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Contemporary Vajrayana is a construction zone

Vajrayana’s medieval culture is colliding with Western worldview. It remains to be seen what of it will survive, adapt or transform and what we will discard as no longer relevant. It is a construction zone and we can’t yet see which structures will remain, which we will erase, what we will build in the new clearings.

This site is also something of a construction zone. I recently changed its design and layout and am still tinkering with CSS. Its content is also less bloglike, more constructive in a metamodern sense: there is, and can be, no grand narrative – but coherence remains important. I want the form of the site to reflect the nature of its content. I will periodically update this page as new shapes, projects and themes emerge.

Here are some links to help navigate the content:

The Mind Illuminated, a journal

A series of posts in which I explore Culadasa’s ten-stage meditation system, The Mind Illuminated. I use notes from my meditation journal as starting points for commentary on the system. A recurring theme is the differences between concentrative and expansive meditations in practice and between Vajrayana and Sutrayana Buddhism.

To read through the series chronologically, start here and use the ‘next’ navigation link right at the bottom of each page, after the comments.

Journalling a staged path is the introductory page to the series.

Day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 and days 14 to 16 are mostly unadulterated practice notes.

On day 5, I start some meta-systemic commentary and note a weird meditational side-effect.

Day 6 and day 8 include commentary on meditating with pain.

Day 7, day 9, day 10, day 11: differences between Vajrayana and Sutrayana.

Day 12: types of awareness.

Day 13 and day 19 include notes on distraction.

Days 17 and 18: commentary on the application of the sub-minds theory to meditation practice.

Day 19 has commentary about dissociative experience and day 20 touches on jhana states.

So far I’ve written one commentary page, about purity and impurity. I have a backlog of journal notes to post, then I will add some more commentary and analysis.

My most popular posts:

Accessing Vajrayana is one of my earliest posts, written in 2013 following a Buddhist Geeks conference. It’s a write-up of an unconference session where participants discussed their personal experiences of obstacles to Vajrayana practice. The issues seem to have struck a chord. This is my most read post by far.

My revelatory no-God experience involves mysticism, expansion of consciousness and a delinquent nonbinary eight-year-old.

Westerners can’t hack Vajrayana unpacks a misconception common in Tibetan Buddhism.

The limited language of the no-self: we’re stuck in a limited pattern of meditation-speak, one that centers around ideas of the self. Much meditation and the discourse surrounding it is tied up in the revelatory discovery that we don’t have a self.  There’s such a strong emphasis on this that it risks occluding other purposes; it narrows the potential results of meditation practice to one constrained, prescribed experience.

Not all Buddhism is about liberation from suffering

Living contradictions is a critical appraisal of contradictions inherent in Buddhist Sutrayana, the best known and most popular form of Buddhism in the world.