“Meditation and Problem Solving,” Zen Confidential, YouTube
Former Zen monk Shozan Jack Haubner explains that while zazen (seated Zen meditation) shouldn’t be used only for problem solving, it can be helpful in working through personal problems. Haubner’s process for working through both a koan and a personal problem includes, as Zen master Mumon says regarding the koan “Mu,” viewing it as though you’re “drinking a hot iron ball that you can neither swallow nor spit out.” What can follow, Haubner says, is the relief of facing our problems head-on.
You Who Are Leaving to Nirvana, Midori Takada, 2022
Legendary percussionist, composer, and ambient music trailblazer Midori Takada partnered with Buddhist monks from the Samgha group of the Shingon school of Koya-san, led by Rev. Syuukoh Ikawa, to record this suite of chants. (Shingon is an esoteric Buddhist tradition founded in Japan by the 8th-century monk Kukai.) After the monks recorded the six liturgical texts, Takada added an experimental sound that Ikawa says elevates the transmission of the texts with a “hidden power that cannot be expressed in words alone.”
“Katrina Spade: Could our bodies help new life grow after we die?” TED Radio Hour episode
To say that cremation is on the rise in the United States is an understatement: cremation now accounts for more than half of all burials and is projected to keep growing. And while cremation doesn’t introduce harsh chemicals into the soil as traditional embalming does, the process is far from green. Katrina Spade, death-care advocate and founder of Recompose, discusses her company’s new natural burial technique that turns human bodies into compost, using “nature as a guide rather than something to be feared.”
“Karma,” Taylor Swift, Midnights, 2022
Do you and karma vibe like that? It’s not often that pop culture correctly portrays the concept of karma, or cause and effect. Prolific singer-songwriter and eleven-time Grammy winner Taylor Swift is an exception with this song (a Buddhist Studies professor has even vouched for it). It’s hard not to put this song on repeat while you think about your karma in terms of Swift’s karma, which she refers to as everything from a god or a queen to her boyfriend, and even “a cat purring in my lap ’cause it loves me.”