Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Would You Rather Be Right, Or Would You Rather Be Happy?

An overpowering need to be right is born of perfectionism, pride and fear. Some people would risk a relationship, rather than admitting they were wrong, or that someonesoap else’s point of view might be valid – at least for that person. Those of us who carry around that character defect – and the writer is most assuredly in recovery from know-it-all-ism – are often (or often have been) so unable to admit that there are two sides to most things that we have been willing even to alienate loved ones: We’d rather be right than loved.  More…


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Wisdom Publications Has A New Website and DRM-free EBooks

Our friends at Wisdom Publications have asked that we publish information about their newly-designed website:

The new content-rich website of Buddhist publisher Wisdom Publications, www.wisdompubs.org, is now live. The clean new design makes it easier than ever for readers to find the books and information they want and to share it with others.

New site features include:

  • Expanded book pages, complete with excerpts and tables of contents. Browse before you buy.
  • In-depth author pages containing biographies, photos, and social media links
  • Books organized into special interest collections including Wisdom Academics, Mindful Living, Tibetan Buddhism, Theravada, Zen, Buddhism and Psychology and Children’s, making browsing simpler than ever
  • The Wisdom Blog, packed with book excerpts, quotes, interviews, original posts, and more to engage the audience.

Additionally, Wisdom Publications is now offering DRM-free ebooks for sale on the site. The books are delivered simultaneously in three formats (PDF, ePub, and Mobi), allowing readers to download them onto multiple devices and preserve them in their personal libraries for future device migration.

Visit the new website today at www.wisdompubs.org.

Note: Digital-Dharma has no connection with Wisdom Publications apart from admiration for the books they publish.


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Religious Debate? Or Battle?

I wrote this a couple of years ago.  Given the current atmosphere of (in)tolerance that seems to pervade America, I thought it might be appropriate to link back to it.

I believe it is fine to debate religious ideas, within reason, but debate is always with the consent of both sides. It is not accomplished with bludgeons on unwilling participants. We need to understand that when people’s core beliefs are threatened, they become defensive and inflexible regardless of the content of those beliefs….

https://digital-dharma.net/2010/08/30/should-debate-about-religion-be-open-and-without-restraint/#comment-57632


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Book Review — The Misleading Mind, by Karuna Cayton

Karuna Cayton, a psychotherapist and practicing Buddhist, has written an interesting book for non-Buddhists who are looking for ways to make their life more manageable. Based on the 2600 year-old principles of Buddhist psychology, it covers the general range of the Four Noble Truths and the eightfold path, but in a fashion that does not require extensive knowledge — any knowledge at all, really — of Buddhist teaching and principles.

“It is odd that we can describe our hands or our face but if we’re asked to describe our mind we can only offer vague, nebulous descriptions. That’s because, not examining the mind, we don’t know the mind. Knowing how our mind really functions is the first step to mental balance and health and, yes, greater happiness. We need to become explorers – curious about our idea of self, our mind, our emotions, how they function and how we can master them. As such, we’ll seek the knowledge, contemplation, and wisdom to become our own best therapist. Our discoveries become the pathway to solving our problems and revealing a happier and healthier way of being.”

The ideas covered in The Misleading Mind will not come as anything new to those who have even casually perused the Buddha’s teachings. However, in approaching them from the perspective of people with no knowledge at all of suffering and the causes of suffering as understood by Buddhists, Cayton has illuminated corners that may not have been examined even by long-term practitioners. These principles are presented in a way that is accessible to non-Buddhists, and at the same time can profitably be considered by experienced students.

Finally, unlike many writers, Cayton does not minimize the need for continuous, long-term work to effect the changes he promises.  While reasonably gentle, he insists we understand that we are the “captains of our souls,” that we have to work for what we desire, and that the ultimate responsibility for our happiness rests upon — and just above — our own shoulders.

The Misleading Mind: How We Create Our Own Problems and How Buddhist Psychology Can Help Us Solve Them, ©2012 by Karuna Cayton. New World Library.


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Buddhism, Cosmology and Evolution

…Biologists and earth scientists agree that in the 20th century a sixth mass extinction began, and the only one to be caused by a particular species: us. Coral reefs are likely to be the first entire ecosystem to be eliminated from the Earth by human activity. A quarter of plant and animal species may vanish by 2050, an evolutionary crisis that is related to global climate breakdown but usually overshadowed by it. In essence, our present economic model is pushing all life on Earth towards tipping points for both biodiversity and the climate system.

This is quite possibly the biggest news for 65 million years, but it barely makes the mainstream news at all, because it raises taboo questions for the industrial growth society that we have come to take for granted…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-stanley/buddhism-cosmology-and-ev_b_1286165.html?ref=religion


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Safety Margins

I came as close to using drugs last night as I have in over 20 years.  My experience — totally unexpected — draws a line under the reasons that we have to keep our heads in the right place, have supports available, and the several other things involved in maintaining our sobriety.

Safety Margins – Sunrise Detox Blog


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Philosophy and Addiction

Peg O’Connor at the NYT writes:

I introduce the notion of addiction as a subject of philosophical inquiry here for a reason. I am a philosopher, yes, but I am also an alcoholic who has been sober for more than 24 years ― only the last four of them as part of a recovery program. I am often asked how I got and stayed sober for those first 19 years; it was because of philosophy, which engendered in me a commitment to living an examined life, and gave me the tools and concepts to do so. My training in moral philosophy made it natural for me to wrestle with issues of character, responsibility, freedom, care and compassion in both work and life.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/08/out-of-the-cave-philosophy-and-addiction/


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Why Do Addicts Keep Using Despite The Consequences?

