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“One must have a mind of winter… And have been cold a long time… not to think / Of any misery in the sound of the wind,” the January wind. So says Wallace Stevens in his poem, The Snow Man. Misery and discontent aren’t identical, but a series of small miseries — unrelated to wintry weather — means February snuck up on me this year, almost as if January never happened, so misery must do for my “winter of discontent”. To “the listener, who listens in the snow,” hearing the sound of the wind, the poem promises if he becomes “nothing himself” he’ll “behold / Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.” People “cold a long time” can go numb, of course, and numbness is a kind of “nothing” obliterating misery. But numbness seems insufficient for a “mind of winter”.
For our own survival, we see winter’s cold as hostile. Our success as biological beings depends on our sensing discomfort, in order to mitigate risk before it’s too late. Concern for our own comfort is a form of self-regard that isn’t optional, if we care to live. Nonetheless, necessary self-regard is still self-regard. A mind of winter leaves self-regard behind. And so, it sees wintry beauty — the snowy, frozen world lit with “the distant glitter / Of the January sun” — simply because it is there to see, irrespective of what it might mean to the self. Winter in itself isn’t hostile, just indifferent: self-regard makes the indifference seem hostile. A mind of winter is “unselfed”.
“Venerate the Gods in your home before the one in the vatt (Buddhist monastery).” — Khmer Proverb
Buddhism is the state religion of Cambodia, where 96% of the population consider themselves practitioners of Theravada Buddhism. But when it comes to veneration, the mother and father always come first; veneration of the Buddha is relegated to the very back of the line. To us, our mother and father are what we refer to as the Gods in our home.
Once upon a time, two Buddhist monks, one young and one old, traveled from their temple in the mountains down to the nearest little town in the foothills of the Himalayas, to beg for alms. As they entered the peaceful valley with rice fields all around, they came to a wide river, by the side of which a beautiful young girl stood and wept.
The young monk’s mouth fell open, and he turned his back and covered his eyes, so as not to gaze upon a forbidden sight. But the older monk approached the girl and asked her what was wrong. “Oh, Sir Monk, she said, the river is too strong for me and I am afraid to cross it.” The old monk said, “Don’t worry, my dear. Climb up on my back, and I will carry you across.”
So she did. And he did.
Hi all of you, just take your time and step into my office. Yes, it will be a little crowded, but we all pretty much know each other. (If you are new to Ricochet, you are still very welcome.) So my name is Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (no relation to Jane Seymour). I’m going to […]
On the 1st day of the 10th month of the Khmer calendar, Lord Yama, the God of Death opens the gates of hell that will remain open for the next 15 days. It’s Pchum Ben in Cambodia, also known in English as All Souls Day or Festival of the Dead. It is the most important festival on the Khmer religious calendar. This year, Pchum Ben falls September 6 to 20 on the Gregorian calendar. (I’m a bit late with this post.)
Guest’s post (My aunt) This is a fourth in the series on reincarnation Preview Open
That’s not exactly the question that Naomi asked me several weeks ago. To be precise, she asked me how one could discriminate between a legitimate Buddhist group and a cult. I’ve explored the question before, and I’d like to address two questions: (1) What is a religious cult; and (2) What would make a Buddhist community a cult?
In my research for defining a cult, I found there are several different kinds, e.g., political, social, cultural. Although these areas overlap with religious cults, I’m limiting my focus to a religious cult.
What is a Religious Cult?
One of the most important tenets of Buddhism, one that I embrace, is the practice of wisdom and compassion. Although the Buddha called for both to be applied in a balanced way, the Buddhist Left has chosen to focus primarily on compassion for others and relegates wisdom to a lesser position. The consequence of not […]
Since 2007, Google has been offering Mindfulness training to its employees. Mindfulness is a type of meditation that is part of the Buddhist Vipassana tradition. After his own experience with a Mindfulness training program, Chade Meng Tan (whose title at Google is “Jolly Good Fellow”), along with Norman Fisher, a Buddhist teacher, developed a Google program […]
Thanks to everyone who responded to my post that asked what you wanted to know about the topic of conservative Buddhism! Your feedback was very helpful and gave me some great ideas. I’m going to talk about how I practice with Buddhism (mostly) and Judaism (not so much) and the influence of the left on […]
One of the most basic observations of comparative religion is that the difference between Judeo-Christian religion and Asian religious systems, such as Buddhism, resembles the difference between a line and a circle.
In Judaism and Christianity, reality has a beginning and an end. It’s linear. It’s going somewhere. Both beginning and end are mysterious, the former rendered, mythically, in the creation story, the latter represented, at least in Christianity, in the thrilling if baffling formulation that “time shall be no more.” The beginning is believed really to have happened and the end is believed to really be coming.