Articles posted in 2012

January 2012

Introducing Happiness

My book on happiness has just been published by Icon books.

Articles posted in 2011

December 2011

Gautama Buddha: Interview with Vishvapani Blomfield

Myth and history in the biography of the Buddha…

August 2011

Pick and Mix

Western Buddhists and the spiritually sweet-toothed.

July 2011

The Trouble with Happiness

Happiness, politics, and focussing on the good bits.

February 2011

A World Made of Stories?

“The universe is made of stories, not atoms”: discuss…

Articles posted in 2010

December 2010

The Myth of Re-enchantment

Enchantment, disenchantment and the mind’s spinning of stories.

Advertising-free Zone

Some thoughts on advertising, the internet, and breakfast cereal.

September 2010


A few notes on Ernst Bloch’s “The Principle of Hope”

The Godly, the Godless, and the question of ethics

Thoughts on the Pope’s visit to the UK.

August 2010

Judgement and Experience

Testing judgements against the fine-grain of experience.

Having more than one name

A few fragmentary thoughts on names.

Out of sight of land

Does travel broaden the mind?

July 2010

Scriptural protection?

A quick and easy method for dealing with fake monks.

Buddhist? Buddhish? Non-Buddhist?

I’m almost five years old!

Part Time Vegetarian

tofu and flesh – matter and anti-matter?

Mortification of the flesh, with some thoughts on Buddhist logic and the consumption of cake

Cake, Empress Dowagers and a visit to the Temple of Longevity.

June 2010

On the Move

I’m off to China!

Mindfulness of Coffee

How to carry a full cup of coffee without spillage…

May 2010

A Strange Cocktail

A recipe for concocting Western Buddhism.

On the dangers of being too philosophical...

On the closure of Middlesex philosophy department.

April 2010

A Hedge of Roses: thoughts on ethics and aesthetics

Emmanuel Levinas’s Nine Talmudic Readings, and the pleasures of coffee.

Throwing Away the Ladder

The New Scientist and the ladder of consciousness.

March 2010

Ethical Friskiness

When ethical philosophy meets caffeine…

January 2010

Something is happening here, but you don't know what it is...

Bob Dylan and the cognitive unconscious.

A Viable Way

Wisdom from the bestselling book “How to Marry a Western Woman”…

Meditating and Knowing

The limits of the mind, and meditation.

Articles posted in 2009

December 2009

The Storm Before the Calm

Computer meltdown…

The Dramatic and the Bland

Poets and monks!


How to find time to read more books.

November 2009

Ethics is like navigation... stories are like the sea.

Thoughts on storytelling and ethics.

Sidling up to Things

Thinking about obliqueness…

October 2009

On (Not) Debating the Existence of God

God, godlessness and the good life.

Questions we cannot go through

Heidegger, meditation and questioning.

September 2009

Thinking About Free Will

Decisions, decisions, decisions…

Mind in the Balance?

A review of B. Alan Wallace’s new book.

Altruism, selfishness and purity

Can there ever be such a thing as pure altruism?

August 2009

The Weaving and the Unweaving

Telling stories about telling stories.

Without authority...

Blogs, mainstream media and the idea of authority.

Wouldn't it be a lovely headline?

Finding heaven in a MacDonald’s hamburger? Even William Blake might struggle…

Things Worth Knowing

The stuff we know (or claim to know) and a few thoughts on ethics.


The books are sorted, the cat is asleep on his beanbag, and I’m back to my meditation cushions.

July 2009

Saltwater Buddha

A review of Jaimal Yogis’s “Saltwater Buddha”.

No One Wins?

Philosophical discussion, and those monsters lurking underneath our chairs.

The Invisibility of Goodness

Maybe we’re not doing that badly after all…

June 2009


Thought’s on Anthony Appiah’s Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers.

Clamour, and the Love of the World

Religion, science and the clamour of the world.


Thought’s on Gary Marcus’s book “Kluge”

May 2009

The Wisdom of the Ancients?

