New Year, New Podcast Episodes


Hey, it’s 2019 and we’re off to a bang with two new episodes! The first one is quite the experiment with our first guest host filling in for the mysterious, ephemeral stranger that is Mr Stuart Baldwin. Our first intrepid visitor is Gavin McCloskey from Northern Ireland has been China based for quite some time. He is his own man of course, and he brought some fine questions along for us to discuss. I’m afraid I did most of the talking, but Gavin had some great contributions to make and it was good having him on.

Our conversation touches primarily on practice and some of my more far out ideas emerge. You can hear Gavin’s views on Goenka and Mahasi Sayadaw and his experience of retreats with those lineages. We talk about innovation in practice, enlightenment, reincarnation, and much more.

See what you think and let us know how it goes in this experimental conversation. Feedback would be appreciated.

Our second episode features Dr Mickel Burley, a philosopher of religion from Leeds university in the UK: He wrote a fascinating book called Rebirth and the Stream of Life, which inspired me to have him on. He’s a big fan of Ludwig Wittgenstein too and we get to talking about who is widely considered the greatest philosopher of the 20th century, his thought and its uses for thinking about spirituality, Buddhism, rebirth and more. We also bridge the episode to our earlier discussion of karma and rebirth with Jayarava. Mick has also written on Hatha-Yoga, and perhaps more surprisingly, cannibalism, animal sacrifice, and the lack of imagination in philosophy surrounding rebirth and reincarnation. We also discuss philosophy East & West. Many of Mick’s article are freely available and curiously titled so so check out his university page for further links;

Here’s looking forward to another fabulous year together exploring the wonderful world of Western Buddhism, theory and practice, Philosophy, and critical, creative thought.


O’Connell Coaching:
Post-Traditional Buddhism:


Music by Stray Dogg from their fresh new album ‘Look at the Moon’




Merry Christmas, Santa’s bringing you lashings of podcast delights this year!


Daft sentences aside, this season’s greetings come in the form of two podcast episodes. The first features Jason Josephson Ananda Storm, the second is an Incite short with Joshua Ramey.

Jason Ānanda Josephson Storm received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Stanford University in 2006 and is tenured at Williams College in their Religious Studies Department. He has three primary research areas, each which should interest regular listeners: Japanese Religions, European Intellectual History, and Theory more broadly. He has additionally been working to articulate new research models for Religious Studies in the wake of the collapse of poststructuralism as a guiding ethos in the Humanities. This translates for us as an attempt to get beyond the impasse of postmodernist thought and its antecedent, Modernity, which you know by now is part of the matrix of contemporary western Buddhism.

Jason and I discuss his book The Myth of Disenchantment: Magic, Modernity, and the Birth of the Human Sciences, from 2017, as well as his text The Invention of Religion in Japan. We delve into the role of enchantment and the myth of disenchantment, the role of enchantment in science and the fascinating indulgences of many of the great scientific thinkers in spiritualism and enchanted beliefs. We cover East & West philosophy, The Kyoto School, Metamodernism, and more.

Incite Seminars brings you a talk on Metaphysics and Money. Joshua Ramey holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Villanova University. His research is in contemporary continental philosophy, critical social theory, political economy and political theology. His first book was The Hermetic Deleuze: Philosophy and Spiritual Ordeal (2012), and his current book is Politics of Divination: Neoliberal Endgame and the Religion of Contingency (2016). He is co-translator of François Laruelle’s Non-Philosophical Mysticism for Today (2016). He has published articles on a range of thinkers and artists including Adorno, Zizek, Badiou, Hitchcock, Warhol, and Philip K. Dick.

Date: Saturday, January 19, 9am-1pm



Have a great festive season. If it all gets to much, there’s always O’Connell Coaching! Otherwise, see you in 2019!



39. IBP: Dale S. Wright on Buddhist Enlightenment


Dale S. Wright is distinguished Professor of Religion at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He is author of The Six Perfections: Buddhism & the Cultivation of Character, and Philosophical Meditations on Zen Buddhism. He is also coeditor with Steven Heine of The Koan: Text and Context in Zen Buddhism, The Zen Canon: Textual Foundations of Zen Buddhism, Zen Classics: Formative Texts in the History of Zen Buddhism, and Zen Ritual: Studies of Zen Buddhist Theory in Practice.

More importantly for our podcast, Dale is author of ‘What is Buddhist Enlightenment?’ A text that forms the basis for a good chunk of our conversation. We explore the notion of enlightenment in Buddhism and in particular the pluralism of definitions, a secular reframing of the thing, how western philosophy challenges Buddhist notions of enlightenment, myth and myths that are encased in different interpretations of enlightenment.

As with so many of our podcast conversations, this one heads off into places unknown, exploring questions, reflections, intuitions and interesting ground that we hope you will find as stimulating as we did.

O’Connell Coaching:
Post-Traditional Buddhism:

Ask Her Out:

A review of A critique of Western Buddhism: Ruins of the Buddhist Real


Glenn Wallis should need no introduction to those who visit this site regularly and engage with the podcast, but just in case it’s your first time here, I’ll provide you with the essentials. Wallis holds a Ph.D from Harvard in Buddhist Studies and has authored several books on Buddhism including The Dhammapada: Verses on the Way, Mediating the Power of the Buddhas, Basic Teachings of the Buddha, and the one most closely linked to this review, Cruel Theory, Sublime Practice. He’s even written articles for Lion’s Roar. Oh, the shame of it! Wallis has taught in a number of universities including Georgia, where he received tenure, and later went on to work in other educational institutes, among which the Won Institute. He was also a founding member of the Philadelphia punk band Ruin.

“Western Buddhism… Serves as a fetish, an object that effectively holds some unbearable truth at Bay.”

