2009

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Article September 17, 2021

Haven’t We All Been Susan Boyle?

John Tarrant

“I like to find instances of Zen in pop culture where people have never heard of Zen. Along these lines, it’s always nice to have what you think is going on, turn out to be not what is going on. This is particularly so when what you think is going on is embarrassing or sad. This is the basic Buddhist enlightenment story: that what is going on is more interesting than you think.”

572 Words

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Article September 17, 2021

The Way of Flirting

John Tarrant

John Tarrant introduces a modern bodhisattva of compassion found in Mike Leigh’s latest film, Happy-Go-Lucky. How does the bodhisattva of great compassion use all those hands and eyes? It’s like reaching behind you for a pillow in the night.

924 Words

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Article September 17, 2021

Gifts, Gods in Disguise, & Freedom

John Tarrant

Buddhism is based in reality. When we lose what we thought we had, our panic asks, “What will happen to little me?” and any answer to that question is likely to be overwhelming and shadowed. It is human to panic out of habit, without asking ourselves what is really going on and what our true, deep reaction is. But the gods in disguise show that sudden change can happen in a positive direction. The path out of suffering is closely related to accuracy, to noticing what really is, as opposed to what we first thought.

2816 Words

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Article September 17, 2021

Escape Arts & Sam the Cyborg

John Tarrant

Escape arts disassemble the walls or, as in dreams, allow us to step right through them. We can also think of escape arts as practices that appear in moments of natural clarity. They are often similar to the moves you make if you are interested in Zen and koans, but the world teaches escape arts to us; they just appear in a situation without any conscious feeling that you are entering spiritual territory.

773 Words

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Article September 16, 2021

Return to the (Political) World

John Tarrant

Politics belongs in the general realm of imperfection, self-deception, desperate hope, and congenial affection we call civilization. That’s where the bodhisattva, who is interested in the fate of others, hangs out. Also, if you indulge in politics, certain personal implications accompany you; you don’t get away without being transformed by the material you are working with.

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Article September 16, 2021

My Average Life

John Tarrant

“I like finding features of popular culture that point the way out of the mind’s prison. It is as if a trail of breadcrumbs had been left where least expected.”

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Article September 15, 2021

What’s Your Story?

John Tarrant

The thusness of our reactions — the old teachers called all of these responses Buddha Nature. That’s what we recognize in each other.

741 Words

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Article September 13, 2021

Placebo, Chronic Fatigue & Dormitive Principles

John Tarrant

I’m getting used to the thought that many things that seem as if they belong in the realm of the body are also influenced by the mind. Placebo studies indicate that even surgery can be a placebo. In medical school the faculty will sometimes say to students that they should use a drug a lot when it first comes out while people still believe in it. There is a Zen koan that goes “The whole world is medicine,” and the joke is that it could go, “The whole world is placebo.”

884 Words

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Article September 10, 2021

What Are the Practices of Gratitude?

John Tarrant

“Gratitude is something that I haven’t planned on—either to receive or to give—it takes me by surprise. It arrives out of nowhere. It’s the part of happiness that is beyond selfishness. My gratitude doesn’t have a lot of discrimination, and I like that.”

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Misc December 17, 2017

Blue Night

Allison Atwill

Allison Atwill, “Blue Night,” 2009. Acrylic on birch panel with silver leaf, 16″ x 20″.

Misc December 17, 2017

Dreaming Awake

Allison Atwill

Allison Atwill, “Dreaming Awake,” 2009. Acrylic on birch panel with copper leaf, 18″ x 24″.

Misc December 17, 2017

Snow in a Silver Bowl

Allison Atwill

Allison Atwill, “Snow in a Silver Bowl,” 2009. Acrylic on paper with silver leaf, 16″ x 20″.