Enchanting, powerful, horrific, beautiful, wise, deadly, compassionate, seductive. Women in Buddhist story and image are all these things and more. She takes the signs of the ancient goddess – the lotus, the sacred grove, the serpent, the sacrifice – and uses them in astonishing new ways. Her story is one of suffering and great trials, and through it all an unquenchable longing to be free. This beautifully illustrated work is as layered and subversive as mythology itself. Based directly on authentic Buddhist texts, and informed with insights from psychology and comparative mythology, it takes a fresh look at how Buddhist women have been depicted by men and how they have depicted themselves.
Does Early Buddhism categorically reject or, on the contrary, tacitly admit the possibility of an intermediate state between two adjacent lives? How can these descriptions and views be used to make sense of research findings on ‘Near Death Experiences’ bring us closer to a more accurate understanding of death and beyond?
While the abhidhamma is presented as being based on the Buddha’s ultimate discernment of ‘mind & matter’, in reality the classical Theravādin abhidhamma is a scholastic philosophy which is little understood, and which, if examined critically, is full of incoherencies. Within Buddhist tradition, however, the abhidhamma is perhaps more significant for its purely religious or mystical significance, rather than as a guide for practice or understanding.
Reproductive ethics are one of our most urgent modern dilemmas. Each year, it seems, new technologies push the boundaries of life. Abortion remains a divisive political issue. In the Buddhist understanding of the Middle Way, we can seek a more reasonable approach.
The basis of insight meditation is the contemplation of impermanence, suffering, and not-self. Yet even here we are faced with a tricky interpretive problem: for while all saṅkhāras are said to be impermanent and suffering, all dhammas are said to be not-self. Why this subtle, enigmatic shift, and what are the implications for meditation?
While the Satipaṭṭhana Sutta is often claimed to be the most important of the Buddha’s teachings, close textual analysis reveals that it is a composite text, with substantial differences between the many existing versions. The use of the fundamental term dhamma in fact reveals the text to be part of the early Abhidhamma movement.
The term akālika, ‘timeless’, is one of the most familiar in the whole Dhamma. It is recited as part of the daily chanting as a fundamental aspect of the Dhamma. And yet its meaning is far from clear, and so it has attracted many interpretations. Rather than being a philosophical notion, it seems that is a call to action: if you practice, you can see the results for yourself.