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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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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FROM RETREAT #3: Field becomes Figure, Background becomes Foreground

Bimbling around the wintery garden in my ‘chores’ window each afternoon, I was very aware of that inner soundtrack of my thoughts – often irritated or obsessive – cycling round just as, days before, strains of “Jesus Christ Superstar” had cycled round. Sometimes as I yanked at resistant clumps of grass or grappled dandelion roots […]

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FROM RETREAT #2: Cushion in the Filth

Shortly after I shook off ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’, the next layer of neurosis came out of the haze. I have often notice that my default mode when I’m pootling about the house and garden is one of rather anxious or irritable unsettledness. There’s a running burble of unsettling agitation. Usually it’s swamped by the other […]

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FROM RETREAT #1: Jesus Christ Superstar

Daniel was away in the Rockies on Dathun (the silent sitting retreat that Dharma Ocean runs) this New Year, so to start 2018, I stayed in Newhaven and did a 2 week solitary ‘home retreat’ in my house. I’ve never done that before. Retreated in the place where I live. But I can highly recommend […]

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HEATH-ROBINSON MACHINES: Uninventing the Ego-Contraption

While we up on Holy Island this month, the retreatants and I were discussing the ludicrous tangles our thinking minds get into. When we first sit down on the cushion as practitioners, we are mostly dealing with the chattering of the thinking mind. Then, as we practice mindfulness and start to get a bit familiar […]

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EGO TRIPS: You can’t be at your own funeral

Speaking personally, the ‘ego’ and everything to do with it was a real turn-off for me previous to this Summer. There was something about the concept about the way it was bandied around by Buddhists that made my mind curdle. “What are they really talking about?”, “Surely, this is just more self-mortification – another form […]

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Talk at the British Museum

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One of the lovely things about being a teacher for a while is that ex-students pop up in unusual places. I was really incredibly flattered to be asked by my ex-student Freddie Matthews, who heads up the events at the British Museum in London, to co-present an evening event at the Museum on the subject […]

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