“Not being able to govern events, I govern myself.” Montaigne

montaigneI’ve been depressed a few times in my life, but only once has it ever got so bad that I felt I had to seek medication. My doctor prescribed me something—I no longer remember what—and after taking just one tablet my depression instantly lifted. This was no miracle drug; these medicines take days or even weeks to have an effect. In fact the medication had nothing to do with my recovery, and the reason I felt better so quickly was, I think, because I admitted I was helpless.

Michel de Montaigne, the famous 16th French essayist, said that although he was not able to govern external events, he was able … Read more »

Does Hawaii represent the future of religion in the US?

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This fascinating map from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (click to enlarge) shows the second largest religious tradition in each of the states of the US. Buddhism is in second place in 13 states. Hawaii, with a large population of Japanese descent, perhaps isn’t a surprise. California is perhaps incapable of giving surprises. Alaska? I did not see that coming.

Of course it probably doesn’t take much for a religion to be in second place in the US. Christianity, as you’d expect, is the majority religion in every state. Another resource shows that the percentage of the population identifies as Buddhist in each of these states is … Read more »

Pat Robertson on Buddhism as a “disease”

Christian Broadcasting Network host Pat Robertson suggested to viewers on Monday that Buddhism was like a “disease” and that a Christian could get “infected” if their coworkers practiced it.

“I work in an environment where all of my coworkers are Buddhists,” a viewer named Tina explained in an email. “They talk about Buddhism all day long and try to preach to me. It didn’t matter much to be before, but since I recommitted myself to Jesus a year ago, it has started to bother me a lot.”

Robertson replied by noting that “healthy” people might not contract a “mild contagion.”

“But if you put yourself in the middle of a … Read more »

Relating to your inner doom-monger

Omega_Doom_317793.1I just wanted to share a couple of things I’ve been doing recently to deal with the part of my mind that likes to worry about things that might go wrong.

A couple of weeks ago I had a growth removed from inside my ear, and a week later the pathology report came back, saying that the lump had been cancer. It’s not very pleasant to hear that you’ve had cancer, and it’s also unpleasant knowing you’d had to leave it untreated for six months because you couldn’t afford health insurance. Anyway, that unpleasantness prompted the worrying part of my mind to go into overdrive. What if the surgeons hadn’t … Read more »

Be kind to everyone, but trust only those who deserve it

White mask with glittering backgroundRecently someone asked me what she should do if she couldn’t trust a person she was being kind to. In the past she’d tried to be compassionate to a roommate she didn’t trust, and had even felt herself to be in danger. She didn’t say what the exact circumstances were, but it sounded scary.

Being kind to someone means treating them as a feeling human being who, like us, has a deep-rooted desire to be happy and an equally deep-rooted desire not to suffer. It means empathizing with the fact that happiness is elusive and that suffering is all too common. Bearing these thoughts in mind makes it harder to … Read more »