My first encounter with Wallis was through the Speculative non-buddhism (SNB) site and his experimental writing on contemporary western Buddhism. That site brought him to the attention of many folks at the fringes of the western Buddhist world and has been a cauldron of creative, intellectual activity since its inception, amassing long, complex exchanges with readers in its comments sections, exploring all manner of topic from neuro-science to Marxism with some highly intelligent contributors getting into lengthy debate. It was also a site of conflict, argumentation and the wrath of its chief antagonist Tom Pepper whose rants against capitalism, anti-intellectualism, and the ignorance of those who could not grasp his insights, which were more or less legendary. Whatever the controversy, many exciting approaches to Buddhist materials were cooked up at the site and those dogged enough to stick with Buddhism in spite of its many faults found much succulence there and, dare I say, meaning. The site was a sort of explosion of western Buddhism’s dark unconscious; it’s anti-intellectual turn, its closeness to New Age idealism, its comfortable affinity for Hindu beliefs, its strong adoption by middle-class America as a coping mechanism, and its comfortable alignment with Capitalism. These facets were all uncovered, critiqued and abused. Those whose intellectual cowardice was on display would leave with a bloody nose, but those who were aware of their ignorance or came specifically to challenge their views would often find great generosity and sharp, bracing insight. It was a break from the often dull norms of western Buddhist niceness and its main participants would argue that such fierce critique was the only thing that would disrupt the intellectual complacency of so many western Buddhists. Wallis was certainly the ideal person to carry out such a disruption and for many it was the most exciting thing to happen in Western Buddhism for decades. The SNB was the charnel ground of Wallis’s most recent book, A critique of Western Buddhism: ruins of the Buddhist real.


Brand new episode of the Imperfect Buddha Podcast with William Edelglass


Our year long jaunt through the world of academic engagement with Buddhism continues and in this episode of the Imperfect Buddha Podcast, we talk to William Edelglass, professor of Philosophy, Environmental Studies, and Buddhist Studies at Marlboro College. William has been a teacher in a variety of settings, including a federal prison in New York, a Tibetan refugee settlement in Nepal, and for many years as a wilderness guide at Outward Bound. Before going to Marlboro, William taught Western philosophy at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics, Dharamsala, India, to Tibetan monks, and Buddhist philosophy to American college students on a Tibetan studies program. William also teaches a range of fascinating courses at Barre Centre for Buddhist Studies.

William and I cover quite a bit of ground in our 2-hour long conversation spanning Buddhism, Philosophy, and our current political climate. Here are just some of the questions we tackled;

What stand out lessons have each phase of your professional life taught you? Which lessons continue to influence the way you work and think about what drives you? What philosophical challenges do the different Buddhisms present to Western Philosophical thought? What philosophical challenges does Western Philosophy present to Buddhist thought? How do you think Western practitioners might take a more critical and explorative approach to Buddhist thought? What are we to do with the challenges of nihilism as practitioners? What are we to make of mysticism? How can we renew philosophical thought for practitioners? Why is Shantideva such an important figure for you and what challenges do his work and thought raise? Why is Levinas an important figure for you what challenges do his work and thought raise for Buddhism?


You can find out more about William’s work at the following site:

Music for this episode comes from George Glew and is called Higher. Listen to more of his music at

O’Connell Coaching:  Post-Traditional Buddhism:

IBP: Yves Citton on The Ecology of Attention


What is attention? Where are the boundaries between ‘my’ individual attention and that of those around me? Whose paying attention to what? And, what are the consequences of how attention is manipulated and manufactured by the media and by ideology?

Yves Citton explores these questions and many more on the podcast today with special attention paid to his fantastic book “The Ecology of Attention” which analyses attention-related phenomena emergent at a number of levels from the individual to the social arguing throughout that there are high stakes for how we understand and work with these phenomena: for teaching, performance, the environment, and freedom itself.


Yves Citton is professor of Literature and Media at the Université Paris 8 Vincennes-Saint Denis and executive director of the Ecole Universitaire de Recheche ArTeC. He taught for 13 years at the Université Grenoble Alpes and for 12 years in the department of French and Italian of the University of Pittsburgh, PA. He got his PhD from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and has been invited Professor at New York University, Harvard and Sciences-Po Paris.

Music for these episodes is provided by the Bristol-based artist Something Anorak. Check out his work at the Bandcamp site.

O’Connell Coaching:
Post-Traditional Buddhism:

Yves Citton Personal Website in English

Verso Books article on Yves’ book

Double Trouble: two brand new episodes!

merge 1

What follows is the spoken introduction for two new episodes of the Imperfect Buddha Podcast. I’m including it here so you can orientate to the material being posted and decide which one you would liek to listen to first. Each has its own merits and for the more astute listener, it will be worth comparing the content, contours and questions being explored by each guest. Age and generation wise, I am pretty much in the middle, and for me the two episodes have different historical and anthropological tones in terms of language, concerns and answers given. Each guest was generous with their time and we at the Imperfect Buddhas Podcast are grateful to them for coming on and discussing topics that will surely be among your own concerns. Full bios and links for each guest can be found below the spoken intro.

This week, you lucky listeners get two episodes for the price of one! Unusually for the podcast, we recorded two episodes back-to-back in just two days and for this reason they are kin, intimately connected, and shall go forth into the world as such. Each one shares the same intro, but don’t panic, it’s relatively short. Both conversations were less structured than usual. I did have questions, but allowed both conversations more space to evolve and flow, and there may even be a bit of rambling on both sides from time to time, but never enough to bore: We are exploring new creative spaces after all!

Our two guests are at opposite ends of the career spectrum and their interests and concerns mirror generational shifts towards contemplative practices. Zachery Walsh is finishing up a Ph.D. programme, while Robert Forman P.hD has retired from teaching Religious Studies at University.