Although I recognise that all of the articles on this website are informed by my study of the Buddhist tradition, I have however, found it necessary to create a ‘Buddhism’ menu category – and articles in that category are listed below. Unlike most of the articles on this website, which were created as part of a consecutive series, the articles listed below were mostly written as stand-alone articles, or a part of short series, or as pages in support of other articles elsewhere. Click on the article’s title, or it’s icon image, to access the full article.
Hui Neng and the Mirror-Like Wisdom – A Zen Story
24 June 2018 – 8500 words
Hui Neng gained Enlightenment outside of the Buddhist tradition and then played a key role in the renewal of the lineage of Zen Buddhism. I have had a great love of the Hui Neng autobiography ever since I came across it in the 1980s. Written in 2012, this article is a re-telling of the key events of that story, with a particular focus on that aspect of non-dual realisation which came to be called the Mirror-Like Wisdom. I had first studied the Hui Neng ‘Platform Sutra’ in the early 80s and imagery of the Mirror, and the language of the ‘One Mind’ – which was used in the particular translation that I had studied – made a great impression on me. The strength of my emotional connection with this story initially came as a great surprise to me, since I originally wrote it as a section within a book project called ‘Consciousness, Ethics and Society’, which I began a that time. That project, which I have since put on hold, was not conceived as a Buddhist book, but my telling of this story had the effect of revealing to me, my deep love of, and passionate engagement with the Buddhist tradition – something that I was not acknowledging to myself at that time.
Overview Part 1 – A Mandala Framework for Meditation and Self-Enquiry
2 January 2018 – 2400 words
In the 43 articles of the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series, which can be accessed via the ‘Meditation’ menu above, I set out to present a non-dual approach to meditation and self-enquiry based on the meditation mandala that evolved in the Buddhist tradition, and found its most symbolically complete and comprehensive form in Padmasambhava’s Bardo Thodol texts (which first became known to Westerners as the ‘Tibetan Book of the Dead’). These articles, draw on the wisdom of the Buddhist tradition, but also on Plato, and more recent Western thinkers – especially Carl Jung, Eugene Gendlin and Marshal Rosenberg – and they were aimed at a general audience (i.e. including non-Buddhists). I made extensive use of Jung’s ‘Functions of Consciousness’ in place of the more obscure ‘Five Skandhas‘ of Buddhist tradition; and took the ancient Indian brahmavihāras (Equanimity, Appreciative Joy, Loving Kindness and Compassion) as my main framework in place of the Five Wisdoms, which are more difficult to grasp. I wrote this ‘Overview’ article (and ‘Overview Part 2’, which is summaries below) to accompany the reflections in that ‘Meditation Guidance’ series, and to give my Buddhist readers a little explanation of why I approached the series in the way that I did.
Overview Part 2 – Resting as Consciousness
16 January 2018 – 2650
This article explores the subtle notion of ‘resting as Consciousness’, which plays a foundational part in the approach that I have presented in the many of the Mandala of Love articles, and which was a guiding principle in my ‘Meditation Guidance’ (Introduction to Meditation and Self-Enquiry) series – which can be accessed via the ‘Meditation’ menu above. To frame Mindfulness practice as resting ‘as’ Consciousness, is not unusual in Buddhist tradition, but is usually regarded as an ‘advanced’ approach. I argue that this more conceptually and philosophically challenging frame of reference is not only appropriate, but necessary, even for beginners, if we are to honour the Buddha’s intention – and his non-dual and non-personal framing of the spiritual goal. I also explore the way in which the more psychodynamic, two-axis, description of embodied Consciousness that is provided the mandala, becomes much more meaningful when it is combined with the description of embodied Consciousness that we find in the hierarchical ‘somatic anatomy’ of the subtle bodies and associated chakras that we find in the symbolism of the Buddhist stupa.
The Inspiration-Prayer for Deliverance from the Dangerous Pathway of the Bardo
25 May 2020 – 1200 words
I created this page as a reference page for my series on ‘The Ten Archetypal Buddhas of the Mandala’, which can be accessed via the ’10 Buddhas’ menu above. The Bardo Thodol collection of texts (or ‘Tibetan Book of the Dead’ as it became known in the West) is relatively little known and tends to regarded as the strange repository of Tibetan metaphysical belief about how rebirth takes place when we die. This way of seeing the texts rather misses their importance and relevance for the modern world. It is of great value for us read these texts from the perspective of a Buddhist archetypal psychology – which is perhaps a better way of describing the way these texts have always been studied by the wiser practitioner with the tradition. This archetypal approach is not ‘psychological’ in the ordinary sense of that word, because it allow us to acknowledge each of the ten deities as objectively existing spiritual realities – allows us to recognise the associated collection of Dharmic principles, not only as the treasury of spiritual knowledge that it is, but as a collection of powerfully transformational psychological forces in the collective mind of all women and men without exception.
The main Bardo Thodol text is the complex and comprehensive one that is traditionally read over the body of the deceased. That one gives us our most complete account of the rich mandala wisdom that had been gathered by the Buddhist tradition during the Mahayana period. ‘The Inspiration-Prayer for Deliverance from the Dangerous Pathway of the Bardo’ however, can be seen as a distilled version of that longer text, and it is probably the most accessible of the texts. It presents the same ten Buddhas that we meet on the first five ‘days’ on the bardo – but presents them in the context of prayer for their support in this life, not in death. It is a prayer by which we prompt ourselves to recognise the ten archetypal Buddhas, and make ourselves receptive to them as ten aspects of the Transcendental; ten archetypal powers; ten supports on our journey of Integration, Positive Emotion, Spiritual Death and Spiritual Rebirth.
More ‘Buddhism’ articles coming soon.
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