Author: John Pendall

Don’t Take It Personally

By John Lee Pendall I frequently stumble on a really stupid fear about practice: Will this make me into a soft-bellied, boring, emotionless monk? I like to start in on my views and fears by, first off, seeing if the assumptions they’re built are even valid. Are monks really soft-bellied, boring, and emotionless? Not really. I’m sure some of them are, but that’s just because they’re human and some people are that way. Rinzai (A priest, not a monk, but still applicable) used to shout, swear, and punch people in the face. A lot of the most well-known teachers...

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What is a Zen Garden & Should I Have One?

  By John Lee Pendall We’ve all seen the pictures: seas of sand or gravel flowing in intricate designs around rocks of all shapes and sizes. Sometimes there will be a few plants, a pond, or moss thrown in for good measure. Occasionally, rocks will be stacked in steps to resemble waterfalls. These are karesansui or rock gardens. They started in China, and most were based on Chinese landscape paintings. Like Zen, they migrated to Japan and became a staple of Japanese culture. Zen gardens are often highly symbolic, and putting them together or concentrating on them is a...

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What is the Core Belief in Buddhism?

By John Lee Pendall What is the core belief in Buddhism? I saw this question asked in a Buddhist Facebook group. Here are some of the replies: The Four Noble Truths, anatta, emptiness, non-attachment, nonduality, the Three Jewels, that’s a loaded question, there are no beliefs, etc. Buddhism is a weird religion in that there’s no consensus on 1) whether it’s a religion or not, and 2) what it’s all about. That’s the case in the West, anyway. In much of the East, most agree that it’s about venerating the Buddha and cultivating merit to secure freedom from Samsara,...

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Right Speech: It’s Not about Being Perfect, but Owning Up to It {The Eightfold Path}

  By John Lee Pendall So, here’s my first contribution during Right Speech week for the Living the 8 challenge. I won’t be posting a journal article each day because most days just aren’t that eventful in my life. However, feel free to check out the FB group for more interactions. DAY 1 “I said stop hollering at me! You don’t have any authority over me. Who do you think you are?” That was me chastising a co-worker. This was actually yesterday—so, I guess Day 0—-but, I’m throwing it in here anyway and there’s nothing you can do to...

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What is Right Intention, Anyway? {The Eightfold Path}

  By John Lee Pendall “I wish someone would kick him in shin,” is an example of not Right/Skillful/Wise Intention/Thought/Resolve. I think it’s funny how we’ve never gotten together and settled on definitive translations for this stuff. According to the B-Man in SN 45.8, Right Intention, er, Resolve is: “Being resolved on renunciation, on freedom from ill-will, on harmlessness.” Basically, that means wanting to not be a jerk. The renunciation part takes some unpacking. Renunciation is nekkhamma, which etymologically means, “Lack of sensual desire.” It’s actually phrased as nekkhamma-chanda: the desire to not desire sensual pleasures. Hooray for meta-cognition!...

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Buddhism For Dudes

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