Essays are short pieces of writing that were published independently, for example on a blog.

For essays published in periodicals, see articles. For essays published in collections of various authors, see papers. For essays published as part of a book, see excerpts. For long essays, see booklets.

We, moderns but especially Americans, have a fundamental misunderstanding of cognitive development: we assume that higher-level functioning is always desired and so disparage and neglect fundamental cognitive skills.

Following is a summation of the extraordinary story, as explicated in the Aitken letters, of a Zen master teaching in America for some 35 years, who has been accused of sexual misconduct numerous times and yet was never called to task nor properly investigated.

I would say that the Nikāyas and Āgamas give us a “historical-realistic perspective” on the Buddha, while the Mahāyāna sūtras give us a “cosmic-metaphysical perspective.”

A few words on the sitting posture from a physiotherapist: what stretches to do and what pain to worry about.

In meditation one lets go of the complex world outside in order to reach the serene world inside. In all types of mysticism and in many traditions, this is known as the path to the pure and powerful mind.

A good sutta is one that inspires you to stop reading it.

… an overview of how bhikkhunis, or fully ordained nuns, came into being, disappeared and are now reappearing again

… some see in viññāṇa anidassana a kind of consciousness essentially equal to nibbāna. But there are many problems with this

A tour of pre-modern, Buddhist bridges and a comment on the deeper roots of engaged Buddhism.

… he believed in nothing but himself. Actually, this is neither Buddhism nor Chan

Bodhisattvas who genuinely take the bodhisattva vow of ethical discipline do nothing but act for the benefit of beings, either directly or indirectly, but unless one is skilful in benefiting these beings, no matter how much one does, it might not benefit beings, but could actually be a direct or indirect cause of harm.

… and now the geneticists say I may have 2% Neanderthal DNA, which presumably changes the status of Neanderthals, or the [definition] of species, or [possibly] both.

You might wish to drink the nectar of calm abiding…

What impresses me most about that encounter is how unimpressive it was.

… it may be America’s destiny not to make Buddhism perfect but to make it banal

Ajahn Geoff explains how the monastic institution works by creating an economy of gifts.

A short essay on what the path is to become a Theravada Monastic.

Within the framework of experience, there is no quantum enigma; the boxed cat, being outside of one’s experiential frame of reference, doesn’t exist. Once I observe the cat, then it exists

… the time for discovering Buddha directly, you must remain alone

Only a few have heard that “painted rice cakes do not satisfy hunger” and none have really understood what it meant. I’ve asked several of these skin bags about it and everybody was quite certain without even bothering to look into it.

…when these people meditate they’re awfully grim.

A beautiful sermon on the value of monasticism.

All beings by nature are Buddha,
As ice by nature is water.

It’s interesting to walk through the graveyards of towns, and see that for the first few years after a person dies there may be a head stone, maybe someone remembers, but after twenty, thirty, or forty years, they could bulldoze the graves because the land is so valuable and plant somebody else in there. So even your head stone just crumbles to dust. All record of you living here is gone, because no one remembers who you were or what you did. Isn’t that beautiful? So why not do that right now? Bulldoze this idea of who you are

Just as I was talking about the unhindered Light,
In rolled the morning fog

If a sensation of itchiness intervenes and the yogi desires to scratch because it is hard to bear, both the sensation and the desire to get rid of it should be noted, without immediately getting rid of the sensation by scratching.

We wouldn’t say “this is proof of reincarnation,” but I would say it’s strong evidence of something like it.

The inspiring (and frustrating) story of one modern, South Indian reformer who turned towards Buddhism as a refuge from exploitation.

… this paper aims for a philosophically more nuanced discussion of the case for and against eating locally. I assess, in turn, locavore arguments based on environmental preservation, human health, community support, agrarian values and political concerns

In the end money did come, from a most unexpected and unusual source

Mansplaining is not a universal flaw of the gender, just the intersection between overconfidence and cluelessness where some portion of that gender gets stuck.

There is no single “swiss-army knife” technique that works equally well at all times; instead, we must carefully examine our present conditions and determine what practice is most relevant.

Doctor, if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world

I’m gripped by a somewhat peculiar trepidation as I tiptoe into the hallowed portals of the abhidhamma, my feet echoing too loudly in the cavernous austerity.

An intriguing (re)definition of religion, science, and culture.

Furtwängler’s Bach is no smug or mindless adaptation of Bach to the style of Wagner. It is a reaffirmation of the presence of Bach in Wagner and the simultaneous, reciprocal presence of Wagner in Bach.

Therapy assumes that someone is sick and that there is a cure, e.g., a personal solution. I am greatly offended that I or any other woman is thought to need therapy in the first place. Women are messed over, not messed up! We need to change the objective conditions, not adjust to them.

The precariousness of intimate speech adds to its power and the power of the reader, through whose agency the voice is encouraged in its urgent plea or confidence.

It is inescapable that, whatever the reading, according to the early texts the Buddha did not have “normal” genitals. And the only reading actually supported by a canonical text is that the Buddha was intersex, and his genitals looked like a woman’s.

During my first weeks with my teacher, Ajaan Fuang, I began to realize that he had psychic powers.

Kammaṭṭhāna meditation should be practised so as to reach Nibbāna, thereby escaping from all kinds of misery

A short prayer of confession and rededication to the path.

… while the Theravādins have preserved the clearest and best-understood early texts referring to the in-between state, their philosophical posture prevented them from investigating and describing this in any detail. For that we shall have to listen to the other schools, starting with the Puggalavādins and Sarvāstivādins, as passed down through the Chinese and Tibetan traditions.

Whereas the texts discussed in the first section generally argue for a stricter separation between these two domains, those in the second [Mahāyāna wave] strove to integrate medicine into the very heart of Buddhism.

An accused who was able to flee to the nearest monastery would be protected from such mob justice. Sanctuary would give the person an opportunity to explain himself and allow his accusers to calm down so the facts could be examined more objectively.

I swear, you will wake–
& mistake these walls
for skin.

Reverend Sirs, I would like the reverend bhikkhus and bhikkhunis—as well as the laymen and laywomen—to listen to these passages frequently and to ponder on them.

You will also need a writing implement and a blank sheet of paper, and you should find the darkest spot possible…

For the time being stand on top of the highest peak.
For the time being proceed along the bottom of the deepest ocean.
For the time being three heads and eight arms.
For the time being an eight- or sixteen-foot body.

Human born.
Faculties intact.
Full of youth.
To encounter the Dharma is marvelous!

A fascinating series of open letters between Ajahn Geoff and Bhikkhu Bodhi on the subject of “just war.”

To defend the innocent is a bright deed. To kill is a dark deed. To kill in defense of the innocent is a deed both bright and dark

Forget you. This is about waiting

A defense of abortion and IVF rights from the Buddhist perspective.

I give you back 1948.