Imperfect Buddha Podcast 13.1: Theory & Practice & Happy New Year!


Happy New Year folks!

Stuart finally makes his return to the Imperfect Buddha podcast in an in-depth discussion of the role theory and practice might play in a post-traditional engagement with Buddhism. This topic was inspired by a recent series of posts on exactly this topic over at the Post-Traditional Buddhism blog.

Our discussion goes critical as Stuart and I take our usual meander down the rabbit hole of taboos, and biting critique of the dysfunctional face of contemporary Western Buddhism.

This may just be our most controversial, critical issue yet! So, start 2018 with a bang and listen in. Any criticisms can be posted at the usual locations: here, Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments section at the blog.


O’Connell Coaching:

Post-Traditional Buddhism on Theory and Practice:

Post-Traditional Buddhism on Performance:

Post-Traditional Buddhism on Experience:

Hardcore History Podcast Khan episode:

Speculative non-Buddhism and the online retreat:

Music by Bristol band Scalping


  1. Hi, I recently listened to your second Cults episode and while I dig your humour, multiple meanderings and critical stance, I was overall underwhelmed, as I didn’t hear any new ideas (to me) on the dynamics and features of cults and cultic situations.

    But, this pod was another kettle of fish entirely. Oh my…. ! Before the Cults pod I had browsed around your site and heard the interviews with Ken McLeod and Hokai. But I don’t think much of your perspective stayed with me. But the force on this one was definitely dialled up to 11. There’s some real meat in your critique and the demand for more from western Buddhists.

    I hope to post a more fleshed out response soon, but for now I’ll just say thanks and please keep ‘em coming.


    • Hello,
      Your frank posting was amusing, thanks. I’d make just two points in response. Firstly, new ideas are not so easy to come by and time is a difficult resource to come by as well. Secondly, our more critical episodes have the lowest figures in terms of listenership, which is fine, but it does raise the question of reach, impact and consequences. My response to this has been to encourage engagement with the critical material by stealth by mixing up interviews with guests capable of being critical with those who have offered an alternative to mainstream western Buddhism and mindfulness fetish and that are well-known enough to draw folks in. The conversations Stuart and I have seek to get a balance between critique and constructive, playful exploration of themes that are typically left unsaid or played down in western Buddhist circles. You might be surprised by how wary folks are of the critical edge.
      If you like the more critical content, why not listen to Glenn Wallis in his second interview, and Jayarava shred reincarnation. David Chapman was a more critical guest too.
      All the best,

      Liked by 1 person

      • On reading your reply I see my judgments for the Cults episode were brusque and left unsaid my gratitude for the work and time you put into that episode. Sorry for that. Those judgments were framed around my personal question with any new podcast – Is it a good use of my time? As such, that’s mostly a dialogue with myself and may be of little use to other listeners who may have gotten a lot more out of it than me.

        I came to your blog and podcast via David Chapman’s nearby orbiting planets in this ”dark-Buddhist or Buddhish” constellation, so I’m very aware of his (to me) excellent, if frustrating work.

        Thanks also for the other playlist suggestions, but I had already put Jayarava and Glen Wallis’ episodes on the playlist. I’ve read Jayarava’s blog of and on for nearly an decade (I think), though like David Chapman’s writing, I can’t keep up with the output.

        As to your decisions about the podcast’s tone, criticality and impact. My first thought, is that your position, in relation to current Buddhism(s) & Buddhists, is liberating and fruitful for inquiry, but weak in any potential for any impact. It does seem to be hard to have any impact on people within traditions from outside as these questions, modes of critique are hard to explore while one is in a tradition. At least they were for me. Those who ask them mostly quiet down, self-exile themselves or are gently expressed out of the tradition/group. Once outside you can freely pursue the questions or experiment, but you’ve lost a dialogue partner or position to be able to shape the tradition.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s