history and how to do Zen wrong

Zen practice has its pitfalls, and people have been worried about the same ones for a very long time. How Zen Became Zen is about sectarian conflict over one of them, which ultimately resulted in Rinzai koan practice. The history of Buddhism in China goes back hundreds of years before the 900s-1100s, but that’s the…

religious (non)violence

We’re supposed to believe that Islamic doctrine makes Islam more violent than other religions. This is dumb. Just like Islam has an undeserved reputation for violence, Buddhism has an undeserved reputation for peacefulness. In fact, Buddhist mobs attacked Muslims just recently in Burma. A natural response might be that the participants in the mob weren’t…

slavery and transgenerational trauma

On The Run by Alice Goffman (Erving Goffman’s daughter), is a book about inner-city policing. It’s based on field research (living with small-time crack dealers and getting to know the neighborhood). Apparently, it’s a common practice for police to camp outside of births, weddings, and funerals with video cameras, looking for people with warrants, unpaid…

what are psychoanalytic interpretations for?

Interpreting Interpretation: The Limits of Hermeneutic Psychoanalysis is a book by Elyn Saks, best known for functioning effectively as a law professor while managing schizophrenia. She’s also into psychoanalysis: The book elaborates on a straightforward argument: Psychoanalysts have written things that sound a lot like “Interpretations are stories we tell patients to make them feel…

psychotherapy, change, and cocaine

In How People Change, Allen Wheelis describes two ways that change occurs in psychotherapy. There’s the easy way, which probably won’t happen for you: Sometimes in therapy profound change occurs spontaneously, without effort or intention. It is a rare experience–any time, anywhere–to be known and understood without being judged, to be regarded with affection and…

when affirmative action was white

In terms of education, I’ve had the experience of living in a civilized country. I didn’t really pay for college, from community college through PhD. Mostly this was due to sources of money called Diversity Something Something. Since those sources of money depend on “merit” AND something else, some might question whether the financial support…

if they can fuck they are fine

Stuart Schneiderman’s book is composed mostly of quotable quotes: As long as you can accomplish the act of heterosexual intercourse with a reasonable degree of proficiency, you are immune from judgment about sexual performance and, by extension, from judgment about sanity. That the ability to copulate is not clinically a meaningful indicator of much of…

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