Thursday, September 9, 2021

Know Your Needs

A third of us are really struggling right now and young people even more so.

A key part of practicing the dharma (Buddha's teachings) is reversing our habit of reactively pushing away our unpleasant experiences. Instead, we turn and face them with courage and curiosity, so that we know them well. This loosens their grip on us, often immediately.

Here's something to help. It's a model that helps us understand our angst and direct our efforts wisely towards coping - actually thriving - as a human being.

Understanding, alone, reduces stress. But this is even more powerful because it directs our action to the things that will really make a difference because it targets the key universal needs we have as human beings.

The blog post here leads you through assessing yourself on the Nine Needs for full human flourishing - a super-helpful model to help cope with this crazy time we're in and I'll be sharing more on it over the coming weeks.

Please do forward it to any youngies (or not-so-youngies) who are struggling, and let us know how you go with it. Leave us a comment here, or on our Facebook Page, and stay tuned.

Monday, June 28, 2021

When the 'wellness' industry doesn't get it


I saw this in the supermarket aisle example of how the wellness industry doesn't always align with the dharma.

Wellbeing? Yes.
Mindfulness? Yes.
Creativity? Yes.
Escaping? Nup. Well... not when it comes to our response to difficulty anyway.

The dharma is about confrontation with the reality of life, not consolation - escaping or transcending it. The latter is the business of religion. The Buddha was on about how to flourish in THIS life, here now.

Of course, sometimes in the moment, if we're in the grip of a strong reaction, or if we're in a toxic situation, removing ourselves can be skillful. So a temporary escape can be part of good practice, while we self-soothe or muster our resilience and energy.

Or 'escaping' from the everyday occasionally for some quiet time, a retreat perhaps, some joy, fun or regeneration. But these things are very transient (anyone remember the post-holiday blues?) Even meditation retreats 'wear off' soon enough.

Other than some temporary regeneration, escaping doesn't have much to offer wellbeing in any kind of structural way. Instead, we can learn to meet everything that comes with curiousity and courage.

The dharma offers us the challenge of dismantling our reactive habits which is a hugely powerful tactic to increase our wellbeing. But we need to reverse our habit of escaping unpleasant experiences in order to do that so that we can get to know them and disempower them.

What role does 'escape' play in your life?

(Click here for my just-launched book - The Buddha for Modern Minds: A non-religious guide to the Buddha and his teachings. )

Monday, June 7, 2021

I didn't tell you about my book!


Today a friend pointed out to me that I hadn't actually posted about my new book on this website. I'd done so on the Facebook Page, but not here! Those of you who've subscribed to emails from the website are likely to be JUST the people who'd want to read it!! 


So..... in March this year I finally published the book I started writing no less than NINE years ago! It's called The Buddha for Modern Minds: A non-religious guide to the Buddha and his teachings.

The first half is like an FAQ - all of the questions that people (like me) tend to ask when they're first exploring the dharma (teachings of the Buddha). 

In here you'll also find some really succinct summaries of the teachings, who the Buddha was (not a prince!) and answers to many of the questions and confusions you might have.

The second half covers the key planks of the Buddha's teachings in more depth. The conventional Buddhisms call these the Four Noble Truths, but it's highly unlikely that this is what the Buddha called them. They're more usefully called the Four Tasks, or as I call them, the Four Great Tasks (because they're both challenging and noble, if not in name, definitely in nature).

You can check out a quick summary of it here on my website, or there's a more detailed summary on amazon where you can also buy it (as well as other good online bookstores, or if you're in Sydney, from Windhorse Books in Newtown).

If you know anyone else who's a bit curious about the dharma, please do recommend them to it. This is not a commercial exercise for me - I'll never so much as break even on the cost of producing it - it's my gift to others wanting to live a more conscious and fulfilling life. I've been getting fabulous feedback about it - a really easy read apparently. 

I hope you like it!


Monday, May 31, 2021

Interview with Winton Higgins

In case you missed it....last night I held a discussion with Winton Higgins for the launch of his book titled Revamp: Writings on Secular Buddhism.

I feel incredibly lucky to have had access to Winton's vast knowledge as I learnt about the dharma. He taught at our local Beaches Sangha for eight years and we never managed to cook up a question he couldn't answer!

He's captured the gold in this book which is a wonderful guide to the emergence of Secular Buddhism as the latest development in the history of Buddhism, its affinities with western philosophy, and its implications for practice at a personal, community and global level.

Grab yourself a cuppa and settle in for our chat. There are two short patches where the sound thins out or dulls (unfortunately one of these is the start of his endorsement of my book!), but these resolve pretty quickly, so hang in there.

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I hope you enjoy it.