Golden ages, and the magnificence of the past.


Interpretation, and what makes a classic?

Get Real...

Some thoughts on tragic storytelling.

Scholars and Meditators

Meditation, scholarship and the mind’s many functions.

April 2009

Loopiness, and not Taking Oneself too Seriously

Am I a strange loop?

Unnatural Practices

Ah, those sexy beasts!

The Demon-Haunted World

Why those pesky demons are going away any time soon.

Mountains? What Mountains?

Tintin, meditation and the mountains of the mind…

March 2009

Slip Slidin' Away

Thoughts on experience

What's It All About?

Something about something…

Written on the Water

Thoughts on the the clamorousness of the traditions of Buddhism.

February 2009

A Short Note on Errancy

Wayward education.

A Problem with Bandwidth

A few late-night thoughts on consciousness

Darwin's Dharma?

Darwin the crypto-Buddhist?

Darwin Day

Darwin’s 200th birthday – time to don your false beard and get partying.

The Madhyamaka Bus?

Let’s hit the road on the Buddhist bus.


Thoughts on the Heart Sutra.

January 2009

Blogging Philosophy Part II: Hanging Out with the Peasants

Blogging, the Gutenberg parenthesis, and how to establish the colour of a bear.

Blogging Philosophy Part I: Amateurs

The paradox of the professional philosopher.

Mistrust, Indebtedness and Hospitality

Hospitality by the Indus!

On Advertising

“There are a lot of things in this world / You are going to have no use for…” Tom Waits.

Shocking Revelations, Radical Changes and Dramatic Events

Drama, the news, and the latest shocking revelations.

Fluidity and Thought

The snagging of thoughts

Articles posted in 2008

December 2008


Mysteriousness, mysticism and the sciences.

The Fine Grain

A few thoughts on attention, judgement and the fine grain of things…

Slippery truths

Toughts on Mark Siderits’s Empty Persons.

Rebirth? No. Rebecoming? Yes.

The incoherence of rebirth

November 2008


Thoughts on meditation and virtuosity.

Car Crash Journalism

Art, the Daily Mail, and the culture of the car.


On the pleasures of bad Health and Safety induction films.

Zen, Brains and Making Friends With Your Own Head

It’s a complicated business having a brain.

One Man Bands

Girls Aloud and Buddhism. No, really…

October 2008

Texts, Bones and Early Buddhists

Life and literature in accounts of early Buddhism.

Dragons and Levitating Monks

On the elusiveness of the miraculous.

An Afternoon in Gateshead, or The Idol in the Desert

Religion and financial crisis

Michael Frayn on Uncertainty and Motivation

Uncertainty in Copenhagen.

The Transitive Theory of Weirdness

Johnny Wilkinson and quantum physics

September 2008

Literature and Laughter

Why Momus was banished from Olympus.

The Poetry of Death

Japanese Death poems

The Sciences, the Humanities and the Human Imagination

Thoughts on consilience and the unity of knowledge.

Is this it?

Surely there must be more to life…?

Lies in Which not Everything is False

Stories – they are nothing but a pack of lies.

Lightness of Touch

Governing oneself the way one cooks a small fish.

August 2008

On Gods and Nations

Thoughts on A.C. Grayling and David Miliband.


Concerning my review of Glannon’s “Defining Right and Wrong in Brain Science”.

Speaking With Inanimate Things

The curious tale of a bronze bull and its many secret worshippers.

John Ruskin and the Penguin

Penguins – a cure for the wrathful.

Finding Peace in the Eye of the Storm

One must cultivate one’s garden.

July 2008

Death, at Intervals

Another book worth reading…

Some Books I Love

Three of my favourite books – Comet in Moominland, Lucretius and Calvino’s Invisible Cities.

Writing Tools

Continuing to write, amid the chaos…

June 2008

Animal Pleasures

Do animals experience pleasure? And if so, what are the implications of this?

Ethics and the Public Understanding of Science

Some thoughts on ethics, public understanding, and scientific research.

