Authenticity and the New Bristol Sound


James Martin, the recently deceased futurologist and founder of the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University, wrote a fascinating book back in 2007 called The Meaning of the 21st Century. It is one that I have recommended to my more curious language students over the years as well as to friends. In it, Martin lays out much of the research that had taken place at the Oxford department he founded concerning wide ranging facets of human life and the natural environment. One he tackled was the future of work and a key statement made is that very few people in the 21st century will have jobs for life, something we are already noting in many developed countries where once it was considered the norm. The outcome of such is that people will likely have a number of jobs throughout their lives but will also work different part-time jobs at the same time. My situation is a little like this and one of my many hats I wear weekly is that of radio DJ.

The consequences of the loss of stable life roles have not been so obvious and this is certainly true of the creative fields such as music. The creative arts have rarely guaranteed jobs for life but the new scenario for musicians has dramatically altered the modern musical landscape. Highly talented musicians seem to be ever greater in number whilst the opportunities to earn money and build a monetarily stable career from music have declined exponentially. This is forcing musicians to be creative in how they sell themselves and market their music and some folks in Bristol are finding reasonable success by combining different creative fields such as art installations and live concerts that throw up interesting and surprising results. Most are doing so whilst holding down a regular job or two.

The element of surprise has a role to play in engaging an increasingly fickle and distracted public with seemingly unlimited choice. Public space is more fragmented and at the same time artists are obsessing over the need to connect; not only to their own musical path but to a sufficient percentage of the public to make their musical efforts worthwhile. In the internet age the question of who is paying attention is a constant concern. Musicians are being forced to become better capitalists even though it must sometimes smack of sell out or feels inauthentic.

The theme of authenticity saturated the Bristol trip during interviews with a number of bands and singers active on the Bristol scene. Oh, did I forget to mention that I recently returned to my home-town of Bristol and whilst there carried out a number of interviews with a radio buddy and colleague? (more…)

The Imperfect Buddha Podcast 3.2: Tenzin Peljor is in the house!

tenzin-peljor-jpg3   Tenzin Peljor interview at Soundcloud

In this episode, we have our first interview at the Imperfect Buddha Podcast with the wonderfully insightful Tenzin Peljor, an ordained German Buddhist monk. Tenzin is no ordinary Buddhist monk, however, he is a crusader for clarity and right information, particularly in the world of Tibetan Buddhism, where he is committed to shining light on untruth. He runs two English language sites which provide a wealth of information and resources including interviews with noted Buddhist Studies academics, as well as exposes of the cultish behaviour that we discussed in our last episode. He is also one of the best informed individuals regarding the NKT and as an ex-member writes with great clarity in order to dispel the myths propagated by that group.
In this episode, he tells his story of his involvement with them and what it was that drove him to leave. We also discuss aspects of a monk’s life and explore important texts that help with leaving behind the western romanticism of Tibet.


Tibetan Buddhism in the West

Tibetan Buddhism: struggling with difficult issues

Podcast Episode 3.1: important follow up

Dear Listeners,

We recently put out a podcast episode covering cultish behaviour in Buddhism and discussed some of those behaviours along with how they are expressed in a number of small and large Buddhist groups. We also managed to make a mistake which needs clarifying here.

In that episode, which has since been edited to remove the offending section, we, or better I, made three assertions concerning the figure of Indy Hack. This was an unfortunate mistake on my part and I wish to clarify that mistake here so listeners who may have heard the earlier edit can be clear on the issue. Indy Hack has asked me to clarify three points and I am happy to do so here for the benefit of mutual understanding and good faith. I made false assertions about Indy Hack’s work, as follows:


3.1 Imperfect Buddha Podcast: cults & Buddhist groups Show Notes

These are the show notes for the latest episode of the Imperfect Buddha Podcast. If you want to know more about the specific thinking and beliefs that allow people to belong to cults and stay in them when scandals occur, then you would do well to read this text on critical thinking at the Post-traditional Buddhism site.

Critical thinking, creativity and the problem with beliefs: the NKT, Rigpa and SGI

3.1 Imperfect Buddha Podcast: cults, cultish shennanigans & Buddhist groups


Episode 3.1 at Soundcloud.

Here it is, finally, after a long wait, episode 3.1 of the Imperfect Buddha Podcast. We get ‘culty’ in this one, discussing Buddhists cults, cultish behaviour in Buddhist groups and the reasons why people join. We look at the NKT, Rigpa, Shambhala, Michael Roach and H.H Maitreya, otherwise known as Ronny Spenser and open the discussion up to a consideration of how cultish behaviours seep into even innocuous Buddhist groups when criticism is left aside and institutional politics encourage group conformity.
We tell a story or two to keep you entertained and manage to generate some banter in spite of this topic being a heavy one in places.
Is it possible that someone will get offended? Yes. Is that our intention? No. We do speak truth to power though and that means shining the light on where things have gone wrong in western Buddhism.
Check it out. Spread the love and let us know what you think at our dedicated Facebook page.

2.2 New Podcast Episode is out! The Dharma Oveground & the non-Buddhists


Soundcloud: download or listen

In this episode, the Dharma Oveground and Buddhist Geeks get enlightened, Francois Laurelle and the non-Buddhists speculate, Hokai Sobol and Kenneth Folk do their own thing. Matthew and Stuart cross the line and fumble over names.

This is part 2 of our first real episode exploring a number of innovative elements in contemporary western Buddhism. We move on in our discussion from Tibet to look at the Pragmatists that emerged from the Dharma Underground and the intelligent destruction of Buddhism fuelled by French and German speaking philosophers in the form of Non-Buddhism.

We also bring in some considerations of the significance of the claims of enlightenment made by a number of the Pragmatists and the importance of some of the critique made by Glenn Wallis and his cohorts.

Enjoy and leave feedback, criticisms, complaints and observations at our Facebook page, Twitter feed or here.

The next episode will feature a special guest and discuss Buddhist cults!

Show notes can be find here with links to all the characters mentioned:


The Imperfect Buddha Podcast Episode 2.1 & 2.2


The new episode of the podcast is up and can be downloaded or listened to freely online at Soundcloud and Mixcloud.

In this two-part episode, we start a meander along the road of contemporary western Buddhism stopping to introduce some of those who are attempting innovation in one manner or another. We talk about Reggie Ray and his continuation of Chogyam Trungpa’s project of westernising Buddhist Tantra. We discuss the Aro-Ter and their eccentric approach and Ken McLeod and his Unfettered Mind.

Join in the fun; comment, criticise, add insight over at our dedicated Facebook page, or insult us on Twitter. It’s all good as far as we’re concerned.

Part 2.2 looks into the Buddhist Geeks, Dharma Overground, Daniel Ingram & Kenneth Folk, and the bad boys of the American scene, the Speculative non-Buddhism posse of Glenn Wallis, Tom Pepper and Matthias Steingass, as well as the remains of their controversial project.