“Hello and welcome to the Imperfect Buddha podcast…”
And with these words, a new batch of episodes are out after having been toasted off nicely under the grill. In our seventh year of life, yes, we’ve been going that long, my own personal interest and desire to be of service continue to drive the guest choices and topics I tackle. They link back to our first episodes on Buddhist Cults, western Buddhism evolving with the times, the possibility of radical change, and the need to engage one’s critical faculties and intelligence in engaging with any kind of spiritual practice. Education is foundational to these themes; educating ourselves, educating each other, being willing to learn, change one’s mind, and be wrong. So simple to say, yet so often subverted by all too human dreams, fears and desires.
The two themes that continue to drive this podcast and its inquiry, exploration and content are as follows.
Theme one: Practice at the Edge
I continue to be fascinated by the effects of long-term practice and the ups and downs of the life of serious practitioners. What happens when you take Buddhism really seriously? Attempt to transforms its ideas, goals, and practices into means for radical change and growth? What does it mean to mature with the bases and outcomes of each over the years?
The majority of discourse surrounding Buddhism in the West and spiritual practice reads like a sells pamphlet. Today, in 2022, the nature of dialogue is very much centred on Mindfulness, scientific validation, therapeutic need, and most recently, activism. There is of course good in each of these, and there is necessary work taking place, at times. But there is also a form of parochial capture by the moment, and its symbols of attraction. There is also an exploitation of our present, and a reaction to it. Because of the issues many western Buddhist practitioners have with the second of our themes, they are often areas addressed with only a modicum of critical thought; Buddhists thus become banner wavers for what the moment demands of them. There is also the issue of how such present-day concerns are converted into projects of relevance extension for famous Buddhist teachers, with more books to write, preaching to take place, and money to be made. Or am I merely being a cynic?
Come on. I did suggest both good and bad are taking place. And who speaks to the bad? Few it seems.
Theme two: Philosophy and the Great Feast
I love thought. There you go. I said it. I love thought. Thought as a gesture. Thought as birthing. Thought as gathering. Thought as nurturing. Thought as cooking, preparing, serving, eating, and defecating. Intelligence is a thing of beauty. As many of you know, it needs care and attention. It needs a decent diet of healthy food though must avoid getting comfortable in a dietary routine of the familiar. We mustn’t over-eat of course, under nourish, snack on social-media-fast-food too often, mix the wrong kinds of food leading to indigestion and constipation, and ideally we commit to developing a refined palate in order to appreciate the rich traditions of intelligent cooking with their variety of ingredients, histories and sources.
Intelligence is in short supply as our world of collective ignorance and stupidity shows us daily. Buddhism does not provide us with all we need to address these two. Philosophy does not provide all the solutions either. Training the mind, understanding the emotions, refining attention, becoming more human are struggles our species has faced with great stubbornness over its long existence. Philosophy is a location of history and current day struggles. A massive cultural richness often difficult to wrestle with yet is part of our inheritance from ancestors the date back to the Greeks, the early pre-Indic cultures, ancient China, Japan and for some the older religious practices that pre-date named philosophers and religious figures.
The Great Feast is the great metaphor for our time. It democratises the many voices, ideas, theories and practices. All of those ancient and contemporary voices are welcome there. All ideas can be discussed, explored and brought into an infinite variety of relationships. It is not a final solution, the next best thing, it is merely a place of meeting and feasting without intellectual bounds. The podcast attempts to provide a visit there.
What’s out today?
Daniel Ingram on the Practising Life
Mr Ingram once again joins us for a wide-ranging conversation and he even invokes the Great Feast metaphor! Mr Wallis, are you happy? We discuss long-term practice, the impact of an intimate relationship on it, Hard Core practice, and we certainly don’t come out as conservatives, so hold your horses left-wing extremists, we’re not Fascio-Nazi-Racist-Hate-Filled Men. We also discuss what looks to be a fascinating Bodhisattva project Daniel has a key hand in birthing.
The next audio-cast instalment of my series on doubt. I think it’s good. What about you?
What’s coming up next?
Jacques Derrida on Buddhism? Hell, yeah!
Peter Salmon, the author An Event Perhaps, will come on to explain Derrida’s contribution to our current moment, unpack deconstruction, and tell us what Derrida had to say on Buddhism, spirituality, awakening and that annoying relationship between the text and everything.
Nietzsche is a Punk Rocker…or was it a Buddha?
Yes, definitely the latter. Jason M. Wirth is finally coming on to talk about his book on Nietzsche and other Buddhas, exploring life after comparative philosophy. We will be discussing the persistent relevance of pure consciousness, absolutes, awakening, ideals, the Earth and practice. Jason is not only a professor of philosophy but a Zen Priest, so this will be an enlightening visit to the Great Feast for sure.
Listen here: Daniel Ingram on Practice
Listen here: Doubt Part 2
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