Showing posts from 2018

Cogs in the Machine

A few months ago a Buddhist magazine contacted me to ask if I would respond to a reader's question. The reader asked about having constant anxiety, and always feeling like she/he didn't do a good enough job.

When I was attempting to answer this question, I realized I already knew the "correct Buddhist answer," which is something akin to "feel what you're feeling, notice what's going on in your body," etc. etc. But when it comes to self-hatred, I want more help than that. So I took a risk and wrote a more creative response about self-hatred and work. The magazine didn't want to publish my response, so I'm publishing it below.

It's not a perfect response by any means. In fact, I would probably answer the question a different way if someone posed it to me again. I would write about radical self-acceptance. But it's interesting to consider what magazines and publishers consider worth publishing. What is attractive, commercial, sanitary,…

On Apologizing, Guilt, and Shame


Psychedelics and Healing

I wasn't going to write anything about Buddhism and psychedelics because I agree with what Brad Warner and James Ford wrote. I don't believe psychedelics are, or aid in, Buddhist practice.

Then I read the Lion's Roar article. At the end, someone is quoted as saying, "Its purpose is finite. The goal is to let go of that and be able to rely entirely on your own resources." When I read that I felt a wave of anger. It reminded me of being back in the monastery in Japan, when my community convinced me to go off of anti-depressants. They believed anti-depressants were harmful, and that Buddhist practice was about complete self-reliance. I believed them, and went off the medicine. And for a long time, I believed that I shouldn't need anyone or anything. Buddhism was about relying entirely on my own resources. I wrote a chapter in my book championing me own radical, self-reliance.

I regret that now.

Buddhism may or may not be about relying entirely on ones one resou…

So you want to practice in Japan? Part one million


Because of Emptiness, Midterms are Possible

Today as I was walking to the paint store through my Los Angeles neighborhood, I saw a car with a sticker on the window that read: "With God, all things are possible." I am not a Christian and I am not a theist, but those words made sense to me.

"With God, all things are possible" is the exact same meaning as "because of emptiness, all things are possible."

The Digital Dictionary of Buddhism defines emptiness, or śūnyatā (空) as "Vacuity, insubstantiality. In its most common usage, it is the distinctive Mahāyāna Buddhist view of the character of all existence, wherein all phenomena are understood to arise in dependence upon each other, and thus there is no phenomenon that has independent, determinable, or permanent existence; nor do any phenomena possess any sort of unchanging inner nature."

Different schools of Buddhism have articulated emptiness differently. As the DDB explains, "In mind-only doctrinal systems such as Yogacara and Tathaga…


There is a lot of talk these days about "inclusion."

How can Buddhism include people of color? How can Buddhism include queer and working class people?

I agree with the spirit of this but question the phrasing.

A while ago I read an article on the blog called Black Girl Dangerous. It was one of the best articles I ever read about feminism. Black Girl Dangerous was written by a radical queer black feminist. She wrote an article about how often white women ask her how to include women of color in feminism. She responded that this is the wrong question, because "women of color have been doing feminism since forever." A better question is, "What can white women do to be deserving of feminism?"

I think the same is true of Buddhism.

Instead of asking how we can include others in Buddhism, maybe a better question is "How can white people be deserving of Buddhism?"

I think about this a lot. When can I be deserving of Buddhism? It is a beautiful gift. It…

Book Reviews

There are two excellent reviews of my new book online. James Ford reviews it on his blog, here:

And Lion's Roar has reviewed it as well. I'm pretty sure it's only available in a real, paper version.

You can pre-order now, either on Amazon or from Wisdom Publications itself.

In the Lokavipatta Sutta, the Buddha warned against praise and fame:

Monks, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions. Which eight? Gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain. These are the eight worldly conditions that spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions.
But also.... wooooooooooo reviews! I'm famous!

Evil (?) Women

It's always easier to blame a woman. File this under: Eve, Pandora, Helen of Troy, and, of course, Hillary Clinton. While Hillary was running for president a number of articles and studies like this one circulated about how powerful women are viewed as less likable than their male counterparts. As this article indicates, it is not that women are disliked more than men when they are successful, but that "they are often penalized when they behave in ways that violate gender stereotypes." So, powerful women are labeled "aggressive," and "bitchy" because assertiveness is not a stereotypical feminine trait. Black women are labeled "difficult."

It is so obvious (to me) how criticisms of powerful women are gendered and racialized, and it is important to understand this
when we discuss powerful women.

And also, some women are fucking scary.

Straight up terrifying.

Like most other Americans, I have spent the last week binging Wild Wild Country, the …