Update: 2016

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March, 2016 has arrived and it seems that spring has already made it to Trieste so I thought it would be appropriate to provide a brief update to regular readers. The Post-Traditional Buddhism site has been active throughout the last 12 months but not so much on the writing front. Our podcast has taken off and is slowly building a following in spite of our irreverent style but essays and explorations have been on the side-lines. This may not change a great deal in 2016.

I recently discovered that I have pre-hypertension, which puts to rest the idea that meditation produces magical miracle health benefits! I am only 39. I have been a dedicated meditator for twenty odd years and had always had the best possible blood pressure readings but the last few years have been particularly stressful, especially at home. What I can say is that although emotionally and mentally I seemed just fine throughout, my body obviously understood otherwise, and I have had to consider some lifestyle changes heading into 2016. The big, big change is to sloooow right down.

I am a fairly ambitious person, not in the sense of desiring fame and fortune, rather I am driven to share what I know, help when I can and explore this marvellous planet we co-inhabit. As a pragmatist, if I see a problem that needs dealing with, I am often happy to put myself forward in order to deal with it and that has been the case with the work here on Buddhism. I really love exploring the reconfiguration of what has been traditionally defined as dharma and in an ideal world I would receive financial support for such activity but as we all know, the world has changed and monetising such niche output is either near impossible or involves commercializing one’s work and kowtowing to the forces of capitalism. Of course, I could head in that direction if I wished but it has never appealed to me and selling one’s self always seems to be in conflict with creative freedom and integrity.

Being post-traditional means going it alone and the coaching and counselling approach I use with clients is never going to bring in large sums and neither should it. It turns out that a huge number of those looking for guidance, mentoring and support in making change in their lives are far from rich. It has always felt like exploitation to me to demand that those asking for it only be allowed it if they are middle class or wealthy, the same would be true if I had to start competing with other Buddhist websites to drum up an audience and what I produce here is only of real interest to very few people anyway. It’s the niche of the niche. Thankfully, I love teaching and working with teens and that is my regular job in Italy with writing and podcasting really just being two important hobbies that I care about and enjoy immensely.

Back to health issues. It goes without saying that I really must be much more selective with my time, my passions and duties to allow space for lifestyle changes. Do not fear dear reader, there will be more podcast episodes and writing emerging here from the ether, just more slowly. I cannot guarantee this will mean an increase in quality. I’m not making wine after all.

I could add some insightful comments on meaning, value, commercialisation, late stage capitalism, freedom of expression and a whole bunch of other stuff but you probably know all that already. So, what’s next? The upcoming podcast episode will likely be a short series in a Game of Thrones style: blood, guts, everyone dies. That sort of thing. We are going to tackle enlightenment as honestly and realistically as possible. The subject requires a series and an interview or two will be part of it. There is much to say and a single or double episode won’t do. There are many myths to murder, much torturous reconfiguration to take place, much imagination needed, and a creative response to this central theme of Buddhism is going to be fun and a little bit of hard work.

A few further updates

  1. Ken McLeod’s new book A Trackless Path is well worth exploring. Go and check it out. Read it. Go on.
  2. For intelligent readers with time on their hands, the Non-Buddhist site continues to put together quality material. Patrick and Matthias are a fine tag team wrestling what they can out of French and German philosophers and Buddhism.
  3. As a follow on from our cults episode, the New Kadampa Tradition is getting a drumming for being funded in part by the Chinese government (that’s according to Reuters) and Tibetans and ex-NKT followers have started protesting their centres and teachings in the UK and elsewhere. This makes me super happy as an ex-follower myself. It bothers me to no end that a dodgy sectarian Buddhist outfit is actively producing suffering. Feel free to take Shaun Bartone’s advice from our activism episode and get involved.
  4. Life goes on.

Here’s wishing you a sane 2016.

3 comments

  1. Sorry to hear about your health problems. It’s a drag.

    If you’re talking to people who are enlightened, I’m interested in the issue of whether they are able to be objective about their situation. If they have no subject, or point of view, are they able to step outside that experience and analyse it. My guess is not. One of the reasons I think this is that enlightened people seem to maintain the model of awakening they were using before they became enlightened: so Advaita Vedantins find confirmation of their views, Tibetans and Theravādins the same. Enlightened people seem to suffer from confirmation bias. Enlightenment is not typically a conversion event.

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    1. Thanks. At least at the level I have it, the pre-hypertension should be manageable and hopefully curable.

      I noted you made the comment above on Twitter and I agree that enlightenment models seem to reproduce a set of behaviours and subjective experience that are socially sanctioned by the tradition and therefore ideologically formed. The whole post-traditional approach supposes that we can find what’s worthwhile in human terms and outside of a given tradition and that will certainly be a key objective in the podcast series.

      I think there has long been a lot of hype and little substance and Stuart and I are looking to shake things up. I have a set of fun exercises to test people’s claims on enlightenment and we’ll have a laugh discussing them too.

      The key with guests is to craft the right questions…that’s going to take some planning and thinking.

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  2. Hi Matthew,
    Thanks for the mention. Wrestling is right! although its almost always with my own ignorance and maybe a personal demon or two. This writing business is a horrible practice in a way… you get to expose your stupidity to more than one withering glance. One good reason for not having too many readers! Ha

    Sorry about the health issues. I’m 62 and have had no trouble so far touch wood (knocking on my head) It will come at me all at once, I suppose, some day soon. Hope it goes well with you.

    Ah, you make me envious about spring in Trieste. Here in Saxony it’s snow and wind at the moment and not a sign of a bud.

    Good luck for the year, Jayarava too.

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