Football and Buddhism: A post-match analysis

England 1-Croatia 2: how football and Buddhism mix Like great swathes of the UK I was watching the football World Cup Semi-Final this Wednesday.  I’m not a huge soccer fan. I sometimes get swept up in the World Cup fever but, to be honest, I prefer Rugby for that. (More points scored, bigger thighs.) But […]

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Between retreat. 

Moving from field to field It is a week since we packed up and left Croydon Hall in Somerset. That was the location of Reggie and Caroline’s UK retreat for Dharma Ocean. A 10-day experience of blistering intensity and also beauty. It was called “Fields of enlightenment”.  The day after tomorrow I head up to […]

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Uncomfortable Quotes #4: angel Kyodo Williams on the whiteness of Buddhist meditation

“Buddhism was brought to the West mostly by young Jewish people and some Christians, who were white, mostly. […] White culture affected — for example, the focus on meditation, which is, again, what the 21st-century West knows as a headline about Buddhism. This, in fact, is not the primary practice for most of the world’s […]

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Uncomfortable Quotes #2: CTR on Spiritual Cowardice

“If you succeed in encasing yourself completely, you may feel secure but you will also feel terribly lonely. This is not the loneliness of the warrior but the loneliness of the coward-the loneliness of being trapped in the cocoon, cut off from basic human affection. You don’t know how to take off your suit of […]

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Steven Pinker, Enlightenment Now : On reading writers you might not like

Steven Pinker, a bone fide factual juggernaut On a random walk through London last year, I stopped at a lovely bookshop and splurged on a handful of random titles that piqued my interest. One was a little book. A transcript of a Canadian debate between Steven Pinker and Matt Ridley on one side and Alain […]

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Dancing directly with the holy terror of death

Ever since teaching a course on the Buddhist four reminders in February this year, I’ve been dancing with the holy terror around death. I chant the Four Reminders every morning as part of my practice and those earthy Tibetan phrases push my nose into the terrific aspects of being alive. (Terrific being the adjective from terror […]

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FROM RETREAT #6: Light Over Tidemills

Tidemills is a former 19th C. workers village on the shingle beach between Seaford and Newhaven where I live. It was built to harness the movement of the tide up and down a salt-water creek and was a thriving community in the mid 1800s. When the mill was closed it became a slum and people […]

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FROM RETREAT #5: Sitting with the Jellyfish Within

It’s amazing over the course of a retreat day how many different Alistairs show up on the cushion. I was practising around 8 hours a day within 4 session and each time I padded across the garden to the Shrine room and sat down on my zafu, I was astonished how completely varied the constellation […]

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FROM RETREAT #4: Daylight and the Fourth Time

About half way through the retreat – after the fireworks of NYE were a distant memories and I’d got used to the regular routine of my day – something happened to time. I would get up at 5 o’clock each morning and meditate till 7 and have a nice, nourishing breakfast, sitting on the little […]

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