Thursday, April 24, 2008

TBD Recommends: Zen Habits

(with thanks to Cardozo for this posting)

“If we seek inner detachment and clarity while our outer life is a mess, we may enjoy periodic escapes from turmoil but find no lasting equanimity. If we devote ourselves to the welfare of the world while our inner life is riven by irrational ideals and unresolved compulsions, we can easily undermine our own resolve."

-Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs

Is Buddhism “deep?” If so, what do we mean by “deep.” When we think about Buddhism, what is the first image conjured by our brains? Someone sitting the lotus position, perhaps, engaged in meditation?

Meditation is, by all accounts, central to Buddhist practice. But it’s important to note that some thinkers – such as Stephen Batchelor who writes, above, about the notion of “unresolved compulsions” – take pains to put meditation within a broader context. Meditation, they remind us, is not an end goal, but rather a step along the path toward awakening. And while meditation is ultimately a solitary practice, our awakening is characterized by our enagement in the world – in the mundane, surface-level, non-intellectual practice of our daily lives.

Leo Babauta, author of, carries on admirably in Batchelor’s tradition. Even though his Buddhist ideas are strictly limited to the concept of zen, his entries provide thoughtful tools for engaging successfully, simply and directly with the world.

A list of some of his popular posts will serve to convey the thrust of the blog:

* 18 Practical Tips for Living the Golden Rule

* 5 Powerful Reasons to Drive Slower

* Become an Early Riser

* Email-Zen: Clear Out your Inbox

* 50 Tips for Grocery Shopping

I think you get the point, just from the titles of his entries. Each of them is infused with common sense wisdom and stripped of gimmick or distraction. Yet they are written in everyday vernacular and supported by poignant and often humorous examples from Leo’s own life. A life, incidently, in which he lost 30 pounds, doubled his income, eliminated his debt, revolutionized his eating habits, quit smoking, and ran a marathon, all within the same calendar year.

In sum, we’d like to thank Leo for reminding us that all Buddhism really offers is a path, and the outline of a path at that. Walking the path requires not just non-attachment, but also the cultivation of productive habits in the myriad everyday tasks that comprise our modern lifestyle. Do check out the blog.

As a teaser, we’ll sign off with one of Leo’s strategies for becoming an early riser:

Go out of the bedroom as soon as you shut off the alarm. Don’t allow yourself to rationalize going back to bed, just force yourself to go out of the room. My habit is to stumble into the bathroom and go pee. by the time I’ve done that, and flushed the toilet and washed my hands and looked at my ugly mug in the mirror, I’m awake enough to face the day.


roger said...

i'm hoping that reading blogs and news in bed with tea and toast qualifies as "getting up." at least we start at 6:30 am.

thanks for a timely reminder about balancing the inner and outer life.

MandT said...

One of my most insightful teachers, my Dad, once told me, "When you come to a fork in the road take it." Perhaps that is why years later my abbot gave me the name 'Not Two!" LOL

citizen of the world said...

That looks interesting - I bookmarked it so I can go back and check it out when I have a little more time. (Lke maybe after I've become an early riser! Ha ha.)