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This blog is based on an experimental exploration of Buddhism. Focusing primarily on a post-traditional approach, it explores a variety of important aspects of contemporary western Buddhism. For more on what a post-traditional approach is, click here. Some of the earlier articles I wrote are divided into chapters below that you can rummage through. The work contained within each chapter represents an experimental moment in looking anew at a key Buddhist topic.

Post-traditional implies free-form exploration rather than the next –ism. In each of my attempts below, I start by freeing myself of tradition’s grasp and attempt to come at the topic from a de-enamoured yet intimate stance. This entails a shift ideologically away from copying tradition to an open and critical exploration of what lies behind presentation.

Here is the menu. Enjoy your meal.

Post-Traditional Buddhism
These two articles were my original foray into discussing and describing Post-traditional Buddhism. They were originally published at the Elephant Journal.

1.Post-Traditional Buddhism: the quiet revolution? Explores my own adventures that led to a break from traditional contemporary forms of Buddhism. It’s personal, so skip to the next one if such stories bore you.
2.Big Up Post-Traditional Buddhism, gives an overview of some key figures who have dabbled in a post traditional approach and lays out some of the criteria of this style of engagement with Buddhism.

Reconsidering Enlightenment
This was my first serious project written to take on a core Buddhist tenet from a fully post-traditional approach. Utilizing a no holds barred style, it strips away the mystique of so-called enlightenment and humanizes the affair. Yes, enlightenment does exist as a possibility, yes it is likely to disappoint, and sorry, I don’t believe it implies becoming a super-human. Read on if you’ve been fed the enlightenment manure.

  1. Reconfiguring Enlightenment Part 1
  2. Reconfiguring Enlightenment Part 2

Collapse and Awaken
This three-part series represents an evolution in my approach and my attempt to work together Buddhist non-duality and neo-Animism. I wrote it for the Dark Mountain Project. It is a slightly poetic affair aimed at a general audience and not just Buddhists.

1. Part one
2. Part two
3. Part three

The Four Truths
This chapter focuses on a very early attempt at reconfiguring the classic Four Noble Truths teaching found in most expressions of Buddhism. This series signals my own beginnings and attempts at a post-traditional approach.

1.The Four Noble Truths: beginnings
2.The Eightfold Path: the fourth truth
3.Mindfulness: introduction
4.Mindfulness: body
5.Mindfulness: feelings
6.Mindfulness: mind
7.Mindfulness: phenomena (1)
8.Mindfulness: phenomena (2)
9.Right Speech (1)
10.Right Speech (2)
11.Right Action (1)
12.Right Action (2)
13.Right Livelihood (1)
14.Right Livelihood (2)
15.Right Effort
16.Concentration & Closing

2 comments

  1. Matthew, you’re pointing the way in a direction that beckons, Yesterday I began a galley of a forthcoming book by Jay Michaelson “Becoming Dharma” out this fall, and already two points in chapter one he makes stick with me. He’s aligned with many of the currents your Big Trad post charts, and many familiar names, but he in his book is trying to orient his own delight, his own confrontations with its conventional and present guises, and then his own “growing out of” the joy meditation has brought him. He emphasizes how the Buddha never spoke of enlightenment but “liberation,” and writes as a LGBT activist, legal scholar with a PhD in Jewish thought, and as a “public intellectual”–in at least his own niche,

    Michaelson’s ready to critique the selling of the dharma as self-help. While he accepts its secularization and commodification as the latest in 2500 years of adaptation by the wider cultures, he remains cautious of clinging to mindfulness. although he admires what he touts as the “brainhacking” and upgrading capability of its modification of how we think and react to our situation. He warns that exposure to dharma and meditation may likely increase rather than decrease how we can cope with the world as it is. And that’s but chapter one. He ends with a look at Occupy–an issue that I am very curious about, given my own encounters and exposure to that and similar issues. I’m looking forward to sharing more about this book and related takes that we can analyze and mull over, and if you or other readers know of a place that may welcome an in-depth review, please let me know. I’d like to engage in a wider discussion to exchange ideas, as I enter from a rather isolated presence, given online dominates for me.

    I am bookmarking your blog on my own (which is more book review oriented but I have covered many B-related titles among my eclectic gleanings). Thanks for a stimulating site; it’s one I will explore more in days to come. It looks as if quite a
    burst of energy’s sparked a Big Bang here from background mental radiation. As we say in Gaeilge: “adh mór duit…agus le dea-ghuí agatsa”

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    1. Hi Fionnchu,
      You do seem enthusiastic about this book. To be frank, it’s odd hearing such enthusiasm 3rd hand, so I’m wondering what your intention is? Are you asking me whether I’d like to host your review here, or whether I can point you to a more established site?
      I am glad to hear that others are coming out of the woodwork regarding genuinely contemporary readings of Buddhist practises. I’d like to hear a little more about this book before investing time in reading it, so feel free to send me your review when it’s done.
      As for finding his own way, I personally see no other option available for contemporary practitioners of Buddhist meditative techniques if a meaningful shift towards a truly western manifestation of a culture of awakening might take place. Seeing what may be is perhaps the wrong choice, exploring in human terms the next steps after tradition has faltered is where I see the most worthwhile of Buddhist activity emerging.
      The problem still remains of course, that even western terms such as awakening, liberation and so forth are prone to suggesting something more than is actually contained in grasping at the experiential reality of making genuine progress in confronting the suffering-self and the phantom-I. I still feel we need a new way of talking about this whole affair and radical revisioning will be required. I’m hoping to do my bit for the cause here at this site.
      Come on back and say more if you feel like it. Thanks for the comment.
      Matthew

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