Just as I’d gotten into the flow of writing the “impermanence” series, some things came up. Basically, I got offered some (wonderful) new work, and got involved in that. I’ve been planing for some new classes, and doing a lot of writing for that.

I’ve wanted to come back to posting here, but have had a little less time for “recreational” writing, and coming back to it, whatever interested me about the previous series has disappeared (for now). I don’t like to leave projects unfinished, but I also know that once the spark of a project is gone, it’s easy to do a lot of bad writing.

Who knows how far the new one will go? However, here it is, in outline form. I’ll try to fill this in as time passes.


108 Arguments for Contemplative Practice

The idea is a short book giving reasons for starting and maintaining a contemplative practice of some sort (meditation, prayer, and so on). The book will be divided into four parts, and each part into chapters.

Part 1

Intro- the mind, cultural options, culture “contemplates” the mind, this is not an argument for censorship (although it might be one for more civility), investigating the results of cultural forms, the animal and the human, reactivity, are we just animals? how animal are people? how animal are animals?

1. Loss and gain

2. Goals for living

3. Kinds of trust

4. Trust in a groundless world

5. Trust and going beyond

6. What deception is

7. Convincing yourself and others

8. The confidence to practice

9. Fearlessness and meditation, what it takes to start practicing, the fruits of practice, peeling the cocoon

10. Slowing down- good or bad? Synchronization, and the place of slowness

11. In a fast world, is slowness the cure?

12. What slowing down reveals

13. Slowing down, and mindfulness

14. Mindfulness- body, speech, and mind

15. Hard work- meditation is hard work, sometimes, but so are some other things (and hard work is a good thing often)

16. Accomplishing goals, hard work, and doing nothing

17. The sky- glimpses at the beginning

18. The bodhisattva, helping others, and the discipline of meditation- helping “outside” and “inside”

19. Meditation is a way to be friendly to yourself, and others

20. The big challenge of not being afraid of yourself, and “befriending yourself”

21. Gentleness, friendliness, mercy

22. Ordinary living- ordinary magic, not getting caught up in “having too many activities,” what is the measure of this? your mind is a valuable thing

23.  Self-containment

24. Not expecting too much, not exaggerating results of practice

25. Arrogance and meditation

26. Postmeditation- it’s a rich world

27. Postmeditation- richness in details, hard work and richness

Part 2

1. Virtue- cultivated and not, basic goodness

2. Virtue and discipline, “training”, in light of the value of life– you could cultivate almost any discipline, but frivolousness and wasting your life are possiblities as well

3. The lower realms- there are hellish states of mind, whether you believe in a hell/afterlife or not, and practice helps with those

4. Working with mental hell is a valuable investment of time and energy, helps oneself and others, and in traditional practices can happen very subtly

5. Seeing cause and effect, in practice, and off the cushion

6. Confusion and clarity- seeing these, how much do you expect? how much is possible?

7. Knowing what to accept and what to reject, living your life as an experiment, trying something new

8. Definitions of health, if you spend time exercising, why not spend some practicing?

9. Health of body, and health of mind- you are not your body, or are you? Practice is not the same as study, or is it? Practice is not about becoming a “superscholar” or intellectual

10. The senses open up

11. Freshness and practice- practice becoming dull, ebbs and flows

12. Exuberance, youthfulness, liberating energy

13. Discipline and the tradition of burning incense

14. Motivations for discipline, the wrong kind of discipline, the magic of discipline, schedules

15. Being uplifted, setting sun and the other option

16. Joy, and definitions of happiness- Buddhist, American, psychological, other, is happiness what you’re after? how will you know when you’ve gotten there?

17. Meditation and its influence on action, the reason ethical rules link up with contemplative practice

18. Gracefulness- synchronization and practice, martial arts and physical practices, expecting perfection, self-hatred, one body

19. Doubt- positive and negative

20. Looking at your thoughts and doubt

21. Doubt hinders synchronization

22. Doubt and fear in meditation

23. Resistance

24. Resistance and pushing too much- you don’t have to meditate for hours a day

25. Creating healthy habits

26. There are a lot of problems out there, and a lot of good stuff as well (practice- preparation to help, and to see goodness)

27. Lha, nyen, lu- the order of things, order and hierarchy in practice, in other areas, there is a progression, in some ways, everyone is equal in meditation, order and efficiency


Part Three

1. There’s no need for practice, but do it anyway

2. This and that, opposites, relative and ultimate, labels and concepts, directness

3. What you expect from your mind

4.Training is a good motivation, but it only goes so far

5. Joy about having a good mind

6. Doubt and joy, expansiveness

7. How big is your mind?

8. Stop caring, “couldn’t care less”

9. Flying across the universe, strange creatures, the experience of sacred world, sacred possibilities in a seemingly degraded time, dangers and warnings

10. Why a king?

11. Wrath and anger, negative emotions

12. Desire, energy, vision

13. Seeing negative emotions doesn’t mean getting uptight, basic goodness

14. The space of mind, wanting more space, getting space

15. It’s a spacious world, creating time for meditation, to shrine or not to shrine?

16. Humor, lightness, frivolity- heavy gold of wisdom, don’t waste a precious life

17. Limits, boundaries, pushing oneself and others, considering retreat practice, the benefits of “a little, often”

18. Space and form

19. Meditation as being impartial, and what this attracts

20. Bias off the cushion, equanimity

21. Hope and fear as chatter

22. Being hopeless doesn’t mean laziness, or lack of heart

23. Outrageous possibilities- seeing hopelessness, relaxing

24. It’s really hard to measure progress in practice

25. Practice is always there, as your life goes by

26. Provocations to practice, you are afraid, failure and what you can do with it

27. So many chances to practice, ordinary mind

Part Four

1. It’s a simple practice, and a dance

2. The dance of form and space

3. Inside and outside

4. Vastness

5. Presence and being “on the spot”

6. Manifesting, magic doesn’t mean wishing, practice is sophisticated, and getting New Agey is dangerous, a waste, or both

7. Eyes closed or open? So many options for practice

8. Is it fun? Is it drudgery? Does it matter? postmeditation- does life become more enjoyable?

9. Enjoyment and discipline

10. Meditation and the surrounding environment

11. Practicing in different venues

12. When to practice

13. “It can’t be explained.”

14. Organizing the environment

15. The natural world and meditation, do we have to fall in love with nature?

16. Practice and becoming a warrior

17. Power over the phenomenal world- doing and not doing, how private is practice? how personal? hiding your practice

18. Practice and more sophisticated action off the cushion

19. Becoming steady

20. The arrows of mara

21. You become like space, solidity, the ideal of space, what is it? odd experiences and possibilities we overlook

22. Getting settled, and being okay with being unsettled

23. What is mind?

24. What can practice get you?

25. Becoming a warrior through contemplation: synchronized, humorous, elegant

26. Organizing your life around contemplation- you needn’t become a monk, but it may be helpful to anchor yourself

27. Presence, friendliness, richness- practice opens you to a new existence, deity principle and practice, dieties and a desacralized world, is it just your mind? will I go crazy if I practice? will I go crazy if I don’t? what are our definitions of sanity, and how do fear and habitual pattern fit in?




About jakekarlins

Aspiring writer and artist, dharma practitioner, yogi.

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