Karma, Retribution and the Actress

Thoughts on Sharon Stone and the Chinese earthquake.

May 2008

Meditation and Technique

Ajahn Sujato and meditation techniques.

Noble Silence?

Silences, both noble and ignoble (and a Buddhist joke!)

The Ocean of Existence

On life out of sight of dry land.

April 2008

Strokes of Insight?

Jill Bolte Taylor, neuroplasticity and turning off those anger circuits.

Without Illumination

The fog of philosophy

On Desire

Link to online review of William B. Irvine’s On Desire

Unconscious Decision Making

More research into free will.

Free Will and Ethics

Do we need free will to make us good?

The Pragmatic Buddhist

Some reading matter!

March 2008

Putting Shantideva to the Test

Happiness and ethics – a simple experiment.

Just War

Five years in Iraq, and the crassness of Prince Harry’s headgear.

Kindness and Philosophy

Where are our philosophies of kindness?

Knowledge, Freedom and Limitation

The pleasures of not knowing.

February 2008

The Hard Truths of Science?

Rebelling robots, gene machines, and the utter, hideous meaninglessness of everything.

Vain, Deluded, Pigheaded, Secretive, Bigoted...

That’s the trouble with the mind – it has a mind of it’s own.

Meditation as Unphenomenology

Meditation, cartography and the territory of the mind.

January 2008

The View from the Chariot

The Buddha: bad psychologist?

Philosophy and Practice

Stoicism, Foucault and philosophy as a practical pursuit.

A Secular Age

A review of Charles Taylor’s monumental book A Secular Age

Studying Happiness

The metta bhavana, and meditation on happiness.

Meditation as Natural History

Meditation, natural history, and medieval books of beasts.

Articles posted in 2007

December 2007

Buddhists in Bars with Balloons

Who’s that over there making balloon sculptures? It must be a Buddhist monk.

Worldly Transcendence

Do we need God if we are to be happy?


More thoughts on materialism

The Middle Way?

A snippet of overheard conversation.

Clarity and Confusion

Analytic philosophy, continental philosophy and mollusc-based diets.

November 2007


Religion, politics and Tony Blair.

More on the Transhumanist Debate

More on Marvin Minsky, Transhumanism and the New Scientist.

Real Magic

Where is the real magic?

Stumped by Consciousness

I admit it: I’m utterly flummoxed!

Human things with human voice...

Wallace Stevens, Martha Nussbaum and philosophy.

October 2007

The Sutras of Abu Ghraib

Aidan Delgado on Buddhism, ethics and the war in Iraq.

A Little Light Reading

A handy resource for consciousness studies….

Ethics of the In-Between

Ethics between absolutes, and the Hello Peace project.

Transhumanism, Journalism and Ethics

More on ethics and transhumanism.

Marvin Minsky's Dreams of Immortality

Transhumanism and the salvation of the world.


According to recent reports, children in the UK suffer from “pervasive anxiety”.

A few brief thoughts on reductionism

Numskulls, reductionism and the human mind.

Aung San Suu Kyi and Burma

The root of the three root poisons.

September 2007

Numskulls, Dumskulls and the Evolution of the Mind

Out of the dumb came forth… the slightly less dumb.

Religion, Violence and Dualism

Is the problem religion, or is it something more subtle?

Informed Ignorance, Spinoza and Science

Spionza, ignorance, understanding – all that, and I’m still two hundred miles from the nearest decent cappuccino.

August 2007

Doing Nothing

Hanging around, doing nothing.

The Lure of the Cloister?

Where are the secular cloisters?

Our Ancestors

Thoughts from the Bulgarian national history museum.

Meditation in Schools?

Should meditation be taught in schools?

Thinking Out Loud

Blogging as a practice.

July 2007

My New Brain

A note on the pleasures of having a new brain.

O, Unhappy Philosopher!

Why so glum, you philosophers?

Not seeing the trees for the wood...

Attention, meditation and some tasty chocolate muffins.

