Buddha Travels West

The following is an extract from the article 'Buddha Travels West' by Peter Abbs, published in the journal 'Philosophy Now' ( Issue 38, June/July 2020)

Talking about the work of Stephen Bachelor, contemporary scholar and ex-Buddhist monk, Abbs says in his concluding paragraph:

'What matters most for Bachelor is the search for personal meaning. He links this to the historical Buddha, who always demoted large metaphysical questions and their dogmatic answers and promoted an open quest for understanding based on the mindful examination of experience, on meditation, and on work within the sangha - the community. What may be perennially significant in Buddhism is precisely this pilgrimage for wisdom within and solidarity without - a search which in the West has been darkly overshadowed by the blinkered pursuit of objective knowledge and technological mastery. We now need to place alongside science and technology the counterpart of wisdom and the courage to be. Or to express it more politically, we need to marry the political triad of liberty, equality and fraternity with the spiritual triad of being, reflecting and caring. For in our bewildered global age the marriage of two forms of enlightenment is now possible: of the rational and the spiritual ... and our very survival may well depend upon it. (p21)

Good Practice

The following is taken from 'Neurodharma' by Rick Hanson:'

'Try to approach each day as an opportunity for practice. It's a chance to learn about yourself, manage your reactions, heal and grow. When you first wake up, you could establish the intention to practice that day. Then, as you go to sleep, you could appreciate how you practiced that day.

Bring to mind someone you respect. perhaps it's someone you know personally, or whose words you've heard or read. Pick something that you find admirable about this person. Then see if you can get some sense of this quality already present in yourself. It might feel subtle, but it's real and you can develop it. For a day or longer, focus on bringing this quality into your experience and actions, and see how this feels. And then try this practice using other people you respect and other qualities you'd like to develop.

Every so often, slow down to recognise that life in general, and your body and brain in particular, are making this moment's experience of hearing and seeing, thinking and feeling.

When you want, just be with your experience for a minute or more, without trying to change them in any way. This is the fundamental practice: accepting sensations and feelings and thoughts as they are, adding as little as possible to them, and letting them flow as they will. Overall, a growing sense of simply letting be can fill your day' (p21 -22)

Of course we can add other personal 'practices' -  physical exercise, spiritual practices, creative activities, music, service to others, to our daily lives.

Pema Chödrön's FEAR practice


The FEAR practice - from Pema Chödrön's ‘Walking the Walk' (Chapter 9)



If feelings become uncomfortable, embarrassing, edgy, fearful:-


Find where it (the feeling) is in your body .. neck, stomach, heart  .. i.e., check in to your felt body sense


Embrace it …  i.e., accept it, feel it just as it is 



Allow the thoughts about it to dissolve …we can practice this throughout our lives  … then abide with the feeling 


Remember … or recall all the other people in the world who are feeling what you are feeling… whether it be enragement, regret,  fear … so it becomes a reference point for our interconnectedness, empathy, compassion.


As a whole - do this with an attitude of kindness, acceptance.

Embrace it, be gentle… we are like all beings over the globe - connected.  


May I ..

May I be loving, open, and aware in this moment.

If I cannot be loving, open, and aware in this moment,

may I be kind.

If I cannot be kind, may I be non-judgemental.

If I cannot be non-judgemental, may I not cause harm.

If I cannot not cause harm, may I cause the least harm possible.

Larry Yang

Does it matter?

'When we start to ask ourselves, "Does it matter?" we realise how many aspects there are to every situation. We begin to appreciate how interconnected we are to the rest of the world, and how even our thought patterns can lead to a whole series of consequences.' (from 'Welcome the unwelcome' (p. 11) by Pema Chödrön)