On my first ten day meditation retreat I had experiences that were sublime, blissful, and bordering on psychedelic, giving me a glimpse of what might be possible with dedicated practise.

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Sayagyi U Bha Kin and Webu Sayadaw.

“That would be my worst nightmare” was a response I often heard when I told friends, family and colleagues that I’d signed up for a ten day silent meditation retreat. For many people the idea of sitting alone with your thoughts seems either incredibly boring or fraught with danger. It’s certainly a world away from our hyper-engaged daily life where we fill even small pockets of time with podcasts, social…


Thant Myint-U’s new book, ‘The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century’, unearths the deep, historical roots of Burma’s economic, social and political challenges.

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Aung San Suu Kyi addresses European Parliament in 2013 © EPP Group

Thant Myint-U’s new book, The Hidden History of Burma: Race, Capitalism and the Crisis of Democracy in the 21st Century, comes at a crossroads for Burma and the West. While the country’s de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, was once the darling of human rights advocates, today she is the object of deep disillusionment. …


Many feel we will inevitably emerge from this pandemic into a fairer, more caring society. By analysing this myth, we can learn a lot about the problems of our age.

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Image: Yuri Samoilov

Back in March, Madonna released a video sharing her reflections on the Coronavirus pandemic. For some reason the video was filmed with her naked in a bathtub filled with rose petals. In a hushed tone with eyes downcast, she speaks to camera:

“That’s the thing about COVID-19. It doesn’t care about how rich you are, how famous you are, how funny you are, how smart you are, where you live, how old you are, what amazing stories you can tell.”

“It’s the great equaliser and what’s terrible about it is what’s great about it.”

I find Madonna’s take rather interesting…


Western Buddhists have been criticised for distorting centuries old traditions and doctrines. Is there a way that they could engage more respectfully?

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A collection of Buddhist sculptures in the British Museum. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Over the last few centuries the beliefs, practises and philosophies of Buddhism have slowly permeated the Western world. Settling on a precise point of origin can be difficult, but we know that the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer undertook serious study of Buddhism as early as 1815. The degree to which this influenced his philosophy is still the subject of debate, but his interest lives on in the work of Friedrich Nietzsche — perhaps the most important philosopher of the last few centuries — who described Buddhism as “a hundred times more realistic than Christianity”.

Westerners engaging with Buddhism need to…


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Scott Morrison has declared war on the hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of Australians who want to see action on climate change.

So far, Morrison’s Prime Ministership has been marked by a blunt refusal to meaningfully address carbon emissions, or to encourage clean energy.

After avoiding the United Nations Climate Summit, Morrison made a speech at the United Nations Climate Summit touting his Government’s record on climate change. Taking influence from Trump, the speech either willfully distorted facts, or simply ignored them in favour of outright lies.

But today, Morrison dramatically escalated his war, declaring his intention to crack down on ‘secondary boycotts’:

“Environmental groups are targeting businesses and firms who provide goods or services to firms they don’t like, especially in…


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Robert Wright’s book, Why Buddhism Is True: The Science And Philosophy Of Meditation And Enlightenment (2017) is part of the ‘Secular Buddhist’ movement — a project which seeks to strip away the religion’s metaphysical and mystical content and ground it in a naturalistic or science-based interpretation. In this sense the title is something of a misnomer. Wright has little interest in preserving tradition if it cannot stand up to his secular critique.

Still, he is convinced that Buddhism anticipated by a matter of centuries knowledge about the human mind that we are only now unearthing through science. Additionally, Wright believes…


The past decade has seen a wealth of neuroscientific research into the benefits of meditation, which goes far beyond mainstream conceptions of mindfulness.

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A few years ago, philosopher Owen Flanagan appeared on the Partially Examined Life podcast to discuss his 2011 book, The Bodhisattva’s Brain. In this work, he argues that the Buddhist theory of human flourishing, when rendered in naturalistic terms, should be of interest to many in the West.

For Flanagan, implicit in Buddhism is the promise that one can achieve “a stable sense of serenity and equanimity” through the cultivation of Buddhist wisdom-which we might describe as…


I watched last Monday’s episode of ABC Q&A with Jordan Peterson so you don’t have to.

While Peterson can occasionally come across as eloquent, during the course of debate he has a tendency to commit logical fallacies.

While he wasn’t given much time during Q&A, I have outlined a few examples.

Given Peterson’s extreme popularity, I would encourage you to do your own analysis of these arguments, and see whether they stand up to scrutiny.

1. Toxic Masculinity (9:22)

In the middle of responding to a fairly benign assertion about feminism, Peterson makes this remark:

“If it’s true that theres something toxic about masculinity…


Last month I attended a meditation retreat in Pa Pae, a small village situated in the mountains between Chiang Mai and Pai.

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One of the meditation halls at Pa Pae Meditation Centre in Thailand.

I am awoken by a rooster just outside my window. There is something about the birds up here in the mountains that gives their crowing a rawer and more guttural quality. A villager told me that most are bred for fighting, and so, to avoid unsanctioned deaths, they have to be kept separate under large, woven baskets. One by one they are given time to roam before they are put under lock-down once more. …


Earlier this year I attended the World Sacred Spirit Festival in Jodhpur, which fuses sacred ritual and music with a dash of the profane.

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Lithuania’s Indrė Jurgelevičiūtė performs at the World Sacred Spirit Festival 2018

The sun is yet to rise and I’m in a tuk-tuk, rambling down back alleyways that split and wind like tributaries to a stream, passing cows and street dogs in the blue wash of Jodhpur’s Old City.

We’re headed for the opening performance of the World Sacred Spirit Festival. The venue is the Jaswant Thada; a tomb for a departed Rajasthani king made from layers of intricately carved white marble.

We sit at the foot of the cenotaph like loyal subjects, waiting as the still-hidden sun approaches the horizon. Lithuania’s Indrė Jurgelevičiūtė steps onto the stage. With streamers in her…

Lachlan R. Dale

Lachlan is Sydney-based musician, writer and meditator. Buddhism / philosophy / literature. https://www.facebook.com/lachlanrdale

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