icons_homeThe blog was the starting point for the whole site and the inspiration for the podcast. Its content is based on an experimental exploration of Buddhism by Matthew O’Connell carried out over the last ten years. Focusing primarily on a post-traditional approach, and drawing on non-Buddhism, as well as the ideal of The Great Feast, it explores a variety of important aspects of contemporary western Buddhism, and more. To learn about the post-traditional approach to Buddhism, click here. Some of the earlier articles are divided into chapters that can be rummaged through. The work contained within each chapter represents an experimental moment in looking anew at a key Buddhist topic, so take it as such.

Later pieces are interspersed with the podcast and demonstrate an emergent critical approach.

Thoughts on Coaching

I will be putting together more posts on coaching over the next months. This piece explores why folks like the idea of change, but so often refuse to start or give up as soon as it becomes challenging: I refuse to Change

Book Reviews

Two of my book reviews have been published here.

Glenn Wallis: A critique of Western Buddhism: ruins of the Buddhist real

Richard P. Boyle: Realizing Awakened Consciousness

Newer Material

This is a longer, personal piece written for the Asian Medicine Journal. It’s kind of personal & summarizes a lot of what I’ve done, am doing, and the work of the site & the podcast: Modernity, Identity and Contemporary non-Buddhism

This piece is also published at the Speculative non-Buddhism site and was linked to an episode on neo-liberal Mindfulness with Ron Purser: Buddhism, Mindfulness, and neo-Liberalism

Rethinking Tonglen in our modern age: Is Tonglen Truly Awesome?

Reflections on engagement with the SNB site: Interlude to Meditation: Humanity, Human or Humane, or What?

Theory and Practice mini-series

Part 1. Radical Opening

Part 2. Performance

Part 3. Theory & Practice + Experience

Rethinking Meditation

01. Meditation Comes Next

02. A View on Meditation: De-essentialising

03. Meditation: Some Post-Traditional Thoughts

Critical Thought on Buddhism and Spirituality

Against the Spiritual

Warming up with non-Buddhism

Stories & their Ubiquity

Identity Formation & Buddhism

Getting to Grips with Identity

Critical Thinking & the Problem with Beliefs: The NKT, Rigpa, & SGI

Buddhist Bullshit

The Tricky Issue of Being Authentic

Insights through Disruption: Buddhemes & Charism

Tradition, Baggage & Innovation


Earlier Work

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

1.Post-Traditional Buddhism: the quiet revolution? Explores a personal adventure that led to a break from traditional contemporary forms of Buddhism.
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
Utilizing a no holds barred style, this two-part series strips away the mystique of enlightenment and humanizes the affair. Yes, enlightenment does exist as a possibility, yes it is likely to disappoint, and sorry, it won’t turn you into a super-human. Read on if you have enough of being fed the enlightenment manure.

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

Collapse and Awaken
This three-part series represents an evolution from the previous writing and an attempt to work together Buddhist non-duality and neo-Animism. It was written for the Dark Mountain Project. It is a slightly poetic affair aimed at a general audience and not only 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.

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

8 thoughts on “Blog

  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”


    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.


  2. Matthew, I’ve recently discovered your site and am now digging into it. Great stuff! As a Zen man and socialist I am especially interested in engaged Buddhism and the critique of neo-liberalism. My own project is to show how meditation itself may cultivate an oppositional consciousness and function as ideology critique. I’ve published along these lines on Shaun Bartone’s blog and would love to discuss these ideas with you. If interested, I am at


  3. Hi, is it Henry?

    Thanks for visiting. I’ll be honest, I’m caught by very different concerns in this moment of my life, but I do consider the practice field of no-self, or not-self as some prefer, to be both an incredible resource for but also a challenge to the political sphere, including Socialism and Left-Wing politics, and in particular identity politics. The work I have developed here is primarily concerned with ideology and the self. The podcast has quite a few episodes relating to it including The Ideological Turn and The Political Turn, which you might find interesting.



  4. Hi Matthew, These resources about Buddhism must be read by everyone who’s interested in peace and harmony in his or her own life. The world now has become a corrupted place which leads to conflict among individuals as well as nations. We all should recognize the basic ignorance that existed inside of us such as greed, anger, and hatred.


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