Category: The Renegade Buddhist

Santa Claus and the Cycle of Suffering

By John Lee Pendall   I have some huge issues with ol’ Kris Kringle. I loved the legend when I was a kid, but now that I’m older, I see it for what it really is: conditioning. On a side note, you may have noticed that I bring up conditioning a lot. One of these days, I’ll sit down and hash it out in detail, but not right now. Right now, I’m talking about Santa Claus. Santa pretty much represents everything I find terrible about the human race. My main criticism is that he’s a symbol of patriarchy and fear-based...

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Hello, I am Buddhist…and Asexual

  By John Pendall I’m a fat guy. That’s part of my self-concept, but I was only able to create that by seeing someone skinnier than I am. If I’d only ever met people larger than me, I’d be a skinny guy—that would be my self-concept. We also learn who we are through reward and punishment. Our acceptable traits are reinforced, and our unacceptable ones are discouraged. Eventually, the culture’s criticizing voice is internalized, and it becomes the twisted dark side of conscience; ever-ready to point out every mistake we make. Sometimes, discouraged traits go extinct and they’re no...

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Why Can’t I Meditate?

  By John Pendall Meditation is a safe space to get all the crazy out in the open. A lot of people are surprised by how un-meditative meditation can be. We’re used to seeing all these images of smiling Buddhas and tranquil Yogis; it’s easy to get discouraged. It’s easy to criticize ourselves and, in some cases, wind up more unstable and unhappy than we were before. All these images of peaceful meditators only show a tiny moment of that person’s practice. They don’t show all the screw ups, setbacks and sidetracks; they don’t reveal all the struggles had...

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Dependent Arising: The Dance of Wind and Feather

  By John Pendall   Over a decade ago, a close friend and I were walking down a back road that we call, “Butterfly Lane.” Its legal name is a nonsensical string of apparently random numbers. Walking home beneath a warm summer sky, a peacock feather seemed to collapse out of nowhere. It landed on the road before us, and we both just stopped and waited. For a few seconds, the feather sat there, motionless. Then, the breeze picked up, and it fluttered into the air again. It soared over the bean fields, and then dove back to the...

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The Buddha’s Dream of Liberation {Book Review}

  By John Pendall James William Coleman has done something that I once dreamed of doing, which is great because it means less work for me. The Buddha’s Dream of Liberation: Freedom, Emptiness, and Awakened Nature is part sight-seeing guide for Buddhist time travelers, and part apologetic essay on Western Buddhism. Coleman takes us through the, “Three Turnings of the Wheel,” which are three major paradigm shifts in Buddhism. He also paints Secular Buddhism as a kind of Fourth Turning—laying out some of the risks and benefits of modernizing Buddhism. Coleman doesn’t just write off-the-cuff in this piece; he...

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Buddhism For Dudes