June 2007


Countering mistrust with trust.

Knowledge, Wisdom and Ignorance

There is no such thing as esoteric wisdom.

The Worst Type of Buddhist

Damn those ignorant Buddhists…


Reflections upon pain.

Open Source Religion

Religion goes Open Source

May 2007

What Attention Lays Bare

Husserl, meditation and the quest for certainty.

Violence and the Mind's Climate

Does media violence unbalance the mind’s delicate climate?

Mindfulness and the Breath

Eight ways of looking at the breath…

Murals Found in Mustang, Nepal

Archaeology? Boring? Never!

Meditation and Intimacy

Meditation and reflection on the Mahamudra.

April 2007

This mind, this mind...

The mind’s chaos…

Groundlessness, not Relativism

Thinking ethics without grounds…

The Inferno of the Living

Catholicism, Calvino and life in the inferno.

Liking Your Neighbours

Must we like people to love them? Can we dislike them also?

March 2007

Lift Off!

Of book launches and demons.


The Buddha’s first, failed teaching.

Uncertain Times?

We are living in uncertain times, but is this sufficient justification for renewing Trident?

Are You Buddhish?

Buddhish. Adjective: Not quite Buddhist; Spuriously or falsely claiming to be Buddhist;

Oi! Are You Looking at My Triangle?

Attachment to triangles.

The Path to Earthly Riches

Temple loyalty cards for kids.

February 2007

Self Evident Experience?

What’s going on… and what we think is going on…

Emotional Weather Report

Caught up in bad weather?

A Little Knowledge...

Knowledge, ignorance and scepticism.

January 2007

Insulting the Buddha

Sri Lanka’s draconian new legislation.

Human Practices

Things lost – and gained – in translation.

No Faster Than a Camel Can Walk

Trains, camels and other alternative means of transport.

The Mind's Drama

Unpredictability, impermanence, and the insubstantiality of the mind’s dramas.


Elephants and monks in Sydney zoo.

Nepal's Buddha Boy Takes up the Sword

Ram Bomjon, Nepal’s “Buddha Boy”, once again…

People are Natural Disasters Too

Earthquake, fire, flood… and our fellow human beings.

A Grammar of Hypothesis

Thoughts on scepticism and knowledge.

Articles posted in 2006

December 2006

A Global Christmas?

Santa training academies in Vietnam? Elephants dressed as Santa in Thailand? Confucius with reindeer?

Religious Offences

Religion, offence and public life.


Making friends with the world again…

Interfaith Dialogue

Religion, identity and dialogue and why I am not a Buddhist.

The Woal of It

Hiedegger, Riddley Walker, and how to make friends with your own head.

The Problem of Life

Solving and dissolving the problems of life.

November 2006


Thoughts on the affirmation of life.

Doing the Right Thing

We want to do the right thing. But what is the right thing to do?

Dennett's Modest Proposal

Dan Dennett, religion and science.

Lest We Forget

Thoughts on Armistice day.

The Wind That Blows Through Me

Reflections on an evening meditation.

In Praise of Emmanuel Levinas

The 100th anniversary of the philosopher of ethics and responsibility, Emmanuel Levinas.

October 2006

Nothing but...?

The world is enough…

Buddhist Conversions

Caste, untouchability and conversion in India.

The Meaning of the Meaning of Life

Life has no meaning; but that doesn’t mean it is meaningless…

On Holy Books

Richard Dawkins on ethics and religious texts.

Turning off the Lights

The sad loss of the night sky…

Mindfulness and the Enigma of Life

There’s more to mindfulness than washing the dishes very slowly…

September 2006


Thoughts on book reviews…

Lose Weight: Convert to Buddhism

Forget that diet – change your religion instead!

What is This Thing?

The myth of authenticity.

What do Buddhists Look Like?

This post includes a handy field-guide for identifying Buddhists…

Awakening to Awakening

Slippery metaphors and debased coinage…

Cutting off Our Heads

Thinking, feeling and Buddhist practice.

