Why We Meditate

This is exactly why we rely on silent meditation: nothing, with words, relying on words, coming from words, needing words can ever come as close to delivering an experience of truth. Philosophy aspires to truth: but it cannot reach there, fully. It is why Dae Soen Sa Nim used to say, “Opening your mouth is already a big mistake.”

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Very, Very Interesting Talk (if you understand Korea and why I left)

A recent video post by some prominent Dharma Teacher in Korean Buddhism about my much-hyped statements criticising the natural corruptions of Korean Buddhism in 2016. This “commentary” I made, in a comment on some Facebook story, was the #1 or #2 story on all the evening news programs for two full days in Korea. One prominent Buddhist said that these comments “melted the Internet” in Korea for two days, and caused the main Buddhist order — the Chogye Order — to “shake”. It seems that the reverberations from that quick, unrefined commentary still pulsate through the bowels of the tradition, as evidenced by this talk released in the third week of October 2020, some 4 years later, through the YouTube channel of one of Korean Buddhism’s most significant temples:

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[ 2 ] Oh, Bernstein on Beethoven’s “Eroica”

And so, it metastasizes. This ineluctable concept-listening disease… Since that listening of the final movement of Mahler’s First Symphony, I fell into study this eveningof just Beethoven’s opening movement from the Eroica. By all accounts this is the symphony that forever changed classical music: Eroica made it about the ego, the aggrieved and the mourning hero, funereal yet triumphant, going deaf all along. Promethean Me. I do prefer the muscular and the mad in Bernstein’s Beethoven, especially in this one. Movement Two: From the Funereal March Accchhhhh.. the Third and Fourth! Such Austro-German dionyseanism. (Terrible expression.) I am not in any way knowledgeable about music or musical theory. I will not pretend to any authority. But in studying this symphony recently — really listening to it, after so many years never touching it, it comes back to me how greater this might ever be than Mahler. And that’s a really really hard thing to hear myself say. Just this one piece — the Eroica. This feeling is emerging, having never thought that Mahler’s understanding of our modern human mind could maybe never be surpassed. And hearing this Eroica again. This whole thing, this symphony — this madness, this rage, this

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On the Use of Psychedelics and Meditation

I am often asked about the usefulness of psychedelics and meditation. It seems like this question comes with greater frequency these days. And there is no blanket answer: I am very open-minded, to a point, and I have encouraged some few people that having a psychedelic experience could help with some particularly deep-rooted block with regard to addiction, to a trauma, or even to an aspect of their meditation practice. Recently, at a gathering of friends, I was pulled aside by the college-age son of one of my followers (I’ll call him “Danny”). He said that he has been offered the opportunity by friends to experience psychedelic mushrooms, and what did I think about this? Now, if I do have some rules, one of them is to exert extreme care when advising the children of my students about anything that might not align with some of the most conservative norms of a meditating life. Nevertheless, I was placed at an unusual juncture where the pure-minded questioner had access only to the encouragement of some similarly-aged friends, with all of the blind peer pressure and testosterone-fuelled risk-taking bravado involved, and his own conservative parents. It seemed that the most compassionate thing

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