Here's the first episode of Zen for Real Life. In this one, I talk about the source of suffering, freedom from suffering, and the danger of turning Zen practice into one more attachment.What usually happens when we get what we want?
Last year, I remarked to a friend that he has what I consider a sexist habit of referring to female politicians by their first names, but uses last names for their male counterparts. He refers to the Scottish First Minister as "Nicola," but never referred to her predecessor as "Alex." I told him I thought this showed he took women less seriously than men, seeing them as closer to children than adults.
He replied he always referred to Boris Johnson by his first name, but admitted he didn't do that with any other male politicians. I suggested this supported my point, because Johnson's clownish persona made my friend see him as an overgrown child, giving him the same status he gave women.
And it is a persona; in private life, he's not called Boris. His friends and family call him Al, his actual first name (His name is Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson). In a similar way to the US cult of "Bernie" — Sanders's friends and family call him Bernard— Johnson is selling performance, not policy. But, unlike Sanders, he's dangerous.
Now that he's Prime Minister, I suggest it's of urgent importance not to trivialise this catastrophe with cute nicknames. Call him what he is: the Prime Minister. And in calling him that, consider the ultra-right-wing populist who now holds that office, and see where we are.
two seagulls peck at dead pigeon
two pigeons stand watching
About eight years ago, in a review of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's book Beyond Religion, I wrote:
The Dalai Lama is one of the most misunderstood public figures, and he is misunderstood in two major ways. His fame as a spiritual teacher, combined with the warmth of his huge personality, makes it possible for people to enjoy his presence without actually hearing what he says, and so many of his fans experience him as a cuddly enabler along the lines of Thich Nhat Hanh or Deepak Chopra. In actuality, he is as far from Oprah Winfrey as fire is from ice. He is a deeply serious, tough-minded practitioner and teacher of a shockingly harsh and demanding religious discipline.
I still stand by those words, so from comments he's made recently, it seems clear he's now a few beads short of a mala:
The interviewer, the BBC’s Rajini Vaidyanathan, pointed out the campaign for Britain to leave the EU used one of the Dalai Lama’s quotes about migration to Europe as part of its campaign. “The goal should be that migrants return and help rebuild their countries. You have to be practical. It’s impossible for everyone to come,” he had said.
When does our journey end? When we realise we were never on a journey. For as long as we are the protagonist of our own story, on our own journey or quest or search, there’s no peace, because we’re never where we are, always where we aren’t. The path of Zen takes us to where we are.
"Why did Bodhidharma come from the west?"
"The oak tree in the garden."
The dreary Scottish Review of Books got denied 45 grand from Creative Scotland, so Rosemary Goring is jumping and and down and blaming "diversity targets."
Claire Squires explains how absurd Goring's fit is.