On Second Thought / Guest Contributors

  /  Creative Writing, Guest Contributors

Opera on a Saturday Morning

The Zen center of Los Angeles on a warm Saturday morning June of 1975. I’d come down to ZCLA from my home in Highland Park to practice Zazen with the Sangha. Every available window was open to catch any air that might be stirring. This meant that any stray sound or smell was free to wander in as well; and they did.I was sitting close to a window that faces across a narrow driveway to an … read on

  /  Creative Writing, Guest Contributors


Come now, little old lady. Come and sit quietly here in this rocking chair beside me. Tell me: are you sailing at last into quiet waters, your mind a spacious okay with what is? Your old dog following behind? No! Oh come now! At your age? A new boat? You? crawling through hatches, leaping shore-ward, crashing your vessel into pylons, wharves, channel markers, buoys, and jetties? Come now! Your knees won’t bend You cannot squat … read on

  /  Dharma Prompts, Guest Contributors

Qualities of Reflective Meditation

Several months ago I received a paper called “Fundamentals/The Ground,” which was written by several teachers in reflective meditation. I would like to use some of these ideas to further explore what we mean by the term “reflective meditation.” The first question to consider is this new name of reflective meditation. What do we mean by reflective? There are several implications. It’s a  word that invites curiosity, meaning to ponder, meditate, turn, or consider.  Also … read on

  /  Dharma Prompts, Guest Contributors


The topic of anatta is a difficult topic to talk about without creating misconceptions or reducing meaning. The common translation of anatta as “no self” is misleading. Although a mouthful, let’s consider anatta as “no enduring, unchanging self.” Our sense of self, who we are, is fluid. It changes over time and in different situations. I’m going to tie this talk on anatta to my Vipassana practice which is also a complex topic, too easily reduced in … read on

  /  General, Guest Contributors

Interview with David Barash: Buddhism and Biology

By Josh Summers As part of my ongoing conversation series for www.meaningoflife.tv, I’ve had the great pleasure to connect with David Barash, professor emeritus of psychology – specifically evolutionary psychology – at the University of Washington. In this conversation, David unpacks the convergences and divergences between Buddhist views of the world and those of a biology. David’s book: “Buddhist Biology” Where Buddhism and biology converge The interconnected world Karma in Buddhism and biology David’s “existential-bio-Buddhism” … read on

  /  Creative Writing, Guest Contributors

Sitting Together (a book preview from Wisdom Pubs, Inc.)

By Sumi Loundon Kim I once asked a university psychologist which undergraduates survived crisis better, be it the onset of debilitating depression, addiction, a car accident, or death in the family: those who’d grown up with a spiritual path, or those who didn’t? Without hesitation he said that students with a spiritually grounded childhood, whether they continued with that or not as young adults, not only got through their crisis but also personally grew from … read on

  /  Creative Writing, Guest Contributors

Self Improvement

We like to think that because we have learned to know our various mind states we ought to be able to order up our preferred ones, like on Amazon We think self-awareness should reduce envy or that if we are really good meditators, we won’t feel the sting of envy at all, or the need for more chocolate In any given moment we take on faith the feeling This is Me, rather than seeing how many different … read on

  /  General, Guest Contributors

Unraveling the Fabric of Prejudice

There are different types of suffering in the world. There is the suffering we cause ourselves through craving, hate and delusion, that we need to wake up from. And there is the suffering that comes from life’s catastrophes, which cannot be stopped, though we can perhaps lessen the suffering they cause. And then there is the suffering of humanity that comes from the cruelty of injustice, that plays out in countless ways every day, across … read on

Take Back Monkey Mind

I remember being in the jungle in Guatemala, looking up at the lush canopy of overgrowth and being mesmerized by spider monkeys swinging gracefully from branch to branch. I never knew where each monkey would go next or how they would move. This seemed like freedom and it looked good to me. So how then did monkey mind get such a bad rap in the meditative and mindfulness world? I purposely titled this piece “Take … read on