Monthly Archives: August 2012

Free classes

I’d like to offer two free classes this fall, if there’s interest.

The first would be sitting and walking meditation. It would be about an hour, maybe a little longer. There wouldn’t be instruction or discussion, just a time to sit and practice together.

The second would be a reading group. We could read different books over time together, and discuss them. That would also be about an hour. I’m not sure yet which book we’d start with (and I’d take suggestions there).

Times and dates to be determined.


Rambling about shamanism

The consecration of the Great Stupa of Dharmak...

The consecration of the Great Stupa of Dharmakaya in Colorado (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve started (very slowly and with little effect) a new blog on Castaneda’s ideas in the Don Juan books.


Concepts in …


As someone who reads Trungpa Rinpoche’s books, seeing the concepts of “gap” and the “looking/seeing” distinction in Castaneda really shocked me. Now, there are talks up at the “Chronicles” website, on Castenada, but I haven’t seen much of them yet. (Partly due to a slow internet connection, and partly due to laziness.) Anyhow, those will probably connect in at some point.


So that’s the project: a small one, and just getting started. Jumping back, however- what’s the connection? Why make that connection?


Is it because Tibetan Buddhism is exotic, and magical, just like shamanism, a kind of spiritual playground?


Is it that shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism (as it morphs into the West) have something to offer to each other? Does that imply a limitation or incompleteness in either, right now?


One thing that’s interesting and addictive about the “Don Juan” books is they (purport to) show the spiritual learning of a skeptical, intellectual American (as he becomes the apprentice of a Yaqui shaman/warrior/man of knowledge, takes hallucinogens many times, and witnesses various strange things and visions). They say that the spiritual path is different for everyone. It’s quite possible, for some people, that the journey is slow and uneventful, with a very subtle gradual shift in consciousness and ability to be virtuous. It’s much more exciting, though, to read about people struggling with the path, having visions, freaking out, struggling with their teacher, and experiencing moments of breakthrough.

It could be inspiring to read these sort of spiritual biographies.

Then again, it could be deceptive, or wishful thinking, or an excuse to not actually sit down and practice. There’s plenty of issues to think about. Of course, it’s also about culture clash, possibly: Asian Buddhism finding ways to exist skillfully in the West, the story of an academic (Castaneda) struggling to overcome his habitual clinging to reason, his arrogance, and learning to interact with a Native Mexican teacher (who in the book, oddly enough, seems very a-cultural, very universal).


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