Early in human history, there were probably few alcoholics or addicts because the alcohol content available in fermented fruit was low, and plants that produced other intoxicating substances were relatively scarce. The development of agriculture made it possible to insure supplies of grain for beer production, and enabled organized farming of other plant producers of mood-altering substances. …

Read more at the Sunrise Detox Blog


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Buddha World: The Mission To Build A Buddhist Amusement Park

As bizarre as it sounds, there really are some folks building a Buddhist-themed amusement park in Thailand.  And, even more bizarre, when you read about what’s being done it makes perfect sense.  I put it on my list of things I’ll regret not having done when I’m facing the bardo.

But I can do the next best thing, and so can you.  A couple of young filmmakers are attempting to raise enough money to fly to Thailand and make a documentary about the park.  (No, I don’t know if they have deer in the park, so don’t ask.)  Folks have underwritten their travel and living expenses, and they’re trying to raise $4K by August 26th for equipment and other expenses.

Subscribing with a reasonable donation (minimum is $1.00) will get you various bennies like a DVD of the finished film, etc.  This is a great chance to be a part of a worthwhile effort to spread Dharma awareness.  Give the website a look, and if you think it’s worth a few bucks, cough some up.  It may be the closest you’ll ever get to a trip to Thailand.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/buddhaworld/buddha-world?ref=live


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Compassion and Forgiveness WMS 2/24/18

There is a well-known Buddhist lesson concerning two monks who were traveling and came to a muddy stream.  There they observed a woman who was hesitating to cross, apparently concerned about soiling her clothing.

The older monk approached the woman, bowed, and then picked her up and carried her across the stream.  He set her down, bowed again, and he and his younger companion continued on their way.

That evening, while they were eating their rice, the younger monk said, “I don’t understand.  As monks, we are to have no contact with women, yet you picked that woman up and carried her in your arms!”

The older monk said, “I put the woman down at the side of the stream.  You are still carrying her.”

That’s how we are.  We cling to thoughts and ideas, worrying them and twisting them around inside our heads, causing all sorts of turmoil and accomplishing nothing in the way of our journey toward spirituality.

To me, spirituality is about things of the human spirit: understanding, compassion, forgiveness, love, willingness to contribute our efforts to help others, humility (at which I fear I’m not all that successful) and things of that sort.  Compassion and forgiveness are especially important, because clinging to the resentments that prevent those qualities from shining forth causes us so much unhappiness.

Compassion is, essentially, seeing things from another’s point of view, and being willing to do what we can to alleviate their suffering.  Forgiveness is compassion toward ourselves.  It is not about “freeing” the other person from anything, but about freeing ourselves of the unhappiness that is caused by being unforgiving.

Like the young monk, we sometimes carry things along with us after the reality has changed and, in our very human way, often blow it up in our minds until it forms a nearly impassable barrier to true spiritual growth.  Not until we realize that forgiveness does not involve condoning a wrongful act, but is simply choosing to accept, and move on with our own lives, can we expect to get beyond it.  That doesn’t mean that we have to invite the person to dinner, but only that we need to learn to put down our own burden after we have crossed the stream.


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Bodhisattvas

A pair of 72-year-old scientists, saying they have much to be grateful for and little to lose, have formed the Skilled Veterans Corps, enlisting volunteers willing to venture into the radioactive Fukushima Daiichi plant. Officials have accepted their offer.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-japan-nuclear-old-20110704,0,7843713.story


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The Serenity Prayer And Me

From an article I wrote on a different site:

Many of us in recovery — especially early recovery — have difficulty with what we see as the “religious” aspects of the 12 Step fellowships.  Again, without getting into a discussion about religion versus spirituality, it has been my experience that those who are able to put such prejudices behind them, take from “the program” what fits for them, and allow others the same privilege, are the ones who are most likely to succeed.  Personal problems with concepts of gods and higher powers notwithstanding, it is quite possible to be a part of the 12 Step experience and not delve into religion at all.

Spirituality, however, is an absolute must, and certain concepts that have come to be expressed in terms of prayers and similar ideas are also critical to success.  Again, we need to read between the lines of those things and take from them the underlying thoughts and wisdom.  Sometimes we even need to show a bit of humility and go along with customs such as prayers at the beginning and end of meetings, understanding that those things are important for many people, and that participating does us no real harm at all.

One prayer that we need to take absolutely to heart is the Serenity Prayer…

http://sunrisedetox.com/blog/2011/04/07/serenity-prayer-recovery-addiction-alcoholism/


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Dealing With Pain In Recovery

It’s easy for alcoholics and other addicts to find excuses to use.  We come from a society where we take pills or other medication for every little thing — one that spends billions of dollars telling us that it is not OK to feel not OK.  Those are words that resonate subconsciously with all addicts.  We not only think that it’s not OK to feel less than wonderful, but that even when we feel good we need to try to feel better.  There’s a saying to the effect that “I drank because the dog ran away, then I drank because it came back.” Most people in recovery can relate to that.

via Dealing With Pain In Recovery |Sunrise Detox