(Nippapañca is a synonym for Nirvana in the Pali language meaning "non-differentiation.")
The main purpose of this website is to offer unorthodox information about orthodox Buddhism. All schools of Buddhism claim to represent the original teachings of the historical Buddha. However, all of them, including Theravada, the most ancient and conservative school in existence, have been modified over time to better suit the cultures which adopted them. Much of my effort as a monk has been to cut through cultural traditions, including ancient Indian cultural traditions, in order to better understand the true essence of Dharma. The articles, translations, and ideas presented on this website offer a fresh, relatively non-dogmatic approach to what the Buddha really taught. Some of them may be controversial, but a certain amount of controversy may help to stimulate thought, nudge one out of mental ruts, and protect one from the dangers of blind, unquestioning faith. Comments and questions are welcome.
The Aṭṭhakavagga: A very ancient Pali text, probably the largest fragment of "primitive" Buddhist philosophy still in existence, and possibly the most important document in all of Buddhist literature. (See Appendix I for a detailed explanation of this point. Also, a new Appendix on the textually similar Parayanavagga has been added in a relatively deluxe new edition of the translation.)
Essay on the Aggregates of Mind: An early article explaining the elements of human psychology from a Buddhist perspective, the fundamental unity of form and function, and the relationship of perception and consciousness.
Knowing and Believing: A brief study of the radical difference between true knowledge and mere belief, which is essentially the difference between Nirvana and Samsara, reality and delusion.
On the Three Marks of Existence: A philosophical investigation of the Buddhist conception of Tilakkhana, the universal characteristics of inconstancy, unease, and no self.
Dhamma and Irrationality: An explanation of the fundamentally irrational nature of spirituality in general, and the Buddhist path in particular, and thus of how "reason" is of very limited value on the path to Awakening. (This article was inspired by the author's dealings with two Buddhist intellectuals who insisted that Buddhism has to "make perfect sense.")
The Great Surrender: An examination of the limitations of goal-orientated spirituality, illustrated with an unorthodox interpretation of the Buddha's own enlightenment.
On Tarot Cards, Ouija Boards, Astrology, Spirit Mediums, and Spiritual Teachers: An essay on the paradoxical workings of Karma, and on how we cannot learn anything we do not already know—with a long Appendix giving a hypothetical interpretation of the Formless Contemplations (arupajjhana) of classical Buddhism. (The article was written during a time of frustration, which accounts for a certain tone of cynicism in it, especially at the beginning and end).
Buddhism and Scientism: An article inspired by my experiences shortly after returning to the West and seeing how radically different Western Buddhism is from the Buddhism of a place like Burma. It is modified from a talk I gave in Bellingham in August 2011.
The 31 Planes of Existence: A brief guide to the Buddhist Universe, describing the various beings transmigrating in Samsara, and the strange environments they may find themselves in. The article is intended for inclusion in the Player's Guide to a Buddhism-inspired board game called "Divine Play."
What Did the Buddha Really Teach?: A somewhat personal investigation of what the original Buddhism of the ancient Ganges Valley was likely to be like, with some emphasis on the doctrine of Dependent Co-Arising.
The Bhikkhu Life: A more or less humorous metaphor for the life of a Western Monk, in the form of a maze or labyrinth. (Bhikkhu means "monk" or "religious Mendicant" in the Pali language)
Cave Journal: An experimental journal that I kept during the year 2001, while living in a forest in northwestern Myanmar.
"Vol. I: Pre-Vassa": An account of my first few months under the rock ledge.
"Vo. II: Vassa and Beyond": An account of the ordeal of a rainy season spent under a rock.
VIDEO AND AUDIO
Partial Alms Round in Wun Bo Village (with Roosters): Part of an alms round in Wun Bo, with a bullock cart in the foreground (still more numerous than cars in Burma) and roosters crowing in the background. (1:02)
Alms Round in Lay Myay Village: Another example of how I obtained my meals while living in Burma. (1:15)
Sermon On The Stinkwood Tree: Stopping off after alms round in Lay Myay Village to put my bowl back into its bag, I make some Chuang Tzu-esque remarks about a big tree by the path. Filmed in January of 2011. (1:29)
"I'm Tactless as a Howitzer": Hanging out with my new friend Damon at Wun Bo Forest Monastery in January of 2011. While heating coffee water I describe my feeble efforts to investigate the possibility of living at Abhayagiri Monastery in California. (1:25)
Burmese Children Taking Five Precepts: A group of children from Wun Bo village, along with two young school teachers and an older village man, come to the forest monastery to pay their respects and take the refuges and precepts. It is noteworthy that such small children have already memorized more Pali chanting (with some Burmese mixed in) than most Western adult Buddhists ever learn. (4:47)
Increasing Your Chances for Enlightenment: Audio, Dharma talk recorded in Bellingham, WA, September 2012. (44:50)
A Musical Experiment: Following are two slightly rough samples ("demo tracks," in musician's jargon) of a Dharma project that a friend and I have been working on. We hope to produce a whole CD eventually.
Born John David Reynolds in Seward, AK, he was ordained in the Burmese Taungpulu Forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism in 1991 and spent 18 years in Burma, most of that time in forest caves. He returned to the US in May 2011, and is experimenting with the possibility of living as an independent monk in the West. He has specialized in meditation, monastic discipline, and the subtleties of Buddhist philosophy, and is willing to teach those who are interested.
He may be contacted by email at
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~The more automatic you are, the less conscious you are.
~My first advice to anyone wishing to live a spiritual life:
"Get rid of your television set."
~It doesn't matter what it is, if you accept it, it's not a problem; and it doesn't matter what it is, if you won't accept it, it's a problem.
~If you have a bad mind you have a bad life and live in a bad world;
If you have a good mind you have a good life and live in a good world;
If you have a perfect mind you have a perfect life and live in a perfect world.
~Whenever you are unhappy it's because you want something. Sometimes it can be very helpful just to understand what it is that you want.
~Beware of ego-oriented spirituality.
~Beware of goal-oriented spirituality.
~Beware of “feelgood” spirituality.
~Beware of negative or limiting thoughts, about yourself or anyone else or anything, because they condition your reality, and make your world more negative and limited.
~Doing what is difficult makes you stronger.
~Security is practically the opposite of freedom.
~Perception is Samsara.
~It all depends on how you look at it.
~Three requisites on the Path to Awakening: Honesty, Compassion, and Gratitude.
~Do not differentiate between Dharma and everyday life.
~There is no true happiness at someone else's expense.
~To follow your heart may be painful, but not to follow it is disastrous.
~You'll never understand Reality by thinking about it.
~Love Is Acceptance.