs the slob


Personal development is a fairly popular concept these days. And, contrary to what many ‘spiritual’ people say, it’s not just a western thing. Improving oneself and getting better at stuff is a global phenomenon. Perhaps it always has been....Read More »

The purity and the dirt


I’m trying to write this while my dog is keen to play. She keeps on bringing various things up for me to throw for her, or she wants to wrestle, or just generally get in my face and stop...Read More »

Traditional Buddhism and innovation


When I first got interested in Buddhism, I was keen to know what was ‘traditional’ Buddhism. I’d been to a beginners meditation course, then to an introduction to Buddhism course. It all seemed fairly reasonable stuff. But was it...Read More »

21st century meditation: the mindfulness of smartphone


They don’t call them Crackberries for nothing.

These days, especially if you live in a city and have a smartphone, it’s easy to be consuming content of one kind or another from the moment you wake up to the moment...Read More »

The Buddha wasn't a Buddhist


The title of this post came from an email I got from a friend of mine today. He says he’s stopped recommending Buddhism to people because on balance he feels it gets in the way more than it helps.

I...Read More »

Life as perpetual beta

My day job is in the web. One thing I hear bandied around is the idea of ‘perpetual beta’. This is closely tied in with the idea of ‘release early, release often’.

Essentially, the idea is that with web stuff,...Read More »

Self esteem and Buddhism

Are you a Buddhist? Do you suffer from low self esteem? Confusing, huh? I mean, didn’t you get into Buddhism so you wouldn’t feel like that anymore?

Strangely, your Buddhist practice could be part of the problem. In this post,...Read More »

What is mindfulness: learn in less than 5 minutes

Since mindfulness is central to the practice of Buddhism, and a key meditation practice from the tradition, it’s bound to feature in the interview I’ll soon be doing with senior meditation teacher from the Triratna Order and  author of ‘Read More »

Is Buddhism goal-oriented?

Got a friend coming round to watch Donnie Darko tomorrow (he’s never seen it and I am a fan and keen to share its awesomeness) so I’m posting this slightly earlier than normal.

My post for this...Read More »

Western Buddhist practice: 6 key practices

Unfortunately, in the UK, USA, Canada and many other places I’ve spent time, spiritual seekers don’t get fed just for being spiritual seekers. In the west, you need a day job.

I know, awful isn’t it.

Actually, it’s not so awful....Read More »

Does a gangsta have Buddha nature?

Well, I’m pretty pleased. This blog has been going for a couple of months now. I’ve managed to keep up the weekly posting, I’ve been getting some nice feedback, and people are subscribing to the Read More »

Five Buddhist techniques for practising patience

The Olympics has arrived London.

Roads and pedestrian crossings (crosswalks) are closed off. People are arriving daily, and they don’t often know how to get where they’re going. Today there was a fire on the central line – a key...Read More »

Is rebirth a myth?

Brad “Hardcore Zen” Warner wrote a post a little while ago about the ‘myth’ of rebirth. I then saw something in the Guardian (a UK newspaper)...Read More »

I can't meditate!

You’re sitting comfortably, eyes closed, following the breath entering and leaving the body.

It goes great for, say, 3 seconds or so. But then there’s a problem.

You’re mind keeps wandering off! Following the breath should be easy, but it turns...Read More »

Kerching! Buddhism and money

News that a Buddhist temple in China is planning on floating itself on the stock exchange is causing some controversy at the moment. The way Buddhist organisations operate in the real world is a big...Read More »

Buddhist groups - avoiding the pitfalls

From the Kalama Sutta:

“Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an...Read More »

Are you ready to live the life of your dreams?

How many blog posts start with that question???

There are a million blogs out there telling you what an amazing life you can have if only you can come up with a great business idea, quit your day job and...Read More »

Eight ways to stay sane during rush hour

Every morning and every evening, those of us doing the commute into an office in a big city go on an epic journey. Or at least that’s how it feels to me.

Rush hour requires stamina, persistence, flexibility, one-pointedness of...Read More »

The truth about enlightenment

One of the things that can keep us in the lack – feeling like something’s missing or that we’re doing something wrong – is the idea that there are other people out there living correctly. Life is one big...Read More »

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