On The Existential Buddhist’s One Year Anniversary

This week marks the one year anniversary of The Existential Buddhist.  Over the past year, The Existential Buddhist has published sixty articles, posted over four hundred comments, and had over 30,000 visits from over 22,000 readers who hail from 128 countries and all fifty states.  Recently Elephant Journal, with a readership of 600,000, has taken to republishing some of my posts, giving them a potentially wider audience.  All and all, it’s been a gratifying first year.

Most readers don’t post comments, but I hear from regular readers via Facebook, Google +, and Twitter, and its nice to know that what one writes makes a difference to others. That’s one of the benefits of blogging.  When one publishes a book one gets the initial reviews and Amazon stats, but one doen’t get the degree of reader participation and involvement that lies at the heart of blogging.

The Existential Buddhist has provided me with the opportunity to clarify and develop my own thoughts on a variety of issues pertaining to Buddhist philosophy, ethics, meditation, art, and history.  It’s allowed me to participate, in my own small way, in the ongoing dialogue between traditionalists and modernizers, believers and skeptics, universalists and sectarians.  Listening in, contributing, and receiving feedback has helped me to cultivate my own path more deeply.

If anything is clearer now than it was a year ago, it’s that the Buddhist way is not a set of abstract propositions which can be successfully analyzed for theoretical coherence.  It’s a set of pointers to a way of life which can only be evaluated through lived experience.  It’s a path of embodiment, intimacy, engagement, discernment, and decency.  It’s something we practice in all of our encounters with ourselves, others, and the world.  The only valid evaluation of Buddhist tenets is whether they guide us towards a life that’s richer, more meaningful, more aware, more connected, more present, more compassionate, and less harm-inflicting than the life we were living before.  It’s this very idea of validation from lived experience rather than from texts, argument, or authority that makes this Buddhism existential.

I want to thank you, dear reader, for being part of the The Existential Buddhist’s first year.  I hope you have found it interesting and helpful, and that whatever disagreements we may have had along the way, we remain spiritual friends along the path together.

Here’s to our next year together!

14 Replies to “On The Existential Buddhist’s One Year Anniversary”

  1. I have very much enjoyed your blog. When I was first setting up my own blog yours was one that I turned to for inspiration and as a model of what can be done (which is not to say that the faults of my blog are attributible to yours).

    Thank you for all you have written, and the inspiration you have been.

    1. Thanks, Kevin! You’re blog’s looking pretty good itself, I must say! I read somewhere (Google+?) that you were getting discouraged by some aspects of the process… it’s all grist for the mill! Keep it up!

  2. Thanks for your very helpful amazon book reviews, (esp. the Waldron book which I can’t afford to purchase at this point). That is how I located you. Also enjoyed this dialog above between your inseparable selves….very nice and soft…keep going. I will read more.
    Bob

  3. I also value your blog, Seth– I love the questions you put to yourself, which leads me to put questions to myself as well. Very inspiring. Thank you. 🙂

    ~josh

  4. Congratulations on your one year anniversary. I see on your bio that you make no special claims to knowledge or authority. Does wisdom fall under either of those two categories? Because I swear I’ve seen some here . . . By the way, while I think your blog is really existential and Buddhist and everything, if you had a few more jokes it would be funnier.

    1. Thanks, David!

      if you had a few more jokes it would be funnier.

      I was originally going to reply “If my grandmother had wheels, she’d be a trolley car.” But then I consulted with my cousin Passion Hansome, a professional comedienne. She suggested:

      If there were more jokes, I’d have to charge a two dollar minimum.

      I’ll leave it at that!

  5. [Buddhism is] a set of pointers to a way of life which can only be evaluated through lived experience.

    That, and the rest of that paragraph could be said by any religionist by substituting their religion: “Rastafarianism”, “Scientology”, “Sikhism” and more. And so, it makes me wonder what you thought it was saying given that anyone could use the same thoughts.

    I wish you the very best in your new Year, dude. I enjoy being your friend, but I will do without the label of “spiritual”! 😉 Keep writing!

    1. That, and the rest of that paragraph could be said by any religionist by substituting their religion

      You’re right Sabio, but Buddhism is perhaps more explicit than most at insisting that it’s only a finger pointing to the moon, not to be mistaken for the moon itself. The Greek stoics certainly thought that they were espousing a way to live one’s life rather than a hypothetico-deductive system. It’s only more recently that philosophy has become an intellectual game seemingly divorced from praxis. I’m sure other religions could make similar claims about “justification through lived experience,” but, actually, most just claim justification through external authority, be it textual, ecclesiastical, or L. Ron Hubbard’s.

      1. I think many Christians think of praxis as living Christ-like and loving. Many Muslims as doing the will of Allah. So I guess you are right, there is an external authority. But many believe in practice of the lived life. Many Buddhist rely on their scriptures to tell them what the Buddha said was possible — that too is an external source. Christians test their external source by living love (or so they claim), and Buddhist test their external source by meditating (at least Westerners do but most Asians don’t) and imagining themselves getting closer to not clinging and ending suffering. Both have their ideals of practice that can only be lived to test.

        I sometimes wonder if we put too much of a self-righteous distance between our own faiths and those of others.

        1. Sabio, I was primarily interested in contrasting my existential approach to Buddhism with others Buddhist approaches relying on either authority on one hand, or on disembodied reason on the other. There are certainly existential approaches to Christianity (Tillich) and Judaism (Buber), and for all I know, to other religions as well. I am all for reducing self-righteous distances!

          1. Ah, but you said,

            the Buddhist way is not a set of abstract propositions which can be successfully analyzed for theoretical coherence.

            I heard it as you telling us what Buddhism is — in contrast to other religions. If you’d had said, “My Buddhism”, I might have understood. You were saying — “I prefer …. ”

            You know how I get when I hear someone preaching about what “REAL BUDDHISM” is.

  6. Excuse me for butting in, but it seems to me, Sabio, that you might be going out of your way to find things to take exception to, however unconsciously. I mean, you know Seth is not a dogmatic kind of guy, you could cut him some slack. And everyone else, for that matter.

    Sabio, there are no perfect words, no perfect means of expression. Words are just designations, and designations ultimately are meaningless. Some of us start from that assumption. We realize that through speech, through using signs, “every sentence ensnares me anew in what I was trying to escape from.” It’s not necessary to remind us every five minutes.

    I suppose someone could take your own arguments and dissect them and demonstrate that in your own dialectic you are just as guilty of many of the things you take exception with. However, that someone probably has better things to do.

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