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2022: 自乐 (self-amusement)

I write one of these every year to pair with my year-end review. Part of me ponders again what is the point of setting intentions for the year when the marking of…

the reality of emotions

Imagine if you can put your swirling emotions in a crystal ball, then elevate the ball in mid-air before scrutinising them from a distance. What would it be like to be able…

every day now

This pandemic has not been good for my nervous system (I wanted to write “mental health”, but I think that is potentially a misleading term because it makes it seems like actual…


The older I grow, the more I come to realise I am actually like a puppet: I am at the mercy of my psyche and hormones. I am subject to their swings,…

To experience the everyday sublime

To experience the everyday sublime requires that we dismantle the perceptual conditioning that insists on seeing ourselves and the world as essentially comfortable, permanent, solid, and “mine.” It means to embrace suffering and conflict rather than to shy away from them, to cultivate the embodied attention that contemplates the tragic, changing, empty, and impersonal dimensions of life, rather than succumbing to fantasies of self-glorification or self-loathing. This takes time. It is a lifelong practice.

finding freedom in prison

Someone recommended a book, “A Buddhist on Death Row” on reddit – I was immediately drawn to the title, but something in me was hugely skeptical. I am personally uncomfortable when religion…

Only we can save ourselves

each of his teachers had given him permission to interpret Buddhism in whatever way worked for him. He’d seen how Buddhism meets you wherever you are and lets you take what you can from it at that moment. In fact, it was unlike other faiths in that there weren’t rules, and even its most fundamental precepts were infinitely flexible. But in spite of all that, he still envisioned the Buddha as a kind of deity sitting on a mountaintop, having transcended suffering. He wanted Buddha to lift him up out of San Quentin onto that mountaintop, high above his suffering—to save him. That’s the Buddha he had to kill—the illusion that anything outside ourselves can save us. What he learned is that Buddha can’t save us. Jesus can’t. Allah can’t. Only we can save ourselves.

the more one accepts suffering, the less one suffers

Rinpoche led Jarvis forward in other ways. He’d given him permission to take from Buddhism what helped him and reject his own and others’ preconceptions about what a Buddhist should be. He showed Jarvis that Buddhism is replete with paradoxes and contradictions because life itself is. And he pointed him toward the central paradox of the faith: that the more one accepts suffering, the less one suffers.

learn to see the perfection of all beings and yourself

The lama spoke again. “You may not understand now, but it is your karma to be here,” he said. “I said you are fortunate. As hard as it is to accept, this is where you have to be now. You may not see it, but you are fortunate to be in a place where you can know humanity’s suffering and learn to see the perfection of all beings and yourself. Learn to see their perfection.”