Meditation and the Comfort Zone

Does your meditation make your comfort zone more comfortable? Or less? Which do you prefer? […]

Reconnecting What?

If you believe your life, this makes no sense. A waste of time. If you doubt, doors open. Narnia will never be the same. […]

Why Do You Practise?

Found in the novel Looking for Alaska by John Green. The book is unrelated to Sufism or spiritual practice, but this story popped up at a crucial time.

Rabe’a al-Adiwiyah, a great woman saint of Sufism, was seen running through the streets of her hometown, Basra, carrying a torch in one hand and a bucket […]

Unnaming

“She Unnames Them” was written by Ursula K. LeGuin, first published in 1985. I first encountered her books in the 1970s, and during my late teens and early 20s I read everything I could find of her writing, and learned a great many worthwhile things from doing so. She continues to write prolifically and it seems I have many more things to read now. “She Unnames Them” has a lot of relevance to our practice. Here is a link to a PDF for you to read if you wish. […]

Worst Reasons to Meditate

I just received a promotional mailing from a meditation course that included a cut-and-paste of an article on the benefits of meditation. Eight of the ten “reasons to meditate” cited directly conflicted with my own experience. The article’s called “Top Reasons to Meditate”, and begins thus:

Meditation is a unique form of art wherein an […]

Bad News, Good News

When beginners sit down to meditate, they generally hope for certain experiences: calm, clarity, a sense of well-being, even bliss. There are literally centuries of anecdotal evidence of this, and today we even have direct scientific evidence of the positive results of meditation. But what most people actually experience at first can be quite different from this. […]

Working for Treats

Watch a person training a dog. When the dog does the right thing, the person says “Yes!” or “Good dog!” and gives the animal a treat. Watch a parent and child: when the child does something great, the parent smiles, and his or her body language reflects pleasure and pride. Watch a meditation class. When […]

I Never Metempsychosis I Didn’t Like

Human beings in general share the same overarching illusion: that there is this thing called the “self”. Imputing permanence to that “self” is an obvious extension of that illusion, in fact it’s combining two illusions. The inconvenient fact that people die is explained away by the assumption that their “self” is going to carry forward […]

If a beam falls and nobody notices, does it change anyone’s life?

An excerpt from Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon”. Sam Spade tells the story of a Mr. Flitcraft, who has a good life, but completely disappears, abandoning his wife and two small children:

“Here’s what happened to him. Going to lunch he passed an office-building that was being put up–just the skeleton. A beam or something […]

Working with Your Inner (and Outer) Critic

Image: a gargoyle of a nagging wife from a church in Grendon, Northamptonshire.

One of the best ways to avoid experience is to project material out onto others. Let’s take being critical as an example. Criticism is often a family disease, passed from generation to generation, which is why it can come up pretty sharply […]