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Awakening & Psychological Growth

by Michael W. Taft Awakening and psychological growth are largely orthogonal. While one can definitely help the other, they are entirely different things. You can be very awake and still be a total asshole (as well as anxious, depressed, conflicted, avoidant, etc.). From my viewpoint, awakening is just the beginning of the path, and nothing like the end. Waking up …

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Awareness and Attention

Michael Taft leads a guided meditation (about 40 minutes) and then answers questions from students. Topics center around aspects of attention in practice, using Zoom In and Zoom Out techniques — i.e. narrowly focused attention vs. broadly focused awareness.

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How to Deconstruct Yourself

by Michael W. Taft The next time you’re talking to yourself, in your mind, ask yourself this question: Who or what is talking to whom? Are there two people in your head, one that is talking and one that is listening? If not, then it’s kind of weird that you would need to have a conversation with just yourself in …

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DY 030 – “Robert Anton Wilson, High Weirdness, and Buddhist Meditation” – with Erik Davis

In by Michael W. Taft2 Comments

Michael Taft speaks with Erik Davis about author Robert Anton Wilson, anarchism in the 1970s, Terrence McKenna, P.K. Dick, psychedelics, cultures of awakening now and then, Zen practice, and more.  Erik Davis is an author, podcaster, award-winning journalist, and popular speaker based in San Francisco. He is probably best known for his book TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the …

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DY 029 – What Can AI Tell Us about the Human Mind?” – with Joscha Bach

In by Michael W. Taft3 Comments

Host Michael Taft speaks with Joscha Bach about artificial intelligence; the sense of self; building a civilizational intellect; what it is like to be a mind?; the relationships between motivation, emotion, and behavior; the “cargo cult” model of civilization; what is learning?; how artificial minds may be different from human minds, the enlightenment industry, the Tower of Babel myth; and …

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Fire Kasina Hints for Shinzen Meditators

by Michael W. Taft I recently went to the Fire Kasina retreat on Denman Island, in British Columbia. The group was hosted by Lama Shannon Stein, at a tiny Tibetan Buddhist retreat center on the island, called The Hermitage, and the practice was taught by Daniel Ingram. I had only done the Fire Kasina meditation (FK) a couple of times …

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Nonduality, Stace, and the Analysis of Mystical Experience

by Michael W. Taft Walter Stace was a British civil servant who became an important author and a pioneer in the philosophy of mysticism. While serving in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) for many years, including as the mayor of Colombo, Stace became interested in the Hinduism and Buddhism practiced in Ceylon. Stace wrote a number of serious books on philosophy, …

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DY 028 – “Doubt, Faith, and Fun in Meditation Practice” – with Daniel Ingram

In by Michael W. Taft3 Comments

Daniel Ingram and Michael Taft talk about the Fire Kasina practice, how making mental objects the focus can lead to deep awakening, balancing wisdom and faith, processing trauma with meditation practice, and how beauty can be a great support and inspiration on the path. Daniel shares about his experiences and spiritual development with Fire Kasina work, co-teaching with Culadasa, the …

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Nonduality, Freud, and the Oceanic Feeling

by Michael W. Taft Western psychology has also described something that seems to be the nondual state, although it appears to have been a direct import from India. Freud first discussed what he called the “oceanic feeling”—which is apparently nondual experience—in what is perhaps his most important book, Civilization and It’s Discontents (1929). How this came about is interesting. Freud’s …

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DY 027 – “Feminism, Sexual Misconduct, and the Guru in Buddhism” with Chandra Easton

In by Michael W. Taft12 Comments

Chandra Easton and Michael Taft talk about gender and sexual misconduct in Buddhism, why compassion must be a part of spiritual practice, and the place of the guru in modern culture. Chandra shares her personal story of dealing with sexual misconduct at the hands of her teacher, tantric practices as a technology for awakening, internalized patriarchy, and how love and …

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Deconstructing Michael — an Interview with Michael Taft

(This is a transcript of a podcast interview. If you notice any mistakes, please let me know.) Michael: Welcome to Deconstructing Yourself, the podcast for modern mutants interested in mindfulness, meditation, awakening, hardcore dharma, consciousness hacking, emptiness, and more. My name is Michael Taft, your host on the podcast. And in this episode, we’re gonna turn the usual host and …

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Engaging with the World as it Is

Healthy Contact with the Present Moment by Michael W. Taft These are terrifying and triggering times. Most sane commenters and political analysts, as well as futurists, climate scientists, and visionaries are converging on one obvious conclusion: we as a species are in deep shit. We are likely headed towards a social, economic, and ecological collapse of epic proportions, including war, …