More on Life Without Free Will

Freedom from free will and fredom from disturbance.

Life Without Free Will

The lights are on, but there’s nobody at home…

August 2006

Dramatic Enchantments

On being a drama queen…

History as Natural History

From the social contract to the natural contract.

The Demon, Impermanence

Computer failure at


The wisdom of difference and the wisdom of sameness…

East is East and West is West

Thinking between Levinas and Shantideva, East and West.

Philosophical Cross Currents Shiny Buddha

Sri Lankan Buddha images have bene recently reported to be emanating golden light…

Unpacking the Self

Thoughts on selfhood and its absence.

July 2006

Purity? What purity?

On the virtues of being mixed-up!

Tangled Branches

Thoughts on the so-called “vandalism” of the Bodhi Tree.

On Moral Evolutionism

Are we better than we used to be? Are we worse? Thoughts on morality and history.

A Shortcut to Nirvana?

Research from the frontline of the discipline that is becoming known as neurotheology

In the Cool of the Evening

Evening meditation.

The Rhetoric of Necessity

A thought on Thought for the Day.

Dalai the Cat - Photo Exclusive

Whatever happened to Dalai Lama, the Buddhist moggy?

Today at Noon

Two minutes of silence.

The Sheer Astonishing Remarkableness of it All

In praise of David Attenborough.

June 2006

Reflections on Sociality and Solitude

Thoughts on solitude and friendship.

Buddhism for Pets

Inspire your dog with readings from the Dhammapada… No, really…

Football and Renunciation

Do football and Buddhism mix?

Mental Discontents

Can we eradicate mental discontent?


Feeling like a grumpy old baboon?

Messianic Hopes

We don’t need another messiah!

May 2006


The boy reporter and the Dalai Lama.


The virtues of laziness.

Buddhists in Bikinis

Looking for something to wear on the beach this summer?

Muddling Through

Gary Snyder, attentiveness and knowledge


Is it ever right to torture? The problem with ticking bombs.


The relationship between Buddhism and politics

The Pope's Astronomer

An evening with the Vatican’s full-time star-gazer!

April 2006


Wallace Stevens, Rebecca Solnit, Korean Zen, walking and meditation.

The Strange Case of Dalai the Cat

A mysterious feline with golden whiskers, spotted on Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh.

What is This?

Thoughts on meditative inquiry.

Western Buddhism and Other Capitalist Avatars

Žižek and Western Buddhism.

March 2006

On Cultural Conditions

Cultural conditions, separate selves, and the oddness of the English…


On conditionality and the four noble truths…

The Irrepressible Monkey and the Gorillaz!

Gorillaz promote monkey magic…

The Twilight of Atheism or the End of Faith?

Are we witnessing the end of faith… or the twilight of atheism?

Carrying Forth, Carrying Away...

Dōgen, death and the ten thousand things.

February 2006

Martial Thoughts

Our warrior culture.

Easy Does It...

What if ethics was easy?


Meditate like a turnip…

Who Knows?

Another post from thinkBuddha… But who is doing the posting? And who is doing the reading?

January 2006

Wild Geese

Imperfect Buddhists…

The Game of Life

A Buddhist board game…

Final Thoughts

On planning your own funeral…

Composing our Lives

Reflections on blogging from Woodmoor Village


What does it mean to tread the Buddhist path? Where is the path to be found?

Articles posted in 2005

December 2005

Buddhism and Philosophy Part IV - Practices of Attention

Philosophy, language and the practice of attention.

Buddhism and Philosophy Part III - Practices of Wisdom and Love

Philosophy: the love of wisdom… or the wisdom of love???

Buddhism and Philosophy Part II - Practices of Freedom

Philosophy and Buddhism as practices of freedom.

Buddhism and Philosophy Part I

What has philosophy got to do with Buddhism? Practice, that is what!

November 2005

The Machineries of Anxiety

Does our 24-hour news society merely fuel anxiety? But don’t we also have a responsibility to know what is happening in the world to which we are so intimately connected?

