Monday, April 7, 2014

VIa UTNE: Free Your Mind: Practice Vipassana Meditation

After years of heavy addiction, Chris Grosso found himself literally on his knees, utterly lost and broken. Grasping for life, he needed to find a new path, one that went beyond conventional religious or spiritual doctrineone free of bullshit. Indie Spiritualist (Beyond Words Publishing, 2014) empowers readers to accept themselves as they are, in all their humanity and imperfect perfection. In this excerpt learn the basics of vipassana meditation, a simple relaxation practice that can be done by anyone and in any setting.

Vipassana Meditation

Besides being asked, “What’s an Indie Spiritualist?” the second most common question I’m typically asked is “What type of meditation do you practice?”

While I personally practice many different types of medita­tion—never feeling like I have to stay within the confines of only one tradition—I typically respond with vipassana, as I’ve found it to be the most universally applicable form of meditation around. Any form of meditation that resonates with you—whether guided, man­tra, movement, and so forth—will definitely be of benefit.

I adore meditation because there are countless ways to meditate, with no particular style being any better than another. It’s all about what resonates with you. You can find many free guided medita­tions online by searching Google or YouTube, as well as by visiting your local library. Most meditation practices are to spirituality what Bob Ross was to painting—very laid back and go with the flow. And while your practice may not provide you with happy little trees, it will over time create a greater sense of peace, clarity, and serenity in your life, and that’s sorta like happy little trees, right?

Through years of drug addiction, I did considerable damage to myself, resulting in heavy bouts of depression and anxiety. For years, I relied on antidepressant and anti-anxiety medications to keep me in a somewhat balanced state, but after cultivating a dedicated meditation practice I eventually found myself at a place where, under doctor supervision, I was able to taper off the medication and no longer needed it.

Let me make it perfectly clear, however, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking prescribed medication for conditions like anxiety, depression, and so forth. I recognize that they were very nec­essary in my life at that time, as I was very chemically off-balance. There is nothing unspiritual about taking prescribed medication when needed, because our own mental and emotional well-being must come first before we can truly help others.

Whether we are on medication or not, meditation practices will certainly help us to not only cultivate more calm in our lives, but also to handle things like stress, anxiety, and depression in gentler ways. For the benefit of those who are new to meditation, I’m providing these simple guided instructions for the practice of vipassana.

Make the jump here to read the full blog

10 Crazy Christian Quotes You May Not Have Heard

We all hear of the uber-crazy stuff that high-profile fundamentalists Christians say. Stupid Christian quotes are gleefully reported by the liberal media, and rightly so. For those of us who are SANE Christians, it’s a reminder of the reasons that non-believers think all Christians are crazy. As a member of the Christian Left, I say “let’s expose these kooks”! Here are some quotes by fundamentalist Christians that you may not have heard. Y’all enjoy.
  1. “When the temptation to masturbate is strong, yell “Stop!” to those thoughts as loudly as you can in your mind. Then recite a portion of the Bible or sing a hymn.”  –Mormon Guide to Self-Control
  2. “We don’t have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand.” –James Watt, Secretary of the Interior during the Reagan years.
  3. “I called to buy some meth, but I threw it away.” —Rev. Ted Haggard, when details began to emerge about his visits to a male prostitute, in 2006.
  4. Our culture is superior. Our culture is superior because our religion is Christianity and that is the truth that makes men free. –Pat Buchanan
  5. “This Christmas I want you to do the most loving thing and I want you to buy each of your children an SKS rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition.” —A speaker at the 1995 convention of the U.S. Taxpayers Party. A few months later, Dobson endorsed their candidate for president, Howard Phillips.
  6. “Kids today are looking for something to die for… If you give them something to die for, they’ll go to the edge of the earth for you.”  —James Dobson’s son Ryan, in 2005. His book, 2Die4 : The Dangerous Truth About Following Christ advocates “murderous war because our enemies are deadly.”
  7. “The right of holding slaves is clearly established in the Holy Scriptures, both by precept and example.”  –R. Furman, Baptist, of South Carolina
  8. “Sex education classes in our public schools are promoting incest.” –Jimmy Swaggart
  9. “Nobody has the right to worship on this planet any other God than Jehovah. And therefore the state does not have the responsibility to defend anybody’s pseudo-right to worship an idol.”  –Rev. Joseph Morecraft, Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, “Biblical Role of Civil Government” speech given 8/31/93 at Biblical Worldview and Christian Education Conference
  10. “When you know the LORD you have no need for masturbation.” –Brice Wellington

Politician Says Marriage Equality is Murder: April 7 MNW

Via JMG: Sullivan Doubles-Down On Mozilla Flap

Yesterday Andrew Sullivan acknowledged that the resignation of Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich was not the work of gay activists but came as the result of pressure from the "techie straight left." (Ben Shapiro appears to concede that point as well.) But Sullivan remains outraged.

A civil rights movement without toleration is not a civil rights movement; it is a cultural campaign to expunge and destroy its opponents. A moral movement without mercy is not moral; it is, when push comes to shove, cruel. For a decade and half, we have fought the battle for equal dignity for gay people with sincerity, openness, toleration and reason. It appears increasingly as if we will have to fight and fight again to prevent this precious and highly successful legacy from being hijacked by a righteous, absolutely certain, and often hateful mob. We are better than this. And we must not give in to it.
Sullivan says he's gotten hundreds of emails from readers who "overwhelmingly disagree" with him about the controversy.

posted by Joe Jervis

Via Tricycle

April 7, 2014 | New at Tricycle: A Buddhist visits Burning Man; Karma Trinlay Rinpoche's online retreat on the six paramitas; a look at the different kinds of debt (social, economic, spiritual); an escape from the least livable city on Earth; an institute updates the age-old tradition of the scholar-practitioner; and interviews with the leading voices in contemporary Buddhism in our newest e-book, Conversations: Volume 1

Psychedelic experimentation, intimate connections, and all-night partying: all activities we normally associate with the annual art and music festival Burning Man. But when contributing editor Allan Badiner visited the playa—Burning Man's desert city—he found a community based on generosity, nonjudgment, and principles that reminded him of the eightfold path.

Via Daily Dharma

Pure Gold | April 7, 2014

Free passion is radiation without a radiator, a fluid, pervasive warmth that flows effortlessly. It is not destructive because it is a balanced state of being and highly intelligent. Self-consciousness inhibits this intelligent, balanced state of being. By opening, by dropping our self-conscious grasping, we see not only the surface of an object, but we see the whole way through. We appreciate not in terms of sensational qualities alone, but we see in terms of whole qualities, which are pure gold.  
—Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, “Love Story”