Coming to Terms with the First Noble Truth (and My Shopping Addiction)

                                                                        Photo by Baptiste C David | How a writer and gym teacher learned about life’s unsatisfactory nature through a series of motorcycle jacket purchases. By Alex Tzelnic   The first noble truth is that life is unsatisfactory.I’ve always found this idea difficult to accept because life, it often seems, is actually pretty satisfactory. The sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and the … Continue reading Coming to Terms with the First Noble Truth (and My Shopping Addiction)


by Amy L. Lansky, PhD, Contributor Waking Times The Buddha said that suffering arises from craving — for instance, craving for more love, more possessions, more physical prowess or beauty. But sometimes I wonder if the truth is more akin to the reverse — that we crave our suffering. In other words, are we actually addicted to suffering? In the past, I have occasionally mentioned my brother in my writing. He has suffered from mental illness all of his life and lives in an assisted living facility for the disabled in my hometown. I call him every Sunday. Some weeks are good, others are … Continue reading OUR ADDICTION TO SUFFERING


by Dylan Charles, Editor Waking Times Searching for the roots of today’s problems, and for realistic solutions, can be a wild goose chase. It seems most everyone is pressing an opinion or pushing an agenda, always outwardly, always blaming some other group for the chaos and suffering in our world, which never lets up. The division and frustration breeds more division and frustration, and we drift ever further from harmonious, peaceful living. So why does the world keep getting crazier and more confusing? And what can individuals do to best navigate these times in order to live a meaningful and contended life, … Continue reading A TAOIST MASTER EXPLAINS THE SOURCE OF PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD TODAY

The ‘Good Monk’ Myth

Buddhist monks walk through the Shwe Indein Pagoda near Inle lake in Myanmar Soe Zeya Tun / Reuters How the Saffron Revolution, which transformed Burma ten years ago, obscured uncomfortable questions about Buddhist nationalism by JOE FREEMAN One night in Rangoon last year, I met up for beers with a man who had participated in Burma’s Saffron Revolution, which saw tens of thousands of Buddhist monks and nuns protest the former junta, prompting a brutal military crackdown 10 years ago this week. That I was meeting a monk for beers may seem odd, but this one had long since left the … Continue reading The ‘Good Monk’ Myth

The Tree Guardians of Kyoto

An 800-year-old camphor tree grows on a moss-covered slope at Shoren-in, Kyoto, Japan, 2017. The Japanese monastic tradition of forest stewardship goes back centuries. By Winifred Bird, Photographs by Jean Chung The stone wall that runs along the lower boundary of Honen-in temple, on Kyoto’s hilly eastern edge, marks a striking boundary in this ancient center of Buddhist practice. To the right, a jumble of clay-tiled roofs, garden walls, and alleyways falls to the basin where the heart of the city sprawls gray and low. To the left, beyond the wall, a mass of wild camellias, bamboo fronds, oak trees, and pine … Continue reading The Tree Guardians of Kyoto

The Ancient Art of Imbibing

Sketch of Tang dynasty poet Li Po | Artwork by Eisai Rinzan. Ink and colors on paper. © The Trustees of the British Museum “What happened to controlled, contemplative tippling?” By Leath Tonino Browsing through an anthology of classical Chinese poetry the other day, I happened upon a lyric by Li Po entitled “Drinking Alone beneath the Moon.” At the risk of reducing expansive literature to a single interpretation, we might say that the poem is a paean to the power of alcohol—to understanding alcohol as a tool that can help relax ego consciousness and facilitate a kind of selfless merger … Continue reading The Ancient Art of Imbibing

Why Buddhism is True (And Why You Can Blame Natural Selection for Your Suffering)

Image by Micah Elizabeth Scott |   In this adaptation from his new book, Why Buddhism is True, Robert Wright explains how evolutionary psychology supports the Buddhist diagnosis of the human predicament. By Robert Wright At the risk of overdramatizing the human condition: Have you ever seen the movie The Matrix? It’s about a guy named Neo (played by Keanu Reeves), who discovers that he’s been inhabiting a dream world. The life he thought he was living is actually an elaborate hallucination. He’s having that hallucination while, unbeknownst to him, his actual physical body is inside a gooey, coffin-size pod, one among … Continue reading Why Buddhism is True (And Why You Can Blame Natural Selection for Your Suffering)