On Going Without Food.

Ram Bomjon, the Buddha and the virtues of a good, hearty breakfast.

Ram Bomjon - the New Buddha?

Is the fifteen year old Nepalese boy, Ram Bomjon, the new Buddha, or is there more afoot?

Open Investigation

More on the Dalai Lama and Brain Science.

Me, me, me, me, meme...

Review of Susan Blackmore’s “The Meme Machine”

This Material Frame...

More on materialism!


Is it true that non-violence cannot deal with the crises in the present-day world?

Fixing It.

The world is beyond fixing, and perfection forever out of reach. Why should such a thought be liberating?

A Retreat Haiku

A short retreat haiku

October 2005

A Handful of Simsapa Leaves

How much do we need to know for the liberation of heart and mind?

Buddhist Soldiers?

The MoD has just appointed an army chaplain? But should Buddhists be involved in the business of warfare?

Does Religion Need Defending?

Is the proposed new offence of Incitement to Religious Hatred helpful?

The Dull Monk in the Third Row Theory of the Evolution of Buddhist Doctrine

Are we too pious in our reading of Buddhist texts?

The Dancing Buddhist Bear

A Buddhist dancing bear? Surely that’s cruel?

Buddhism and Science

Why Buddhism needs science.

The Trouble With Ethics

Is the trouble with ethics that there is simply too much of it?

Holding Back

Ethics begins in holding back…

September 2005

Blogging as Practice

Is blogging just an idle pursuit, or is it a form of practice? Thoughts from Seneca to Basho on the value of writing journals.

Tigers, Mushrooms, Money and Monks

A fashion for tiger-skin in Tibet is threatening to hasten the extinction of the Indian tiger.

Mystic India?

Is the film Mystic India an inspiring tale of a spiritual land? Or is there something more disturbing going on?

A Dog Called Hippopotamus

Do dogs meditate? And who would call a dog by the name ‘hippo’?

Good Grief

What place does grief have within Buddhism?


What is this Enlightenment business all about anyway?

Moral Luck

How much of ethics is down to pure luck?

Disillusionment Dharma (Part II)

Is Buddhism the cause of disillusionment? And what are the rewards of this disenchantment?

Disillusionment Dharma (Part I)

Reflections on disillusionment and Buddhism.

August 2005


Kathleen Jamie’s book Findings – a hymn to the virtues of attentiveness.

Eating, Sleeping and Shitting.

Shantideva – the saint who ate too much…

Unwholesome Imaginings.

Buddhism, and the invention of hell.

Hurrah for Materialism! (Part II)

What is materialism? And why is it considered such a terrible thing?

Hurrah for Materialism! (Part 1)

Can a Buddhist be a materialist?

Music in the Sky: Book Review

An account of the early life of the 17th Karmapa, and a collection of his teachings…

The Ronin

The bloody story of a freelance samurai.

Blue Poppies: Book Review

A novel in which a Scottish radio operator leads an entire Tibetan village into exile.

The Life of Shabkar: The autobiography of a Tibetan Yogin

The anarchic autobiography of a Tibetan yogin.

The Dalai Lama and Brain Science

Scientists protest against Dalai Lama’s invitation to a conference on neuroscience. Is such a protest justified?

For All My Walking: Review

Free-form haiku from the cantankerous wandering poet, Taneda Santoka.

The Buddha and the Sahibs: Review

Charles Allen goes in pursuit of the British orientalists

Can Yogis Fly?

Can yogis fly? And how are we to deal with accounts from Buddhist biographies of the past that detail ‘miraculous’ events.

July 2005

Longing for Certainty: Meditation Book Review

Bhikkhu Nyanasobhano’s poetic reflections on meditation.

Zen and Philosophy: Book Review

A review of Michiko Yusa’s impressive book on the life of Nishida Kitaro.

Buddhism Without Buddhism?

From Buddhism without Beliefs to Buddhism without Buddhism…