The Anxiety of the Long-Distance Meditator

“Stream entry,” is a Buddhist term for initial enlightenment — a shift in perspective where the practitioners’ mind flips inside-out, and for a split-second recognizes its own inseparability from the rest of the natural world.

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Thunderbolts of Reality

It’s called a “vajra,” and it’s one of those ubiquitous symbols seen across the Indian subcontinent. In Tibetan Buddhism it points to the whole Vajrayana “Diamond” Path. Different people describe the vajra’s symbolism in different ways. One wildly ambitious way is as the sum total of reality itself, or at least, three fundamental ways of experiencing reality.

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How Zen Master’s Die

Meditation and other contemplative practices seem to accelerate the aging-gracefully gradient. They are ways of thinning out in the prime of life – a kind of dying in the midst of the everyday. Then when death does come, as it comes for us all, there’s nothing to fear, “for the things we’ve learned to care for will continue.”

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Enlightenment’s Evil Twin

The benefits of mindfulness meditation have very quickly become one of the good-news mental health stories of our time. But meditation also has a shadowy seam. Is there a link between some forms of mental illness and the freedom promised at the heart of meditation? My column on the infamous “Dark Night of the Soul”

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Whale Rising

This piece on whale consciousness and animal personhood won a Gold and a Silver medal at the 2012 Canadian National Magazine Awards. Whales are people too; the science proves it. Are humans ready to see them as equals?

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Animal Empathy – There’s an App for That!

Communications technology is often accused of dissociating us from the natural world. A little thought-experiment that explores how the next generation of “augmented reality” technologies might close this gap, and help us hear like an elephant and think like a squirrel.

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Here Come the Animals

Scientists and philosophers have long erected an insurmountable barrier between humans and animals. This seems to be changing. The human imagination is moving outward. The animals are coming. Hide the nuts!

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Environmentalism and the Mind

What kind of mind do we need to address climate change and environmental degradation? A mountain eco-laboratory in northern New Mexico looks at four possible answers: a social mind, a creative mind, a receptive mind and an equanimous mind.

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Among the Nonduals

Proponents of nonduality tell us that we take a leap of faith and actually live our lives from the truth of direct experience, eventually the age old barrier between inside and out will erode. A report from the 2013 Science and Nonduality conference in Holland.

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