“The source of suffering is a false belief in permanence and the existence of separate selves.”
― Thích Nhất Hạnh, Old Path White Clouds

Key principles

Three Turnings of the Wheel of Dharma

1. Sutrayana

2. Mahayana

  • Emptiness
  • Compassion Ideal: Bodhisattva → Being who wants to awaken all other beings

3. Vajrayana (Tibetan Tradition)

  • Even emptiness is empty
  • Awakening and delusion come together

Finding a home in Buddhism

Person-Yana Fit

Finding a home within Buddhism is a matter of individual “fit” rather than ultimate correctness. Buddhism is a pragmatic religion. It is concerned mainly with methods, rather than truth. Because we are all different, different methods will be useful for us.

Questions to think about

  • What style of teaching and practice do I find inspiring? What motivates me to practice?
  • Where am I at, spiritually? What am I currently capable of? What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are the different directions I can go from here? Among those, which direction do I want to go?
  • What tools are available to take me from where I am to where I want to go?
  • Which Buddhist teachers and lineages offer those tools? Where do I feel a heart connection? What do I like?

your sangha should be irritating

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Not the path of “just letting be”/no striving

By him who knows not, who sees not as it really is (the causal uprising and ceasing) … training must be done … practice must be done … exertion must be made … there must be no turning back… there must be energy… there must be mindfulness … there must be earnestness. - Samyutta Nikdya, read in Mutual Causality in Buddhism and General Systems Theory by Joanna Macy

Goals in Buddhism

  • The Buddha used the word striving a lot in the sutras
  • He acknowledges that in the process of striving there will be dissatisfaction, and that’s ok
    • That can be included
  • Right Effort
  • 4 Bases of Success
    • Desire
    • Persistence
    • Full attentiveness
    • Ingenuity
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Teachers and inspiration


Rob Burbea on Modern, Mainstream Buddhism in the West

  • Common western, consensus buddhism is so obsessed with the individual’s inner growth and path
    • End up missing the outer socio-economic-environmental crises
    • Can reinforce the sense of separation
  • Oneness lend itself to a kind of equanimity (that is held as THE goal)
  • Archetypes are extremely limited
    • Only calm Buddha, where is the warrior, the erotic?
    • That single archetype won’t be enough to fire up activists
  • The basis of Buddhist teaching (Four Noble Truths) focus on “healing of suffering”
  • Quieting, reducing or healing the Self
    • Different than growing the wildness, uniqueness, individuation of the Self
  • Mindfulness is one approach, we need flame, passion, sexuality and much more
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David Chapman on Consensus Buddhism


Mainstream Buddhism and Tantra

According to mainstream Buddhism, it is critical to avoid indulging in sense pleasures. Those tie you to the world, and the world is bad. According to tantra, the world is fantastic. According to tantra, tantrikas should enjoy sensual pleasures as thoroughly and often as possible. There is no problem with that—if it has no negative practical consequences. According to tantra, it is possible to enjoy everything. Nothing in the world can be objectively bad, because there is no external standard to measure it against. “Good” and “bad” are judgements based only on what you happen to like and dislike. Tantra trains you to suspend such judgement. > David Chapman

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Vague Path to Save All Beings

  • Bodhisattvayana—the Buddhist path of compassion:
    1. Compassion
    2. ???
    3. Save all sentient beings!

Rejection of Power

  • Power is needed if we want to create change in the World for the good of all
    • Like any tool, power can be used for good or ill