Buddhists tell us that desire and craving keep the wheel of samsara (suffering, the threat of mortality, the cycle of fight/flight, emotional/physical pain) in constant motion.

And desire can be both the cause and effect of suffering. As a cause, it can lead us into more suffering. As an effect, it can drive us away from suffering in the same way that we can dive into momentary pleasure to avoid pain. Continue reading


India, Land of Contradictions

India, the Interior Life and the Renunciation of the Material World

Before I began reading “White Tiger” and V.S. Naipul’s “India: A Wounded Civilization,” I had developed several stark stereotypes of the country.

As Buddha’s birthplace, India had become mythologized for me as a culture steeped in self-examination, the interior life, meditation, and the renunciation of the material world.

Gandhi was the other part of the jig-saw puzzle; he fit quite naturally into my notion of India as the golden land of serenity, inner peace, and wise teachers. Although he raised consciousness to more political, social-justice levels, I continue to imagine Gandhi as this austere, simple, reflective man who never raised his voice, meditated daily, and led quiet passive-resistance demonstrations for social equality, Indian independence, the end of English colonial rule, and reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims. Continue reading