Communities of the Heart

One day each month, I lead a well-being discussion over lunch in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.  (Details can be found here) The talks are part philosophy, part psychology. There is a tentative spirituality that often creeps in, and is always welcomed. But at their core, the dialogues are human,…

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The Pursuit

It is so easy to get caught up in all the chasing. There are the goals and dreams and aspirations. We pursue a vision, or our aim, or any other number of respectable things.  To swing, as the poet said, “the earth a trinket at my wrist”. But after the…

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Mercy

Are there virtues that we forget? Personally or as a culture? Ones that simply fade like the faces on ancient Roman coins? For Aurelius, Clementia – mildness, gentleness, mercy – was one of the noble virtues. A nine-year-old girl travels all night by train with one suitcase and an orange.…

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Absence and Return

For several years, I have been loosely involved with an online Buddhist community. About a year ago, I began to get more active and made some commitments to the group. I was going to meditate more. I would be more mindful in my eating. One night each week, I would…

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Be Ordinary

In his poem “Born Yesterday”, Phillip Larkin looks at a new born baby and wishes, not that she is beautiful or smart or talented, but that she is ordinary. There is great value in our just being. There is something essential about remaining attentive to those around us, whatever the…

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Presence and Immediacy

It all started with an encounter. After a morning of ‘religious enthusiasm’, Martin Buber was visited by a young man. Buber was friendly and attentive, but says he was not there fully in spirit. Later, the philosopher and theologian discovered that the young man had been wrestling with something. He…

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The Gratitude Diet: Savoring and Losing Weight

The most popular New Year’s resolution each year is to lose weight. We step on the scale, cringe and commit to spinach salads and Zumba classes.  All throughout January, the gyms are packed.  We pass on the pasta and choose celery sticks. But sometime in late February, the elliptical machine…

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