ISOLATION SHORTS

Flash prose and poetry from inside the COVID-9 lockdown

THIS WEEK'S BLOG

Albert Einstein
Book Excerpts

The Priest Must Become a Teacher (Part 3)

For some scientists, the pursuit and gradual recognition of a unifying principle is in itself a spiritual endeavor encompassing what Einstein refers to as religion ‘in the highest sense of the word’.

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BOOK EXCERPTS

Albert Einstein

Religion Without Science is Blind (Part 2)

Einstein goes on to explore definitions of science and religion and sees no fundamental conflict between them, except for when each try to encroach on the other’s territory: science can only claim what is and not what should be, and religion can have no declaration of fact.

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Purifying Muddy Water – The Surangama Sutra

The Surangama Sutra was influential in the development of Ch’an in China over the centuries and is particularly valued for its elaboration of samadhi and techniques of emptiness meditation that are available to everyone.

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The Bhaddekaratta Sutta: The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone

The Bhaddekaratta Sutta is one of the many teachings the Buddha gave over the course of his 19 three-month practice periods at the Jetavana Monastery. It conveys the essence of a self-sufficient practice and way of existing – not clinging to the past or living for the future but diligently dwelling in current stability and freedom.

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THE ALAN WATTS CORNER

KEEP READING

FROM THE ARCHIVES

Why is a Buddhist Monk So Interested in Science?

In this excerpt from his spiritual autobiography, the Dalai Lama sets out why science has always been so interesting to him, and how in his mind, the scientific method and goal are in fact very close to the Buddhist one.

When the Sun Disappears

An extract from Annie Dillard’s essay Total Eclipse in which she describes her experiences of watching solar eclipses and the radical moments of transition they brought on. 

What is True Freedom?

Jiddu Krishnamurti on the imperative of true freedom and what that really means.

Rebecca Solnit’s Blue of Distance

Solnit pays tribute to the color that fills the space between herself and the object of her longing, and reflects on how this blue can in some ways be understood as love itself.

Wandering in the Desert: This is our Life

Charlotte Joko Beck was an American Zen teacher who insisted that Zen training must directly address our conditioned reactions, and that meditative awareness was the

On Falling in Love – James Baldwin

For activist and writer James Baldwin, falling in love was, ‘Not merely the key to my life, but to life itself.’ In this excerpt he talks about falling in love, a powerful event that shaped him and how he interacted with the world.

Am I Conscious Now?

“What does it mean to ask a question? Is there some magic in the inquisitive brain?” Susan Blackmore’s lifelong investigation into consciousness encompasses Zen practice and the recurring question: Am I conscious now?

Albert Einstein

Religion Without Science is Blind (Part 2)

Einstein goes on to explore definitions of science and religion and sees no fundamental conflict between them, except for when each try to encroach on the other’s territory: science can only claim what is and not what should be, and religion can have no declaration of fact.

Read More »
Caroline Goodwin

Caroline Goodwin – Not, I’ll Not

‘Not, I’ll Not’ takes its title from Gerard Manley Hopkins’ sonnet about meeting suffering, ‘Carrion Comfort’ and explores some of the ideas in the psychedelic rock group Heron Oblivion’s song, ‘Beneath Fields’.

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Du Fu

Du Fu – Dreaming of Li Bai

‘This parting from the living brings constant pain,’ wrote eighth-century Chinese poet Du Fu in an ode to friendship about his separation from Li Bai, who was in exile in the south of the country.

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Sheila Heti

Sheila Heti – When Love Slips into the Death Drive

Sheila Heti’s novel ‘How Should a Person Be?’ asks that candid and naive question with honesty, humor and sincerity. During the course of the book, she especially looks at love and all its difficulties, and in this passage she talks about the kind of obsessive sexual love that pushes us over cliffs and into the death drive, that longs for ‘annihilation, comfort and death’.

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Judith Wright

Judith Wright – The Lost Man

The Lost Man is Judith Wright’s poem about the journey out of losing oneself, based on the true story of a plane crash survivor who was later lost over a waterfall in Australia.

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E.E. Cummings

E.E. Cummings – A Poet’s Advice to Students

E.E. Cummings’ short missive to young poets in which he urges confidence in oneself and authentic expression. We must distinguish between thinking, believing, knowing and feeling, the latter being the territory of real art and poetry.

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Ha Jin

Ha Jin – The Detached

Ha Jin is a poet and novelist who moved to the United States from China in 1985. Having originally learned English from listening to the radio, Ha Jing is known

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