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Archive for July, 2010

I have to confess that I am now a lapsed Buddhist. For a good while I was a regular attendee of the local Dewachen Buddhist group here in town, complete with its own travelling ordained nun, the wonderful and venerable Tenzin Namdag, who is based in Mackay but tends to a very scattered flock as far north as Cairns and as far south as the Sunshine Coast.

I have always been a huge fan and follower of Buddhist philosophy and practice, but eventually I came to discover that I do not have a devotional bone in my body. Or soul, to be more accurate, I guess.

While nearly every core Buddhist teaching resonated strongly with me (with the exception of reincarnation, but more of that at another time), very little of the iconography, language, and even literature spoke to me. So I have forsaken the formal side of Buddhism and taken with me what is the most practical and useful: the regular of meditation and training of one’s attention.

These days I am attracted to a very pared-down spirituality, a minimalist mysticism. I eschew all forms of spiritual lingo (in fact, I do not even like the term ‘spiritual’) and prefer deep truths expressed in as simple a language as possible. I am very attracted to modern Advaita and people like Adyashanti and Rupert Spira. Simpler is more sophisticated, as Da Vinci once said. And it gets right to the heart of the matter: presence and clarity.

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Illness and plain laziness have kept me from the blogosphere for many moons, but I am rectifying that. Now, obviously.

Since I wrote the Planetary Types: Science of Celestial Influence, I find myself immersed in the skeptical community, relishing the exercise of my own critical thinking. Which you might think is odd, since my first book tries to make a good case for the influence of the planets on man.

However, the success of failure of the book and its ideas rests on empirical tests, and  there are still pending investigations for those interested in assisting with research. Go over to http://planetarytypes.wordpress.com/ and sign up. Planetary Types is actually one the most critical books of astrology, despite being an attempt to sort out the wheat from the chaff on the subject.

I am also prepared to wear the results. There are far too many other fascinating things in the universe to discover to lament and try to bargain over any negative result. Way too many other interesting things to ponder and investigate. Of course, if we get a positive result, then we might have something interesting. We shall see.

I can tell you that I have begun work on my new book, which will deal with scepticism from a spiritual point of view, and with spirituality from a sceptical point of view. To give you an idea of its direction, my completed reading list for research is included below.

Krishnamurti biographies by Jayakar and Lutyens

Madame Blavatsky’s Baboon – Peter Washington

The End of Faith – Sam Harris

The God Delusion – Richard Dawkins

On Being Certain – Robert Burton

The Supersense – Bruce Hood

Why We Believe – Michael Shermer

Buddhism is not what you Think – Steve Hagen

The Universe in a single atom – Dalai Lama

The Transparency of Things – Rupert Spira

If you grill any good skeptic worth their salt, they will tell you that true scepticism means being less sure about a good many things. Those who have made their minds up once and forever more rarely learn any deeper secrets of the universe. I have learned to question things much, much more than I used to. And I was pretty rational before.

The surest thing I am sure of is the need to purify my instruments of perception – to train my attention to see things clearly. That is what I am trying to do and hopefully I will be able to judge things with some clarity..

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